Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Libertarians, Power, And Liberal Misunderstandings

I found this comment while looking around on Daily Kos the other day: The problem with "Libertarians". (I actually found this on a discussion thread about Radley Balco's SWAT team abuse paper.)

.. is that they apparently believe that all dangers to liberty come from the government. Thus, an orgnaization like the CATO Institute is on target with it's drug policy, criminal justice policy, and civil liberty policy stuff, but they are totally clueless about the threat of corporate power to personal liberty, thus, they oppose anyhting that curbs the power of the private sector.

This is philosophically foolish, becuase there's no reason why private power can't be as much a threat to personal liberty as government power. Thus, a thoughtful libertarian would undertstand the need for a balance of powers, with the private sector having enough power to protect individuals from government tyraanny and government sectors powerful enough to protect individuals from private tyraany. And becuase private power is derived from excessive concentration of wealth in private hands, a real libertarian would have to think about ways to ensure resdistribution of wealth and the prevention of excessive contribution of wealth in a few hands.

This commenter asks why libertarians can't see the need for protection from private tyranny. My response would be to ask just what use of private power has you so concerned? And how exactly can private power threaten personal liberty?

If you are concerned with the influence corporations hold over the government, then you have to ask yourself, what is it that you're really concerned with. When a corporation- or any organization- influences the government to take action, than it's still government power acting upon the people, regardless of who is influencing the government to make decisions. Only the government can force you to do anything. Only government can take your liberty and take your money without your consent. Period.


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