Culture Libertarianism and its Disconnects

Certified_Heterosexual

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Libertarians are heinously flawed. They can't imagine that society is any more complex than an Excel spreadsheet, or that it functions like an organism rather than a mathematical model. All they have to do, they think, is plug in the numbers and voila—it turns out that open borders and individualized morality maximize the efficiency of the market, so end of story.

Of course they neglect the fact that efficiency comes at the cost of rigor—as a friend of mine mentioned, there is a reason why we have two lungs and two kidneys, despite the fact that it would be more "efficient" from an energy standpoint to simply do with one of each. There must be a certain amount of redundancy and "slack" in any system (i.e. programmed inefficiency) to buffer any radical contingencies which may occur. That is why traditional societies may appear inefficient and oppressive to the libertarian, but are in fact highly stable, while over-efficient systems like our own managerial state are fragile and highly vulnerable to changing variables.

Libertarianism is an impossible ideology because it's predicated on the idea that humans are rational. To the contrary, humans are confusing mixtures of biases, emotions, prejudices, experiences, and reason comes in distantly behind all of these. It's also based on the falsehood of individualism, as opposed to the reality of personhood (shorthand: persons are defined by their context—origin, environment, relationship to other persons, etc.). The wholesale embrace of the Enlightenment heresy of "individualism" is why we suffer the terrible things we do, because if the individual is an atomic unit free to define every aspect of his/her existence, then all things which constrain that "freedom"—gender, race, family, nation (socio-ethnic tribe)—are evils which must be destroyed and overcome. Hence leftism, etc.

If you're a libertarian wondering why I'm opposed to free-market capitalism, you should probably look around you at the way businesses in a free market operate, the causes they endorse, and the morality they promote. Do the virtues of your culture come from the scramble for personal gain? This is the "greed is good" philosophy that many conservatives are programmed with.

It takes a long time for conservatives to break through the programming, even as the free market they revere seeks to send their jobs overseas and flood them with aliens at home, even as it mistreats employees and fires them for complaining, even as it breaks the law and then uses the courts to safeguard its profits, even as it privatizes profits and socializes losses, even as it predates on those with little money and then lectures them about "individual responsibility." If you can look at the morass of business ethics today, the steady procession of abuses and degradations, the nihilistic grasping for wealth at nearly any cost, and see a system that needs more freedom to work as it does, then you have yet to wake up.

Libertarians also fail to correctly grasp the correct hierarchy of political needs. They see it as freedom first, followed by rule of law, followed by social order, followed by peace, when the actual hierarchy is the opposite: first peace, then order, then law and then freedom. Thinking that freedom is the foundational prerequisite, they spend and diminish the stored capital of the others in its favor, figuring it will all work out when they get an invisible handjob from the ghost of Adam Smith. All they accomplish thereby is the destruction of all four. 1990s Mogadishu had a surplus of freedom, and not much else. Libertarians think freedom begets prosperity and a kind of magic order, whereas in reality freedom is the precious byproduct of centuries of order and peace. Without the constraints of that order—in other words, in a libertarian utopia—freedom will inevitably demolish the mechanisms of order and thus destroy itself. Jonathan Haidt mentions this dynamic in his talks about morality, referring to Bosch's triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.

What defenders of libertarianism have not addressed is the dynamic by which liberty (hedonism, license, "do what thou wilt") leads to social decay because men are not naturally wise, nor are they wise as a mob.

More importantly, if the Republican Party represents the liberal zeitgeist of the past, while the Democrats embody the liberal zeitgeist of the present, libertarians are the vanguard of the ghost of liberalism future. They're the specter of Democratic Party of 2032 haunting the Internet today. There is no future in a conservative politics that panders to them. They will corrupt any such attempt.

Just what a truly libertarian social order would look like is a moot question, because every government of any significance on Earth is in the hands of technocratic managerialists, who do not have a libertarian bone in their body. While it is generally preferred by managerialists that socially liberal policies prevail (this is a useful way of controlling people and an all-purpose screen for whatever extra-constitutional things they want to do—as well as a sign of their own severe decadence), but to characterize them as libertarian is to mistake what libertarianism is. (Talking about the US Constitution is not heading in the right direction either.) Among other things, managerialists do not favor a diminished role for the state, and have no intention of reducing their control over their economies (which in any event isn't feasible in a complex, globalized system). If they decide to let you smoke pot or visit prostitutes, it won't mean they're libertarian, it will mean they consider pot and whoring to be excellent forms of soma. They'll still be eager to disarm and disenfranchise you in countless ways.

