Posted in philosophy | 6 Comments »
It’s ridiculous to talk about what “the government” might do when facing the challenge of a big situation X like the bailout, like the wars, like anything at the grand policy level. What makes sense, rather, is to consider the question, “What opportunities and risks, what costs and benefits does situation X bring to the ruling class?” and to then follow on to examine to what purposes that ruling class might put the government.
I used to consider myself a conservative, yet still a hard-core libertarian, and there is one sense in which I still do:
…it was all too easy for the pessimistic radical Nock, even though still basically a libertarian, to accept the conservative label and even come to croak the old platitude that there is an a priori presumption against any social change.
— Rothbard, Left and Right (which I’m still reading, having been prompted to post this when I read the sentence)
Perhaps the reason for this old conservative streak in my political thinking connects to a perception that when practically any social change was proposed, discussed or implemented by government or the parasites I saw swarming about its loathsome carcass, I very often saw the nature of that change and of the likely effects to be horrible. There’s an element of philosophical conservatism which at least stands up saying, “what you are proposing is far more often bad than good, and so we oppose you in general for the sake of erring on the correct side far more often than not.” To sum it up, the essence of this theory is that the government should not be given any new powers. Essentially, that nothing in the political sphere ought to change.
The tragic — and, in hindsight, obvious — flaw in this position, and one which I have seen since turning to anarchism as opposed to libertarianism in its bulk, is that the libertarian philosophy demands essential, widespread, sweeping changes across societies and cultures if a world based on its ideals is ever going to exist. It’s not new government powers that frighten us, it’s all government powers. We cannot both resist any change and simultaneously be desirous of the most dramatic change imaginable.
Throwing away that resistance to change, we can look back and see that it served to support, anchor and buttress not only the gibbering horror that was the state, but the entire Lovecraftian dark-forces-from-beyond-the-rift-in-time nightmare ruling class which uses the state as its tool. Add in the disgusting bigotry dressed up as “cultural conservatism” and you suddenly have a realization akin to discovering that why you’re distrustful of your neighbor is because your neighbor is, in fact, a cannibalistic ghoul.
Dissolution to the state! Restitution from the ruling class!