Why Libertarianism Fails

This is a post I originally made on the Market Ticker forums, a forum which has accurately pointed out many of the illegal and immoral actions by the government since the 2008 financial crisis, but whose authors and audience refuse to entertain the idea that a free society is the correct solution to the overall problem.


Tyranny Is Built Out Of libertarian Buts

“Tyranny Is Built Out Of libertarian ‘Buts'” by Anarchy in your Head


If there was a single word that describes the root cause of all the catastrophic responses that we’ve seen governments enact since the start of the financial crisis in 2008 that would be, “exceptions.”

We had a lot of rules in place that were supposed to prevent this, or would have at least limited the damage instead of compounding it, but time after time we’ve watched as those rules were ignored because of “exigent circumstances” or because everyone who followed the rules would cause “systemic risk.” This site in particular has been sounding the alarm with righteous outrage since the beginning, but so far all the protests have fallen on deaf ears, even among the people who should be natural allies.

Why does only a statistically-insignificant fraction of the population respond to the message when the evidence is so overwhelming and the lawlessness so blatant? Because deep down in our hearts, everybody believes in exceptions to the rules. Not all of them, though. “My exceptions,” we say, “are logical, pragmatic, and essential. Your exceptions, on the other hand, will be the ruin of us all.”

The truth is that any exception, no matter how justified it seem in the moment, destroys the concept of having a rule in the first place. Once you’ve accepted the principle that rules may be selectively enforced, you’ve now created a situation of having no rules at all – just an eternal high-stakes battle for who gets to choose the exceptions.

That’s why there is no rule of law, that’s why those in power ignore any limitation that would inhibit them from their desires, that’s why nobody is willing to hold them accountable – because we don’t really believe in rules. At least a part of the righteous indignation that we direct at the State is a case of protesting just a bit too much.

It should be obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention that the exceptions must end. This means all the exceptions, even then ones that you personally benefit from, the ones your holy books talk about, and especially the ones that stem from the traditions passed down from our ancestors (“if was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us”). If the mere thought of giving up our favorite exceptions feels like having a tooth extracted without anesthetic, that should strike everyone as a red flag. That tooth must come out because it is septic.

The Libertarian Party (LP) knows the right answer but stops short of actually implementing it. Every member must state, “I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals,” but that’s not enough. Why just political or social goals? If not for political or social goals, for what kinds of goals, exactly, is the initiation of force justified?

The LP’s oath doesn’t say because we all already know the answer, but just don’t like it. If we ignore the question maybe it will just go away.

It should also be obvious by now that the problem won’t go away. We can either extract that tooth now or else we can let it poison us to death.

So it’s time to give up the exceptions and start living up to that oath, for real this time. No more excuses, no more evasions, no more delays. It’s time to state that the initiation of force is unacceptable. Always unacceptable.

It’s unacceptable to initiate force when raising your children.
It’s unacceptable to initiate force against your spouse or other adults.
It’s unacceptable to initiate force to operate your business.
It’s unacceptable to initiate force to organize society.

Nobody gets a free pass. Nobody gets to claim an oh-so-special case just for them. The Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) is a moral imperative with no exceptions. It applies to every human action both public and private.

That’s the only way out of this mess. Starting new political parties that advocate a slightly different mix of exceptions than the existing ones doesn’t work because, consciously or not, everyone understands that it’s just more of the same. The choice is either to acknowledge this truth and build a new society that does not require the subjugation of other human beings for its survival, or else descend further into Hell by denying it.

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