A Libertarian Who Returns to Their Vomit

I feel compelled to bring up an unpleasant but nevertheless truthful reality.

There are certain beliefs that, because of their consequences, are mutually exclusive of libertarian philosophy.

To put it another way, there are people today who can call themselves libertarians but would not be able to maintain, perpetuate, or continue their current way of life without the state. Neither would they be able to achieve their vision for society and culture.

To be clear, by speaking of the “state” I am not referring to the absence of laws or rules, or even authority within voluntary organizations; I am referring to the entity as defined by Gerard Casey in his book Libertarian Anarchy Against the State.

That group of people or that organization which wields a monopoly on allegedly legitimate force over the inhabitants of a determined territory financed by a compulsory levy imposed on those inhabitants.

Consider the following analogy : A roller coaster ride requires riders to be five feet tall. Although this rule doesn’t outright prohibit infants  from riding the roller coaster, because it is practically impossible for an infant to be that tall, the rule implicitly prohibits all infants. In this sense, the ride is theoretically inclusive but practically exclusive.

While reading a post by Kristor at Orthosphere, who writes from a separate perspective, I realized why this is the case.

He writes:

“A good law, that agrees with human nature, is no more troublesome to men, and no harder to enforce, than the convention that everyone should drive on the right side of the road. It is only bad law – law that tries to push men to act in ways that under Heaven they ought not to act, and which their natures therefore resist – that fails to govern them the way that it would, and so needs ever more laws, ever more police, and ever stiffer punishments. In the limit, you get persecution over microaggressions: utter totalitarian tyranny” (emphasis added).

Now, Kristor says this truth turns “raw naive libertarianism on its head.” I can only infer by this remark he is thinking of progressive libertarians (can we finally just call them Progressives?) – those who are all for libertarianism until libertarianism contradicts progressive beliefs of theirs that by necessity require government laws to enforce.

If there is confusion about what libertarianism is and isn’t – it’s understandable. It’s why I’ve written so many posts on why it is about non-coercion out of respect for property rights per the NAP.

Regardless of what Kristor had in mind referring to libertarianism, his statement holds true for certain libertarians just the same.

It made me realize why these libertarians with certain beliefs or ideologies outside of politics inevitably return to their vomit – the state.

When you strip the issue down to the barebones, what they really wanted all along was not achievable, or sustainable, without the state.

I and other real libertarians have dealt with these types before. Lest anyone thinks they actually believe in the philosophy, simply look at who they are most apt to condemn – those who are opposed to the state but hold values beyond those approved by our wise overlords – while statists who share their personal values are left untouched.

This explains why progressive libertarians are so determined to eradicate or “cleanse” the movement of any who hold traditional beliefs that, at the very least, conform to the natural order, and why the inverse is not true. Real libertarians do not require coercing others into conforming or accepting their particular beliefs in order to continue practicing them. All they require is their rights be respected.

As C. J Engel at Reformed Libertarian explained:

This, is the Progressive Libertarian war on the Old Guard.  We must be honest with ourselves. We must see this trend as reflective of the world in general. The new libertarian tendency sits in the context of society at large: those with traditional views on things, who are wary of the Progressivist takeover of culture, are not to be accepted in polite society. They are outcasts, not only in the libertarian world, but in the world at large.  Your religion, your views on morality, your standards of virtue have no place in Progressive Utopia. Flee or die.

Those who subscribe to a proper understanding of libertarianism accept its limitations as a political philosophy and acknowledge that if something they wish to carry out requires coercion and aggression to exist or persist, then it must give way for the sake of the NAP.

The “raw naive libertarianism” I presume Kristor is referring to is a bastardized version of the philosophy that insists on conflating what is legal with what is moral and places a vision of the world utterly at odds with nature as the highest in priority.

It’s why the concept of voluntary communism or socialism is utopian in the purest sense of the word and has failed completely whenever tried, such as the first year the Pilgrims lived in Plymouth. For it to continue for any length of time, such as the Soviet Union, it requires the state because the idea of everyone sharing everything equally regardless of one’s individual productivity goes against the very nature of things.

In other words, behaviors, lifestyles, and actions that are not sustainable, i.e. which go against the natural state of things, requires state intervention to perpetuate. Since libertarianism forbids coercion or aggression, either such a libertarian will abandon their other beliefs and continue embracing the NAP, or they will forsake the NAP and return to the state like a prodigal son.

We see this in how these “libertarians” speak of the right to be “left alone” to live out their lifestyles, but when there are consequences for those choices, choices which go against the natural state of things, they are quick to cry for the state to intervene and coerce others into subsidizing their behavior. By doing so they reveal that their so-called adherence to libertarian philosophy was only in an effort to find some justification for their actions.

The reality is they favor whatever system or institution they think might enable their conduct. What they don’t realize, at least until they grow “disenchanted,” is that libertarianism is not and does not claim to be a complete moral theory.

To summarize, only that which naturally perpetuates itself – without the use of coercion or aggression – can conform to libertarianism. Anything parasitical, “unnatural,” will either wither and die or resort to the state to survive.

As to what constitutes “natural” and “unnatural” the question is this: Does it ultimately require the coercion of the state in order to exist in perpetuity?

I’ll leave you to answer that on your own. But it should be apparent that those who need the state won’t stray too far from before returning to their vomit.

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11 Responses to A Libertarian Who Returns to Their Vomit

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