Refuting Salon: 11 Questions For Libertarians Answered and Refuted

Salon has posted an article called “11 Questions to see if libertarians are hypocrites” that can supposedly “prove” that your libertarian friends are hypocrites. Unfortunately, Salon is like the Fox News for progressives so nothing they say will be factual and any legitimate position they attempt to refute will be grossly exaggerated and inaccurate.

The article starts out by saying that the philosophy is all but dead and is only kept alive by billionaires. Right off the bat we have a strawman, but we can’t expect anything less from Salon can we? They exist to propagandize collectivist thinking and make that logical mess seem appealing. The line that really got me was “They call themselves “realists” but rely on fanciful theories that have never predicted real-world behavior.”

Really?

So on December 16th 1998 when Ron Paul was interviewed just before the impeachment of Clinton was to go before congress; and Clinton had just done a 4 day bombing campaign in Iraq along with a blockade to starve out the nation; Ron Paul didn’t predict that our statist foreign policy would invoke a terrorist attack and make us all less safe? Oh wait he did.

And it’s not like Ron Paul predicted the economic meltdown years before it occurred and no one listened.

Hey wait. Didn’t Ludwig Von Mises, one of the patron saints of libertarian thought and Free Markets, predict the collapse of the German Mark as well as the Depression of 1929? In fact he was nearly alone in his predictions at the time. And it’s not like Mises Protege F.A. Hayek won a Nobel Prize because of his “Fanciful Theories”. All in all, it’s not like Mises wanted to bring economics back to praxeology, or human action. This is because he was one of the few at the time that was looking at why humans do certain things in economics, not just the numbers. Austrian Economists (libertarians) are probably the only people today in economics that recognize in it’s study that humans are unpredictable and make motivated choices. Krugman and all of those guys never talk of human action, in fact they ignore it! So as you can see, libertarianism is full of “fanciful theories.” They go on to say:

But the libertarian movement has seen a strong resurgence in recent years, and there’s a simple reason for that: money, and the personal interests of some people who have a lot of it. Once relegated to drug-fueled college-dorm bull sessions, political libertarianism suddenly had pretensions of legitimacy. This revival is Koch-fueled, not coke-fueled, and exists only because in political debate, as in so many other walks of life, cash is king.”

Its as if they make it sound like libertarianism is the only view with millionaires (which it is most assuredly not). If it was, then it would be much more prominent than it is now. It would be, I don’t know, as big as the liberal/progressive ideas that Salon likes to vomit out. In fact, 2013 saw liberal and democrat interests take the monetary advantage from the billionaire bracket. So stop crying about the Koch Brothers Salon, your asinine progressive agenda is still in the lead for donations from billionaires.

Before I jump into their questions, I need to define the Non-Aggression Principle.

“The non-aggression principle (also called the non-aggression axiom, or the anti-coercion or zero aggression principle or non-initiation of force) is an ethical stance which asserts that “aggression” is inherently illegitimate. “Aggression” is defined as the “initiation” of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property. In contrast to pacifism, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violent self-defense. The principle is a deontological (or rule-based) ethical stance.”

It’s the idea of “mind your own business” and “you own yourself.”

Question #1:
So the article goes on to say that society cannot order itself. Really? I will direct you to my article of Polycentric Law and Ireland as well as this article entitled “Anarchy – Never Been Tried?

Their question is:

Are unions, political parties, elections, and social movements like Occupy examples of “spontaneous order”—and if not, why not?

Unions are society self organizing. There is nothing against unions organizing and working together for their benefit. There is nothing wrong with, as a group, choosing not to work in order to make a point. What you don’t have the right  to do is keep others from working which is something Unions actively seek to do. If you are one strike because you don’t like the pay, but someone is will to work for that pay, you have no right to use violence to keep them from working. This violates the central philosophical axiom of libertarianism. The Non-Aggression Principle.

Political parties and elections, or Government, are not society spontaneously organizing in way that does not violate the non-aggression principle. Government is a racket that is a monopoly on violence, force and coercion within a given arbitrary set of boundaries. Government makes it illegal to steal from them or anyone else, but it will steal from you through taxation. Government will make it illegal to kill them or anyone else but will then convince you that enough if people do it it’s ok. We’ll just call it war. Elections and democracy are just a euphemism for mob rule where if at least 51% of the population wants to strip the rights of the other 49% through elections, they can! For a deeper look check out my post about democracy and government. So no, government cannot exist without violating the non-aggression principle.

