The Libertarian “Fantasy”

Gods bless Mother Jones. Between Slate and itself there are enough criticisms about libertarianism based on entirely fabricated claims to fill an encyclopedia. Take the latest shot fired by Mother Jones aimed at the predominance of men in libertarianism:

Jeet Heer investigates a burning question today: why are most libertarians men? He offers several plausible explanations, but I think he misses the real one, perhaps because it’s pretty unflattering to libertarians.

So here’s the quick answer: Hardcore libertarianism is a fantasy. It’s a fantasy where the strongest and most self-reliant folks end up at the top of the heap, and a fair number of men share the fantasy that they are these folks. They believe they’ve been held back by rules and regulations designed to help the weak, and in a libertarian culture their talents would be obvious and they’d naturally rise to positions of power and influence.

The reason this is such a laughable criticism is because it’s being made by a statist publication. Advocates of statism suffer the biggest fantasy of all. Not only do they believe a handful of people who know best must be given ultimate power over the ignorant (their word) masses but they believe that their advocacy of statism qualifies them to hold one of those positions of power.

Libertarianism is the belief that nobody is qualified to hold power over another. It is the antithesis of power fantasies. Statism teaches that a handful of people know what’s best for everybody else and that the best society can be achieved by giving those people a truncheon with which to smash anybody who disobeys in the face. On the opposite side of the spectrum is libertarianism, which teaches that the best society can be achieved by individuals peacefully cooperating with one another. Under libertarianism there is no heap on which the “strongest and most self-reliant” can sit. Libertarianism doesn’t get suckered into the claim that the “rules and regulations” are designed to help the weak. Instead libertarianism recognizes that individuals given ultimate power will use that power for personal gain.

Even advocates of statism admit that the, according to them, shitty world we live in today is actually the product of their own philosophy. Critics of libertarianism often submit the fact that there isn’t a pure libertarian society as proof that it’s unworkable. But they fail to recognized that such a claim also admits that all of today’s social ills; including the overwhelming power held by corporations, unaccountable police, and the preference of military invasion of mutually beneficial trade; are the products of statism. I’m always amused by the simultaneous claim that libertarian doesn’t exist and it’s at fault for the world’s social ills but I digress. Statists are correct in their admission because these social ills require positions of power to manifest. They require a heap on which the “strongest and most self-reliant” can sit. And that heap only exists in a society with coercive hierarchy, i.e. a state.

One can argue why there are more men than women in libertarianism, which is something it shares with other social and political philosophies, but claiming it’s because it fulfills power fantasies of men isn’t a valid argument.

5 thoughts on “The Libertarian “Fantasy””

  1. Not an argument, an explanation. An explanation is hypothetical, and hypotheses are to be tested, and argued ABOUT. They are not, in of themselves, arguments.

    You’d think a would be philosopher would know this fundamental difference.

  2. And any way, the question is not why most libertarians are men, but why they are mostly YOUNG men. Middle aged and older male libertarians stand out like sore thumbs.

    I’ll hazard an explanation, based entirely on a case study with n=1 (the case being my own intellectual history); young men have been exposed to fewer arguments than older men, and so older men are more likely to encounter convincing arguments against libertarian proposals. Libertarian arguments are slick and superficially logical, and so pass through the mind with what Daniel Kahneman calls “cognitive ease”. Thus thinking stops quickly after such arguments are encountered as the truth appears to be obvious and manifest, and anyone who can’t grasp it must be benighted or foolish. The same sort of cognitive trap leads people into all sorts of ideological cul de sacs.

    It is only when the young man encounters an argument he can’t ignore or argue away “cognitive difficulty” that his critical and analytical thinking is really seriously engaged, often leading him out of hard libertarianism. Couple this with the fact that libertarianism is also a psychological trap (in the way that communism used to be) and it simply takes TIME confronting such cognitive difficulties before the young man is ready to give up the beautiful edifice of the ideology that he found so clearly, manifestly, obviously true before.

  3. I’m guessing you haven’t been to many libertarian gathering before. Middle age and older males are usually the majority of any such meeting (hence the old white men stereotype).

    I’m also not sure why you think libertarian arguments appear to be slick. Generally libertarian arguments are received poorly by people unless they’re willing to actually spend some brain power on thinking them over. Generally speaking people prefer the familiar. Growing up under a system of hierarchy and being told it’s the only way humanity can exist makes one more apt to accept statism as the correct solution. It generally takes years of having the fallacies of statism pointed out to a person before they start to even entertain libertarianism.

    Although the foundation of libertarianism, the non-aggression principle, is easy imagining a world that works off of that principle, especially after spending an entire lifetime suffering under the exact opposite, is difficult for most. Basic questions, such as who will pick up the trash, seem more difficult to answer when you can’t default to the state doing it.

  4. //Not an argument, an explanation.//

    This is not a sentence. It is a sentence fragment.

    //An explanation is hypothetical, and hypotheses are to be tested, and argued ABOUT. They are not, in of themselves, arguments.//

    The author (Kevin Drum) did not present his position as an “explanation”, but as an “answer” (the word “explanation” was used in the previous paragraph in reference to another article). When you are using the word “answer”, you aren’t offering a hypothesis (note that he also did not say “a possible answer”).

    //You’d think a would be philosopher would know this fundamental difference.//

    So far I don’t consider you a “lover of wisdom”, Josh. Nor do I consider you very good at paying attention to details (also important in philosophy).

    As far as the rest goes, Chris has rebutted you well.

Comments are closed.