Critiques Of Libertarianism

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Contents

Basics


Introduction To Libertarianism
The big picture of libertarianism. Three realms of libertarianism and its place in politics.
The Short, Simple Dismissal Of Libertarianism
99% of libertarianism is obviously untrue or unacceptable for one or more of these reasons.
A Non-Libertarian FAQ
A general introduction to discussion with libertarians, with an extensive discussion of arguments commonly used by libertarian evangelists. This is the original FAQ, little changed from when it originated in 1994. See also: More FAQS and Criticisms of the Non-Libertarian FAQ.
Political Libertarianism (9 links)
Political libertarianism is the most important libertarianism because we are continually exposed to it through the media. It is a mass market astroturf libertarianism. It has been a plutocratically-funded effort since the 1930's and has been wildly successful in concentrating wealth since the 1980s. It is about redistributing society's wealth to the rich and calling that just and moral.
Descriptions Of Libertarianism (14 links)
There are numerous varieties of libertarianism, so no one description will suffice. Here are some overviews and classifications that will give you a broader picture of libertarianism.
Opposing Libertarianism (3 links) (3 links) (3 links) (3 links) (3 links) (3 links) (3 links) (3 links)
Opposing evangelical libertarianism is easy, but there's lots to learn to do it effectively. Here is an overview of some of what you would want to know.
Leaving Libertarianism (6 links)
A series of suggestions for how to start undoing libertarian programming.

Ideology


Liberty (25 links)
Liberty, or freedom, is a zero-sum game. For me to have a liberty, your liberty must be restricted by a duty not to interfere. The liberty of your nose depends on a coercive duty imposed on me to not swing my fist into it. Liberty can be redistributed, but not created or destroyed. Pretending otherwise is one of the great frauds of libertarianism.
Rights (17 links)
Libertarians play fast and loose with ideas of rights. If they are not resorting to Natural Rights or claiming that all rights are property rights, they are making up rights out of thin air that serve their purposes. Rights are human-created social relationships: we create the many and varied rights we are willing to enforce. No rights are absolute, as in the metaphor "sphere of rights". Actual legal rights much more resemble Swiss cheeses.
Property (32 links)
Property, like all rights, is a coercive social institution, not a mystical relationship of individuals with objects. Property redistributes liberty: it protects some specific liberty for owners, and coercively denies that liberty to all others. The pretense that property is not coercive is one of the great libertarian lies.
Coercion (11 links)
Coercion is used in libertarian propaganda to brand things they don't like. Property and rights are fundamentally coercive; pretending that they are not coercive is one of the great libertarian lies. We choose public government to perform our desired coercion, because people are too partial to their own interests to be trusted.
Government (28 links)
Libertarians demonize government and grossly misrepresent the nature of government, the effects of government and the differences between governments.
Markets (15 links)
Existing markets are not spontaneous: they are social institutions that have been often created, heavily modified and regulated by governments throughout history. Because markets are amoral, they need regulation.
Capitalism (28 links)
Capitalism (and entrepreneurship) are based upon the coercion that creates rights. Capitalism, like fire, is most valuable when it is used only for desired purposes (regulated), not burning indiscriminately. For example, as part of Mixed Economy or Social Democracy.
How Libertarian Ideas And Attitudes Are Spread (27 links)
The spread of libertarianism is not due to some "truth" or intrinsic goodness. Libertarianism would have stayed a fringe belief were it not for enormous public relations programs financed for generations by the extremely wealthy.
Ideas Libertarians Do Not Own
Some ideas are described as libertarian, but in reality have long been held by innumerable others. Drug legalization, for example.
Libertarian Propaganda Terms (84 links)}
Libertarian and conservative think-tanks have labored mightily to make propaganda terms such as free market part of the thinking of ordinary people. Most libertarians have no idea how they are manipulated by this perversion of language and how it creates their ideology. Frames, phatic expression, shibboleth, terms of art: very simply, they have a coded meaning for libertarians that is not standard English.

