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The Libertarian Con: Favorite 'Rebel' Ideology of the Ruling Class

Want to sound smart and thoughtful in front of your boss without alienating your liberal buds? Just say the L-word, pass the coke and everyone's happy!

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And when we finally get down to a hypothetical libertarian match-up between Obama and Ron Paul—41 percent pick Obama and only 27 percent pick Paul.

Oh, but the kiddies are cool with gay marriage and tired of bombing brown people overseas? No shit. That just makes them normal people living in the 21st century. I’m for single-payer health care and can’t stand Barney Frank. Does that mean I sip the Kool-Aid at the Lyndon LaRouche compound?

None of this should be too surprising. For almost two decades, roughly two-thirds of the American public have supported what we’d call a moderate European welfare state—putting the average U.S. citizen significantly to the left of the Democratic party, a center/center-right organization saddled, much to their dismay, with a perpetually-disappointed center-left constituency. 

But hey, our ruling class would shit a brick if any of that wealth redistribution stuff happened over here. Which is why “this is a center-right nation” has been a favorite Fox News talking point for over ten years. It’s only now—after Occupy Wall Street forced their hand—that the media is finally willing to admit that it might be bullshit.

But libertarianism? Our ruling class is totally fine with that. Smoke your reefer and sodomize whomever you please, just keep your mouth shut and hand over your Social Security account.

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I get the appeal. The state’s been sticking it to working folks for decades. It seems almost unimaginable that Big Government could ever be run by us and not the One Percent.

Butchild labor laws,the Civil Rights act,federal income tax,minimum wage laws,Social Security,Medicare,food safety—libertarians have accused all of them as infringements upon the free market that would lead to economic ruin. And over and over again, they’ve been proven wrong. Life goes on—a little less gruesomely—and society prospers.

“There is no such thing as a free-market,” economist Ha-Joon Chang has said repeatedly. “A market looks free only because we so unconditionally accept its underlying restrictions that we fail to see them.”

In other words, markets are social institutions, just as much under the thumb of politics and government as everything else. Which means they’re subject to democratic pressures, as they should be.

And what you “earn” from said markets? Chang: “All our wages are, at root, politically determined.” Despite what Ron Paul’s trolls might have you believe, gold Krugerrands don’t spray out your asshole every time you type up a spreadsheet or pour a Grande mochachino for your next customer. 

Capitalism has always been a product of Big Government. Ever since the railroads of the nineteenth century, to Silicon Valley, Big Pharma and the banks, the Nanny State has been there all along, passing subsidies and tax breaks, and eating the costs the private sector doesn’t want.

So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is “at war” with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.

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When a Red like me wants to argue for something like universal health care or free college tuition, we can point to dozens of wealthy democratic societies doing just that. The Stalinist left is nothing more than a faint memory. But where are the libertarian Utopias?

General Pinochet’s Chile was a longtime favorite. But seeing as how it relied on a fascist coup--with a big assist from Nixon and Kissinger--Chile’s lost a bit of that Cold War luster. So these days, for the slightly more with-it libertarian, we get Singapore as the model of choice. 

 
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