Bourgeois libertarianism could save america
Do not underestimate the civilization-saving powers of respecting personal property and generally minding your own business.
AS THE STREETS of different U.S. cities descended into disorder group o? by anger and distress over police brutality, the national tranquility for which Americans theoretically surrender large chunks of their fortunes and liberty to the government looked out of reach. Some protests devolved into generalized orgies of destruction and even arson–the most ?endishly damaging thing the average person can do in dense towns, and an act committed with careless glee heaps of occasions.
In the public debate between angry forces on the left and right wings, too many Americans insist on recapitulating the primitive choices Germany seemed to o?er its citizens between the world wars a century ago: a controlling, decadent left outside to destroy property, along with a proper embracing brutal, violent authoritarianism and seeing outsiders of stripes together with suspicion.
Each side looks so obviously, intolerably bad to another which both sides agree that the only moral or prudential option is to come out swinging against the opposing side. Radicals on both left and right seem to agree that traditional American libertarianism either supports the wicked side (wittingly or unwittingly) or, at best, gives a pusillanimous, pie-in-the-sky diversion from the necessary business of seizing state power to crush the enemy.
It is one of libertarianism’s staid tenets that it is a mistake–both morally wrong and probably ine?ective–to use government power to solve most social issues. While this year’s urban unrest has shown, police power from the traditional sense can’t keep cities secure if even a small number of individuals are reluctant to play with the rules that are senile. If you truly care about a functioning culture, it’s insufficient to have the state commanded by the”right side.”
Why is civilization work is individuals roughly hewing to”live and let live” fundamentals. Luckily, most of us do this even when we are not regulated in a libertarian way. Most people, all the time, only want to live in their justly owned area, work for a living, engage in mutually bene?cial commerce, and thus contribute to the net of peaceful interactions which makes our lives rich in every sense.
Civilization collapses, on the other hand, when individuals relentlessly seek state (or state-like) answers to their grievances–particularly when they act in ways that undermine their individual citizens’ liberty to live, think, express themselves, save, and also do business in peace. Such violations of calm people’s lifestyles are not justi?ed even if what you are discriminated against are indeed evils that ought to be halted.
In a more libertarian world, authorities wouldn’t be continually engaged in overly aggressive assaults on citizens, whether those taxpayers were suspected of crimes or not. We su?er that today because authorities, as representatives of this state, aren’t subject to the same discipline that the rest of us are, and since they are charged with enforcing, possibly through violence, all sorts of petty or ?agrantly unjust dictates, from tra?c legislation to drug laws.
In a more libertarian universe, we would not find mad, threatening mobs insisting that arbitrary fellow citizens unite them in public expressions of political piety or placing ?re to buildings and breaking windows. But honorable the cause might be, such actions tear in the roots of our abundance: the ability to possess wealth and space and to use them to o?er products and services for a cost, assisting others while peacefully bettering ourselves.
AMERICAN “MOVEMENT LIBERTARIANISM”
Is revolutionary–but only intellectually so. Most American libertarians, even in the face of disgusting injustices in?icted from the state, do not conclude that changing the civic arrangement into a battle?eld is the just or prudent response. The mission has been convincing people that they would bene?t from more libertarian governance and spiritual ways of life.
Some react to injustice by insisting,”No justice, no peace.” But given that the libertarian’s restricted sense of when violence against people or their property could be justi?ed, even righteous anger in recalcitrantly evil policing doesn’t warrant vandalism, arson, and assault against bystanders.
In regards to domestic conflicts to alter government policy or public attitudes–as if it comes to international wars–many libertarians do not think the lives and property of innocent people are acceptable collateral damage. That is particularly true once the relation between the violence or destruction and righting the relevant wrongs is vague.
The conventional American libertarian has been traditionally and boringly bourgeois. While maintaining life is really a higher priority than preserving property, libertarians know that property’s vital role in person ?ourishing means it should not be blithely sacri?ced only to show how mad you are or even to follow a dimly lit path to”justice” for others.
Bloody extremism never appealed to many libertarians, at home or overseas. Our love of freedom, and of their peace and prosperity it helps secure, inclines us to believe that truly e?ective and protected social change comes not out of violence, chaos, and induce but from treating fellow humans with admiration –as ends rather than means–and working to convince them that libertarian thoughts should form social life. Sacri?cing peace in ways that alienates too many of your fellow taxpayers likely will harm your chances of getting the justice you state you need. Such potentially alienating actions include denying individuals the right to use public roads unmolested and ruining their livelihoods, particularly since history teaches us that violent unrest can destroy a community’s wealth for decades. That philosophy rules out efforts to impose orthodoxies of idea and expression, however good the origin, and won’t take care of different people’s lives and land as dispensable from the pursuit of political goals, no matter how noble.
When people reject those principles, they produce civic spaces where nobody can flourish –in the long run, not them.