I used to say that I leaned libertarian. I said it because I agreed with much of what I heard libertarians saying. Other people said they leaned libertarian so I thought maybe I did too. I’ve changed my mind.
After listening to months of libertarian podcasts (mainly Tom Woods and Jason Stapleton) and reading comments on their Facebook group pages, I have concluded that too many libertarians don’t value what I value. Many would scrap the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and U.S. sovereignty in exchange for everyone promising to live by the non-aggression principle (NAP). Many see nothing special about this country. They scoff at people like me who do. They don’t want national borders. Government of any kind is repugnant to them. Even someone who considers limited government is labeled a “statist”, and is someone to be mocked.
When I heard enough libertarians saying that anyone with a toe over the line into statism (any form of government—anyone who isn’t an anarchist) may as well be a full blown communist, I found myself looking for the exit. Sure, not all libertarians think this way but I’ve seen these ideas enough to make some confident generalizations. The bottom line is, I don’t trust libertarians to be country-loving patriots unless I hear them say otherwise.
Libertarians vary so widely in their beliefs that I’m not sure what the common denominator is. The anarchist libertarians seem to study the Constitution the way an atheist studies the Bible—to mock it. Rather than working to save any of our current system, they eagerly await its implosion. They dream that libertarians will someday rise from the ashes like a phoenix and create a peaceful society where everyone lives peacefully by the NAP. I don’t see that happening. In the first place, libertarians are not that organized.
The leftist libertarians are the most puzzling to me. In one podcast a leftist libertarian argued that the NAP could be used to justify a guaranteed minimum income. He then had to admit that it would ultimately require a world government to enforce.
The non-aggression principle is supposed to be the bedrock of libertarian thought—don’t initiate aggression against anyone. But, it can be used to argue for all sorts of nonsensical things. I once had an online conversation with an atheist libertarian who said that my belief in God was an act of aggression against his personal sovereignty. He said he would be justified in using aggression against me just for my beliefs.
Some libertarians care more about the legalization of drugs than anything else.
In the final analysis, I found that libertarians are all over the map when it comes to their beliefs. The NAP isn’t a reliable anchor. Over and over again I found libertarians using philosophical acrobatics to excuse all kinds of aggression, as long as it was in their favor, with the NAP as the lever for getting it done.
I still listen to the “Contra Krugman” podcast with Tom Woods and Bob Murphy. It is fun and focuses on economics so I tend to agree with their conclusions. Tom Woods has another podcast. He is funny and brings on some interesting guests, but his message is for another audience. I am not an anarchist.
I have a number of good friends who call themselves libertarians. I respect them a great deal, as we tend to agree on most things when it comes to politics. I won’t apply the label to myself.