[FoRK] Do You Belong to The Church?

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Wed May 5 20:48:38 PDT 2010

Various responses.

Joe:  what is government?  What is it's essential nature?  What separates it from e.g. the "corporatist" view (either interpretation, so perhaps "views") mentioned elsewhere?  

Re:  "There's no such thing as a non-hypocritical Libertarian..."  Pretty sweeping statement.  Perhaps the line between pragmatism and hypocrisy is subtle?  Could it be that some with fundamentally anarchist ideals realize we live in a non-ideal world and so seek out the political alliances that seem most practical among various options?  Could it be that there are libertarians (big or little "L")  that, indeed, don't covet the coercive protection of a strong-man government?  (Hmm, seems to me you might have entirely missed the "Thousand Nations" etc. / Thiel / sovereignty wing of the non-party...)

It's a fair point, though.  Perhaps there is some inescapable relationship between hypocrisy and pragmatism.


Bill Stoddard asks:

"Could it be that most self proclaimed libertarians are actually 
'corporatists' (ie, government by and for corporations)?"

Could it be that there's a false dichotomy at play here?  That the reality is that, given the choice between the two presented alternatives, a "self proclaimed libertarian" might simply, in most cases, choose what he or she views as the lesser of two evils?  Could it be that, for some preference systems, the lesser of two evils --- if one *must* be chosen --- might be one vs. the other?

Pot-boiler fiction and tin-foil hats aside most corporations generally do not:  jail people, execute people, start wars, steal money directly out of your paycheck with the threat of further punishment or imprisonment, enslave their human components by drafting them into armies and forcing them into wars they don't believe in, blow up the economy (that's far more usually been a government function historically, thank you very much...) etc.  And those kinds of things are just the tip of the historical iceberg.  Just sayin'...

That said, cf. previous cautionary notes re: corporate entelechy and risks.  I'm no particular fan of big business;  in most cases, "big" businesses act beyond the control of their human components; get "big" by exploiting the masses through the corrupt collusion with governments, the passage of favorable laws, the creation of special concessions and protections, and the diversions of confiscated resources;  and generally have a fiendishly difficult time "not being evil."  I.e., at a certain level of scale it's all but impossible for these non-persons to avoid being bad actors.  But are they actually worse than the alternative?  I'd say the answer depends on the asker's priorities and preferences and degree of historical and contemporary awareness.



"is it true that Libertarians believe, or at least profess to believe, that all government is bad?"

No. :-)  Of course not, Mr. Fish's frothy commentary notwithstanding.


James says:  "In my mind, any n-dimensional political classification needs a dimension where pro-government and pro-big-business are at the same end of the spectrum."

See, this is the problem:  I do agree with you that there are very distinct and surprising similarities, but collapsing these two things into the same dimension is a mistake.  It completely ignores the most significant difference between the two, namely the coercive might of law and enforcement capability which government enjoys and which corporate interests (by and large) do not.

Keep separate concerns separate.  As simple as possible but no simpler...


Also, JT says:  "I view freelancers as a far better example of free markets than big businesses..."


But I'll go you one further:  for me, the pinnacle of the free market is the scrappy bootstrap entrepreneur with the disruptive innovation.  Some might think that I'm straining my arm patting myself on the back by that comment, but you'd be mistaking effect for cause.  (FWIW, I rarely went the actual bootstrap route.  In hindsight, much to my dismay...)


Bill S., re:  US and China:  agreed.

"I fear Libertarians will be the unwitting enablers."

Maybe.  Probably not, though.

It's quite clear that the "big everything" (government *and* business) leanings of both (other) parties, but particularly the current crop of Dems, is unlikely to discourage this trend at all.  Blaming it on the Libertarians is a bit laughable -- there are damn few of them up there, these days.  What's worse:  the inevitability given control by the prevailing factions of either major party, or at least *doing* the experiment with the possibility of the same failed outcome?  And if you say the Libertarians will be enablers by throwing it to the GOP, then are you claiming that the present crop of Dems isn't just as bad in this regard?


Joe Fish says:

"I think The Church Of The Globalist Free Market which seems to be
rising to ascendancy in this Tea Party age has never lived under
perfect capitalism."

Absolutely right.  Well, except for the ascendancy part.  I'm not seeing *that* yet...

Now, for the bonus points:  what's the difference between "perfect capitalism" and "perfect freedom?"

"And yet, every republican-cum-free-marketeer i speak to about the
current mess (and the other one I can remember) always seems to think
the source of the problem just HAD to be that we didn't deregulate

Don't talk to idiots. ;-)

About 999 out of 1000 people you'll talk to have *no idea* what caused the present mess.  Maybe 1% of those that do understand have any idea such things could be prevented going forward.  (Do the math, it's amusing and infuriating at the same time.)

Quite startling to me:  it actually appears that the best ideas about what to do *are* in fact making it into the proposed legislative fix.  (In particular, the requirements of exchange listing and clearing of various derivatives.)  Whether that's enough to outweigh the negative impact of the stupid stuff that's going in remains to be seen, but hey, I'll take it, however improbable it might have been.


JAR:  +1, of course, as always.



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