The Libertarian Mystery
Right-wing libertarians appear cult-like, and they have a religious affinity towards property and the pursuit thereof. Within the community, there is this compulsion to proselytize their beliefs which are based on axiomatic a priori assumptions, i.e., Austrian Economics. They have something similar to the Golden Rule called NAP, which suggests right-wing American libertarianism as some sort of moral guide.
When they proselytize, they seem to be aware of the “tricks” they have to use to convert people who would otherwise reject their “philosophy” outright. They use marketing pitches in attempts to get people to buy their product.
There was an issue of Reason magazine in the ’70s with an article frankly called “Marketing Libertarianism.” The article starts with can only be surmised as a preacher preaching to his flock about the difficulties in reaching out to the unsaved. He suggests to the already initiated that ideas are products to be marketed and libertarianism is no different. His flock should take a salesman approach and rap it in an attractive package which will appeal to each client differently. If this is starting to sound suspicious to you, hold on; it gets better.
“Thus, if you explain to a Catholic that libertarianism is based on the virtue of selfishness, or to a communist that libertarianism is for pure capitalism, you will fail…. To sell libertarianism, you must sell it under a formula which corresponds to the basic convictions of the guy to whom you sell it. In effect, to try to change his basic convictions…. Now, my purpose here is to provide some concrete examples and applications of these principles. This article may seem somewhat cynical and opportunistic-but if you read it closely you will see that it involves no falsity or deception. The point is that you can use tricks-and you’d better, if you really want libertarianism to have a fighting chance.” — “Marketing Libertarianism” by Moshe Kroy, Reason, February 1977
That is right-wing libertarian logic at its finest. First, make a passive admission to your followers about the cynicism and opportunism involved in converting people you already consider gullible and sincere. Second, make assurances that this is totally above board, devoid of any duplicity at all. And lastly, remove all doubt by telling your followers, “Okay, we are going to have to trick our targets if we want libertarianism to have a fighting chance.”
There was another more recent article from Reason where they talked about possibly revising and re-interpreting American history to prove the efficacy, inerrancy, and immutability of libertarianism, except for the fact the author acknowledges with unapologetic dismay there are actually people smarter out there with a better grasp at history than the various libertarian initiates. There is also a certain froideur in the air when libertarians attempt to fool their audience into believing the US has a long libertarian tradition when, in fact, their belief system is relatively new. Yet it does not stop them from perjuring themselves by applying mid-twentieth and twenty-first century libertarianism to 18th and 19th century US history. In short, presentism. — What Libertarians Get Wrong About American History
They also like to ignore little things like the Gilded Age or the Chicago Boys and Pinochet’s Chile.
In an interview with Charlie Rose, George Lucas said directors, at the time he was directing in the ’70s, had more freedom in the USSR. In the US, you are forced to make a certain kind of movie which adheres to a rigid form of commercialization. To quote Lucas, “You cannot lose money!” Something for the whole family to enjoy, not something which changes the world or makes you think. This starts at about 16 minutes into the interview. Towards the end of the interview, Lucas laments about giving up his films and Star Wars brand to Disney and called them “white slavers” in passing. “White slavers” is a pretty strong condemnation of a company, even if it was mentioned in passing.
Lucas’ message is a very relevant one, and I mentioned him due to his status and standing. Because he is rich and influential, his words should have some heft to them on the ears of every libertarian since I know their eyes will just glaze over at the mere mention of the Gilded Age or Pinochet or anything else in history which disproves their free-market ideology. Obviously, there is something about our “free-market” consumer society which is unauthentic, and it forces us to devalue ourselves and produce end-products with questionable quality.
This leads one to ask some very important questions. If right-wing American libertarianism is really just a political philosophy, then why go through such lengths to “trick” people into becoming converts? Why proselytize missionary style? If it is really about social and economic freedom, its tenets should make that clear enough for anyone without needing to relinquish free-will and commit to conversion.
Just a little while ago, some passionate, libertarian doctrinaire snagged on to some low-hanging fruit I wrote and proceeded to put me through his libertarian paces. I had to put a disclaimer up just in case other libertarians find the article and become incensed. His defensive tone was understandable. My harsh criticism of right-wing libertarianism should not be understated.
He took exception to my elucidations about libertarians practicing deceit using marketing techniques and lying by omission in order to win new initiates. What was funny was he practiced a little bit of deception himself by repeatedly throwing out a red-herring in response to a phrase I used, “privatizing words,” which was a phrase Mark Ames used, and then proceeded to claim his red-herring about Twitter was what our conversation was actually about.
Anyway, I digress.
I have noticed libertarians using something very similar to the Roman Road to Brainwashing.
