For the English Impaired

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Folly of Utopian Libertarians

It seems that Vox Day has been having an informal debate with Gary North over the question of free trade (note that free market and free trade are two very different concepts).  I say informal because Gary North as of yet refuses to even mention that he is responding to Vox Day, even though he clearly is.  However, in Vox Day’s latest post, he brought an interesting observation:

The foolish utopianism of North and his kind is usefully revealed in terms such as "the invisible line known as a national border". The significant line isn't geography, but rather people, and when the lines are not drawn in accordance with the population, trouble begins. Germany unified despite being divided into two different states because the Germans are one nation. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia broke up because multiple nations were trapped together in one state. The European Union was founded on the principles North espouses and it is foundering because it refused to take those "invisible lines" into account. Nations are more than mere jurisdictions.

This perfectly reflects why I don’t subscribe whole-heartedly to anarchism or anarcho-capitalism.  I have always viewed both ideas as Utopian and I am vehemently anti-Utopian in my views.  Incidentally, this is also why I am opposed to Statist philosophies as well because most of them are all about getting government to “work right”.

Before the turn of the last century, countries were mainly defined by common cultures and races, not by governments drawing up imaginary lines.  Usually, a government would draw up a border in the aftermath of a war.  This changed following World War I where the leaders of the alliance drew up new borders and made up whole new countries.  This was also done following World War II as well.

People form nations and national identity, not governments.  Governments usually are created as a result of the rise of nations, not the reverse as so many anarcho-capitalists get confused.  This is not to say that anarcho-capitalists have bad ideas.  I think they have a lot of good ideas that can be implemented.  But they forget that their ideas will only work if the people of a region are wiling to accept them and live by them.  It  is not the government that is the problem, it is the people who are willing to live such a government.

The central tenant of the libertarians and the anarchists is the non-aggression principle.  But basically, this is a secular version of the second greatest commandment that Jesus told his followers: love your neighbor as yourself.  In essence, a follower of such a commandment would not harm others, regardless of what his or her orders are, because he or she would not want such harm upon him or herself.  The problem with this is that if the Son of God can’t get people to love one another as they love themselves, then what hope do a bunch of secular idealists have?

This is why I do not subscribe to Utopian viewpoints.  Much of the logic behind the free market hinges on the rational actions of man, but I say we should strive for the free market because people are supposed to face the consequences of their actions.  The difference is clear: anything less than a free market means you have a society that wishes to remain immature and foolish.  It takes a real adult to face hard decisions.  Much of the nostalgia surrounding the World War II generation is the fact that the men made many hard decisions without batting an eye, even long after the war.  But the fact remains that man is not a rational creature, not naturally anyway.

It is people that make up nations, not governments.  We must always remember that the solutions to the ills of society is not economic ones, but individual ones.  We need to recognize that the government is only as good as the people it rules over, which says a whole lot about our nation.  We should not tie in our national identity with the government over us, but with our own culture and history.  And yes, the United States has a cultural history of individualism, unlike much of the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, with the large influx of immigrants (both illegal and legal) and the expanding population of minority groups which don’t share that heritage, I do not believe that the United States will exist as it has by the end of this century.  Perhaps it will, there is always hope so long as there is a significant group of people who hold to such traditions.

As for the perfect society, always keep in mind that there is not one, there never will be one, and that any attempts to create one will end in ruin, death, and desolation.  There is no economic, political, or scientific way to fix man.  Improvements and tweaks can be implemented, but at the end of the day, much of it hinges on people.  And people are, at best, going to look out for themselves.