The more the mainstream talks about libertarians the more garbage we have to dig through.
In the early days of the Libertarian Party and the Modern American Libertarian Movement in general the word “libertarian” almost never appeared in print (ink or pixel) other than calling ACLU members “civil libertarians.” Today it’s possible to subscribe to an aggregator like Google Alerts with the tag “libertarian” and get a download of all the usages of “libertarian” that Google happened to find on a given day and dump the list into your inbox. Unfortunately, almost all of the L-Word articles fall into a few easily identifiable categories such as:
Libertarian Bashing. Defenders of the “statist quo” contrive phony strawman “libertarians” and triumphantly destroy them with ridicule, mockery, scorn, willful ignorance and outright lies.
Politicized Nonsense. Defining libertarian concepts by force-fitting them into the conventional narrow-minded left/right boxes of politics for the sole purpose of declaring them unworkable.
Bait and Switch. Posting an anti-libertarian headline or statement and then cynically conflating Libertarians with Republicans, the free market with crony capitalism, noninterventionism with isolationism, voluntaryism with chaos, success with greed, individualism with being antisocial, responsibly using firearms for self-defense with gun violence, ad infinitum.
Ignorance. People who either genuinely don’t know or don’t care see libertarianism only as a political party or movement and have no clue about the social, cultural, moral, ethical, emotional, psychological or simple human decency inherent in the voluntaryist philosophy that underpins the principles of non-aggression.
Your inbox will typically include commentary like…
- A “Libertarian Centrist” insists that individual state governments should subsidize welfare programs rather than the federal government (and, apparently, rather than voluntary means)
- The liberal Mother Jones calls it a “fact” that Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee are “true libertarians”
- A Google+ comment asserts “What it means to be libertarian is to be an extreme right wing republican”
- Libertarian free will becomes a “mirage” through the expediency of substituting libertarian definitions with the definitions of translated and reinterpreted Biblical verses.
But then, digging through all of the garbage will eventually turn up a nugget: Milton Friedman answered the question of who would protect workers with “… the worker is protected by the existence of other employers who can and will compete for his or her services if a present employer fails to provide decent wages and working conditions. The only real way to protect the standard of living of workers is to preserve a freely competitive labor market.”
And that’s what finally makes it all worthwhile.