It is a multi-step process which is as follows:
- Assault on Identity — They often claim there is some leftist conspiracy to destroy the world. Communism and Marxism is everywhere. Government is bad, taxes are theft, and democracy is evil. If you disagree with this, then that makes you evil, too. If democracy is bad, what should it be replaced with? Peter Schiff gives us a clue. This video never gets old. Notice the smile melts off of the interviewer’s face when Schiff waxes poetic about a freer society under monarchistic rule.
- Guilt — They twist certain circumstances on their head in attempts to make themselves look like victims of some evil conspiracy. They hope to make their audience feel guilty for putting poor libertarians through such cruelties as Social Democracy and the social safety net. It is hard for them to convince those who have accepted social democracy and its benefits to suddenly feel victimized by it, let alone accept that libertarians in the first-world are somehow victims. So in a piroutte, they often turn from spouting mythopoeic statements relating to small states and markets to spouting calumnies at their skeptical audience.
- Self-betrayal — As I elucidated before, libertarians will often employ “tricks” to get certain people who are naturally opposed to their way of thinking to betray their own beliefs and create self-doubt. This is how marketers and cultists corrupt their “clients.” Why would the Catholic agree to become a libertarian when it celebrates selfishness? Why would the Communist agree to libertarianism if libertarians worship markets and property? Communists want to abolish the state and private property. In both instances, the libertarian would have to lie from the start and attempt to habitually indoctrinate them until their former beliefs become irrelevant.
- Breaking Point — Creating enough doubt about the world, even to the point of paranoia, while also exploiting financial and social insecurities creates openings for the libertarian. This is usually the point where libertarians will leave the conversation dumping a list of literature to read on an online forum along with chosen authorities to follow. They usually jump the gun when they do this because they cannot stand for their ideas to be challenged by someone openly hostile to them for very long.
- Leniency — More talks about right-wing libertarianism being peaceful and for freedom, non-aggression and all that. They are for legalizing POT and getting “the man” off your back. They would never over-tax you, poison your drinking water, poison your air, or allow dangerous products to enter the market place. As one libertarian meme seems to suggest, their task is to take over the world and leave you alone. Scout’s honor.
- Compulsion to Confess — They market that their world-view will grant you spiritual and financial success. Converts will become FREE! But you must renounce your former belief system publicly among other libertarians first.
- Channeling of Guilt — As a libertarian, you get to be a smug, self-righteous bastard with a priori arguments as your sword and a community of willing tanks as your shield, in case any smart critical-thinkers come to join the debate. “Discovery of the libertarian philosophy, especially when combined with the a priori approach of Austrian economics, can make young libertarians feel virtually omniscient and ready for argument on any relevant topic. When such libertarians venture into empirical areas — such as history — they are prone to use ideology or the a priori method as guides to the truth.” — Sheldon Richmond, What Libertarians Get Wrong About American History
- Releasing of Guilt — “I know what you are! You’re a liberal, elitist, statist, piece of collectivist SJW trash! Democracy is tyranny because I don’t get my way all the time! And taxes are theft! Now let me buy my Rothbard books, testosterone cream and colloidal silver in peace!”
- Progress and Harmony — There is a multitude of various blogs, forums, channels, and chat groups where new initiates can meet various libertarian veterans. It’s a real community like any other with conventions and even political parties. But do not be fooled. Right-wing libertarians have a heck of a time with “progress and harmony.” This step is about progress and harmony within the group which converted you. It is about acceptance and in the case of libertarians … memes.
- Final Confession and Rebirth — Just like the Catholics who baptize infants and Baptists baptize the newly converted, so too do libertarians require a baptism of sorts. This is why they put people through their libertarian paces and suggest certain reading materials and authority figures. It is a required ritual if one is to be reborn as a libertarian.
Right-wing libertarianism is a relatively new political ideology people have lived successfully without since time immemorial. There is no need to believe in it over any other belief system, especially since its a priori axiomatic structure makes any new knowledge beyond Austrian Economics impossible. I would have to say it bears plenty of similarities to present-day, cherry-picking Christianity since some of its important founders and proselytizers have had connections with the John Birch Society and other religious groups; however instead of Christ’s sermons on the mount and the Trinity, you have a political ideology swearing the market will somehow save us all with the pricing mechanism.
At this point, I am going to digress for a bit and make a disclaimer. As an American, I find right-wing libertarianism extremely attractive. I was for a short time an Atlas Shrugged fan. And after so many years of having my head pumped with advertising and solipsistic garbage from American consumerist culture, it still remains attractive. But I have lived long enough with my eyes and ears wide open to know right-wing libertarianism in its various forms and off-shoots is bunk. It is the amalgamation of identity politics, the “Old Right,” silicon valley politics, neo-liberalism, and consumerism. I know that seems like quite the mouthful, but I did most of the hard work by writing in depth about it in Why Right-Wing Libertarians Are Bad for Politics and The Magician and Libertarian Magic.