Criticism


Mike Huben's Criticisms
Developed over roughly 40 years of networked debate with libertarians.
Social Media Criticizing Libertarianism (6 links)
Where you can go to find fellow critics of libertarianism and share ideas.
Christian Criticisms Of Libertarianism
While some libertarians are Christian, many Christians have strong objections.
Conservative Criticisms Of Libertarianism
Libertarian radicalism is repellant to most conservatives, especially for institutions besides markets and the state.
Economists Criticizing Libertarianism
Libertarians like to suggest that economics backs their ideology, but numerous economists disagree.
Left-Libertarian and Anarchist Criticism (13 links)
A resounding clash of ideologies!
Liberal Criticisms Of Libertarianism
Liberals (in the American sense) understand that government has a useful track record.
Libertarians Criticizing Each Other
Libertarianism is full of schisms over numerous philosophical and political points. We hardly need invent criticisms when libertarians create them plentifully to argue with each other.
Objectivist Critiques Of Libertarianism
Rand and her followers have always been contemptuous of libertarianism. Those darned libertarians did not see the necessity of her cult's logic!
Reviews Of Libertarian Books (5 links)
Most libertarian books get very harsh reviews from readers who are not true believers.
Testimonials By Former Libertarians And Objectivists (8 links)
Let's see what we can learn from some of the many who have left libertarianism.
Unclassified Criticisms
A miscellany of interesting criticisms.

