Shutterstock / Aaron of LA Photography ” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/9.PXHgY8x6KvCr1umopv6A–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOC42NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/3yKmcdc1RzhV1OB7V6MCyQ–~B/aD05NTg7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/es/the_conversation_espa_a/b04b5f3966f1f6216f1a3e3637332102″ data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/9.PXHgY8x6KvCr1umopv6A–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOC42NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/3yKmcdc1RzhV1OB7V6MCyQ–~B/aD05NTg7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/es/the_conversation_espa_a/b04b5f3966f1f6216f1a3e3637332102″/>A driver flies the US flags and the yellow Gadsden flags, associated with libertarianism, during a motorized demonstration against home confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic (Madison, Wisconsin, April 2020). Shutterstock / Aaron of LA Photography
Michael G. Heller, author of Capitalism, Institutions and Economic Development (2011), said a few years ago that ideas themselves and even their confluence in science and economic processes do not make things happen on a large scale. This requires an intermittent ideology, a mechanism to simplify, freeze and spread ideas to the same generation. Ideology, not ideas, Heller claimed, goes around the world.
Is the diffusion that libertarianism is acquiring today, mainly among sectors of the youth, due to this diagnosis?
What do we understand today by libertarianism?
Although this thought has sometimes been considered historically as the heir to anarchism or classical liberalism, let’s move away from these origins to better explain it and highlight the features that define this ideology today. In doing so, caution should be taken, since movements of this kind rarely exhibit unanimity and monolithism.
Libertarianism today considers freedom to be the fundamental value that underlies all social relationships. It does not worry about inequalities; considers them inevitable. He does not trust the state, rather he advocates, as Robert Nozick, one of his theoretical mentors, argues, for a minimal state. He devoutly defends the free market.
Historically, libertarianism has been an ally of conservative thought. But it has not always been this way, and it is not so today: it defines itself as an ideology of rebellion, of the need for change. However, it does not identify this need to modify social relations with the changes that some social movements such as the feminist are pursuing. In this field, she opposes the fourth wave of feminism, inclusive language and what she calls “gender ideology”.
On the political level, it has historically sought a particular niche outside of the conservative and socialist parties, but today it has no objection to defining itself as right wing and even radical right wing.
Why is it making a comeback today?
There is no doubt that special circumstances can favor the birth or resurgence of certain ideologies adapted to new contexts. We believe this is happening today with libertarianism. There are two prominent reasons for this to happen.
On the one hand, the role that governments have been forced to play in restricting freedoms to limit the effects of COVID-19 infections. This has caused the mentalities that cultivated anti-state prejudices have triggered his criticism. One symptom was the fact that even some left-wing intellectual sectors characterized the preventive order established by the States in the face of the pandemic as a State of exception.
The fall in popularity of various governments that have managed the pandemic, such as Germany, Italy, France and Spain, show that the tension between freedom and the defense of life is not easily resolved without paying a certain price.
On the other hand, the effects of pandemic confinement have revalued the desire for freedom, especially among young people. A generation gap has opened between the elderly and the young in terms of their perception of the effects of the pandemic.
Infections and mortality have not affected the entire population in the same way. The older generation has been the hardest hit. This influences the different legitimation that the measures of restriction of freedoms have between some sectors and others, and also in the greater feeling of exhaustion and fatigue of young people, who, feeling almost immune to the risks of contagion, have been forced to endure a fairly strict regime of confinement.
Trumpism and Ayusism
The extent to which the ideology of libertarianism has permeated protest movements such as the violent demonstrations in Amsterdam against curfews, the Trumpist tides in the US and other countries, or the youth movement supporting Ayusismo in Madrid, is yet to be seen. We do not yet know if it is due to a conjuncture effect or it is here to stay.
But the most problematic thing is that this ideology is reborn at a bad time. The great problem facing States is rebuilding economies to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic. One of the most positive consensuses that have been developing among the most intelligent economists and politicians is that inequality is not just another problem, but one of the most important that affects the cohesion of societies, and that the so-called trickle down , the spontaneous trickle into society of the expected benefits of the richest, is a failure as a redistributive element.
One more element of this consensus focuses on the new and more intense role that the State must play as an organizer of the market economy and as an entrepreneurial and innovative agent, in the face of the exclusive mission of correcting market failures that had been imposed on it. assigned so far.
The ideology of libertarianism points precisely in the opposite direction to these key consensuses for countries to recover from the pandemic: the State is in abundance, except for security functions and social order, and equality depends on the entrepreneurial spirit that each one shows in a fantasy world in which individuals are supposed to have equal opportunities.
Our societies require a change of course, but not in the direction that libertarian ideology points.
This article has been written in collaboration with Javier Álvarez Dorronsoro. Engineer, collaborator of Critical Thinking.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.
M. Victoria Gómez García does not receive a salary, nor does she work as a consultant, nor does she own shares, nor does she receive financing from any company or organization that may benefit from this article, and she has declared that she lacks relevant links beyond the academic position cited.