A Former Libertarian - Was Never Libertarian
by Ethan Glover, Fri, Aug 09, 2013 - (Edited) Wed, Jan 10, 2018
A Letter to Libertarians from a Former Libertarian
A trending article (Archived) over at Students For Liberty, which was written by a George Mason student by the name of Megan Arnold, gives the reason why she is a former libertarian. Except those reasons are not very strong and show a misunderstanding of the philosophy at its very core. But I don't want to be too critical right out of the gate, so let's give the poor girl the benefit of the doubt and examine this article piece by piece. First, what she claims caused her to make the switch is "critical theory". I admit I didn't know anything about it and glossed over this important fact in the first read. So, let's establish its definition first.
This is a theory that is derived from Marxism by the Frankfurt School. If I were to give it the shortest and roughest definition I would say, "Overly cynical of everything ever." Like most things Marxist however, it is designed with indoctrination in mind.
Do you remember when you were in your late teens maybe very early twenties? Being out and living by yourself for the first time, in the real world. This is around the time most people start becoming critical of the world, maybe looking at politics and getting their first shock of jadedness. As Frank Turner would say this is the age of, "I'm young enough to be all pissed off but I'm old enough to be jaded".
I bring this up because "Critical Theory" seems to be perfect ammo for the Marxists with the target being kids this age. Libertarianism isn't easy, there are rarely any real wins, its a constant fight and sometimes you just want to sit down and throw your hands up. Or you may stray and find yourself in a philosophy that seems to "match" you better. The Marxists always have sweet words and promises for the young cynic. Critical theory is Marxism for kids, it is for the bored and critical teenager who has no idea how good he/she has it and just wants to criticize everything for the sake of it. Think I'm exaggerating? Pay close attention to this video (college course overview).
Now, I know that video is pretty dense and boring... so here's a totally bias but fun to watch video by a guy with a "Don't Tread On Me Flag" behind him.
Critical theory seems to be everything that is wrong with the country as far as people go. If you want to know where the underlying psychological problems lie, this may be a fine place to start.
So we've established what critical theory is, who it seems to be for and that Megan Arnold is the perfect demographic. Moving on!
Too often libertarians' hostility to framing things in terms of groups results in a failure to understand or even consider this point and its implications.
The "point" she is talking about here is that everybody thinks differently and sees the world from a different perspective. Megan believes libertarians fail to see this and instead shove everyone into "cubby holes" and labels that create a bias towards them. I found this to be an interesting point as libertarians are the only one who don't do this. Your typical every day anarcho-capitalist response would go something like this. In a world without government people are able to make decisions for themselves and live their own lives as they see fit. Each individual measures his/her own life and decides what is right for them. There is no majority vote that tries to shove everyone into a "cubby hole" or label that creates bias towards them. @Echo
In this case, "we're all just individuals" is a cop out used to avoid confronting and interrogating why we think the things we think or why we like what we like
This sentence comes directly after the last one. For real, look at the article again. Feel free to use Ctrl + F for efficiency.
Truly knowing ourselves down to our core values has nothing to do with individualism and collectivism. A sociopath may like the idea of individualism or collectivism for the exact same reason. He may find the freedom to manipulate and control in either philosophy. The same goes for philanthropists. She may find the freedom to "save the world" in either philosophy. To say that individualism is a way to avoid who we truly are and the why of why we are who we are is a bit short sighted.
But those of you who are interested in social and political change...
This is where I first started to think Megan is dealing with more emotional issues than political issues. Of course when I see "issues" I don't mean she belongs in a hospital or anything, I just believe she is failing to make rational judgments because she has gotten the feeling of discouragement from libertarianism.
She then goes on to say that we should be constantly be asking ourselves who we are and why we like the things we like. I don't know about constantly... at some point you've got to be an adult and stick to the values you've set for yourself and the inner decisions you've made. I am in the same age group as Megan and I don't want to give off any other impression. I sometimes have to remind myself of who I am rather than question it. When I'm feeling a little lazy in the morning and don't want to go to a work I create an inner dialogue, "No, you are a grown man, get your lazy ass up, cook a good; well rounded breakfast, don't forget the green tea and do the god damn dishes before you go out that door."
