Sunday, October 19, 2008

Libertarianism Is Dead

Those of you who share my hatred of libertarianism will want to read this piece over at Slate. The most pertinent quote:
The argument as a whole is reminiscent of wearying dorm-room debates that took place circa 1989 about whether the fall of the Soviet bloc demonstrated the failure of communism. Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history.
Bingo. And I will add, from a Christian perspective, that both Marxism on the left and libertarianism on the right (yes, the right, despite their best efforts to claim otherwise) ignore the sticky problem of human depravity. If, as Calvin claims, people are both wicked and profoundly stupid, we've got to have some oversight. And while it's foolish to expect the government to be pure, it's equally foolish to expect the masses to be pure. (It may be even stupider, given the way the masses are uncurious and attracted to shiny objects.) The solution is oversights on both sides, exactly what a liberal democratic government is supposed to provide.


Nathan P. Gilmour said...

Ah, yes. The clash of twentieth-century idealisms. We actually talked in my Plato classes this semester about "free market" as a kind of idealism that competes with Plato's.

Given a choice, I'd rather live in Plato's city than Milton Friedman's.

Michial said...

No kidding. I've got my problems with Plato's anthropology (I still believe, contra both him and Aristotle, that people can do things that hurt themselves for no reason other than sheer perversity), but he's a damned sight better than Friedman--or Greenspan, who owes this country a public apology.