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Friday, December 21, 2007


In order to explain to you why Libertarians, Rand-ians etc. worship corporations in full knowledge of their tendency to arrogate individual freedoms unto themselves by denying freedom to others... I'm going to have to geek out on you. Are you familiar with the "Star Trek" race, the Ferengi, who figured prominently in the series "Deep Space 9" ? The Ferengi are, of course, ludicrously, satirically mercantile, hyper-capitalist, Ayn Rand's wet dream.

[paraphrase, not exact]... At one point Dr. Bashir is asking the Ferengi, Rom, why he continues to work for the other Ferengi, Quark, when Quark is clearly exploiting all his workers. Why don't you band together to stop the exploitation, or form your own competing business that wouldn't exploit you? Rom replies, with shock and horror, "No Ferengi wants to _STOP_ the exploitation!! Every Ferengi wants to be the one _DOING_ the exploiting!"

I think pretty much without exception, every Libertarian, every Rand-ian, AEI or Heritage Foundation conservative -- everyone who truly acts like they believe unbridled competition will result in the betterment of all people -- thinks themselves an automatic winner, they think (rightly or wrongly) that they will on the balance be the ones doing the exploiting rather than exploited.

They may be right about themselves, or they may be wrong. (But we have seen, with the Bush Administration, that business acumen, intelligence and competence in general are not necessarily predictive of how well you can exploit others under conditions of hypercapitalistic anarchy.)

Yes, I agree that there's some of that to it. And if not exploitation per se, I'm sure most libertarians feel like they'll be among the winners (and on the flip side I doubt there are any right-wing libertarians among those who think they'll be among the losers).

It's still a signal example of cognitive dissonance to me. To perceive concentrated power that's at least ostensibly exercised on behalf of the general populace as a danger, but also be unwilling or unable to perceive it as a danger when it's exercised solely for the financial benefit of unaccountable private institutions (which on their own would respect no limitations whatsoever—moral, ethical, or otherwise—on that single driving goal), is a real feat.

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