Libertaianism upholds personal liberty as its core principal. Libertarians object to government infringement of their freedom of choice, be it in matters of family, business, or personal life. This is a noble sentiment, and I consider myself a staunch libertarian, but there is a contradiction in the philosophies of most self-proclaimed libertarians that is becoming hard for me to ignore: the natural outcome of unbridled capitalism is the restriction of personal liberties.
In a system based on infinite growth on a planet of finite resources, businesses will necessarily look to social solutions for their problems caused by limited resources and demand. This is not a mere possibility, but an unavoidable law of nature for which there many real-world examples we can point to.
Most libertarians care about the problem of drug criminalization. Let’s use marijuana as an example; 62% of Americans are in favor of the legalization of recreational use, yet only 5% of members of congress are. Why is that? Because congress takes a lot of money from the for-profit prison industry and the pharmaceutical industry. It’s also well-documented that marijuana was first made illegal due to a propaganda campaign led by media mogul William Randolph Hearst who was trying to protect his investments in the timber industry. There couldn’t be a clearer example of capitalism trampling the will of the people. This applies to other drugs as well; fentanyl is a stronger opioid that heroin and is objectively more dangerous, so why is fentanyl legal but heroin isn’t? Could this also be due to those pharmaceutical bribes- I mean donations- to congress?
Libertarians tend to be non-interventionists. Arguably the biggest obstacle to non-interventionism is the for-profit Military Industrial Complex and their hold over Washington. The Right-Libertarian/ Anarcho-Capitalist position is that the market knows best and it will eventually weed out any injustices. Well, the market sure failed us in this case, didn’t it?
In every country, the right invariably wants to restrict the flow of human resources across borders. As a libertarian, this is a restriction to the potential growth of your business.
In fact, it is very difficult to think of any group in human history that is more anti-small business than America’s Republican Party. They will give tax breaks to any business that pays them money, and these are seldom mom-and-pop operations. Think of all the small businesses Walmart has destroyed.
Capitalism is also destroying our public industries. Flint, Michigan and other cities around the country do not have clean water, yet the government lets Nestle collect all the water they want and sell it back to us at a dollar a bottle. The US postal service is not a naturally profitable business; they deliver to any address in the country, no matter how remote or how cost ineffective. But its for-profit competitors like FedEx and UPS bribed congress to underfund it, so they can do the same job but charge about ten times as much. I don’t care how much you hate the government; no rational political philosophy can be in favor of the destruction of natural monopolies in the 21st century.
Most pharmaceutical research is done by public universities. Pharmaceutical companies then buy the patents and bribe congress to let them price gouge the American people who helped fund their research.
Libertarians tend to care about their privacy. This is another big problem if you’re going to defend businesses and capitalism at every turn. Tech firms like Facebook and Google steal everyone’s data and sell it to advertisers. How did you think Facebook makes so much money providing a free product? Because the site is not the product; YOU are the product.
Libertarians often vote Republican. This is the same party that passed the Patriot Act, which allows the US government to monitor all of our private interactions without a warrant. I don’t understand how right-wing libertarians can reconcile the contradiction of wanting to protect their privacy and defending Republicans in their minds.
Business will invariably take over the government if you let it get big enough. One of the most obvious examples of this is Standing Rock and the DAPL protests. A corporation was breaking the law by building a pipeline through private property. What did the police and government do? They brutalized peaceful protesters who were breaking no law; they hit them with water canons in freezing temperatures, sicked dogs on them, and threw flash grenades at them, blowing off one woman’s arm. Libertarians are supposed to be in favor of free speech. How can you call yourself a libertarian and not defend the DAPL protesters?
Republicans are also trying to make protests against Israel illegal. A Texas teacher was recently fired for supporting BDS. Houston residents would not receive any aid after Hurricane Harvey unless they stated that they did not support the BDS movement.
The Christian right is also diametrically apposed to libertarianism. If you are a right-wing libertarian in America, you consistently vote for the presidential candidate who has to pander to a group of people who wants the government to control every aspect of our lives, including who we can and can’t marry.
You may be thinking that most of this is just a problem with corruption and not capitalism, but capitalism and corruption are inseparable. Point to the capitalist country that isn’t plagued by corruption. Good luck!
Corporations are not immoral; they are amoral. They don’t fit into the morality spectrum. They are machines whose sole purpose is to generate more profit. They have zero interest in maintaining the current amount of profit; that’s not good for their investors. They will do whatever they can to gain profits, and going down that path always leads to corruption eventually, and corruption often leads to a restriction of personal freedoms.
The word ‘libertarianism’ was first used in Britain in 1789, and for more than a century and a half it was used almost exclusively in the context of far left or socialist philosophies. It was used by anarchists, Marxists, early feminists, and LGBT activists. It wasn’t until the mid 20th century when a group of Americans co-opted the term and morphed it into the illogical, contradictory perversion with which it is colloquially used today. The same happened when Hitler rebranded the term ‘socialist.’
I say we take the term back. And when I see a right-winger misusing it, I’m going to call them out. (at least online) Words have meanings and it is important to stick to them to maintain a logical, consistent narrative of what’s happening in the world.