If one is asked what is the best way to explain Libertarianism, and that one is familiar with political philosophy, s/he will immediately point out to Robert Nozick’s example of Wilt Chamberlain, the famous 70’s basketball player.
Let’s assume, in a hypothetical example, that we have a society of some kind of distribution of wealth, could be complete equal distribution of wealth, or any other distribution (for the sake of example, let’s take the equal distribution). And, let’s assume that Wilt Chamberlain is a very successful basketball player in that society, which attracts a lot of people. Since people like good basketball players, they are willing to pay a certain amount of money to see him play, and let’s say that they pay him some amount of money directly to see his matches.
I think we all believe that nothing unjust or wrong has happened: People have simply chosen, freely, to give some of their wealth to Chamberlain, and there is nothing wrong with that. But now, Chamberlain is a very wealthy man. Why, in this case, some of us think that it is just to tax him on his rightfully earned money? Was it not the case that our starting point could be “any” distribution of wealth possible, and the people willingly chose to give their money to him, making him wealthy by their free choice?
The above argument and example does indeed seem compelling for Libertarianism. So, why am I not a Libertarian?
Let’s say that our Libertarian society above exists, and Chamberlain becomes “very” rich. Of course, it is only rational for the rich to try and make themselves even richer, and that could be achieved by clever investments. And now that Chamberlain is so rich that he can do a lot of things that normally people cannot do, why not buy a whole industry? Let’s say that he buys the whole food industry, thereby creating a monopoly over it, and affecting the prices.
Of course, we cannot “not” buy food. We, citizens of that society, need to live, therefore we have to pay for whatever prices Chamberlain asks for the food. On the other hand, there are no government regulation on the prices in a Libertarian society, and there is nothing to stop Chamberlain from asking a lot more than we normally pay for food (this is the nature of monopoly).
In the end, we will be giving money that we didn’t want to give, to Chamberlain. And all because he became the authority which Libertarians despised that much in the first place. He gained power equal to that of taxation by the government, even more: Because a democratic government is not self-interested business, by definition it is more or less none-beneficial.
A Libertarian society, hypothetical or practical, will turn out to be self refuting. It will end up breaking the same rules that it was based upon, and that’s why I am not a Libertarian.*
* I am not by any means a socialist either.