Someone recently attempted to write a critique of libertarianism on the grounds that he “fled” libertarianism and in a move of apparently selfless courage joined the Democratic party shortly before the Democratic party was going to win the 2012 presidential election.
The remarkable, albeit boringly unsurprising thing about this article is of course that it does not even spend a single sentence on attempting to prove false a single libertarian theory, as has been the case for the past decade and more with mainstream anti-libertarian propaganda. That’s as always unfortunate, for it does of course make me feel a tad bit embarrassed for mankind that this stuff manages to pass as thought in mainstream discourse.
Libertarianism is of course the belief in the non-aggression principle and property rights, namely the theory that every human being should be allowed to defend himself against aggression and theft, no matter what his title, name, color, wealth, status, religion, nationality, race, age, etc.
So I will just set the record straight on a the very few sections where this amateur writer/philosopher indeed does attempt to level what appears like it was supposed to be an attack of some sort on libertarianism:
Many members of the group were obsessed with the gold standard, the Kennedy assassination and the Fed. Although Libertarians believe government is incompetent, many of them subscribe to the most fringe conspiracy theories imaginable. Airplanes are poisoning America with chemicals (chemtrails) or the moon landings were faked. Nothing was too far out. A great many of them really think that 9-11 was an inside job. Even while basking in the electoral mainstream, the movement was overflowing with obvious hokum.
When you have no actual arguments, the temptation is always great to utilize sophistic tricks to taint your opponents position. Such is the case when you claim that libertarians are “obsessed” with the gold standard. Libertarians have for decades been making the case that a fiat money system, namely a system where a centralized group of individuals is granted the permission to use aggression to enforce usage of the money that it itself has coincidentally printed, will *shockingly* lend itself to the abuse of power on the part of that entity, allow them to redistribute wealth to those who invested in their campaigns, allow them to launch massive wars, kill millions of people in the process, etc.
The gold standard has been proposed by libertarians as one alternative, however that doesn’t mean that they want it to be forced upon anybody. It just so happens that gold has been a pretty popular medium of exchange without use of aggression for millenia.
Given that this guy claims he was involved with the Ron Paul campaign, it may have made sense to him to mention that the Ron Paul platform recommended nothing but to stop giving the government the permission to aggress against businesses and groups trying to provide alternative mediums of exchange.
However, my dim suspicion is that this guy actually had no clue at all about those boring complexities associated with monetary matters. And if that was the case then that would have been totally fine. All he’d have had to do to retain some shred of intellectual integrity would have been to point out to the reader that he actually had no understanding at all of one of the most important pillars of libertarian thought.
I don’t think I need to mention this to the reader, but of course his other attempts to commingle libertarian thought with some people’s belief in conspiracy theories is of course not an argument against the non-aggression principle.
After leaving my small town upbringing, I learned that libertarians are made for lots of reasons, like reading the bad fiction of Ayn Rand or perhaps the passable writing of Robert Heinlein. In my experience, most seemed to be poor, white and undereducated. They were contortionists, justifying the excesses of the capitalist elite, despite being victims if libertarian politics succeed.
That of course makes perfect sense. If someone was able to so easily convince him that libertarians are basically “made” for reading bad fiction, then it’s not a far cry from there to believe pretty much any type of nonsense that the elites, namely the people most threatened by libertarian thought, would successfully shove down his throat.
And once again of course it takes the shadiness of an amateur sophist to end this paragraph with the foregone conclusion that those poor undereducated fools who have not achieved this writer’s level of enlightenment yet would be the victims of a belief system that grants them and everyone else the equal right to protect their bodies and their meager earnings from aggressors. Pretty obvious and transparent, but nice try!
If you think that selfishness and cruelty are fantastic personal traits, you might be a libertarian. In the movement no one will ever call you an asshole, but rather, say you believe in radical individualism.
Now this is an important one to just observe real quick: You can always spot lazy writers when they never actually take the time and effort to at least attempt to accurately represent their opponent’s position, but instead rather try to trick the reader by inventing the opponent’s position for them. And it’s in particular lazy when all they do is apply cartoonishly stupid and unpopular adjectives to their opponents beliefs and intentions, while bathing themselves in the fuzzy comfort of all positive adjectives in the world, all the while of course not supplying a single argument against their opponent’s theory.
You know that you’re not reading the words of a serious person who genuinely cares about how to make the world a better place. You’re reading the lazy ramblings of an attention seeker who attempts to manipulate people’s beliefs through emotions and stereotypes while seeking the approval of those who already agree with him anyway. I get it, it’s easy and it’s convenient and the psychic reward from all those who indulge in the same comfort feels good, no doubt. But historically it’s not exactly the kind of thing that has made the world a better place as far as I can recall. I say this myself having at one point been a good and platitude wielding leftie. At one point you either move on or you get stuck.
