A recent article by AP writer Pauline Arrillaga noted that the popular idea of freedom has energized libertarian political ideology among a wide variety of Americans of all ages and conditions in life. The curious thing about libertarian ideology taken to its literal conclusion is that it leads toward what can only be called fascism.
By that I do not mean Hitler or Mussolini type fascism, but toward a society in which a minimized government eschewing nanny-state socialism, while encouraging rugged individualism, creates its own conditions for whatever government there is to be organized and run for the benefit of a relatively few private business owners and managers. To protect their investments, these “job creators” use the supposedly limited powers of government to prevent any society wide movement that might threaten them. The natural result is a life of hardship for many, their only freedom being the freedom to enjoy want and need, the slow but inexorable diminishment of civil liberties for the rest, and a general rejection of the idea of human rights.
We have seen hints of movement in that direction at times and places in our history. The Know Nothings; the hight of the KKK and America First movements; some parts of the robber baron era; the Harding administration; certain aspects of the McCarthy era, and so it goes. What has always saved us is the eventual recognition among voters that government is not the enemy, that civil rights (political freedoms) are a function of public policy, and that human rights are continually evolving into realities that can only be birthed through political action. All of that adds up to an activist government.
To be fair, our current libertarian movement may be a necessary corrective to government that tends generate bureaucracies that grow and exist for their own sake, without much direction or intent, as they become more and more unwieldy and inefficient. For some reason France, Italy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development come to mind. Lest you become too dismissive of government, the same thing happens in large corporations: General Motors, Morgan Chase, AIG, etc. It seems to be more a characteristic of any human organization than of government per se.
Correctives as catalysts for needed change are good. Correctives as dietary mainstays are poisonous. True believers among hard core libertarians don’t know that. Tea Partiers don’t even think about it.