These type of posts are so fun, right? It seems everyone these days writes with an attitude that says, “I’m important. Read what I have to say, not because it’s that informative, clever, or artistic, but simply because I said it. Me.”
Someday I too hope to avoid this attitude. But this is my blog and you clicked on it. And please, don’t leave.
What follows is a brief synopsis of my fundamental problems with Libertarianism. More can and should be written, I am sure. But since this is my lunch break… let’s go!
–Why I Am No Longer a Libertarian–
I became a libertarian in college (doesn’t everyone?). Like most people who were raised conservative, I had a basis of principles which came from my religion, the area I grew up in, and my natural pride in my country and heritage. Mix in a little education (especially in basic economics) at a conservative school, a little independence, and a little dissatisfaction with the useless candidates and idiotic governance produced by the Democrat-Republican paradigm and voila, we have a little libertarian hell-raiser.
I voted for the candidates; read all the favorites: Rothbard, Von Mises, Ayn Rand, Cormac McCarthy, and Reason Magazine (to name a few); rocked the “Don’t Tread on Me” stickers; and told anyone who listened that we don’t need the government to build roads, run schools, provide healthcare, look after the poor, or even provide for the common defense.* Simple solution. Let the people’s self-interest collectively lead us to the optimal outcome. Do you even First Fundamental Welfare Theorem bro?
However, the more experience I gained, the less convinced I became that Libertarianism can lead to optimal outcomes, or that its proponents even account for what we see in the real–rather than the theoretical–world. It’s not that I became some believer in the government–far from it. In fact, I still hold with libertarians on many things such as government regulations on businesses, land use, taxation, schooling, and foreign policy. But a holistic philosophy for governing it is not. It cannot produce what it claims: a free and functioning society.
After a few years of philosophical wandering and brooding annoyance with the Libertarian Party, I realized a blind spot in modern Libertarianism–that libertarians’ dogmatic adherence to the “free market” and the non-aggression principle needed a healthy dose of pragmatism. This starts by noticing a few key things:
- Unrestricted trade has been a disaster for the first-world working class.
- Open borders are decimating the civil societies and the overall social cohesion of countries that neighbor each other. And no, this is not just a “third world into the first world” problem. It’s an “everywhere” problem.
- Free elections among our supposedly freedom-loving people have done little to preserve individual liberty. As a group, our people have not the industry nor the morality to do so.
Taken together, these points reveal the Achilles heel of Libertarianism. That is, in the libertarian canon there is no accounting for the increasingly obvious conclusion that egalitarianism is a myth, a thing that works in theory but not in practice. The current incantation of Libertarianism came from ivory-tower academics who, while they had the wisdom to reject Marxism, created a philosophy that still only gains adherents from among wealthy, insulated, and homogeneous people. Not coincidentally, these people comprise the only populations for which Libertarianism may actually work.
For such populations, however, I’m not convinced democratic socialism wouldn’t work just as effectively. Sweden seemed to be doing fine (economic growth rates notwithstanding**) until they dispensed with the whole “nation” thing and invited the world.
Perhaps now my Twitter bio makes a little more sense. “Governing philosophy: pragmatism. High faith in individuals, low faith in groups.” Individuals are fine when it comes to living in a proper society, but put them in a group and have them make decisions about governing said society… and not so much. If it sounds like I’m down on democracy, perhaps I am. But (remember, pragmatism) it’s what we have and it’s where the potential to clean up our nations lies.
There’s a reason Ann Coulter called libertarians pussies. Too idealistic, too scholarly, too adverse to taking a cold hard look at the world. Pragmatism is what they need. As Joe Abercrombie once wrote, “You have to be realistic about things.”
* And for many of those things I still don’t believe we need the government.
** Of course, libertarians don’t trust the stats based on funny money, right?
It really isn’t fair. I write a blog trashing this wasteland of a city and since then everywhere I look I see nothing but validation.
