Libertarians Need To Embrace Their Radical Goal

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, libertarians are bad at politics. It’s not our fault. Politics is the art of aggression and libertarianism is a philosophy built on non-aggression. But many libertarians refuse to accept this fact so they end up doing stupid shit like starting Libertarians for Trump.

If you read through the post a lot of time is spent by the author, Walter Block, trying to argue what Donald Trump is the most libertarian mainstream candidate currently running. His arguments ring hollow though since his logic would just as easily lead one to compare who is more libertarian amongst Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot. While one can technically compared the three for the purposes of determining which is the most libertarian, in the end you’re still comparing three individuals who are fundamentally anti-libertarian.

But his article falls to pieces before he even gets to his justifications for supporting Trump. He immediately falls into the same trap many libertarians fall into by assuming only two options exist:

Let me just say that there is nothing, nothing at all, incompatible between libertarianism and voting, or supporting political candidates. Both Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard can be considered political junkies, and you won’t find too many better libertarians than those two.

Suppose we were all slaves, and the master said we could have a democratic election; we could vote for overseer Baddie, who would whip us unmercifully once per day, or overseer Goodie, who would do exactly the same thing, but only once per month. We all voted for the latter. Is this incompatible with libertarianism? Would this make us worse libertarians? Anyone who thinks so does not really understand this philosophy. For a remedial course, read this book: Rothbard, Murray N. 1998 [1982]. The Ethics of Liberty, New York: New York University Press.

Between the two options presented he makes a valid argument. However, there are options outside of voting for either the really evil slave owner or the slightly less evil slave owner. You can instead attempt to escape or overthrow the slave owner. In fact this is exactly what Lysander Spooner proposed when most people were arguing over electing politicians who supported the Southern views of slavery or the less harsh Northern views of slavery.

People like to divide libertarians into right and left. If we’re going to collectivize, err, categorize individual libertarians into two groups though I’d much rather divide them up into neophobes and neophiles. Both groups recognize the system of slavery they suffer under and express a desire to create radical change. But the neophobes act inconsistently with their stated goal whereas the neophiles embrace their radical goal.

Walter Block belongs to the Rothbard tradition of libertarianism. I would classify them as neophobes. While they do want to bring about change by moving society towards libertarianism they want to do it without radical changes. They want to utilize the already existing political system to elect the already existing politicians to the already existing political offices. By doing that they hope to legislate libertarianism into existence. Well, at least some libertarianism. Many of them also want to ensure certain already existing political creations, such as government borders continue to exist. But that’s beside the point. Neophobe libertarians fail to embrace the radical nature of their stated goal and that leads them to take ineffective political action.

Agorists such as myself belong to the Konkin tradition of libertarianism. The Konkin tradition falls into the neophile category. We want to bring about radical change and see the already existing political system as a hinderance. After all, how can a fundamentally anti-libertarian system be used in a fundamentally anti-libertarian society to bring about libertarianism? Incrementally over decades? To that I will point out that Rothbard and his followers were working on that decades ago and the only result has been a continuation of the slide towards totalitarianism. We recognize that libertarianism cannot be legislated. Furthermore, we want radical change. The currently existing political creations? Destroy them and salt the Earth they once occupied.

By failing to embrace their radical goal neophobes artificially limit themselves to a course of action libertarians have never been good at (because, after all, it is a course of action created by the opponents of libertarianism). This leads them to do incredibly anti-libertarian things such as support Donald Trump. Neophiles, by embracing our radical goal, are able to act in a way that is consistent with our stated goals. This allows us to avoid anti-libertarian actions such as supporting politicians who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

You are free to join Block’s little club and help continue the system of oppression that exists today. But realize that doing so will require you to participate in a system that libertarians have never been any good at. Furthermore, it will require you to support somebody who is fundamentally anti-libertarain. Or you could not join his little club and enjoy the clear conscious acting consistently with your stated goal brings. As always, the choice is yours but you will be graded based on your decision.

4 thoughts on “Libertarians Need To Embrace Their Radical Goal”

  1. “Libertarians for Trump” is a bad way to advance the libertarian cause. Both Rothbard and Block conceive the issue of voting in abridged ways. This is a form of illegitimate argumentation designed to compel a choice among limited alternatives. This won’t do. A deeper analysis will reveal strong reasons for not voting at all.

  2. Agorism has yet to accomplish anything and for that matter Konkin accomplished noting but ripping off libertarians. The greatest victory for political libertarians is that marijuana is now being made legal through reeferenda throughout the nation. Konkin would never have voted for that or even voting on a jury judging a case involving possession of marijuana

    1. Agorism has yet to accomplish anything and for that matter Konkin accomplished noting but ripping off libertarians.

      I have to disagree with that Don. Agorism, namely the strategy of counter-economics it relies on, has managed to withhold a great deal of resources from the State and provide people goods and services that they want but are verboten. Cannabis is the perfect example. Even before a few states legalized it cannabis was ubiquitously available. That availability was made possible by the black market. In states where cannabis is still illegal or mostly illegal, like here in Minnesota, it’s not hard to get because black market actors are providing it.

      In fact libertarian voting probably had little to do with cannabis legalization since libertarians are such a small percentage of voters. The fact that cannabis is so ubiquitous that hardly anybody doesn’t know somebody who uses it likely helped shift public perception of the weed from dangerous to harmless. When a lot of your friends are smoking cannabis to no negative effective it really puts a tend in the State’s propaganda.

      Throughout the world, even in the most tyrannical regimes, the black market is providing goods and services to people. North Koreans are able to acquire illegal Chinese cell phones. People in Britain are able to buy firearms. And people here in the United States are able to buy cannabis in all fifty states. Hell, I have a few friends that either currently rely on or have had to rely on the black market for basic medication because government regulations make their medications cost prohibitive. In that sense the strategy of agorism has quite literally saved their lives.

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