Politics

Avoid the Deadly Isms

The binary "us vs. them" approach in politics abets the loss of freedom.

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People want politics to be simple. Left vs. right. Clinton vs. Trump. My side vs. your side. Elect the right guy, and things will be good!

The truth is more complicated.

Influential political philosophies created the mess we live with today, not just a political "left" and "right." There's socialism, conservatism, populism, progressivism, liberalism, scientism (eugenics), Marxism, totalitarianism, nationalism, fascism, Islamo-fascism, Nazism and probably others I missed.

But only two "isms" work well for ordinary people. More on them in a moment.

It's in the interests of politicians and activists to tell us society is divided into two armies, one good and one evil, with crushing defeat for one side just about to happen. When primitive parts of our brains see the world as "us vs. them," we're ready to fight each other.

We may not realize until it's too late that all those ideologies will reduce our freedom and increase the power of politicians.

Matt Kibbe, head of the group Free the People, calls them "the Deadly Isms" in a new series of online videos.

He urges people to stop wasting time worrying about which "ism" is on the left or right and worry more about how all threaten individual liberty.

Stalin was not the opposite of Hitler. Both were mass murderers who censored the press, seized control of industries and murdered innocent people. We don't benefit by choosing between communism and Nazism, or between the milder forms of them that still find adherents today: socialism and fascism.

Whether government gives you orders in the name of the working class or a superior race, it still takes away your right to do as you please.

On the other hand, there is an ideology that does leave us mostly free to do what we please. John Locke called it liberalism, saying that: "The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man."

We need some government to do some things—keep the peace, for example—but otherwise, government should mostly leave us alone.

Unfortunately, today's liberals stole Locke's word. Now liberalism means regulating most every detail of individual behavior and dividing people into grievance groups that use government to take each other's money and freedom.

Conservatism claims to love freedom, but its advocates don't mind government starting wars and crushing civil liberties of unpopular groups like drug users, immigrants, gamblers, sex workers and pornographers.

Today, both liberalism and conservatism are guilty of encouraging another ism: corporatism. That's what we get when government doles out special privileges to corporations and people who have more lawyers and lobbyists than you do.

A genuine free market rewards entrepreneurs who serve customers well. A government that hands out farm subsidies, wind-farm tax credits, mortgage deductions, etc., skews the economy in favor of those who are already rich. That's corporatism, or crony capitalism, or "crapitalism," and that's basically what we've got in America now.

Donald Trump practiced crapitalism. That's why cronies like Bill and Hillary Clinton attended his wedding. I don't blame Trump. When government has its fingers all over the economy, developers are smart to get cozy with the political class.

But when Trump ran for president, he didn't call himself a crony capitalist; he said he was a "populist." Sometimes he called it "popularist."

Populists are angry at the establishment.

But populism offers no solution. It leads instead to people following the will of self-appointed leaders who say they share the mob's anger. Bernie Sanders is called a populist, too.

Trump complains about regulations one day (I cheer), but then he complains about free trade the next. He seems to go wherever his moods, and the public's shifting moods, suggest. The anger is constant, but individual liberty suffers.

The only ism that doesn't threaten your freedom is liberalism (as originally defined)—libertarianism, as we call it now.

Let's take power from the other deadly isms and leave people free.

Watch Stossel's latest video:

NEXT: Trump's Phony Postcard Tax Return

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    1. If we start calling it Libertarianry, will that make it okay?

      1. Libertarianasm?

        1. I don’t think anyone wants to have one of those.

          1. Yeah man, you get your Libertarianjism ALL OVER the place! What a MESSS!!!

        2. It’s like an involuntary spasm done entirely by choice.

          1. NIce!

    2. BestUsedCarSales-ism…of, or ascribing to total douchebaggery as a political position…

      1. Not my fault everyone else is a faaaaaaaag

    3. Indeed. Probably spoken by a man on the receiving end of government.

    4. Spoken like a true Red Republican. Libertarian spoiler votes ended ku-klux coathanger abortion laws in 1972-3 and they’ll never forgive us for it.

      1. Some people are dumb.

  1. Lots of repeat articles lately.

    Did Reason already spend all of its fundraising?

  2. “Not that I condone fascism. Or any ism, for that matter. Isms, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in isms, they should believe in themselves. I quote John Lennon: ‘I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.’ Good point there. After all, he was The Walrus. *I* could be The Walrus; I’d still have to bum rides off people.”
    — the great philosopher Ferris Bueller

    1. +5 French Socialists

    2. You know who else had to bum rides off of people?

  3. The Dotard’s fandom falsely tout his pullback of regulations as some sort of achievement. But they don’t have evidence of such.

