One of my great missions in life is to seek commonality between my friends on the left and right. While differences in economics are significant and worth debating, I don’t see any reason to withhold friendship from even the most radical of thinkers. In a libertarian society, I envision enough space for all manner of political and economic philosophies to experiment and develop through purely voluntary means… and so, any enemy of the authoritarian state is a friend of mine.
In my many conversations, with friends who span the spectrum of libertarian thought, I’ve come to realize one major point of agreement: libertarians universally reject monopoly. Though this tendency presents itself differently in left and right-leaning circles, the underlying principle appears to be the same.
To the left, my colleagues decry the evils of corporate monopoly. They assert any firm too large to be challenged presents a danger to consumers, and that a corporate entity without competition may artificially manipulate the markets of an entire nation. Without some way to challenge the centralization of wealth and capital, they claim, the people become subject to the whim of an entity purely driven for the profits of a few men. Their fear is a market dominated by a few indestructible entities, whose control over the resources of the world is such that they may never be unseated, and the world is at their mercy.
To my right, I hear enthusiastic libertarian support for the decentralization of banking and the belief that Bitcoin will replace state-backed currencies. I interpret the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency to be its own rejection of monopoly, a means by which individuals may cast off the shackles of government meddling and seek financial independence. My ancap friends, rightly, seem not to trust the state to act in their best interest and tend towards more reliable stores of value, like precious metals and crypto. (Inb4 someone notices I called crypto ‘reliable’.) I’ve even heard ancaps claim there can be no monopoly in a truly free market, and that no such thing as a “natural monopoly” has ever existed. That is to say, any occurrence of monopoly witnessed in modern society was, to some extent, crafted and backed by the state.
Both seem uniform in their rejection of state authority – it is the common trait of all libertarians that we oppose monopoly of governance. We seek to dismantle centralized power structures and empower the individual to make decisions for their own benefit. Wherever one may sit personally on matters of economics, all libertarians question any attempt by the state to consolidate or expand power.
It is the observation of your humble writer, that each of these claims is absolutely correct. Whether it be the state monopoly on force, a monopoly on the printing of money, or even a monopolistic firm the state deems “too big to fail”, libertarians across the board seem to be united in their opposition to the concentration of authority and power. It is the common goal of all libertarians to seek balance, competition, and opportunity… and to defy those who would see us as servants.
You can read more by Kevin Shaw on Think Liberty here.