Sunday, June 13, 2010


American Conservative: The Marxism of the Right is a column a friend asked me to look at, and if I so choose, to rebuttal. I would recommend reading the column first, but its not necessary.

"If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism."

The root problem with Marxism is that it is fundamentally opposed to human nature. Human beings are selfish creations bent on our own benefit, with a lesser regard to others then to ourselves.

From a christian point of view, it is why we are
commanded by Christ to love one another. It is against our nature, and it is something that has to be taught by society around us. We do not have to teach children to do wrong, because they are remarkably adept at doing wrong on their own. We do have to teach children to do right, because it is necessary for a properly functioning citizen in society to behave in such a manner. Therefore, we teach the golden rule to our young, not exclusively but as an essential cornerstone of behavior.
Because it is impossible to fully follow this command, we will always be in sin. Fortunately, our salvation is also offered by the King, but no we will return to the governance of men in our earthly dealings.

Where Marxism rejects the nature of man and attempts to forcefully substitute it's own, a libertarian philosophy embrace the reality of Man's existence.
All men are created equal, each as an individual autonomous from all others. His actions and thoughts are his own, and he bears responsibility for them.

The assertion that people can benefit from each others selfishness is one frequently made by all manner of philosophies proclaiming liberty, and justifiably so. When I buy a coconut at the supermarket, I do so because I want one more then i want the $2 in my wallet. The supermarket has the coconut on the shelf because they figure that someone like me will want it more then their $2, and the supermarket values the $2 as a higher value then the product. Likewise, the farmer who sells the coconuts to the retailer values the money he receives more then he does his coconuts.
In this cycle, everyone is acting out of selfish interest, receiving what they want in exchange for something they value less. This is not altruism, but selfish action. In short, human selfishness has been harnessed by the market to benefit all.

"The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. "

While freedom may not be the only good thing in life, it is the ground from which all other good things grow. As adults, we are free to choose and responsible for our own actions. What we value most are the things we have chosen, such as friends, family, and faith. We choose to live, to eat, to breath, and to sleep. We may not like the consequences of our chooses and actions, but they remain our choices and actions.
While things exist in nature that are inherently good for us, we still must choose to partake in them.

The proper role of government remains this: To protect the lives and property of individuals from damage and encroachment by other people. This is a simple concept, and one that is more simply executed then any other government man has tried to devise. Still, questions must be answered.

"What if a free society needed to draft its citizens in order to remain free?"

American Revolution. War of 1812. Mexican-American War. Spanish-American War.
These are wars America triumphed in without a draft. It the War between the states that first required a draft, and the blatantly interventionist wars of the 20th century that perpetuated them in recent memory. But as shown by the current US military, a volunteer force is far more then sufficient to defend freedom. If the need arises yet again for free men to defend a free nation. To quote a president in the 1980s,
Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. "

"What if it needed to limit oil imports to protect the economic freedom of its citizens from unfriendly foreigners?"

To phrase the question another way, 'What if we needed to cut the water supply to a patient because it comes from the wrong tap?'
It is beyond absurd to suggest that limiting any commodity from another location is in any way beneficial to a nation. We seek to buy from beyond our borders because it is less expensive, and allows us to allocate our time to other projects that the people of this nation prefer to, as is their choice.

"What if it needed to force its citizens to become sufficiently educated to sustain a free society?"

True education cannot be forced. Learning requires willingness, and such willingness is compulsory when compelled by the force of arms. If it is truly beneficial for citizens to be educated, then education will take place. If education is harmful, then why would we wish for it to be compulsory?
The literacy rate in colonial America was
astounding, some historians placing it at 95%. Today, with compulsory education, we may be around 85% literacy.
When people are free to choose an education, they value what they learn more.

"What if it needed to deprive landowners of the freedom to refuse to sell their property as a precondition for giving everyone freedom of movement on highways?"

This is the fallacy of supposing you can replace the fundamental freedom of one man with the minor freedom of many, with the use of force as the compulsory factor.
A fundamental responsibility of government is to defend the rights of men against those who prey on them, including the right to own property. When a government betrays this responsibility to take land from the men it represents, it is nothing more then a legalized mafia, a thief of little distinction but to have been put in place by the people, be it by choice or by acquiescence. Highways were constructed, turnpikes were cleared and railroads were laid in America before the first government transportation project ever took place. Where a government construction project is by its nature a bloated gas bag of corruption and delay, private road makers were put out of business only by a government monopoly moving into the market. Early US history is rife with such discussions, notably involving Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.
If the right incentive is offered to property owners, they will trade their property for something else. But there is no justification for the mafia style governance that would compel a property owner to vacate his property by force.

"What if it needed to deprive citizens of the freedom to import cheap foreign labor in order to keep out poor foreigners who would vote for socialistic wealth redistribution?"

