I was going to hold off on addressing a certain phenomenon within libertarianism until a later day, but I was inspired to tackle it now after a slew of Facebook posts appeared on my news feed from well-known libertarian figureheads complaining – unsurprisingly – about other libertarians who are examples of this phenomenon.
Augustus Invictus describes his encounter with a “libertarian” nitpicking over the proper libertarian response to someone molesting his children, claiming that killing such a person is not permitted under the Non-Aggression Principle. (I would note that this “nuanced” philosophical point would have outraged the moral conscience of the Mafia, which was not exactly a brigade of Boy Scouts).
Cantwell’s short rant conveys a well-shared frustration I have with the libertarian movement – which really isn’t and won’t ever be a real movement.
Needless to say, the people these two men describe are not libertarians – I highly doubt “Mr. Libertarian himself, Murray Rothbard would have welcome such people into his home or at his meetings.
However, I have noticed in my own interactions with supposed libertarians a similar proclivity to restrain, restrict, and regulate the thoughts, ideas, opinions, and actions of other libertarians. They’re not interested in advancing the cause of liberty, but ensuring that libertarians behave in accordance with their mangled, idiosyncratic interpretation of the philosophy. They either turn a blind eye to violations of property rights committed by the modern Left or rationalize it somehow, then do an about-face and insist that right libertarians applaud state-financed importation of Third World peoples, a move certain to create ethnic strife and violence for the next generation.
So what is driving this behavior?
Enter The Hipster Libertarian
I was recently re-watching a great lecture/speech delivered by Jack Donovan at an American Renaissance conference a few years ago. In it, he discusses how “diversity” has actually lead to a lack of diversity in culture and art. Because art reflects values, anything in culture that conveys a sincere value, differentiating what is desired and what is not desired, is seen as subversive against the progressive god of diversity and therefore verboten.
This cultural void gave rise to the hipsters. Anything they promote or advertise is done in irony. They’re insincere, inauthentic, and disingenuous. Anything they espouse is something they are willing to disavow when necessary or convenient. They don’t believe in anything.
We’re seeing this hipster effect play out within libertarianism, in which people “practice” it in an safely ironic manner.
As I wrote a while back before the presidential election:
Frankly I’m beginning to suspect that a lot of “liberty lovers” really don’t want things to change. They don’t want the state to go anywhere. Fighting the state is their religion, adhering to the NAP through passivity is their doctrine. It is all about being “right” and virtue signaling to our enemies that we’re more righteous than they are.
Understand that libertarian hipsters aren’t libertarians. They’re anti-libertarians. They’re charlatans assuming the label for ironic effect. They don’t understand the NAP or its purpose, and they don’t care. They have no interest in reading Rothbard or Mises.
The philosophy’s only value to them is to apply it in ironic ways and frustrate true adherents by forcing them to justify everything they do while ignoring the injustice committed against libertarians by their enemies, particularly those with state power.
A common trait among a hipster libertarian is that they never take a stand for anything. They never proclaim a belief or conviction, and if they do, notice those views are always in alignment with conventional, mainstream thought on that topic.
Aside from that, their stance is always in opposition to someone else and the values that person seeks to preserve and uphold. They critique and nitpick. They’re also duplicitous. They make statements that infer, imply, suggest, indicate, and hint at something, but they never speak forthrightly. And yet, they’re quick to accuse anyone who correctly reads the tea leaves of being judgemental and misinterpreting their highly ambiguous point.
For the hipster libertarian, these discussions about the future of the West as a civilization are as serious, or trivial, as arguing over whether Han shot Greedo in A New Hope or whether George Lucas’ mangled edit of that scene decades later is the true version of what played out in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
To them, bickering over the NAP is just another insincere, frivolous conversation, the outcome of which will result in no change of character or attitude on their part.
More importantly, they will denounce both the libertarian label and anyone in the movement when it becomes expedient to do so. They’re a libertarian for the same reason they wear a fedora; it’s a trendy thing to do. But if it compromises their social standing among peers whose opinions they actually care about, they’ll remove both from their life.
This is why they are so opposed to any meaningful action by real libertarians. To them, it is all a joke, while libertarians who aim to change things are actually serious about it. What the genuine liberty lover regards as life and death matters, the hipster views as nothing more than live action role playing.
Moreover, they’re terrified of strength. They hate more than anything good men who are also good at being men – men who are willing to use violence to protect themselves and their loved ones. To a hipster, strength is frighting because it is the sign of a person beyond their control, a superior man.
These people simply need to be identified and socially ostracized by libertarians who are serious about acting out what we claim to believe. They are nothing more than anvils around our necks. The reality is that many of us libertarians can expect better allies among non-libertarians who, while not possessing a flawless political ideology, possess the moral clarity to perceive who our true and mutual enemy is and the mettle to do what must be done to oppose them.
As the great David Rocco said at the beginning of Boondock Saints 2:
There’s two kinds of people in this world when you boil it all down. You got your talkers and you got your doers. Most people are just talkers, all they do is talk. But when it is all said and done, it’s the doers that change this world. And when they do that, they change us, and that’s why we never forget them.
So which one are you? Do you just talk about it, or do you stand up and do something about it? Because believe you me, all the rest of it is just coffee house bullshit.
The time of the talkers is over.
The time of the doers is upon us.
Photo used with permission: Wiki Commons.