Liberaltarians

I am sometimes struck by the commonalities, often disguised or outright concealed, among the political views of men and women of conscience.  Let’s talk about liberals and libertarians.

Libertarians by and large want to be left alone.  They want to decide their own fates and keep what they earn.  Some think no state at all is necessary.  Some (like me) believe that a minimal state is necessary to ensure that we are left alone and get to keep what we earn.  And eat deep-fried Twinkies if we want to.

Liberals by and large see the state as the mechanism through which “social justice” is achieved.  Social justice may take many forms, but liberals tend to see it as a guarantee that no one goes without basic necessities and no one has a lot more than someone else.  They tend to split on the Twinkie issue.

Naturally, these are gross generalizations.  I can gather twelve libertarians in a room and identify thirteen positions.  Fourteen for liberals.  That is, until we dig a bit deeper.

My friends who tend to be liberal in general have good hearts.  They are not hateful liberals, the kind that would strip rich people naked, paint them red, and parade them in front of Nancy Pelosi (sometimes my imagery scares even me).  They are rather good folks, ones who don’t like to see others do without.

My libertarian friends tend to have good hearts as well, though their solution to the problem of social justice is quite different.  They believe that not only will a minimal state allow them to keep what is theirs, it will also provide the mechanism by which others can benefit from charity.  They trust the instincts of humanity toward benevolence and few want to see liberals paraded red and naked in front of Rush Limbaugh (Lord, it’s getting worse–give me a sec.)

OK, back now.

More importantly, libertarians believe that the efforts of liberals to ensure social justice through the state is doomed to failure.  In other words, the libertarian tends toward the same ends, but through a system that actually has a chance of working.

Oh, yes, we libertarians tend to get all uppity about how deep we think and how much smarter we are than statists.  I frankly doubt the intellectual capacity of most of the human race, irrespective of political views.  But, whether by accident or genuine consideration of the issues, the libertarians are right about the mechanisms of the state.  They are in their twilight and before long will strip the poor and middle class of everything they have.

Thus, my message to liberals is simple.  Keep your concern for the poor and downtrodden.  Continue to lift the lowly.  Do it, though, without the state.  I know any number of libertarians who would join your cause if it were just and non-coercive.  When the state has imploded (and it will), help us build a world that allows the willing and able to enrich themselves and the poor to pull themselves up, with a little boost now and then.

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About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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