The Libertarian Socialist Axis
On the surface, it might seem ridiculous to suggest libertarians and socialists work to further the same political agenda. Their ideologies are diametrically opposed. The extreme version of a socialist system is for all property to be owned and controlled by the government. The extreme version of a libertarian system is for all property to be privately owned. And yet the extremes meet.
The unwitting consequence of socialist and libertarian movements in the United States has been to assist in the formation of an unprecedented concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a corporatist elite that has perfected its ability to manipulate both movements.
Policies inspired by socialists make it easier for private corporate and financial interests to form monopolies, since the regulatory excess inspired by socialist ideals drives smaller potential competitors out of business. Examples are plentiful. Complying with environmental regulations requires an overhead burden that will overwhelm the financial capacity of a small company, but can be absorbed easily by large companies. Complying with union work rules and wage demands is easy for monopolistic companies because they pass the higher labor costs on to consumers. But similar compliance kills companies too small to have a captive market. Enforced scarcity caused by mandates designed to combat “climate change” allows vertically integrated companies to raise prices, reap big profits, and expand, since their underlying costs haven’t changed.
In short, socialism eliminates competition, which empowers the biggest corporations on earth to get even bigger.
Policies advocated by libertarians are often sound in principle but almost always fail to achieve the intended results. The following are examples of how libertarians become victims of political jiu-jitsu, wherein the policies they promote end up harming Americans while serving the interests of corporate monopolies.
Dogmatic Libertarians Create More Problems Than They Solve
In most cases, the redirection and corruption of libertarian influence by special interests is due to a failure to recognize that half a solution can be worse than no solution at all. Libertarians have been effectively supporting free trade policies for decades, but have been ineffective in calling for reciprocity. If foreign nations dump subsidized products, manufactured in the absence of environmental and labor standards applicable in the United States, it is impossible for U.S. companies to compete.
This has wiped out entire domestic industries, cost millions of jobs, left the United States at the mercy of foreign nations for everything from antibiotics to computer chips, and caused trade deficits of over a half-trillion dollars per year which translates into foreigners using their surplus dollars to bid up the prices and buy real estate all over the country that ordinary Americans can no longer afford.
Libertarians, if they’re true to their principles, support open borders, but have been ineffective in shrinking the welfare state. Libertarians support relaxed zoning codes to permit densification of American suburbs, but have failed to stop the proliferating array of subsidies and tax incentives that encourage developers to demolish homes in favor of multi-family dwellings, and they have failed to support equivalent deregulation of zoning on the periphery of cities in order to permit developers to build new suburbs on open land.
Land development in general is an area where the corporatist enabling libertarian-socialist axis comes into clear focus. The environmentalist wing of the socialist movement calls for “urban containment,” based on the assumption that human civilization is inherently toxic to the environment. Libertarians, whether unwittingly or not, support this misanthropic argument by opposing government spending on roads or utility infrastructure. A refrain heard all too often from libertarians—perhaps trying to curry favor with progressive socialists—is “we cannot subsidize the car.”
This mentality may be healthy insofar as Americans have witnessed their governments, at all levels, waste trillions of dollars. But the difficult reality is that government spending is not inherently wrong, it is how that spending is prioritized. Americans still benefit from the great civil engineering projects of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s. Where would Phoenix or Las Vegas be without Hoover Dam? Seattle without the Grand Coulee Dam? The Tennessee Valley without the rural electrification projects of the 1930s? California without the California Water Project and the Central Valley Projects of the 1950s and 1960s? America, without the interstate highway system? What about trying to get from downtown Boston to Logan Airport before the so-called Big Dig reduced the travel time to 15 minutes?
If any of those projects were proposed today, socialist environmentalists would fight them with everything from litigation to militant obstruction. Which points to another imbalance in libertarian advocacy—demanding the private sector construct infrastructure without recognizing that unless the entire process of major construction is deregulated back to where it was in the 1960s or prior, nothing can possibly be built cost-effectively. Just as in the case of trade, borders, and zoning, libertarian advocacy results in half-solutions that are worse than doing nothing. With infrastructure, libertarians are putting the privatized cart in front of the deregulated horse.
