Drifting left with every step

25 04 2011

An essay has appeared by a self-described Libertarian offering some constructive criticism of “Libertarianism” as a movement.  It seems the message that Anarcho-Capitalism/Paleo-Libertarianism/Right-Libertarian and similar offshoots exist largely to defend the interests of the privileged is getting through.  Although the author does not go to such an extreme, the issues highlighted lay out a signficant part of the reason why I repudiate my past association with Anarcho-Capitalism and the broader American “Libertarianism” without excuse.  As far as I am concerned, I was wrong and naive.

I just spent a couple days at a libertarian conference. It is an experience that I find increasingly dismaying and disappointing because there has been a clear rightward shift in the libertarian movement toward some clearly anti-libertarian viewpoints, if not toward some pure nonsense from the fringe right. It is as if no libertarian today can critique the Federal Reserve without appealing to the pseudo-history conspiracy theories of G. Edward Griffin of the John Birch Society.

But what is interesting is listening to libertarians dismiss issues that are important to people who aren’t like them. Let us be truthful: the typical libertarian, and certainly the typical attendee at this conference, is a middle-aged, white, straight male. And they seem utterly incapable of seeing freedom through the lenses of anyone who isn’t the same.

Mention equal marriage rights for gay people and they simply dismiss it as unimportant. If they aren’t actively opposed—and some were—they see it as inconsequential. If you talk about guns they often are interested since so many of them own firearms. If you talk about pornography they are interested. But when it comes to the barriers to immigration they don’t give a damn since they aren’t immigrants. They hate tax laws but then they pay taxes.

Unfortunately for the author, rejecting “Me libertarianism” also leads to questioning other dogmas that get passed around with the Libertarian doctrine, and if a person follows their anti-authoritarian instincts, they are likely to find themselves heading further Left then they ever imagined.