Ideology

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The ideological universe of libertarians: how to view them with less distortion from propaganda.

Links

Liberty (27 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 (18 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 (37 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 (18 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 (33 links)
Libertarians demonize government and grossly misrepresent the nature of government, the effects of government and the differences between governments.
Markets (16 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 (33 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. Bartering and other exchanges, even in markets, do not make capitalism: private ownership of the means of production does. A major problem of capitalism is that generally the upper classes rob the lower classes.
Fallacies Of Ideology (20 links)
Ideology commonly makes a number of different mistakes than more ordinary philosophy.
How Libertarian Ideas And Attitudes Are Spread (35 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 (25 links)
Some ideas are described as libertarian, but in reality have long been held by innumerable others. Drug legalization, for example.
Libertarian Propaganda Terms (92 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.
Radicalism
Libertarians are, by self-admission, radicals. They wish to overthrow numerous institutions and replace them with their idealist and untested private substitutes. Radicalism usually has horrendous results: let them try it some place with less to lose than the entire USA.

Quotations

[...] the central analytical failure of libertarianism as a worldview: a total and disqualifying inability to measure or account for power as it exists in the real world.
Freddie deBoer, "Brief insights into the libertarian mind"
[A blind spot]... a simply weird refusal to acknowledge the huge role played by money and monetary incentives promoting bad ideas.
Paul Krugman, "Conservative Intellectuals: Follow the Money"
Thus despite, for example, the dogmatic insistence on “spontaneous order” as the exclusive result of market-based transactions -- transactions that in core neoliberal dogma are said to be the only permissible form of social planning -- the social policies pursued by the MPS [Mont Pelerin Society] and its outer shells [libertarianism, classical liberalism, etc.] are often exquisitely planned, anything but spontaneous, and have nothing to do with any market.
David Golumbia, "Cyberlibertarianism: The Extremist Foundations of ‘Digital Freedom’"
Ideology is not so much a way of seeing the world as it is a set of blinders designed to keep you going in the ‘right’ direction, even when you would normally bolt and run the other way from horror at the sight of the place your faceless rider, Ideology, is taking you.
Daniel Larison, "If History Is For Us, Who Then Is Against Us?"
We have to start by decoding a whole system of intellectual distortion before you can even talk.
Noam Chomsky, "Libertarianism vs. American Libertarianism @5:00"
"Is the main difference between you and, say, Stephan Kinsella, that Stephan can give a long answer to the question, "OK, how do we define a just law?" whereas your answer is, "I don't know, but I know Nazism doesn't count"?" Close, but not quite. Stephan can give you a long and detailed answer because he has an ideology. The purpose of ideology is to do away with the need for practial judgment and replace it with rules. I could tell you, but not in the abstract. Imagine sitting between a really skilled NBA coach and some "average fan" at a bar. Your team is down 10 and falling further behind with 5 minutes to go. The fan is likely to have a rule like "They have to put in a three point shooter!" But, if you ask the coach, "I don't know -- it would depend, depend on who I have on the bench, how much I've played them, who is on the other team, how the game is developing, the crowd, and more." So, now Murphy says to the coach, "If you're so smart, how come he had a ready answer and you don't?" Essentially, in a series of posts in which I've been criticizing ideology, you're here responding, "Well, then, what is YOUR ideology?"
Gene Callahan, "Look at the Violence Inherent in the System!"
The libertarian movement annoys me because I feel like it's sucked up a lot of mental energy, creativity, and idealism that could have been put to better use - like the communist movement did generations earlier. I think it did some good, but it's a maximalist, package-deal ideology, and like all such ideologies it's gone into la-la land. I don't think it's killing the country but I think it's done some damage. So there you go.
Noah Smith, "The libertarian solution to inequality"
I wouldn't confuse conservative libertarianism with a genuine philosophy, open to considering reasoned objections. Bryan Caplan is a libertarian, because that's his job! It is a completely synthetic ideology, deliberately manufactured by a cadre of full-time professionals. And, I don't think their employers intend to make the masses any smarter about the economy or society. In short, libertarians are a product of increasing inequality; of course, they are in favor of increasing inequality, and would prefer that no one draw attention to its deleterious effects; libertarianism is one of increasing inequality's deleterious effects!
Bruce Wilder, "The libertarian solution to inequality"
Despite the intelligence of many of its supporters, libertarianism is an instance of the simplest (and therefore silliest) type of politics: the single-villain ideology. Everything is blamed on the government.
Mark Rosenfelder, "What's wrong with libertarianism (Rosenfelder)"