Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Liberty and extremism

As long as I've held conscious and thought-out views on how to organize society, I have been pretty much an extremist. Throughout my adolescense, I would advocate nationalization of industries as a means for just distribution of goods produced and profits reaped or propose expropriation of those who work against the "common good". Sounds scary for someone who nowadays claims to be a libertarian, doesn't it?

These days, I've switched to the other extreme. I support laissez-faire markets, privatization (not in the corporatist sense, however) of former state property or the abolition of compulsory institutions like the draft, public schooling or even taxes. This attitude has been troubling me for quite some time since a number of acquaintances of mine have been expressing worry about my unyielding stance on things. Some have even stopped arguing with me for my lack of willingness to compromise. Maybe, I thought, I'm just a simplistic moron without sensitivity for exceptions.

However, I've recently developed another more encouraging explanation which I would naturally favor to believe. My hardcore socialist views, as well as my unrelenting libertarian stance, are simply the result of rational deduction from given premises. While being a socialist, I accepted the Hobbesian theory of "homo homini lupus" and the consequent need for a monopoly of force. But I advanced from there: if people really are inherently bad and only work to trick one another, how in the world can we allow a market-based economy and society to exist? This view was reinforced by the Marxist theory of capital accumulation which states that in a capitalist economy, capital tends to concentrate in an ever diminishing number of hands until there is only one great capitalist or one powerful oligarchy left. This, of course, coincided with the view that humans act to fool each other and provided the economic background for the philosophical observation. I just needed to follow the path ahead to consider socialism superior to every free market organization.

Thanks to Ron Paul and several other conservatives and libertarians, I was able to question the Hobbesian premise. If people are inherently bad, how can we allow a monopoly of force to be run by them? This produced a huge crack in my socialist think-wall. As I later found out, among many other insights, about the mutually beneficial nature of market transactions and the principle of self-ownership, I had to change my philosophy in order to stay consistent.

Thus, my extremist views were simply rational deductions from my philosophical premises. Being "extremist" simply meant employing logic. A change in premises may imply differing results which made me arrive at libertarianism.

As Barry Goldwater concisely put it,
"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"
Good to know, isn't it?

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