AnarchoMama recently wrote a post about a frequent roadblock of hers when trying to write about topics from a libertarian perspective, an obstacle which I too find equally as frustrating as a content creator.
I’m running into this problem more and more: I see something on the news, I want to post about it, and then I think of all my personal friends and colleagues who are bound to either misunderstand or strongly disagree with what I have to say.
As libertarian anarchists, our views put us at odds with nearly everyone we know in one way or another. Those who agree with us on foreign policy will disagree on economics or NSA surveillance. Yes, we have outspoken and loudmouth libertarians, (and don’t get me wrong; we need them) but when it comes to protesting the way in which reality inaccurately reflects the world we envision, we are by far the most tolerant political group in the world, yet we are the ones who have to self-censor because we are the minority and the majority is extremely closed-minded to the conversation.
For whatever reason, it is acceptable for a neocon or progressive to throw a tantrum when someone says something ill of a politician but we are not permitted to calmly and rationally explain why the state is a criminal entity without being accused of lacking civility.
Like AnarchoMama, I too have relatives either in the military or retired. I have friends who fought in the Iraq War. Some of them died, others came back cripple, and another has severe PTSD. I value their friendship and choose not to discuss or debate topics like American Sniper with them; in fact, most of them are completely unaware of my true political beliefs. I also have friends and relatives who work for in the public sector.
But this conundrum makes it especially hard for me to promote this site in the way I would prefer. I don’t post my work on Facebook because everyone sees it on their news feed. It is impossible to properly filter out who gets to see what, as people respond differently to different topics I cover, and I having giving up debating on Facebook.
Some anarchists have thrown off these socially-imposed restrictions and created a personality brand to sell themselves as a liberty writer, which is an effective marketing tactic. Or, they promote libertarianism through softer, gentler means than others, and their work as activists means their enemies can’t hurt them by pressuring their employer to fire them.
Yet, it’s a problem that occurs even with libertarian commentators like Julie Borowski, a.k.a. Token Libertarian Girl, who use their real name with their work.
Having said that, however, none of my reservations are due to fear of what people will think of me. My sole concern is separating my work as a reporter and not burning bridges with people whose relationships I don’t consider worthy of destruction for the sake of a political argument. Unless you are willing to expel someone from your life who refuses to subscribe to your specific beliefs, too often it means confining your libertarian discussions to libertarians and keeping your mouth closed when they spout off something you could so easily refute (and make them appear foolish simultaneously).
Ironically enough, our tendency to self-censor in order to maintain amiable relations with other people in society is actually a rather appropriate example of how voluntary society would still maintain rules without a ruler to enforce them, a concept we often get mocked for when discussing it.
There is no government law to stop us from writing whatever we wish or posting our articles on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit or speaking our minds whenever we please, save for certain circumstances. What causes us to censor ourselves, if not in our writing then in front of our friends and family, are social rules that have clear yet non-coercive consequences when they are violated.
No one enforces these rules via the state; they are enforced by society without violating the NAP when people choose to disassociate or associate with others based on how they behave; whether their choose displays ignorance and bigotry is beside the point. It is a voluntary arrangement. There is no commissar regulating our social choices….not yet, anyways.
Next time someone claims that a stateless society could not enforce rules effectively, remind them of this.
I’m curious what readers have to say, though. How often do you censor yourself when political topics come up at family events, social gatherings, or at work? What relationships are worth more than the ability to speak your mind without filtering yourself? At what point do you feel expressing your views outweighs the social consequences and relationships?