Anyone care to respond to this critique of libertarianism and capitalism?

As is often the case, despite not entirely agreeing with her conclusions, I think Aster has some provocative and important things to say here. Curious to hear what others think about these ideas. Warning -- writing an intelligent response to this will require you to *think*! 8)

Love & Liberty,
          ((( starchild )))

> I'm terribly afraid that it's precisely an increasing
> awareness of the pattern you mention- the association of creative art
> and thought with social democracy- that is swiftly eating away at what
> remains of my libertarian convictions. I largely *became* a
> libertarian out of a Randian defense of the creative individual, with
> a vision of the free market as the ideal environment for a person who
> wishes to express their mind and soul free from the restraints of
> estbalished convention. But that vision doesn't represent the real
> marketplace at all, and even more to the point I look at the defenders
> of the market, I look at those who succeed on the market, and I look
> at the tone of the entertainment produced by the market, and I just go
> yuck.
> >
> > Yeah, I know that what we have isn't a real free market but a
> neofascist parody of one, but I increasingly find the distinction less
> nad less menaingful. Not on an intellectual level, so much, but on a
> spiritual level. I just look in myself and I see that every impulse
> to do and express what I love and I see everything that is required to
> market onself, and as often as not they are just deeply directly the
> opposite. In my own business I look at a model based on what I think
> eroticism might be and ought to be, and then I look at the market and
> see it is possitively contemptuous of all thing and only cares about
> status and the shallowest of physical attributes. I look at the
> anarchist artists over here and I see that precisely because they
> don't worry about working for a living they are immensely less afraid
> to experiment and unleash what they really feel and have to say. And
> intellectually it's obvious that one reason for Wellington's higher
> intelelctual level is simply that people are far less afriad to be
> themselves out of a quivering fear of losing their employment- because
> they can fall back on the state if neccesary. And meanwhile as the
> universities get governed more and more like business enterprises the
> first things that get cut are the arts and humanities. It just seems
> obvious to me that Rand was terribly wrong and the earlier Romantics
> right- the mental conditions good for thinking and creating and the
> mental conditions neccesary for competing and accumulating wealth are
> nearly opposite. Artists tend towards a liberal socialism because
> they know exactly what they need and want- and they despise the
> bourgeoise because the bourgeoisie see everything in terms of
> efficient means-ends rationality and this is terribly destructive of
> the human spirit. Increasingly it feels like heirachy is the politics
> of the spiritually mediocre while egalitarian socialism is the
> politics of the spiritual elite. I find myself in the peculiar
> position of becoming more and more sympathetic to economic
> egalitarianism precisely because I do have very strong feelings about
> the importance of a beautiful and elevated culture- not to mention a
> tolerant and liberated one.
> >
> > The basic problem seems to be that the market order systematically
> increases second handedness. Most progressives I've met have
> encouraged me to be myself and to express what I really see and feel
> inside- altho' usually there's this implicit assumption that what
> comes out won't ans *shouldn't* make any kind of public sense. But
> the people who've been advising me on how to get ahead my whole life-
> the people who defend capitalism- have been always telling me to focus
> on image, presentation, and living in the mind of an anonymous public
> of bosses and customers. I see eveverything mass-marketed around us
> and what I see is that everything is designed not with the thought
> 'this is something I see, something good, and as a result people will
> want it'. but rather 'how can I see like other people see to satisfy
> them'. And its not something you can escape; the entire social
> atmosphere and corporate ladder selects for and promotes this kind of
> psychology, and condemns anyone who actually has something real to
> offer as not 'giving people what they want'. It's incredibly cruel
> and it tells people to be empty sould trying to be only what other
> people expect of them. And what I see in the marketplace is people
> competing to be the most mindlessly second-handed possible, while
> everything better exists on the margins and in perpetual danger. This
> isn't what Rand promises about capitalism. And 'mixed economy' or
> not, its obvious that its the most capitalist elements which have the
> most contempt for fresh insight and beauty; there's nothing you can do
> to convince people you're not 'presentable' than to be unique. I just
> find the entire way of thinking which is assumed in our mainstream
> economic insitutions to be deeply alienating and harmful; I just
> somehow *know* that anything I really see, believe, and want is going
> to get me into trouble. And so it has been all my life- and it has
> always been anti-capitalists who have given me refuge from it.
> >
> > I don't like this division. You simply *can't* abandon prosperity
> and technology and anyone who suggests this is either a misanthrope or
> just has no understanding of the horrible things that abandoning
> modernity would result in- most especially for the individualistic and
> senstive. But the Romantics- leftists and conservative- who point out
> the aesthetic and spiritual hollowness which underlies the unpredented
> livability of our societies are not making things up. it continually
> appalls me that given our vast populations, vast literacy, realtively
> immense social mobility and most importantly at least the partial
> liberation of women- that our cultural scene is smaller and poorer
> than ages with so much less human potential to work with. We should
> have 6 Shakespeares active today and 40 lesser dramtists of the
> stature of Shaw or Ibsen. We should have a Kant or an Aristotle every
> decade. We should have an intellectual discourse humming everywhere,
> with the excitement of the music of the spheres. Instead we have a
> desert for a high culture, with the original work being done largely
> in the geeky fringes of crude mediums forced to carry high messages
> which high culture won't carry itself. V for Vendetta and The Dark
> Knight Returns give me more fresh ideas about politics than anything
> called political philosophy. The most creative music is hidden in the
> back of movie soundtracks or coralled into 3-minute slots. I'm not
> saying things were paradise yesterday. But they *should* be paradise
> today. With so many trees able to grow we should be drowning in fruit.
> >
> > Is there any way to develop a society which combines the sanity and
> mass prosperity made possible by bourgeois society with beauty and
> high ideals? The best socialists claim that they want this- Marx
> sounds like this in his best 'economic and philosophic manuscripts
> mode'- but I've never found these promises all that convincing- the
> socialists with the most beautiful minds are always laughably childish
> about economics, while the leftists with their heads screwed on
> straight tend to be cold, puritanical, and often brutal. The main
> reason- besides the whole non-coercion thing- which makes me hesitate
> about supporting some level of socialism on aesthetic grounds is that
> the whole scheme encourages a terrible moral bad faith among artists
> and intellectuals. The need to clothe aristocratic motives in
> democratic rhetoric tends to turn brilliant young spirits into cheap
> tent-revival preachers. It discourages deep thinking and eventually
> deep feeling and contributed to the deliberately crude and childish
> character of much 'artsy' culture, which has also confused the
> aesthetic consequences of poverty and marginalisation with the inner
> nature of creativity. You just can't cry out your passions deeply
> while you are equivocating about the nature of your explicit

But wait, there's more where that came from... 8)