Saturday, June 1, 2013

Libertarian Duties

In keeping with my goal to return to square one to understand Austrian economics, I decided to adopt a reading plan suggested by Economic Policy Journal. The aim of the 30 day reading plan is to provide an introduction and overview of libertarian principles. And I want to start with the first three articles.
Henry Hazlitt’s The Task Confronting Libertarians identifies four primary responsibilities a freedom-lover has to fulfill to contribute towards the reversal of fascist-socialistic trend. Llewellyn Rockwell’s The Fascist Threat contains undeniable evidences characterizing the current existence of fascist policy. And finally, Wilhelm Ropke’s Free Economy and Social Order shows that free market capitalism will never survive in a society that violates freedom in economic activity.
I invite my readers to either make your own reading plan or simply follow the suggested plan to familiarize yourself with basic libertarian principles. For those like me, who are interested to know what is really going on in world economy, I invite you to dig deeper and verify yourself if the ideas presented in these articles provide a better explanation of reality.
Reading the mentioned articles convinced me that the US government is actually a socialist state making use of fascism as a necessary transition towards its globalistic aim. This is difficult to see for it is hiding behind the mask of free market capitalism. What we now see as the present situation of global economy is not a result of the destructive forces caused by capitalism; but actually a destruction of it, by a fascist socialist state, which maintains its present existence through welfare and warfare.
Responsibilities of Libertarians
Allow me now to share my own thoughts resulting from my reading of the first three Austrian articles. Henry Hazlitt’s article enumerates several responsibilities that confront a freedom-lover given the existing political and economic trend. Most people find themselves helpless to respond against the inflationist and socialist trend. Hazlitt identifies during the time of the writing of this article that more than 100 member countries of IMF are leading into socialist direction. In this battle for ideas, libertarians are literally outnumbered and the dominance of welfarists, statists, socialists, and interventionists are evident in almost all fields.

Reading Hazlitt’s piece, I understand that freedom-lovers have at least four responsibilities:
  • Libertarians need to focus on few critical issues to provide informed answers to show the public that an alternative exists as a replacement to existing socialist trend.
Libertarians should go beyond generalities to be effective in winning the public to their side. We must provide convincing arguments on issues like:
…public housing, farm subsidies, increased relief, bigger Social Security benefits, bigger Medicare, guaranteed incomes, bigger government spending, bigger taxation, especially more progressive income taxation, higher tariffs or import quotas, restrictions or penalties on foreign investment and foreign travel, price controls, wage controls, rent controls, interest rate controls, more laws for so-called consumer protection, and still tighter regulations and restrictions on business everywhere.
  • Austrian thinkers must learn to accept the fact that they cannot rely on big corporations to support them in the conflict against government expansionism.
Hazlitt identifies four reasons for the timidity of big businessmen to protest against the increasing intervention of the state. These reasons are related to contracts and legal threats like breaking the antitrust law, being prosecuted for unfair labor practices, and hostile examination of their income tax returns. In the light of present-day occurrences, these reasons appear as excuses and we suspect that big companies have already joined the camp of the fascist-socialist state.
  • Austrian thinkers must concentrate on several basic libertarian principles.
Three of these are as follows:
First, that the government is taking something from somebody else in order to perpetuate a welfare state.
Second, that the statist proponents are either blind or simply ignoring the long-term consequences of their actions
And third, that the Austrian followers themselves should remain confident about the great advantages of liberty over policies of coercion
  • Finally, freedom-lovers must demand the government to provide honest currency and stop inflating the money supply.
Since the government is taking credit during economic “booms,” it must also take responsibility for economic “busts” for the primary cause of such “business cycle” is the government’s decision to inflate the money supply. This is why we need to seriously listen to Hazlitt’s call to vigilance:
If libertarians lose on the inflation issue, they are threatened with the loss of every other issue. If libertarians could win the inflation issue, they could come close to winning everything else. If they could succeed in halting the increase in the quantity of money, it would be because they could halt the chronic deficits that force this increase. If they could halt these chronic deficits, it would be because they had halted the rapid increase in welfare spending and all the socialistic schemes that are dependent on welfare spending. If they could halt the constant increase in spending, they could halt the constant increase in government power.
The solemn responsibilities of libertarians is best summarized in the words of Ludwig von Mises:
Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping toward destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.
 Notes: 

1. The blogger is aware about the limitation of the term “Austrian school” originally referring to thinkers whose primary concern was to develop a sound economic theory. In this post, the phrases “Austrian thinkers” and “freedom-lovers” are synonymously used with “libertarians.”
2. This was posted last July 28, 2012