Caleb Maupin

Since 2019 Chile has been shaken by massive protests against the hardcore neoliberal policies implemented by successive rightwing and social democratic regimes basically implementing libertarian ideas of governance.

This is a repost. First run Jun 27, 2020. 

Few ideologies are more insidious and disastrous to society than libertarianism, but its popularity continues in the US, propelled by fanatics who live in an alternate universe, and the power of a multitude of billionaires, their media and bought politicians, and the fact it remains the core value of capitalism, aka “the American Way of Life”.  The affluent—especially their children—lap it up, and there are far too many who become intoxicated with the notion of absolute freedom, a social impossibility.

Editor’s Note: As usual, Caleb Maupin does a pretty good job here, but a couple of things may further elucidate why Libertarians are badly misguided. For one thing, they are ahistorical—in itself an impossibility—as no one can dismiss the historical record and its lessons (duly and reasonably observed, of course). Ahistoricism refers to the fact that libertarians dream of a perfect market that never was, the one usually described in “neoclassical economics 101”, taught by gurus like Paul Samuelson. The doctrine of neoclassical economics that most libertarians accept as sacred scripture tell people that capitalism can be quite OK if left to its own devices without government meddling, but have no real answers to the multitude of questions and problems that quickly crop up when the market is allowed to run wild according to its own unfettered dynamic. The unresolvable issues range from the provision of healthcare to the masses, to dependable and equitable social safety nets, to the establishment of efficient transportation systems, public education, housing for all, proper care for the environment, not to mention decent and fair remuneration for labor rendered, and so on. But more embarrassingly, they have no answer to the fact that ANY perfect market—the God they worship— will eventually succumb to the collapse of one of its supposed major pillars, perfect competition. It is in fact competition—the serpent that eats itself by the tail—that brings about monopoly, that is, the end of real competition, not to mention the rise of huge megacorporations at the root of oligarchic capitalism and de facto corporatism. 

Consider, for example, that in the 1890s the US boasted thousands of car companies. Hard to believe? Says none other than the Wikipedia, hardly a communist venue:

Starting with Duryea in 1895, at least 1900 different companies were formed, producing over 3,000 makes of American automobiles. World War I (1917–1918) and the Great Depression in the United States (1929–1939) combined to drastically reduce the number of both major and minor producers. During World War II, all the auto companies switched to making military equipment and weapons. However, by the end of the next decade the remaining smaller producers disappeared or merged into amalgamated corporations. The industry was dominated by three large companies: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, all based in Metro Detroit. Those “Big Three” continued to prosper, and the U.S. produced three quarters of all automobiles in the world by 1950 (8.0 million out of 10.6 million). (Automotive industry in the United States, Wikipedia)

By the 1950s the list had been cut to less than 10, with the “Big Three” —Ford, Chrysler and GM—dictating terms to much of the industry. What happened? Competition—along with social, economic, technological and political change no one can fully control or predict— had killed most of the companies alive in 1900 in the normal process of commercial war.  Indeed, price wars, bankruptcies, mergers and phaseouts took their toll, not to mention the almost infinite accidents of fate befallng any living entity: proximity to markets, fashion twists, access to corrupt politicians, easier access to financing, access to cheaper and/or superior labor pools, natural advantages (raw materials), and superior designs and/or superior advertising. For any or many of these reasons, the industry had seen a dramatic attrition, from a vigorous, competitve market with numerous firms to a handful. Libertarians simply refuse to look at such facts.

As for the idea that there is such a thing as a superior, benign capitalism where the government plays no role or is actually a friend of the capitalist, that’s precisely what the capitalists had from the 1890s on in most parts of the Western world, and that’s what they still have, albeit in its most powerful and malignant form. So “that” model has already been tried and found wanting. —P. Greanville

Caleb Maupin is a widely acclaimed speaker, writer, journalist, and political analyst. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and in Latin America. He was involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement from its early planning stages, and has bee
n involved many struggles for social justice. He is an outspoken advocate of international friendship and cooperation, as well 21st Century Socialism.

Patrice Greanville, a media and economic critic, is The Greanville Post’s founding editor. 

First published in The Greanville Post.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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