Why libertarians aren’t daft:
However, libertarians are also daft, in that they think (a) liberty and (b) free markets magically take care of problems. Here’s a contrary view:
Next comes democracy and the democratic man, out of oligarchy and the oligarchical man.
Insatiable avarice is the ruling passion of an oligarchy; and they encourage expensive habits in order that they may gain by the ruin of extravagant youth. Thus men of family often lose their property or rights of citizenship; but they remain in the city, full of hatred against the new owners of their estates and ripe for revolution.
The usurer with stooping walk pretends not to see them; he passes by, and leaves his stingâ€”that is, his moneyâ€”in some other victim; and many a man has to pay the parent or principal sum multiplied into a family of children, and is reduced into a state of dronage by him. The only way of diminishing the evil is either to limit a man in his use of his property, or to insist that he shall lend at his own risk.
But the ruling class do not want remedies; they care only for money, and are as careless of virtue as the poorest of the citizens.
Now there are occasions on which the governors and the governed meet together,â€”at festivals, on a journey, voyaging or fighting.
The sturdy pauper finds that in the hour of danger he is not despised; he sees the rich man puffing and panting, and draws the conclusion which he privately imparts to his companions,â€”â€˜that our people are not good for much;â€™ and as a sickly frame is made ill by a mere touch from without, or sometimes without external impulse is ready to fall to pieces of itself, so from the least cause, or with none at all, the city falls ill and fights a battle for life or death.
And democracy comes into power when the poor are the victors, killing some and exiling some, and giving equal shares in the government to all the rest.
The manner of life in such a State is that of democrats; there is freedom and plainness of speech, and every man does what is right in his own eyes, and has his own way of life.
Hence arise the most various developments of character; the State is like a piece of embroidery of which the colours and figures are the manners of men, and there are many who, like women and children, prefer this variety to real beauty and excellence. The State is not one but many, like a bazaar at which you can buy anything.
The great charm is that you may do as you like; you may govern if you like, let it alone if you like; go to war and make peace if you feel disposed, and all quite irrespective of anybody else. When you condemn men to
death they remain alive all the same; a gentleman is desired to go into exile, and he stalks about the streets like a hero; and nobody sees him or cares for him.
Observe, too, how grandly Democracy sets her foot upon all our fine theories of education,â€”how little she cares for the training of her statesmen! The only qualification which she demands is the profession of patriotism. Such is democracy;â€”a pleasing, lawless, various sort of government, distributing equality to equals and unequals alike.
The Psychology of Democratic Man
Let us now inspect the individual democrat; and first, as in the case of the State, we will trace his antecedents. He is the son of a miserly oligarch, and has been taught by him to restrain the love of unnecessary pleasures.
Perhaps I ought to explain this latter term:â€”Necessary pleasures are those which are good, and which we cannot do without; unnecessary pleasures are those which do no good, and of which the desire might be eradicated by early training. For example, the pleasures of eating and drinking are necessary and healthy, up to a certain point; beyond that point they are alike hurtful to body and mind, and the excess may be avoided. When in excess, they may be rightly called expensive
pleasures, in opposition to the useful ones.
And the drone, as we called him, is the slave of these unnecessary pleasures and desires, whereas the miserly oligarch is subject only to the necessary.
The oligarch changes into the democrat in the following
manner:â€”The youth who has had a miserly bringing up, gets a taste of the droneâ€™s honey; he meets with wild companions, who introduce him to every new pleasure.
As in the State, so in the individual, there are allies on both sides, temptations from without and passions from within; there is reason also and external influences of parents and friends in alliance with the oligarchical
principle; and the two factions are in violent conflict with one another.
Sometimes the party of order prevails, but then again new desires and new disorders arise, and the whole mob of passions gets possession of the Acropolis, that is to say, the soul, which they find void and unguarded by true words and works. Falsehoods and illusions ascend to take their place; the prodigal goes back into the country of the Lotophagi or drones, and openly dwells there.
And if any offer of alliance or parley of individual elders comes from home, the false spirits shut the gates of the castle and permit no one to enter,â€”there is a battle, and they gain the victory; and straightway making alliance with the desires, they banish modesty, which they call folly, and send temperance over the border.
When the house has been swept and garnished, they dress up the exiled vices, and, crowning them with garlands, bring them back under new names. Insolence they call good breeding, anarchy freedom, waste magnificence, impudence courage. Such is the process by which the youth passes from the necessary pleasures to the unnecessary.
The Modern Neurotic Human (The Californian)
After a while he divides his time impartially between them; and perhaps, when he gets older and the violence of passion has abated, he restores some of the exiles and lives in a sort of equilibrium, indulging first one pleasure and then another; and if reason comes and tells him that some pleasures are good and honourable, and others bad and vile, he shakes his head and says that he can make no distinction between them. Thus he lives in the fancy of the hour; sometimes he takes to drink, and then he turns abstainer; he practises in the gymnasium or he does nothing at all; then again he would be a philosopher or a politician; or again, he would be a warrior or a man of business; he is
“Every thing by starts and nothing long.”
There remains still the finest and fairest of all men and all
Statesâ€” tyranny and the tyrant. Tyranny springs from
democracy much as democracy springs from oligarchy. Both arise from excess; the one from excess of wealth, the other from excess of freedom. â€˜The great natural good of life,â€™ says the democrat, â€˜is freedom.â€™ And this exclusive love of freedom and regardlessness of everything else, is the cause of the change from democracy to tyranny.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
This means: good “as it appears” and good “in the structure of things” are two different things.
I may recognize that food is good, and going hungry is bad, and so feed others… but if I feed idiots and parasites, I’ll breed more of them and destroy the civilization.
Most people cannot tell the difference between the situational (food is good) and the “absolute” or “universal,” which is their attempt to derive a fixed principle from a presumed perspective of the whole (feed the good people).
This is why libertarianism is an endorsement of an intermediate stage in democracy, but not a solution to its problems or a good long-term design for humanity.