Libertarians were (rightly) furious when our government bailed out the banks, but they fought hardest against help for ordinary Americans. They hated unemployment insurance and reduced school lunches. I used to say similar things, but in such a catastrophic recession isn’t the government supposed to help? Isn’t that the lesson of the Great Depression?
And yes, given all the things that this guy has said before, it would of course make perfect sense that he hasn’t actually spent time to read any libertarian literature at all on the causes of The Great Depression, or been aware of the fact that the theory of the business cycle perfectly predicts boom bust cycles of that kind and that that’s precisely why libertarians have been proposing a competitive monetary system for decades, or have been “obsessed with gold” as this gentleman put it so poorly and cluelessly.
It’s of course instructive that throughout the entire fascist power grab that has happened in the financial and medical field from 2007 on, with Americans in debt more than ever, with medical costs at record highs, all duly orchestrated hand in hand by liberals and conservatives alike, growing government bigger than it’s ever been post WW2, this guy would focus all his ire and venom on … of course, the libertarians, those greedy and powerful rat bastards! Oh man, someone please tell me that this is just supposed to be BAD comedy!
I began to think about real people, like my neighbors and people less lucky than me. Did I want those people to starve to death? I care about children, even poor ones. I love the National Park system. The best parts of the America I love are our communities. My libertarian friends might call me a fucking commie (they have) or a pussy, but extreme selfishness is just so isolating and cruel. Libertarianism is unnatural, and the size of the federal government is almost irrelevant. The real question is: what does society need and how do we pay for it
Aside from yet again pulling negative nouns and adjectives like a champ (see above), we shall observe that once more this guy doesn’t actually know the essence of the creed that he portends to represent. His liberalism or conservatism for that matter, or statism to sum it up doesn’t actually ask the question “how do we pay for it”. It decrees that “You guys now and in the future are going to pay for it through taxation and inflation, or else we will send armed guards to take what we need from you.” Of course it’s never put that way by people who attempt to use sophistry and words to manipulate the victims of decades of government “education”.
Now, to the point he’s attempting to make which is that “the size of the federal government is almost irrelevant”: I don’t know if he’s genuinely not aware of this or if he missed this in the “creative writing” classes that he claimed to have taken on at “a progressive college”, or if maybe this kind of “thinking” is precisely what’s encouraged at said college, but when you make a statement you have not actually made an argument.
When you say that the size of the federal government is almost irrelevant, then it is kind of incumbent upon you to explain how a total debt at 50+ trillion (or just over $380,000 per taxpayer), a proud, shiny, and unchallenged #1 spot in the global incarceration rate, pretty much due to the war on drugs, putting to shame hot contenders such as Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, a state of perpetual war with a toll of dead & wounded Americans in wars at 2,717,991, and the death toll of foreigners in the tens of millions (Vietnam war victims alone at 5 million plus), increasingly expensive medical care, the shutdown of lodge practice in friendly societies that made available affordable health care to poor Americans, a supercharged stock market, just to name a tiny few programs, activities, and sectors that the apparently so irrelevant federal government has completely and totally taken over over the past decades, all trends that have exacerbated alongside total government growth from 3% of GDP to now over 40% of GDP, are “irrelevant”. Unfortunately you don’t just get to say stuff like that without looking like an overconfident and lazy mouthpiece who is content with preaching to the choir of oft repeated, boring, stupid ass cliches regurgitated by those who give you short term social comfort and acceptance. So I’d urge you to do yourself a favor and think at least a tiny little bit for yourself, work on your effort and rigor when you attempts to put out what is supposed to be information for public consumption.
A month before the 2012 election, I changed my party affiliation to Democrat. I am a very late bloomer, that it took me so many decades to develop my own values. I was thirty-nine.
As a token of my compassion, I want to tell this guy: You haven’t bloomed at all, my friend. You are all over the map as so many of us are, and it’s understandable, given the relentless propaganda that we’ve all grown up under. Exploring ideas and philosophy involves more than going to conventions and waving signs, it takes introspection and curiosity, and with that I will tell you:
You have a long way to go, and that can be exciting and maybe even a little bit admirable. For example, I am very sad about the fact that I’ve already watched all seasons of The Wire and The Sopranos, I with I could un-know and explore them all anew. And such is the case with your journey through philosophy, only that is a lot more rewarding, exciting, and meaningful than late night TV.