Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why is Libertarianism so Intolerable?

A rewrite of a piece in First Things:
Arguments for Libertarianism have become predictable. Most include an historical homage to long established tradition: Look for mention of property rights, the golden age of industrialization, and Thrasymachus' theory of justice. Catholic authors typically proceed to locate their claims outside the magisterial teaching of modern Catholic Social Teaching: Look for rebuttals or avoidance of Rerum novarum or any one of the subsequent encyclicals, which commemorate its anniversary (see here, p. 42ff.). Next, there are the literary sources, which can be mined for any number of bombastic or polemical gems. Rothbard can always be depended upon to deal one’s opponent a good drubbing. And yet, the appeal to liberty, successful megacorporations, and some of the best* economists of the age leave most unmoved.

This same disconnect between theory and practice is evident in the lives of libertarians themselves. In short, many “so-called libertarians” are hypocrites. While decrying the evils of big government and insistently re-proposing the perennial appeal of free market life, many libertarians continue to avail themselves of all of civilization’s amenities and fail to take their principles to their conclusion. I count myself among these conflicted adherents. I extol the virtues of a liberty-filled life and persist in a vocation that traditionally places me at the center of the world’s largest cities. Embarrassing. With the force of Aristotelian-Thomistic anthropology, a deeply felt robber baron nostalgia, and even “patron saints” of the movement like Fr. Sirico, how is it that these arguments wield such anemic purchase?

The last paragraphs can be taken pretty much as-is. Note: I'm not a libertarian, though the rewrite of this would say I am. I'm also not a distributist, but there are nice things about it.

EDIT: In all fairness, the piece wasn't that bad. There is some point there: no matter what supporters do, nobody really cares about distributists. I mean, no matter what anybody says, I'm all like, whatevs. Libertarians, of course, are completely intolerable and tiresome.