Am I misrepresenting libertarian political thought? Unfortunately, the Internet, where libertarians are extremely well-represented, does not support that case, to put it mildly.

Dismissing me as a fascist or anti-capitalist won't work here, either. I see the market as an end to general happiness and not an end to itself. I recognize that interventions frequently do more harm than good. In this I'm closer to a libertarian than a socialist, but I'm very skeptical about ideologies that try to skirt around human nature.

Humans exhibit the whole range of social behaviors: group cooperation, group competitiveness, individual cooperation, and individual competitiveness. Ideologies that ignore this by starting with a few presuppositions and working out a body of law as though humans were the merest of mathematical constructs are doomed to failure if carried to their logical conclusions. I believe that humans and societies are neural networks that, in complex ways, balance multiple competing interests in making decisions rather than simple variables that are easily explained and managed by rudimentary, if politically satisfying, axioms. I believe that as the sociobiological revolution unfolds, as it impacts sociology and economics as it has started to impact psychology, there is going to be less and less ground for ideological purists of any stripe to stand upon.
 

Yinko

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individualism, as opposed to the reality of personhood (shorthand: persons are defined by their context—origin, environment, relationship to other persons, etc.). The wholesale embrace of the Enlightenment heresy of "individualism" is why we suffer the terrible things we do, because if the individual is an atomic unit free to define every aspect of his/her existence, then all things which constrain that "freedom"—gender, race, family, nation (socio-ethnic tribe)
I found this point really interesting. I like the idea of personhood the way you define it, it did remind of a bit of intersectionality though, in that labels are chosen for you. Merely a superficial similarity, perhaps.

They see it as freedom first, followed by rule of law, followed by social order, followed by peace, when the actual hierarchy is the opposite: first peace, then order, then law and then freedom.
1990s Mogadishu had a surplus of freedom, and not much else. Libertarians think freedom begets prosperity and a kind of magic order, whereas in reality freedom is the precious byproduct of centuries of order and peace.
The Mogadishu example was quite clarifying regarding a point that I think a lot of people would have found difficult to parse. The way you order the chriteria reminds me of how peace works in areas where war has just ended. First peace is acheived, then order, then civil laws are brought back, and then finally people are permitted to go about as normal.
 

King Kravoka

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They can't imagine that society is any more complex than an Excel spreadsheet, or that it functions like an organism rather than a mathematical model. All they have to do, they think, is plug in the numbers and voila—
What's interesting is that Marx did this too with trying to apply macroeconomic concepts to the entire course of human history.
I maintain that the current order of Earth is ultimately Anarcho-Capitalist in nature for any sufficiently wealthy person, and that libertarianism is microscale globalism. Therefore someone in that situation must think of life in terms that are less of economics and more of geopolitics, the current situation in many cities where the police have given up their monopoly on force is a good example.
 

Yinko

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What's interesting is that Marx did this too with trying to apply macroeconomic concepts to the entire course of human history
To be even-handed, that's true about economists in general, and for a lot of people who view economic growth as a primary innate virtue for society. Most historical societies had a completely different "highest-virtue", be it honor, piety, or whatever, so trying to apply economic principles (which only work when the public agrees they do because that's the very nature of value and trade) doesn't work either.
 

OliverCromwell

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I'll freely admit to not only not being a libertarian but in fact finding libertarianism rather laughable, but I feel that all libertarians reading this thread have the right to know that the OP is coming from someone who used to unironically believe that people should be allowed to own Recreational McNukes(TM). This screed is very much a case of projection on his part and you don't really need to give it much thought in light of that.
 
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Certified_Heterosexual

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I'll freely admit to not only not being a libertarian but in fact finding libertarianism rather laughable, but I feel that all libertarians reading this thread have the right to know that the OP is coming from someone who used to unironically believe that people should be allowed to own Recreational McNukes(TM). This screed is very much a case of projection on this part and you don't really need to give it much thought in light of that.
In other words: you agree with my post, but simply hate it because you have a bug up your ass about me personally, as your flurry of laughing-through-gritted-teeth posts tonight attest.

So much for your vaunted "rationalism." You will never bully me off this forum; cry harder.
 
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