Libertarianism a possible ideal

The goal of libertarians has been to weaken governmental regulations and authority.

Libertarians are smart. Historically, when countries enacted the type of extreme free-market economic principles advocated by libertarians, there have been popular uprisings, rapid economic decline, corrupt governments, dictatorships and civil war. Examples of these negative effects have been seen in Chile under Pinochet, apartheid South Africa, Indonesia under Suharto, Iran under the Shah, modern Colombia and many others. Think of these like RussiaâÄôs attempt at socialism âÄî they were poorly managed attempts at an ideal. Libertarianism is incredibly similar to anarchism. They donâÄôt like government, anarchists want no government to eliminate governmental control; libertarians just want to shrink it until itâÄôs impotent and doesnâÄôt have the power to influence peopleâÄôs lives. These are two different attempts at the same end: liberation from state control. Anarchism has, unfortunately, been taken as a joke in popular culture. Anarchism, when legitimately considered, actually refers to community cooperation, and a strict prohibition of centralized authority. The individual should decide everything that affects the individual. After all, why should someone else, especially the government, have control over your life? The goal of libertarians has been to weaken governmental regulations and authority. When states issue the unpopular legislation advocated by libertarians, it hurts governmental legitimacy. Their effort to shrink the size of government also removes the governmentâÄôs effectiveness. The results of free trade, regressive taxation and âÄúacross the boardâÄù budgetary cuts (all ideas promoted in Milton FriedmanâÄôs âÄúMonetary EconomicsâÄù), promote the agenda of the anarchist as well as the libertarian; the weaker the state is, the easier it is to remove, and the more legitimate its removal would be. The goal of a libertarian should be to challenge the strongest form of authority controlling a society. By doing so, that authority will lose its power over the individual. In America, where businesses are hugely powerful, government often acts directly in favor of certain businesses as a form of political patronage, arguably a consequence of campaign contributions. This leads to some difficult challenges for libertarians. They become confused, not knowing if they should weaken business or the state. Some want to challenge both because of their strong links, trying to end the corporatist stateâÄôs control of us by dividing the two most powerful entities in our society. Some donâÄôt see the connection between businesses and the state; these are the Ron Paul libertarians (Paul is a government employee whose campaigns are financed almost exclusively by businesses). They see business as the strongest challenge to governmental control, and thus business should be promoted and government should shrink. The reason for this fear of governmental control is because government is still the only institution with legitimate control of the use of force. Despite the privatizing efforts of the Bush administration and libertarians like Ron Paul, that legitimate control of force has yet to be privatized. However, when businesses have that power, we will see libertarians shift and start challenging corporationsâÄô control. If they fail to challenge corporations with the legitimate use of force, they are in fact corporate fascists (not fascists as an insult, but Mussolini/Hitler-esque fascist, with a corporate/market twist). Some believe libertarians are merely pro-business ideologues. However, this claim can be dismissed when considering history; businesses suffer when not regulated because people lose confidence in them and take their business elsewhere, this has been proven dozens of times historically, and is part of the current economic crisis. Unregulated businesses have been known to sell childrenâÄôs toys with mercury, lead or other toxins in them, beef that contains human meat and diseases, and produce still covered in hazardous pesticides. When this happens, people lose confidence in businesses, and look for alternatives; many turn to their local industries, where they can see how a product was made, and know itâÄôs safe. This promotion of local products away from national or international products is a part of the anarchist agenda. From a holistic perspective, the actions of the anarcho-libertarian make sense. Yet, belief that these reforms will benefit anyone requires the end of the state or complete loss of confidence in business. However, these reforms have historically lead to increased state control and often police states, the opposite of the anarcho-libertarian ideal. But those states werenâÄôt America. With our long tradition of individualism and widespread gun ownership, a police state is out of the question âÄî anarchism would finally have a chance to thrive. This mode of real politics, trusting reactions to reach an unspoken conclusion, is well thought out and powerful. And it seems to be working, considering the growing popularity of libertarianism and Ron Paul. We must not dismiss their claims immediately just because of history. The anarchist/libertarian ideal is genuinely possible, and instead of dismissing what they say just because it has failed so absolutely in the past does not mean we shouldnâÄôt keep trying for the future. This column was originally published in the Oklahoma Daily at the University of Oklahoma. Please send comments to [email protected]