Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Libertarians should dare to be different

Libertarians should dare to be different

I was recently called an "intellectual pygmy" and a "shock jock" on Ilana Mercer's "Barely a Blog". I was held up as an example of what is wrong with libertarianism. Her main complaint was over my controversial "cannibalism column".

Upon reading her entry, I sat here and tried to see it from her perspective. I tried to think if I am doing more harm than good to the cause of individual liberty. If so, I need to be aware of that and stop it. If I am wrong, I want to know. Freedom is a lot more important than I am.

After reflecting I came to the conclusion that I can't be anyone other than myself. In these columns I write what I really think, from the perspective of who I really am. So, as I often do in cases like this, I wrote her directly. I try to be polite in all my correspondence, and she was very polite in her response to me. She almost apologized for the ad hominem comments.

In her reply Ms. Mercer claimed that "my kind" of "shock jock opinions" are more "conventional and unthreatening" to most libertarians than are her opinions. From my perspective, and based upon years of hate-mail, I don't believe that is true. But, if it were true, why would that be?

Maybe because a difference that makes no difference is not a difference. If your "alternative" to the rampant statism that infects the earth today is indistinguishable from the status quo, why would anyone bother changing sides? If the difference is only a matter of degree, and not a fundamental rejection of statist coercion and control, is that really a difference? I am not assuming any opinions or motivations for Ms. Mercer in particular. I am not enlightened about her opinions on any issues, but I do know where so many "libertarians" balk when discussing liberty.

If you see nothing wrong with national borders enforced by government; if you see nothing wrong with taxation as a concept; if you don't recognize aggressive war (the business of the state) as murder on a massive scale; if you accept that government has the authority to do things that you or I can not do, then what is the difference from any Demopublican out there? If you don't accept that the philosophy of non-aggression applies to ALL individuals, including those employed by the state, what is your line-in-the-sand? I'm not aiming any of these remarks at Ms. Mercer, as I don't really know, but otherwise, why would her opinions not be as popular among those who hunger for real liberty as they might otherwise be? Those who believe in the legitimacy of the state are unlikely to embrace any real limits on their god and probably will not ever support liberty over the state in any substantive way. So, why cater to them?