Issues


Children
Much libertarian theory ignores the fact that we start out as children. Many libertarians feel that government has no role in protecting or supporting children.
Civil Rights (4 links)
The civil rights movement has been one of the great libertarian bugaboos: it is a classic example of non-market application of government to relieve widespread oppression.
Claimed Examples Of Libertarianism (22 links)
There has never been a libertarian nation or society anywhere, despite numerous attempts to found them as micro-nations, oceanic platforms, etc. But libertarians are armed with many "examples" to show that it could work. Examples such as the USA, Hong Kong, Chile and Singapore are uniformly misleading or false.
Corporations (12 links)
Corporations are our first-class citizens, government created systems of privilege used to concentrate wealth. They are a fundamental part of our current capitalist system. Libertarian individualism seems to ignore this basic problem. A few libertarians (and some others) oppose corporations for that reason. Giant corporations exercise private tyranny because they are unaccountable to the public.
Drugs, Gambling and Sex (4 links)
Libertarian ideology takes an absurd total unregulated legalization position. But these have enormous externalities having to do with health, crime, family problems and neglect of other responsibilities. These are all economically irrational on a grand scale.
Education (23 links)
Libertarians strongly oppose public education: they wish to eliminate tax-funding for education, regulation of education, and make education independent of government. Libertarians favor privatization and corporatization of schooling. This despite the obvious market failures in education and the international successes of state-run education.
Environment (13 links)
Libertarians have no way of constraining damage to the environment or maintaining a healthy environment to live in. It is an issue they prefer to pretend does not exist, which is why global warming denialism is so popular among libertarians.
Freedom Through Technology (16 links)
Cyberlibertarians, cypherpunks, high-tech libertarians, and various others mistakenly think technology will eliminate the need for government (if not outright eliminate government.) As foolish as the idea that atomic weapons will end war. Digital currencies such as bitcoin are the latest fad.
Game Theory (4 links)
Simple game theory such as the Prisoner's Dilemma shows that many situations can be improved by government interference.
Global Warming (20 links)
Libertarians generally align with "climate skeptics" (denialists of global warming) because market regulation by government is needed to reduce global warming. Opposition to global warming theory has been funded at very high levels by the petrochemical industry and the Koch brothers.
Guns (11 links)
Libertarians generally endorse unregulated private ownership of guns and other armaments, no matter how absurd.
Harms Of Libertarian Policies (13 links)
Libertarian policies can be harmful both as public policies and as private sector practices within corporations.
Health Care (26 links)
Despite superior results from socialized health care in every developed nation, libertarians insist on privatizing. Public health is the outstanding government success story. The sewers of Rome have saved far more lives than the legions of Rome ever killed. Killing by governments is tiny compared to the lives saved by government-eradicated smallpox alone.
Historical Revisionism (37 links)
The facts of history do not support libertarianism. This spawns an industry supplying libertarians with false history that supports their beliefs.
Immigration (3 links)
Libertarians have many stands on immigration. Some take the position that the state has no right to restrict freedom of movement. At the other extreme, some (including Milton Friedman) say that the welfare state should be able to restrict entry to save on welfare costs.
Inequality (31 links)
Libertarians have no answers for the many problems of inequality, which markets do not solve. Problems such as: class war, disability, discrimination, minorities, poverty, privilege, real world power, women's issues and much more.
Infrastructure (3 links)
We use infrastructure as we breathe the air: we hardly ever think about it unless it fails. But the infrastructure of roads, communications, education, science, defense, law, and many other institutions is largely a product of government efforts.
Innovation (2 links)
Libertarians ignore the enormous history and pervasiveness of government innovation to claim that innovation is primarily from the private sector.
Institutions
Libertarians cannot see the forest for the trees. By focussing on individuals, they ignore the fact that individuals comprise, reside in and utilize institutions. Institutions such as property, law, governance, capitalism, marriage, etc. Libertarians pretend that rights are "natural" when in reality they come from institutions.
Labor (16 links)
Libertarians should support labor rights and unions because workers are more free when employer power is limited. But libertarians oppose labor rights and unions because they side with the private exercise of power by employers. If an employer wishes to deny you bathroom breaks, requiring you to sit in your own urine, that is his privilege until he is limited.
Law (14 links)
Libertarians want laws and interpretations of laws that favor their own interests. They have invested in authoring and sponsoring laws. They have their ridiculous own schools of legal and Constitutional interpretation, and they sponsor training for law students and judges.
Libertarian Hypocrisy (15 links)
The classic "I never got a government handout" from libertarians is usualy a hypocritical lie. Lots of them gratefully suck from the tit of the welfare state. For example, Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand were both hypocritical users of Medicare. And often they request the state to compel others.
Libertarian Self-Delusions
Libertarians believe many weird things about themselves compared to others. Many are splendid examples of the Dunning–Kruger effect. See also: Derp.
Markets in Organs (3 links)
Society is very leery of creating markets for organs, for very good reasons. Many libertarians (following ideological dictates of Self-Ownership and Market Fundamentalism) think organ markets should be unregulated.
Middle Class
There is no libertarian theory of the formation of the middle class. The middle class is conspicuously the result of government programs in education, commerce, taxation, housing policy, agricultural policy and other efforts.
Minimum Wage (14 links)
Contrary to Econ 101 dogmas, minimum wage law has no harmful effects on employment according to many real-world studies. And definitely not the harmful effects long claimed by its opponents. Minimum wage does effectively reduce poverty.
Pax Americana (2 links)
One of the few valid claims to American exceptionalism, the degree of international peace brokered by the US since WWII has been unprecedented both in nature and duration. This has resulted in vast increases in wealth and freedom for the US and especially for the rest of the world.
Plutocracy (47 links)
Most of the world, including the USA, is a plutocracy: ruled by and for the rich, the .01%. Libertarians with their obsession with property tend to favor this status quo. Also known as plutonomy and plutarchy, closely related to oligarchy.
Poverty (22 links)
Libertarians like to claim that poverty will be solved by "The Magic Of The Market" and charity. But high levels of poverty persist despite US markets and charity, and has been nearly eliminated in strongly socialist nations such as Denmark. See also inequality.
Predictions That Never Come True (7 links)
Medicare will cause the end of freedom! We're on the road to serfdom! The market will end discrimination! Regulation will bankrupt business! Libertarians are loaded with predictions and promises that will never come true, and ignore all the historical evidence they won't come true.
Reinventing Government Badly (2 links)
It is patently obvious, even to many libertarians, that some form of government is needed. Libertarians thus reinvent governments according to their own lights as defense associations, private monarchies, and a variety of other bad solutions that privatize power.
Religion (2 links)
Libertarians range from staunch atheists like Ayn Rand to theocrats. A delightful miscellany of bad reasoning!
Responsibility (11 links)
Libertarians regard government policies of responsibility as tyrannical burdens.
Science (5 links)
Libertarians (such as John Stossel) are renowned for science denialism. They have a long and bad history of misrepresenting science on tobacco, global warming and other issues.
Social Security (10 links)
Social security (and other social insurance such as Medicare) is one of the great enemies of libertarians and conservatives. They continually misrepresent it and claim alternatives are better.
Society (2 links)
Humans live in societies, and societies are inescapably political because humans have conflicting interests. All societies rely on coercion to enforce their rules. A libertarian society would be just as coercive (primarily about property) and political (enacting rules by force) as any democratic society, but libertarians don't usually seem to realize that: they often believe their rules are "natural". The difference is that libertarians don't want to allow any changes to their rules, no matter how unpopular they are.
Taxes (16 links)
Libertarians hate 'em! But minarchist libertarians (the vast majority) have no coherent answer to how to pay for even a minimal government. Libertarian and Republican criticisms of taxes usually overlap.
The New Deal (7 links)
Libertarians cannot explain the successes of FDR's New Deal. Hence, they engage in ridiculous denialism about how effective it was and attempt to undo New Deal progress. They greatly fear revisiting and extending the New Deal as FDR envisioned.
The Workplace (26 links)
Our greatest daily loss of liberty is in the workplace. Libertarian pretense that the workplace is voluntary would only make sense if people had an equal alternative to the workplace. Power differences between employer and employee result in many losses of liberty.
There Are Important Values Besides Liberty (13 links)
Compassion, justice, civic responsibility, honesty, decency, humility, respect, and even survival of the poor, weak, and vulnerable. All these trade off with liberty in important ways. Libertarians want to found society on only one value, private property (which they conflate with liberty.) People with other values will be burdened by having to pay for them.
Vast, Right-Wing Conspiracy (19 links)
A term used by Hillary Clinton, which like politically Incorrect is sneered at by libertarians. Hillary was wrong: there are several vast, right-wing conspiracies, aimed at corporatism, movement conservatism, plutocracy, and theocracy, each with their respective billionaire sponsors. Koch, Scaife, Ahmundson, Coors, Murdoch, etc. The Kochtopus is probably foremost among them in the US, and the Mont Pelerin Society globally. Libertarians are among the cats paws of these conspiracies.
Voluntary Failures (4 links)
Just as there are market failures and government failures, there are also voluntary failures such as philanthropic insufficiency, philanthropic particularism and philanthropic paternalism. Where voluntary and market efforts fail, government should step up.
Vouchers (4 links)
Libertarians claim to prefer vouchers to direct government provision. But they do so for ideological reasons, not because vouchers are the best method. Some voucher programs (such as food stamps) work well, but direct provision works better for many other goods.

