“Let them eat cake”

I was the other day defending the right of business owners to manage their own business as they see fit without intrusion from third parties (namely, the State), when this person threw at me the phrase “Let them eat cake.” Supposedly, when somebody told Marie Antoinette that the peasants had no bread, her response was “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” Being la brioche way more expensive than bread, this would have proved how disconnected from reality the queen was.

However, the phrase “Let them eat cake” was invented years before by Rousseau, to illustrate how oblivious an imaginary princess was to the problems of their subjects. Many years later, it was falsely attributed to Marie Antoinette, whom, paradoxically, was a philanthropist, very involved in charities to help the poor. But that is the beauty of rhetoric: it does not need to be true, or even get close to reality. So-called “progressives” are very good at it, and they use it every time they have no logical argument (which is practically always).

Answers to some very tendentious questions

This is an attempt to answer the questions from an article written by R.J. Eskow, published in Salon on September 12th, 2013.

Are unions, political parties, elections, and social movements like Occupy examples of “spontaneous order”—and if not, why not?

The non-initiation of force is the basic idea behind libertarianism in general, and free-market anarchism in particular. So, any organization based in voluntarism, and created to serve the interest of its members by not coercive means are perfectly valid. A union or movement that pretends to impose by force a set of rules designed to give privileges to its members at the expense of others is NOT a valid proposition. The degree of “spontaneity” of a given movement is irrelevant: a violent mob can be “spontaneous,” but that doesn’t make it desirable or defensible.

Is a libertarian willing to admit that production is the result of many forces, each of which should be recognized and rewarded?

Absolutely. Walmart and McDonalds can’t produce wealth without employees, but also employees have a job because somebody invested time, efforts and capital to create that business in the first place, and is also entitled to some of the produced wealth.

Is our libertarian willing to acknowledge that workers who bargain for their services, individually and collectively, are also employing market forces?

Employees have every right to organize themselves as they wish, and to negotiate their participation as they wish, but they can’t use force to achieve their means. The rationale behind the argument against bankers is totally backwards: government-granted privileges and regulations are at the root of banks’ abuses against the public.

Is our libertarian willing to admit that a “free market” needs regulation?

Emphatically NO. Free-market only needs a legal framework protecting property rights.

Does our libertarian believe in democracy? If yes, explain what’s wrong with governments that regulate.

The market is the most democratic force in the universe: everybody “votes” every time they make a choice. Is impossible to achieve success by any means other than the preference of the public. Is precisely because of this that so many corporations are against free market and in favor of big-government regulations designed to destroy competition.

If by “democracy” you mean 51% of the people imposing their will to the other 49%, then no, we don’t believe in democracy.

Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn’t exist without government in order to preach against the role of government?

Government destroys wealth. Is a huge fallacy crediting the government with the creation of wealth, because governments don’t produce anything, only take by force what others produce. All the things the state does with our money can be done more efficiently by private means, including the enforcement of the laws (read Murray Rothbard, David D. Friedman, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe).

Does our libertarian reject any and all government protection for his intellectual property?

Yes. Libertarians are divided over this issue, but free-market anarchists are against intellectual property rights, based mainly on the fact that ideas are not scarce. When I have an idea, others can use it without preventing me from continuing using it. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “[H]e who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”

Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace?

No, is the other way around: free-market is the most perfect way of democracy, because nobody is ever forced to make a choice based in other people’s preferences.

Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms?

Government is the biggest threat to freedom. Large corporations are usually the consequence of government regulations, and free-market is the best regulator against big, inefficient corporations.

Ayn Rand was an adamant opponent of good works, writing that “The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves.”  Does he think that [Ayn] Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like King and Gandhi were “parasites”?

Everybody is entitled to do whatever they want with their time and property. What is totally unacceptable is doing “charity” with other people’s money. Gandhi was a collectivist, and the policies derived from him kept India in the most abject poverty for decades.

If you believe in the free market, why weren’t you willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas?

Isn’t the fact that more and more people are embracing libertarian ideas a strong enough answer to this absurd question?

Ellos y nosotros

La idea básica detrás del Socialismo (en cualquiera de sus variantes) es que nosotros, los Ordinarios, no somos lo suficientemente listos para manejar nuestras vidas de un modo razonable; y por lo tanto ellos, los Excepcionales, tienen que hacerse cargo de la situación para imponer el orden necesario.