Socialists Think the Same Way as Libertarians

People on the polar opposite ends of the spectrum on virtually any issue display the same flawed thinking. This is one of the major reasons for why any political ideology has merit, but also leads to nonsensical conclusions. Absolutely no one has the correct opinion on politics, but there are beliefs that both socialists and libertarians have with which I agree.

It seems like socialized medicine and some other social welfare programs are good ideas, broadly speaking. A lot of the constantly fluctuating details are problematic, and no political solutions are flawless. But my amateur assessment tells me  this: History and studies show that socialized healthcare, unemployment, and maybe a few other similar programs are more effective than privately funded alternatives.

I completely agree with libertarians on free speech, in the classical liberal tradition of people like John Stuart Mill. Unless the people espousing them incite violence against others, the best way to expose bad ideas is to allow them to be heard. The best way to show how terrible they are is with more speech that points out the flaws. History seems to have primarily shown that when ideas are suppressed, they cannot be contained, and gain more traction by being taboo. The foundational libertarian philosophy of individual rights being more important than the collective is something makes total sense the vast majority of the time.

Not all socialists and libertarians have extreme and consistent views. But a centrist libertarian still thinks very similarly to an anarcho-capitalist, who would claim that the government should be dismantled, and that the unregulated free market can solve every problem. By the same token, every socialist is not far from a communist, who would argue for the government continuously expanding to save us all, and that capitalism is inherently bad.

Libertarians and socialists both show the exact same flawed cognition methods. Generally, both philosophies regard one system as inevitably evil, and the other as inevitably righteous. Socialists and libertarians think the same way because they just reverse the roles of each system. Both criticize the government, but the former see it as inherently good because they always look to government expansion to solve problems. Socialists think that everything is a government issue, and can be fixed by it, rather than individual liberty. This includes free speech, gay marriage, unemployment, health care, abortion, the unequal distribution of wealth, drug legalization, and many other controversial topics. Socialists view corporations and the free market as objective villains, which can be blamed for all the atrocities in the world. This conclusion is taken too far because even decisions made by the government are blamed on capitalism when they are harmful.

Libertarians think that the government is morally corrupt, and that it cannot be relied on to solve problems. They view individual liberty as the priority in every topic, including those mentioned above. Libertarians blame the government for every global catastrophe. This position is too extreme as well because even when decisions made by corporations are harmful, they are blamed on the government.

The world is much more complex than the picture painted by both libertarians and socialists. The government is not all bad, or all good. Neither is capitalism. Both political worldviews appear to notice the flaws and inconsistencies in the arguments of people on the other side, but not their own. Corporations and governments are composed of people, none of whom are completely evil, or morally admirable. People are all flawed, and very different. Some are more good than bad, while others are more bad than good. Since this is the case, no corporation or government is ever 100% negative or positive. Labelling all governments as only good or only bad makes no sense because they range from almost completely righteous, to unforgivably bad. The same is true of corporations.

Socialists and libertarians share the same kind of cognitive dissonance when it comes to their perceptions of human nature. The former, broadly speaking, think that people are all inherently good when they are part of governments, yet they are all undeniably bad when they are in corporations. Libertarians have the same misconception of human nature, but in the opposite way. They generally share the naive delusion that people participating in the free market always make good decisions, yet politicians are all evil. Neither worldview is true. Both governments and capitalism are flawed, and constantly need improvements. However, in my opinion, both are necessary for a prosperous society. Some regulations, laws, and government programs seem essential to keep us more safe, and give us better lives. The free market is indispensable because it drives innovation that leads to inventions and products that can help society as a whole. Individual liberty is equally important because governments should not be allowed to make criminals out of people who don’t harm anyone. So it seems to me that as with every political ideology, neither libertarianism or socialism has all the answers, but both make good points. Those who value one philosophy over the other use the same flawed thinking as their demonized opponents. Socialists think the same way as libertarians.

 

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