First it was how expensive it is to drive a car on the narrow strips disjointed rock we call roads. And it’s only getting worse. Recently, after a bit of light rain, we were all surprised to learn that our roads are actually made out of fucking paper mache. (And don’t try telling me it was a lot of rain; I’ve lived in the Midwest, South, and Northwest.)
And now, it’s this:
Oops, that’s one talking about the ever-increasing percentage of Angelenos who find their lives utterly unfulfilling and meaningless.
No, the article I meant to link was this one:
I mean, what can I say that my blood pressure and seething hatred for Eric Garcetti hasn’t already said?
Cue the music!
Never mind, I actually can believe it.
Sure this is a repost of an entry I wrote a year and a fucking half ago but since Allstate is content recycling hacky and tired material, I guess I’ll do the same.
[[Blog from July 27, 2015 posted below.]]
everyone associated with this commercial (including people who like it) should lose driving privileges
Girl Power! Right? What a dickhead this guy was. I mean, who just comes out and says women are shitty drivers? * Doesn’t that make pleasant date conversation? Apparently, this guy was enough of an ass that this broad felt the need to go home and get her little stamp of approval to repair her ego.
From every direction, this commercial is condescending to everyone and that’s why I fucking hate it so much. And I hate the asswipes who came up with it. And I hate everyone who says, “Yeah! That’s right, gurl!” when they see it. (It’s possible no one is saying that.)
On a superficial level, this commercial shits on men. It plays up an old overplayed stereotype that all men think women are bad drivers and that we are all such assholes that we will tell them this the first chance we get. * And we will do it in a way that is non-jovial, disregarding her feelings. That’s condescending to men.
Now say this was the case and that this woman was offended enough by this man’s comments to go home, stew about it, and get supporting evidence (he clearly barely remembers making the comment). Is she so insecure that she cannot defend herself without some outside validation? Is she that weak of a woman? Is some corporation’s (represented by a man’s voice) pat on the head what she needs to get her point across? Pathetic display of girl power here. That’s condescending to women.
And maybe the guy wasn’t being an asshole by talking about male versus female drivers in their previous conversation. Maybe he was just trying to establish a little banter — you know, a little of the ol’ sexual-energy tennis match. So what if he’s not very good at it and had to resort to cheap tactics like using played out “controversial” topics like driving. She’s that big of bitch that she can’t take a joke? That’s condescending to women. Again.
This might be currently the worst running commercial on TV. I’ve been wanting to sound off on it for a while but just haven’t taken the time. I kept thinking it was going to finally fade into oblivion but since Allstate’s advertising firm has decided it plays well with the modern society’s bullshit view of gender politics it keeps popping up. Ha. The idea that they think this commercial is appealing to women is yet more evidence of this commercial being (you guessed it) condescending to women.
* Women are shitty drivers. **
** Women are not shitty drivers, per se. Statistics are what they are and statistics pretty clearly state that when you put all women and all men together, women on average are less expensive to insure. I haven’t looked at the numbers across age groups or races or regions so this could be out of date but that is the prevailing wisdom. Ladies: the reason men think you all suck at driving (and you do) is because we evaluate driving abilities the same way we evaluate athletic ability. We could play catch in the backyard and you could throw the ball accurately to my glove 10 times out of 10 and I’m still going to walk away laughing and say, “Ha, she gets it there but she sure throws like a girl.” Now statistically, you did what you needed to do and didn’t make any mistakes but you looked like a dweeb doing it. But if you were a man, you would have whipped the ball in there using a variety of grips. Maybe I would be down in a low position to try and both catch the ball and then quickly sweep my arm to tag the invisible runner. So maybe the ball goes past me and into the bushes a few times or I drop it a few times. Then, statistically speaking, we execute the catch more times when it’s me and the girl playing (and if you were “insuring” the ball against hitting the grass you’d give better rates to the girl) but the guy is the better ball player. Make sense?
Here’s a meme which a libertarian friend of mine posted on Facebook. I found it pretty funny and somewhat true, just a little incomplete. Our friendly exchange is below. The last comment is another friend of his who seemed to chime in with support for my point.