To constantly question why you do things when you have already established a very good reason is pretty frilly. I drink green tea every morning because its good for detox. If I questioned that I could easily talk myself out of it.
[Libertarians] habitually siding with employers in discussions of employer-employee relations and especially with regard to discriminatory hiring and firing practices...
Terrible personal story, I was fired from my minimum wage job today. Why? Just cause. No really, they think they might be able to find someone better now that all the new college students are coming into town. Fucking eh right? Kind of frustrating, but out of my hands, I guess I'll do better next time. We don't necessarily "side" with employers, that's not a proper perspective. We just seek out a proper, logical and right answer. The man who pays the money to help him with his business has every right to decide who and who doesn't work for him and what amount employees get paid. He must compete with other business owners in that process, that's kind of frustrating for him too. Hell, if it weren't for competition everyone would be categorized as "intern" and we'd all be slaves.
If I pay someone to do work for me, I'd expect the same rights. Some sort of leverage to make sure that they do a good job and understand why they are there (to make me money or to help me).
...the prioritization of reducing or eliminating corporate and estate taxes and an emphasis on eradicating or drastically reducing social welfare programs with hardly a peep about the far more nefarious corporate welfare...
No welfare. No way. No how. Get a grip girl. Libertarians tend to want to eliminate the corporate system completely. Businesses aren't people and owners should bear full responsibility for their actions. Get rid of all them taxes while your at it and destroy the state completely.
...tolerance of racist, misogynistic, and anti-LGBTQ people both in the movement and outside of it.
- Misogynistic - hatred of women
- LGBTQ - Lesbian, Gay (men), Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (not sure about themselves)
What is meant here is that libertarians tend to respect the free speech of these people. This isn't necessarily true, but its not totally wrong. Some say they respect all free speech no matter what and say they are willing to listen, and then tell people to fuck off when shit goes down. Some really do listen and some are not tolerant at all. This is the real world, everyone is different. Prescribing to a particular philosophy doesn't mean fitting into it like a cookie in a cookie cutter.
I think in general with libertarianism you will find a very welcoming community that sees rights for all. The racist/sexist libertarians are really very rare, as they are in any group. Further in the article there is more rambling about how libertarians are just looking out for the rich white man. Considering that the typical stereotype of this "man" is politicians... um... no.
I've found myself disproportionately frustrated with libertarian organizations and individuals compared to, say, neoconservatives and social democrats. The answer is partly that I spend so much time surrounded by libertarians and thus expose myself to more potential for frustration.
Again with the emotion. Politics are frustrating, I get it, so is the rest of the world. How do you think I feel surrounded by liberals all the time? Always having to hold my tongue and attempting to keep my anarcho-capitalism a secret. If I tell people my political beliefs my respect levels drop like a rock. Life sucks, get used to it.
...have led libertarians to reactionary priorities and goals that you hope to achieve primarily through reform of the current system.
Ooohhh she's talking about Rand Paul and the tea party... Fucking 'eh, there goes my evening. Well in that case I agree with everything she's said. Just replace libertarian with "tea party formerly known as libertarians" and you've got some good points. Well... let's keep going for the sake of it.
Instead I think your efforts are better spent helping to build strong communities of like-minded people ... and radical alternatives to present institutions.
Aye aye Captain! We're on it!
We don't have to be comrades, but we can try to build space for constructive dialogue between libertarians and leftists and work together to dismantle those structures we both deem oppressive.
Well... see, now I don't know what she means by leftist because the left IS the structure we deem oppressive. ...You sneaky Marxist! You almost had me there for a second! Swipe Swiper! She's just trying to be agreeable to get you on the dark side... psst! The cookies are poisoned!