A Fresh Approach
Some of my favorite podcasters just don’t get it – not everyone values liberty. They try harder than most to convey the benefits of a free society, but they fail to acknowledge that the vast majority of their listeners are already on board. Sure, the dialogue is entertaining (and for some, lucrative), but we can probably count on one hand how many State worshippers now binge-watch old videos of Ron Paul. It certainly is hard to empathize, but it’s true – many, if not most, long for the State’s cold embrace.
James Buchanan illustrated the desire of many to be under the steel-toed boot of government in his 2005 essay, Afraid to be Free: Dependency as Desideratum. From the abstract:
Although collectivist ideas have everywhere fallen into disrepute, this essay argues that socialism nevertheless will survive and be extended in the new century. That gloomy prospect looms, not because socialism is more efficient or more just, but because ceding control over their actions to others allows individuals to escape, evade and even deny personal responsibilities.
Buchanan continues: “The state has replaced God as the father-mother of last resort, and persons will demand that this protectorate role be satisfied and amplified.” No need to debate that point, as any day in America proves Buchanan correct. For example, in November, Washingtonians voted ~2:1 to amend their state constitution, adding “‘catastrophic incidents’ to the specified times of emergency that the legislature may take certain immediate actions to ensure continuity of state and local governmental operations.” Stated without bureaucratic indifference and vagueness: if some serious shit goes down, public ‘servants’ will be taken care of first and won’t lose their jobs; in fact, those in power will become more powerful, and the people will believe that without this amendment’s passage, their wellbeing will be jeopardized. Where the reader sees a blatant power-grab, roughly two-thirds of Washingtonians see a progressive refinement.
From Buchanan’s essay:
With paternalism, we refer to the attitudes of elitists who seek to impose their own preferred values on others. With parentalism, in contrast, we refer to the attitudes of persons who seek to have values imposed upon them by other persons, by the state or by transcendental forces.
Here’s an example representative of parentalists’ complimentary group, the group who rules (or wishes to rule) our country – paternalists. In May, Denver County voted by the slimmest majority to decriminalize ‘shrooms, meaning ~49% of voters said, by way of their negative vote, “I don’t even want to try ‘shrooms, and if anyone disagrees with me, it’s fair and just that they be imprisoned.” Hard to believe that that crowd are fond of self-determination, and it’s logical to conclude that they respect and admire the “elitists who seek to impose their own preferred values on others.” In short, parentalists long for paternalists, and paternalists assume that all others are parentalists. The following excerpt from Buchanan illustrates this heinous mindset, and it’s one that podcasters should learn.
They want to be told what to do and when to do it; they seek order rather than uncertainty, and order comes at an opportunity cost they seem willing to bear. The thirst or desire for freedom, and responsibility, is perhaps not nearly so universal as so many post-Enlightenment philosophers have assumed.
So, what are podcasters to do? Instead of trying to find common ground with their intellectual enemies by espousing the virtues of individual liberty or by paying hollow compliments, they should lambaste the follies of democracy, publicly expose their opponents’ authoritarian streak, and ridicule their conceit. Though ideological opposites, where libertarians and socialists should be able to agree is that both camps are minorities, and as long as they remain minorities, democracy will never serve their interests. That’s where the common ground begins and ends. Democracy is a process that enables the majority to legally bend the minority to its will. Why fawn over a system that allows you to live your life the way you see fit only if the majority agree?
Looks like Buchanan didn’t think too highly of democracy either. From the same essay: “‘Democracy,’ defined broadly enough to include its many institutional variants, will reflect the preferences of the citizenry, who remain largely immune from the findings of science, and the increasing corruption that must necessarily accompany any expanding range of collective-political control will simply be tolerated and ignored.” The ignorant masses who tolerate and ignore corruption are exactly the type of people – parentalists – on whom the paternalists feed, and democracy is what allows these arrogant statists – or, as Friedrich August Hayek called them, constructionists – to rule over the minority, no matter how large the minority or how incompetent the majority.
In 1988, Hayek wrote about the impossibility of progress amid the unbridled pride of top-down edicts in The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, the fatal conceit being the delusion “that man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes.” As the house always wins with gambling, the paternalists always win with voting; Republicans and Democrats together – the socialist duopoly – offer only the illusion of choice. No, socialists, statists, constructionists, paternalists – whatever you want to call them – are not well-intentioned; every one of them is, as Ludwig von Mises described them, “a disguised dictator.” So again, what are podcasters to do? Just as they gleefully ridicule politicians for their immeasurable hubris, they should also bring into the spotlight their opponents’ desire to lord over others and aggressively mock them for it. The following excerpts from The Fatal Conceit illustrate how statists are as impossibly arrogant as Hayek is prescient; Hayek accepts reality for what it is, not for what the social fantasies of most demand.
