I’ve been a Libertarian long enough to know that the United States of America – a nation conceived in the concept of individual liberty and founded largely upon the principles of libertarian philosophy -- will probably never be anything close to a Libertarian nation again, at least not in my lifetime.
That’s an impossible dream now because, while libertarianism is a near perfect philosophical ideal, it’s a lousy practical political one.
Left leaning political columnist, E.J. Dionne recognizes and ponders this reality in his recent editorial piece entitled: Utopian Libertarian Ideas Sound Nice, But They Don't Work.
Referencing an essay by Michael Lind, a supposedly independent scholar, Dionne observes that: “Libertarians have the virtue, in principle at least, of a clear creed: They believe in the smallest government possible… Anything government does beyond protecting people from violence or theft and enforcing contracts is seen as illegitimate.”
"If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early 21st century is organized along libertarian lines?"
"Why are there no libertarian countries?"
“The ideas of the center-left — based on welfare states conjoined with market economies — have been deployed all over the democratic world, most extensively in the social democratic Scandinavian countries. We also had deadly experiments with communism, aka Marxism-Leninism,” he continues. "If socialism is discredited by the failure of communist regimes in the real world, why isn't libertarianism discredited by the absence of any libertarian regimes in the real world?"
“The answer,” concludes Dionne, “lies in a kind of circular logic: Libertarians can keep holding up their dream of perfection because, as a practical matter, it will never be tried in full.”
Sadly, I think Dionne is absolutely right that libertarianism will never be tried in full; not in the United States; not anywhere in the world any time soon.
But he’s absolutely wrong when he concludes that libertarianism wouldn’t work. Dishonest politicians and all the other parasitical criminals of society know that for them libertarianism would work too well. It would work against them. They’d lose their bacon. They’d have to start looking for honest ways of making a living.
That’s the simple reason why there are no libertarian countries today or at any other time in history. The closest civilization has ever come to a libertarian nation was right after the American Revolutionary war and the creation of the first constitutional republic. Every aspect of that new republic which was libertarian, however, has evaporated completely over the last 235 years.
Libertarianism won’t be tried again because the vast majority of people don’t want it. It offers no political advantage to those who wish to employ the powers of government for personal political gain. There are no political spoils to be gained by the adherents of liberty. There is only liberty which is the greatest individual value of them all.
That is the crucial fact about libertarianism that Mr. Dionne, and most other people, overlook. Libertarianism works just fine for honest self reliant individuals. Statist politics, on the other hand, works for dishonest parasites that use the government to gain political advantages over others.
A libertarian political system would work with a majority of honest peace loving people; people who look to the government only as a means to secure and protect their natural rights. With a libertarian political philosophy the playing field is truly level. That’s why libertarianism is the near perfect philosophical ideal.
Mr. Dionne and the majority of statist thinking people know that. He admits it.
Most People join political parties, however, because they are seeking a political advantage over other people. The haves, for example, want to preserve their political advantages over the have-nots. The have-nots are seeking to gain political advantages from the haves.
All these people want the government to enact laws and policies which will tilt the political advantages in their favor. They don’t value individual liberty – especially not for others. They aren’t content with making the individual efforts to honestly use liberty to create their own individual business and social advantages.
They want the corrupt politicians to grease the skids for them. They want the spoils they can gain only with politics. And they are always willing to use theft, deception, dishonesty, force, fraud and coercion to have their way.
That’s the story of political human nature. That’s what all the battles are about in Congress. That’s the reason behind all of the political scandals. It never ends. Politicians and their followers see no political advantages with liberty.
And that is why a libertarian America is the impossible dream.