Here is a summary bio of notable people who have had a profound affect on libertarianism and help found the modern libertarian movement.
Murray Rothbard was the student of Ludwig Von Mises and a friend of Ayn Rand. Rothbard was a racist, and believed in the “voluntary” separation of the races. I have argued that his teacher, Mises, was an elitist with fascist tendencies. This part of libertarian history is a part that the libertarians would like to cover up. — http://www.businessinsider.com/exposing-the-racist-history-of-libertarianism-and-murray-rothbard-2011-10
“This part of libertarian history is a part that the libertarians would like to cover up.” Indeed! And it is but a preview of the things I uncovered while writing about right-wing libertarians and their origins.
It is very rare to hear a professor of philosophy passionately telling his class, “Aristotelianism is the foremost method for ascertaining the truth” or another exclaim with absolute authority, “Hume was correct! There are no new ideas! We are mere animals constructing illusions from sensory data!” Philosophy is not about moral absolutes or a set of axioms and a priori beliefs. Philosophy is taught to help students organize their thoughts, think critically and ask questions. It provides a framework to make knowledge possible, think the scientific method.
Knowledge is not possible if we assume our a priori assumptions are true before looking for evidence. Looking for evidence which fits preconceived notions is the very definition of confirmation bias. Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling one gets when those a priori assumptions and axiomatic beliefs are challenged. Sometimes when feelings are strong enough the person affected will split aspects of the subject into good and bad categories and compartmentalize the contradictions.
Libertarianism plainly stated is socialism in one person.
Libertarians would have us believe they are for freedom and individual liberty. They would have us believe they really want to “take over the world” and leave us alone after they safely dismantle all things pernicious related to the state. But if there is one thing libertarians care about more than any of those, it is the right to property.
Non-aggression principle aside, libertarians spend most of their time deliberating over what should be considered property and to what extent property should be protected. Such conversations become rather cringe-worthy when discussing children. Property rights are a moral absolute almost tantamount to a religion in right-wing libertarian circles.
They seem to have no clue that money and property are metaphysical constructs which come into being through the existence of some sort of social agreement or pomp and circumstance and various legal arguments determined by the culture and government of the day.
Private property itself cannot come into existence unless there is some socially agreed upon standard by which some patch of land or object becomes private property. Nobles instituted private property by fencing off the commons from the lay people and using the power of the state to enforce the ownership.
Money is a metaphysical construct society calls into being to make possible the efficient transfer of goods and services. Money is a form of public property. It says so on every dollar printed, and congressional powers concerning money are delineated in the US constitution. The “taxes are theft” argument cannot stand. It is special pleading.
Professor Bonamy Price defines money thus: “Money is a tool of exchange and nothing more; it is not a measure of value, nor a standard of value, no a representative of property; it transfers property from one party to another, as a wagon hauls good from one place to another.”
Only about one person in ten thousand knows what money is (probably even less than that), the nine thousand nine hundred and ninety and nine think it is a measure of value, or a standard of value, or a representative of property; they even look upon it as wealth; whereas it has none of those qualities; it is worthless until it is exchanged for something desired. — Blow Out! Poverty-Prostitution-War_Why and How (1914)
What is also important to understand is what libertarians mean by the non-aggression principle, in other words, “NAP can … be used in almost any way its user intends, by changing the definition of aggression to suit their particular opinion/agenda. For example, throwing someone in prison for massive tax evasion is seen as an act of aggression by the state, whereas selling someone cigarettes knowing they will kill that person is not seen as aggression.” — http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Libertarianism
This is because the term aggression is quite subjective and malleable depending on the person, place and situation.
Some will dismiss the Rational Wiki out of hand either from some political bias or because someone said the Rational Wiki is untrustworthy. So I will provide the proper context from an authentic libertarian source, LewRockwell.com, to corroborate the Rational Wiki’s stance on right-wing libertarian ethics.
“Libertarianism is logically consistent with almost any attitude toward culture, society, religion, or moral principle. In strict logic, libertarian political doctrine can be severed from all other considerations; logically one can be — and indeed most libertarians in fact are: hedonists, libertines, immoralists, militant enemies of religion in general and Christianity in particular — and still be consistent adherents of libertarian politics. In fact, in strict logic, one can be a consistent devotee of property rights politically and be a moocher, a scamster, and a petty crook and racketeer in practice, as all too many libertarians turn out to be.” — Murray Rothbard
Rockwell continued thus, “libertarian theory is thin.”
