The Short, Simple Dismissal Of Libertarianism

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99% of libertarianism is obviously untrue or unacceptable for one or more of these reasons. My Gish Gallop through 40 (or more) reasons.

How can we know that so easily? Here are some simple principles that make it obvious (though these problems are not unique to libertarianism.) For brevity and clarity, "many" and "most" are omitted: presume they are there.

Ideology

  • Libertarians can only agree with each other if they get so vague that their statements have no fixed meaning. It's the same way we know that no more than one religion could be right, and probably none are.
  • Libertarians ignore anthropological knowledge of the nature of humans in favor of their idiotic ideology.
  • Libertarians use vague glittering generalities of propaganda (terms like "liberty") rather than specifics such as "liberty for A to do B at an uncompensated cost C to D".
  • Libertarian ideology is loaded with large numbers of words reinterpreted to circularly force their conclusions, perhaps worse than Marxist ideology is.
  • Most libertarian writings are based on cherry-picked examples that give false impressions of the severity of existing problems and dismiss problems claiming libertarian solutions would work (despite practical evidence.)
  • Libertarianism is domineering and totalitarian: nothing and nobody is excused from ownership and markets. No matter how impractical markets might be.
  • Libertarian ideology pretends that society is so simple that maximizing one axis ("freedom") while ignoring others will lead to optimal results.
  • It's an ideology that glorifies and justifies selfishness by painting altruism and empathy as evil.
  • Libertarians claim they want a non-coercive society: providing you overlook all the most extensive coercion of all, protection of property.

Liberty

  • Libertarians value their own personal freedoms (especially property and guns) far above other freedoms or the freedom of others. No universalism or equality here: they want to be masters and don't care if others are slaves.
  • Libertarians want to dictate which freedoms we get for all time, and don't want to allow others to choose their freedoms.
  • Libertarianism privileges property rights (their "liberty") above all other values, narrowly redefining liberty in terms of property.
  • Liberty and equality, spontaneity and security, happiness and knowledge, mercy and justice - all these are ultimate human values according to Isaiah Berlin. Libertarians demand that liberty trumps the other seven.
  • Libertarians do not have a solution to the problem of freedom to sign away freedoms. Some think you should be able to sell yourself into slavery.

Philosophy

  • Libertarianism is based on imaginary "natural rights" (including property rights.) Real rights are creations of coercive human institutions such as law.
  • Or libertarianism is based on utilitarianism which is not only flakey, but can obviously conflict with individual liberty.
  • Libertarians ignore the fact that all real rights, including property, are coercive. Non-coercive "rights" are merely moral claims.
  • Libertarian philosophy relies on channeling your attention away from hidden premises and towards trick examples and faulty generalizations.

Society

  • Libertarian views of society are dog-eat-dog in the market and servitude, charity, poverty or starvation for the losers.
  • Libertarianism is a haven for angry racists, men's rights advocates, sovereign citizens, militias, child abusers, spouse abusers, scammers, frauds, pimps, pushers and others too noxious for ordinary society.
  • Libertarians ignore ideas of equality and justice except to make the ludicrous claim that markets provide them.
  • Libertarians have no concept of the common good.

Economics and Markets

  • Libertarians assume that modern markets are "natural", and ignore the government institutions which create them.
  • Libertarian economic arguments are based on multiple, conflicting, unrealistic economic models such as "economic man" or "rational" man.
  • Libertarians lie about the "free market": it is only an academic model. Actual markets differ enormously from the assumptions and behaviors of free market models.
  • Libertarians have inadequate solutions for public goods problems.
  • Libertarians just assume "the market will provide", even when millennia of history in hundreds of nations shows otherwise.
  • Libertarians assume that freak examples of private provision are both desirable and can be extended everywhere.
  • Libertarians prefer the feudal property relations of business and markets to democracy.
  • Libertarians ignore unequal power such as market power.

Plutocracy

  • Libertarians shill for the wealthy.
  • The intellectual structure of modern libertarianism has been funded from the start by the wealthy and corporations as propaganda to serve their interests.
  • Popular libertarianism is either subsidized at a loss by the wealthy or pushed by policy "entrepreneurs" who bilk angry old white men.
  • Libertarians engage in corporate-funded denialism of science, history and economics.
  • Libertarians ignore the special privileges and vast concentrations of wealth and power of corporations.
  • Libertarian philosophy is a "one size fits all" procrustean bed that only addresses the desires of economic winners. It doesn't address the human needs of women, children, elderly, incompetent, sick, minorities and others who resent being forced into unjust market competitions.

Government

  • Libertarians argue as if government is monolithic when there are hundreds of competing nations and most contain balances of powers and delegate powers to many independent levels of smaller, subsidiary governments.
  • Libertarians demonize government while ignoring the benefits of government.
  • Libertarians are incapable of explaining why governments are so successful.
  • Libertarians have no justification for any taxation even if they consider some government services (such as defense) necessary.
  • There have never been any examples of libertarian nations.

For more extensive discussion, see What Is Wrong With Libertarianism and Analyzing Libertarian Arguments.

A few libertarians avoid some of these. The Friedman clan avoids natural rights, but suffers badly from preferring feudal relationships to democracy.

A few, such as the "Bleeding Heart Libertarians" are aware of some of these problems and engage in elaborate contortions to delude themselves they can solve them. Smarter libertarians depart libertarianism when the cognitive dissonance becomes too great to withstand. See: Testimonials By Former Libertarians And Objectivists.