Monthly Archives: May 2016
My longtime readers, if I still have any, know that I’m a longtime libertarian. I’m out and proud of that fact. My cube at work might as well have a sign on it that says, “Here be dragons,” because those I work with who are also politically opinionated generally give me a wide berth. Nobody wants to mess with the house libertarian, a creature known to be cranky, defiant, offensive, and indubitably a bit smug. Nobody loves a libertarian.
Well, I’m not even sure I’d call myself a libertarian anymore. I called myself a libertarian for the first time over a decade ago, but I didn’t really hop on board the train until around 2008, when Ron made his first Republican run. I was sold then, and I’ve remained faithful ever since.
Ron Paul, if you ever really listened to him, admitted that he knew he had no chance at office. He is somewhat fond of saying that he ran to find “the remnant.” The remnant is this idea that comes from the Book of Isaiah, whereby it essentially says that you go forth and you proselytize, knowing that the majority of people will not listen and will, in fact, howl like monkeys and throw crap at you. But it’s those five dudes (and let’s face it – most libertarians are dudes) in the back with their arms folded who are nodding their heads, looking at each other out of the corners of their eyes, and then going home to give it a think – those are the ones you came here to find. They are the remnant. And they are the ones who will pick up the pieces when it all comes falling down.
Like a lot of libertarians in my generation, I owe a real debt to Dr. Paul. The biggest thing I owe him for is my libertarian education. He pointed me towards Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Lew Rockwell, Walter Block, Friedrich Hayek, Judge Napolitano, Peter Schiff, and my libertarian guru, Tom Woods. Ron Paul literally changed my life – changed my outlook on everything. And he didn’t come with catchy phrases or big promises. No, he did the best possible thing to hook a nerd: he gave me a reading list. And I’ve never looked back.
You know what the “bad” thing about being amongst the most die-hard of the Ron Paul remnant is? The bad thing is that, if you go all the way down the rabbit hole, you won’t come out a die-hard libertarian voter. You will come out a die-hard anarchist, quite content to never vote again, thankyouverymuch. I guess that really sucks the most if your name is Rand Paul.
(Photo credit to Statism Is A Cult)
So why am I bringing this up? I’m sure most you don’t care if I’m an anarchist, a communist, or a Trump supporter. Well, I’m bringing it up because I think it’s a good time. I think this election season has been a real eye-opener for a lot of people – people who were previously on the fence about things and who are now beginning to see some of the things that the libertarian contingent saw years ago.
I’m not insinuating that libertarians were smarter for seeing it sooner, either. But I do think that libertarians generally recognize cognitive dissonance and are able to confront that in themselves and neutralize the negative feelings it causes faster than the average American voter. I’ve also found, as a general rule of thumb, that most libertarians value a logical conclusion more than one based on intentions and feelings. Frankly, that’s one of the things that drove me to libertarianism – I found it to be the most logically consistent political ideology.
All that said, it seems as though this election really has people bothered. Most people don’t *love* the candidates. And really, who the hell can blame them? We have an evil warmonger in an unflattering pantsuit competing against an orange marshmallow in a wig. They’re both statists of the worst sort, and Hillary is just a fucking criminal. I don’t know that the Donald is criminal, but he sure doesn’t do anything to light my fire. I am fully confident that either one of them would be equally as likely to destroy this country as the other. I’m apparently not alone in that thinking. Of course, there’s the part of me that thinks that it would be a good thing if the system just came crashing down…
A particular family member I’m thinking of has been Republican for as long as I can remember. (Not shocking – I come from a heavily Republican family.) Although he had his libertarian bents, he was way more willing to toe the party line than I ever was, and it always disappointed me. The honest truth is that most people just don’t want to confront things that make them uncomfortable. My grandpa fell under that category with politics, too. He would’ve made a great libertarian, and a lot of things about him were, but he never quite took that leap – because he was raised Republican, and he had been faithful to the notion that the party was right, that it took care of its own, and that it had our best interests at heart.
