Day 3 of Robert Wenzel's 30 Day Reading List on Libertarianism
Day 0: The Libertarian catechism
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"Free Economy and Social Order" is Wilhelm Röpke's foray into sophisticated Libertarian theology. (Reader's of Jerry Coyne's blog, Why Evolution is True, will get the reference.) Like Christian theologians who simply assume God shares their personal preferences, Röpke simply assumes that a market economy must necessarily rest on his
What is more interesting, however, is how Röpke describes his necessary social foundations of individual liberty. What Röpke makes absolutely explicit is that Libertarianism is not about the society of peacefully coexisting autonomous individuals. Instead, his buergerliche society rests on "a solid and necessarily hierarchical structure." And this is the essence of individual liberty: not freedom from coercion, but the freedom of the superior individual to coerce the inferior masses. All of Röpke fundamental values require coercion, but to preserve the illusion of liberty, the coercion is placed behind the pillars of property and money. Indeed, these structure are indeed absolutely necessary to maintain the illusion that the superior individual is not coercing the inferior, but rather to protect the objective value of property. The parallels with Christian theology are again apparent: coercion is not used to impose the will of clergy and nobility on the masses, but simply to guide sinners to God's graces.