Thursday, June 06, 2013

"Libertarians," The Pure Evil

     Yep, nothing worse.  Why, those libertarians are holdin' conservatives back and helpin' the lib'rals--  Or so says one of my friends.  I guess I owe him a link, but not a fight: there is no prize to be won.  The cake is a lie.

     We can disagree without loathing one another, or at least I can.  So I'm going to.

     Fair warning: I'm not really a "libertarian."  I'm a g-ddammed anarchist; I think governments are just Huns and Visigoths in nice suits, wielding obfuscatory language and fines instead of swords and axes.  In the real world, most people police themselves; they're no better than they have to be to get along, but 99% of their actual "getting along" has nothing to do with laws and regulations.

     We already live in anarchy.  There's not a cop at your side every hour of every day, and you darned well act like it, don't you?  Speeding, blowing though empty four-way stops, turning right on red when the sign says No but nobody's there to see--  You probably don't steal, though you may carry a pen or notepad home from work sometimes and never count it theft; and you'll lie when you have to; you didn't really forget Mom's birthday, you had to work over.  Probably.  And you'll use illegal drugs, too, or at least a majority of you will at some point in your life. 

     The ketchup company isn't refraining from putting paint in that bottle of red goo because there's a law against it -- they know dead guys don't buy more than the one bottle and food companies that make people sick stop making sales.  (Dunno about you, but "Made in China" is still a warning on foodstuffs for me).

     But much as I'd like to see the useless deadwood of Senates and City Councils go to the wall, to help batter down the walls at NSA and put their tapes to the torch, to see wild dogs howling in the wretched ruins of the White House, to see Congressthings forced to get real jobs, it ain't a-gonna happen.  Too many of the rest of you see Government as a security blanket and you'd be dreadfully unhappy without it.  Weirdly, that, too is a part of anarchy: I gotta live in the middle of you people and that means I have to go along with some of your crazy stuff.

     Okay.  But I don't have to dance with your strawmen, and the best one I've seen yet is when my friend spins the notion that "harm" is too subjective to ever fairly define...and then uses it to ride his hobbyhorse of opposition to gay marriage right over the horizon of logic.  You see, he claims it's all A Plot To Destroy Religion -- 'cos gay people could do that, right? Some fraction of less than 10% of the population are gonna pull down the cathedral, probably using rainbow ribbons...?  Ummm, no.  Not all by their lonesome; you religious types have them outnumbered, something like 6 or 7 to one.  And the only force-multiplier they might use is Government (oops!) and it's First-Amendmented right out of that game -- or it least it is so far.  (See, now, without Government--  Ahem.)  This may help 'splain why, if you've just got to have this "Government" teddy bear to sleep tight, you had better be watching it like a hawk: it bites.  Like a child or a spirited horse, it will always test its limits.

     My friend thinks libertarians believe everyone either wants to be just like 'em, or should be made to be.  I disagree.  Most people are no better than they have to be -- but the forces that make them that good are primarily social and economic, not the result of laws and regulations.  Who affects you more, your spouse and your boss, or your Representative and your Mayor?

     Most people are already personal anarchists -- they just aren't so confident about everyone else being safe to be around without a whole bunch of Official Rules, Official Rulers and Official Rule-Enforcers for them.  I have sad, sad news for you: the neighbors don't have a cop following them around, either, and they're probably crazier than you are.  Still, you want 'em ruled: Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, you want there to be some laws so other folk abjure evil and embrace good, and you don't make any secret of it.  I'm pretty sure you're only a "libertarian" for yourself, and perhaps not even that; some people delight in being ruled. 

     As for "harm," you have no promise you won't be offended, even at the most basic and deeply personal level (geez, go read the Erin Palette bit about the Navy-SEAL-turned-woman for a whole Greek chorus of the offended and offensive,* on all sides); nor is your safety something you can delegate to others.  The real issue is "rights."  Any Government or other body that starts talking about some *positive* right you have to some nifty thing, they're only going to be able to give it to you if they take it away from someone else.  No, the only real right you have is the right to be left alone -- in your church or your marriage; and if your church don't like your marriage, why, they can leave you alone, too, and you're obliged to abide by it.

     This isn't rocket science.  It's way harder: it's learning to stop meddling.  Few manage; they're no better at it than they have to be, same as they are about anything else.  You want to live in a better world?  Start with yourself.  Then move on to the neighbors and remember, don't push.  I get into politics, but mostly 'cos there's nothing good on TV. I don't think we'll vote our way outta anything but I'm sure not going to let the rest of you cast your ballots without casting one right back at you.  I may just gore your electoral ox; you may gore mine; we'll get over it.
* And how clever is is it to get all upside a Navy SEAL, even a retired one, over anything, ever?  Do you know what they do for a living?  


