As a libertarian, I obviously disagree with progressivism. What I take umbrage at, however, are progressives who pretend to be something other than progressives. A part of it has to do with the fact that they more than other groups are conscious of their image. Progressives used to call themselves liberals or socialists, until both became so unpopular they went by another name. Same beliefs, different branding and marketing tactics.
Some progressives are honest enough to admit what they believe and defend it. Others are uninterested or unwilling to discuss their views using appropriate words with their true definitions, they deliberately misuse terms and then claim they have a right to arbitrarily change the definition to intentionally confuse people about what they believe.
Despite what the media and countless Internet discussion forums may indicate, you can disagree with someone and still respect them, chiefly for their intellectual honesty and integrity.
I have no respect, however, for people who endeavor to deceive or trick people into accepting their beliefs, or by making such ambiguous, obscure statements that it is impossible to discern what they believe, a necessity if you’re going to debate someone. I’ve dealt with these people before, in the workplace and when I was a college student. You will never get them to say anything concrete.
More specifically, these types of progressives are among those who seek to hijack libertarianism, which has gained support and numbers over the last decade, and lead the young and impressionable back towards progressivism under disingenuous claims to the contrary.
The truth is I dislike calling out other self-professed libertarians due to the fact that I am de facto inferring they are not actually libertarians and thus they are not being ingenuous about who they truly are. I do it nevertheless because I get the strongest impression that many of them are not actually libertarians and either do not realize it or, worse, they are aware of it yet take advantage of people’s willingness to believe their claim.
Among these self-described libertarians are those who are less interested in converting people to libertarianism as they are converting libertarians into whatever their moral, religious or cultural beliefs happen to be. As I said when addressing the concept of “privilege,” they should spend less time harassing people who adhere to the NAP and more time engaging those who share their moral, religious and cultural values but do not accept the NAP.
This effort to draw libertarians into the progressive camp is a problem, as one anarchist points out, because they continue to receive media attention and have far greater access to the wider public than libertarian intellectuals who understand and accept the inclusiveness of the political philosophy, such as Lew Rockwell. Additionally, as he points out, when among their own kind, these progressives don’t stand out from the crowd in any distinct manner. Calling themselves a libertarian, however, is a great marketing strategy that gives them clout they would not receive otherwise.
Another example of this assault on libertarian philosophy is a recent article titled “Six Reasons Libertarians Should Reject the Non-Aggression Principle.”
I’m not trying to be patronizing when I say this, but does the writer even comprehend the irony of such a statement? One might as well as write an article titled “Six Reasons Why Feminists Should Reject the Belief They are Equal to Men,” or “Six Reasons Why Muslims Should Reject the Belief that Mohammed is Allah’s Prophet.”
This whole thing goes back to the still-raging debate between “thickists” and “thinists” (or, to be more accurate, real libertarians). Thinists believe all that is necessary to be a libertarian is to accept the NAP. That is it. Thickists refuse to admit this, claiming one must also endorse and embrace social, moral, cultural and religious beliefs that inevitably adhere to progressive values.
This very much reminds me of the scene from the first Rambo film First Blood in which Colonel Samuel Trautmen is speaking with the local police chief about Rambo. After talking for a while, he realizes the police chief misunderstands him and clarifies his purpose for being there.
I didn’t come here to rescue Rambo from you. I came here to rescue you from him.
Likewise, people who seek to divide the libertarian movement into different groups based off of non-essential beliefs on sex, gender, religion, culture, ext. aren’t doing it to make libertarians out of progressives, liberals or feminists. They’re doing it to make feminists, progressives and liberals out of libertarians. What rankles myself and every libertarian who notices this is that they won’t admit it.
Needless to say, many libertarians do not share their views, which are unrelated to libertarianism. While dividing the movement over unimportant details, they also do double harm to the movement by attracting people to libertarianism who neither embrace the NAP or even know what it is. They never alter their views on the role of the State in society – which is to say it has no role at all. Rather than convert, this subterfuge tactic creates an illusion of support where none exists.
In other words, it is pointless to make libertarianism popular if in doing so the NAP is removed, at least if you are a libertarian.
Think of it this way. When missionaries were converting pagan nations in the Middle Ages, often all that changed were the names of the gods and the holidays. The peoples’ core beliefs, however, did not. They were no less pagan afterwards then they were before. You see this in Latin American countries where Catholicism was simply incorporated into native religious customs. This eventually led to confusion over what people actually believed, and much of the reason Christianity’s influence in Europe has faded is, in reality, the majority of the population didn’t believe it or understand it. The illusion of support.
That’s what will happen if libertarianism ever became popular under false pretenses, and its support would suffer the same decline once its true meaning became known again.
Of course, if you’re a progressive pretending to be a libertarian, this isn’t the point. The real goal is to get people to accept progressive values, even if they don’t realize it. As long as their social views are correct, they are free to dismiss or accept the notion of the State. The true enemy are people who hold differing social views, whether they be libertarian or not.
These people happen to also be the very “libertarians” who kept me away from libertarianism for so many years, when my political beliefs were actually in alignment more than theirs with the NAP. They impressed upon me that libertarians not only supported the legalization of certain behavior, but the morality of it, as well. Thus, when I came across Walter Block’s book Defending the Undefendable, I mistakenly believed he was defending things such as prostitution and blackmail from a moral point of view, rather than a legal perspective.
One can’t help but wonder if the reason so many political conservatives continue to believe what they do about government is due to fake libertarians who scare them away by inferring that to become a libertarian you must first convert to the social views of progressivism.
The worst part of this isn’t the attempt, but the dishonesty with which it is being attempted. Again, it goes back to honesty. Honest people are open about what they believe because they don’t feel the need to deceive people into accepting their views.
As Bionic Mosquito writes in response to one of the articles calling for the rejection of the NAP :
One thing all of the advocates of thick (or, in this case, unrecognizable) libertarianism have in common is to ignore property rights. Fair enough – just say so plainly (none have yet answered my call).
Let me end this with a question: When was the last time you read an article by a libertarian with traditional values claiming one must accept their social views in order to be a libertarian? Is it more than a coincidence that those who make up the “thickist” camp are almost exclusively if not entirely people who adhere to progressive social values? There are certainly people who hold political views that involve coercing people into adhering to traditional values. But they don’t call themselves libertarians. They call themselves conservatives, or something else along that line. We disagree with them about how they view the State, but at least they aren’t trying to fool anyone about what they believe. The same cannot be said for progressives in libertarian’s clothing.