Source: Jeremy Egerer

The reason I’m not a libertarian is that I’d like to be free.  The libertarian says he does, too, but is living proof that wanting something and getting it are two completely different matters — and his theory stands directly in the way of his practice. 

His first problem is his dislike of government, which he shares many times with other “conservatives.”  This means he’s the least likely to actually go into it (and who wants to hire a man who doesn’t believe in his job?), and since he forfeits the position, all kinds of important bureaucratic and so-called “oppressive” jobs get filled by his enemies.  A quick look at the policies of the FBI, the CIA, the FDA, the CDC, and OSHA proves it.  He says he’d like to downsize or even get rid of them, but he can’t, so instead many times he does nothing — not a fight, but a forfeiture.  

Second is his tendency, also general among the right-wing, to say public schooling and other cultural and state organs can be “neutral”: that you can cater to everybody and nobody at the same time, somehow, and still churn out solid people, and that we don’t have to clean house of obvious heretics — a job nobody securely on top ever forfeits, and which most people who love truth usually enjoy.  The leftists don’t believe that any power can be entirely neutral, and that’s why they own the institutions and will continue to own them even when we win elections.

The third is his belief many times that taxation is “theft” and that a government that taxes (and does) least is the best — a joke philosophy that if taken seriously would lead to his immediate domination by a foreign power, and leaves him underfunded, impotent, and incapable of being believed in.  But more importantly than this, I would add that his love of business, and the “right” of every man to do whatever he wants “with his own property,” nearly without exception, leaves international corporations free to sell us out at home and abroad, and to dictate what their employees (and many times even their customers) can and can’t say and do.  These days, it means bosses can tell employees what to put in their bodies.  The libertarian believes that the only kind of slavery is to government and ignores that the rich man who pays you, especially in a world dominated by large and left-wing corporations, to some degree owns you

(Am I saying I’m totally against libertarianism — that it has nothing good to offer, that it isn’t tailored in any way to reality, and that its adherents are what the critics say — a bunch of selfish monsters, stoners, autists, and oglers of underage women?  Not at all, and in fact I agree largely with the spirit of Ayn Rand, which believes deeply in inequality through ability and character, that the universe belongs to the strong of mind and heart, that American society was a miracle but that it’s become a sewer, that philosophy and worldview are the life-blood of all civilization, that a stance of “neutrality” is a forfeiture of your power, that the universe can largely be understood and to some degree conquered, that alcohol and drugs are a bad fit for a thinking man, that people who value the wrong things will be slaves, that altruism as a political stance is a slippery slope toward slavery and murder, and that we shouldn’t be giving rights to countries who don’t give their citizens rights — the manliest philosophy to ever come out of a woman, brilliantly stated, free of all turgidity and ivory-tower obfuscation, and lacking mainly in its throwaway attitude towards God and religion, its absolute failure to value compromise and a piecemeal victory, its refusal to take any tyranny other than government seriously, its inability to see that big money plus human nature equals corruption, and its belief that a productive morality is the main thrust of morality.) 

Even if libertarians held a clear majority, there are instances where numbers and a “principled cause” were beaten by better organizers anyway — for instance, when Spain, in 1936, blew up in a civil war between fascists and leftists.  That year, the revolution was happening in the big cities.  Churches were ransacked by the left-wing, and around 7,000 clergies were murdered in cold blood.  They threw prisons open, and the criminals ran amok.  

The factories were taken over by radicals, too, and workers’ communes were set up to spread the wealth around, and rich men and right-wingers went into hiding so they wouldn’t be shot.  Farmers and bakers brought in food by the truckloads in exchange for manufactured goods, and good wine flowed from the cellars of the “liberated” estates.  The mood in leftist Barcelona and Madrid for a while was high, and from the majority’s perspective, Spain was heading for the New Millennium.    

They weren’t, of course, because the fascists wouldn’t have it, and they staged a counter-revolution; but during all this, the biggest and most hopeful set of revolutionaries, by far, was the anarchists.  Their flags flew over all the cafes and barbershops and every factory they took over.  Anarchist pamphlets flooded the streets, and they held an overwhelming and energetic majority, and from every vantage point, it looked as if Spain was going their way.  

But there was something standing in the anarchists’ way, and it was their belief in anarchy.  According to Adam Hochschild, author of Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, the CNT, a federation of anarchist unions, had two million members and only a single officer.  It turns out that anarchists hated bureaucracy.  They ran no candidates for parliament.  They had some sort of a national committee — but nobody could serve more than a year, and a recall could happen any time by a vote.  They won union strikes but were 100% against union contracts.  All forms of government were disgusting to them, and they believed that Soviet Russia was a slaughterhouse not because Stalin was an ass, or because of one-party rule, or because they had no freedom of speech or assembly or religion, but because Russia had a government at all.  These were the people who took over Catalonia and the surrounding regions.

But the anarchists couldn’t hold them.  Their “allies,” the vastly outnumbered communists, believed deeply in government, and thus were experts in the top-down organization.  They were also experts in silencing opposition, disarming their opponents, and in getting foreign funding.  While the anarchists were honest and trumpeted the revolution, the Communists were practical and tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.  To the communists, the war could be won only by keeping the West neutral — in other words, with an appeal to foreign investors and the liberal bourgeois.  To the anarchists, there was no point in a war without a revolution.  The commies aimed for less so they could win it.  The anarchists didn’t want it if they couldn’t have the whole thing.

Little more needs to be said here.  The anarchists were suppressed by the communists.  The communists were bulldozed by the fascists.  I’m not saying Spain would have done better under anarchists.  I’m saying that even if you have the vast majority of the country on your side if you won’t or don’t know how to play politics if your ideas are too libertarian and cat-like, or too idealistic to be practical, or too stupid, or even just out of step with the times, you’re going to get wrecked.  And if it was because of your pride, you deserve it.