From Pine View Farm

Life Is Not SimCity 2

At Boston Review, Claude S. Fischer struggles to understand Libertarianism and, particularly, its appeal to a certain segment of geeks.

What difference does this history and anthropology make to libertarian arguments about the good life? Plenty. If libertarians would move real-world policy in their direction, then their premises about humans and human society should be at least remotely plausible; we are not playing SimCity here. Instead, libertarian premises arise from a worldview that was strange at its origin and is strange now, after the global triumph of liberalism.

If you wish to understand the strange contemporary revival of Ayn Rand’s fever dream, this article is a good place to start.

Intellectually, Libertarianism is a fancy impressive-sounding rationale for justifying heedless, craven selfishness. Practically, it’s camouflage for Republicans who are ashamed to admit it.



  1. George Smith

    February 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    American libertarianism is a strain of authoritarianism in which the only important freedom is to shop. If you do not have money and cannot shop then you are of no use to US libertarians who while decrying the tyranny of government are always using their money to rewrite the economic rules, in particular the tax law, in their favor. And this has been done — it’s called supply-side economics — and it doesn’t work although it has been very efficient at making the wealthy much much wealthier while passing all the risk onto the lower classes. Libertarians are, of course, vehemently against subsidized health care, Obamacare, vocally, as infringement upon an alleged freedom to choose your medical care but fundamentally because they believe only in every-man-for-himself, get off my lawn, keep your hands off my pile. However, from what I have experienced a large part of the public in California, anyway, does not support this at all.  When finalizing enrollment in the Medicaid expansion in California, anecdotally, from talking to public servants in the office who were actively working to complete my coverage, the talk was that the offices were overwhelmed with response. There is a huge backlog in applications paperwork, physical and digital, to be processed. And this indicates that large numbers of people were using Covered California, the state health insurance exchange website for cheaper insurances,- and- the Medicaid expansion. That system, big government run, was actually working for the social good of many. It was not decreasing any personal freedom at all, in fact, relieving people of some financial burdens for what remains to be observed in increased access to health care. At the least, increasing some peace of mind. Libertarianism in this country attacks people and it makes it personal. Atlas Shrugged is a very intense book of one person’s hatred. Rand’s contempt is all through it, heavily seasoned with the enjoyment of revenge as everyone but the libertarian true believers gets their comeuppance or destruction. Where else do we see that in statistically significant American “demography”? The prepper movement. All of the Republican Party. The Tea Party. Christian religious fundamentalism. It’s a shared belief system.     

  2. Frank

    February 7, 2014 at 12:25 am

    There is a reason that I referred to “Libertarianism” as a “fever dream.”


    I have friend who fancies himself a Libertarian.


    He really isn’t; he just thinks he is because he believes the press releases and thinks his tax bill is too high.  Underneath, though, he is a decent human being who couldn’t pass by a kitten in pain.  


    A true Libertarian would blame the kitten.