Libertarians


Non-Libertarians Supposedly Supporting Libertarian Viewpoints (8 links)
Many economists and historical figures are claimed to be supportive of libertarianism or "protolibertarians". US founding fathers, various economists, J. S. Mill, etc. Often they are mischaracterized as "Classical Liberals" to confuse the issue.
Peter Boettke (3 links)
A Koch-financed Austrian School propagandist at the George Mason University Economics Department and the Mercatus Center.
Tyler Cowen
A professional, second-generation libertarian selected by the Kochs as head of the George Mason University Economics Department.
Richard Epstein (4 links)
A law-and-economics, laissez-faire, University of Chicago professor who views the world through the peephole of property rights. Neoliberal propaganda.
David Friedman (6 links)
Son of Milton Friedman, and perhaps the foremost anarchocapitalist.
Milton Friedman
Nobel prizewinner (economics), and one of the foremost propagandists for capitalism. Married to Rose Friedman, son David Friedman.
Friedrich von Hayek (28 links)
Nobel prizewinning (economics) student of Ludwig von Mises, and a major propagandist for libertarianism.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe (10 links)
One of the more bizarre Austrian philosophers.
Charles and David Koch (37 links)
Libertarian billionaires who have founded and funded a vast array of libertarian and conservative organizations aimed at Obstructing Regulation And Regulatory Capture. Go to Kochtopus.
Ludwig von Mises (22 links)
Austrian economist, mentor of Friedrich von Hayek, and a major right-wing economic crank.
Robert Nozick
The foremost libertarian philosopher, who gave up on it a few years later.
Rand Paul (14 links)
A libertarian (and Tea Party) Republican Senator, son of Ron Paul. He was burnt when he gave his real feelings on the Civil Rights Act, and now is attempting to be a normal slimy politician. AKA: "Senator Aqua Buddha".
Ron Paul
A libertarian congressman (and perennial long-shot presidential candidate) renowned for kooky racist, isolationist, goldbug and Austrian beliefs. Not to mention conservative civil and reproductive rights ideas 50 years out of date. Father of senator Rand Paul. AKA: "Crazy Uncle Liberty".
Ayn Rand (26 links)
Anybody who thinks Rand is a great author or a great philosopher can be immediately discounted. She was the Horatio Alger of her era. See also Objectivism, her cult philosophy.
Murray Rothbard (26 links)
A leading Austrian economist, student of Ludwig von Mises. A very scholarly and prolific crank author who takes Austrianism to its logically absurd ends.
Less Prominant Libertarians.... (24 links)
Slightly less to greatly less well known. Certainly not needing to be on the main page.

