I like libertarianism, and wish the world could function under its principles. I believe in individual liberty, and think it needs to be given Lockean-like pride of place among human institutions. I would no more want a Hobbesian State than I would want a Hobbesian conglomeration of global corporate interests running the world.
I want Leviathans balancing each other—and not to pretend that they don’t exist.
But what Limbaugh admiring conservatives don’t acknowledge is this: very large corporate entities and institutions need a mixed economy with a strong democratic government to regulate them, otherwise, large corporate entities would (literally) run rampant, both environmentally and with regard to theft and exploitation. We’ve seen these things under the previous administration (in the banks etc.). Large corporations will not regulate or check themselves as well as we need, and that means you have to have some sort of democratic institution STRONG ENOUGH to check them at crucial points. This isn’t socialism, it’s realism. It’s not anti-capitalism, it’s creating a structure for capitalism to flourish in. We live in a complex world with large complex institutions that need to be BALANCED against one another.
Limbaugh’s ideal for America, with government kept strictly to its marshal function of supporting a large military and leaving virtually everything else to the unregulated market, is akin to largely obliterating the checks and balances within the federal government (getting rid of, say, the Supreme Court and Congress and leaving just the Administrative Branch to do as it pleases). It would lead to a form of corporate fascism, in which the strong dictate all terms to the weak, with no democratic institutions strong enough to check them. I don’t know what you call this, if not a form of fascism.
Imagine, for example, what it would be like to live in California without building code restrictions, and the bureaucracy that checks that houses meet fire and earthquake standards. The next earthquake would see tens of thousands dead instead of 50-200 people dead.
Limbaugh is stylistically authoritarian, and in his wish to obliterate one of the checks and balances in the modern world (government) he would create a GLOBAL CORPORATE LEVIATHAN unanswerable to democratic restraint. It would be a step backward from the 18th century democratic revolutions (both American and French)—and a turning back of the democratic clock.
Limbaugh’s capitalist-global-corporate Leviathan is the mirror of Communism’s State Leviathan. It’s why liberals need to figure out a way to chart a middle course, maintain the balance of power between democratic institutions and capitalist institutions, and not be tempted by Ron Paul libertarianism or Rush Limbaugh anti-government rhetoric. It’s a seductive rhetoric because it seems to stem from Jeffersonian ideals (which I fully support), but it dismantles one of the things that maintains and stabilizes power in the world (that is, democratically elected federal and state governments with the ability to regulate trade and the environment).
In short, Rush Limbaughism, by not acknowledging the size and complexity of global institutions and the need for balances of power between them in a mixed economy, if it ever succeeded, would undermine the ability of governments to protect what Jeffersonian democratic gains human beings have made over the past two centuries (the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
The leftist temptation is to make the government too strong; the rightist temptation is to make it too weak. Liberals need to avoid succumbing to either temptation.
Here is the kind of world I hope we are all striving for, and for such a world to exist you need balances of power both within and between large global institutions (governmental and capitalist):