The Rise of the Dissidents

By now I’m certain you are all weary of hearing about presidential race, and I’m not terribly interested in it for reasons I’ve already stated several times.

It’s been fascinating to watch how the liberty movement has responded to the recent batch of would-be messiahs – er, presidential candidates. You’d think that they would be watching from the sidelines, like yours truly, eating popcorn and laughing hysterically as candidates scramble to recite all the carefully tailored statements they’re rehearsed in fear of offending Those Whom You May Not Offend.

The most remarkable phenomenon, however, has been the special emotional outrage of certain libertarians and libertarian outlets and those in the liberty movement; an outrage they’ve directed in particular (though not exclusively) at Donald Trump’s candidacy.

To many, he is Satan incarnate and the worst of the lot.

I have no love for Trump (does this even need to be said?) but like one former IRA member said about the violence during The Irish Troubles I don’t condone what is happening, but I do understand exactly why it is happening.

It was wholly predictable.

Mind you, my interest is not about Trump, per se, but what his success so far says about where we’re at. Unfortunately, it appears many libertarians are misreading the country’s political pulse. Organizations like the Cato Institute are correct to point out what’s wrong with Trump but where they go wrong is the reasons for why people are backing him. The explanations provided, at least those I’ve seen, are simplistic and facile.

Jeffrey Tucker’s post below summarizes this sentiment.

It’s not that I’m shocked Tucker doesn’t like Trump – no libertarian should support him, albeit they may, like yours truly, find his antics entertaining. What puzzles me is why he or any other libertarian pretends like we haven’t seen any of this before; and more importantly why people are backing Trump.

Where were they in 2007 when kids were singing creepy songs about Obama? Where were they when he was proclaimed “The One“? Or when as a candidate Obama proclaimed “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” was part of his plans?

No doubt it’s scary to see people literally thanking Christ for Trump, but it’s not as if Obama wasn’t being referred to as “The Messiah,” subject to glowering magazine cover stories.

Again, I don’t know why people are surprised, but they shouldn’t be any more than seeing the rise of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy (for separate reasons). It’s evidence of an untapped reserve of dissidents in America who, on a whole host of issues, have had their rights violated.

It is possible (nobody can be certain about this) that one of the underlying causes is what Samuel T. Francis coined “anarcho-tyranny”:

What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny – the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through “sensitivity training” and multiculturalist curricula, “hate crime” laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny.

What we are seeing is the rise of a dissident political party, a reactionary movement. As I see it, it’s what happens when you force people into a corner. You can call them freaks, racists, bigots, nativists, and angry-bitter misogynists all you like, but name-calling and addressing the root cause of the problem are two different things. We’re where we are now because name-calling has been the order of the day for a long time. It’s akin to the English and French lambasting the Germans for supporting the Nazis while at the same time insisting the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles were perfectly valid and fair.

When you have 320 million people ruled by a small group of individuals in D.C., inevitably lives get stepped on; when your people aren’t getting stepped on, you don’t care so much, but when it’s your people, this is somewhat relevant to the discussion.

Look at the root of most extremism and you will be surprised to find some legitimate grievances. The grievances of many groups in the country are not without merit (even if their proposed solutions are not), yet they have been ignored, or mocked and ridiculed if acknowledged at all.They’ve been told that their rights do not matter and that there is no scenario in which their rights will be respected.

This is a lesson that statists need to get into their thick skulls, if for no other reason then for their own damn good. If the only option you give dissidents is either being the oppressed or the oppressor, eventually they will choose the latter. The fear and loathing (pardon the expression) we’re seeing about Trump’s rise is the realization that Dissident America is finally switching its long-held choice of submission because it’s found a man strong enough to make it happen.

Those who are inclined to study history will see the comparison between those who tell us not to take Trump seriously and what contemporaries of Hitler said of him (at first). Trump is mocked for his toupee and bombastic demeanor, while Hitler was ridiculed for his resemblance to Charlie Chaplain and his frenetic speeches. Hindenburg thought Hitler would amount to no more than a Postmaster General. We’re told not to take Trump’s white paper on immigration seriously, while nobody paid much attention to Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, which contained ideas he carried out rather faithfully.

I’m not equating Trump with Hitler, but the lessons from history are there. Outside candidates whom the Establishment doesn’t take seriously or despises can gain power under the right circumstances. Holding your enemies and their grievances in contempt is the first step towards defeat.

Sadly, by voting for Trump, the American strongman, dissidents believe their rights will be protected. Yet those who insult them while refusing to admit the root cause – a centralized government – they have no room for complaining, for they partly share the blame for what is happening. It is they who for years have insisted there is no option in which everyone is left in peace.

Either it is time for Americans to go their own separate ways peacefully, or we will be forced down the same Road to Serfdom together through state violence, and whether it is thrust upon us by a nationalist or a socialist will make no difference.