    I spent decades at a big enterprise software company that automated every single thing a corporation did but almost none of it had to do with regulations. I recall that the system had to spit out Material Safety Data Sheets to transport hazardous material. Almost nothing else. Did the system comply with accounting and HR rules? Sure.

    While watching CNBC the other day a reporter asked the CEO of a Fortune 50 company which regulation cuts of the Con Man had benefited his company – he couldn’t name one.

    1. I’m confused.

      Since you claim to be the only true libertarian here, are you complaining that Trump hasn’t slashed more regulations?

  4. In politics, there are people who VOTE for the initiation of force and those who VOTE for freedom from coercion. Those who vote for parties that advertise the initiation of force as the panacea to cure all ills are fondest of dividing humanity into two hostile camps based on some sort of vague altruistic or superstitious criterion. My dad grew up among such people and he warned me that there are people who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don’t. Libertarians offer these confused masses a way out of the fake dilemma, and all they have to do is vote for freedom rather than for more coercion. These minority spoiler votes are so powerful an agent of change that the LP is coercively banned in “democratic” totalitarian dictatorships.

    1. True, yet almost no politician will support the “freedom from coercion” for purely personal choices (drug use, sex work, contraception/abortion).

      Those are the easy ones they should get right.

      1. Four million voters supported the freedom from coercion option and cast their votes for LP candidates all over These 50 States. You confuse politician (entrenched looter) with LP candidate (agent for democratic change). The LP just covered the gap in the national popular vote and shifted over 90 electoral votes. Trumpista politicians got hired because their nominee publicly liked us (hence got their nomination as a hedge) and his party copied our energy and gun planks. LP candidates used the election to win us more freedom.

        1. LP candidates used the election to win us more freedom.

          You really believe that, don’t you?

          1. The math is simple, especially if you ask yourself how 1.4% of the vote going to the Prohibition party for 11 campaigns created the 18th Amendment. Then ask how the People’s party getting 9% of the vote in 1892 promptly created an economy-wrecking income tax when “neither” party platform contained such a thing. “Neither” party wanted to interfere with ku-klux antiabortion laws in 1972. But one electoral vote for the pro-choice LP caused La Suprema Corte to copy that libertarian plank into the lead paragraph in Roe v. Wade. Ross Perot wanted to cut the deficit, handed the victory to the Dems, and Clinton produced a surplus. Coincidence?

            1. Clinton didn’t produce a surplus. Clinton signed many Republican crafted budgets.

  5. The only ideology worth a damn is Scienfoology!

    To learn all about Scienfoology, see http://www.churchofSQRLS.com

  6. Which type of fascist are you?

  7. One observation on Scienfoology? The text contains 54,466 words, not counting images–more than the Dem or GOP platforms.

    1. Well OK then, here’s the shorter summary:

      Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

      Government loves me, This I know,
      For the Government tells me so,
      Little ones to GAWD belong,
      We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
      Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
      Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
      And gives me all that I might need!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      DEA, CIA, KGB,
      Our protectors, they will be,
      FBI, TSA, and FDA,
      With us, astride us, in every way!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

  8. Not to be too rude, but let’s get some “reason” into the game (pun intended).

    Freedom, within the United States, is what we all strive for, AND CAN HAVE CONTROL OVER. This is important. I support our having a libertarian society. This kind of society is far from visible in the rest of the world, and beyond our control.

    So stop mixing trade between nations (and it IS between nations) and border control, with having the United States move toward a libertarian society. The constant press for “free trade” as if that could be achieved between nations is not libertarian, it is anarchist. It is a desire to eliminate national borders. It is misguided and foolish.

    “FREE TRADE”

    Economic freedom includes the entire societal environment, not just tariffs. Subsidies to industries, environmental regulation, labor laws, and myriad other issues play in economic freedom. It is possible, for us to work toward leveling and minimizing these things within the United States. It is NOT possible when dealing with other nations who have no interest in our desires for personal freedom, but have their own agendas.

    I think of our libertarian society to be, as a garden surrounded by invasive weeds. It can only survive and prosper with a high fence. It would be great, if another garden would develop next to us, and we could one day take down the wall between us, but that is not today, and not imaginable by any rational person in the near future. We need to work on OUR garden.

    1. NATIONAL BORDERS AND IMMIGRATION

      A libertarian society is not just a legal framework, but a dominate culture. Further, it is a culture that while desirable, does not come naturally to people. This should be obvious, as libertarian thought is historically new. Nearly every other system of organizing society has long, deep, history,

      The work of educating and influencing people to accept libertarian though, to pursue it, and to make it predominate, is a huge task. If you are continually replenishing the ranks of those who believe in other systems (predominately Socialism/Communism) with massive immigration, it is impossible. So the misguided affection among anarchists who call themselves libertarian, may well feed anarchy and societal breakdown, but is destructive to the effort to make progress toward making the United States into a libertarian society. It is rather going to lead toward more state control as society reacts against the instability. This too, has been seen in history before.

