How Not to Sell Libertarianism
by Ethan Glover, Thu, Jan 22, 2015 - (Edited) Wed, Jan 10, 2018
I don't want this to be a hit piece. I apologize if it comes out that way. I don't want to waste your time with drama. Rather, my message is two-fold. First, if you're a libertarian, I wish to share my concern about the kinds of actions that hurt our movement. Second, if you're not a libertarian, I want to make sure that you realize that we're not all anti-social assholes.
Christopher Cantwell has built a reputation for drama and acting like an asshole. In fact, it's part of his tagline. Even though he doesn't accept anybody returning that attitude. (More on that later.) My point is that he has this habit of acting like a dick online and throwing fits when people don't like it.
This article, in its essence, isn't about Christopher Cantwell. He's only the analogy, the worst of the worst. The example of what not to do as opposed to those who are actually doing something.
From Troll to Physical Threat
For instance, when he decided to make fun of a couple on Facebook they asked to delete his comment. He justified keeping the comment up by how many 'likes' it got. He said, "…I rarely delete content, especially when it makes me laugh, so I refused." In reality, he deletes a ton of content. Except, what he deletes is what returns the favor.
I get it, your page is your page, do whatever you want with it. But this guy will insult people just for the laughs and likes. He'll then take offense at every little criticism he gets in return.
Chris calls himself a comedian, but I know comics and he's not one. Chris is just a spoiled brat who spends too much time on the internet.
Instead of taking down insulting comments about a couple. A simple, respectful thing to do, he refused. He chose to argue and troll the guy until the conversation got out of hand.
And when things got really out of control, he decided to drive to the guy's house and threaten him with bear mace like a coward.
This over a stupid Facebook comment that Chris wouldn't remove because he thinks 'likes make him popular.
From Activism to Harassment
I've written before on the issue of the Colbert Report skit on "Robin Hooding." There's one thing I need to correct from that article. I said that from a marketing perspective, the Colbert Report was good for the Free State Project.
My reasoning, in summary, was if 1,000 people find the FSP and only one likes what it has to say, that's a net gain.
What I failed to recognize is that 999 people now hate the FSP. Most of them will tell their friends about how immature and harassing its members are.
Christopher Cantwell's take on Robin Hooding was to follow around meter maids, yelling at and harassing them. He justified one case by saying she was laughing. He used this to say she found his yelling at her enjoyable.
To me, this only highlights the fact that Chris doesn't realize he's 100% asshole, 0% activist. He's a bully. The poor people he decided to follow couldn't do anything about his ranting.
Chris would rather yell at people than do real active activism (the kind that I explained in my original article).
At best, Robin Hooding is viral controversy. It hasn't led to any change or any hope of change. It's something to put on YouTube and get attention for.
I've made my proposals to make Robin Hooding better. But to people like Cantwell, it isn't about making a change. It's about having the opportunity to perform for the cameras and get a few likes.
From Real Drama to Fake
Many people have decided to ignore people like Chris Cantwell altogether. The veteran who quit his job to get away from Chris' relentless and useless harassment wasn't the only one.
Before all this, Chris took pride in advertising his drama with activist Antonio Buehler. I have no idea what went on between those two. I don't care. I don't "support" either person in an official way. But it looks like Antonio took the high road and walked the other way.
Despite this, Christopher has created a fake Antonio just so he can have someone to argue with. Chris, the worst representation of a problem I see in many people, has an unhealthy obsession with drama. When he can't find any he keeps it going through fantasy.
Let me show you what I'm talking about. The drama with Buehler is long over. Yet, Chris has created and continues to update a fake website at AntonioBuehler.org (Archived).
On this site, he makes fake posts under Antonio's name. What he writes in his posts are softball, fake beliefs that he can later make fun of on Facebook. Or something he can argue with on his main site. (He literally argues with himself.)
Here's a sample post from a post on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The kinds of pathetic arguments Chris sets up for himself are evident enough. But if you want proof that this is his site, just look it up on Who.is and look at the DNS records.
Chris and his fans have taken to making fun of this disturbingly delusional website while ignoring Antonio Buehler's actual beliefs and work.
