I couldn’t care less that “my guy” didn’t win the election. How come? It was never really about Gary Johnson entering the White House. I cared more about him getting 5% of the vote or actually bringing the discussion about politics to a discussion about values.
He sort of disappointed me in that regard. His Vice Presidential candidate, Bill Weld really disappointed me.
For decades, I avoided the Libertarian Party for the most part. They seemed so … anti. They appeared to come off as against family, religion, tradition, culture, and social institutions. While I was always leery of the state, I didn’t believe that self-interested indulgence and capitalistic individualism in the absence of moderating morality was going to work. Given human nature’s obvious bent toward destruction, it seemed pretty naive to believe that individuals wouldn’t bash each other’s heads in fighting over whatever stuff they wanted.
Does that sound familiar? Well, it’s certainly the argument that some people have made to me in the run up to this election. “Anarchism is as bad as communism. People are destructive animals without someone controlling them.” (That came from Twitter).
What changed my mind was interacting with anarchists and libertarians who seemed to care about family, faith, culture and social institutions. They recognized that, in the absence of the state, civil society is a means to organize human affairs. They understood that family is the first, last, and most important line of defense for the individual against the government. Religion teaches morality, which is the seedbed of ethics. Tradition and culture allow us to work together without a government overseer. And social institutions are the best way for individuals to coordinate with other individuals to accomplish things that no one individual can do alone. When they spoke of liberty, they did not mean an ideology of atomized individuals, soullessly conducting economic transactions between bouts of self-interested hedonism.
So why doesn’t the rest of the world know about this brand of libertarianism? Maybe it’s because we totally have sucked at marketing it. Liberty is simply the negation of state power in society. It is not a political third way between Left and Right or some a hybrid ideology. History shows that liberty works. We don’t need a new product. We need to market our product better. But if liberty worked so well in the past, why hasn’t it endured? Mainly because it’s always under assault and has never been widely understood or accepted.
When I speak of individualism, I mean that you don’t have the right to use the state to force me to do things your way and that I don’t have the right to use the state to force you to do things my way. That’s liberty. I’m not talking about total self-sufficiency, because that is a practical impossibility. Individualism and liberty don’t mean that there are not rules that we must follow in order to live in community. Liberty shouldn’t separate us from our families, which are the smallest unit of community. Individualism doesn’t mean we think communities are bad. Actually, individual liberty should enhance the community. Healthy individuals who are happy with their personal lives are much more likely to give a healthy effort in their community. Diversity strengthens us all and diversity is best pursued by individuals by personal choice rather than by groups under threat of force. And make no mistake — the collectivists believe in their vision of community so strongly they will force you at the point of a gun to get on board their bondage train.
I hope that the next few years will allow us to promote a different vision of liberty – a robust, pragmatic vision in keeping with reality and human nature. Liberty does not need to be at war with culture, tradition, family, religion or community. It just needs to fit the world as it really exists.
I’m not sure that the Libertarian Party will bring this message to the world. It might fall to us little-l libertarians to bring this message.
We are proudly pro-property, pro-ownership, pro-trade and anti-welfare. We are unapoletically anti-state, anti-Fed, anti-globalist and anti-war. We openly support decentralization, secession, and localism. We are unafraid to appeal to populism and bourgeois materialism. We are welcoming toward religion, tradition, and family.
That’s who I am as a libertarian. At this moment in history, we have a huge opportunity to forge a new path to the future that is lit by libertarian principles. We face the biggest political and social upheaval since the 1960s. It’s been about 200 years since there was a better time to sell libertarianism in the marketplace of human action. The road looks wide open … if we would choose to take it.