Monday, June 07, 2010

Propertarians, Again

It takes a lot of gall to make the argument Murray's making (even though he seems to have a point about fishing quotas) at any time, but considering that the stupidity and carelessness of British Petroleum and Transoceanic has so recently and flagrantly transformed the Gulf of Mexico into a geenormous tar pit, to make the argument now shows he's really committed -- or needs to be committed. But then he is a wingnut propagandist (Lysenkoist and astroturfing division), so QED.

Also, disaster crapitalism and all that.

Not that anyone should particularly care what I think, but I've said before that I prefer religious nutjobs to libertarian nutjobs, and one reason is because the former are at least sometimes honest about their desire to coerce. Propertarians are never honest about it; they totally deny it.

I used to tease digamma and sneer at this sad, pathetic loser to the effect that I knew air would eventually be privatized should their propertarian dream world ever come into being. Then their Randian heroes could charge people to breathe and further, I knew that when the penniless would inevitably suffocate, propertarians would simply say such deaths (actually, murders) were mere products of bad decision-making on the oxygen-deprived's part and no business of the government.

Sure enough, not long after that, I saw a Fraser Institute (Canuckistani wingnutiens, I think) nimrod state his belief that space should be privatized. No, not outer space; just space, area, here on Earth. Once I digested the implications of that... well, I'm sorry, but I saw through bland affectations of glibertarian "principles", through even hidden (but obvious) greed, to the real desired end of the total privatization of everything: gasless* chambers -- guilt-free gasless chambers, because those squeezed into them by property law would be, as Uncle Miltie so cheerily put it, "free to choose" them. The rhetorical exaggeration I used to joke and sneer about was actually true. Eventually, I realized the germ of this mentality was always there in their melons.

One of the reasons Melbourne's government amended the Poor Law in 1834 was because the influential thought economic "law" demanded it; but it was also consciously endorsed by the upper class as a form of self-flattery and as a way to spite their inferiors, the poor, for whom the right to work was deemed too cushy and the law's amenders knew they were placing under the whip of starvation. Freedom, amirite? Dig coal, toil in the prison-like workhouses, or starve; above all, play by our rules! That some of the poor did indeed move up the social ladder rather than perish confirmed and entrenched the belief in social Darwinism; stress applied to the weak had culled the worst of the lot and rewarded the strongest. The greed, ruthlessness, and cruelty of the early industrial revolution is "classical liberalism" and utilitarianism ideology put into practice; the parties responsible were the Whigs and Liberals. That is why glibertarians like Glenn Reynolds call themselves, when they're trying to be cute, Whigs; it's why wingnuts like a certain someone I had a huge blogwar with calls himself a "classical liberal"; it is why neoliberals like Brad DeLong approvingly quote Bentham and Mill and keep pushing free trade even when they acknowledge it hasn't been beneficial, because their fealty to economic law outweighs their desire to alleviate human suffering (and why in my weak moments I want to throw a copy of Hard Times at his head, especially when he falsely advertises himself as a social democrat). What propertarians through the years have meant by "freedom" is actually the (dis)function of a society engineered around economic "laws" discovered by people who think they are scientists. And the lever by which that engineering is facilitated is always -- no matter what they say -- brutal force.

Commodifying something means making that something scarce, which means profit for them and toil or migration or death for everyone else. Incidentally, "privatize" means what is says but in practice -- and propertarians know this, it's a feature not a bug -- it means "to corporatize." Which, in turn means that what was previously communally-owned or owned by an individual human being and therefore managed with at least some degree of accountability, will eventually be owned by a sociopathic "entity" that can bribe its way out of legal or social penalty. And of course (icing on the cake), this is always hailed as progress. What ideological conquistadors like Hernando de Soto have done for land abroad Murray is trying to do for the ocean; air is next.

Some people, not all of them vile, used to larf when I'd call libertarians crypto-fascists. Well, there's not so much larfin any more.

* As in oxygen-free. Also, cf. Whitaker Chambers's opinion of Ayn Rand:
From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: "To a gas chamber — go!"