Comment 380

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2005 at 07:49:00

I've got a libertarian streak in me, so I'm sympathetic to it, but libertarianism fails as a political philosophy because it fails to account for two critical factors: corporate power and democracy.

Any political philosophy is an abstraction from actual politics; it's a map that purports to guide its followers through political events.

However, to be useful a map has to correspond to the territory. A map of Hamilton, for example, that didn't include the Escarpment would mislead anyone who tried to follow it.

Libertarianism is misleading because it purports to be about protecting individual liberties but ignores the many ways concentrated corporate power curtails individual liberties, leaves the consequences of its activities for others to deal with, and bends governments to its will, corrupting the legal and regulatory environment that makes it viable in the first place.

At the same time, democracy - or collective decision making - is a valid, widely used means for humans to cooperate and achieve certain desired goals as a group that would be difficult or impossible to achieve individually.

For example, a large majority of Canadians support the government's involvement in Kyoto because they recognize that we can achieve significant reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions collectively that the market, left to its own devices, cannot achieve.

We have decided that preserving the planet's ecology (and, by extension, its human carrying capacity) is more important than preserving a corporation's right to generate profits and externalize its costs.

For all its appeal, Libertarianism ignores one of the biggest sources of oppression even as it severely restricts people's ability to decide and act collectively.

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