The Corruption of Socialism’s Few Virtues
Socialists used to oppose globalization, and they used to support big infrastructure projects. Today they have embraced globalism as preferable to nationalism, oblivious to the possibility that America might be better equipped to help the aspiring peoples of the world if America wasn’t becoming a hollowed out, financialized shell of a nation. Environmentalism, now a dominant theme in the socialist movement, has rejected practical infrastructure as posing an existential threat to the health of the planet, oblivious to the fact that only conventional transportation, water, and power projects are cost-effective enough to enable broad prosperity.
The beneficiaries of the socialist-libertarian alignment on policies that create scarcity and dependency in America are big corporations and big government. When jobs go overseas, multinational corporations thrive on cheap labor and nonexistent environmental standards. When millions of destitute immigrants and indigent Americans cannot support themselves, government bureaucracies and corporate contractors expand their services. When there are shortages of essential products and inputs, only the biggest corporations have the financial resilience to survive, and they exploit the hardship by gaining market share as smaller competitors go under.
Even policies that at first glance might seem unrelated to an agenda of consolidation and centralization of money and power contribute to its rise. Libertarian and socialist tolerance for drug use and downgrading of property crimes has created chaos and dependency in America’s cities, in turn stimulating a massive socialist expansion of government aid workers and subsidized housing.
Similarly, the ability to censor contrarian narratives is enabled by socialists who have convinced themselves that free speech rights aren’t valid if they contradict “settled science,” make people feel “unsafe,” or in any way support these thin excuses to throw away the First Amendment. Meanwhile, libertarians still tend to view censorship by social media monopolies as the inviolable right of a private company, heedless of the fact these companies only enjoy federal immunity from liability for their content because they are communications platforms, not publishers with editorial discretion.
The relentless concentration of wealth in America into fewer and fewer hands is not a conspiracy theory. It is a well-documented economic fact. Every significant policy and trend behind this transfer of wealth is supported by libertarians and socialists alike: coping with the “climate emergency,” lax border security, failed policies that have created an epidemic of drug addiction and crime, inequitable international trade relationships, neglected infrastructure, defacto urban containment, and censorship.
So good luck challenging the prevailing narratives on these issues or any of the myriad policies that derive from them. You will get no help from socialists or libertarians.
Behind these policies is big money. Socialist oligarchs from Silicon Valley to George Soros have been identified as spending billions of dollars to control election outcomes. At the same time, criticism has been directed at “Conservatism, Inc.,” as politicians adhere to the wishes of their donors to the detriment of their constituents. But these “conservative” donors and the political agenda they fund (frequently clothed in libertarian garb) differ only in emphasis and terminology. As noted, common objectives outweigh the differences. Behind their oppositional rhetoric, they share the same tangible goals.
An outspoken, heavily censored critic of globalization in general, and open borders in particular, is Lauren Southern, who, over a decade ago, began reporting on the consequences of mass immigration into her native Canada and went on to report on immigration and displacement in Europe and South Africa. As reflected in her speech to the European Parliament in 2019, Southern’s reporting and documentaries, while controversial, are also thoughtful and reflect a humanitarian compassion that’s not supposed to be associated with someone stereotyped as “far-right.” But when you reject corporatist pieties, doing so with truth and compassion doesn’t matter. Southern has been canceled from most online social media and payment processing services. Earlier this year, Southern, and her parents, were blacklisted by Airbnb.
That earned her an appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where she expressed how thoroughly corporatists have taken over both the Democratic and Republican parties, saying, “we’ve spent so many years having Republicans defend cronyism by pretending it is capitalism and then our failsafe was supposed to be progressives who are supposed to question big corporations, but now they are like an ADHD dog that got distracted by a bone with a pride flag on it and were placated entirely.”
The ideologies that ought—for better or for worse—to inform the idealistic core of both major parties in America, socialism and libertarianism, are both thoroughly co-opted. This helps to explain why America’s establishment, corporate globalist uniparty is unassailable. Until an ideological alternative emerges that is not only coherent but elicits passions equal to those which animate socialists and libertarians alike, there remains a gaping hole in our movement to take back this country.
This article originally appeared in American Greatness.
Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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