I think that illusion is crumbling for a lot of people, including this other family member. He posted an article tonight that basically derided both candidates as equally awful, and then went on to lament that the office of the presidency was fast becoming (became a long time ago – let’s be honest) a dictatorship. And you know, that’s a big step for a lot of people. I would never have seen something like that printed in our local paper a few years ago. Six, seven years ago, I was the only person saying things like that about Bush and Obama.
People are not toeing the party line.
So what does that mean? Well… I’m not sure. I’m afraid that, more than anything, it is going to create a sense of hopelessness for a lot of folks. You know, it’s really hard to take away from a person something that he/she has always believed to be true, has taken as a given. And say what you will about Americans, but they are a hopeful bunch. They want to believe. They want to think the best, and they want to believe that our system works. They will close their eyes to the obvious insanity that is a U.S. presidential election.
Or they did. But it seems like this time, people are waking up. And it’s not just a random family member here and there. One of the agents I work with lamented the state of the election to me. I couldn’t say for sure, but I could say with a fair degree of confidence that he is probably a party line Republican. I know he’s conservative. (Nearly everyone in ag is conservative, in case you weren’t sure.) And he’s nervous. He doesn’t like what Republicans are doing, but he doesn’t like Trump, either. It goes without saying that he hates Hillary and Bernie.
A lot of “party line” Libertarians are hoping that this will be another big libertarian moment, a time when the major third party has a chance to really seize the day and make some serious hay. Whether they will or not is the subject of another post entirely, but there are a lot of folks in the movement that still vote who are hoping for that outcome.
But not me. I don’t vote anymore. I have, at last, reached the conclusion that I don’t believe in government. Because government is force, and I don’t believe in forcing peaceful people to do things that they don’t want to do at gunpoint. That’s evil. And I don’t believe in “necessary evil.” If government is a necessary evil, don’t look so fucking surprised when you find yourself choosing between two necessarily evil candidates.
There’s more to it than just straight philosophy, though. Practically speaking, I don’t believe that you can change the system from within, at this point. Ron Paul did not change the system. He is a great man, and he did powerful things, but he did not change the system or the way it works. And a lot of the people he changed, like me, are opting out to the best of their ability. His son is not changing the system. And no elected libertarian is going to change the system. Oh, they might get a temporary concession here or there, but ultimately, the juggernaut is going to roll forward. And I’m done. I’m no longer giving my consent to the beast.
What’s that, you say? I can’t complain if I don’t vote? Do you mean that literally? Because yes, I fucking can. I can literally complain if I didn’t vote. Who’s going to stop me? Did you mean that from moral high ground? Because if government is inherently evil, and I didn’t vote into the system, doesn’t that actually give me the moral high ground? In which case, yes, I can fucking complain.
On the day of the Illinois primary, I wore my Emma Goldman shirt that says, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” I got “I Voted!” stickers waved in my face and told later in the day that I wasn’t raised right because I wouldn’t vote. They went on to say that it did make a difference if you voted for the right candidate (Trump, in this case), and said in so many words that I was unpatriotic for not believing in the power of my vote.
Well, part of that is true. I’m not patriotic. I don’t wave the American flag because I don’t particularly care about it. It’s just another group to belong to, right? White, black, Republican, Democrat, fat, thin, rich, poor, Catholic, Jewish, Pepsi, Coke, McDonald’s, Hardee’s… And you know, none of those groups you belong to matter – not as a means to categorize people. There is no society, and there are no groups to be taken into consideration. There are just people – individuals, acting of their own free will, making choices, having preferences, and living their lives. Don’t fucking make yourself just another sheep in the herd. Be an individual, and see others as individuals. Because that’s when we start dehumanizing people – when we put them in groups.
“Republicans are just rich old white guys who want to keep women and minorities down.”
“Jews are cheap jerks who just want to steal your money.”
“Single moms are raising criminals who can’t read and will never be productive members of society.”
“Black people are lazy and on welfare.”
“Libertarians are all socially retarded, white college boys who got their hands on their first Ayn Rand book.”
“Americans are all dumb, gun-toting cowboys who can’t speak another language.”
