Over many years of teaching at Mises University, Judge Napolitano delivered the same – terrifying – end to his introductory speech.
It wasn’t until the horrors of this year that I realized that maybe his argument has its basis in reality.
The dear judge often mentions, almost as a joke, the libido dominandi –the desire to dominate, or the will to power, recalling the secular writing of Augustine of Hippo. We find similar notions in the chapter “Why the Worst Get on Top” by Friedrich Hayek in The road of serfdom and most certainly in the oddly relevant writing of Robert Higgs.
The memorable end of the Napolitano conference is:
I am waiting to die, true to my first principles… in my bed, surrounded by people who love me. Some of you may die, true to first principles, in a government prison. And some of you may die, true to first principles, in a public square to the sound of the government trumpet.
The rare times I’ve had the chance to hear him say these words live, they always felt a bit over the top. Even though the room was completely silent, I had a stomach ache and goosebumps all over my skin, it couldn’t get so bad, could it?
The madness of 2020 made me reconsider.
Control over the lives of others
Wanting to rule over others is, to a certain extent, innate. Perhaps this stems from our misplaced sense of superiority (e.g., the Lake Wobegon effect) or a semblance of hubristic knowledge, or perhaps an inability to see the full range of values that others have. provide: I know better how to do things; if only I were in charge, the world would be a better place.
What is clear is that in the year 2020 the ever-present thirst for domination experienced a perfect storm – a storm that allowed them to unleash their controls to lecture us and requisition us here and there, to plan. centrally a health campaign and to direct anyone and everyone as to what they are allowed to do. What’s so terrifying about it isn’t that the desire to rule over others exists – it always has been – but that the forces that usually keep it at bay have given up.
In the early days of the pandemic, those of us who make a living fabricating words fought for libertarianism: “There is no libertarian in a pandemic,” they said. Maybe we answered politely, like everyone a little afraid of what we didn’t know then. But surely there is no statist coming out of it either: the “beneficial” regulations that disrupted the production and distribution of suddenly in high demand products have been lifted, centralized control has botched things left and right. With such an obvious failure of this magnitude, could we not wish the government to control and regulate our affairs?
In hindsight, this dispute seems strange – and we have forgotten its core. Now the folks from Paul Krugman to Tyler Cowen seem to think that libertarians rule the world and that anything that has gone wrong is the libertarians’ fault. In the race to centrally plan everything, production decisions about who to leave home wearing what, all other concerns – except, naturally, Black Lives Matter – have been thrown overboard.
Libertarianism is not an ideology about the best outcome, however defined. It is not about how “we” solve a medical problem, nor how best to mitigate disasters such as pandemics. It is not even about handing out the mind-blowing surplus created by our highly productive economies. It is WHO make decisions about what. This is not the best way to minimize pandemic threats, nor the best way to optimize some imagined private or social functions, nor the best way to ensure a long and healthy life.
Whoever owns something decides. If you – the owner and manager of your body – want to put harmful drugs in it, be my guest. That’s none of my business. If you want to carry crystals that protect against evil, or against pink elephants that lurk in the shadows, knock yourself out. If you want to dress in fake clothes that repel invisible germs, have fun.
But you if do not have the right to demand that others follow suit. You don’t have, as Cowen recently did, the ground to say “in fact, [freedom] doesn’t seem worth it. He, as David Henderson reprimanded him for it, “seems to substitute his own values for those of others” – the cardinal sin for anyone who speaks out lip service to freedom.
And he wasn’t the only one. Yielding to the temptation to requisition others, “libertarians” on both sides of the Atlantic began to invoke externalities and public goods to justify one blatantly unfair and invasive policy after another. sat Archer, a self-proclaimed neoliberal and formerly of the Adam Smith Institute, is, like Cowen, just the loudest of victims.
But public health is not a public good, as Michel Accad recently described in response to Great Barrington’s statement. This also does not apply to anyone else:
The life and health of an individual are special goods and not common goods. It is an obvious metaphysical truth that my health and my life can only be mine and not shared in common with anyone, and certainly not with the political community as a whole. Basically, “public health” is an oxymoron, since “the public”, as an abstraction, does not have health strictly speaking. Only individuals are healthy or not.
Lockdowns as a pandemic policy is that perfect dominant strategy: if infection rates go down, success; you win and can invoke the same policy of control the next time a suspected disaster looms. If infection rates stay the same, or increase, you reduce success the harder. What should the world look like for you to concede it? What should happen for you to say “In fact, taking away the freedoms and dignity of our people doesn’t seem to help us reduce infections”? There is no circumstance in which the lockdowners will accept that their pandemic policy does not work or, more importantly, goes against fundamental human freedom or dignity.
Krugman and true liberalism
Interestingly enough, Krugman almost you found. Blasting libertarians for all that is wrong with pandemic America – yes, that is exactly as crazy as it sounds – he writes:
Many things should be matters of individual choice. The government has no reason to dictate your cultural tastes, your faith, or what you choose to do with other consenting adults.
We thought the liberals wanted release people of government constraints, a fundamental hands-off approach. The American liberals have long forgotten this idea: it is no longer about leaving people alone, it is about correcting their thought crimes before they manifest themselves in the world. Yet today’s Liberals are raving about the notion before turning 180 degrees – and starting to list the activities that it is now up to the government to decide: what you wear in public; where are you going; What you think; what you trade, with whom and where; taking care not to spread germs without knowing it.
The pandemic brought out the worst in people and made it clear what was still simmering below the surface: an innate desire to dominate others. To put them in their place, to push absurd ideas down their throats, to dress them in ridiculous clothes, to ridicule and attack those who deviate from the One Faith of Government. The pandemic has shown who really supported and respected the values others may have – and who would rather give in to the temptation of power, which would override the wrongdoing of our lower plebs.
“Freedom lies in the human heart,” Judge Napolitano said, “but it has to do more than just stay there.” Remember that when you are stripped of your freedoms for the sake of the well-being of all.
#Lockdowners #desire #dominate #Dateway