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Vulgar libertarianism

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The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
John Kenneth Galbraith
I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality.
—John Randolph of Roanoke
No, this isn't about Libertarians cussing.

Vulgar libertarianism is a term used to refer to libertarians who approach that political philosophy with altogether the wrong attitude. It was coined by the "free market anti-capitalist" blogger Kevin Carson. In georgist tradition, vulgar libertarians are known as "royal libertarians", a term coined by Dan Sullivan.[1]


[edit] Kevin Carson on vulgar libertarians

Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term "free market" in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get the standard boilerplate article arguing that the rich can’t get rich at the expense of the poor, because "that’s not how the free market works" — implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations on the basis of "free market principles."

[edit] Vulgar libertarians as corporate mouthpieces

Vulgar libertarians are those who focus on those parts of a free-market policy that most benefit big business, such as:

While ignoring other parts that would most benefit individuals and small businesses, such as:

  • Legalization of drugs
  • Civil liberties
  • Tax reform (i.e., closing loopholes exploited by big business)
  • Eliminating corporate welfare (unless it's going to corporations not funding your think tank)
  • Freedom to operate a restaurant without interference from the health inspector (very beneficial for small restaurateurs with little disposable income to spend on luxuries such as proper culinary sanitation[citation needed] or fixed premises rather than a food truck, see above).

Steve Milloy, formerly of the Cato Institute, now of Fox News, is a vulgar libertarian, in that his primary interest is in denial of scientific developments that might suggest a need for new regulations, such as global warming research and the dangers of tobacco smoking.

[edit] Vulgar libertarianism vs. Beltway libertarianism

"Vulgar libertarianism" is somewhat similar to the insult of "Beltway Libertarianism" leveled at such think tanks as the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation. Carson has accused some of these institutions of vulgar libertarianism; this might be expected, since (1) these think tanks are being funded by those noted beneficiaries of libertarian policies, Koch Industries and oil, tobacco, and other corporate interests[2] and (2) Carson is being funded by that noted beneficiary of non-libertarian policies, the health care industry.[3]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/sullivan-dan_are-you-a-real-libertarian-or-a-royal-libertarian-1998.html Are You A Real Libertarian? Or, a ROYAL Libertarian?
  2. David Koch was a co-founder of Cato. Also see these funding reports: Cato, Reason
  3. Carson's profile
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