JD(not the one with the picture) said...

Watch out for Og, he has FACTS!, about religion and everyone else's motives. He cannot be defeated by mere mortals.

Farmgirl said...

My version of libertarianism (which doesn't always agree with anyone else's) boils down very simply to "don't start none, won't be none."

Granted, my definition of "starting" includes active harm against another person, with my personal reaction (the only thing in the whole entire world that I actually have control over) varying as to the degree and type of harm.

But it is remarkably amazing how many "social issues" can be solved by the simple expedient of admitting that it's none of my damn business.

og said...

Missed the point of the post. Took offense at a thought experiment. Post lots of BS about me that is so far from the actual truth as to be ludicrous.

How you must fear learning anything that disagrees with your worldview. Does it not bother you in the least that all the preconceived notions you have of who I am are utterly, completely wrong? All.

JD: I DO have facts about religion and other people's motives. You care to come to my place and try your hand at debating me?

I thought not.

Ms X: I do really wish you might take the time sometime to actually get to know me, instead of settling for the caricature of me that resides in your head. That guy is a dick. I am probably a dick too, but I would rather be known as the dick I really am than one constructed of lies you seem so loathe to part with.

Roberta X said...

Og: Pull the other one, it's got bells on, and do so with a whole lot less of the attack masquerading as more-in-sorrow-than anger. Claiming "thought-experiment" is a cop-out, as you well know (hint: most people label 'em as such). And would you please point to "BS" I have "post[ed] about you?" Your theory that gay marriage is a plot to destroy any religion that disapproves of homosexuality is one you have often brought up. It may in fact be BS, but I didn't make it up.

I have learned many things that "disagree with my worldview," except that I don't actually have much of a worldview. (Rand would have hated me: I do not have a philosophy in the way she did and you do). The "philosophy" most people espouse has very little to do with how they behave.

On the topic of religion, I find most people (possibly all) are crazy. They believe -- or have faith -- in things that never happened, cannot be shown to exist, or are functionally irrelevant. It is just about certain that I am no less crazy on the topic than everyone else -- but if I want them to respect *my* hard-won crazy, I have to respect theirs. I don't waste time debating talking donkeys, zombie tales or magical fish dinners; they are matters of faith or belief, not of demonstrable fact, and it's rude to the people who hold such stories dear.

There's a limit, though. People who are gonna claim Jews are poisoning the wells and causing the Black Death need concrete proof and so do people making wild claims about gay marriage being a plot to destroy Christianity. You have none; and to your credit, you, yourself don't want an Inquisition to get proof.

(What I expect from you in reply to this is more paternalistic hectoring. Please prove me wrong. C'mon, demonstrate that "all the preconceived notions you have of who I am are utterly, completely wrong.")

Onlookers: this whole discussion between us, at Og's place and mine, is a remarkable demonstration of how The Internet Is Not Real Life. In real life, we get along famously. As people who shoot trouble in complex technology, Og and I have way more in common than otherwise and we have great fun at BlogMeets. Online, we tend to do the cats-and-dogs thing instead, with a lot of looking-askance thrown in for good measure. So it goes.

Anonymous said...

RobertaX - This isn't rocket science. It's way harder: it's learning to stop meddling. Few manage; they're no better at it than they have to be, same as they are about anything else. You want to live in a better world? Start with yourself.


My view of libertarianism:

"Unless you're hurting somebody (to borrow from Bastiat, plundering them), it's none of my business what you do. I may not approve. I may think it's downright stupid. But it's not my place to stop you."

aczarnowski said...

You're a better person than me if you can keep a friendship through that.

Thanks for writing. Your post is much better than the followup comment I ended up tossing after Og ripped my head off for trying the first time. Like Tam said, I just needed to walk away. Being berated on the internet wasn't doing me any good and Og ain't changing.

Roberta X said...

Og is Og. In an uncertain world, he's a rock.

...And lookie here, profoundly conservative persons and institutions are an essential part of a healthy society; but they are not the *only* part.

Stuart the Viking said...

Some people become stuck in their worldview and lose the ability to see the other side as everyday people. So, you get Christians etc. who believe in some vast homo conspiracy to undermine Baby Jesus when most gay people want just what everyone else wants. Which is to be left alone.

Religious people tend to be a lot more touchy about this than others in my observation.

Keeping in mind that I am well aware of the fact that I may be a kettle calling the pot black.


Anonymous said...

You're tuned to Radio Free Reno and we'resending this one out to savagely cynical Roberta

John B said...

a Facebook post.
We want to take over the Government.
Then Leave You Alone.

by that yardstick, I'm a libertarian.

