No Room for Statism in the Libertarian Tent
By Scott Lazarowitz
While many people are arguing over what libertarianism is, or spending a lot of time searching for a missing Malaysian airliner which may very well have been abducted by aliens, or arguing over Ukraine or whether Vladimir Putin is this or that, I would prefer to discuss Elizabeth Warren’s “consumer protection” bureau. But because the “libertarianism” argument seems to be such a hot-button issue at this time, I instead want to add my two-cents worth on that issue.
And I don’t even want to discuss this “humanitarian libertarian” vs. “brutalist libertarian” controversy, started by Jeff Tucker. I rather want to address certain self-described “libertarians” who are not libertarians but statists.
But briefly, Robert Wenzel is right that libertarianism doesn’t involve social activism and doesn’t specifically address racism, sexism, etc., because libertarianism is really just the promotion of liberty, the non-aggression principle and the self-ownership of the individual. As Lew Rockwell wrote, libertarianism “begins with and logically builds upon the principle of self-ownership. In the society it calls for, no one may initiate physical force against anyone else.”
And in my view, the advocacy of liberty and non-aggression naturally goes with the philosophy of individualism. Individualism goes hand-in-hand with the concept of self-ownership. The individual owns one’s own life, including one’s person, one’s labor and one’s justly-acquired property. This is in contrast to collectivism in which the group or the community shares in ownership rights of the individual, and is a way of life which has been very thoroughly enmeshed with the State.
So for example, when purported libertarians go on to say that “we” need to get involved in Ukraine, they are really referring to getting the U.S. government involved. The State. In contrast, the libertarian answer to that is: If you and your fellow worrywarts are so motivated to intervene in Ukraine or elsewhere, then you go do that. You hire fighters, mercenaries and so on, and you and your fellow concerned people pay for it. That’s the libertarian solution. To compel your neighbors to do extra labor to serve your agenda, via taxation-thefts, is very un-libertarian, quite frankly.
Those who really want governments and their police forces or militaries to intervene, or for government bureaucrats to impose their will onto the private matters of others, are not libertarians. They are statists, pure and simple.
Here is another example. There is the ongoing case of statist doctors seizing a child’s medical treatment and getting the State to take custody of the child away from her parents.
As I understand this case, the child was being treated for an actual medical condition, Mitochondrial Disease. But because of particular circumstances in which her doctor suggested she be taken to a different hospital, the doctors at the new hospital discontinued treatment of her Mitochondrial Disease without approval of her regular doctors and diagnosed her as having a psychological problem and imposed an unnecessary psychiatric treatment on her. They attempted to make her fit into their own ideology of “behavior modification,” despite her actual medical condition.
The parents, however, said no to the new doctors’ change of course and attempted to take her out of the new hospital. At that point, the doctors had security guards block all exits and they threatened legal action against the parents. The doctors then called on the state government’s Department of Children and Families to seize custody of the child away from the parents.
Now, that is what has happened because our current statist society empowers doctors and government bureaucrats to act criminally against innocent people.
In contrast, in a libertarian society, when rejecting the new doctors’ change of treatment after their child had been treated by experts in metabolic disorders, the parents would simply say that they do not approve of that change in treatment and they would take their child out of that hospital. And that’s it.
In a truly libertarian society, had the doctors done the aforementioned acts to this family, those doctors would be seen as having engaged in criminal acts of child abduction, false imprisonment, and child endangerment. This is particularly the case now as the child’s condition has deteriorated severely.
Unfortunately, in our current statist society, medical doctors are put up on a pedestal and held in high esteem, regardless how incompetent, criminally negligent, and reckless they might be. Their false and undeserved automatic prestige is protected by the State. It is not based on actual conduct or accomplishment.
But with all their State-protected privileges, are today’s doctors no longer promoting “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” because keeping oneself nutritionally fit really can keep the doctor away? The infiltration of government bureaucracy into medical care might be an explanation of that. The corruption of medical-State privilege has created a huge racket. ObamaCare and its intended replacement “single payer” is another racket. But perhaps doctors do not seem to be promoting nutritional health as a means of prevention of illnesses, either consciously or unwittingly, because the incentive to promote self-care and prevention has been very much inhibited by the State’s promotion of establishment medicine as an apparatus of and by and for its own ends, and to protect and foster the pharmaceutical industry.
In a truly free, libertarian society, there would be no medical racket protected by a State, and there would be no medical licensure or regulations. The licensure only protects bad doctors in the same way that teachers’ tenure protects bad teachers. In a libertarian society the good doctors would advance based on the word of consumers, not government bureaucrats.
Also in a libertarian society, any drug or supplement maker would have the freedom to produce and sell a product on a totally free and open market as long as no actual fraud is committed. And consumers would be free to purchase whatever they want, and that’s it. No compulsory doctor’s prescription, no federal or state government agents worrying about whether someone is using a drug not approved by a bureaucrat, and so on.
And no “illegal drugs,” only “no aggression.” And that’s it. Freedom is not complicated.
And those are just a few examples.
And by the way, regarding the recent unconstitutional aggressions by federal agents against a Nevada cattle rancher, in a libertarian society there would be no “Bureau of Land Management.” In a real libertarian society, there would be no federally-owned lands, period! And there would be no harassment of private property owners by border security bureaucrats, for that matter. In a real libertarian society, border security would be taken care of by what is now popularly referred to as the 2nd Amendment.
There is no compromise, no middle ground between statism and libertarianism. “Limited government” is not libertarian and isn’t even possible. In my view, libertarianism has no role for the State, as the State is a territorial monopoly ruler over people who did not consent to its rule. The relationship between the rulers and the ruled is contract-less and not voluntary. In a libertarian society, all relationships, associations and contracts would be voluntary. No coercion. The essence of the State is that its relationship with the people is involuntary. The State is nothing but an apparatus of coercion and aggression.
In contrast to the State, the libertarian society is a civilized society. But what we have now is an incredibly uncivilized society because institutionalized aggression and slavery of the people is exactly what the State is.
And in our current statist society, the institution of the State employs those who are allowed to be above the law which all others, the ruled, must obey. In a libertarian society, however, everyone is equal under the law, and no one may initiate aggression against anyone else, no exceptions.
So, please pardon my stern exclusiveness on this important matter. While there is room in the libertarian “big tent” for “humanitarians” and “brutalists,” there is no room in libertarianism for statism. Those who believe that the above demonstrations of libertarianism are “extreme” and that there still needs to be some form of compulsory State monopoly apparatus ruling over the people, then in my view those advocates should not be referred to as “libertarians” when in actuality they are statists.