I thought I might do something different for my column today. A weekly roundup of the articles published by Being Libertarian‘s contributors and columnists since my last column last Friday felt like a good idea! Without further ado:
By Thomas J. Eckert, 12 August
In this past week’s The Lowdown on Liberty, Thomas highlights one of biggest gripes I have with modern political discourse: historical amnesia. We study thick history textbooks and celebrate multiple days of remembrance every year, yet when we put the books down and the public holidays are over, we seemingly do our best to make all the same mistakes of the past.
In South Africa, the last 22 years of post-Apartheid democracy have played out virtually the same as the first years of Apartheid. We started with hope and optimism for a united future, then the socialists became upset about something and violently demanded certain laws to ‘help’ or ‘protect’ certain classes of people. Apartheid itself was a product of a marriage between English labor politics and Afrikaner nationalism. Beforehand, the English were not particularly racist and the Afrikaners were not particularly fond of centralized government. After the marriage, however, a nationalist-socialist monstrosity was born. In the post-Apartheid era, our relative personal and economic freedom has been steadily declining as African nationalists bought into statist socialism. This is less than a generation after those very same people – intellectuals and activists – so passionately spoke out against government oppression.
Perhaps George Santayana was wrong. We do remember the past, but we repeat it anyway. Lord Acton’s insights offers an answer as to why – power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
By Arthur Cleroux, 13 August
Arthur also wrote about the importance of remembering history in What Are We Thinking? History provides a context to modern-day events, and we must bear that context in mind otherwise we’ll come to incorrect conclusions. History itself should also be seen within its own context, so that the benefit of hindsight doesn’t let us misinterpret history, and in so doing repeat past mistakes.
We can criticize the Soviet Union in hindsight, just like we can criticize Democratic Party politicians during the era of slavery in hindsight, because at the time these systems of oppression were in operation, there were a multitude of voices pointing out how the systems did not make sense economically or ethically. It can’t be said that these political elites simply didn’t know any better. They knew.
It would be wrong, however, as many people do, to criticize ordinary white Americans who didn’t spend their days fighting to abolish slavery, or criticize people like Nelson Mandela who became Communists out of necessity – nobody else was willing to fund the anti-Apartheid struggle. The context of the time did not truly allow a more desirable option to be chosen. Layman Americans grew up with slavery being a widely-accepted practice. Like with virtually-unanimous statism nowadays, it would be wrong for those in a hypothetical future libertarian society to look back and consider everyone who lived during our time to be evil.
By Jake Dorsch, 14 August
It is an open secret that I don’t care much about wealth inequality – I have written extensively on the topic. Whether some have more than others is irrelevant to whether or not the ‘others’ are able to get by and live comfortably. One man’s poverty is not necessarily the result of another man’s prosperity, as Jake points out.
The left in South Africa, which, unlike in America, accounts for virtually all of the political discourse, is very concerned with wealth inequality. Bizarrely, our high unemployment rate, lack of entrepreneurship, violent crime, and political corruption, have all been pinned on inequality. And due to our Apartheid past, no South African politician need ponder even a moment about whether inequality is an appropriate scapegoat; it simply is, by default, always and forever.
Like in America, the left here, too, gets its causes and solutions wrong. A national minimum wage, intense sectoral regulation, and ever-increasing taxes are considered solutions to wealth inequality. Whenever I and my colleagues at the Free Market Foundation push for policies like special economic zones, simplified and lower taxes, or less-onerous labor law, all of which will do more to lessen consequential inequality than current government programs, our proposals are disregarded.
This seems to be a global phenomenon, and the inequality narrative should be fought on a global scale.
By Danny Chabino, 15 August
Danny’s weekly Red Dirt Liberty Report always relates to something he has had experience with in the world of business, and how enterprise is curtailed by government. He brings something we libertarians often have little to no exposure to: the reality of government repression. This enables him to see things we otherwise won’t, like the fact that litigating against fraudulent or otherwise unethical businesses is better than calling for government to regulate them.
To the layman, this makes no sense. Asking government to regulate is free and easy; litigating is very expensive and time-consuming. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that it’s actually the other way around.
Getting a regulation in place is easy. Getting rid of it is next to impossible. By demanding new regulations, we tie generations of our children and grandchildren up in disastrous policies. That’s not even to touch on the unquantifiable billions in wealth regulations cost a national economy every year. Any regulatory cost a company needs to deal with is pushed onto the consumer – it rarely, if ever, comes out of the chief executive’s pocket. Litigation, on the other hand, costs more in the short run, but creates legal certainty and potentially saves society billions. Unfortunately, regulation socializes cost, whereas litigation costs would fall squarely on the shoulders of the litigant. So next time you realize your basket of goods is substantially more expensive than it was a year ago, know that some of your peers decided to get government to regulate, rather than deal with their own problems.
By Brandon Kirby, 16 August
In Freedom Philosophy Brandon Kirby considers the further self-destruction of the social justice left’s faux-feminism.
Ordinary feminists showed their true colors when they threw their support behind the 2016 presidential candidate who aligned with brutally-misogynist regimes in the Middle East, meaning they did not truly care about women, but rather about ideology. Clinton getting into the White House would have been an ideological victory, regardless of the real women who might have had to suffer for it as Clinton would inevitably have pumped more money and materiel into the Middle East.
More academically-oriented feminists, on the other hand, commit the very same thought-crime they claim to oppose, i.e. sexual essentialism. After all, saying all women are alike is incredibly sexist – we really need to teach men to think differently, amirite?
No philosophy will stand the test of time if it violates its own principles right out the gate! Only internally-consistent freedom can provide true liberation.
By Dillon Eliassen, 17 August
Being Libertarian‘s Managing Editor writes our oldest column. He is a pioneer in this respect. And each new edition of his Shortcuts & Delusions is as worth reading as the previous. Him being a novelist, I am often left wondering why Dillon has not taken up writing an insightful non-fiction book. If his satire-and-seriousness-infused column about Charlottesville is any indication, it would certainly be worth a buy.
If he wants to publish it with Being Libertarian, however, he’ll need to cut down on the long quotes.
Dillon and Ben Shapiro appear to disagree on Trump’s response to the tragedy which occurred last weekend. Whereas Shapiro believes Trump should have been less equivocal and just condemned both sides by name, Dillon doesn’t seem to mind it. My question, since Obama’s days, however, has been why Americans are so obsessed with having their president deliver commentary on everything. In my mind, American federalism and decentralization appear to imply that the local mayor, state representative, and perhaps the Governor’s comments would be warranted. But that the head of the federal government must comment on every tragedy is seemingly an imperative, is foreign to me.
Dillon makes the point many in our now-shaky movement struggle with: You can hold two views in your mind at the same time. If you oppose neo-Nazis, you aren’t necessarily a communist, and vice versa. Both groups in Charlottesville lost the moral high ground when they decided to employ violence in pursuit of their misguided goals.
I didn’t exclude Alon Ganon’s comprehensive take on vaping and smoking regulations in the United States out of malice. This article would however have take me days to write had I also included all three parts of his series here. Please read his valuable insights here, here, and here!
This post was written by Martin van Staden.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.
Martin van Staden is the Editor in Chief of Being Libertarian, the Legal Researcher at the Free Market Foundation, a co-founder of the RationalStandard.com, and the Southern African Academic Programs Director at Students For Liberty. The views expressed in his articles are his own and do not represent any of the aforementioned organizations.