The extended order arises out of a competitive process in which success decides, not approval of a great mind, a committee, or a god, or conformity with some understood principle of individual merit. In this order the advance of some is paid for by the failure of equally sincere and even meritorious endeavours of others. Reward is not for merit.
Civilisation is not only a product of evolution – it is a process; by establishing a framework of general rules and individual freedom it allows itself to continue to evolve. This evolution cannot be guided by and often will not produce what men demand. Men may find some previously unfulfilled wishes satisfied, but only at the price of disappointing many others. Though by moral conduct an individual may increase his opportunities, the resulting evolution will not gratify all his moral desires. Evolution cannot be just. Indeed, to insist that all future change be just would be to demand that evolution come to a halt. Evolution leads us ahead precisely in bringing about much that we could not intend or foresee, let alone prejudge for its moral properties.
No, winning a debate with a socialist doesn’t mean that the socialist has now ‘seen the light;’ in fact, after losing a debate, the socialist will double down on their own lunacy and proliferate it among the welcoming parentalists. No, merely chatting with the ‘liberty-curious’ doesn’t necessarily make them more curious because the politically curious will cherry-pick what moves them without any curiosity for underlying principles. No, my favorite podcasters and infamous celebrities don’t want to achieve the same ends by different means; authoritarians want to rule over everyone and to place dissenters in jail. So again, what are podcasters to do? Publicly call out their opponents’ barbarism:
“What happens when the combination of pen, paper, and arrogance (legislation) doesn’t force society to evolve in the direction of your choosing; will you lobby for another law?”
“What percentage of the adult population must be imprisoned before you begin to consider that your beloved law did or didn’t have its intended effects?”
“I want you to live the life you wish to lead, but I don’t want to be forced into it. Why won’t you wish the same for me?”
No, those answering these questions don’t “mean well,” and their answers will expose their intimate, tyrannical desires. Next time you think that “their hearts are in the right place,” think of Operation Mockingbird, Operation Northwoods, the Patriot Act, or the invasion of Afghanistan, to name just a few abominations – all of which occurred under hallowed democracy. (With the aforementioned disgraces, moon-landing conspiracies aren’t that difficult to entertain.) The following excerpts from The Fatal Conceit illustrate the paternalists’ utter lack of humility and how they, as Buchanan describes, “do not want to shoulder the final responsibility for their own actions.”
To the naive mind that can conceive of order only as the product of deliberate arrangement, it may seem absurd that in complex conditions order, and adaptation to the unknown, can be achieved more effectively by decentralising decisions, and that a division of authority will actually extend the possibility of overall order. Yet that decentralisation actually leads to more information being taken into account.
Most defects and inefficiencies of such spontaneous orders result from attempting to interfere with or to prevent their mechanisms from operating, or to improve the details of their results. Such attempts to intervene in spontaneous order rarely result in anything closely corresponding to men's wishes, since these orders are determined by more particular facts than any such intervening agency can know.
Hayek can be verbose, so the following from Pierre Lemieux is beneficial in how it succinctly implies that democracy is “a system of non-liberty” ripe for ridicule. If by some horrible bout of bad luck you find yourself watching the next debate, keep in mind that every one of those seeking the nomination, to paraphrase Hans-Hermann Hoppe, is vying to become “the shrewdest aggressor against private property.” I don’t care if it’s normal, podcasters; recognize it for what it is – repulsive – and wake up your audience to this harsh reality.
The advantage of a general system of individual liberty is that it lets those who want liberty have it, while allowing those who don’t care much for it to establish some private, contractual limits on the exercise of their own liberty… A system of non-liberty, on the contrary, does not allow those who prefer individual liberty to live as they want.
Podcasters, please, highlight that distinction, expose those who wish to control others, and, as Hayek said, “demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” Understand that parentalists exist in great numbers; stop applauding what you believe to be the “good intentions” of statists, and stop giving them the benefit of the doubt. What are they dreaming of giving you? Answer: a prison sentence, provided you don’t comply with their interventionist schemes. We champion voluntary exchange; podcasters would do well to expose those who prefer brute force. It’s clear which position is embarrassingly childish, but the corporate press won’t correctly portray those holding such despicable views until prominent members of the alternative media become a bit more critical when interviewing or discussing the pretentious paternalists who seek domination.