It started in 2008, when a friend gave me a book by Ron Paul: The Revolution. I didn’t finish it, his writings on abortion and sugar tariffs were unusual things I couldn’t fully digest and besides there was beer to drink and women to fool around with.
But a seed had been planted. The next political book I would finish, followed by another, and another…
I had to spend a few years detouring through mainstream conservatism and objectivism, but ultimately I found myself a rabid follower of Mises and Lew Rockwell. I became known online and on campus as a staunch, well-read and approachable libertarian.
One afternoon during the moneybombs of 2011, I received a call from my state’s lead coordinator for the Ron Paul campaign. He was offering me a position as county, area coordinator. Though at the time I had begun to question some elements of the movement and ideology, I was deeply honored that people would have put me forward for consideration.
Me and the state coordinator spoke over the phone for about an hour. The coordinator was an affable enough fellow, but ultimately we disagreed on strategy. I wanted to speak to college-aged students about freer markets and military interventions, and he wanted me to talk to old white women about my military service. I was conflicted, the conversation only deepened my questions with libertarianism.
I told him I would think about things and contact him if I wanted the gig. I didn’t call him back, my state went for Santorum in the primaries.
I actually wound up voting for Romney.
Three years and a blog later
After a lot of heated discussion as well as some personal soul-searching, I decided to reappraise libertarianism. Many of my friends and peers, people I respect and look up to, had never taken as hard a stance as I had against the movement or ideology. I could ignore this no longer.
My friends pointed out (astutely, I might add) that most of the “reactionary” sphere is in many ways just as flawed and utopian as the people they criticize. While reactionary blogs offer valuable insights and perspectives on issues of governance and civilization, I found that the typical “reactionary” seemed content with intellectual fapping and not much else. As someone who in the past fapped over polycentric order and other similarly esoteric thought experiments, the prospect of repeating such behavior infuriated me. “Definition of madness,” and all that.
I began speaking candidly with a number of libertarians outside of my immediate circle, some of them employed with the government and a number of libertarian organizations. These discussions were fruitful, and they continue to be of great value to me. It required a bit of effort on my part to convince them that I was sincere in seeking reconciliation, I’m sure some of them are still unconvinced of my sincerity. TRS comes with baggage at this point.
I have come to the opinion that there is something in libertarianism worth coming back to, that it’s not all dildos. I was a tad heavy-handed in my disagreements with milieu. Certainly there is ideological tension here, but I don’t believe it’s insurmountable. I think common ground can be found, I think libertarianism can be Right Stuff.
Last month, fellow contributor Ghoul presented his reservations with libertarianism. People didn’t like the article; the truth hurts. I wasn’t surprised at the responses.
Personally, I really liked what Ghoul wrote. Truth be told, I was the primary force that encouraged him to write it. I even assisted with the creation of Marijuana Theory.
“Silly Pokemon, this undermines your rapprochement with libertarianism!”
Sadly, it is a rarity in this day and age to treat a differing view in a helpful manner. I know for a fact there are people who will argue it’s impossible to be a libertarian and to give any credence to Ghoul’s opinion. Which is really dumb and a poor reflection on the ideology and individual.
I assisted a view I am not in full agreement with because at TRS we are not afraid of dialectic. Contra Jeff Tucker, one doesn’t have to invent reasons and words to dismiss and ignore opposing views.
Let me begin by offering my interpretation of Ghoul’s original argument. Hopefully my spin will help clarify for those who were unable to read past the rhetoric, while maintaining the original message:
Ron Paul encapsulated the closest thing the modern liberty movement had to an ideal that couldn’t be reduced to pleasure, to the alimentary canal. Without him at the helm this lack of higher values has been made evident.
Post-Paul libertarianism is largely about pot, sex, and other mindless indulgences. Libertarian justifications for this behavior are every bit as petulant and self-centered as the progressive. It makes absolute sense their earlier “revolution” was aimed towards the American right: besides some posturing on intervention and economics, libertarians are largely in agreement with modern liberalism’s social agenda. Which is an agenda that doesn’t give much of a damn about society.
Really, the only difference between your typical college libertarian and socialist is the former is at least honest about never reading Das Kapital.
I would argue that Ghoul goes too far in writing off the whole thing. I would also point out that millennials being more interested in degeneracy than in ideal is a problem found across the political spectrum. Neither are we dealing with a problem that can be simply voted away; we’re facing a generational crisis, not an election cycle one. I sincerely doubt a republican president could fix this in a term or two.
However, one has to admit that Ghoul’s argument has merit. For many libertarians the movement is becoming, has become arrested development, Peter Pan ethics. .