Well, I am a single, libertarian-anarcho-capitalist, gun-toting American mom. My aunt got stopped by one of the elementary school principals at preschool open house (I wasn’t there because work) and told that my oldest daughter was the best behaved kid she’d seen in years. Statistically, most libertarians are white guys, but I am a confirmed woman, American, and kind-of libertarian. I shoot guns, and I can speak three languages – four, if you’re kind enough to count Korean.
Oh, and I tell people I’m Jewish so that they’ll stop inviting me to church. Because if you don’t have a man in your house, lady, you need Jesus. And the funny thing is, if you tell pushy church-goers that you’re spiritual, agnostic, atheist, or just don’t like church, that won’t stop them. Tell them you’re Jewish, and they’ll back away like you’re garlic and they’re a vampire. I’m still not clear on why it’s more offensive to try and convert Jews than agnostics who want to be left alone. I’m just hoping that repeating it enough times convinces people. So sorry, nearly nonexistent Jacksonville Jewish community – I’m pretending to be one of you so that the whack job charismatics won’t ask me if I need to accept Jesus into my heart or if I’d like them to pray for me. Girl, no.
The point I’m making here is that people aren’t groups, and groups aren’t people. But when we get too comfortable with the notion of belonging to a group – and yes, that includes belonging to a group of fellow anarchists (in the unlikely event that I ever meet another an-cap around here) – we lose sight of individuality, to some extent. No group can ever completely speak on your behalf. And if everything the group says is exactly what you’d say, I’d frankly be worried. By the same token, no government can ever speak for all the people. The American people are not the government and vice versa.
It’s easier for the government to deal in groups and stereotypes, though. Political parties bank their existence on it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want to be pigeonholed into some expectation. If someone in a polling center looked at me – a single mom, multi-lingual, who is not religious, and has spent significant time living abroad – they would probably think I was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. But no. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Marge. Party of one.
This is the part where I also state, for the record, that anarchism isn’t what you think it is. I don’t have safety pins in my ears, and I don’t huck homemade bombs at businesses or have a mohawk. When I lived in Germany, it wasn’t in Berlin in Kreuzberg where all the old anarchists hung out when the Wall was still up. (I think Kreuzberg gentrified a long time ago. Prenz-Lauerberg was the counterculture neighborhood when I was in Germany, I think.)
No, I’m an anarcho-capitalist, which pretty much means I love the free market, and I don’t believe in government. I believe in voluntarism, not coercion. I think people can be trusted with self-governance. I don’t believe the government should be trusted with governing anybody. To loosely quote Robert Higgs, the mayhem of anarchy is wholly conjectural, and the burden of proof rests on the statists. Government can be blamed for a whole hell of a lot of the bad things in this world. The Great Leap Forward. The Holocaust. The deaths of nearly 500,000 Iraqi children due to sanctions. The Khmer Rouge’s genocide against its own people. The list is practically unending.
Why am I telling you all of this? I don’t really think I’m going to change people’s minds, and actually, I’m not really out to do that. But I would like you to think. I would like you to entertain, if only for five seconds, that I might be right. What if a voluntary society (insofar as society really exists) actually works? What if everybody stopped voting? What if, on election day, the polls were empty? What if instead, we went about our business, as though nothing special had happened? What if we refused to feed the monster? What if we turned off the evening news? What if we didn’t pay Social Security or accept those payments? What if we no longer gave our consent? Food for thought, anyway.
It’s not so bad, living in Ancapistan. Most people think you’re nuts, and other anarchists think you have no right to call yourself such, but you know, most people get a look of fear in their eyes when you admit you’re an anarchist, anyway. Or, you know, you get told that you weren’t raised right. As you can tell, I’m still amused by that musing.
So come on down, when you get a chance. Pretty much everything is legal, nobody cares if you’re offended, and yes, we have roads. As Frieda Marie Crump (pen name, of course) used to say in her weekly column, The Coon Ridge Digest, “Come on down and see us sometime. We may not answer the door, but you’ll enjoy the trip.”