Nexus of Change

Toward Sustainable Habits and Durable Prosperity

Between Demagoguery and Anarchy

Man with Libertarian Views
As Lewis Black said last week on the Daily Show while talking about the indoctrination of children, The problem is that everything became ideological. But how did we get there, at the beginning of the 21st century, still debating 19th century experimental ideologies that are keeping a nation divided? The featured picture of this article is a snapshot of this society where a man with a permit to carry a loaded semi-automatic riffle came to preach extremist views on individual liberties in a park occupied by protesters demanding social cohesion.

Porch, the man with the gun, introduced himself as a defender of pure capitalism and I felt this was my opportunity to explore points of view that are still obsure to me and that seem to be dictating policy from the new Congress that was elected last year. Support given by the American public to politicians promoting the virtues of capitalism with small government seem to emanate from a widespread sentiment that the democratic process has been abused by the political power of demagogues making unsustainable promisses during the last part of the 20th century. Adding to the tension between those benefiting from promises made by politicians and those who are not directly eligible for government help, is the negative perception of the poor in the United States.

The sense of duty and patriotic fervor with which we are regularly reminded that this country is the country of opportunity have been convincing enough to make most Americans believe that hard work is the necessary and sufficient condition to attain the plush life we all want and that the poor simply have not tried enough. Further feeding the gap with the poor is the propensity the poor have to  doubt and despise themselves because of the little they have in a society that keeps reminding them that it’s their fault. The result is that the poor are perceived as lazy and unable to take care of their property, often seen neglected or abused. The message for social cohesion from the Occupy movement and the beautiful diversity of people composing the movement will eventually make this country stronger, but while the movement unavoidably gains popularity in a global economy that benefits a few at the expense of the rest suffering from intense global competition, politicians supported by the movement will need to refrain from slipping too deep into emotional popular rethoric. The movement will also have to be represented by a long term perspective on sustainable habits and durable prosperity because reaching these goals will also protect us from the race to the bottom.

Back to the man carrying a loaded AKM (romanian made AK-47). Porch was indeed the other extreme, the angry ones at the government, wanting no less than absolute freedom and after talking with him for several minutes, I was able to clarify that his idea of pure capitalism doesn’t necessarily imply that the “invisible hand” works better when each finger operates individually. I mentioned to him him that the government had contributed to progress throughout history with investments and projects that fueled innovation, built the foundation for a modernization of industrial production, and removed bottle necks to free-market efficiency, and that it would be possible in the near future to see prosperity in countries where governments would take initiatives allowing free markets to realize a more efficient allocation of resources. To the the question of, if models of urban planning would be proven succesfull for creating a space within which resources are utlilized more efficiently with widespread prosperity, would he accept the adoption of such model in his country, Porch said, “if the model implies telling people what to do, I would be against it, even if the model means more efficient markets.”
Diana Talking toMan with Libertarian Views

3 comments on “Between Demagoguery and Anarchy

  1. Adam Stephen X
    December 31, 2011

    This is such an interesting debate.

    “if the model implies telling people what to do, I would be against it, even if the model means more efficient markets.”

    I’m waiting for everyone to realize that we should help each other by choice. No man is an island, and no one will survive without their communities- how can we build a new world by ourselves? It can’t be done. Government in an ideal world represents the collective will of the people. It should not restrict freedom, but there must also be the freedom to attempt to persuade people to look at things a different way or do things a different way.

    We’re all a little bit scared because we think everyone is trying to take advantage of us; still, mutual aid is the only way to go, and giving will make things come back to us.

    By the way, the real problem is resource allocation, and not actual scarcity. Each millionaire should know that their exorbitant wealth in fact belongs to the poor people who worked to make tangibly valuable things. We have to hold ourselves to an ethical code if we want a real society. What we have now is just a bunch of abuse.

    • Steve Osborne
      March 10, 2012

      After speaking to so many people over the past few months, after writting this article, I thing that your comments are still one of the best way to summarize the difference between common sense approach and ideological indoctrination.

  2. sfp2012
    March 12, 2012

    Very interesting article. I can’t say that I am as willing as you are to give audience to the belief set that Porch personifies. I am weaker for that, I know, and I should be otherwise.

    I agree with Adam that one of the fundamental problems – if not the fundamental problem – is resource allocation. While I don’t think I would go so far as the “post-scarcity” crowd, clearly our society (or certain segments of it) suffers from gluttony rather than scarcity. America consumes more energy, creates more rubbish (physical and cultural), etc. Over-abundance appears to be a fact of life…

    The sad thing is that, in a sense, Porch and his ilk are correct – but not in the way they imagine. There is such a thing as government encroachment upon civil liberties, as several pieces of state and national legislation have amply demonstrated. But rather than infringe upon the notions of liberty that Porch may have, these assaults on freedom are clearly directed towards dissidents, not patriotic flag-mongers. If Porch were to explain to me that his second-amendment rights were necessary in order to provide for a check-and-balance against state power, I might be inclined to hear him out. If, on the other hand, his arguments were of the ‘guns for their own sake’ or ‘capitalism because its not godless communism’ variety, I would still thank him for his sign but not much else.

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