This article is from the Libertarian FAQ, by Joe Dehn firstname.lastname@example.org, Robert Bickford rab.AT.daft.com, Mike Huben email@example.com and Advocates for Self-Government http://www.self-gov.org/ with numerous contributions by others.
* "Mob rule isn't any prettier merely because the mob calls itself a
Corporate feudalism isn't any prettier merely because the corporations
prattle about free markets. Strawmen are SO easy to create.
The presumption that the US government is the equivalent of mob rule is
ludicrous. The assertion that libertarian anarchy would be better is
unsupported by real examples. (Libertarian minarchy doesn't change the
form of government from "mob rule".)
* "It ain't charity if you are using someone else's money."
Almost all charitable organizations use other people's money. Their
real point is that the money used for government social programs is
"coerced" (libertarian newspeak for taxes.) What they overlook is that,
in many philosophical and religious systems (including Judaism and
Islam), charity isn't a virtue of the giver: charity is the relief of
* "Utopia is not an option."
This is the libertarian newspeak formula for overlooking problems with
their ideas. Much like "Trust in Jesus". Used the way it commonly is,
it means "libertarianism might do worse here: I don't want to make a
comparison lest we lose."
It is also another motherhood and apple pie issue; it applies to EVERY
political theory. The question is what provisions are made for coping
with necessary imperfections; libertarians tend to assume "the same as
today but better", without any experience of what their proposed
changes actually will do.
According to Perry Metzger, who claims to have popularized the phrase,
the correct usage is "you *have* to make a comparison of libertarianism
against the existing system rather than against your ideals of what
you'd like your system to do." However, since there is no real example
of libertarianism, that would be comparing the real current system
against an ideal libertarian system. That's hardly a fair or valid
There is one valid way of using this phrase: to indicate that
perfection is not a possible result. That is a rare usage.
* "Democracy is like three wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for
We are not a simple democracy: we are a representative democratic
republic: there are not direct elections of laws and there is a
constitution that limits what laws can be enacted. Extend the analogy
to take that into account and lo and behold, it becomes: "deciding what
to have for lunch that is not meat."
Now, if you were making the analogy about anarcho-capitalism, it would
become "three wolves competing to be first to 'add value' to the sheep
by slaughtering it and sell it to the others."
This is really a classic libertarian strawman, used by many flavors of
anarchists for centuries. The authors of the US Constitution were well
aware of this: they devoted a segment of the Federalist papers to it:
"... it may be concluded that a pure democracy... can admit of no cure
for the mischiefs of faction... A republic, by which I mean a
government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a
different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking."
Federalist No. 10, James Madison.