Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Myth of Libertarianism

As she sipped her latté, the woman announced with pride that while she was conservative, she was certainly not a Republican. Perhaps hoping that nobody would call her out, she confidently proclaimed, "I'm a Libertarian."

I can't help it. Sometimes I'm just in a mood, and sensing her millimeter's depth of political knowledge, I couldn't resist asking her exactly what being a Libertarian entailed. To be candid, half of me really wanted to know, but to be completely candid, I really sniffed an incoming crock of bat dung coming my way. I was not disappointed.

"And what," I inquired, "makes you a Libertarian?"

She took a thoughtful drag on her cigarette and striking her most intellectual pose, began her treatise. "I'm just not aligned with any political party. After all, they're both really the same. I'm of the view that people should be able to act independently as long as they don't hurt anyone else."

Well, that sounded simple enough. She prattled on a bit more, tossing her word salad with phrases such as laissez-faire and anti-statism. Before long, it was clear this woman was the human equivalent of a poorly trained myna bird, with almost no understanding of any topic at all. "I think people should be left alone, without any government interference," seemed to be her favorite platitude.

That's when I stopped her in order to ask a question: "What about abortion?" I figured I'd start with the toughest example and ease up from there.

"What do you mean?" she asked. "Well," I began, "Seems to me that if you're pro-life, you'd be against abortion." She disagreed with that. She insisted that preserving a woman's right to an abortion was consistent with the Libertarian rejection of authoritarianism. "Interesting," I responded. "If you were truly LIbertarian, wouldn't you leave the decision up to the baby, rather than inflict your authority over another person?" She didn't like that.

"Another thing puzzles me," I continued. "Legally, if a woman chooses to have the baby, the father is on the hook for child support. He has no say as to whether to abort or not, correct?"

"Correct," she replied. "Okay," I replied. "But if that's the case, if she makes the decision against the father's will, is she not imposing her will on him? And wouldn't that fly in the face of Libertarianism?" She had no response to that one, but it didn't matter. I was just getting started.

"Further," I queried, "Libertarians believe taxation is theft. But they also believe a minimal government is obligated to defend its country. How is a government supposed to pay for the military and law enforcement if it doesn't levy taxes?" She answered that one with another, long, silent drag on her cigarette.

"And that's the fallacy of Libertarianism, "I lectured. "It's purely selfish and completely amoral. It kicks fiscal realities down the road and leaves moral and ethical questions unanswered. Whether you like it or not, the question of one's liberalism or conservatism isn't one of politics; it's a question of ethics and morality. That's why conservative people tend to be religious and theist, while liberals and Libertarians tend to be areligious and atheistic. Libertarians reject all forms of authority in favor of self-centered individualism. But a society of individuals is not a society at all. A society, especially a free one, is glued together by common values, ethics and morals. And that's why Libertarianism is myth. No society or country can survive as such."

I stepped off my soapbox feeling pretty good about myself. "So which are you -- liberal or conservative?" "I don't know," she mused. "I'll have to think about it."

"And that," I smiled sincerely, "is the wisest thing you've ever said."


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