Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, October 19, 2003

How Libertarianism Can Go Wrong

Any ideologue with even a shred of fairness must try coming up with ways his cherished opinions can go wrong. Here is an attempt to come up with ways libertarian rhetoric can backfire:

  1. Exaggerate intellectual property rights. (We have a taste of that in Scientology.) Ideas can be patented forever. Words can have a copyright. Potentially embarrassing information counts as a trade secret. Most important of all, “look and feel” can be patented. Anyone who wants to complain can be arrested for the illegal use of other people's concepts. They can't even make up their own terminology since that would violate someone else's patent on the look and feel of liberty.
  2. Exaggerate parental rights. (You can think of the Elian Gonzalez case as a possible beginning.) Parents can sell their children into slavery. Any offspring of the slaves are considered offspring of the owners and thus can also be enslaved.
  3. Real overpopulation—not the thinly-scattered settlement we see in Manhattan. When the total biomass of the human race approaches the mass of the solar system, the owners of resources will be able to extract anything they want from the lower classes. Since the lower classes might object, it is necessary to have a secret police to prevent rebellions.
  4. Apply property rights with enclosure acts to government. (I was inspired by a discussion on Samizdata.) If property rights ensure that property is taken care of better, then clearly the government will be more competent if it is owned outright by an Emperor. The Empire must be hereditary to ensure that the Emperor wants to preserve the value of his property over the long term. If we do not currently live in an Empire, we must turn the government over to an Emperor as soon as possible.


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