ME: Where’s the picture of when he puts a suit back on and gets a MAGA hat? Asking for a friend.
FRIEND: It goes the other way, Joel. You’ll soon value the ethics of liberty 🙂 [[he links to Rothbard’s “Ethics of Liberty”]]
ME: Already gone down that road to serfdom, my friend. I was told there would be cake… exchanged under free market conditions, of course.
FRIEND: If liberty leads to serfdom then I’m stumped. Perhaps you are implying libertarianism leads to serfdom? Libertarianism, as defined by yours truly (and not necessarily many of the party), is the application (or largely the lack thereof) of government to increase liberty – so maybe I need to turn on my own party? 🙂
OTHER DUDE: lacking the time to go over the argument again, and I’m stepping onto ground well outside what I’m able to articulately defend at the moment, but I am suspicious Liberty may very well lead inevitably to slavery.
“Perhaps you are implying libertarianism leads to serfdom?” Ding, ding, ding tell him what he’s won, Johnny! Why, an utter destruction of his faith in the libertarian dogmas he’s been following since freshman year of college!
(Also, it sounds like OTHER DUDE is on the road to becoming a Neoreactionary. Come back to the light, OTHER DUDE!)
I think I’ve put my finger on why so many Mormons are political wusses. They’re all libertarians! At least the young ones. That, or bored housewives who start liking Evan McMullin <shudder>. Think about it: imagine you’re a young Mormon male looking for a political philosophy.
Liberalism? Nah, too grotesque and wicked. Abortions? Feminism? No thanks.
Republicanism? Too war-mongering, corrupt, and ineffective. Bush lied, people died.
Conservatism? It mostly aligns with my values but it’s definitely full of a bunch of meanies — I wouldn’t want to alienate any ward members or potential investigators. And think of all those poor impoverish immigrants! WWJD?
Libertarianism? Well now! Here’s something that puts a nice package around the principles I project onto the Founding Fathers, the Book of Mormon, and personal agency and liberty. Also, I get to reject Leftism while still pretending to be tolerant, never contend with the PC myths of ultra-egalitarianism or multiculturalism, and virtue-signal by complaining about Republicans, all while justifying my own political laziness because “no one out there aligns with my views.”
Game. Set. Match.
In case you don’t want to watch the video I can summarize for you. A woman with a PhD in history stands on a stage and unwittingly humiliates herself in front of a large audience while she laments her pitiful romantic life.
I truly feel bad for this girl. I feel bad for all women who have been sucked in by our modern world and found themselves unhappy and alone with their best dating and childbearing years behind them. I blame feminism but that’s another rant for another time.
To help the rest of us, I’m going to point out the problem with her underlying attitude.
She is full of ideas about what she wants but never considers what the hypothetical he wants. She thinks she is considering the man’s desires, but what she is really doing in the first few minutes of the video is listing the things she is most pleased with about herself and projecting them onto her potential mates’ wants.
“I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m pretty, I’m accomplished, yadda yadda yadda.”
She does this to validate her life choices. Considering that it is her fault she is single and that what she has spent the last few years of her life doing may not have been in her best interests does not come into the picture. For that would require potentially painful self-reflection and a willingness to change–two things most people don’t want to do.
I’m just going to say it: if instead of sitting indoors getting a useless history PhD she had lost weight, stopped patting herself on the back for how wonderful she is, and looked for a realistic man rather than the one she wrote about in her diary when she was 14, she would have been married years ago. And she would have children. And she would be happy.
Even a well-composed appearance on stage cannot hide the truth: she is miserable, she is lonely, and she doesn’t have much hope.
Don’t misinterpret what I wrote above as another, “he thinks all women need to do is be pretty.” That’s not the case–at least not entirely. I certainly expect more than looks in the women I date. The truth is simply that looks get you dates and a personality gets you a relationship. Since dates usually precede relationships, anything you can do to get more dates is going to improve your chances of a relationship. It’s not complicated.
The world will catch on. It currently is catching on, actually. I sense a change in the winds. However, the shame of it is that so many women like this one above will be left behind.