In your opinion, why hasn't libertarianism come to pass?

Not so much (yet another) debate about it as a poll of what opinions Dopers have on the subject. For purposes of discussion I’m using “libertarianism” as a stand-in term to mean a civilized society without coercive goverment, without trying to debate whether that should be called “anarchism” or something else.


This is just too ridiculous to respond to. You may want to read up on what libertarianism is actually all about.

Then let’s call what I described “Lumpyism”, without falling into the perpetual trap of debating what a political term really means.

Libertarianism a) couldn’t work, but more importantly, b) almost nobody really believes in it. Whenever it enters the national discourse, it is invariably as a sock puppet for crypto-authoritarian conservatism.

It can’t work; it would pretty much immediately either dissolve into chaos or neofeudualism. The latter in my opinion being the real attraction of libertarianism to many of its proponents; they don’t mind society degenerating into an arrangement of lords and serfs because they are absolutely convinced that they’ll get to be the lords.

Where is John Galt? :eek:

How about everyone in this thread that has used the term “libertarianism” (including he OP) provide a definition of the term (or link to one and endorse it). Otherwise this is just so much meaninglessness. The OP seems to think libertarianism is tantamount to anarchism, which is just ridiculous on several levels (mostly because anarchism is a black and white thing).

I have to be at least the second person to call bullshit on this false poll. None of the choices match libertarianism at all. I think the OP is making the common mistake of confusing libertarianism with anarchism. The two share a couple of superficial features but they come from the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Moderate libertarians like myself believe in strong government but it is very limited in scope. Property rights reign in the libertarian world so you always need police, law and order, and the ability to defend whole states. There is absolutely nothing in the libertarian philosophy that is against anything in this poll. In fact, we all for all for it much more so than some other political philosophies.

The OP doesn’t get a pass because he used the term libertarianism incorrectly and said it could mean something like anarchism instead. It shows blatant ignorance of the political thought processes that form each of these movements.

Similar things can be said of communism or just about any other leftist movement as well and that is almost always the way it plays out in practice. It is just the human condition unfortunately. My attraction to libertarianism is that I freely admit that I don’t care much about what happens to the overwhelming majority of the people in the world nor do I want their help. I just want to be free to live my life with minimal interference and live or die according to the resources I have.

I avoided using the term “anarchism” because that has historically meant collectivism and the abolition of private property. Frankly your definition of libertarianism sounds a lot like what Beware of Doug called “a sock puppet for crypto-authoritarian conservatism”. Let me put it this way: if you’re familiar with the science fiction writer L. Neil Smith, what label would you put on the Gallatin society featured in his works?

And btw: the only way your response could have been more insulting would have been to say “Lumpy should be banned from the board for being a stupid-ass shithead”. Keep it up and I will ask the Moderators for a judgement.

Hardly. It’s true of Communism, which is one reason why libertarianism is sometimes compared to it. But it isn’t true for “leftism” in general; the great majority of industrialized nations are by American standards “leftist”. America is an extremist nation, not a middle of the road one.

The “Pollyanna” faction of libertarianism, who genuinely think that it will result in a nicer, kinder, more just world. As opposed to the Social Darwinist faction, the plutocrat faction, and the “Spartan Way”* militaristic faction.

*My personal name for them; they tend to think liberals should all be killed and have strong militaristic fantasies; fans of books like Freehold and The Weapon.

I don’t have a problem with you personally. I do have a problem with polls that are completely misconstructed and blaze ignorance so brightly that you can see it from space. Ask the moderator for a judgment if you want but also remember the slogan of this board.

If this poll is really about “Lumpyism” rather than any established political philosophy, why don’t you define that better for us so we know how to continue?

Libertarianism has failed to pass most people don’t like making decisions, and being accountable for them. Lots of people like making decisions (being in charge), but don’t like the accountability part as much. Same thing with people not minding being accountable for something that someone else has decided (following orders, finishing tasks, Stanford prison experiment in which the scientist tells the experiment subject to press the button, and the subject has no problem being “responsible” for carrying out the task assigned).

