December 9, 2004 Leave a comment
One of the constant problems for libertarians — or at least for paleo-liberals, like myself — is that no one understands the language we’re speaking.
What we say: liberty; what they hear: privilege.
We say: free markets; they hear: corporate welfare.
We say: capitalism; they hear: mercantilism.
We say: laissez faire; they hear: dog-eat-dog.
We say: liberalism; they hear: socialism.
I blame the Democrats for perverting the word liberal, and I blame the Republicans for perverting free market, property, privatization …
Most people I know think the word ‘privatization’ means coercive redistribution from the many to the few, from those on the bottom to those on the top. But all it means is to make something private — usually something that was originally private, but was taken by coercion. The abolition of slavery was privatization. The fall of Communism was privatization.
I had mixed feelings about publishing my last article — The Spectrum Should Be Private Property — because I believe most people will form their impressions from the title and the summary (and the terms used in the title and summary) rather than reading the analysis with an open mind. Rothbardian privatization doesn’t look like Republican privatization.
Today, featured on both Mises.org and LRC, is Lew Rockwell’s excellent breakdown of the so-called Social Security “privatization” proposals: Save or Else. (Hint: nothing is made private by these proposals!)
I suppose we should be flattered that our language — libertarian language — has been appropriated by both Left and Right. But I’m not flattered. I’m frustrated and angry.