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11 Questions You Should Ask Libertarians to See if They're Hypocrites

We aren’t suggesting every libertarian is a hypocrite, but there’s an easy way to find out.

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Size Matters

Our democratic process is highly flawed today, but that’s largely the result of corruption from corporate and billionaire money. And yet, libertarians celebrate the corrupting influence of big money. No wonder, since the same money is keeping their movement afloat and paying many of their salaries. But, aside from the naked self-interest, their position makes no sense. Why isn’t a democratically elected government the ultimate demonstration of “spontaneous order”?  Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace?

We’re told that “big government” is bad for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is too large to be responsive. But if big governments are bad, why are big corporations so acceptable? What’s more, these massive institutions have been conducting an assault on the individual and collective freedoms of the American people for decades. Why isn’t it important to avoid the creation of monopolies, duopolies and syndicates that interfere with the free market’s ability to function?

Libertarians are right about one thing: Unchecked and undemocratic force is totalitarian. A totalitarian corporation, or a totalitarian government acting in concert with corporations, is at least as effective at suppressing the “spontaneous order” as a non-corporate totalitarian government.  Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms?

Extra Credit Questions

Most libertarians prefer not to take their philosophy to its logical conclusions. While that may make them better human beings, it also shadows them with the taint of hypocrisy.  

Ayn Rand was an adamant opponent of good works, writing that “The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves.” That raises another test for our libertarian:  Does he think that Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like King and Gandhi were “parasites”?

There’s no reason not to form alliances with civil libertarians, or to shun them as human beings. Their erroneous thinking often arises from good impulses. But it is worth asking them one final question for our test.

Libertarianism would have died out as a philosophy if it weren’t for the funding that’s been lavished on the movement by billionaires like Thiel and the Kochs and corporations like ExxonMobil. So our final question is:  If you believe in the free market, why weren’t you willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas?

RJ Eskow is a senior fellow with the Campaign for America's Future.

 
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