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Political Power and Libertarianism

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Jargon Posted: Fri, Nov 2 2012 4:03 PM

Denizens of Mises Forum,

Which would you prefer: A man who gets into congress and preaches to the masses the virtues of free markets but is unable to effect serious political change, despite waking some people up (ala Ron Paul) or a man who seizes power in a military coup, succesfully declares himself King of America for the next 20 years (more akin to Jackson) and then proceeds to: slash military spending, end patent law, abolish the Fed and legal tender laws, abolish subsidies, withdraw from the UN, end the income tax, ends welfare-statism and minimum wage laws, end the various three-letter-agencies as well Dept's of Education/Agriculture/Commerce/Housing/etc., and generally delicense and deregulate all industry, thus providing the political and regime certainty to usher in free-market institutions, all the while making frequent eloquent speeches to the populace in attempts to educate them?

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I'll take a libertarian autocrat over social democracy any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Democracy is less than worthless.

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
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Only problem with the libertarian dictator is what happens when his 20 years are over? There will probably be calls to expand the government for the 'common good,' saying we can't return to the same failed policies of the past 20 years. We're stronger together than we are on our own! :)

If we had a larger influx of Ron Paul types in congress, perhaps in the future enough young people will just see the light and DEMAND the rollback of government. I think we just have to want it enough. Right now, most people seem to want more statism - poor dumb bastards.

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Bogart replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 4:25 PM

I prefer the autocrat or better yet the monarch.  Then I know who to blame for the screw ups.  The second worst thing about a democracy to people voting themselves money is that a democracy gives people a worthless choice that the rulers then use to say that the people are doing something.

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I think I agree with Minarchist. An autocrat who is actively promoting the dismantling of his own platform is way better than "social democracy," i.e. gang rape.

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fountainhead:
Only problem with the libertarian dictator is what happens when his 20 years are over? There will probably be calls to expand the government for the 'common good,' saying we can't return to the same failed policies of the past 20 years. We're stronger together than we are on our own! :)

The propaganda machine is good, but it's not that good. Imagine what this county would look like after 20 years of laissez faire. Americans would be enjoying the highest standards of living in their history and in the history of the world. It's hard to convince people of the value of freedom at the theoretical level, but I think 20 years of first-hand experience of laissez faire correlating with incredible prosperity would bring them around, and make them pretty well impervious to statist propaganda....at least for a generation or two.

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Groucho replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 4:34 PM

"Political power and Libertarianism"

Uh, I'll take "what are 3 words you never see together" for $100, Alex.

a man who seizes power in a military coup, succesfully declares himself King of America for the next 20 years (more akin to Jackson) and then proceeds to: slash military spending, end patent law, abolish the Fed [. . . ]

If anybody "seized power in a military coup" in America, all of those institutions (and everything that follows) would be gone overnight. Welfare? Minimum Wage? Have a look at Auschwitz..

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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FYI, Hitler was elected.

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Groucho replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 4:46 PM

I'm aware of that. But any "military coup" would totally undermine the government. Congress would be a joke. Whoever is craziest would be in charge (yeah, just like always).

Can you imagine the contingency plans our government - who is known to have a plan on how to begin collecting taxes again after a world war 3 nuclear holocaust - would have come up with for that sort of scenario? Just think of that fire department who wouldn't save the guy's house because he didn't pay his taxes. Or the amount of ammunition they have.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Neodoxy replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 4:51 PM

How many people die in the coup?

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Such a plan would fail miserably.  Not only would you have almost the entire populace rioting in order to win back their free lunch, you would have all the professional rent-seekers and the elite parasites who currently hold huge amounts of power against you, promoting much desired propaganda across the whole country.  Thus the libertarian dictator could simply be assassinated and no one would really care.  Democracy is a god that failed as a means of social organisation, but not as a god.

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@Aristippus

I also kind of thought along these lines above, but Minarchist made a good point that assuming such a dictator could manage to stay in power for 20 years, it would be that much more difficult for the propagandists to try and turn us backwards again. Though, something like that has already happened in real life if you think about it. There were hiccups in between, but for almost a century we had peace and propserity in the U.S. because we left people alone, yet they managed to convince everyone to give that up for the 'greater good.'

