We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Not the end of history and certainly not the end of libertarianism

And unfortunately probably not the end of the unerringly off-target Frances Fukuyama. He is one of the more dependably incorrect pundits currently putting quill to parchment, and his ‘The End of History’, coming as it did in the middle of history’s violent resumption in the Balkans in 1992, may go down as the most ludicrous analysis of the world since 1848.

In his latest prognostication he argues that September 11th has undermined the entire thesis of libertarianism.

Sept. 11 ended this line of argument. It was a reminder to Americans of why government exists, and why it has to tax citizens and spend money to promote collective interests. It was only the government, and not the market or individuals, that could be depended on to send firemen into buildings, or to fight terrorists, or to screen passengers at airports. The terrorists were not attacking Americans as individuals, but symbols of American power like the World Trade Center and Pentagon. So it is not surprising that Americans met this challenge collectively with flags and patriotism, rather than the yellow ribbons of individual victimization.

There is something almost endearing about Fukuyama’s unerring ability to get it wrong. Fire departments in many places are not ‘government’ at all, but rather local volunteers who need no cohesion or coercion from the state to put their lives on the line for their jobs. In most of the western world, it is not ‘government’ who provides the airport security but private business, and does anyone really think that nationalisation of this function in the USA has actually made airports safer? If you have an incompetent screener, who do you think finds it easier to fire him, a private company or the US government? If emergency services can only exist when set up by the state, then how does ‘historian’ Frances Fukuyama explain the fact that for the last 175 years, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has provided that service for Britain not just privately manned but privately funded?

Likewise, Fukuyama might like to hold up the Cato Institute‘s dafter remarks about Saddam Hussain as the totality of libertarian foreign policy ideas but it just ain’t so and there is indeed libertarian thought which does not take the strict ‘anti-war’ line, seeing that as being in fact anti-survival. I have huge respect for the Cato Institute and regard it as a superb organisation, but when it comes to matters of defence and co-existing in the real world with psychopathic tyrants who are trying to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, well sorry, the dollar amounts expended in the Gulf War is really not the sensible starting point for analysis. Yet the fact is not all libertarians are full blown anarcho-libertarians, even if we are indeed much informed by anarcho-libertarian ideas… there is in fact libertarian life beyond Murray Rothbard. Many of us support the concept of a nightwatchman ‘state’ in some form or other. Minarchists like me see dropping bombs on the Saddam Hussain’s of this world as being one of the very few legitimate functions of the state and the reality is that my views on that sort of thing are actually those of the majority of ‘small L’ libertarians (and more than a few American Libertarian Party activists as well if the truth be known. I can think of one who contributes to this blog).

Yes, I like the idea of getting the state out of 90% of what it does but the only time I turn the other cheek when my community is threatened is when I need to shoot my rifle off my left shoulder because I am taking cover in a doorway. As I mentioned in several earlier articles, the de facto pacifist libertarian ‘ostrich’ faction is by no means a distinguishing feature of libertarianism, just a faction of it.

Of course as a general rule, if Frances Fukuyama says something, you can safely assume the contrary is in fact the case.

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