Organizations


ALEC (7 links)
The American Legislative Exchange Council, founded, led, and funded in part by the Koch brothers, is leading the class war by corporatists and plutocrats to disenfranchise ordinary people. ALEC opposes unions, voting rights, regulation, environmental law and other democratic countervailing power. ALEC relies on corrupt direct access to legislators, handing them already-written bills.
Cato Institute
A "libertarian" quasi-academic think-tank which acts as a mouthpiece for the globalism, corporatism, and neoliberalism of its corporate and conservative funders.
Federalist Society (1 link)
A large, well-funded, conservative and libertarian intellectual network attempting to mold legislation and judicial practice in the United States by promoting conservative and libertarian viewpoints through all levels of the legal community. Members include Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court John Roberts. An influential part of the Kochtopus.
George Mason University Economics Department
A Koch-financed libertarian department of an otherwise publicly financed university. As of 2012, the Kochs had donated at least $33,000,000 to George Mason University. Essentially the entire department is also employed by the Mercatus Center, providing more Koch influence.
Kochtopus (50 links)
An umbrella term for a huge number of organizations and publications founded, funded, or controlled by Charles and David Koch over roughly 40 years. It includes most of the libertarian organizations and publications you've heard of: the Libertarian Party, the Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, State Policy Network, etc. and many major conservative organizations such as ALEC.
Libertarian Party
An experiment in herding cats.
Ludwig von Mises Institute (5 links)
Llewellyn Rockwell's shrine to Ludwig von Mises. A minor competiitor and rival to the Cato Institute, with a separate source of funding. Specializing in comically extreme Austrian Economics.
Mercatus Center
A Koch-financed libertarian think-tank associated with the Koch-financed George Mason University Economics Department. As of 2012, it has received more than $14,000,000 from the Kochs.
Mont Pelerin Society (3 links)
An international organization founded by Friedrich von Hayek to promote neoliberalism. Where the Koch brothers found their kindred spirits. One of the many vast, right-wing Conspiracies.
Reason Magazine (8 links)
A Koch-funded propaganda mill that produces prolefeed for true believers. The most ironically named magazine in existence; it would be better titled "Confirmation Bias".
Tea Party (15 links)
The Koch Brothers have pivoted to use their libertarian-developed propaganda [and substantial funding] in an attempt to manipulate the Republican Party.
Think-Tanks In General (3 links)
A very few think-tanks are non-ideological and attempt to solve problems. The vast majority are ideological propaganda organs that spew the bullshit their donors pay for.

