Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Word from Your (would-be) Empress

I get questioned, regularly, on why I am no longer a libertarian. And when I remind those who know me that the most I ever did was briefly flirt with libertarianism (it was where I happened to be at the time I started this Blog), my questioners are not moved. They note that I still refer to myself, on the masthead, as a "libertarian-leaning liberal." My answer to that is that I still am.

If I were the Empress of America, this would be a land of minimal government and a strong and energetic progressive spirit. It would voluntarily move -- in a libertarian sort of way -- in a progressive direction. I would, however, still see a governmental role in regulating commerce. And I would not allow the chartering of large corporations. Then again, if I were an empress, I don't suppose any libertarian nation would ever let me reign in the first place.

Enough of fantasy. Libertarian philosophy, as I have said before, is nearly perfect on paper. But we don't live on paper; we live in the real world. And in the real world, as libertarians would be the first to assert, all power needs to be checked and counterbalanced. The only way to establish such a counterbalance of power, concentrated in the hands of large corporations, is by government regulation. "Libertarians" who fail to see this have a fatal blind spot.

In Lori-land, NO organization would be permitted to grab too much power: neither the government NOR big business. But in the real world, mega-corporations now wield a power even Stalinist Russia, Red China and Nazi Germany could only dream of. And that power was handed to them, on a silver platter, by the very governments who claim to support free trade. Free enterprise is not even possible under big-corporate capitalism. Far from being the same thing as genuine free enterprise, corporate gigantism (itself a product of government, as ALL corporations are the creatures of government) is actually the enemy of free enterprise.

Libertarianism, in its delusionary conviction that ALL business is automatically an effective counterbalance against government regulation, fails to recognize this. And again, it is a fatal flaw.

Big government and big business need each other, and they work hand-in-glove. Big ANYTHING quickly becomes too powerful and strangles individual liberty. For the record, I'm opposed to both forms of tyranny. When given free reign by the governments that profit from them, gigantic corporations can do as much harm as the most despotic states.

Bust up the big corporations, give all a fair chance, and make sure we all play by the same rules. I love baseball, but because I do so love the game, I am quick to see the need for umpires. I love free enterprise, but just as baseball could not survive without umpires, neither could free enterprise last very long without at least some governmental oversight. I love peace, but we would not enjoy it for very long without an army to defend us. I love order, but without the police we would have nothing but chaos.

This is why, though I think libertarians are the ones who should be -- need to be -- robust opponents of government excess, I nonetheless count myself as a libertarian-LEANING liberal instead of as a pure libertarian. Idealism has its limits, and in political reality, the "perfect" is the enemy of all achievable good. I've said most, if not all, of this already. And if I have to, I'll explain it again and again.

It's too important for us to fail to understand it. Just take this as another word from your (would-be) Empress.



Post a Comment

<< Home