Sunday, 27 November 2016

Why Trump Will Be a Good Force for Liberty

Back in June 2016 when most of my libertarian friends were mistakenly celebrating Brexit, I opposed them with the following very simple argument: The European Union has, on net, been a force for freedom and free trade, and against state abuse of power, taxation and money printing (David Howden & Huerta de Soto are among the famous Austrians pointing to this). Leaving the Union is likely to bring back the monetary and fiscal nationalism, beggar-thy-neighbour policies and protectionism Europe's history has been filled with for the last century or so. Ironically, libertarians who are used to spotting Nirvana Fallacies while debating lefties, were projecting all kinds of nirvana-like states of a post-Brexit Britain.
This is how I sarcastically portrayed their position:
British politicians, who for decades have been infringing rights, happily enforced regulations, expanding the state power and evolving the nanny state are now champtions of liberty? Brussels didn't make Britain invade Iraq. Brussels didn't force Britain to bail out its banks during the Global Financial Crisis. Brussels didn't compel Britain to instigate Patriot Act-style anti-terror laws after the London bombings in 2005. Brussels didn't make them cover the entire city of London in CCTV cameras. Brussels didn't force Britain to uphold a bankrupt and garbage system of socialised medicine, redistribution, rigid labour markets or trade unions. Brussels didn't assist in hiking taxes on the British population - quite the opposite, considering the competition effects and tax-lowering effect of the Single Market. British politicians did that all on their own.

But now, after having freed Britain from its chains, you suppose that these very same politicians will pursue free trade and repeal anti-liberty laws and become a beacon of light in a statist world? How naive does one have to be, expecting British politicians to all of a sudden pass good liberty laws?
The best response I heard to that was "yes, yes, but in the future, EU will get more invansive and centralised. Getting out now is our best chance!"

The best response I should have gotten was humour, clown politicians and ridicule. And it's the best reason for why Trump will be a good force for liberty. Let me explain.

A few months back my beloved Milo had a brilliant rant on his podcast on why either way  Hillary or Trump  that would be a force for conservatism and freedom. Everybody hates Hillary already, every sane person opposes her, and most of them would be very open to new or broader ideas about politics. Libertarianism, properly understood, would welcome them with open arms and our ideas would flourish. If Trump, the last few weeks of remarkable memes, pathetic lefties and unbelievably upset college students ("buhu, this is terrible...") shows, then every sane person questions two things;
a) maybe these lefties, crying and wailing about the most pathetic of things, aren't the Answer? Maybe they're the opposite...
b) maybe politics is not the solution to <insert imagined problem of your choice>. Maybe Hayek was right, and in democracy the worst get on top.

Both of which would open the door to consider more sound political and economic ideas: welcome, Libertarianism! This is Jason Stapleton reflection on the election:
Everyone loves the advancement of their own personal agenda, as long as the not so nice parts are pointed elsewhere. We are far too quick to trade our freedoms and liberties on the promise that our compassionate leaders will crush our evil opposition. But every power used to control our political and social enemies can also be used to control us.
Progressives cheered Obama when he used his unilateral power of executive orders to fast track a left-wing agenda, circumventing our system of checks and balances, and blamed the other side for “holding back progress” and blocking government from “doing more.”
But now that same power rests in the hands of a man who may use it to persecute them. It's scary. The liberties we trade for security and the powers we grant government are never returned. We, as a people, must be vigilant in ensuring that we are not tricked into trading away our individual liberties for the promise of a benevolent government, because one day that government may turn tyrannical and dictatorial.
Don't get me wrong, Trump's policies looks like your average mistaken follower of Keynes in applying the spending-is-mending doctrine, even though the Krugmans of the world are desperately trying to find a way out of their cognitive dissonance. But his rise to power is likely to boost interest in more sound ideas, through humour, through ridicule of political power/politicians and through serious scholarship. Opposing Trump is already a national sport, and fits perfectly well with a libertarian theory of politics, if you're ready for it.

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