With apologies to Kemp, who brings class and erudition to LL, while I just bring acidic irony, I do want to note something on a front page post because it’s such typical libertarian behavior – and because I can.
Commenter Richard Brackett, with whom Kemp has been dueling intellectually over his libertarian/King Day post for a few days, also engaged in reasonably civil discussion with me for a short time on the history of racial conflict in the U.S. and Florida. In his final comment, however, he wrote:
You speak as though Whites of the day were a solid block of racists with no available Whites to oppose the enforced tyranny. That is manifestly untrue.
He might have had a point if I had said anything remotely like that. Instead, what I actually wrote, was this:
“The truth, if you study Florida history particularly, was that our state was a libertarian paradise in the teens and 20s, with all the astonishing violence and graft that came with it. A number of brave men and women — of all races — used law and government as best they could to fight it. And it took a very long time for that fight to pay off, but it did.”
That’s more or less the opposite, I would say. And I challenged Brackett to point to actual text where I wrote anything near his repetition of what I wrote. I also told him not invent strawmen, because it’s a tacky way to argue. I didn’t do that to him.
His response? Crickets. But he goes right on chatting up Kemp and indulging in plenty of strawmen with him, too, maybe because Kemp’s nicer than I am.
This small bit of comment pettiness is useful only as an illustration of something more chronic in the libertarian soul, as I’ve observed it. More than other intellectual types I’ve observed, self-described libertarians either lie about or describe in willfully obtuse terms the arguments of others. (For instance, in my experience, people motivated by religious conservatism argue far more honestly even though I disagree with them about virtually everything.) Self-described libertarians have a very difficult time acknowledging error or their own human frailty or dishonesty.
I think this goes back to the ever-pernicious Ms. Rand and her creation of a preposterous super-race of super-producers, with whom millions of people with humility issues can identify, while sneering at the rest of us moochers. As a result, in my experience, libertarians tend not to actually wrestle with words and concepts communicated by their interlocutors. Instead, they hear what they want so they can fit it into their producers and moochers, winners and losers, magic market, ruggedly manly view of themselves.
In truth, Libertarianism, as a philosophy, ought to revolve around Ronald Reagan’s quite good formulation of “the minimum law consistent with order.” Libertarians ought to discuss what that means in terms of creating and managing a civil society. (I would add the minimum law consistent with order and basic fairness, but then, I’m not a libertarian.)
Instead, libertarianism, as lived by so-called practitioners, always comes back to righteous indignation that anyone, anywhere, ever, has a right to tell them what to do. After all, one does not tell Galtian supergeniuses what to do, even in the context of a democratically elected society. Because they might go to their Gulch and take their genius with them. I keep waiting.
It’s quite obvious that libertarians don’t believe their beliefs because all they do is sit around and bitch about the grabby rest of us. Go to your gulch already. Put yourselves to the test. Stop having your garbage picked by the government. Go build your own roads. Go create your own vaccines without research from the National Institutes of Health. In practice, the unpleasant abstractions of Libertarianism always stop at the fleshy confines of actual Libertarians.
To perceive the world and build a political/ideological view based on never acted-upon fantasies, while benefitting from the very things you claim to hate, is fundamentally anti-social and anti-human.
You doubt this lies at the heart of today’s Libertarianism? Check out Ayn Rand’s take on sex in Atlas Shrugged, which I still haven’t read because ya’ll still haven’t gone Galt. This is an excerpt I saw somewhere. It’s Galtian superman Hank Reardon whispering sweet nothings to Galtian heroine Dagny Taggert:
“I want you to know this.”
He stood by the bed, dressed, looking down at her. His voice had pronounced it evenly, with great clarity and no inflection. She looked up at him obediently. He said: “What I feel for you is contempt. But it’s nothing compared to the contempt I feel for myself. I don’t love you. I’ve never loved anyone. I wanted you from the first moment I saw you. I wanted you as one wants a whore – for the same reason and purpose.”
Yep, that’s pretty much Libertarianism, as defined by the grand dame herself. Possession, impulsive desire, and contempt. It’s not a philosophy; it’s a three-year-old-child’s emotion. Don’t you want to live in that world?
Here’s one final example from Mr. Brackett, the Libertarian, in his skirmish with Kemp.
“Show me a program ANYWHERE for Whites! You can’t have one, anywhere. You can have a program targeted for Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, even illegal aliens but label a program for Whites? You might as well fire up a cross or put up a noose on live TV.”
I’ll show you two. America’s two largest non-military programs overwhelmingly benefit whites: We call them Social Security and Medicare. I addressed that last week. But check the subtle turn in our Randian hero’s writing. I hate government programs, but I might hate them less if they served white people, especially because I’m too ignorant to know how much they benefit whites already.
So maybe a libertarian is just a white person longing for his own Jesse Jackson. Or maybe that’s an entirely twisted, dishonest, and unfair reading of Richard Brackett’s beliefs. I’ll concede that possibility, which extends far more courtesy to him than he extends to me or Kemp.