Talks with my brother – 2: on libertarianism

Being brought up in a public servant’s household, free market economy was presented to us as something evil, that needs to be restrained. I always wondered about how this happened, since our parents were not born public servants, they rather grew up in past-68-Germany as the daughters and sons of former Nazi officials, and were all at least part-time communists in opposition to their parents, before they decided that being a public servant is way more comfortable then continuing to live half naked “Kommune 1” style.

They were proud of their left way of thinking, sometimes joking around about how they were infiltrating “the system”, while in fact, as it turns out, it was the system that was infiltrating them.
Security was our parents main concern. Free market economy meant the risk of being unemployed, standing in the rain with nothing from one day to another. Only the state could prevent you from being a mere plaything of the free market’s evil powers, so all our parents wanted for us was to become public servants too, like teachers, judges, policemen … wait, no, the latter are waaaaay to dangerous, so please only teacher, okay?

Now that we took our first solo steps out into the world, that surprisingly does not consist of public servants only, but of people who really make a living on their own, we stand amongst them bewildered, and at the same time full of admiration of what people can do, if you just let them.

“I must admit – eventhough you might hate me for that – that I am becoming a libertarian”, my brother confesses, while we watch the sun breaking through the last haze of dawn, conjuring golden glimmer onto the blueish green waves of the Atlantic ocean.

My conditioning awakes quite reliably, making me shudder. Libertarian? Are you serious? Have you learnt nothing out of the economic crisis of 2008? Isn’t capitalism showing you every day that it’s mean, dirty and merciless?

It is, my brother sighs. But on the other hand, it shows me Uber. It shows me WhatsApp. It shows me people like these guys – he points out to the people lending chairs and parasols and selling drinks and snacks, often homemade, at their little stands, laughing and joking around, humming a song. These groups have somehow divided the beach amongst them, without engaging into a gang war and without applying for a license. And every group, often whole families, makes their living by providing all kinds of services to the sun lovers.

It shows me plenty useful things people came up with on their own, out of their creativity, out of a vision, and they share it, sometimes even for free. Or at least many of them came up with the idea not out of a motivation to earn money, but out of a motivation to help others, or out of mere curiosity.

“That’s beautiful”, I murmur. And this is libertarian?

Well, somehow, yes. Or at least the part about personal freedom and autonomy. The problem is, that we are not born equal. But once we are given a kind of basic infrastructure, a basis we can freely develop our potentials from, amazing things can happen.

And maybe we need some kind of chaos for this. Some kind of deregulation. Of freedom. Not to abandon people. But to let them be just what they want to be, and let them think and try out whatever they come up with.

But for this, I add, libertarianism needs a sense of coexistence, of community or companionship. A kind of understanding that we are not alone, that we care for each other. Of respecting one another.

Yes. Somehow, both things have to be possible. Freedom and responsibility. Chaos and trust. Deregulation and respect.

As the sun starts to heat up the sand, we stroll back home, lost in our thoughts, how humanity could possibly work out.