Many libertarians seem entirely concerned about stuff, about themselves and the present. Many libertarians could care less about the future generations, a culture or a zeitgeist. It seems to me that many celebritarians sweep cultural topics under the rug or disguise them with current events because on such matters they are really no different from the democrat.
It is typical for libertarians to try and shrug these qualms off as being peripheral to other matters. I would argue that while you may not be interested in a greater culture or tradition, a greater culture or tradition is interested in you.
In reducing the argument to utility, vulgar libertarians tear down the things that make their materialism possible to begin with. It’s a hilarious paradox, how a milieu that seems to understand about time preference holds an extremely high time preference when it comes to things ultimately more important than material.
This also brings us to an unsettling realization, that the fuddy-duddy social stuff the old white guys in the GOP blather on about is actually more important than polyamory or bitcoin. Horror of horrors, I know.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Liberty is defined as the quality one has to control their own actions. You aren’t born capable of this quality, liberty is not a reflex or instinct. Liberty isn’t a marginal consumption good either, it isn’t something found in abundance. Rather, liberty is something produced, requiring effort and sacrifice on the part of the producer. Though it requires real effort on the part of the human actor, liberty really can’t be measured.
Liberty happens to be one of those “higher ideals” you would probably notice if you weren’t too busy trying to plow the loose, man-jawed chicks at the liberty conference. No lie, younger Bulbasaur can totally empathize.
That said, there is something* deeply wrong* in trying to reduce liberty to behavior that shows a complete lack of self control or even a conceptualization of one’s own self. Liberty doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Liberty requires the context of both individual and society, which infers duties and standards, restrictions. What libertarianism seeks is not freedom or mindless self-indulgence by any means, sorry to break this to you.
Ghoul speaks of “compromising your values,” which basically re-phrases George Washington but that’s beside the point. I think such a proposition will be an impossible task for a number of people in the liberty movement. Consider those who have mixed liberty with dissonant ideas like “social justice” and “feminism.” There is no liberty here, only whining for handouts, demands to rentseek from the sacrifice of others. They do not produce liberty, but consume the results of such purposeful behavior. They have no values, only desires. They may sound libertarian, but they are as diametrically opposed to liberty as those CommieNazis hiding under your bed.
I’m sorry if you have never conceived of liberty in this manner. I’m sorry that this doesn’t sound as pleasant as some of the stuff the charlatans peddle. I’m very sorry you have bought into their lies.
Ghoul wants you to vote for the GOP. As I mentioned above, I don’t think this society’s problems can be solved by simply voting for the white male, though it would be nice to think so. Personally I think that we have long passed the point where this society can be stabilized without violence. I think we will see progressives resort to violence when things begin to slip out of their control. I foresee the global warming supporters becoming a Khmer Vert, acceptance and equality coming from the barrel of guns. I don’t look forward to that, and I hope I’m wrong.
That said and despite my earlier writings, I cannot bring myself to support a democrat even on the basis of accelerating the trajectory of this nation. The thought of voting a democrat to be dogcatcher nauseates me.
Neither do I see third parties as a viable vote. We are facing a fairly unified and growing opposition, I see nothing of value in dividing ourselves when facing such a behemoth.
Yes, the GOP doesn’t really echo my views, but none of them do and none of them ever will. They are the party I disagree the least with, the only one that doesn’t outright sicken me. Perhaps they will seek to marginalize more Right Stuff views, but perhaps one of the reasons the conservative party in America seems so stagnant is that the alternative-right has been about model fedoras and feeling extra special and obstinate. Maybe the red pill actually helps the matrix, maybe the blue pill was the more revolutionary choice?
Going back to the generational crisis, I don’t have a formula for making someone actually care about things beyond their alimentary canal. I don’t think a formula really exists. Neither do I want to tell you direct action will be enough: Adam Kokesh, Matthew Heimbach and Occupy shows what that amounts to these days.
What I guess I will suggest that my readers do henceforth is to try to seek and live a purposeful life, one that doesn’t ignore the past or future, one that cares about intangibles. Have a justification, a modus operandi. Quit trying to sound like a calculator when you argue for a garbage life, you fool no one.
And quit using politics and philosophy as a means to avoid living your life.
My plans are to own a farm, raise beef cattle, and see my children grow up to be decent human beings. That’s more meaningful than discussing what the American God-Emperor will dictate to the peasantry in 2155. It’s more meaningful than a blog on sex, the state, reaction or liberty could ever be. You should be more interested in finding a reason to live and die, and less interested in melodramatic blog and radio show-rhetoric. Being a good man, father and husband will do more to help things in the long run.
I wish more people would tell you this.