"The Libertarian Threat"

Over the past few weeks you've been conducting a ranging discussion with a couple of your members and Cato that -- I my view -- have outlined the pros and cons of the libertarian philosophy. I made a couple of comments during those discussion and decided to sign up for this blog to post some interesting information on liberatarian idealism.

This article gives an overview of the historic perspective of the libertarian ideal and points out the difference between libertarianism and populism. The author of the article is Julian Edney.

I will follow up with additional information, as my busy schedule permits.


We are losing ground against a rhetorical assault.

The Libertarian star, hurled by the upward burst of American business which occurred in the Reagan era after the fall of the Berlin Wall, has risen. This global expansion over the last two decades is capitalism's second Big Bang, and it still accelerates. Mercantile missionaries have been flying to remote and backward nations in Indonesia, Latin America and the Middle East to show them liberty, democracy and wealth. The message: business is the solution; as your nation gets richer, it will benefit everybody.

The actual sequence is floridly exposed by writers like John Perkins (1). Ostensibly we send bold venture capitalists traipsing from country to backwater country, nailing freedom into place and unfurling banners of abundance. In practice it takes money to get started. First, corporate reps fly in and propose to arrange gargantuan loans for improvements. The lenders include the World Bank, and the loans may be used partly to bribe local officials, but they come with many rules and conditions that the construction work be done by American contractors. It is big money and it is made clear to local politicians they will get a fabulous rakeoff. The paperwork is set. Next the contractors move in and install concrete ports, iron factories, fences, oil wells, roads, telephones and mines. The factories fill with local workers. The big money loans also come with big interest payments (always in American dollars.) If the loans are not paid off quickly (they never are - these improvements take time) they compound into mountainous obligation. This brings whole sectors of the nation under the control of the foreign lenders. This may be used to extort political changes. Obstructing local leaders may be removed.

The pattern is an old one. On a local scale it used to be called carpetbagging. After the American Civil War northern profiteers traveled south taking advantage of Southern chaos and loss, buying property and plantations from devastated landowners, hiring at starvation wages, getting rich, and leveraging themselves into political office, arguing that the employment they brought benefited all. They were hated as exploiters. A poster from the period shows the KKK threatening to lynch carpetbaggers.

Our international version has brought backward nations in Indonesia, Latin America and the Middle East phones, satellite TV, and clinics, while natural resources are taken under the lender's rules. This was supposed to lead to local wealth but most of the money goes to pay off the contractors and the lenders.

On this side, reports seep back to American shareholders of indigenous people working twelve-hour shifts for five dollars a day in the new concrete sweatshops surrounded by barbed wire and having no standards and no labor laws; walled hells of exploitation – but cheap labor means bonanza profits. Some mansions appear on the hillside. But not everybody is lifted. Years later, there are acres of slums. Instead of gratitude come street demonstrations against Americans.

But challenge the working conditions and you get corporate table pounding: ‘Five dollars a day is much better than the dollar a day they made herding goats.' And if you object that it doesn't look like liberty for the workers – ‘but we saved them from communism.' Perkins goes on to relate how corporate reps, poolside at shimmering hotels, talk about civilizing the savages, the way the colonial British talked a century ago.

Click here to read the entire article.

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