As I mentioned before, I had my political scientist older brother read over my article before I posted it.
He gave me some helpful comments, and I thought he had some good thoughts. He said he thought that my idea had some merit to it. He then expounded more particularly on libertarianism, ’cause that’s what he’s interested in. I particularly thought his end notes to me were useful, and I got his permission to post them too.
“I do accept the proposition that allowing people to pursue their own interests and to pursue profit will lead to greater economic gains. In the end, however, I think libertarians forget that governments are competing against each other in an anarchic world in which state survival is similar matter of natural selection. Governments must intervene in their economies in order that they may compete with other self-interested states. Furthermore, I think that libertarianism’s approach to domestic social issues also threatens the ability of a state to create a cohesive nation that may compete with others.”
As I said before, in my post, I simply noticed the connection between natural selection and the mindset of libertarianism. And that is what I wanted to write about. As he looked over it, I guess he got more interested in thinking specifically about libertarianism, and he delves into the strengths and weaknesses of that political philosophy.
He apparently thought about it a bit more, and he wrote his own little note about it on facebook, which, sans his introduction, is below.
“In some ways, as my sister pointed out to me, libertarianism embraces the idea of natural selection and survivla of the fittest. I do agree with the porposition that humans are naturally self-interested, and that self-interested pursuit of profit in the market economy generally leads to greater economic gains for society (thanks Adam Smith!). However, I think that libertarians may sometimes lose sight of the fact that as individuals and companies are competing with each other in markets, each country in this world is competing in a somewhat similar manner (that is, if you embrace the idea of an anarchic world, which most libertarians would be inclinded to do because of their worldview).
“If then, you embrace this idea of competition and survival of the fittest, then you probably would want your government to pursue policies that would make it one of the “fittest” countries in the world. The more “fit” your country is, the safer it is form economic and military threats. I believe that states must sometimes intervene in their economies to make themselves competitive at the global level. And if such government intervention produces some inefficiencies at the national level, might it not be worth the trade off to become a more “fit” country as a whole?
“Sticking with the analogy of natural selection, suppose that each economic sector is an appendage of your country. If you are a state that is only competitive in one economic sector, take oil for instance, then you are like a fish with a single tail. You can move well in teh right environments, but if you lose that tail (because you’ve run out of oil or new energy sources have replaced oil, your economy loses motion. So it is better for your country to have a couple additional appendages that provide motion for your economy. If you lose one, you can have another to fall back on. And if they are strong, then your economy can move faster than others.
“Now some of you may be thinking, but government intervention tends to create uncompetitive economic sectors (or “weak” appendages). I agree to a point, but where no appendage exists, the state may intervene to encourage teh cration of new ecnomic sectors. Once these sectors are created, they may be cut loose to compete in the market economy. Many of the Asian countries would have the economies that they do today if they had not intervened in their economy. My point is this, in today’s intense international economic competition, who will be the most like to thrive – those countries whose governments refuse to use their knowledge to enhance their economic condition or those countries whose governments vigilantly watch for opportunity to encourage their citizens and companies to sezie opportunity? I just recently joked with a friend that, if we were both given a country, he could run his in a libertarian manner but I would practice additional intervention and one day beat him in a war…
[Disclaimer- in no way should the be taken as extolling self-interest, exploitation, and war]. :)”
So you can see that he and I can have some scintillating discussions, though he’s far more knowledgeable than me.
Feel free to weigh in. Don’t by shy.