Six Theses of Libertarian Rhetoric

In a blog post discussing why many people fail to even recognize things that don’t fit their expectations, Molinari Institute President Roderick Long lists six theses that he asserts ought to be followed when crafting radical libertarian / left libertarian / market anarchist rhetoric.

[L]ibertarians, and especially left-libertarians, need to focus more on simply getting our position recognised. Getting it recognised is of course not enough – one then has to argue that the position is correct – but I think such argument and defense are to a large extent pointless if people can’t see what the position being defended even is.

Our vital task, then, is to get the word out that there is a position out there that includes the following theses:

1. Big business and big government are (for the most part) natural allies.

2. Although conservative politicians pretend to hate big government, and liberal politicians pretend to hate big business, most mainstream policies – both liberal and conservative – involve (slightly different versions of) massive intervention on behalf of the big-business/big-government elite at the expense of ordinary people.

3. Liberal politicians cloak their intervention on behalf of the strong in the rhetoric of intervention on behalf of the weak; conservative politicians cloak their intervention on behalf of the strong in the rhetoric of non-intervention and free markets – but in both cases the rhetoric is belied by the reality.

4. A genuine policy of intervention on behalf of the weak, if liberals actually tried it, wouldn’t work either, since the nature of government power would automatically warp it toward the interests of the elite.

5. A genuine policy of non-intervention and free markets, if conservatives actually tried it, would work, since free competition would empower ordinary people at the expense of the elite.

6. Since conservative policies, despite their associated free-market rhetoric, are mostly the diametrical opposite of free-market policies, the failures of conservative policies do not constitute an objection to (but rather, if anything, a vindication of) free-market policies.

Of course we should be prepared to defend these theses through economic reasoning and historical evidence, but the main goal at this point, I think, should be not so much to defend them as simply to advertise their existence.

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2 thoughts on “Six Theses of Libertarian Rhetoric

  1. Indeed on point 3. For who has greater need of strong protection for private property than the poor, who suffer most when they lose what they own? And who has greater need of the lower prices brought on by highly competitive free markets? The poor need stable or lowering prices in order to make the most of their meager means. And who has greater need of the opportunities available in a truly free market? The poor need these opportunities to raise their income level.

    The rich seem to demand protection from ever having to work hard, or at all.


  2. What planetaryjim said. The first time I ever won someone over to libertarianism was in high school, when I had a friend- who was kind of a Ralph Nader type at the time- I would discuss politics with. What convinced him was talking about all the state interventions that disproportionately hurt poor people, and especially protectionism and barriers to employment and entrepeneurship.


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