Economics


Austrian Economics
A pre-scientific, data-free, conservative and blinkered methodology for economics propaganda. Austrians tend to rely on handwaving, moral fairytales, and personal authority because they generally do not have mathematical models the way most other economics does. Pretty much every libertarian-leaning Nobel laureate in economics rejects Austrianism, starting with Milton Friedman.
Business Cycle (7 links)
Recession, depression, inflation and deflation are important aspects of business cycles that governments can and should manage with Keynesian policies. Libertarian economists in the Austrian and Chicago schools get it wrong.
Chicago Economics
Milton Friedman's school. An example of Lysenkoism: "the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias."
Common Fallacies Of Economics (37 links)
Economics has its own styles of common fallacies. These are much loved by both pundits and highly qualified economists making partisan arguments.
Currency (4 links)
Libertarians generally complain about "fiat money" (paper money), and divide into gold or bitcoin camps. At this time, gold is simply a commodity: do gold standard libertarians want a government fiat to make it the currency?
Deregulation
Libertarians routinely propose deregulating almost everything; mostly because they want to limit government, not because it makes sense. Deregulation may not solve the serious problems that initially led to regulation or it may undo regulatory capture. Most deregulation activity is part of corporate attempts at Obstructing Regulation And Regulatory Capture
Economic Power (4 links)
Also known as Economic Coercion. Libertarians generally deny the concept of economic power, but there are many varieties. Purchasing power, monopoly power, bargaining power, managerial power, worker power, and class power at a minimum.
Economics 101 (37 links)
Also known as neoclassical economics. Libertarians are fond of applying standard Economics 101 microeconomics principles to bash the state. They forget the many concealed ideological biases of Economics 101, they forget that the real world doesn't often match simple models, they forget market failures and they forget that microeconomics is not enough: you need macroeconomics too.
Economics Alternatives (16 links)
Mainstream economics has numerous problems. There are many different well-respected branches of economics that offer solutions but libertarians ignore because they conflict with libertarian ideology. These also provide much needed economic theory for opposing libertarian claims.
Free Market
"Free Market" (for libertarians) is a propaganda term, by which libertarians actually mean unregulated markets. Free markets cannot exist: they are an ideal model in economic theory. The vast majority of uses of "free market" are actually about real, regulated, imperfect markets, which are very little like free market models. Truly free markets would include markets for anything, including murder, and require perfect information and perfect competition. I recommend "unregulated market" instead of the propaganda term "free market".
Globalization, Free Trade and Economic Freedom (21 links)
Code for "let business run the world: the heck with the populace." The anti-liberal dominance of plutocratic property and business over popular sovereignty. Historically, we could extend these concepts to include buying, owning, and selling slaves. The arguments made then were the same. Used by propagandists to trump other freedoms. Also known as economic liberty.
Health Care (26 links)
Despite superior results from socialized health care in every developed nation, libertarians insist on privatizing. Public health is the outstanding government success story. The sewers of Rome have saved far more lives than the legions of Rome ever killed. Killing by governments is tiny compared to the lives saved by government-eradicated smallpox alone.
Keynesian and Post-Keynesian Economics (9 links)
Most libertarians oppose Keynesian arguments (such as insufficient demand causing recessions) because they conflict with their ideology.
Laissez Faire (16 links)
Laissez faire is a hypocritical propaganda term: it is government that creates a capitalist environment, advantaging capitalists over others. Unregulated Market is a more honest term. History shows pretty clearly that unregulated, unfettered capitalism is a brutal environment where wealth accumulates in the hands of an elite leaving most people in poverty, deeply vulnerable to the inevitable economic shocks that follow.
Law and Economics (5 links)
A respectable school of legal and economic analysis which is often abused by libertarian academics for ideological propaganda purposes. It's the obvious omissions of interests besides libertarian values that makes those books bogus.
Libertarian Economic And Political Experiments (9 links)
Chile and New Zealand are often cited by libertarians as sites of successful libertarian economic reform. They tend to cite a few "benefits", but there are many downsides....
Market Failure (24 links)
Real world economies are rife with market failure. This means choosing between second-best options such as imperfect markets, NGO's and government solutions. Ideology and economic theory cannot say which is best: you must resort to experimentation and history.
Mercantilism And Industrial Policy Works (9 links)
Merchantilism, protectionism and industrial policy (AKA dirigisme) have a long history of being effective in the US, Great Britain, postwar France, etc. with free trade being adopted only after dominance is achieved. These policies are responsible for the huge reductions in poverty in India, China, Korea, and the rest of eastern Asia. Government support of export industry is key.
Minimum Wage (14 links)
Contrary to Econ 101 dogmas, minimum wage law has no harmful effects on employment according to many real-world studies. And definitely not the harmful effects long claimed by its opponents. Minimum wage does effectively reduce poverty.
Monopoly, Oligopoly, Market Power and AntiTrust (12 links)
Capitalists unendingly seek monopoly, oligopoly, monopsony and oligopsony as routes to the highest possible profits. All are inefficient according to ordinary microeconomics. This is a huge, measurable cost. Capitalists cannot self-regulate this problem away: government must.
Positional Goods
Positional goods are a zero sum game, and the more who participate in the game the more wasteful it gets. Luxury taxes can redistribute part of the wasted wealth to better purposes which are not zero sum.
Privatization (23 links)
There is an enormous history of privatization which shows that while it is sometimes beneficial, often it does not give the results its proponents claim. Privatization is often a form of crony capitalism, and often results in a different and less desirable product.
Public Choice Theory (2 links)
A school that starts with anti-government and pro-market ideology to find that government cannot work and markets do. Surprise!
Public Goods And Club Goods (8 links)
Libertarians often refuse to recognize public goods and club goods, or that governments have a role in their provision. The list of important goods with substantial public or club goods components is very long, and includes education, law, safety, health, transportation, research and much more. (Club goods are like public goods but excludable and only rivalrous with congestion.)
Social Security (10 links)
Social security (and other social insurance such as Medicare) is one of the great enemies of libertarians and conservatives. They continually misrepresent it and claim alternatives are better.
Spontaneous Order (2 links)
Use of "spontaneous order" by libertarians is a propaganda term popularized by Friedrich von Hayek. It is meant to imply that no design is needed to create the order, while distracting from the fact that real human environments have major designs such as property and other institutions. Any environment will have a spontaneous order, whether or not any part of it is designed, coerced, or planned.
Taxes (16 links)
Libertarians hate 'em! But minarchist libertarians (the vast majority) have no coherent answer to how to pay for even a minimal government. Libertarian and Republican criticisms of taxes usually overlap.
Unemployment (2 links)
Libertarians have no solution to unemployment beyond discredited trickle-down theories.

