The Skeptical Libertarian and Corporate Apologetics

May 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Skeptical Libertarian, that brave bastion of libertarian thought, has taken upon itself the task of cleansing the liberty movement of those “unscientific” fools who have the audacity to take positions which it finds inappropriate. For those unfamiliar with their modus operandi, it’s a rather simple beast to understand. Take a particular aspect of libertarian thought. Say for instance, skepticism of large biotech or pharmaceutical corporations and GMO products in general.  The Skeptical Libertarian then takes a contrarian position and in the process buries its opponents beneath a thick layer of pretentiousness which paints the opposition as unscientific and gullible imbeciles unfit for the rigors of even semi-intelligent discourse. In other words, if you’re skeptical of certain aspects of modern society then you must necessarily be a regressive fool hell bent upon taking us back to the good old days of puritanism and witch hunts. As Tom Woods points out, The Skeptical Libertarian is skeptical of actual skeptics. So I suppose that means the title Skeptical Libertarian is a very roundabout way of stating an allegiance to the status quo.

This “approach” has led The Skeptical Libertarian to take some rather odd positions for a libertarian. Probably the best example is their habit of supporting industries and specific corporations which no level-headed libertarian would touch with a ten foot pole. They have targeted the skeptics of GMO food products, vaccines, and the biotech/food industry in general. In particular they have made it a point to defend the large corporations which produce these items. It’s at this point that I part ways with The Skeptical Libertarian.

There is nothing necessarily un-libertarian about discussing certain conspiracy theories and rumors which are far too common amongst libertarian circles (although it may be a fruitless endeavor, as discussed here). However, The Skeptical Libertarian finds itself on much shakier ground when it begins to fully support some of the very institutions which epitomize the much maligned “crony capitalist”. A quick glance at the numbers makes that much blatantly obvious. Take for example one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the United States, Pfizer. In 2012, Pfizer spent $10.45 million lobbying for favorable federal legislation. Similarly, Monsanto, The Skeptical Libertarian’s central love affair, reeks of crony capitalist legislation. And all of this ignores the numerous ways in which the federal government restricts entry to the market via regulation and IP protection.

The people at The Skeptical Libertarian undoubtedly understand this. They must realize that corporations like Monsanto are imperfect and cannot be held up as examples of the market’s benevolent forces. Whatever their stance on GMO’s and vaccines, it must be recognized that these institutions are as far from market entities as the Federal Reserve. It’s is true that genetically modified foods are a product of human ingenuity and have saved countless lives. However, that does not prove that the present GMO, vaccine, or other biotech markets are a product of a free and prosperous market. The truth is that these markets are in fact very restricted and power is very centralized. This centralization of authority almost always leads to some forms of abuse. How that abuse will manifest itself is still unknown. The important point is to recognize that associating libertarianism with an industry so deeply in bed with the state is a recipe for complete disaster. The vast majority of the unwashed masses and their knavish overlords at MSNBC and Fox News do their best to push the idea that corporations like Monsanto are free market entities. The Skeptical Libertarian and libertarians in general would do well to distance themselves and their ideas from these organizations. GMO arguments aside, all libertarians should agree that any private industry dependent on the state for its very survival is not private at all.

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