The assumption that the poor who come here to work would vote themselves into socialism is despicable, each man is responsible for his vote. Immigrant workers are not a monolithic voting block, and so let us not treat this as so.

" Freedom without judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom."

In our world, we interact with other people. These people develop their own thoughts on other people, and how to deal with them. To draw a simplistic analogy, who would you rather buy your cell phone from a boy scout or from a politician?
The point of this analogy is to show that the marketplace, when free of government intervention rewards honest and trustworthy businesses, and encourages good moral behavior between men and women. Liberty is the ground from which all other good things grow, and should be cultivated and protected to the best of our abilities. While their are other good things in this world, none can exist without freedom. The historical record of mankind shows that the more the freedom of the individual to choose and to act is preserved and allowed, the more prosperous society becomes.

The freedom of one is to the benefit of all, and the freedom of all is to the benefit of one. This is the essence of the Libertarian.


Gino said...

when did you become a libertarian???

Palm Boy said...

Well, I still am a registered member of the republican party in texas and just finished up at the state convention.
However, I have found that since the 2008 election I am far more often aligned with the libertarian side of the political spectrum.

Part of it is due to my continued study of history, part of it is due to my continued study of economics, part of it is due to the columns and writings of sites like, and most of it is that it just makes sense to cease removing the liberties of people by government force.

Gino said...

so, you know longer support the confiscation of earnings to redistribute toward other nations who have planned their existence poorly?
and think the US foriegn policy should be one of nonintervention?

or are you still a neocon who turns libertarian when sean hannity does(like, when there's a democrat spending the money.)

Palm boy said...

I think US foreign policy has been one of outright intervention since the conclusion of the Spanish American War, and the grand tour of the Great White Fleet by Teddy Roosevelt.
That is not to say they have made us unsafe, we have pushed the borders of conflict with US well beyond our shores and into the homes of those we have made our enemies.

The current Iraq conflict is the result of fear mongering on the part of an overly assertive administration, and our continued presence in Afghanistan is more for the CIA operations then any national security purpose.

As to the external deployments of our military into formerly conquered nations, I believe these bases are justified, not for the aggressive purposes they are being utilized for, but because they give us an unparalleled high ground from which we may perch our defense.

In the case of foreign aid, I believe it is just as immoral for citizen's wealth to be cast amongst the oceans of the nations as to be scattered amongst the homeland.

These excursions into conflict have kept our forces honed to an edge, but in the balance of world affairs, have destroyed our moral ground and decayed our national security.

Solameanie said...

I'm a strong conservative, but not quite libertarian. Most libertarians are pro-abortion rights etc...and I could never go along with that.

Palm boy said...

Joel, good question/point.

If a baby is alive, then its life deserves to be protected by society, at the same standards as any other life. Perhaps even more so, since a child in the womb is in no position to defend itself.

Therefore, abortion is premeditated murder, and should be treated as such under the law.

Gino said...

given what you've spoken, you are now opposed to intervention in the israeli/arab conflict, and seek to remove israel from the list of donees, which it leads.

we may also find that our relations with the broader islamic world will greatly improve, reducing the need for 'perches' in other lands where we shouldnt be.

good go, PB.
i'm proud of you.

Gino said...

solameanie: the Libertarian Party is officially noncommitted on abortion, but they always seem to have prolifers at the top of their party.

i dont belong to them,btw.
i have no party.

Palm boy said...

Our over the table spending in Israel is $2.508bl.
To the government, thats small potatoes.
To a taxpayer, thats a lot of money.
In fact, to a lot of taxpayers thats a lot of money.
To all tax payers, its money taken at gun point to support a nation that is perfectly capable of defending itself.

Marvelously smart policy there.
Yes, I oppose it.

Gino said...

i'm sending some members of the christian coalition of texas to your house this evening. you will be required to surrender your neocon card.

congratulations. (i got tears in my eyes)

but question: if israel wasnt, as you claim, perfectly capable of defending itself, would you fel the same.

(truthfully, they are not. they've relied on foriegn military aid for their entire existence.
and we give them more than a paltry 2+ billion. that just the official 'aid' figure. there's much much more.
basically, they've become a subsidiary of the USA. they would fold in three weeks if we truly cut them off)

Palm boy said...

Is the Christian Colilition still active? I remember seeing signs for them up at my church when I was a kid, but I haven't heard a peep from them since Bush was elected.
Regardless, they can have it.

Regardless of Israel's ability to defend itself, our support still comes from tax money taken by force. Its wrong.
There is a lot of room for charities to support the Israelis however, if private citizens choose to do so.

I think providing intel and cooporative training with an ally is and will always be valuable, but the direct subsidy of arms is not a good plan.

I think an Israel armed with nuclear devices is capable of defending itself quite well from aggressor nations, although NGO attacks are a different matter.