Thursday, March 12, 2009

Democrats and Republicans

It's notable that the Republican Party opts to wield state power under the guise of opposing "big government." Indeed, this is their entire shtick: appealing to people who distrust governmental authority so strongly that they are willing to endorse a political party -- the purest expression of the pursuit of governmental power -- to show it.

Whether "conservative" or "libertarian," it should go without saying that anyone who genuinely distrusts the state is not going to spend 100% of their time trying to monopolize it. This is probably why practicing libertarians, who are most commonly known as "anarchists," devote 100% of their time to building their own self-managed institutions -- cooperatives, unions, mutual banks, etc. -- which exist independent of the state altogether, rather than making a lifetime career out of the very "big government" they pretend to oppose.

For its part, the Democratic Party does not feign any principled opposition to big government. It merely pretends that the state can be harnessed for the good of all through a kind of scientific managerialism, as practiced by qualified elites. Hence Barack Obama's call for "a government that works" -- which just means big government that is more equitable in its distribution of benefits, though, importantly, no less vulnerable to interference from large economic actors.

Traditionally, the effect of contemporary Democratic rule has been materially superior for the majority of Americans as compared with its Republican analog, which always seems to redirect wealth from public to private concerns. (It should be said that for people of other nations, Democratic administrations can prove equally murderous, but that deserves a separate discussion.)

But this is still distinct and separate from self-management and democracy, which should be the goal toward which anyone with an instinct for freedom would keep a view. People make good and bad decisions in all circumstances of life, but there is far less danger in having these choices administered from below, where their scope is limited to the people who make them. Surrendering to them to a centralized authority just means imposing them by force on everybody.

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