A Sane Libertarian?

This is extraordinary: John Perry Barlow, the former Grateful Dead lyricist and EFF board member who was for years a steadfast Libertarian and actually worked on one of Dick Cheney’s campaigns, has finally realized that perhaps the unfettered rampaging of multinational corporations is not a good thing. In an interview with Reason, he says,

The multinationals have reached the point where they are essentially replacing the nation-state. I look at a multinational as an organism. It is not a human being and doesn’t have any characteristics of a human being. It is as much unlike a human being as a coral reef is unlike a coral polyp or an anthill unlike an ant.

It is an extremely advanced piece of evolutionary design that is capable of having its way in the world and competing with human beings for the world’s resources. … I wouldn’t want to eliminate them, because they are the engines of our economic well being at the moment. But we need something — and I think it’s governmental — to reregulate the market and make it free, because the multinationals have taken it away.

It’s very rare to see a libertarian admit that “free market” is basically a contradiction in terms: you can’t have a market without rules and regulations to control it. Otherwise, it’s not a market, it’s a free-for-all. The question is simply in whose interests those markets are being controlled.

Barlow says he’s now a Democrat, actively working for Kerry.

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