I don't like pointing out logical fallacies because usually doing so misses the point. But there is nothing more straw man than this pathetic display.
Note: Antonio's actual site can be found at AntonioBuehler.com
Note 2: While editing this article, Cantwell changed his nameservers. His post on why, due to his past lies and heavy moderation of any criticism, is probably a lie. (But who knows with people like this.)
If you're wondering about Stop Free Keene (Archived), it's another fake site.
There's no real reason to argue with drama whores like Cantwell. He excuses his piss poor behavior by saying he calls himself an asshole. For this reason, it's OK. If you point out hypocrisies on his FB page (where he says he rarely deletes anything) he'll delete the posts and ban you.
This happened to me when I shared his site DNS records. His reasoning? "If you want to promote your blog on my site, buy ads you fuckin' loser." As if I owned Who.is, and as if it was a blog.
For these kinds of behaviors, many have, for good reason, decided to ignore Cantwell altogether. When you call threatening and harassing people 'activism,' when you justify it with, "I'm an asshole," there's nothing left to say.
As Cantwell loses critics and gains a flag waving, drama loving audience, he loses people to fight with.
He has to keep it going somehow. He has an addiction to it in the real sense of the term. So he fakes it, all for the sake of the show.
From Real Audience to Internet Audience
I think when Christopher Cantwell got started (I was a fan on day 1) he began to develop a real audience. He had a gritty Larken Rose type viewpoint on things.
He was once willing to talk about the idea of having to fight the government in self-defense in the future. Today, he's suggesting that murdering police is the best course of action right now.
He never answered me on why he hasn't killed any police himself. Despite his claims that libertarian activism has done nothing. And that murdering saves hundreds of lives.
He went from Lew Rockwell syndication to every new backlink containing a criticism about his taking things too far. (Yes, until now, I kept track.) Take a look at his site rankings below:
What happened in July/August? This is just after he took a hard stance on "thick/brutalist libertarianism" against Jeffrey Tucker.* Since that (look through his archives), his writing started to become more aggressive.
Chris has always been an asshole. The video about him threatening someone he got into an argument with on the internet is quite old. But, around this time, his audience changed.
I would argue that the only reason his traffic has continued to rise is thanks to his regular co-hosting on Free Talk Live. (Which started around the time of that uptick.)
* It was only after the initial article, when Chris started to defend brutalist libertarianism that the change, and traffic switch, is seen.
It's the Internet Culture
The point is Cantwell has become the ultimate caricature of the internet culture, it's where his regular audience now comes from. As I mentioned to someone when talking about my idea for this article:
I don't know what it is about commenting semi-anonymously on the internet that turns people into idiots. I always encourage people to email me with comments as my preferred contact. Emails tend to be more intellectual and civil.
I think it's because there's no one to put on a show for. And because you're only writing to one person rather than looking for 'laughs' in the form of likes and upvotes.
I'm not an activist. I've never liked the way activism is done. Maybe I just haven't been around the right stuff. But when I see people insulting others for popularity or putting coins in parking meters for news coverage, I have to wonder. "What good do they think they're doing? Does anyone ever get past the first step?"
Arguments are for teenagers who don't know how to communicate. Holding up signs and filling parking meters are for people uncomfortable with the idea of outreach.
Is everyone trying to get points on the internet? Or has "doing something" become "doing anything?" It all reminds me of when my parents would tell me to go outside when I wanted to put together a robot kit.
What's "going outside" going to do vs. building something? In the same sense, what's making fun of people who disagree with you vs. seeking people who have honest questions? What's filling parking meters vs. reaching out to businesses about taking over those meters from the city?
What's fighting someone (with bear mace) vs. deleting an unappreciated insult? What's yelling at people vs. having a polite conversation with those who want it? What's tiffing with your enemies vs. turning the other cheek in favor for doing something productive? What's taking a no-compromise, if you don't agree with me, I hate you stance vs. using your voice to help people?
Are you making the world a better place, or are you another delusional asshole like Christopher Cantwell? Maybe activism isn't for you. Maybe you're the reason many people, like me, cringe at the idea of "activism."
Selling a philosophy requires selling, not insulting people with disagreements until they go elsewhere.
To Chris Cantwell and others like him, "Put that coffee down."