The utilitarian premise

There is a pervasive idea which permeates the political thinking of many statists, and even some libertarians. That idea is the premise of the “common good”, of utilitarianism – the idea that the good is what benefits the most people. Of course, implied in this idea is that only total control of society can bring about such good. Even though libertarianism is proven to be the system bringing about the most goods for society, utilitarians usually reject such idea as being uncontrolled and unpredictable.

It is important not to justify libertarianism with such a collectivist outlook. Libertarianism is the best political system because it frees the individual from the coercive action of governments, corporations, and other people. The fact that it thus brings about the greatest good is a consequence of this freedom. As we now know, the ideology of collective good leads to horrible results. The 20th century has shown us that the worship of leaders, races, nationalities, carrying their people to “greater goods” has only led to totalitarianism and war. When the individual sacrifices himself in the name of a non-material ideal, all morality has to take a back seat. And, as well, the sheeple’s resources are funneled by their dictators in the name of this greater good. Collectivism and statism go hand-in-hand. It is no surprise that the rise of statism in the United States is accompanied by extreme patriotism. The ethics and politics of utilitarianism reduces politics to a problem of how to properly control society. Political believers and their leaders always try to reduce politics to a dispute on how to best use public resources, instead of talking about the most important issue of freedom, because they agree with the implicit premises that the role of government is to control society. What else would politicians propose ? Of course it is in their interest to make people think this. But if we follow the ideology of utilitarianism to its logical end, we find it has many consequences that most of its supporters would detest. If we can do anything we desire to bring about greater general benefit, and we can call this “good”, then where do we stop ? We can slaughter older people and disabled people, as “ethicists” like Peter Singer already propose, to give more resources to the survivors. We can slaughter or take away the rights of the most productive people in society, as the Marxists propose, in order to give more to the remaining individuals. Of course, utilitarians would recoil at these suggestions and say that they only like the “positive” side of these controls, such as public welfare. Public welfare may sound like a positive ideal, but it takes away the efficiency of private charities, makes charity unaccountable, and punishes productive decision-making. Both “positive” and “negative” utilitarianism are invalid, just like both “positive” and “negative” racism are still forms of racism. If we compare statism and libertarianism in fulfilling the common good, we see obvious difference, although the statist does not. In his mind, the government will fulfill his desires in a clear and uninfluenced way. The government will desire to implement the greatest good without regard for its own interests. But political action is not a clear, uninfluenced process. Politicians do not implement anything in such a hypothetical way. Individuals, on the other hand, will always seek their own interest, and therefore libertarianism cannot fail. Even in a statist situation, people will pursue black markets, supporting the statist economy when it does not support itself, simply because the individual pursues his own interest. So ironically, the desire for freedom supports all economies, even bad ones. Democracy and the voting process are a form of applied utilitarian by indirect coercion. A person who votes affirms his desire for the government to coerce the minority in the name of his presumably more important interests. Democracy is slavery justified by an argument from popularity. The tyranny of the majority that is entailed by utilitarianism, comes to fruition in democratic systems, which have no qualms fleecing the unpopular and the less fortunate of their rights. Individual rights, on the other hand, are anti-democratic. We have the right to self-ownership, to our own actions, and to our property, regardless of how much other people would like to coerce you to surrender them. Despite its supporters’ pretension of good intentions, democracy is our enemy, and they know it. But it does give politicians the patina of popular support, even if fewer and fewer people want to vote and sanction their coercion. The horrible dictatorships of the 20th century were ushered in by democracy and the delusions of the masses. So were the socialist utopias that are now revealed as failures. Benefit comes from individual freedom, not from any self-imposed slavery.