Any thoughts about libertarianism?

Chris M. Sciabarra sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Sun Apr 28 17:48:31 MDT 1996

On Sun, 28 Apr 1996, Doug Henwood wrote:
> You are right that they invent an ideal capitalism that has never existed
> and never could, and always trace any faults in K'ism to state
> interference. They ignore - and are often completely ignorant of - the
> history of state coercion and support necessary to the creation of
> capitalism, from the appropriations of primitive accumulation, to the
> adventures of imperialism, to the kinds of subsidies and bailouts I
> mentioned above.
	Well, not all of us <libertarians> are necessarily of the above
opinion, and libertarianism is extremely diverse, and has been identified
with wildly different intellectual approaches, from the Ayn
Rand-influenced to the Hayekian, from the Rothbardian anarchist to the
monetarist.  And these are not necessarily compatible with one another;
in fact, in some respects, they are completely antithetical to one

> It's an ideology of the successful (and the
> as-yet-unsuccessful who swim in their wake) who trace their success
> entirely to their own personal efforts. They forget that markets are social
> institutions, and that no individual achievement occurs in a vaccuum; every
> act of apparent individualism depends on a web of social and historical
> connections, but they deny these with a passion. If I had the time, I could
> develop a Frankfurt-style analysis of the ideology as a self-flattering
> reaction to the very devaluation of the individual under modern organized
> capitalism, but I don't have the time.
	I don't think that all libertarians are atomists; some of the
best are good precisely because they are NOT atomists, and fully
understand the social and cultural context within which individuals grow
and flourish, or decline and die... and as for the Frankfurt school --
you'll find a lot more agreement between the Frankfurters and Hayek on
such issues as "constructivist" or "instrumentalist" rationalism, than
between Hayek and some rationalistic libertarian types.
					- Chris
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra, Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
INTERNET:  sciabrrc at

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