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Green subsidies and social change theory

April 26, 2011

Subsidies slow green energy growth

Advocates for green energy investment gloss over a few important points: Job creation is not synonymous with wealth creation, government investment is another form of corporate welfare and government investment is usually, if not always, inefficient.

I love the false dichotomy of vote or do nothing. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how social change progresses. Social change begins with individuals, with ideas. The political system is reflective of societal ideas, beliefs and actions. Voting to cause change is blaming the wet ground for the rain.

This sort of thinking is exactly why the Obama administration failed to change anything (except kill more foreign and impoverished brown people, while infringing upon civil and economic liberties to a greater degree than the Bush administration). Aside from the fact that campaign Obama is a separate and distinct person from president Obama, his supporters tried to change society with coercion. Before anything, ideas need to develop and be defended to have any political effect. Look at the Fabian Socialists in England or William F. Buckley leading the conservative shift in American politics, among many other examples. Political changes are lagging, not leading indicators.

That being said, I think bringing Paul, Johnson, etc. to campuses is a great thing. That’s an educational forum and provides an introduction to libertarian ideals. You introduce conservatives to Ron Paul and Milton Friedman, liberals to Glenn Greenwald. Murray Rothbard isn’t the best introduction.

For a fuller exposition on political action for social change, see Frank Chodorov’s On Doing Something About It and Clint Townsend’s Social Change Theory, or Jacob Huebert’s Is There Hope for Liberty in Our Lifetime?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Iain permalink
    May 11, 2011 12:57 pm

    Hi, I agree with a lot of what you say here, I was just wondering what your reasoning is for saying that you should not introduce people to Rothbard. Is it because he is a little “extreme”, at least to first-timers?

    • May 12, 2011 6:09 pm

      To an extent, yes. Rothbard, like Rand, can turn people away entirely from libertarianism. It’s unfortunate because, of course, Rothbard/Rand don’t make up the entirety of libertarian thought. They’re both more ideological (Rothbard in his anarchism, Rand in her view that political philosophy cannot be separated from any other sort of philosophy, etc.) and may come across as “support me 100% or you’re my sworn enemy.” They both helped me develop my thought and I still count Rothbard as a strong influence, but calling a liberal/conservative a “statist” or a “parasite” for their views doesn’t convince individuals to delve into the philosophy more. When I’m introducing others to libertarian thought, I’m more likely to give them a copy of something by Hazlitt, Thoreau, Stossel, Hayek, Friedman, etc., because it provides a primer of sorts in an un-hostile manner.

      So yeah: Nothing against Rothbard, but, all else equal, he may provoke a stronger negative reaction in individuals unfamiliar with libertarian thought.

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