One of the elements of a capitalist system that induces purple-faced rage amongst statists and progressives is the existence of profit. This residual – the amount left over once an entity has deducted its costs from its revenue – is said to line the pockets of greedy shareholders while exploiting labourers and consumers.
Much of the pro-liberty movement (myself included) tends to focus on the role of education as the prime driver towards a freer world. Given that, ultimately, any regime is cemented in place by the will of the people, such a world is unlikely to thrive unless people are motivated to embrace their freedom while rejecting all forms of force and coercion.
A distinct disadvantage of advocating for a society free from state interference is that winning either the rhetorical or emotional battle is a lot more difficult. Democratic socialists and redistributionists can effectively wear their bleeding hearts on their sleeves, forever declaring their care for the poor, the sick, the elderly, or whichever group is in need of their pitiful platitudes at any particular time. Libertarians, on the other hand, appear to advocate for nothing more than greed and selfishness by calling for the right of every person keep own his/her income. Surely this would be the slippery slope to each of us ferreting ourselves away in an increasingly atomised existence?
Together with other free marketeers, Austro-libertarians are adept at explaining the inefficient and destructive nature of the state. This compulsory aegis of taxation and redistribution destroys economic progress and the standard of living, siphoning off an increasing quantity of the fruits of our labour into vast bureaucracies. For our efforts, control and regulation of every aspect of our lives with a fine tooth-comb is all we can expect in return.
The economic history of the twentieth century is often summarised as some kind of big battle between unfettered capitalism on the one hand (as supposedly demonstrated by the United States) and full blown socialism/communism on the other (as the Soviet Union was supposed to have been).
[This article is excerpted and adapted from an essay published previously on Free Life.]
It can scarcely be denied that the past two years have seen a rapid increase in the centralisation and consolidation of state power. While 2019 was hardly a small-state paradise, the penchant for central planning has gathered pace during the time in which we were all confined to COVID house arrest. Indeed, the whole sorry spectacle of lockdowns, masking, distancing and mass vaccination programmes were themselves uniform, top-down responses to a particular problem. Never matter how disastrous and destructive these policies, governments haven’t wavered from the notion that more of their input is the panacea to every societal ill – most of which, needless to say, are caused by governments themselves. Indeed, there is a pending attempt to harmonise government responses to health “emergencies” under the auspices of the World Health Organisation through a “pandemic treaty”.
Freedom enthusiasts usually take pride in their understanding of the ethics of liberty and the evils of statism. It is difficult not to read and be enthralled by the works of distinguished libertarian authors such as Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Walter Block, and from earlier generations the likes of H L Mencken, Albert Jay Nock and Frank Chodorov, before we even mention Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek.