My least favorite political/economic group is the Libertarians, so it is a wonderfully pleasant experience to watch as China Miéville takes a sharp and dismissive rhetorical blade to a Libertarian pipe-dream. He’s specifically criticizing something called the Freedom Ship, a gigantic free-floating escapist fantasy for Libertarians, in which they cruise the seas with their own closed colony of warriors for greed.
Libertarianism is by no means a unified movement. As many of its advocates proudly stress, it comprises a taxonomy of bickering branches–minarchists, objectivists, paleo- and neolibertarians, agorists, et various al.–just like a real social theory. Claiming a lineage with post-Enlightenment classical liberalism, as well as in some cases with the resoundingly portentous blatherings of Ayn Rand, all of its variants are characterized, to differing degrees, by fervent, even cultish, faith in what is quaintly termed the “free” market, and extreme antipathy to that vaguely conceived bogeyman, “the state,” with its regulatory and fiscal powers.
Above all, they recast their most banal avarice–the disinclination to pay tax–as a principled blow for political freedom. Not content with existing offshore tax shelters, multimillionaires and property developers have aspired to build their own. For each such rare project that sees (usually brief) life, there are many unfettered by actual existence, such as Laissez-Faire City, a proposed offshore tax haven inspired by a particularly crass and gung-ho libertarianism, that generated press interest in the mid-’90s only to collapse in infighting and bad blood; or New Utopia, an intended sea-based libertarian micro-nation in the Caribbean that degenerated with breathtaking predictability into nonexistence and scandal.
The summary is particularly sweet.
It is a small schadenfreude to know that these dreams will never come true. There are dangerous enemies, and then there are jokes of history. The libertarian seasteaders are a joke. The pitiful, incoherent and cowardly utopia they pine for is a spoilt child’s autarky, an imperialism of outsourcing, a very petty fascism played as maritime farce: Pinochet of Penzance.
Well said — I think the institutionalized selfishness, petty small-mindedness, and bourgeois values run amuck of the libertarians represent the worst of America — and that finding common cause, supporting both social and economic equality, and striving for a real community of liberty (not that penny-pinching masquerading as freedom that libertarians espouse) represent the best.
(via Amardeep Singh)