Originally, libertarianism was a highly respected ideal, based on individual liberty. Far from its original high principles, modern libertarianism has turned a philosophical Disneyland into a downmarket trailer park and called it art.
The current form of so-called American libertarian ideology is actually European in origin. It’s a class system, claiming to be a democratic principle. Its antecedents are based on the rise of the merchant class during the Middle Ages. The merchants wanted to be like the real big people, the aristocrats. The “class” angle is why it’s still so popular with the nouveau riche and other peasants. It provides status to those who would otherwise be considered unsightly.
This form of libertarianism arrived en masse in the US circa the late 19th century, when that era’s white collar criminals and robber barons emigrated to the United States. From this cosseted collection of the proverbial came the Libertarian Manifesto.
It’s a document full of values. It reads more like licensing agreement than most ideologies, but it does the job for the libertarians who can read.
The Libertarian ManifestoWe hold these truths to be self-serving:
That all libertarians are created equal while proven to be rich.
That no libertarian shall have any social obligations whatever.
That the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness should cost other people money they don’t have.
That government contracts are God-given.
That humanity and liberty are inalienable rights based on income.
That all others must be poor.
That libertarians are above all laws, morals, religions and interpretations of decency.
That health, education, the environment and wages are devices of the Devil, who is a single mother living on welfare in a palatial slum in New Jersey.
That little squeaky things called “politicians” are our natural servants.
That success should be denied to others.
That sanity is optional, not obligatory.
That democracy shall never be considered a verb.
That the terms “people” and “dollars” shall be considered interchangeable.
That the Supreme Court and Federal agencies shall be deemed pet gerbils.
Explanations of Libertarian views may not be required, but in the 2012 election they’ll be critical definitions of a truly polarized American society. Not since the Civil War has America been so thoroughly and deliberately divided by socio-political interests.
It’s interesting to note that all three basic forms of political ideology in the US, Libertarian, Conservative and Liberal, now have matchless records of decades of non-achievement in terms of any vaguely plausible value to American voters. All three also spend a lot of time pinning medals on themselves for upholding their principles.
Exactly what those principles are worth to American voters, we’ll find out in November.
There’s an interesting tale in The New York Times about the real world applications of ideologies- The Pruitt Igoe Housing Project, a saga of doing nothing while a whole community fell apart and into poverty. It’s an illustration of the realities of “ideologies” and what they actually deliver. It's the image of America's political failure. Its neglect was based on Libertarian principles, its funding on Conservative principles and its absolute failure a testimony to liberal timidity/laziness on the subject of affordable housing reform.
Keep it up, guys, you’re doing great.
The Liberal ManifestoThe Conservative Manifesto
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