STIGMERGY: The C4SS Blog
Response to Al Carroll on Libertarianism: Part Two

This is the second part of my series on Al Carroll’s critique of libertarianism and small government conservatism. Let’s continue the critique.

He writes:

And yet, in a nation that prides itself on democracy and equality, one finds many defenders of elitism and inequality among some conservatives, most libertarians, and especially objectivists. In a capitalist nation, one that often worships economic success above morality, one can find religious defenses of amorality going back pretty far.

Not all libertarians defend elitism. There are indeed some who do so, but the notion of elites is not intrinsic to libertarianism. Those of us who are left-libertarian market anarchists certainly reject elitism. We’re also not amoral nor do we worship economic success. Our morality of non-aggression is adhered to pretty strongly.

The overturning or limiting of anti poverty, banking, public health, environmental, labor, and safety laws since the 1980s and the blocking of gun control, done for conservative ideological reasons or to benefit large corporations, resulted in huge losses of American lives. Those presidents partly responsible include not only Reagan, Bush Sr., and GW Bush, but also Clinton.

It’s doubtful whether libertarians had anything to do with that. The author also ignores all the deaths caused by government. R.J. Rummel estimates that governments have killed 262,000,000 people in major democides. It should be noted that his statistics have been questioned by a Facebook person I ran into, so the estimate should be viewed with caution. We do know that the Nazis killed millions and so did Stalin though.

The body count from anti government dogma far exceeds all wars in American history:

Up to 875,000 preventable deaths per year, or over one third of all deaths in the US.

At least 26,000 preventable deaths from poor healthcare or lack of healthcare each year.

The author is not clear on what causes these 875,000 preventable deaths per year, nor does he provide a source for his statistic. He also ignores the fact that we don’t have a freed market in healthcare. There is a statist system that has become even more so with the advent of the Affordable Care Act.

A heavily disputed number of preventable deaths from lack of effective gun control includes both murders and a far higher number of gun suicides. The number of deaths prevented by guns is much smaller, and exaggerated by industry lobbyists by as much as a hundredfold. Part of the reason for disputes about how many lives may be saved by gun control is the NRA successfully blocks government health research on firearms deaths.

He assumes these deaths would not have occurred with gun control. Something he doesn’t go on to prove. There is also no recognition of the cultural aspects of gun violence. It may be that a less violent culture would produce far fewer gun deaths. As for the blocking of government research, it’s possible that said research could be conducted by non-governmental organizations.

A further thought of his is:

An unknown number of earlier deaths from increased poverty because of financial deregulation, causing the Great Recession of 2007-2012, the dot.com collapse of the 1990s, the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s, and the housing market collapse, the banking and mortgage crisis, the insurance industry crisis, and the Worldcom and Enron scandals in the 2000s.

For the third time; libertarians are not in charge. A truly freed market would drastically reduce poverty, because there would be no state intervention to prop up the wealth/power of the established rich. One wonders whether an established rich would exist at all. As for the allegation of financial deregulation causing crisis; I recommend Roderick Long’s piece titled Regulation: The Cause, Not the Cure, of the financial crisis.

The country’s turn to the right is often blamed, but this is too broad a claim. There are many cases of conservative support for government regulation of personal freedom. Some conservatives favor regulation of everything people do below the waist, except with the money in their wallet.

We agree on the lack of consistent anti-government sentiment among conservatives. This is implied in his statement about the regulation of personal freedom they desire.

Corporations pushing for deregulation for their own profit or from ideological blindness that imagine regulation costs profits is often blamed. But the US is almost unique in this mindset among business elites. Most nations have corporate elites that accept government roles, often working with them as partners. In every other nation except for Britain, modern industry was developed by the government. It’s worth noting, most of the more successful economies today are mixed.

He interestingly seems to embrace corporatism or the corporate state here. When business elites and government elites work together; the result is more concentrated wealth and inequality. This is due to the fact that they can obtain subsidies and regulatory protection. The fact that modern industry was developed by government doesn’t prove it can’t be created without the state. The resources would still exist and could be used for industrial purposes. The final point to be made is that no standard of success is offered. That’s all for now. I will write the rest of the series after taking a break.

Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist