Friday, November 2, 2012

Between Critic and Skald

I know that, in pretty much all ways, this is much like a flea trying to throw down with a dog, but I just can't seem to let go of these wonderfully temporary grudges I'm afforded whenever I read Gene's blog posts. Today he writes:

"I might add, making justice entirely a matter of market decisions is not a way to de-politicize justice: no, it is only masquerading as an abjuration of politics: in truth, it is the political decision that access to and control over justice should be based entirely upon wealth."

Well, yes and no, Gene.

It certainly wouldn't make the scope and practice of justice completely apolitical. But arguing that it wouldn't de-politicize it at all seems to me to be somewhat careless. If shoe production and distribution was merely a matter of public policy, would we similarly be able to say that opening such functions to markets would NOT be de-politicization? If so, what an unexpected conclusion. You see, my shoe-buying experiences seem fairly apolitical for what it's worth. And yet, if the government were in charge of distributing shoes, I think it would just be one more political argument I'd be seeing on Facebook this election season.

By extension, there doesn't seem to be much concern that access to and control over shoes will be based entirely upon wealth if left to market forces. The same goes for food, cars, and shelter for that matter. It's almost as if, niche markets aside, producers of goods and services think that the real money is in getting their product to be purchased by lots of consumers as opposed to a small handful. Now, maybe there is reason to believe that markets for justice would function differently from other markets we are familiar with. I think there's certainly a case for that. But I don't think you're going to sway many free-market advocates by waving off that discussion altogether and just trudging out cliched lines about wealth and access that you very-well know does not hold for the vast majority of markets.

Of course, as always, detractors of anarcho-libertarians have a really bad, if not amusing, habit of pointing out supposed problems with free-market anarchism that already exist in spades under the current system. If our concern is the undue influence wealth has over political processes, how can you/we ignore its influence in the current system? It permeates America's political process from top to bottom. From regulation, to protectionist policies, to contracts, to government-funding, to municipal ventures, to patents, to copyrights, to tax-loopholes, to outright subsidization; where is it that you see a breakdown in favor given to the wealthy? And those are just some of the by-products of that system that don't directly emanate from the judicial process itself! The wealthy have the time and resources to recruit armies of the best lawyers money can buy; fully leveraging the court system, while those who are without are left to public defenders - who are in the employ of the POLITICAL apparatus itself.

And you think you're successfully dismissing radical libertarian political analysis with an off-hand single-sentence assertion about power falling under the purview of wealth? Give us a little bit of a break here.

Look, I've said it before several times; Gene is a very, very smart guy. Much smarter than I am. I'm sure he'd practically demolish me in any dialectical engagement. But he has to make the effort. He has a background steeped in libertarian theory. He's only going to get ire and dismissal in place of respect if he comes in hurling the usual softballs we get from people who don't understand markets or libertarianism to begin with. And he's very capable of doing it! I've seen him make very devastating arguments against libertarian policies. But more often than not, he doesn't make that effort. I don't know why. I can only surmise that the chip he has on his shoulder about his own conversion has brought him to throwing pretty much anything he can at his old views - even if it doesn't stand up to criticism. And we're certainly all guilty of that from time to time. I suppose I hold him to a higher standard. I still read his blog almost daily on the off-chance he does connect; because, when he does, it's very compelling. But he's starting to transgress the line between critic and skald.

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