The main problem with classical libertarianism is that it doesn’t allow enough pollution. Under libertarian theory, pollution is a form of violent aggression that should be banned, as Murray Rothbard insisted numerous times. OK, but what about actual practice, once all those special interest groups start having their say?
How would special interests have influence in a Rothbardian libertarian society? This contradicts the very essence of Rothbardian libertarianism.
Tyler tries to work around this by then writing:
Historically, under the more limited government of the 19th century, it was big business that wanted to move away from unpredictable local and litigation-driven methods of control, and toward a more systematic regulatory approach at the national level.But what he is really saying here is that it was 19th century big business that wanted to move away from classical libertarianism.
You can't argue classical libertarianism has failed by pointing to a governmental structure that isn't classical libertarian.
Further, Cowen takes on the role of a central planner when he suggests that a classical libertarian society wouldn't allow enough pollution. Just who is he to determine how much pollution should exist in a society, any more than, say, how many cell phones? Rothbard's position correctly starts from the position that non-aggressive exchange can occur only when those involved in an exchange agree to it. This is different from the central planner who imposes exchange. In other words, from a libertarian perspective the only pollution that would be allowed is when those who are experiencing the pollution agree to such for monetary compensation or for other reasons.
There is no such thing as enough pollution in a free society other than that which occurs with respect for the non-aggression principle. Cowen is being Trumpian here.