The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein is a classic of science fiction and has been deeply influential for generations. Many of its ideas and concepts were revolutionary for its time, such as intelligent AI and it is one of the first space colonisation novels on the Moon. It was even cited to me as a plausible example of libertarian political ideas put into practice. It starts well, introducing many intriguing ideas such as alternative forms of marriage, a society without laws, how to run a revolution and life on the moon. Unfortunately, Heinlein ruins this potential by cheating to make everything as easy as possible for the heroes. Also with sexism. Continue reading “Heinlein Ruins ‘The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress’ By Cheating”
In economics textbooks there is a simple story told about racism. It explains how the free market punishes prejudice of any kind and instead builds an environment where all people compete equally regardless of their background. The explanation is simple – any business that refused to serve certain customers would earn less profit than a more tolerant rival. If you refuse to hire the most competent job applicant due to their race, gender, sexuality etc then they will work for your competitors or set up their own business and undercut you. Continue reading “Why The Free Market Doesn’t Prevent Racism”
You don’t see many libertarian Esperantists. Well, you don’t see many political Esperantists, the language is strictly political neutral and aims to appeal to everyone regardless of political opinion. Even still, Esperantists are more likely to be left rather than right wing. It’s understandable why nationalists don’t like Esperanto, it’s a very un-nationalistic if not anti-nationalistic idea. Tearing down barriers between nationalities does not appeal to them and nationalists fear that Esperanto could undermine the national language and culture. However, I think there are several good reasons why Libertarians should like Esperanto.
The only times I’ve seen Libertarians mention Esperanto it’s been to dismiss it. They viewed it as artificial, as a top down attempt to force social change instead of a natural bottom up approach. I want to argue that this misperception of Esperanto is actually the reverse of reality. Esperanto is really the perfect example of natural bottom-up growth, whereas natural languages are top-down enforcement by the state. I’m not the only one, just last week I read an article (in Esperanto) arguing for Anarcho-Capitalism for Esperantists. Continue reading “Why Libertarians Should Like Esperanto”
It’s not easy being part of a third party in America, the electoral system strongly discourages more than two parties, so most people don’t even know that there are other parties let alone their polices. In 2012, the Libertarian nominee for President, Gary Johnson, got 1% of the vote and considered this a success. Yet there is talk that this year could be different, that the polls indicate this time the Libertarians will have a breakout success. While Johnson obviously won’t win, perhaps this year the Libertarians will gain national significance and even swing the election. Continue reading “Could Gary Johnson Be Relevant in 2016?”
The free market often sounds quite simple and straight forward. Consumers simply decide whether product A or B benefits them more and then choose accordingly. If the same or similar product is sold by shop A or B consumers simply choose whichever is cheaper, better quality or otherwise benefits them. It is easy and doesn’t require any complicated plan or someone telling consumers what is best for them, people simply decide themselves. This is the market as described by economists, politicians and writers, especially when they are trying to make a political point. After all, if the market is so simple and straight forward, why do we need the government interfering? All these rules and regulations only get in the way, surely it is better for everyone if we just leave the consumers to decide for themselves. Continue reading “No One Has Time For A Completely Free Market”
So I’ve been reading libertarian literature lately, which unsurprisingly glorifies the free market as the solution to all of the world’s problems. Some even take this to its extreme and argue that even police and courts should be privatised and replaced with the free market like doctors and dentists. These Libertarians/Anarcho-Capitalists (the water is a bit muddied between them) are quite vague on what would replace the state (like all utopians they spend far more time denouncing the present than describing the future). The general theme is that security would be like insurance, you pay a fee to a company in exchange for protection. This private police would patrol the streets and solve crimes committed against their clients. In order to retain your business, the company will have to provide the best possible service. Competition will keep the companies honest and prevent warlords or gangs from exploiting the opportunity.
However, there is a major problem with this theory. It has never actually happened. Continue reading “Why Anarcho-Capitalist Private Police Would Be A Disaster”
While reading Rothbard recently, I came across an unusual claim of his. He used the example of Ancient Ireland as an example of a libertarian, even anarchist-capitalist society. In fact, it’s the only example he used of libertarian policies actually being put into practice. As someone with a deep interest in my (Irish) history, this struck me as odd. No Irish historian has ever claimed Celtic Ireland was a libertarian society in full or even in part, this claim is only made by Rothbard and a few other libertarian bloggers. So while the internet is full of claims that Ireland was stateless for 2,000 years, (Gerard Casey is a lecturer in my old college of UCD. The video fails to mention that he is a philosopher not a historian. He was also the founder of the Christian Solidarity Party, the most conservative Catholic party in Irish politics, which I would have thought was in conflict with libertarianism) or even 9,000 years (this blog literally takes a blank space and presumes it was anarchist) the evidence doesn’t support this claim. Continue reading “Ancient Ireland Was Not Libertarian”
It is common to hear people on the internet complain about the power of the state. It is regularly denounced for forcing people to obey its laws and pay taxes. Libertarians criticise this use of coercion and regularly compare it to a gang of thieves or the mafia. Many advocate that we either abolish or minimise the size of the state and replace it with a world where everything is based on voluntary co-operation and you are free to do what you want so long as it does not harm anyone (known as the Non-Aggression Principle). It seems like a simple choice between peaceful liberty or violent oppression. It is a handy debating trick as it allows libertarians to paint themselves as defenders of freedom while opponents look like tyrants. As nice as it sounds, it suffers from the fatal flaw that the market is just as reliant on the coercion as the state is. Continue reading “Both The State And The Market Are Based On Coercion”
Free marketers view competition as the solution to most if not all problems in the market. If a business is charging too high a price or selling poor quality products then a new business can simply enter the market and take its place. If workers are mistreated or underpaid, then there will be an incentive for competitors to offer better conditions. Competition will cure all problems, prevent excessive profits, exploitative wages, protect the environment, increase your IQ and make you ten years younger (you may think I’m being facetious, but I have yet to come across a problem that libertarians haven’t claimed competition would solve). Continue reading “Why Competition Alone Is Not Enough”
It is common on the internet to encounter libertarians who decry the existence of the state which they view as nothing short of oppression. To them the state is a tyranny to which no one has agreed to. The world would be a better place if the state was drastically reduced in size or even abolished. Why should be people forced to obey rules against their will? Instead everyone should be free to do as they wish on their own property. However, I’d like to use a thought experiment to show how a world of solely private property is little different from our current world and how private property contains many of the arbitrary coercion that libertarians so passionately denounce in states. Continue reading “A Thought About Property Without The State”