Feisal Naqvi

The ethics of being libertarian in Pakistan

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2007 at 4:02 am

My brother wrote to me and was unhappy about my being a libertarian.

I am extremely disappointed that you think of yourself as a
libertarian. In Pakistan no less, where inequality and poverty could
hardly be any worse. No public schools, health, or parks? Capitalism
deeply transforms social life, and the state needs to be there to
mitigate those consequences. How about Polanyi’s The Great
Transformation as a bit of an antidote to all that Hayekian gunk you’re
taking in?

My response to him was as follows:

Libertarianism, like any belief system, is only a starting point, not an answer to all questions. I believe the state should take care of law and order, health and education, and a few other things which the people will never be able to provide for themselves. However, my starting point for examining any public policy problem is to assume that it should be capable of being handled through private enterprise and initiative and that the state’s job is to provide the regulatory framework for fair competition. Please note that the reason why I like to begin with the libertarian foot forwards is because it allows me to believe that the state should stay the hell out of religion and areas of personal belief and sexuality. In Pakistan, people start with the opposite assumption, i.e. that we are an ideological state, then jump to the belief that the state should control the economy, and the end result is a totalitarian vision in which the state controls everything.

Anyways, that my excuse for being a libertarianism. As for Polanyi, bring him along and I will read his stuff.


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