What is Necessary to Preserve a Libertarian State?
I think you proposal raises an interesting question: If you have a libertarian state, how would you go about preserving it indefinitely?
I am thinking about this question in similar terms as in the Myth Busters show. Once they bust a myth they investigate what sort of premises they would have to break to make the myth work out.
That is what I intend here. I think Libertarianism is a self contradiction, but we can look at what requirements put upon the system we would have to break to perserve it to the highest degree.
Your idea is that the way to avoid that the rich alter economic regulation is by simply making it illegal for government to regulate anything that has to do with the economy. But I can see many problems with this approach:
- Any enacted law can be undone just as easily by politicians. The rich could buy off politicians to undo the law.
- I simply don’t think there is a way for government to not be involved in regulation of the economic system. Citizens need to be protected against financial fraud and deceptions. They will want to enact laws that require companies on the stock exchange to inform the stock owners properly.
- Government needs to involve itself somehow in economics to be able to fund itself. The mechanisms in which this funding works can be manipulated.
If we really wanted to make sure a libertarian state and its responsibilities stayed fixed, we could create constitution being very specific about this. A constitution can after all typically not be easily altered. However then you get into the same situation as the Islamic Republic in Iran. They struggled with figuring out how can one be democratic while still being Islamic indefinitely. The result was a supreme leader and council which would filter out electable candidates, who were not Islamic enough.
This ends up not being very democratic at all. Iranian citizens view their systems are oppressive, because although they have free choice of Islamic candidates they may not want an Islamic candidate. Maybe they want a liberal one instead.
What you are proposing would hit upon the same problem. By trying to lock the system into being Libertarian, you need to actively hinder people’s choice. You put in mechanism to deprive citizens of choice of candidates for office who are not libertarian. People will find this oppressive and revolt against such an arrangement eventually. Not to mention that it goes against the very principle of libertarianism which is to give people freedom and choice.
If I want to vote for a social democrat, liberal or conservative rather than a liberarian politician, that should be my free choice.
Libertarianism will not merely suffer from the ease of which the economic elite may subvert the system, but also by the fact that a buildup of high inequality may cause people to reject the whole system and vote for a different system. Look at the US. Since the late 1970s, almost all increase in productivity and income has gone to the elite. If this happens within a libertarian system, people are going to ask themselves, what on earth is the point in living in a system which isn’t delivering improvements to the welfare of the majority of the people. Why should I work hard and improve productivity, if all the extra gains accrue to the rich elite?
The world economy naturally follows cycles which you can’t control. Your country can hit upon hard economic times. A libertarian state will be ill equipmed to deal with economic hardship. Massive unemployment and no welfare services to cushion the blow. The unemployed masses will vote in their own best self interest which will be to vote out libertarian politcians and in politicians willing to enact welfare programs.
Do you see how Libertarianism simply has no stability on so many levels. There will be too many circumstances that will cause people to pull out of the system.