Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not So New Moods for Libertarian Not So Moderns...

One has to appreciate, at least on some level, those debating evolution and libertarianism on Facebook without any reference to historical reality. Evolution first. The problem with naive pop Darwinism, pop Social Darwinism, and pop Sociobiology is its general lack of attention to something Darwin noted was central to human evolution, the environment. Genes plus the broad environment equal human evolution. Given this we could and should note and explore how human transformations of the environment, for instance, have impacted evolution including human evolution. I give you cigarettes and global warming.

Second, libertarianism. Much of the discussion of libertarianism on Facebook and beyond isn't--and this is the problem--about history and empirical reality. Libertarians, or at least many libertarians, seem to think that governments are inherently evil and that the ugliness they see in government should be ugliness in everyone else's eyes (libertarianism as fundamentalism). Now don't get me wrong. I don't mind discussing morality and ethics but I do mind discussing morality and ethics in an ahistorical vacuum and in a way that ignores the variability of interpretations (ugliness is in the social and cultural eyes of the beholder).

When we look at real history we can clearly see that governments have been contradictory. Governments have created national economies, brought jobs, helped fight poverty, built dams to bring water to citizens, helped build cities, built roadways, created national parks, educated citizens, fought wars, surveilled its citizens, helped exacerbate inequality, helped transform the environment, lied, and propagandised, all things that we can read and have read as variably good or bad depending on what an eye of the beholder values.

Governments aren't the only things that are contradictory in the social and cultural eyes of beholders or in reality. Corporations too are contradictory. Some beholders might and would see the concentration (monopolies, cartels) modern economic bureaucracies bring (inequality, environmental transformations, using their power and money to gain advantages, sense of specialness), an empirical fact, of course, as good, others as bad. Economic corporations, in other words, are contradictory just like governments.

That many libertarians ignore the fact that government behaviour is just like, to chose one example, the behaviour of corporations (reality) and condemn the behaviour of one and not the others (morality) is enough for me to dismiss them as demagogues, as running dog shills for their economic masters voices, and, as such, irrelevant to any real discussion of the relevant issues. In the end the ideologies on which pop libertarians ground their notions of humans, human prehistory and history, human society, human and culture are no more historically real than Peter Pan. This means that like most economic theory libertarianism is the equivalent of vacuum packed manichean dogma and will be until it addresses the real facts of history. That, libertarianism doesn't seem able to do.

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