      So while I share libertarian ideals, they are tempered with some rational thought about how to achieve them. As with the garden I mentioned earlier, the first step, if you intend to have any success, is to build a wall around your garden.

      1. After defining freedom as coercion and a revenue-only tariff as free trade, why not lecture libertarian simpletons on the wisdom of sending troops to attack the ruins of the Ottoman Empire on January 17, 1991? That Republican religious Jihad promptly brought on a series of retaliatory mohammedan attacks on the World Trade Center. If not for Republican mystics bombing the other side of the planet, we’d still have the World Trade Center. Thanks, but no thanks.

        1. Did you make a point, or just ramble nonsense?

          I do not recall making ANY comments that addressed military adventures. Did you read something I did not write?

          Or was my suggestion of establishing free trade and lack of coercion within the United States not be understandable to you?

          I know, it is not drinking the kool-aid that in order to be FOR libertarian principles you have to be in favor of it in a way assured to see it fail. Got It!

          1. And just to be clear, we need defense. I mean DEFENSE. This “building a new world order” crap needs to stop. We should not be the world’s police force, nanny, or school marm. I believe that if we are attacked, we should make them regret it immediately. But we should also mind our own business.

    2. We need to work on OUR garden.

      Well what do you know, Chance the Gardener has wandered in.

    3. The anonymous Alabaman redefines “freedom” as coercion, and has not read the LP migration plank. Those 70 words end with: However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property. This is a typical Republican strawman argument, recycling the Whig/Republican equivocation of “revenue-only tariff” with “free trade”. Justin Smith Morrill, author of the tariff that caused the Civil War, still explicitly pushed the same equivocation in April of 1894, online at http://cdi.uvm.edu. Republicans need to improve their reading skills before lecturing us.

      1. Hank buddy,near as I can tell you might have invented strawman arguments.

        Notice first, that I did not reference Libertarian (as in the party) but rather self identified libertarians and their comments here. So pointing at the Libertarian platform is really nice, and I appreciate the reference, but it is not actually relevant to my comments.

        I define freedom, in the classic libertarian fashion, but focused first on within the borders of the United States. If you can identify ONE SINGLE THING I wrote that suggested otherwise you should point it out to me.

        And yes, I know, before you start, that you are focused on your right to free commerce with anyone in the world, or out of it I suppose. Of course, that does not consider the economic market distortions introduced by OTHER sovereign nations, but hey, you want to do what you want to do … I get it. But don’t claim that makes it a free market, it takes a free market on both sides to make it a free market at all.

        1. Additionally, I made no reference to “revenue-only tariff”, that is a second more detailed conversation that I avoided entirely. I guess by “readings skills” you mean the things you thought I wrote, in preference to the ones I actually wrote. I will however, say again, that the single minded dedication to open-borders for both goods and immigration seems STUPID to me. How about, just for a wild minute, we actually establish that libertarian society HERE.

          Now, just as a problem to consider. Libertarianism, is as I understand and love it, focused on the individual. The individual has natural rights.

          When that second nation, the government decides it is in their interest to say, run the whiffle ball manufacturers in nation one out of business. They may provide subsidy to whiffle ball manufacturers directly, lower their raw material costs my subsidizing their suppliers and limiting export. Whatever methods they choose.

          Over a short period of time, the whiffle ball manufacturers in nation one with be out of business. In classic economics, this is a big who cares, after all if nation 2 wants to give stuff to nation 1, why not take it? But, on and individual basis, where not the whiffle ball manufacturers in nation one harmed, perhaps bankrupted?

          1. What recourse do they have against those in nation two if any? And, consider this, people believing in, and trusting libertarian principles requires that they believe it is in their best interests. So you believe that you can do that if incidents like the whiffle ball example are happening? Or will people, clamor for strong government to protect them?

            So in that vein, consider trade between individuals in different countries, where in one nation, trade barriers are removed and markets are minimally restrained. In the other nation, trade barriers, some perhaps open, some hidden or indirect, are managed by the government.

            I believe that it is necessary to consider such problems when trying to grow a libertarian society and have a suggestion to deal with it. You on the other hand, seem to be full up with abuse and derision, but favor a path I think is doomed to fail.

            We may well favor the the same end result, with free trade among all nations, prosperity all around, individual freedom maximized everywhere. But we differ on how to get there. I think you do it one country at a time, within each country, and build a true “free trade zone” one nation at a time.

            1. Sorry Guys, the 1500 character limit got me and it got jumbled breaking it up. Wish we could edit these after we post to fix them. Try this for the scrabbled section.

