||[Jun. 7th, 2010|09:10 pm]
D. K. Money
Having considered myself a libertarian for several years, I now feel compelled to renounce libertarianism.|
On paper, it sounded great - limit government intervention except where absolutely necessary, don't interfere with functioning markets, and do not try to legislate morality (abortion, drugs, gay marriage, etc). Libertarians are sometimes described as having "Republican smarts with Democrat hearts" - I prefer to describe them as "Republicans who do drugs."
I sympathize with Rand Paul's recent struggles. If you're not familiar, he is the Republican Senate candidate for Kentucky, and he recently made a rather bold political statement about the Civil Rights Act, stating that he doesn't think that the government has the authority to command a private business to desegregate. Now, he had absolutely nothing to gain from making this statement, and it was refreshingly candid. At least someone is sticking to their principles rather than disingenuously swerving all over the political spectrum in an attempt to garner votes (HELLO JOHN MCCAIN). Additionally, this has mainly been an exercise in political thought; no one is seriously talking about repealing any part of the Civil Rights Act.
However, this whole fiasco about Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act has only served to illustrate how libertarian ideology is powerless at effecting social change. The free market had 100 years to desegregate lunch counters in Alabama. Rand Paul's blind faith in the supposedly omnipotent power of the market only works if you assume that every actor in the market is seeking to maximize profit. The South very clearly valued a rigid social hierarchy over the dollars of potential black patrons. Even so, a restaurant would probably have gone out of business in the South if it integrated voluntarily - by gaining black customers, they would lose all of their white customers as long as there was a viable segregated alternative!
This, in part, has made me realize that libertarianism is ultimately a futile academic exercise. Corporations are amoral entities that are solely focused on maximizing profits, like an animal blindly seeking its next meal. Sometimes this can bring positive side effects, such as many of the technological wonders that have improved our lives in recent years. But if you could make huge amounts of money by torturing puppies, someone would do it until they were forced to stop.