Libertarians Versus Pragmatists

Since Trump received the Republican Party presidential nomination a lot of so-called libertarians started shifting away from libertarianism towards national socialism. When he won the election these many of these former libertarians turned into full on national socialists. Of course they don’t call themselves national socialists of fascists. They have a bunch of friendlier sounding terms such as alt-righters and pragmatists. But when you press them about their beliefs it’s almost impossible to distinguish them from national socialists.

Why did people who formerly identified as libertarians, or at least libertarian leaning, make a 180 degree turn? If you ask them what their pet issue is they almost always say that it’s fighting socialists at all costs. While I’m unclear as to how becoming socialists will defeat socialists I do know how these individuals descended into national socialism. They became obsessed with enemies instead of principles.

There is a schism between principled libertarians and pragmatists (who often call themselves pragmatic libertarians but, as I’ll show, aren’t libertarians in any meaningful way). Principled libertarians follow the strategy of leading by example. They believe that by acting on libertarian principles they can be an example of how practical those principles are and hopefully get other people to follow them. Pragmatists follow the strategy of using any means necessary to defeat socialists.

If the principled libertarians succeed they will have carved out a section of the planet where libertarian values are the norm. If the pragmatists succeed they will have replaced one set of socialist rulers with another set. Therein lies the fallacy of pragmatism. Following principles may not succeed but if it does succeed it results in the implementation of libertarianism. Being pragmatic may not succeed either but even if it does succeed it results in more of the status quo.

If an individual isn’t pursuing a strategy to expand libertarianism can they really be called libertarians? I don’t believe so. That is why I don’t believe pragmatic “libertarians” are libertarians. They’re simply individuals who are pursuing an enemy and don’t care about the outcome beyond removing that enemy from power. Libertarians, on the other hand, very much care about the outcome leading to a more libertarian world, which is why they pursue principles.