Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Gospel According to Murray Rothbard  

It won't convince any believers of the error of their ways, but this article from The Baffler elegantly (and snarkily) points out a few flaws in the Gospel According to The Free Market.

You know, like that whole ridiculous disparity between the wealthy and the wealthless?

The Libertarians have a dogmatic belief in their ideology that would put Marxists to shame, but they differ from their left-wing enemies in the fact that they don't differ from each other. To see the bloodiest fight this side of unlicensed boxing, put two socialists in the same room and tell them to debate the finer points of Lenin's State and Revolution. An Objectivist and an Anarcho-Capitalist in that same room would probably start a corporation, buy it, and evict you.

The basis of their religion is the handy axiom: "Taxation is theft." Well, sure, that sounds reasonable. But Marx said "All Property is Theft" and they don't buy that. At least Marx could say that his axiom was borne out by the fact that there is no natural basis for the law of property, no animals or early human societies or even many current human societies have any concept of "owning" something, and not letting anyone else use it, because you've decided arbitrarily that it's "yours."

There's no natural law of taxation either, but it rests on the idea of Property as a natural construct, which it isn't.

Of course, unfettered capiltalism and deregulation leads, paridoxically, to a government that shrinks only in its diversity of opinions. Capitalism is anti-democratic, and the situations described in Thomas Frank's essay -- Thomas "Some People Are About To Get FREE!" Freidman's "golden straitjacket", for example -- sound like the hallmarks of the worst kind of "Socialism," with the added dark irony of the illusion of choice.

Singapore's shopping malls - heavenly landscapes of chrome and polished granite, of flashing jumbotrons and free floor shows for the kids - trump those of our own land. But politically the country is a dull monotone. Here there is little danger that opposition parties will come to power or that crusading journalists will violate the rules of what Singaporeans call "self-censorship."

You get entertainment that leaves you bored, stimulation without content, 10,000 breakfast cereals, and for-profit health care, education, and utilities that don't provide health care, education, and utilities (unless you know who to pay off).

Somewhere, Ayn Rand and Joe Stalin are having a big laugh at our expense.

Wouldn't they make a cute couple?

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