Cognitive Dissonance and Autism

In an article titled “Manhood in the Bargain,” Butch Leghorn writes about the same self-hating “man” I did a while back. He also made an interesting remark I thought worth elaborating on (bold emphasis mine).

Often in debate, men will attempt to use logic to argue the libertarian case and to demonstrate why a given demand is simply too costly or illogical from the masculine point of view. This is what we in the alt-right refer to as ‘autism’. The autist’s arguments are logical and rational, but lack understanding of the social context.…The only meaning to be found in the screeching of the chimps is that they want something; the child cries because it wants something. Figure out what they want, and then calculate the cost of buying cooperation. Sometimes the value proposition is there, and sometimes it is not.

Two quick thoughts: I have encountered this kind of “autism,” before, but I don’t think using logic and reasoning and being aware of the social context are or should be mutually exclusive. Libertarians have to be able to take philosophy and apply it appropriately, but we shouldn’t dismiss logic and reason for the sake of social awareness, or vice versa.

One of the major contentions among the Alt. Right against libertarians is that they ignore externalities. Again, I don’t perceive this as an attack on the philosophy, but how certain libertarians attempt to warp it so that some groups of people must endure state violence under the claim that it’s necessary to prevent state violence against others.

Which brings me to my next point. What many might chalk up to “autism” I would actually see as cognitive dissonance, which is when people ignore observations, facts, data, etc. that contradict their perception of reality. In these instances, they don’t lack the understanding of the social context; they simply ignore it, because it would require them to change their opinion.

Remember that just as statists have their version of The Vision, so do libertarians. The difference is that many libertarians fall into the temptation of taking the NAP and conforming it to their vision, rather than conform their vision to the NAP (or they just return to the state). In order to do this, they have to pretend certain social, political, cultural, and religious contexts don’t exist.

In other words, you insist on certain people adhering to the NAP and rationalize, dismiss, or ignore when others violate the NAP.

Consider how so many open border advocates ignore the welfare state, or how democracy turns immigrants into potential invaders. To them, it’s all about crossing invisible lines in the ground, nothing more.

This is not done unintentionally. It is deliberate.

Leghorn writes further (emphasis mine).

As a side note, Hoppe has this idea of argumentation ethics. The basic idea is that by engaging in argument, two parties have implicitly rejected violence. He then attempts to assert the conclusion that both parties have accepted the Non-Aggression Principle. I don’t believe that’s true.I think that the argument can become a violent conflict at any point, and that engaging in argumentation is an attempt to find an acceptable means of cooperation, but that this does not rule out violence.

I one hundred percent agree with Leghorn on this. Arguing is a form of nonphysical, nonviolent conflict. If the two cannot agree to a nonviolent solution and refuse to back down, force is introduced. The question to be settled then is who is justified in using force?

This is the question libertarianism answers (and nothing more). If my neighbor wants to use my car and I refuse to lend it out to him but he refuses to drop the matter and resorts to force, he is committing an act of aggression. I am then justified in using violence to prevent him from injuring me or taking my car because I have right to property both in myself and my vehicle. He has no right of property in either. This is what the NAP is about.

Another complaint the Alt. Right levels against libertarians is that they implicitly reject violence as a solution to a problem involving the state. Libertarianism is not anti-violence. It is anti-aggression and coercion.

I believe one of the biggest reasons our society today and our country have fallen to the condition it is in, is that we have done exactly this. We have rejected violence – unless you’re a state agent – when it is a fundamental aspect of preserving rights.

When citizens refuse to consider violence as an option in response to state violence, this creates a total imbalance. It also means the state can act without fear of repercussions. What incentive is there for them to change their behavior? No more than wolves who ravage the flock if the shepherd is unwilling to use his staff, rod, or slingshot to protect them in the belief mere screams or yells in protest will cause the predator to cease.

It is the height of madness that libertarians in movements like the Free State Project and others talk of opposing the state and being anti-state, only to eject members who have the audacity to promote the same right of violent resistance that enabled us to break away from Great Britain in the first place.

Again, I don’t see this unwillingness to confront the necessity of violence as autism, but deliberate avoidance on the part of the libertarian in question because it doesn’t fit with how they want things to be as opposed to how things are.

