The political philosophy of liberty is often criticized by others, whether they be conservative, liberal, or somewhere in-between. While fair criticisms are welcome and important to further dialogue and understanding, those riddled with logical fallacies are unproductive and harmful to that dialogue and understanding.
And while we are usually reticent to post articles such as these, they are at times beneficial to help the reader better recognize and reject these fallacies. Readers who lack the ability to detect such flawed arguments may fall prey to believing them.
Thus we present “Libertarian Delusions”—a supposed takedown of libertarianism by the Alliance for a Better Utah. For those who are unfamiliar with this group, ABU takes a progressive, left-leaning stance on political issues.
As you read the article, try to see how many strawman fallacies you can find. Here’s our list of the 12 straw men built up and taken down by this group—all of them logical fallacies that do not accurately reflect the libertarian view.
Libertarians confuse the morality of the market with the morality of our shared commitment to one another.
Straw man. Libertarians don’t believe markets have any morality.
In their search for pure ideology, Libertarians have settled on Ayn Rand instead of Adam Smith–and in doing so, their sense of moral obligation has fallen away.
Straw man. Adhering to Ayn Rand’s positions is not a foundation of libertarian ideology.
Libertarianism holds human freedom as its highest good, even if that means some people will necessarily suffer.
Straw man. Restricting violence and coercion to only defensive actions is the highest good in libertarian thought. (See: non-aggression principle.)
For libertarians, suffering exists because of government interference.
Straw man. Libertarians readily acknowledge that suffering can and would exist even in absence of the state. Suffering is a human action, not a governmental one.
According to libertarians, a market economy, left to its own devices, will allow a completely free and and just society to flourish.
Straw man. Libertarians believe a laissez-faire economy is required by the non-aggression principle. Libertarians do not claim that “a completely free and and [sic] just society” will automatically and necessarily result.
What libertarians seem to ignore is that nations are made of people, not markets.
Straw man. Libertarians argue that both nations and markets are made up of people.
Libertarianism functions under the illusion that political interference, or government, is what makes society so unjust.
Straw man. Libertarians readily acknowledge societal injustices even in absence of the state.
However, politics is really the art of humans using their agency to act in concert with other humans. When Libertarians decry government interference, they’re decrying human agency.
Straw man. This is a false definition of politics (politics is the legitimization of coercion upon other individuals) and therefore the claim that libertarians are decrying human agency is incorrect.
Libertarians imagine a society of free individuals but eliminate any cooperative role for those individuals other than the local shopping mall.
Straw man. Libertarians hold no utopian notion of a society of free individuals implicitly arising in absence of a centrally planned state.
The Libertarian’s obsession with individual freedom creates a society where, quite frankly, individuals don’t matter.
Straw man. The author has misrepresented both what “individual freedom” is and the libertarian’s alleged “obsession” with it.
The freedom to discriminate, the freedom to ignore the poor, the freedom to take advantage of your neighbor. These are the so-called virtues of libertarianism.
Straw man. Libertarianism does not see these supposed freedoms as virtues.
It may be naive to have faith in the capacity of humans to do good, but the libertarian’s alternative of blind faith in a theoretically just market is more than naive, it’s foolish.
Straw man. Libertarians do not have “blind faith” in a “theoretically just market.” They simply have no faith in the state.