12 July 2013

Self-defeating libertarianism

Digby, in talking about the militarization of American police, makes a general observation about the minarchist-libertarian strain in the movement conservative coalition.

I've always thought that when you see government as having few legitimate functions beyond a military to protect the nation from foreign threat and a justice system to enforce contracts and police the citizens, all the state's power and money would logically flow to those functions. In other words, a pure libertarian system is highly likely to lead to a police state.

This is not because libertarians want such a thing, of course. It's because human nature dictates that if you build it, they will use it. And when you have created an environment, as Republicans have over the past 40 years, in which the only unquestionable responsibility of government is police and military — and the money spent toward those functions is deemed to be sacred — well, it stands to reason those institutions will grow exponentially as the rest of the government shrinks. That's what's happening right now. While Head Start and Meals on Wheels are starved of funds, the security state grows by leaps and bounds.

Hardcore conservatives are fine with that. They are authoritarians by choice. But the last thing libertarians want is a police state. And yet their philosophy may inevitably leads the nation to create one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...