Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why not Libertariansim.

There's many interesting political ideologies in the west, not the least of which is libertarianism. A libertarian is an individual who believes that (s)he is the owner of his/her own life. Libertarians hold that the state should not interfere with what they do with their property unless they are violating another person's liberty.

Libertarianism values free will and common sense - but frowns upon the welfare state and compulsory charity.

One can see why this is a very seductive ideology to lots of those who think. It basically boils down to this: I do whatever I want, as long as I don't harm anyone. This is surely what the people who founded most modern nations would have been thinking when they founded the nations!

And yet, I don't think this is the way to go for me. I am not a libertarian, and let me tell you why.

Firstly, let me come clean. I find the idea of libertarianism very comforting. Since people can do what they want to - there is very little reason to feel dissatisfied. And since there's very little reason not to be satisfied, there's no worry of a revolution waiting in the wings. This is almost as stable as I have ever seen a society be.

The main issue with this is that the world lives in Nations. The division among people into nations is a very bigoted and aritificial division. This division causes all the wars in the world. (What are wars about but land, now-a-days?) And there are usually lots of economic and immigration barriers between nations.

I hail from the third world. India. A more libertarian America would be an even more selfish America than it already is. A recent case in point: consider those Prophet Muhammed cartoons - and the subsequent riots in the Muslim world. Freedom of speech is a libertarian notion - perhaps as libertarian as a notion can be. A notion which is absolutely incompatible with the Islamic world's reverence for its founder. When people in a nation (or a culture ) do as they want to, they are bound to be insensitive to another culture - because they just did not know better. And this ferments hatred.

In a multi cultural world - it is very unlikey that this ideology will ever work (unless people everywhere are okay with eternal hatred). For libertarianism to really work, I feel the world needs compatible cultures - which is just not going to happen.

One might view this is as a failure of the system of nations more than that of libertariansim. One might be right in doing so. But it is unlikely that these ridiculous, unnatural political barriers will ever be lifted. So, that being a given - libertarianism is very unlikey to enlist me as a adherent - though I find it quite seductive otherwise.


anilkumar said...

If a libertarian is an individual who believes that (s)he is the ower of his/her own life, then might be people reacting to what they dont like can also be libertarianism.
Yes, it will be seducive if every one is as good or as bad as as you are. But, that is not the case.
And more over I do not agree with "Since people can do what they want to - there is very little reason to feel dissatisfied." Because more often than not what is liked by one person might be a PIA to someone else.
I some how feel this is paradoxical.

Rap said...

Not really. Nobody in their right mind would consider the Islamic world a world of libertarians. People demonstrating violently when their sentiments are hurt would not quality as libertarian!

I did not phrase the point reg. dissatisfaction well. What I meant was that when people are allowed to do what they want to do (with only reasonable constraints) - then most people will not rebel against power and oppression.

A libertarian would pursue something only if he is aware that it is not hurtful to someone else. The problem is, when one imposes these ridiculous, bigoted national boundaries - the average person just does not know what goes beyond the border. And this can have unintended consequences.

Rap said...


I hope the typographical error in the original post did not confuse you. The term was "owner" not ower. Ower might sound like something spiritual which appeals to our Indian sensibilities. But I assure you I am not in the least spiritual here.