This is not a flaw within libertarianism but the emasculated viewpoint of some who claim to believe it.

If you’re wondering why I gun so hard after other libertarians like this rather than our critics, it’s because in these instances the critics are often right, not about the philosophy but about the libertarians in question. Because these libertarians insist their position is the exclusive libertarian stance, it is mistakenly viewed as being an innate aspect of the philosophy itself.

This is why I’ve concluded identifying merely as a libertarian is not sufficient nor conducive to my objectives moving forward.

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11 Responses to Cognitive Dissonance and Autism

  1. D says:

    Something which has always boggled my mind is the massive amount of ‘drama’ that goes on within the libertarian community. Maybe drama isn’t the best word, but there are so many personalities in our community with so many differing ideas I can’t seem to get a handle on it. Ive been a libertarian since 2009 and an an anarchist since 2010 but I’m still completely lost when it comes to identifying all of the different factions. Currently I stick to you, obviously, Tom Woods, Freedmain, chris cantwell, doug casey and the daily mises articles. I avoided freedman for years because i heard it was cultish and cantwell because…i don’t remember. Something i heard somewhere. But being a libertarian means that I’m a pretty open minded guy to begin with, otherwise i would still be a neocon, so i gave in after a while and listened to them anyway.

    And now ill finally get to my question: Is there somewhere that breaks down all of the different factions and personalities? I don’t really have the time or energy to visit every single libertarian site, podcast, blog or otherwise, spend several hours figuring out what they are about and then deciding if they are worth listening to. And if there isn’t, what are the odds of you writing a blog on that topic one of these days?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Question says:

      Is there somewhere that breaks down all of the different factions and personalities? I don’t really have the time or energy to visit every single libertarian site, podcast, blog or otherwise, spend several hours figuring out what they are about and then deciding if they are worth listening to. And if there isn’t, what are the odds of you writing a blog on that topic one of these days?

      Honestly it all comes down to their complete moral theory, i.e. their social, cultural, and religious philosophies. You can almost tell what those are by what they emphasize in their writing, what topics they write about most, and what issues they champion. Also, it’s noticeable when they’re totally silent on an issue involving huge violations of the NAP when the outcome fits with their objective.

      The people worth listening to aren’t always the ones you agree with but the ones who you feel are correctly analyzing a situation and explaining what the root cause of the problem is and what the consequences will most likely be. They may not have the solution, but they understand what’s going on, which shows they are interpreting reality as it is, not as they want it to be. I obviously don’t have all the answers, but I understand what’s happening and why and in a general sense what will need to change. I also don’t ignore social, cultural, or religious contexts that make the situation so complicated that any realistic solution is bound to involve the state regardless.

      The trouble with a list is that sometimes people are quite insightful but then can say something that exposes their cognitive dissonance, but I guess if I had a list it would be my blogroll; I don’t hold to everything they say, naturally, but they see something in life as it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mattwilson32 says:

    As a libertarian, I definitely have people I like for a libertarian message, but I don’t feel like I need those people much, since I already have a political philosophy. Not to say I don’t hear interesting takes on different social situations, that I hadn’t thought about before, its just not ever a very different argument. Logic is logic. I am much more interested, at this point, by the atheist/skeptical community, social justice debunks and anti-feminists. When that gets boring I’ll move on to something else. It all leads back to the same place eventually.


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  6. The rejection of logic or reason in favor of the “social context” would render one the same hysterical emotional person as those in the left-liberal camp. The obvious problem with this is that bereft of reason, it will merely be hysteria and emotion from one against the other and neither has a superior position over the other. It is just opinion mongering. Let’s get this straight: leftists will always beat the freedom-lovers when it boils down to emotion and hysteria.
    So autism has nothing to do with it. Even the most logical libertarian has his emotions; he just knows it means nothing when it comes to ideologically beating your opponents.


    • The Question says:

      Right, all of those factors are vital. The writer’s point was that some libertarians tend to ignore context when trying to apply the NAP logically or with reason. My response was that what he consider to be unintentional autism, the inability to perceive context, can often actually be deliberate on the part of the libertarian because to account for context would make their application of the NAP erroneous. This is why so many progressive libertarians will either ignore or reframe the discussion when talking about the welfare state as the context of open borders/immigration.


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