Friday, May 23, 2014

Libertarianism, Communism, and Realism

Some say that there is a logical parallel between communists insisting that "genuine communism" would not degenerate into Soviet-style totalitarianism and libertarians insisting that "genuine free-market libertarianism" would not degenerate into crony capitalism, a parallel that is alleged to demonstrate that both of these groups are equally unrealistic in their expectations.

There is, however, an essential difference between their respective claims. "Genuine communism", understood as an economically rational social order, is a logical impossibility - a form of society that is logically incapable of allocating resources to their most highly-valued uses due to its elimination of the market price system that reflects sovereign consumer choices and entrepreneurial expectations of their future shape. "Genuine free-market libertarianism", on the other hand, is merely psychologically difficult to establish - just as it was difficult to bring about the abolition of slavery due to how universally accepted and culturally well-entrenched the institution in question was, so it is even more difficult to convince the majority of people to reject the Stockholm syndrome that sustains territorial monopolies of force that corrupt businesses by subsidies, monopoly privileges, bailouts, fiat money credit expansions, etc.

In other words, trying to establish "genuine communism" is trying to square the circle - it is based not just on unrealistic expectations, but on logical falsehoods as well. On the other hand, trying to establish "genuine free-market libertarianism" is as little and as much as trying to accomplish an admittedly hard task of persuading the majority of people to become significantly more economically literate and morally aware than they currently are. The difference between the two is the one between difficulty and impossibility, and it is a crucial difference indeed.

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