June 19, 2004 by AK

What libertarianism is not

The following does not, contrary to the author’s contention, apply to libertarianism:

But it is a narrow, privatized liberty that is secured. An active and lively interest in public affairs is discouraged as a result. Everything is permitted – except a say in the shaping of the public ethos. Libertarian ideology would turn citizens into foreigners who live happily, if indifferently, in their country.

Adam Wolfson is painting a caricature. Libertarianism would be ridiculous if it only were applicable to atomistic societies made up of small isolated communities. As a political docrine and a way of life, libertarianism is fit for every kind of society provided it is mature enough. An immature society left without a government would degenerate into chaos. Then a clique of the most cruel and morally unrestrained would take power by force, to the relief of most citizens, who prefer order to anarchy. Compare the way people behave after natural disasters in different countries–it speaks much of their preparedness for liberty.

Governments, of course, work to stop their societies from maturing, by alternatively crippling them and offering crutches. But some societies grow up even under dictatorial rule, while others Alzheimerize under liberal democracy.


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