This is the most damning accusation I can possibly make against right-wing libertarianism, and it was penned, in a manner of speaking, by a libertarian founder.
Libertarians can be any sort of malapert person or riffraff as long as that person can rationalize their actions and character using right-wing libertarian logic. Libertarian philosophy can allow you to be a conman or a sucker or both at the same time. Galt’s Gulch Chile is a good example for this. On the Galt’s Gulch Facebook page in the about section, the people accused of defrauding their clients are in turn accusing their clients of defrauding them!
At some point, this realization will cause libertarians to rush to defend against critics by exclaiming only libertarians are allowed to identify other true libertarians. This allows libertarians to avoid intellectual culpability when one of their chosen becomes too unpopular or unconvincing and is summarily defrocked by the rest of the community.
Many may recall the libertarian-fashioned community being planned in Chile called "Galt's Gulch Chile" (GGC). If you've…dollarvigilante.com
Read the article above and the links provided. They are very illuminating. They provide good contrast between the libertarian ideal and what the reality actually is.
This admission that libertarianism is a rather thin and weak philosophy elucidates some of the reasons for proselytizing to those who may be intellectually vulnerable or naturally trusting. The philosophy would be dead otherwise. No serious, credible thinker, historian or philosopher would ever pick it up. This still does not completely explain the “why,” however.
When we take into account that there are people, like myself and hopefully you, the reader, who believe in the social contract, who believe taxes can be a form of social good which funds beneficial programs that raise the aggregate level of health and well-being, we can begin to realize the true motive behind libertarian proselytizing.
The libertarian position is very simple. Property rights trumps all, and anything to do with government, i.e., taxes, is evil. A cursory search on any serious libertarian blog, website, publication, and/or video will exclaim in no uncertain terms what I have already communicated to you.
We should not look to the initiates, the laity, or the intrapreneur in LibertarianCo as to why libertarians proselytize. We should look to those with power and influence which back the libertarian cause. What do they want?
I have already mentioned more than several names, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig Von Mises, Lew Rockwell, and Peter Schiff. Ayn Rand, though not a libertarian, inspired many. Ayn Rand fumed over libertarians plagiarizing her work. So there must have been something in her they liked. The Koch brothers have to be the single most influential force in libertarian politics past or present besides the Silicon Valley types, such as Peter Thiel and Mark Zuckerberg.
The Koch brothers created and fund the Cato institute. They seeded money to various other groups, the Mercatus Center, the Reason Foundation, e.g., Reason Magazine. “They also funded activist groups like Citizens for a Sound Economy, but did relatively little to aid Republicans. (CSE eventually split into Dick Army’s FreedomWorks and the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity.)”
The "movie premiere" wasn't supposed to happen at all. Instead, it happened a little late. Senate Majority Leader Harry…www.slate.com
David Koch ran as vice-president for the Libertarian Party in 1980. The Libertarian platform was a panoply of Bircher type positions and bad ideas from repealing all taxation to eliminating medicaid and medicare to eliminating public schooling to “the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.”
It is something you have to see to believe.
Taken from the blog post by Senator Sanders, available at Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party…www.dailykos.com
In an interview with Barbara Walters, David Koch announced his libertarian credentials by saying he is “fiscally conservative but socially liberal,” the usual refrain of right-wing libertarians and neoliberals alike.
I guess libertarians have realized any association with the Kochs is poison to their cause because one came onto an earlier thread to tell me the Kochs are not libertarians. He admitted shortly after that the Cato Institute and Koch politics are “libertarian-esque.” So I call that hair-splitting.
These people have a distorted view of human nature which can be encapsulated in a single quote by an-cap extraordinaire, Ludwig Von Mises.
“Man is born an asocial and antisocial being. The newborn child is a savage. Egoism is his nature. Only the experience of life and the teachings of his parents, his brothers, sisters, playmates, and later of other people FORCE HIM to acknowledge the advantages of social cooperation and accordingly to change his behavior.” ~Ludwig Von Mises, Omnipotent Government, p. 241
Working from all this, we finally know what libertarians want and why they proselytize and seek political power. They want to stamp out with extreme prejudice, Pinochet style, any and all forms of collectivism and social cooperation and replace it with selfish self-interest and self-maximization. To that end, they ironically collectivize and calculate ways to fool people into thinking they want peace when the outcomes create anything but. Their ways will undermine communities, sic brother against brother, sister against sister, and family against community. They want people to covet their neighbors and unleash their selfish desires. The commons will be extinguished. Social and financial security will forever be an uncertainty. Everyone will be forced to become a salesman, an entrepreneur, a marketer, a slave merchant to sell one’s own self forever in bondage, “an asocial and antisocial being.”