A while back I was talking to someone about the idea of libertarian culture. They were wondering what a libertarian culture would look like in a stateless society.
I didn’t have an answer right away, but later on I realized that is no such thing as a libertarian culture as properly understood.
Culture is defined as follows:
The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
Hence, you have Western Culture, Eastern Culture, and the cultures that fall within them.
The problem with the term “libertarian culture” is that libertarianism itself is not a culture (nor a religion nor a political system nor a complete moral theory) but one of the things that make up and define a culture. It is a philosophy concerned with the legitimate and illegitimate use of force. You can have elements of libertarianism in a culture, or have it reflected in the art itself, but because it is a philosophy it can never be a true culture; it will always be an element, aspect or influence in a culture.
I hope this isn’t misinterpreted as me saying that there is no such thing as literature, songs, posters, and whatnot that reflect libertarian values. What we have to keep in mind is that libertarianism is a value, and art is a reflection of values, and art is what makes up culture. To say libertarianism is the culture is to say that the value is the culture and the culture reflects art.
If you’re wondering why you have revulsion so some types of art, most likely it’s because the artists is trying to do just this, convey art through values. This is called bad art.
For example, this is why there is no such thing as Christian culture because it is a religion. Depending on the region (Asia, Middle East, Central America) cultural values may vary significantly, making the concept of an all-encompassing culture impossible. What you have are religious or nonreligious impacts on a culture, i.e. Protestant or Catholic influences on how a culture views life. Or, you can have cultural influences on the religion, which is why Western Christianity is profoundly different from Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
But the religion can never be the culture, and vice versa.
Or, an American libertarian is not going to have the same cultural values as a German libertarian or a Japanese libertarian. Better put, they can have different culture values because their shared belief is rooted in political philosophy, not culture.
What you see in entities like the liberty movement are a collection of different cultures united by a common belief in libertarianism, but they are still separate cultures, and libertarianism does not define those cultures.
Culture matters, and I would argue culture supersedes nearly everything else in a person’s hierarchy of association when it comes to who they prefer to interact with. Expecting people of various cultures to unite behind libertarianism only works when the objective is aligned with both cultures.
While thinking about all this I applied this principle to the current schism between various libertarian factions and realized this is the true cause for it. Some might be tempted to think of the liberty movement as a subculture of sort, but really it was a political movement that quickly splintered when cultural differences became too great to maintain unity for the sake of a political goal.
It is very important to realize that given a choice between protecting their rights and preserving their culture, most people will choose the latter. The defense of rights is seen as a means to the end, which is preserving and perpetuating their culture. People will support unpleasant political ideologies and policies if they are justified as bringing about an end result that conforms to a cultural value.