Do Libertarians Understand Power?

Jul 11 2011 @ 9:04am

by Patrick Appel

Freddie deBoer questions Nick Gillespie's knowledge of powerlessness:

When libertarians argue endlessly about the tyranny of paying taxes and the poor, oppressed state of enormous, multinational corporations, while remaining consistently silent on the plight of the urban poor (on the material dimensions of their freedom), they reveal an ideological framework that is stunningly incapable of reflecting the world as it is rather than as ideal theory would prefer it. They have no vocabulary of power as experienced, so even if they were inclined to help those on the bottom, they would lack the understanding capable of doing such a thing. They have nothing to say on the issue.

E.D. Kain responds, mounting a defense of real-world libertarian compassion:

I think [Freddie] off-base in saying that libertarians lack the language or the compassion necessary to attempt to solve the plight of the poor. When I write about the War on Drugs, for instance, most of the sources I turn to are libertarian sources. This is largely because they are the most consistent advocates of an end to the War on Drugs. Or the foreign wars. Or the security-surveillance state. Or the TSA. Or mass incarceration. Or many of the other multitudinous ways that the state (and its corporatist cronies) literally create chaos and violence in the lower classes and help to sustain poverty.