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14 Responses to The Rise of the Dissidents

  1. So what happened to Tucker’s diversity, tolerance, big tent etc?
    His reaction to the rise of Trump is hysterical (in the non-funny sense) and hypocritical. As you pointed out, Obama and his worshipful followers were just as creepy if not more so. Of course, Trump is right-wing. And that is the point of it. Tucker is more and more coming out of the closet as a low tax liberal than he is a ‘neutral’ libertarian.
    What is happening with Trump is actually a carbon copy of what happened here in the Netherlands in 2001-2002 with an aspiring politician called Pim Fortuijn, and outsider who was truly despised by the establishment because he was politically incorrect, mocked and ridiculed the political elite, and regardless of any filthy thing said about him and people that supported him continued to rise in popularity. PRECISELY for the reasons you mentioned, because they were fed up with being ignored, insulted, disrespected and repressed by the tyranny of political correctness. For Trump i hope he won’t end up like Fortuijn, because Fortuijn was assassinated by a whacked out environmental activist who perceived him a “threat to society.”

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    • The Question says:

      That has certainly been my suspicion when it comes to left libertarians and their hatred of Trump. They don’t seem to realize the irony of their criticism; it is precisely because he is what he is (or what they claim he is) that his supporters back him. Their inability to address the root cause of his popularity has been rather amusing. All they really have to offer is the whole “the Right is just a bunch of racist, bigoted, prejudiced angry White men and the only reason anyone would hold (fill in the blank) view is solely due to racism” bit, which in the past has worked to suppress political discussions. But Trump’s supporters don’t care about the insults anymore than he does; I think that is partly what terrifies the Establishment. These people can’t be shamed or ridiculed into silence like in the past. Trump’s candidacy is a sign that they are losing control of the discussion and what is permissible to talk about. Like I’ve said repeatedly, I don’t favor his politics, but he’s trying to address legitimate problems that his detractors – including libertarians – refuse to even acknowledge exist.

      Whatever Trump or isn’t, what he is not is a man controlled by anyone else. One wonders if this is the dirty little secret of the modern political scene; everyone is controlled to some degree by someone. To them, he’s a maverick who answers to no one. The intense shrieking and attempts to destroy him seems to indicate this.

      I’ve never heard of Pim Fortuijn before but I will have to read up on him – perhaps that might make a good followup post. However, I doubt Trump will meet the same fate, even though the possibility has been raised. If he were killed it would spark a tremendous backlash, and most likely his political successor, an actual ideologue, would grow even more bold.

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      • “If he were killed it would spark a tremendous backlash, and most likely his political successor, an actual ideologue, would grow even more bold.”

        Well, that is what actually has happened here in the Netherlands. Fortuijn was assassinated in 2002, 2004 saw the rise of Geert Wilders, who is not merely politically incorrect but outright racial in his views (“We need less Moroccans in our country”) and right now he is in the lead in the weekly polls.

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  2. Don says:

    Trump is the most libertarian candidate available because Rand Paul can’t get elected (nor Gary Johnson nor any of these other possible alternatives). Any libertarian not behind him is being unrealistic, though I respect your freedom to differ in opinion. Do we really want to pour our heart and souls into another Ron Paul campaign to nowhere, to gain all kinds of support only for it to be shut down by the RNC? Trump is as “alternative” you’re going to get in this mainstream race. Us beggars aren’t choosers!

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    • The Question says:

      “Do we really want to pour our heart and souls into another Ron Paul campaign to nowhere, to gain all kinds of support only for it to be shut down by the RNC?”

      Which is exactly why I have absolutely zero sympathy for anyone who is opposed to Trump on the grounds that he’s not playing by “the rules” or that he’s taking votes away from Rand Pul, yet said nothing when Ron Paul was treated like garbage by his own party during the 2012 primaries. I doubt the Establishment realized what kind of message the RNC sent or what the repercussions would be. Had they been cordial and not derailed Ron Paul during the process, the liberty movement and other dissidents would be more inclined to back Rand’s campaign, but they’ve been down that road before.

      At this point many aren’t in it for the “message”; they want to support a candidate who they believe will not only fight, but win, and hurt some of their enemies in the process. If Rand wants to get the votes, he needs to stop trying to make friends with the right people and start making enemies with the right people.

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      • Agreed. Rand needs to grow a pair and fast. He needs to get ballsy and go libertarian by taking a stand on discrimination and our right to employ the use of it as we each see fit. He needs to attack the Fed with a vengeance like his Dad did. He needs to be at the forefront of the impending crash on Wall Street with the Austrian diagnosis. He needs to talk about repealing not only Obamacare, but the Civil Rights Act, and the New Deal to boot.

        If he does not, then he will continue to fade in the polls as an uninteresting middle of the road candidate, which he will most certainly do.

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      • The Question says:

        As much as their political stance is important, I have to also concede the influence of effective branding. I’m not a campaign manager or even a marketing major, but before selling a product in a market where similar products are already being offered, you have to find a way to set yours apart through branding. Trump has clearly mastered the art of building and selling a brand. Ron Paul effectively branded himself as one who would follow the Constitution.
        Aside from his politics, he had the Revolution. It made his campaign not just about the campaign, but a part of a greater movement. Rand chose not to brand himself as his father’s successor as the leader of the Revolution, mainly because his politics are too different.