              So in that vein, consider trade between individuals in different countries, where in one nation, trade barriers are removed and markets are minimally restrained. In the other nation, trade barriers, some perhaps open, some hidden or indirect, are managed by the government.

              When that second nation, the government decides it is in their interest to say, run the whiffle ball manufacturers in nation one out of business. They may provide subsidy to whiffle ball manufacturers directly, lower their raw material costs my subsidizing their suppliers and limiting export. Whatever methods they choose.

              Over a short period of time, the whiffle ball manufacturers in nation one with be out of business. In classic economics, this is a big who cares, after all if nation 2 wants to give stuff to nation 1, why not take it? But, on and individual basis, where not the whiffle ball manufacturers in nation one harmed, perhaps bankrupted?

    4. Life’s a garden, dig it.

  9. More Stossel propaganda. Every time Reason publishes his crap an angel’s brain cell dies. Words fail me. Stossel is like a creepy ideology bot that only has one directive – “free market good!”. The only problem is this idiot wouldn’t know a free market if he walked into it because they don’t exist. He says government should get out of the economy but how do we prevent the economy from co-opting the government? Like two sides of the same coin they both exist and always will exist and so always hyping one side and denouncing the other is just plain ignorant.

    1. Stossel spoke against the initiation of force that causes the problem sockpuppet Heraclitus whines about. “Coerced Market Goood” has had its tryout, and I’m voting against it every chance I get.

      1. Yes, and I suspect most here, including both you and I, oppose a coerced market.

        Where you and I differ, is that I believe the way to get a libertarian society established is to generally make the size of the market equal the size of the political unit … ie nation. And increase the size of the market by adding other libertarian market-nations when possible. We have a long way to go. Sigh.

    2. “how do we prevent the economy from co-opting the government”

      What does that mean?

      The economy, in a free market, is the collective actions of free individuals making independent decisions based on informed self interest. We generally believe that individuals have natural rights, and government is an artificial construct delegated certain rights and responsibilities by the collective will of the individuals.

      By this understanding, I am unable to make any sense out of your comment. Can you explain further or clarify?

      1. I took the comment to be recognizing the reality of capitalism. When capital accumulates, those who have it will seek to protect and expand their interests through whatever means necessary and available, including government.

        “Get the government out of business!!!” cries the capitalist and the free-market advocate.
        Meanwhile, the capitalist lobbies government to give them special treatment and protect their interests.

        One of these 2 people is a useful idiot. The other a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  10. A genuine free market rewards entrepreneurs who serve customers well. A government that hands out farm subsidies, wind-farm tax credits, mortgage deductions, etc., skews the economy in favor of those who are already rich. That’s corporatism, or crony capitalism, or “crapitalism,” and that’s basically what we’ve got in America now.

    No, that is capitalism. Many people pointed out the natural flaws to capitalism over a century ago. Capitalism and socialism naturally go hand in hand.

    “We just didn’t capitalism hard enough! That wasn’t True Capitalism?” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? “Venezuela’s not True Communism?! They just didn’t socialism hard enough!”

    The massive accumulation of capital and tremendous wealth disparity that defines capitalism plays on certain natural human tendencies. First through our natural coventousness, those who have accumulated will seek to protect their economic empires through government. Second, the jealous nature of humanity is activated through recognizing massive wealth disparity, and the have-nots will seek to punish those the haves through government.

    1. This isn’t a call for socialism on my part–I’m opposed to it–but it strikes me as terribly disingenuous on the part of those in favor of capitalism to mock the socialists for completely, willfully ignoring the terrible results of socialism, and then immediately respond to criticism of their own system’s flaws with the exact same defenses the socialists are mocked for.

      1. This is a huge distinction. What you are describing as Capitalism is actual Fascism. Fascism is a variant of Socialism, where rather that the state own the means of production, it controls the means of production without owning it. This of course leads to large corporations becoming so entangled with government that it gets hard to see the difference.

        All of the Euro-states we call Socialist are actually on the Fascism road, as are we (although they are still ahead!).

        This is NOT free markets or truly Capitalism. It is the perversion of Capitalism into Fascism and the road to statism taken by Hitler, Franco and Mussilini.

        1. The problem is that this is the natural process of capitalism. Capitalism =/= Free Markets

          Communism isn’t a dictatorship. But the only road to communism requires one, and it never ends the way the philosophers and prophets say it will. Capitalism too isn’t the “definition” of our current system, but it certainly is the reality of it. It isn’t necessarily the road to fascism, but actually the road to servility, as Belloc put it decades before Hayek wrote “The Road to Serfdom”.

          There may be a lesson to be learned about Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy. But I don’t think we have learned it. And I don’t think anyone wants to.

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