Kos is no libertarian

Markos “Kos” Moulitsas writes today that he’s a “Libertarian Democrat.” You won’t believe what he means by that. But then he goes on to demolish his own argument. Kos is not a libertarian anything, just the same state-loving, corporation-empowering Democrat as all the rest.

My big beef with the Democrats is that while they talk a good game about empowering the people, helping the underprivileged, keeping the evil corporations in check, the policies they put forth actually do exactly the opposite: they disempower people, they harm the underprivileged, and they support the evil corporations. (Not that the Republicans are any better.)

But if one were to believe Kos, one would have to believe that they have no idea that that’s what they’re doing, despite the clear evidence everyone can see right in front of everyone’s faces.

Traditional “libertarianism” holds that government is evil and thus must be minimized. Any and all government intrusion is bad. While practical libertarians (as opposed to those who waste their votes on the Libertarian Party) have traditionally aligned themselves with the Republicans, it’s clear that the modern GOP has no qualms about trampling on personal liberties. Heck, it’s become their raison d’ etre.

The problem with this form of libertarianism is that it assumes that only two forces can infringe on liberty — the government and other individuals.

The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty — the corporation. The Libertarian Dem understands that corporations, left unchecked, can be huge dangers to our personal liberties.

Libertarian Dems are not hostile to government like traditional libertarians. But unlike the liberal Democrats of old times (now all but extinct), the Libertarian Dem doesn’t believe government is the solution for everything. But it sure as heck is effective in checking the power of corporations.

In other words, government can protect our liberties from those who would infringe upon them — corporations and other individuals. — Daily Kos

That’s right, he actually said that government is a check on corporations’ power! Hello! Wake up and smell the reality. Government is the source of corporations’ power. Corporations have gotten very good at getting government to empower them to do whatever they want. Without government, corporations could not exist. And the less power government wields over the people, the less power the corporation can leverage to its own ends.

Real libertarians are nearly as suspicious of corporations as of the government, as they rightly recognize that corporations derive their power from the government.

Classical liberal political economy tells us that the greater the scope and power of state coercion, the stronger the incentive for economically powerful private interests, such as corporations, to use it to their own advantage, squashing competition, consolidating advantage, and channeling taxpayer dollars into corporate coffers. Libertarians have never believed in leaving corporations unchecked. The way you check corporations is by taking political power off the table.

Here is Kos’ key paragraph, which contains the real division between classical and statist liberals: — Cato-at-liberty

A Libertarian Dem believes that true liberty requires freedom of movement — we need roads and public transportation to give people freedom to travel wherever they might want. A Libertarian Dem believes that we should have the freedom to enjoy the outdoor without getting poisoned; that corporate polluters infringe on our rights and should be checked. A Libertarian Dem believes that people should have the freedom to make a living without being unduly exploited by employers. A Libertarian Dem understands that no one enjoys true liberty if they constantly fear for their lives, so strong crime and poverty prevention programs can create a safe environment for the pursuit of happiness. A Libertarian Dem gets that no one is truly free if they fear for their health, so social net programs are important to allow individuals to continue to live happily into their old age. Same with health care. And so on. — Daily Kos

Wow, sounds like more of the same so-called “positive liberty” (positive liberty isn’t liberty at all) socialist crap the Democrats have been pushing for as long as I can remember. What exactly is libertarian about this?


I fear that once you cash out precisely what Kos has in mind by ensuring that people aren’t “unduly exploited by employers,” whatever that means, or by “poverty prevention” and “social net programs,” we’ll discover something disappointingly like the Democratic party status quo. In which case, Kos will be simply declaring a pretty standard set of Democratic policies as “libertarian,” in defiance of the normal understanding of the term. — Cato-at-liberty

This isn’t the first time someone at Daily Kos has completely screwed up the idea of libertarianism or liberty. I’ve talked about the other guy before.

And now you know why I don’t read Daily Kos. I can’t support anyone who espouses instigating government force against people as a solution for social problems. Not only is it completely unnecessary, it’s completely morally reprehensible. Aside from that, I can’t support anyone who says one thing and does another, and that’s the standard operating procedure of both the Democrats and the Republicans.

Update: Radley Balko puts in his two cents.

One thought on “Kos is no libertarian

  • December 27, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    People are trading in words such “freedom” and “Liberty” these days when discussing others’ issues!

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