Getting legitimacy out of the way

Michael Lind, professional idiot, recently wrote a column that made the ridiculous on its face claim that libertarianism is pro-dictator.  Will Wilkinson, in the process of giving such tripe the drubbing it deserved, slipped in a whopper of his own, taking the radical tradition of libertarianism and line-item vetoing it.  dL noticed that and responded, which brings up the real underlying issue to all this:

The problem, which at this point in time should be obvious to anyone with a brain, is that democracy does not resolve the problem of monopoly. Indeed, if one can demonstrate the existence of a ruling class in a democracy, then the chief argument for democracy, namely accountability, simply vanishes, and the libertarian critique is undeniable: in particular, the problem of monopoly within a socio-political system that has no accountability becomes paramount.

I’ve noticed over time that the most common charge against libertarians — that is, after the insults have been worn out — is that without the state the ruling class will simply tear ass uninhibited.  They say representative democracy is a tool against this, the coercion involved justified as a form of collective self-defense on the part of the common folk.  People like dL and myself call BS on this by pointing out that the ruling class not only persists, but uses the state against the same people claiming it as working for them.  Legitimacy still doesn’t attach.

So, one side says that political legitimacy is what matters, and without it we just have rulers.  The other side says political legitimacy really can’t exist, we just have rulers anyway.  Here, try this on for size:

State = ruling class = state.

If the issue is coercion, and coercion defines a state, then a philosophical Ouroboros emerges from the defense of government — “without rulers, we’ll end up ruled”.  Go after ruling as a concept though, and would it really matter what you called the ones attempting to do it?  Any group trying to get you to act in their interest at gunpoint is acting as a state, badge or no badge.

If that isn’t enough, your concern is something other than force.  An explanation would be welcome in that case, since I have no idea what.


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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One Response to Getting legitimacy out of the way

  1. Joe says:

    My last post was about that Lind piece. My favorite part was when he said, “Even authoritarian capitalist regimes like China reject the small government creed.”
    Well duh, of course they do. And so does every “regime,” including the ones headed up by the supposedly small government conservatives in this country.

    I’m not sure liberals like Lind see the issue as coercion. For them, a government that works on behalf of the little people is just a properly functioning government. Either they take coercion as a given, or else they refuse to accept that government is based on force. I tend to think it’s the latter. There are “right” policies and “wrong” policies, and anyone who objects to the coercion used in either case is simply dismissed as a crank.

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