On right-wing politics

Written January 26. 2004, at 23:06 GMT.

Jason Kottke on the movie The Corporation which recently won awards at the Sundance Film Festival:

"Considering the odd legal fiction that deems a corporation a "person" in the eyes of the law, the feature documentary employees a checklist, based on actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and DSM IV, the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. What emerges is a disturbing diagnosis. [...] The institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath."

Jason continues...

"In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins asserts that the larger organism exists in order to propagate the genes and not the other way around as we, the organism, had always assumed. In the same way, corporations have traditionally thought of themselves as the most important entities in the economic ecosystem..."

Heh! :-)

I then stumbled across Seth Finkelstein's excellent essay Libertarianism Makes You Stupid. It contains loads of good arguments against the almost religious zealotry of many right-wing libertarians, and some of the lapses commonly found in their reasoning.

My own favourite arguments against right-wing libertarian views have always been that...

  • they assume that all markets are perfect.
  • they assume that most people behave rationally (in the economic sense).
  • they base their whole moral reasoning on a very narrow (and thus flawed) definition of what constitutes "freedom".

Political science people commonly aknowledge three different types/flavours of freedom...

  1. Negative freedom - freedom from direct external oppression (by governments, fellow humans, etc.)
  2. Positive freedom - the economic/physical/etc. ability to act as one chooses.
  3. Psychological freedom - the mental/cognative ability to choose. (Think ignoramuses and/or drug addicts.)

...but right-wing libertarians tend to focus only on the first type - negative freedom. That makes them look kind of stupid IMO.


More like this: English Entries, .


Reader Comments (2)

  1. gf replies:

    Winston Churchill once said: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

    I sometimes find this to be the case for many libertarians.

    January 28. 2004 kl. 13:48 GMT | #

  2. Lawrence Samuels replies:

    Many Libertarians consider themselves on the left because during the 1700's in the French governing body, those on the left were for individual rights and free markets. I am involved in several medical marijuana clinics in California, the press director to Joel Smolen candidacy (LP) for Congress 17th Dis. in California who has been marrying gays for years. In fact, the LP candidate for U.S. President -- Michael Badnarik -- rode in the Gay Parade in San Francisco. Kerry was not there. Badnarik is calling for the closure of all U.S. foreign military bases around the world and ending our involvement in Iraq. Some libertarians even want to abolish our standing army in the United States. I find most people on the so-called left very conservative and intolerant. --Lawrence Samuels

    August 17. 2004 kl. 07:15 GMT | #

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