Drang said...

I think of libertarianism as an acknowledgment that things like traffic lights are mutually beneficial to all.
(No doubt someone will post a post ridiculing this metaphor.)
The problem arises when the traffic light gets a red light camera hooked up to it, and then the "green" period keeps getting shortened, to raise the income from fines to pay for the red light camera. And when the camera is paid for, well, we need to pay for other stuff, too...
Of course, the REAL problem is all the people who want to jump right to raising funs to pay for stuff, bypassing "Gee, this intersection is dangerous, we need to regulate the traffic flow there."
(Again, "metaphor" people. A band of Neanderthals was probably led by whoever the natural leader was. Sometimes they would have accidentally pushed him in front of a mastodon if he got to big for himself, and them. When Cro-Magnon started settling down to grow grain to make beer, the impulse to make rules to control others started, but, obviously red light cameras were not an option. As farby re-enactors say, though, "If they'd've had 'em, they'd've used 'em.")

@sepulveda'srevenge: Shorter Leonard Cohen. "Of course the game is rigged, but you can't win if you don't play." RAH.

Drang said...

@John B: As I've pointed out elsewhere (and started a minor debate through poor phraseology) it whoudl read
We want to take over
And leave you alone.
And, we expect you to reciprocate!

That last is a killer for all too many who would like to be left alone -- they will not, cannot, leave others alone.

perlhaqr said...

Well, I read the link, read the comments, saw you wrestle the pig, and lo, you got got muddy. But it looked like only the pig was enjoying it.

Personally, I've decided that it's ethical to take non-anarchists at their own word. As an anarchist, I'm capable of governing myself. They themselves claim not to be. So, a tyranny of anarchist cadre, over those who wish to be ruled. *shrug* Works for me.

Linoge said...

I stopped reading Og years ago, not because of his positions, but rather because he lies to himself - so very convincingly - about them and their supposed merits. Glad to see some things never change.

No, the only real right you have is the right to be left alone...

This. Absolutely, unequivocally this.

And, yes, I will admit to not being a full-on anarchist, but, by the same token, the only imposition on other people I seek is, "Do not detrimentally affect* other people against their will." If that really is such a horrible, evil imposition on you, something tells me you would not be a functioning, welcome member of any society, much less one that, horror of horrors, just wants to be left alone and for you to be left alone.

(* - And, really, the notion that "harm" cannot be defined is so ludicrously facile that it is not even worthy of addressing, except with this observation.)

Roberta X said...

From the "outside,"* it looks to me like most of us -- yeah, me too -- tell ourselves a number of comforting lies, every day. It may be an essential coping skill.

It gets raspy when we're not all telling ourselves the *same* lies -- but that's livin' in the Big World. One can either come to terms with it or go mad from frustration. (Come to think of it, that's what irks the Islamists, too, isn't it?)

* 'Cos I am a dozen different kinds of weirdo and antisocial to boot.

Roberta X said...

Alas, Babylon!

Perlhaqr writes: "Personally, I've decided that it's ethical to take non-anarchists at their own word. As an anarchist, I'm capable of governing myself. They themselves claim not to be. So, a tyranny of anarchist cadre, over those who wish to be ruled."

See, there's a name for those who would rule others, but it is not, in fact, "anarchist." So this shortcut is not really workable; it ends just like Animal Farm.

...Which is where we already are. The Rulers routinely exempt themselves from The Rules.

(Sleepy, I originally wrote "...ends just like Animal House," which would be kewler.)

perlhaqr said...

See, there's a name for those who would rule others, but it is not, in fact, "anarchist."

Nah, nah, see, I'm just providing them a service they requested.

Though realistically, my Iron Fisted Anarchist Tyranny would mostly consist of "No, you can't take his stuff. Stop poking him. Leave that fellow alone, I don't care if his belief in $DEITY bothers you. Stop touching him. Stop just barely not touching him. I swear, I'll pull this planet right over!"

Sounds too much like trying to parent 7 billion people to me.

But you have to admit, the idea of jackbooted storm troopers who show up and make people leave each other alone is kinda funny.

Roberta X said...

Perlhaqr: not only is it amusing, my "Federation of Concerned Spacemen" in the Hidden Frontier stories is a despotic minarchy.

Ken said...

Don't interfere with the mails. And don't sing that infernal song.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must see to my Ray. :-)

Linoge said...

Oh, I can live with the pleasant lies we tell ourselves - and each other - to maintain the thin veneer of society around us.

I cannot stand abusively and repetitively being told I am "factually" wrong because another person has bought into their own self-delusions.

So, I tend to remove myself from those kinds of folks :).

Roberta X, remotely said...

Linoge, there are big changes coming here along those very lines.