Sadly, there seems to be another split brewing in the american libertarianism movement. On the one hand, there is the Cato institute and those associated with it. On the other hand there is the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the LewRockwell/Ron Paul crowd. Now, I’m not very up to data about what the latest intellectual quarrel is about, but Tom Woods has a good outline of it all. It reminds me of what happens when people here that I don’t give that much for Milton Friedman. WHAT? they say. With a blog named Save Capitalism? How can you not like Friedman? He was the ultra-capitalist!!
Yes and no. The problem with people like Friedman, and the Cato crowd for that matter, is that they like capitalism and freedom but not because they consider these fundamental values, but because they produce the best results. It’s called pragmatism, and the most important thing you can learn from Ayn Rand and objectivists is that pragmatism is the root of many evils. You may set out on a path of doing the right thing, but once you start going against your ideals the quest is worthless. Without your ideals, you no longer have any way of saying if you are doing good, or doing evil.
It is the basis for the modern social-democratic movement. Sure – capitalism brings economic prosperity – so we cannot have government ownership of too much. But once we allow the free market, why shouldn’t we pile on an adequate amount of taxes to support the poor, the sick, and the unemployed? Pragmatism. And while it makes sense to some (we’re not removing capitalism – we’re just tweaking the free market a bit), right and wrong suddenly disappeared, or rather became a matter of majority vote. Two wolves and a sheep went to vote on what to eat for dinner …
I guess I will probably be spending more time on this topic up ahead. And for the record – I’m not saying that the LVMI/Rockwell/Ron Paul crowd is infallible. But they tend to do things more because it is the right thing to do, and less because it produces the right results. And this is an important distinction to make, unless we want to fall into the trap of only thinking short-term, and sacrificing the long-term benefits of a totally free society for some temporary benefits of a less free society.