Philosophy


Anarcho-capitalism (10 links)
The "logical" extreme of libertarianism, doing away with all government in favor of hi-tech feudalism. But libertarians have missed the obviousfact that Anarcho-capitalism exists; property ownership just happens to be dominated by about 200 firms called “governments.”
Anarchy, State, and Utopia (book) (8 links)
(1974) Robert Nozick has written the most academically important attempt at libertarian philosophy. Starting with the fantasy of Natural Rights, it is rife with fallacies, misdirection and unstated assumptions.
Anthropology and Scientific Psychology (4 links)
Libertarian philosophy and ideology omits basic facts of anthropology, such as the fact that humans naturally engage in gift networks and sometimes barter, but that markets are unnatural to our psychology. They also usually ignore scientific psychology findings in favor of pop psychology. Capitalist exploitation relies on this fact.
Capitalism, Markets and Laissez-Faire (14 links)
Libertarian ideology worships these gods with feet of clay, and wishes no limits to them. History and common sense tell us that limits must be imposed on them, they must be regulated.
Cyberlibertarianism (5 links)
A utopian, incoherent front for neoliberal exploitation of technology. Some excellent spin-offs, such as Wikipedia, and some enormous threats, such as Algorithmic Prison.
Failures Of Libertarian Philosophy (59 links)
Libertarian philosophy has some conspicuous failures. The numerous libertarian attempts to demonstrate self-ownership and property rights fail badly. This undermines essentially everything else they attempt.
Fallacies Of Ideology (13 links)
Ideology commonly makes a number of different mistakes than more ordinary philosophy.
Fallacies Of Philosophy (2 links)
A great deal of philosophy is grossly misleading from the very start.
Libertarianism Is Not Liberalism (3 links)
The overriding role of property and capitalism in libertarianism prevents it from fulfilling liberal objectives and contradicts basic liberal ideas.
Minarchy (2 links)
The foolish idea of a minimal government, which overlooks the better idea of an optimal government. But libertarians have no moral justification for or alternative to taxation in a minimal government. Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand are the best known minarchists, and both fail miserably.
Non-Aggression (15 links)
The "non-aggression axiom" , also known as non-coercion, is one of the most widely repeated bits of libertarian propaganda. It simply means "we want to coerce you to live by our rules whether you like it or not." "Steal my candy bar? Then you must die!" It is an incoherent piece of rhetoric.
Objectivism (14 links)
Ayn Rand's Objectivism is based on little more than a fine Russian/European tradition of obscurantist philosophy and a number of patently false axioms. For example, as soon as you recognize that reproduction is as ultimate a goal as life, then egoism doesn't make sense.
Praxeology (9 links)
Ludwig von Mises' anti-scientific, axiomatic, a priori methodology for supporting his preferred conservative political economy. Also used by Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe and some other libertarians. Ignored by academia, promoted by the crank vanity press Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Fellow Travelers


Defenders Of The Unsavory
Prostitution, blackmail, environmental crime, child labor, racism, tobacco, gambling, black markets, quacks, corruption of many sorts: defenders of these practices often find libertarian allies.
Dictators And Other Anti-Democratic Authoritarians (6 links)
A large number of notable libertarians have supported dictators and other anti-democratic authoritarians, primarily because they support big-business over the interests of ordinary people.
Extreme Right Wing
Much libertarianism is a front for very right wing people and organizations.
NRA and other gun extremists (3 links)
Libertarians usually endorse NRA positions or even more extreme positions on private ownership of armaments. The NRA has created an absolutist atmosphere extremely hostile to reasoned discussion of (or research on) benefits and harms of guns.
Racists (11 links)
There is a strong overlap between racists and libertarians. Because libertarianism obsesses about independence from social norms, racists are welcome, and actively courted by people like Ron Paul. No surprise that libertarians are 94% white, whiter even than the Republican party.
Science Denialists (19 links)
Libertarians overlap strongly with science denialists on global warming, vaccines, fluoridation, creationism, HIV, smoking, ozone hole, pollution, quack medicines, etc.
Tax Protestors And Other Pseudolaw Cranks (9 links)
There is strong overlap between libertarians and tax protestors. Tax protestors have amazing reinterpretations of laws and history that they claim justify independence from paying taxes. Sovereign Citizens, Constitutional Militiaas and Jury Nullification are some of the many other crank theories.
Wall Street, Corporatists, Neoliberals And Plutocrats
There is strong overlap of goals between big wealth and libertarians. These fellow travelers often fund libertarians and their organizations to promote overlapping goals. This is a class war: between the first-class citizens (large corporations and the very rich) and ordinary people.

