nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

The idea of libertarian charities, a ramble.

A ramble is something like an essay, but less organized.

Some 20 or 30 years ago, I was struck by an idea from Peter Breggin (a libertarian psychologist)-- that libertarianism would never succeed until there were libertarian charities.

This seemed very odd, and I don't know exactly what he meant by it.

Still, I'd bounce it off people, and the usual response is to ask me what a libertarian charity would be. My answer was, "It wouldn't take government money, and it would have "libertarian" on the letterhead."

This wasn't terribly helpful, though I still think it's a reasonable minimum.

What I've come to believe is that a good bit of how people organize themselves is done through government, and (aside from government's natural inclination to preserve themselves), people are more likely to want to cut back on government if they can see a clear alternative method of having a good society.

Um, I used to believe that, but the Tea Party is something of a counterexample. I guess we'll find out something about how big the tea party movement is-- I'm guessing it's smaller than it looks, but it's only a guess. I've been applying a discount factor to the more flamboyant left-wing worries ever since GW left the presidency without attempting a coup. I bet I'll be right until and unless I'm disastrously wrong.

I expect that only a few of my readers know that Ayn Rand hated libertarians. Her politics were disappointed Republican. R's would say things she liked, and then not follow through when they were in office. She thought libertarians were too unphilosophical, though I don't remember the details of what she thought they were neglecting. Tea Partyers are a lot less philosophical than libertarians.

When the USSR fell, I wished that Ayn Rand had been alive to see it. Not so many years further out, I wondered how closely she would have predicted that the fall would work out badly for a lot of Russians, or what she'd have to say about the whole thing. I was certainly expecting things to get a lot better, and in retrospect, I was expecting them to do a much better job of self-organizing than they did. Please try to refrain from gloating-- I bet anyone who takes a crack at predicting how the world will go has seen a few surprises.

Anyway, back to societies organizing themselves. I think libertarian charities would do a lot to convince people that government was less necessary. There's no reason why there shouldn't be libertarian charities for pre-natal and infant care, for example. Suzette Haden Elgin has written about what a valuable sort of care that is, and I haven't heard of any flavor of organization taking a crack at that one-- maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like a project which would be of manageable size on a local scale.

I'm inclined to think that the Objectivist streak in libertarianism makes it hard to self-organize, and I'd be interested in what people have to say about what makes useful self-organization feasible.

The only libertarian charity I know about is the Institute for Justice</i>, a libertarian public interest law firm.

"A man should approach revolution as carefully as he should perform an operation on his father." A quote I've seen attributed to Edmund Burke, but which I haven't been able to track down.

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