Book Title: Libertarianism: The Perspective of Liberty on Power and Prosperity
Authors: Contributors and Editors of Suara Kebebasan
Editors (English Edition): Adinda Tenriangke Muchtar, Haikal Kurniawan
Translator: Zahra Amalia Syarifah
Publisher: Suara Kebebasan
By: Poltak Hotradero
This book presents a common theme in how individual supremacy could be a deterrent for the growth of the seeds of the tyranny of the majority that often plague states that only started to adopt democracy. The careless drawing up of the line between ‘us’ and the ‘others’ along with their interests often ignore the reality that – within their own solitude – each one of us is the minority and this is the most fundamental element in a democracy that has to be protected. The failure to protect this most fundamental element truly is a failure to fully embrace democracy.
Surely this book will not be separated from the discussion of the “harm principle” whose line of reasoning posits that everyone’s freedom of conduct is to the extent that harm – in terms of material loss – unto others should be avoided. In the era of the rapid flow of information and the broadening of internet access, there is a push to regulate the flow of false information and disinformation. However, this desire often stands on shaky ground in relation to its basic principles and ignores its impending risks. In such a situation, the harm principle as classic values in liberalism could be a solution.
In economics, this book draws a distinctive line between socialism and economic democratization. Rather than expanding welfare, socialism only piles up riches for a small number of elites. On the other hand, capitalism as a productive system along with its market mechanism as an effective feedback system has managed to create welfare and economic democracy. Capital’s indiscriminate and participative nature becomes the market economy’s driving force as well as an effective mechanism to manage the allocation of the limited resources and as an incentive for the emergence of reason-based competition.
Furthermore, this book also criticizes central planning in economics as argued by Friedrich Hayek in his 1945 essay The Use of Knowledge in Society. Hayek also bluntly stated that the most urgent issue in the field of economics is in relation to resource allocation: how to allocate resources as effective and efficient as possible to parties with differing interests and desires. However, human preference and desire are not some kinds of raw data as often assumed in natural sciences. Human action is unstable and it is flexible to changes to situational particularities. Hayek states that there is a single most effective way to determine an optimal allocation of resources, which is through decentralization.
Not only proposing a solution and an alternative idea, but this book also presents criticism of popular socialism in Indonesia. Socialism’s popularity is often rooted in populist ideas that are divorced from logic and basic economic arguments. One of the essays in this book discusses why socialist countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Uni Soviet, China during Mao, or Indonesia during Soekarno’s time are often totalitarian. All of the examples above adopt centralized economics policy, whereby economic activities and its pathway are organized based on a design made by “the great leader.” In a socialist country, totalitarianism is a logical consequence of socialism’s basic principles. This is because socialism’s basic principles, which is the nationalization of the means of production, imply the need for central planning and the active role of the state in economic activities. These are the manifestations of economic discrimination that we often unconsciously dismiss.
Lastly, I recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in the idea of a freer Indonesia. The lessons to be taken from this book will greatly benefit further discussion in a more specific context, especially in relation to the public interest in Indonesia. The aim of these endeavors is simply to make the ideas of liberty live not only in our minds but to also entrench its values in Indonesia.
Enjoy this book!
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