As far as the Occupy movements go. You have the right the gather with anyone you choose for what ever reason you choose so long as you do not violate the non-aggression principle. So as long as you are not harming someone else, destroying or stealing your property you are ok. It’s not a societal organization like I described in article about polycentric law, but it isn’t wrong either.

Question #2:

Cato also trumpets what it calls “The Virtue of Production” without ever defining what production is. Economics defines the term, but libertarianism is looser with its terminology. That was easier to get away with in the Industrial Age, when “production” meant a car, or a shovel, or a widget.

 Today nearly 50 percent of corporate profits come from the financial sector—that is, from the manipulation of money. It’s more difficult to define “production,” and even harder to find its “virtue,” when the creation of wealth no longer necessarily leads to the creation of jobs, or economic growth, or anything except the enrichment of a few.

Which seems to be the point. Cato says, “Modern libertarians defend the right of productive people to keep what they earn, against a new class of politicians and bureaucrats who would seize their earnings to transfer them to nonproducers.”Which gets us to our next test question: Is a libertarian willing to admit that production is the result of many forces, each of which should be recognized and rewarded?

This writer must have received a lot of Fs in school for only using one resource like Cato. Cato is not the flagship of libertarian thought and certainly not the one for Anarchistic Libertarian thought since they are Ok with limited government (This voluntaryist is for no government).

I’d like to pose a question to author. If things like a widget, shovel, car, train, plane, factories and equipment or even land did not exist, than would this manipulation of money even be possible? You see they see only a small piece of the puzzle. Production is the task of man rearranging elements of his environment to eventually produce a desired end–a good.

Further more, this implies property rights. Socialism for instance aims to own the means of production and take it away from the private owner. But humans are the ultimate producers. Without us, there would be no production. So you have a right to your body. You have a right to what you make with your own property. Some bureaucrat in Washington who had nothing to do with you producing a product on your own property with your own materials has no right to demand a tribute of any sort. It’s called theft. So this is what is meant when libertarians talk of protecting the productive people. Taking a portion of what someone produces through violence, threats of violence and force is a violation of the non-aggression principle.

Question #3:
The author talks about how fast-food businesses and retailers depend on employees in order to create their wealth. They then argue that the worker has the right to coordinate with other workers in order to negotiate better terms. They then ask their question:

Is our libertarian willing to acknowledge that workers who bargain for their services, individually and collectively, are also employing market forces?

Yes, this question was already answered above. What these workers do not have a right to though is to use the violent and coercive arm of the government to force their employers to give them what they want when they cannot peacefully  negotiate it. Also you are not allowed to force people to join your union or collective. Most unions are involuntary so that is a violation of the non-aggression principle.

Question #4:
The author talks about banksters and how they shafted all of us. They then ask the question of:

Is our libertarian willing to admit that a “free market” needs regulation?

I’m sorry but this is just willful ignorance. I wish to ask the author a question. How do you think these banks and rich elites are able to shaft us and get away with it? Is it because they buy off the biggest monopoly of all called government? The author is afraid of this sort of abuse so they advocate for something that makes the abuse possible, government, in order to keep the abuse from happening. What? How does that make any sense? That is just pure stupidity. “I don’t like monopolies so lets make a monopoly called government in order to keep monopolies from happening.” That is the gist of the argument the author is advocating for.

So no this libertarian will not admit that because I’m not an idiot.

Question #5:
It seems like with every question the authors shows that they understand less and less of the material. They talk about how “government created the internet.” This is true. But the market is what made the internet useful. This article answers that charge rather well.

With this remark, Thiel let something slip that extreme libertarians prefer to keep quiet: A lot of them don’t like democracy very much. In their world, democracy is a poor substitute for the iron-fisted rule of wealth, administered by those who hold the most of it. Our next test, therefore, is: Does our libertarian believe in democracy? If yes, explain what’s wrong with governments that regulate.

No read my article on democracy. It’s funny that the author think that “iron-fisted rule of wealth” with in opposition to democracy when it’s really behind it. As I pointed out, government is a monopoly, so what is to stop the super elites and rich, who “run” for office and rig the system, from using their wealth to manipulate it. Within a free market they have to compete with each other in offering the best services and the best prices. Hardly abusive. But with government, they can get a government granted monopoly (like power and water for instance) and just shaft the consumer because the government has their back and they send the elected officials kickbacks. Gee, I wonder which system is really “iron-fisted rule of wealth.”

