By Zeus’ golden rain! Can anyone explain to me why I recently seem to attract all the crusaders of capitalism? It seems like every other post I make I’m battling with Objectivists, libertarians, anarcho-capitalists and the like. Did someone stick a “Ask me about Communism!” sticker on my back when I wasn’t looking? Fuck, I don’t even enjoy talking about this stuff.
So recently I’ve been having a lively discussion with a member of the Atheist Nexus who contated me via email and initiated a discussion by innocuously asking me some basic questions on freedoms (such as if I support ban on smoking or drugs). The nature of the questions was somehow suspicious as I’ve been very clear generally on my support for personal freedoms in the fora but I decided to answer anyway.
As I expected, soon enough the questions turned to accusations of me not allowing the same freedom for economy that I allow to persons and that somehow makes me a hypocrite and a “moral facist” [1. The later description is just my way to describe the classic accusation all libertarians seem to make, with annoying frequency, of "pushing our morality upon them"] and things only started getting downhill from there…
The main gist of Oolon’s “I’m not a libertarian” Colluphid was that absolutely unregulated freedom is the best thing that can ev4r happen. All my arguments were either equivocated or handwaved away as irrelevant or inconsequential.
- Positive Freedom? There’s no such thing. It’s “entitlement” and you’re stealing money to achieve it
- Wage Slavery? It’s not that. You always have a choice to switch jobs and just because you’re unhappy with your work it does not mean that you’re entitled to something better.
- Tragedy of the commons? It’s not really a problem and besides, Capitalism can deal with it…somehow.
- Hard working people being impoverished? Impossible! They’re just lazy. Prove it to me otherwise!
- Inequality? This will never change so we might as well look to ourselves.(why is this such a favorite response from capitalists?)
Generally the classic libertarian lollipop where the pertaining notion is that Free Market knows best and all concerns to the contrary are trivialized. I even had my example of one getting a work that exploits them because of desperation, compared to…taking out the garbage!
This is precisely the reason why I don’t enjoy these debates. Whenever I state my arguments, people seem to enjoy jumping on their high horse and calling me an authoritarian. I am accused of not understanding the “human nature” (which will of course, never-ever change) without them ever recognising that, without this “human nature” changing, their system is even worse.
For my part, I generally agree with Ebonmuse’s “Why I’m not a libertarian” series from which I often take many of the arguments whenever I’m faced with these discussions. I also have a few other arguments that Ebonmuse did not tackle, such as the possibility for monopolies to form in a libertarian environment (which another A|N member believes are only formed because of goverment intervention, as silly as that sounds).
In general this email debate covered all the bases: Poor people are lazy, I misunderstand economics, I am a moral fascist, capitalism is a natural as evolution etc.
It also touched on two issues I would like to tackle:
At some point in our discussion Oolon revealed his favorable future
There’s no two ways about it. Either we follow the majority’s economic “ideals” or we follow the minority’s. I don’t see why it should be the later.
False dichotomy. We can let the government set back, enforce basic laws and let society for itself. Nothing it stopping you from forming a commune and living a socialist lifestyle in my capitalist country however in a socialist country I can’t own and operate a private business
Why is forming a commune perfectly fine but if that commune becomes large enough to include the whole nation that is not fine? If a capitalist does not want to live in a commune he does not have to get in it, but if the majority of people in a country want to form a commune, they somehow can’t? What if that commune I form grows so much as to include all other citizens of the country? Wouldn’t that be the same thing?
Oolon, is not about allowing freedom, he is all about getting his own way. If somehow all other humans on the planet wanted to live in a grand planet-wide commune, then Oolon would feel that he is being oppressed.
That is, unfortunately, a classic sentiment I’ve seen libertarian express (which I’m just certain, Oolon isn’t). It should be either their way or nothing at all – and this is why I am always left with the impression that they’re just spoiled brats…
However Oolon has another conflict that he may have perhaps not noticed. He is supporting enironmental protections (and government checks on corporations to that end) and he’s also for Government protection. However I could very well use the same arguments he does, in order to argue against these concepts too:
Why should I pay for you protection Oolon? Why can’t I use my hard earned money to buy my own protection that would better serve me? Why should you be entitled to protection? Why do you want to curtail my freedom to build and use whatever I want? A coal plant will save me more money than a wind pylon.
Of course the obvious conflicts of supporting some socialistic policies (environmental and protection) because of the good consequences they will have, while on the other hand opposing others (like universal heathcare) is the classic schizophrenic nature of the right-libertarian beast. They subconsciously realize that common goals have a net benefit for everyone but are utterly incapable of seeing that it’s the same exact concept for the rest.
Unfortunately, once again, I find out that there is little point in having a conversation like these. Sooner or later we reach some fundamental difference in concepts and it then becomes a shouting match. And I have neither the time nor the inclination to participate.