How Libertarians Can Win on Social Issues
EspañolWhile on a smoke break at work the other day, someone asked me an interesting question: what should the libertarian position be on feminism? My answer was very simple. Libertarians should acknowledge that there are gender-related problems, but should advocate for deregulation as the solution.
In another similar setting, an even more interesting question emerged: what should libertarians say about the idea that some groups enjoy unearned privileges because of their upbringing or skin color? In the United States, “check your privilege” has become a common phrase to challenge opponents in a debate.
After some discussion, we reached a peculiar conclusion: privileges exist and are problematic, but they arise from government interference; we need to repeal the legislation that creates them.
In yet another gathering of nicotine addicts, I was presented with another dilemma: how should libertarians regard trade unions?
There is no doubt that inequality exists when two parties negotiate a job contract, and there is nothing wrong with workers voluntarily uniting in an effort to bargain for more benefits. The problems arise when unions get legal privileges.
Have you noticed the pattern? It took me quite a while to figure it out. Whenever progressives bring up a social problem, they immediately turn to public policy to try to fix it.
On the other hand, conservatives tend to downplay or ignore the problem, and their usual approach is either to do nothing, or to enact punishments to deter undesirable behavior.
Before I was able to see the now obvious answer, I had to take a lot of cigarette breaks and engage in plenty of debates about the nature of libertarianism.
When addressing a social problem, libertarians tend to synthesize the methods of progressives and conservatives. We usually admit to the existence of the problem, unlike the latter, but we believe the solution rests in expanding individual choice, unlike the former.
Why is this important?
It means libertarianism is not — or at least shouldn’t be — disconnected from social problems. And the fact that we look to empower individuals to seek out the best solutions reassures our belief in liberty as the highest political value.
By analyzing the true nature of these issues and conveying our conclusions effectively, we can demonstrate how libertarianism shatters the “left-right” paradigm.