Question 6:

Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn’t exist without government in order to preach against the role of government?

First of all, government doesn’t create anything. Everything government “creates” was built and funded by someone else who was put at gun point. Since it is not governments money, they don’t care how they spend it. This means they take risks with money that the private individual never would. These leads to massive wastes of capital. This is the typical statist fallacy of the seen vs. the unseen. The statist can only see what is in front of them and think that that is the only option. But if government had not stolen from one person to make a mal-investment else ware, think of all the good investments that were never made with the stolen money? So good try, but your logic is incredibly faulty.

Question 7:

Does our libertarian reject any and all government protection for his intellectual property?

Intellectual property is a hilarious position from the statist point of view. This is because, in general, the statist loves government because they hate monopolies (which is ironic in and of itself since government is a monopoly). But intellectual property is itself an individual seeking a monopoly for an idea and using threat and force to keep other peaceful citizens from rearranging their property as they see fit. IP is actually a violation of property rights because it’s one person defining what another can and can’t do with their own property. Think of the fashion industry. What if someone patented pants. Well that would be terrible. We would only be able to buy paints from one person. This is a monopoly and it it’s wrong. It also stifles innovation and slows down progress. What if one person, sees your idea and knows of a way to improve it. For an in-depth argument against IP, read this essay.

Question 8:
The author talks about how democracy is flawed and even points out that it is because of the rich. “Our democratic process is highly flawed today, but that’s largely the result of corruption from corporate and billionaire money.” That’s great you acknowledge that the system doesn’t work but then you make an idiotic comment. 

Why isn’t a democratically elected government the ultimate demonstration of “spontaneous order”? Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace?

This is just idiotic. It’s because government is coercion. The market is voluntary and people voluntarily vote with their dollars and they are never coerced into buying something with their dollars they do not want. And since democracy can be bought off as the author pointed out, it’s a way to make the peons feel involved and the super rich to them what they were going to do to them anyways. This is why this article is just totally inaccurate to the libertarian perspective. You cannot distinguish that the market is voluntary and government is not? Go back to school… Of wait you probably did learn this in school because they just government indoctrination centers.

Question 9:

Libertarians are right about one thing: Unchecked and undemocratic force is totalitarian. A totalitarian corporation, or a totalitarian government acting in concert with corporations, is at least as effective at suppressing the “spontaneous order” as a non-corporate totalitarian government. Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms?

This is cute. Corporations are only a threat so long as government exist. They use government to pass regulations to stifle competition. and acquire wealth at the expense of the poor through taxation (Think of the military industrial complex. You pay for that!). If government did not exist, these corporations would have to compete with each other in order to offer the best products and services at the best prices. Once a monopoly on force that can be bought off comes into pay, then you have problems. The relationship to government is never voluntary so that means the only threat to freedoms are government itself.

Question #10:

Most libertarians prefer not to take their philosophy to its logical conclusions. While that may make them better human beings, it also shadows them with the taint of hypocrisy.Ayn Rand was an adamant opponent of good works, writing that “The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves.” That raises another test for our libertarian: Does he think that Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like King and Gandhi were “parasites”?

Ayne Rand was not truly a libertarian. She was for IP laws for instance. She really did get a lot of things wrong and a lot of things right. Libertarians just think that all interactions and relationships should be voluntary. This means being charitable is fine and  encouraged. I know you think you can take one quote from one person, create a straw-man out of it, “refute” it feel good about yourself, but you won’t get away with that here.

Question #11:

Libertarianism would have died out as a philosophy if it weren’t for the funding that’s been lavished on the movement by billionaires like Thiel and the Kochs and corporations like ExxonMobil. So our final question is: If you believe in the free market, why weren’t you willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas?

I need to ask what unfettered market was this? We have had a sort of free market but not an absolutely free one. If anything it was the regulations that Statists forced on the market that caused it to falter (think the boom-bust cycle our government likes to create). I like how they just claim that it was “unfettered” but offer no examples and no facts. They then complain about how billionaires are funding us libertarians. Like I said Salon, 2013 saw a monetary advantage from the billionaire bracket go to liberal and progressive interests. Stop crying.

Us libertarians should be happy about this really. It means we are starting to be perceived as a real threat to the “Statist Quo” (see what I did there?).

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