Monday, April 9, 2007

Communism, Libertarianism, and Morality

I have to make a confession to begin this post. I'm a bit of a libertarian. Not a hard-core, jumping up and down screaming card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party. But I'm a libertarian. I want the government to be involved as little as possible in my life. I don't want them telling me who I can kiss, what I can smoke, who I can pray to, what I can drink, and that I have to wear a seat belt in my car. Nor do I want the government taking care of me. Personal responsibility -- it's the flip side of personal freedom. Mind you, I take personal responsibility a bit further than most libertarians and think that it requires attempting to think through how one's actions will affect others and acting in an ethical manner. So for me, making a ton of money by exploiting other human beings is anything but responsible behavior.

And, yes, I'm technically a capitalist. It's taken me years to convince my family of that, because I have crazy ideas for a capitalist. For instance, I think Marx was onto a lot of things and should be read more widely. And I've been known to quote Eugene V. Debs. And I think anti-communist propanganda is ridiculous in every way.

I've been reminded of the ridiculousness of at least twice a week for the past couple of months. I'm taking a class on world politics since World War II, and we've just wrapped up a unit on Latin America. I'm ashamed I didn't know more about Latin America before now, and I'm throughly disgusted with the series of completely morally indefensible American "interventions" in the region. Pinochet, we're responsible for fucking Pinochet! (Can't imagine why that wasn't in my high school textbook.)

And most of this was done in the name of establishing an anti-communist government to ensure that U.S. economic interests in the area were protected-- because the United States is interested in spreading democracy through free elections if, and only if, they like the result of elections.

This is why I don't belong in politics or economics. I can't divorce myself enough from moral and ethical concerns to judge the effectiveness. I would rather have a hypothetical leftist leaning government that has some comprehension human rights than a capitalist government with no comprehension of personhood. Honestly, I would rather pay a bit more for a hamburger and know that the girl ringing it up makes enough money to live on. And I think that trying to ensure that people receive enough compensation from their work to live on is personal responsibility.

So now, there's been this lovely on and off battle between the libertarian and the progressive, both of whom are just hanging out in my skull, wondering how to live ethically. Yah!

Of course, if human nature were such that everyone acted morally and ethically, maybe we could just be happy anarchists. Stupid human nature. Always getting in the way.


belledame222 said...

it sounds like you're a "left-libertarian," and no, you're not alone...

WordK said...

Good to know. Thanks for the comments. :)