It is not surprising that classical liberal and libertarian ideas are often attacked. After all they are the ideas that consistently oppose the current political systems of plunder, privilege and power lusting. The philosophy of liberty proclaims that each individual is unique and possessing inherent rights to his life, liberty and honestly acquired property. That government, if it is to exist, is to serve as the protector and guardian of our distinct individual rights, and not the master of men who are obligated to sacrifice themselves for some asserted “national interest,” “general welfare,” or “common good.”
The only reasonable meaning to the “common good” or the “general welfare” is when each individual is free to peacefully live his life as he chooses and is at liberty to voluntarily associate and interact with his fellow men for mutually beneficial improvements to their lives.
Whenever the political authority goes beyond a “defensive role” in society, it inescapably ends up using its police powers in ways that benefit some at the expense of others. It is virtually inevitable that those who use political power for their own gain at their neighbor’s expense will vehemently resist and oppose any attempt to stop them from feeding at the government trough.
But the strident nature of these attacks against classical liberalism and libertarianism shows just how much the supporters and users of political power fear the arguments being made by the friends of freedom.
In the United States we are in the midst of a most serious “class conflict.” I do not mean a class conflict in the bankrupt Marxian sense. I mean it in the sense that was understood by a number of early nineteenth century French classical liberals, such as Charles Dunoyer, Jean-Baptiste Say[,] and Frederic Bastiat.
There is on the one hand, as Dunoyer expressed it, a class of “industrious peoples” everywhere who wish nothing more than to peacefully go about their private business of working, saving and investing and trading with their neighbors for mutual improvements in their lives in an arena of free market exchange.
On the other hand, there is everywhere a class of plundering peoples – politicians, bureaucrats, special interest groups – receiving tax-based income redistributions and subsidies and benefiting from anti-competitive regulations and protections against and at the expense of their fellow human beings.
This is the great battle of the twenty-first century; it is what is really at the basis of all the current financial and debt crises confronting so many countries around the world. Its outcome will determine the fate of mankind for the remainder of this century and then into the next.
Austrian Economics, not surprisingly, has been attacked precisely because of its insightful and cogent analysis of how it was government intervention and central bank monetary manipulation that generated the unsustainable boom in the last decade that set the stage for the inescapable bust, which the world is still suffering from. The Austrians have also shown why it is the continuation of such political interventions and monetary mischief by central banks that have prevented and delayed any normal recovery out of the current recession.
How can the members of that plundering class, to which I referred, admit that they caused and have prolonged this boom and bust cycle without confessing the bankruptcy of both the ideas that rationalize and the policies that perpetuate their plundering ways?