Humor, Quotations, Etc.


Quotations
What people say about libertarianism.
Cartoons (3 links)
A picture can be worth a thousand words. Or 100,000 from Ayn Rand.
Humor
Makes an otherwise dry subject more palatable.
Make Or Break Views Of Libertarianism
Positions so absolute and extreme as to border on self-ridicule.

Alternatives


Alternatives To Current Capitalism
Pitting "free market capitalism" against "socialism" is a false dichotomy. There are numerous variants and alternatives to study and choose from.
Basic Income (14 links)
A simple social welfare program that ensures everyone has sufficient income to raise them above the poverty line, whether or not they work. Most libertarians oppose this as "redistribution". Milton Friedman proposed this as a negative income tax. In Canada, an experimental version was called Mincome. In the US, the Alaska Permanent Fund is a basic income system.
Capability Approach
Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum's successor to liberalism. This approach to human well-being emphasizes the importance of freedom of choice, individual heterogeneity and the multi-dimensional nature of welfare. It is an excellent substitute for archaic interpretations of liberty or freedom.
Consequentialism And Utilitarianism
Much libertarianism is deontological, based on moral rules such as "don't initiate force". This leads to many results that seem illogical or intuitively wrong.
Credible Sources
We need credible alternatives to libertarian and conservative propaganda.
Democracy (11 links)
Representative democracy with division of powers is the other enlightenment theory (besides markets) that has created today's world. Libertarians often view democracy as opposing markets, grossly misrepresent it, and often overtly oppose democracy.
Human Rights and Civil Liberties
Libertarian talk big about rights and civil liberties, but they actually do extremely little to defend rights. These organizations actually do something!
John Rawls
John Rawls' theory of justice has been the major theory of liberty and justice in the latter part of the 20th century. Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia was merely one of many reactions to Rawls.
Liberalism
Liberalism differs substantially from libertarianism. All modern first-world nations are liberal. There are no libertarian communities, let alone nations.
Mixed Economy (8 links)
Existing markets are important parts of our mixed economies. The most socialist or communist economies in the world still use mixed markets, though they are more weighted towards central direction. Likewise the most capitalist economies, are still weighted towards central direction within corporations.
NEW 8/16/2016: Positive Alternatives To Libertarian Ideas (2 links)
Many libertarian ideas are based on unrealistic axioms, theories, whims and other products of the imagination, unconstrained by the reality we all observe or know through history. Good ideas ought to be based on reality, rather than needing defence from reality. Another alternative is that their scope can be constrained by reality.
Progressivism
A philosophy that attempts to improve human flourishing through reforms. Successes of progressivism include 8 hour work days, universal enfranchisement, etc.
Social Contract (5 links)
Most libertarians violently oppose the idea of social contract. Libertarians usually misrepresent social contracts as they actually exist, referring instead to philosophical models.
Social Democracy (4 links)
Social democracy combines a universal welfare state and collective bargaining schemes with a capitalist economy. It usually refers to the highly successful social models and economic policies prominent in Western and Northern Europe, such as the Scandinavian nations.
Social Justice
People who tend to the Libertarian side are usually people who have yet to experience the need for financial assistance or social justice.
Social Welfare (2 links)
Often derided as the "welfare state", social welfare produces the best lives for all by standards of low poverty, health, long lives, employment, education and many other measures. There are many varieties, including Basic Income.
Things Government Should Do (16 links)
There are plenty of ideas of what governments should do born out by long history of where governments have been successful and where markets have failed. Not just defense, but things like basic research, infrastructure, social insurance and a host of other practical needs.