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Minarchist:
FYI, Hitler was elected.

No, Hitler himself was appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg. The Nazi Party was elected plurality of seats in the Reichstag before that.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

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Ahem, Hitler's "election" was not entirely bloodless.

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@Autolykos

Fair enough. I was just making the point that democracy is no protection against tyranny; millions of people voted for national socialism.

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I assume you're talking about the USA in the 19th century or thereabouts.  The situation is completely different today: there all kinds of rent-seekers who thrive upon the parasitism afforded to them by the existence of the bloated bureaucratic state.  There are entrenched elites who wield significant power and seek to keep it that way for their own profit.  Just look at Greece, Spain, France, the UK.  Their governments make insignficant spending cuts, cuts that are tiny compared to overall spending, and there are all kinds of demonstrations and riots, and a media campaign against such so-called 'austerity'. 

In the period you're talking about, taxation and government spending were tiny and very few if any lived off government largesse.  Today the opposite is the case, and many would fight tooth and claw to retain their attempts to live at the expense of everyone else - and more importantly they would have the support of the wealthy and powerful in doing so.

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Jargon replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 5:42 PM

What if the dictatorship installed wasn't actually libertarian, but authoritarian in regards to political opposition. Meaning all of those 3letter agencies are still removed, but the King institutes his own secret police to spy on political opposition and made it a crime to conspire against his authority?

EDIT: But Aristippus, as any libertarian should know, power is not money but power. The elite could conspire all they wanted but if the King maintained authority over the military, there would be nothing that could effectively be done against him. It would also be simple for him to arrange an ideologically zealous libertarian to take up his mantle after his death in the case of assassination.

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My point includes the fact that he wouldn't have control of the military, either.

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@Aristippus

Yes, I mainly had 19th century U.S. in mind. And you're right, there's a lot more mooching and looting going on now. People have forgotten. But I guess it all depends what the OP was including in his assumptions. Is he just asking theoretically, what would we prefer? Or does the dictator actually have to deal with the current real world population? That could be a bit tricky, I agree, lol.

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RagnarD replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 7:22 PM

I'd take the benevolent dictator, and I agree with Minarchist, the example given to the populace by 20 years of libertarianism would be hard to quickly reverse.

Back before I realised how corrupt our government/politicians are I used to get so angry hearing talk about spreading democracy, making nations safe for democracy etc, thinking that they were erroneously saying "democracy", while meaning " freedom, peace and prosperity, or capitalism".  I always thought, all we have to do is implement it ourselves and give an example to the world.  I now realise that example is exactly what they don't want.

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It's true that 20 years of libertarianism would be somewhat difficult to reverse, but I'd be surprised if any such dictator could have even 20 months to implement such policies, especially since the initial period would be more difficult economically than even the statist status quo.

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Jargon replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 8:05 PM

What about Tsar Ivan IV (my avatar). He completely thwarted the landed nobility by demanding higher taxes, military service and ultimately seizing their lands using the power of the military and they were powerless to stop him.

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What about it? I don't see how it's analogous to what we've been talking about.

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Jargon replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 8:09 PM

Seizing power and using the military to institute changes that the economic elite find highly undesirable?

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But I'm not only talking about the economic elite, but also the general populace, who already demand an interventionist state and can be spurred into even greater opposition by establishment propaganda and funds.
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Jargon replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 9:22 PM

I guess. We would just have to see how the propaganda of the monarch would hold up against the propaganda of the elites. I think something that would help especially would be if the first act of the monarch would be to arrest characters such as Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, John Corzine and other characters of dubious reputation. Though going after the top figures wouldn't do much (because the public doesn't really know about them) taking out the CEO's of the big banks would grant you enormous credit with the American public, especially if it weren't accompanied by a panic inducing communist agenda. Having that be your first act would be enormously popular, you'd be like the 2nd Andrew Jackson.

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The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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Anenome replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 9:42 PM

#2 would result in civil war, that's all. Not lasting change.

It would allow the intellectuals to brand all libertarian / anarch strains of thought as terrorist and set the movement back a hundred years.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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