Sunday, August 07, 2005

Objectivism and Libertarianism, again

Don Watkins likes to blog about libertarianism and objectivism.

According to Don, good political change only comes through good philosophical change. That is to say that we have a current culture that supports a "mixed economy" and that we cannot get rid of the mixed economy or its components without a philosophical change to reject said "mixed economy". This is incorrect. Political change does not come only through philosophical change. Elections do not produce the political will of the people. Perhaps Don is not read in public choice analysis, but most political outcomes are the result of economic and power games, not to mention the structure of voting process. This goes back to such incontrovertible thinkers such as Aarow, who demonstrated that the difference between various voting procedures (all of which are democratic) can turn out different results, none of which has any clear democratic priority over the others. Anyone vaguely familiar with libertarian theory understands that legislators are bought and sold, and the legislation that is produced is often determined by which interest group has the most money and/or votes, not the national well being.

The point being is that the political philosophy of the nation is not always the same as the outcome of the political process. Changing the policy and laws of this nation is not simply a philosophical endeavor. It is also the result of interest group wrangling, selling to the public, etc, etc....One can come up with short term gains. There are a number of constituencies that would support some aspects of capitalistic freedom as understood by objectivists. Why not support the changes that can be made?


Blogger James said...

I suspect that there is some salient distinction between major and minor changes. Transitioning from an ad valorem tax on cigarettes to a per pack tax is the kind of thing that tends to happen under interest group wrangling over the rules. Such wangling takes place within the constraint of meta-rules, such as the provisions of a constitution, the definition of the electorate, etc. Making changes to those meta-rules (such as giving women the right to vote, ending slavery, giving the right federal government the right to collect an income tax, etc) seems to require some widespread change of philosophy, at least most of the time.

9:35 AM  

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