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Cronyism, corporatism, capitalism, or what?

by Mike Farmer, published

The argument among some Libertarians and Left-Libertarians over our statist system of government is interesting. Left-Libertarians call those who promote classical liberal principles "vulgar" Libertarians, because they say that free markets don't exist, thus the common person must be protected from powerful corporations who are in cahoots with government. Left-Libertarians promote government action to favor workers who seek to gain power and freedom from the chains of corporate slave/wage labor.  Left-Libertarians favor co-ops and such in which people have power over their economic contributions. Left-Libertarians accuse those who fight against redistribution efforts of favoring the powerful and rich over the powerless who are oppressed by crony relationships between politicians and wealthy business people.

First, we have to understand what a Libertarian abiding by Libertarian principles would likely promote. The Libertarian would support limited government and a free market, allowing free people to interact freely in the market. Coercion in this market would be prohibited by law. No business would receive special favors from government to give the owners of business power over anyone else in the market. In a free market, no worker, or groups of workers, would be given special powers over anyone else in the market. Each person would be free to pursue their goals in the market, and their success would be determined by supply and demand and freely entered agreements among the players/actors. So, naturally, in principle, a libertarian would oppose statist redistribution of wealth. But all Libertarian principles are premised on a free market and limited government in which statism is not a factor. A Libertarian who opposes redistribution will also oppose all forms of statist interventions.

When Left-Libertarians claim that we don't have a free market, therefore the "vulgar" Liberatarian is siding with the government/corporate power elite, is the Left-Libertarian saying that the statist status quo in government is immutable? Why is the Left-Libertarian denigrating classical liberal principles rather than fighting for a free market? Surely the Left-Libertarian prefers a free market and limited government to the battle over political power between the wealthy and the not wealthy, or what does the Libertarian mean in Left-Libertarian? I would think that the Left-Libertarian would put energy into ending statism, redistribution and all cronyistic relationships that give the power elite advantages in the market, and if they do, then they'r on the same team as "vulgar" libertarians.

On the other hand, if someone who claims to be a Libertarian promotes the statist status quo that exists, and is alright with the crony advantages that elevate the power elite above those without political connections and political advantage, then this person is just vulgar -- the person is not a Libertarian. I think the Left-Libertarians who call for government actions to give advantages to their team at the expense of wealthy individuals misunderstand what libertarianism is all about. Libertarianism is not about championing the poor and middle class or championing the wealthy and powerful, it's about championing liberty, non-interventionism, rule of law and non-coercion in the market. The only coercion allowed in libertarianism is the power of coercion given to entities chosen to protect individual rights and to stop or prevent coercion among free people.

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