May 22, 2016

Libertarianism Simply Doesn't Work, and The Party Won't Ever Change

An old acquaintance of mine from college is a delegate for the Libertarian Party this election season, and with the Libertarian Party's National Convention happening on the 27th to the 30th, they are considering changes to their platform, so in preparation for the convention, he posed a question to his non-Libertarian Party associates, with the intent to build the party into a more mainstream option.

What type of platform changes could lead you to being more likely to support a Libertarian in the general election? Or being more supportive of the party and movement in general? Please, nothing Libertarians can't get behind as a whole, such as liberal economics."

As expected, all of the responses that were given to him were things that the Libertarian Party cannot get behind as a whole, but this is of course due to having a huge asterisk in the stated inquiry. If a party is struggling to break into a mainstream presence and is looking for platform changes in order to do so, requiring the suggestions to not deviate away from the majority of the party's current base is going to make your inquiry both fruitless and pointless.

The Libertarian Party is in an almost unique position where it has a lot of weak support; their positions on civil liberties are pretty sound, from their support of the gay community to marijuana legalisation. For these reasons and their view on foreign wars, they have good millennial support. Funnily enough, these are also the positions that are most touted by members of the party when they're trying to recruit interest in the party.

You don't often hear Libertarians promoting their economic ideas when trying to build interest from undecided and undeclared voters because they run the risk of sounding like an extremist fringe. You see, as far as their economic policies go, they only appeal to a few certain demographics, and those demographics are already voting Libertarian or are members of the Republican Party's Libertarian voting wing.


Mark Rosenfelder describes them as being the "un-Communism"

Arguably, the Libertarian Party's main defining political ideology is that of the free market and the gold standard. In simplest terms, the free market is a hypothetical concept that economies work best when there is no government intervention or regulation, and that the prices of goods and services are determined by their need by consumers, rather than a regulated market where the government controls the forces of supply and demand as well as introducing and enforcing regulations including environmental and public safety, anti-discrimination, labor laws, taxation, and anti-trust laws which prevent monopolies.

This insistence on the free market should be alarming to those who don't already subscribe to the idea of the free market, and for good reason.

In order for capitalism to function at its most basic level, you need workers. You may have employers, but the workers are the backbone of any product or service that is on the market. As it comes with being a worker or an employee, you need to be paid for your work, because why else would you be there, since basic necessities to survive such as food, water, and a home to live in must be purchased. There would be no labor laws or regulation on the safety of the workers; these things would be determined by the employer, it is argued, and if you're not okay with the employer's practices, "you can leave".

Of course, as history shows, employers were perfectly fine with employing young children and were eager to ignore safety in order to increase their profit. Additionally, sometimes workers can't just leave and find a better job. Certainly workers couldn't readily do so before the implementation of the 8-hour working day when working hours ranged from 11 all the way up to 16 hours a day due to the Industrial Revolution. As history also shows, and which continues to this day, if you just so happened to be anything other than a white male, you would be paid less for your labor.

Labor laws are things we take for granted.

These free market fundamentalist Libertarians claim to hate corporatism and that the free market would solve these problems by virtue of the integrity of the employer, meaning that those who are unfair to their workers and clients would see their businesses fail, but history and even contemporary events show that we don't care what kinds of conditions are in place, so long as we can get high quality products and services for the lowest price. Indeed, despite the want for a market where competition keeps prices down, the free market would allow monopolies to exist, which leaves no competition to keep prices down.

If the Libertarian Party were serious about making changes to their platform in order to be more appealing to those who aren't already inside of their base, they would have to make changes to their core platform. However, these changes would then remove what it means to be of the American strain of libertarianism, as the introduction of Democratic policies would make them fiscally liberal, and the introduction of Republican policies would make them socially conservative.

In addition, since the Libertarian Party wants to abolish the state only at the civic and market levels, if they were to extend that to abolishing the state at the capitalist level, they would be no different than the various schools of anarchism, of which they believe are too liberal. Of course, anarchists wouldn't even want them, since they know that libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism are just anarchism for rich people.

The Libertarian Party espouses an extreme form of capitalism, and any talk of them being serious about changing their platform in order to be more appealing to mainstream voters is simply laughable due to the fact that they will only be unwilling to do so.

author Änicka Carlson
About Tighe

Tighe is a mental health board member and secular activist in Greater St. Louis. In his free time, he is often playing his guitars or volunteering with local organisations.