        What is Rand’s brand? This is where he falls flat.

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    • Just because Trump is a successful businessman doesn’t mean he knows anything about free trade or liberty in general. I wouldn’t go so far as saying he’s the most libertarian who may grace the throne in 2016; he may be the least. He’s proven he has no conception of individual freedom with his attempts to employ the State’s weapon of eminent domain. His politics follow no principle but rather blow with the winds of popular opinion. Single payer healthcare? He’s all too excited to impose international protectionist trade deals upon the rest of the world with the implicit threat of flexing U.S military might, and of course, all at the expense of the American consumer and tax payer.

      The choices, at least among front runners at the moment, are atrocious. But what else did we expect? Of the two Democrats in contention, the one who isn’t an avowed Socialist, Hillary, is the war hawk, but don’t let Bernie fool you for a second; he’s a socialist and ALL socialists are tempted by the sweet siren song of State war planning of the economy. Of the two front running Republicans, I don’t know which would be more terrifying as Commander in Chief: The Scientist or the CEO.

      Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching the political circus with Trump in the mix, but as far as casting my vote goes…I’m voting for the only REAL hope we have.

      Deez Nuts.

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      • The Question says:

        The choices, at least among front runners at the moment, are atrocious. But what else did we expect?

        I’m tempted to write a post on this, but I think I’ve covered it sufficiently. What incentives are there for decent, morally-upright, honest men with integrity to run for president? None. What incentives are there for self-centered, arrogant, lying, corrupt men with a messiah-complex to run? Plenty.

        Those who complain about the current crop of candidates don’t seem to realize that they are a feature of the system, not a bug in the system.

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      • The Question says:

        but don’t let Bernie fool you for a second; he’s a socialist and ALL socialists are tempted by the sweet siren song of State war planning of the economy.

        So why is there so much silence among certain libertarian circles about the Left’s support for Sanders, an avowed socialist? He doesn’t even hide it. He’s also a warmonger and has a terrible stance on our foreign policy.

        Meanwhile, we read articles and opinion pieces every single day about how dangerous Trump is and how his policies threaten the very fabric of society. I don’t necessarily disagree with what Trump’s critics say of his solutions or his past liberalism or his corrupt behavior, but then they go on to say that even the problems he’s trying to address aren’t really problems. It’s like Trump is trying to throw dirt on a house fire, while his critics are pointing how futile that method is to stop it, followed by declarations that the fire is not really harming the house and it should be left as it is.

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      • “What is Rand’s brand? This is where he falls flat.”
        Rand’s brand is whatever would get him the most votes. It’s simply that he is dumb. He calculated that a somewhat neocon stance in combination with domestic liberties would be the most popular, but he calculated wrong. He is obviously not libertarian enough to be appealing to libertarians, but way too milquetoast an establisment neocon to be attractive to warhawks too, so he neither fish nor fowl and this explains his campaign bombing utterly. He is a man with no true convictions and all cynical adaptation. And he doesn’t even do the latter right because he still hasn’t picked up on why he is failing. He thought he could be the next Reagan, except that Reagan was blessed with a silver tongue and loads of charisma.
        Stick a fork in Rand, he is DONE because no libertarian with half a brain would ever mistake a libertarian sentence out of Rand’s mouth for an honest one ever again.

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      • The Question says:

        Rand’s brand is whatever would get him the most votes. It’s simply that he is dumb.

        I’m not one to defend Rand, but I do think there might be more to his behavior. I previously wrote a post speculating that his father’s treatment throughout most of his life may have affected Rand. It’s merely a theory but if it’s true it definitely explains his actions outside of opportunism.

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    • “Trump is the most libertarian candidate available”
      There is no such thing as “most libertarian” when the politician concerned supports brute state force to solve problems. You are either a libertarian or you are not. Trump is not libertarian on foreign policy, not on domestic security issues, not on immigration issues and not on economic issues.
      “Any libertarian not behind him is being unrealistic”
      The usual cliche from people who themselves don’t understand anything about libertarianism. When will you people learn that POLITICS WILL NEVER bring freedom? When will you people learn that politicians are inveterate LIARS? Con men? Charlatans? That they never ever do what they promise even if their promises are support-worthy? The definition of insanity is to keep voting and keep trusting politicians and expecting a different result. Ron Paul was the sole exception because he had a 30 year record of consistent pro-freedom votes.
      “Us beggars aren’t choosers!”
      You beg for fascists because that is exactly what Trump is. A strong, nationalist leader who promises to fix everything, hates foreigners, central control over vital economic freedoms and has no problem with a police state.
      Last i checked, fascism and libertarianism are opposites.

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  3. Pingback: The End of the Liberty Movement (For Me) | The Anarchist Notebook

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