My Problem With the Libertarians


I have many friends who are libertarians, and when I spew here regarding politics I often hear from them in comments or via email, “I agree with you that the Republicans are crazy, but I’m a Libertarian…”, and so on.

Let me explain why I’m not a libertarian–and I’ll start by mentioning that I used to be one. During a previous election I was smitten with Ron Paul, and I was committed strongly to the ideology in general.

So what changed? Well, I suppose I started thinking more about the fundamental concepts of the philosophy and less about the specific, intelligent policies that Paul was talking about.

He wants to get out of wars. He wants to balance the budget. He thinks it’s silly for everyone to think the government should coddle them and replace their own self-respect and responsibility.

Totally. I’m with you there.

But then you start listening to more of the argument–the shutting down of the FDA, the department of education, FEMA, and a mass of other public programs. What you start to realize is that he’s advocating an ‘every man for himself’ philosophy. He honestly believes that we’re all equally endowed and have equal opportunity, and that those who fail should fail, and those who succeed should get to keep their spoils.

It’s a deeply philosophical issue–based on how one sees the world.

I simply don’t see the world that way anymore. I don’t think we are all equally endowed — either genetically or environmentally. And I don’t think those who fail do so because they’re bad people. I think people fail because society failed them. It’s true that we need to instill self-discipline and the concept of personal responsibility in people (as opposed to welfare dependence), but this is the role of parents and teachers and peers (see society).

A positive future for humans will be a collaborative, empathetic society where peoples’ desires are interlinked. It will be a place where harming someone causes harm to everyone.

Paul’s libertarianism leads to Balkanization and hostility. It magnifies differences among us and promotes the belief that those who fail deserve to fail. It’s horrifically primitive, and it’s time that intelligent people identify it as such.

Perhaps Obama isn’t the answer, but Libertarianism isn’t either. Not from Paul or anyone else. Embracing libertarianism is embracing the past–a world where people bunch into like-minded groups and fend for themselves alone, thinking nothing of the “other people”. They claim to be family-oriented, but they fail to include more than a few in that family, and humanity would suffer for it.

Their ability to poke fun at silly liberal or conservative policies doesn’t make their philosophy correct. Don’t fall for it. Think it through. ::

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