How Libertarians Aid and Abet Oligarchy

The list of reasons Donald Trump is no longer president of the United States is endless. In a close election, any significant factor could be cited as the proximate cause of defeat. And in the years and months leading up to November 2020, there were a great many causes. 

Nonstop harassment by a Democratic House of Representatives and Democratic operatives embedded in federal agencies; an unbroken four-year streak of media mudslinging; partisan censorship by online communications monopolies; opportunistic laws, court rulings and administrative edicts designed to boost the Democrats’ voting edge; billions of dollars in partisan donations specifically targeting voters in Democrat-heavy cities in swing states.

Fraud, too? Sure. But the election was rigged with or without fraud.

The presence of a libertarian presidential candidate? Also yes—though difficult to prove.

When it comes to the loss of GOP control of the U.S. Senate, however, one single event stands out from the pack. Without question, the candidacy of Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel threw the battle between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff into a runoff. It might be true that Perdue could have won his runoff if various external events hadn’t affected turnout on January 5, but that’s beside the point. If Hazel hadn’t been a spoiler in November, there would have been no runoff for Perdue to lose.

Perdue only needed an additional 0.3 percentage points on November 3 to win. To suggest that Hazel wouldn’t have attracted another 0.3 percent of Republican voters, when Hazel garnered 2.3 percent of all votes, is lunacy.

Shane Hazel deserves the spotlight for causing this debacle, and apparently he’s relishing the attention. In an article published at Reason shortly after the November election, responding to criticism over the fact that his candidacy forced a runoff, Hazel said, “Give me your tears. They are delicious.”

Was Hazel fully aware of what he was saying? Did he understand the full impact of what he’d done?

Libertarians who assert they have a right to run for office are correct. They do. But exercising that right when it costs Republicans control of the U.S. Senate is not a responsible use of that right. It’s a destructive adherence to ideals over reality. It reflects the same libertarian mindset that claims online communications platforms with monopoly powers are merely exercising their rights as private companies when they demonetize, shadowban, deplatform individual content creators, and now, even deplatform whole platforms.

Will Shane Hazel, and every other smug libertarian spoiler bent on sabotaging the prospects of Republican candidates, find it “delicious” when the Biden Administration and a Democratic-majority Congress begin to impose their vision on America? Maybe so! After all, legalized drugs, open borders, “free trade,” privatized public space, destruction of single-family zoning, and online censorship by monopolies are all policies supported by libertarians, progressives, and neoliberals alike. It is also the agenda of America’s multinational corporations, in an irony that should be obvious by now to ordinary voters.

Republicans in 2020, for all their flaws, were not the favored party of corporate America. And unlike Democrats, by and large they had not succumbed to the oppressive agenda pursuant to combating “climate change” and “systemic racism,” both of which are designed to further the power of big corporations and big government.

Maybe, ultimately, it is inaccurate to claim libertarians care about a decentralized economy. What libertarians fail to appreciate is that America can be just as thoroughly dominated by big corporations and powerful oligarchs as it can by big government. The fascist marriage of big government and big corporations has erased the necessary tension between those two primary centers of power in America, a tension that was necessary to preserve individual freedom and the competitive prospects of small and emerging businesses.

So maybe libertarians need to be rebranded. Maybe they’re not “libertarians,” but fascists who favor top-down rule as long as it’s “corporate” instead of “government.” 

Yeah, yeah, we know the disclaimers. “We decry crony capitalism! We deplore corporate welfare!” Problem is, libertarians, the corporate invasion of society has progressed well beyond your tired tropes. America’s transition to a corporate oligarchy is nearly complete. And in that process, libertarians like Shane Hazel have been a big help.

Out here in the real world, the impact on ordinary Americans is the same. We are owned. We are not free. And all the permissive drug laws and open borders and Big Tech enabling in the world will not make us free. Shane Hazel, like every other libertarian politician in America, is a progressive dupe—at best. At worst, he is an economic fascist. 

How does that sound to you, Shane? Is it delicious?

In a scathing essay published last week in American Greatness, “paleolibertarian” Illana Mercer thoroughly deconstructs the ongoing libertarian defense of Big Tech censorship. More importantly, she exposes the fallacy of considering the state to be the only potential source of tyranny, and calls for “fresh theoretical thinking.” She writes:

Discrimination, aver the libertarian-minded among us, is the prerogative of private property. Or, so we console ourselves. We’re safe. After all, aggression for aggression’s sake, as we libertarians have long maintained, is the modus operandi of the state, not of free enterprise. Yet, here we are! In more effectively banishing people and their products from the market, private multinationals are posing a serious competition to the State. And therein lies the rub. Fresh theoretical thinking about the meaning of Deep Tech begins with an understanding that we live and labor under tyrannical corporate statism, or tech-dominated statism.

Shane Hazel says he plans to run for governor of Georgia in 2022. Let’s be perfectly clear: This man is a troll. His odds of ever winning an election are near zilch. But he will get plenty of attention, and along with others like him, he may destroy the Republican Party. And while Hazel probably doesn’t look in the mirror and say “I’m a fascist,” fascism and oligarchy are what he is enabling with his antics—he, and every other libertarian who isn’t willing to come to terms with the consequences of their actions.

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

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