In part because political power is gratifying. If you have political power then you have wealth, fame and influence. So if there is no government you are going to have people who want (for selfish reasons) to create one.

Libertarians only make up about 10-15% of the electorate. So you really can’t have a democratically elected libertarian government either.

Libertarianism isn’t about being accountable for your actions; it’s about making sure no one can hold you to account for your actions. Under libertarianism the rich and powerful would be able to crush and exploit and torment the rest of the population as they pleased, the common people would have no legal recourse, and if they tried anything extra-legal that’s when the government would come crashing down. Under libertarianism the primary domestic job of the government is making sure the common people don’t rise up against their masters.

I think there’s an enlightened libertarianism that’s philosophical and utopian, as opposed to the libertarian who just wants the freedom to do whatever he wants to do, to hell with other people. I totally understand your view that even the enlightened form of libertarianism simply won’t work in the real world because of human nature, and will thus lead to misery, let alone the “I got mine **** you” libertarianism.

As for how libertarianism might work in the real world, let me state a brief example, and then a counterquestion.

For example, Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs isn’t necessarily the guy you’d want to have a beer with or a lunch with. He’s a perfectionist and he has high standards that he applies to his life and his goals. This transfers over to Jobs’ relationships with other people, including his employees. Are they exploited? They’re working at Apple because they want to be there and be a part of something amazing. If I showed up at a board meeting and said that we have to replace Jobs because he exploits people in China, or is insensitive to employees, I’ll be laughed out of the room - and for a good reason. In the areas of life where capitalism is allowed to be freest, the leaders that rise to the top are the ones that we as a society look up to. Why is that? Because you can look at them and say, this person can stand on his record and his performance and not prevaricate. It’s not because of connections, family wealth, but something in the guy that just drives him to realize a vision and do something big.

We don’t talk about computer industry and electronics reform. Yet computers are complex machines, and they emit electromagnetic radiation. How do we know that these computers aren’t dangerous to our health and the corporate executives are screwing us over? Why aren’t we mad at Apple? At Amazon? At ebay, Microsoft? Thomas Edison is rich and powerful as was Henry Ford.

And the sectors of the economy in which these people were active in were the freest sectors. **If libertarianism is going to lead to exploitation, versus where we are now, shouldn’t the areas of the market that are more free be rife with more exploitation and areas of the market that are more regulated have less exploitation, since the former is closer to the libertarian situation?

Now I don’t want to hear anything about how deregulation caused this or deregulation caused that. The effects of true libertarianism are most clearly seen and isolated from other variables in industries that couldn’t be regulated by the government in the first place because they were created and took off before the government could really do anything about it. So the question I ask is: If you accept that the computer industry was a pretty free market, and if all other industries were free to a similar extent as was/is the computer industry, then the economy as a whole would be at least SOMEWHAT closer to being “libertarian” than it is now, where the non-tech industries such as education, health, housing, etc. tend to be more heavily regulated than the lightly regulated tech industries, then WHY is it that the technology/computer sector isn’t marked in its degree of exploitation?

Why aren’t the common people rising up against the Fortune 500 CEOS in the computer/software/consumer electronics/tech industry, where so much wealth and so many fortunes have been made, and rich and powerful people are commonplace?

How about: Everyone thinks it would be fine for them, but nobody trusts anyone else to be able to handle it responsibly?

Libertarianism hasn’t caught on because most people aren’t 16 any more. The rest of us grew up.

The freedom most libertarians I know are concerned with is the freedom to ingest plants and chemicals, have sex with whoever they want, sell sex or buy it, be able to drink a sugar water soft drink and greasy burger, allow smoking in their bar or ban it.

I’m not sure I have ever run into a libertarian who wants to be the lord of serfs, I keep seeing people here talking about these authoritarians in Libs clothing.

Follow the line of reasoning long enough, and it all gets to be tautological. In other words, it has come to pass.

You have the freedom to defend yourself against roaming bands of thugs. The government says you can’t? Well, they’re just an extremely large band of thugs. Good luck defending yourself against them, and if you can’t, that’s your problem. You have the freedom to try, but nobody ever guaranteed you’d succeed.