Bionic Mosquito has a new post poking fun at Jeffrey Tucker for a recent article of his arguing that “Everyone Needs Freedom to Discriminate.”

BM’s rhetorical query aside, while I’m glad Tucker is taking the right stance, like everyone else who’s followed his work I’m perplexed as to how he came to that conclusion.

Tucker’s first article on brutalism critiques those who use their freedom in ways that, while adhering to the NAP, are not “humanitarian” in nature and thus should be discouraged within the libertarian movement because they are not conducive to its promotion. His description, however is ambiguous and defines brutalist by their intent or the motives for why they do what they do:

There is a segment of the population of self-described libertarians—described here as brutalists—who find all the above rather boring, broad, and excessively humanitarian. To them, what’s impressive about liberty is that it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on “politically incorrect” standards, to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions, to be openly racist and sexist, to exclude and isolate and be generally malcontented with modernity, and to reject civil standards of values and etiquette in favor of antisocial norms.

In his recent article, Tucker defends the right of business owners to discriminate against customers, including homosexuals. Many libertarians would argue that discrimination against gays does not fit the definition of a humanitarian libertarian (or fits that of a brutalist) and should be discouraged within libertarianism for the reasons Tucker stated in his first article.

So the question is this: Does such discrimination not fit Tucker’s description of a brutalist? If it doesn’t fit his description of a brutalist, why not, and why are those who would argue it does incorrect?

This is where honestly I get most confused on this particular topic: How does one practically differentiate a brutalist from a humanitarian libertarian? Is it contingent on one’s actions or one’s motives? And what is the purpose for differentiating?

In other words, if I wanted to find out if I am a brutalist or a humanitarian libertarian, how would I go about finding out? What’s an example of brutalist libertarian stance or behavior compared to that of humanitarian libertarians?

This has been my main issue with the whole “brutalist-humanitarian” debate, sheer confusion as to what specific issues are being argued about. Sometimes I can’t help wonder if it’s intentionally vague.

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3 Responses to Brutalism

  1. Honestly, you should not even waste a fraction of a second on this dumb debate. Just because Tucker decided to “invent” some terms and its corresponding debate, doesn’t mean any of it worthy of our time. They are a nuisance in that they are distracting. Why, for instance, are we wasting space on thinking about PC attitudes within libertarianism when we have the state in full force to contend with. You may of course ask Tucker and his ilk this question. You may also wonder if he simply isn’t trying to backtrack from a diversion that has done him no real good whatsoever.


    • The Question says:

      The problem with Tucker is that he is a highly influential and very charismatic figure in the liberty movement, which means he can have a lot of influence over how we are perceived. He can also influence those within the movement. If he were some keyboard warrior on an obscure blog I’d ignore it.

      His current predicament, though, shows the problem with the whole idea of a humanitarian-brutalist paradigm in the first place. Who gets to decide who is in what camp? I don’t think he really thought that through. His libertarian views notwithstanding, he strikes me very much as an idealist or optimist in terms of humanity and wants a society where everyone gets along in spite of our differences beyond politics. It just ain’t gonna happen.

      One hopes that the matter will die away as Tucker and others realize that they won’t always be the one who gets to discuss the matter from the position of authority, and the “authority figure” in the liberty movement might not designate them in the camp they think are. Perhaps that’s why a lot of “humanitarian” libertarians are telling people like Chris Cantwell, who has brought up social issues recently in his writing, to stop talking about it and only discuss politics.


  2. Pingback: Thick Libertarianism: When Leftism Trumps Libertarianism | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

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