Pining for Murderous Dictators is not the Path to Liberty

Far too many libertarians and anarchists, left and right, are losing sight of who the real enemy is.

Steven Horwitz

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

You’d think the statement in my title should be obvious, but if you were wondering why it’s been so easy for so many supposed libertarians to flip over to the alt-right, you might consider the recent Facebook post of Lawrence Reed, the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, the oldest of the free-market think tanks. Larry, who I’ve known for decades and have always respected, tagged a story on business closures in Venezuela with the following: “Venezuela desperately needs a Hayek right now. Short of that, how about a Pinochet?”

As I said on Facebook, I don’t even know what to say about this given my long association with FEE and respect for the work they and Larry have done. I deeply want to believe that it’s a really bad attempt at humor, yet nowhere in that original Facebook thread does Larry give any indication that he was making a horrible joke. Given the pushback he’s getting there, it would have been very easy for him to try to back out with that excuse, but it’s not there. Not only that, he explicitly argues for “helicopter dropping” Maduro.  Sure doesn’t sound like someone who is joking.

Even as really misguided humor, Larry’s remark fails in several important ways that are worth noting explicitly:


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4 replies »

  1. My response:
    Libertarian liberty CAN be totally subsumed under ‘property rights’, but one must also account that the strict interpretation of ‘property rights’ rules out legal monopolies of jurisprudence.
    The problem with a lot of ‘vulgar’ libertarians is that they still believe in useless garbage like ‘limited government’, the State is and always will be an agent for the wealthy and well-connected, this was true in the 14th century, the 19th century and today. ‘Property rights’ under a system of state-administered ‘justice’ is just a racketeering operation, and its ‘laws’ are nothing more than a pretense for tyranny.
    There is no such thing as a system of libertarian property rights and contract so long as the State exists, end of story. ‘Libertarians’ who aren’t willing to face up to the need to abolish all centralized states and empires – not ‘reduce’ them, no ‘control them’, not write garbage ‘constitutions’ – are useful idiots for the Plutocratic Communism engendered under state dispensation of the law.

  2. One thing that Paul Gottfried argues for is “political determinism,” i.e. the view that the state shapes the economy as well as the culture, rather than vice versa, contra the Marxists and many libertarians, and not a few traditionalist conservatives and leftist SJWs as well.

  3. “The libertarian movement cannot be premised on hating the left more than we care about preserving the institutions of a free society, no matter who is violating them.”

    I would argue that I reject the left precisely because they are a threat to liberty. The institutions he seeks to preserve are an impediment to a free society. While the author correctly points out the dangers of slipping into authoritarianism, he also reveals his own delusions in the process. Like you say, both left and right anarchists and libertarians are losing the plot. The author being an example on the left.

    Not to sound all kumbaya but libertarians and anarchists need to have a back-to-basics conversation on who the enemy is here. While issues around culture and traditions are important, no one will be able to enact their view of cultural paradise on earth until the State and its’ monopoly on money, violence, law and education is dealt with. Since the neutralization of the state and decentralization is the minimum acceptable outcome, do we really need to agree on gays, abortion, immigration and Jesus? Everyone will have the freedom to voluntarily associate and support people they prefer without state coercion.

    • Yes, exactly. Regrettably, when people adopt a philosophical stance or a political ideology, they bring all kinds of pre-existing biases with them. That’s certainly true of libertarians whose internal rivalries are just microcosms of the wider society’s polarization.

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