Libertarians: Get Better At Shunning

amish

I’m never one to shy away from controversy, especially when it serves some greater purpose in the pursuit of truth and justice. A couple months ago, I drew flak for addressing the liberty movement’s scumbag problem and calling on libertarians to disassociate themselves with lowlifes. While the response was overwhelmingly positive, there were enough criticisms along the lines of “You’re destroying the movement!” that I feel I should elaborate on exactly why it’s important to be selective in who we, as libertarians, call our friends.

I call this selective association philosophy “weakest link theory”: A group is as vulnerable to criticism as its worst member. This means that, no matter how competent, kind, and wonderful most people in the liberty movement may be, all it takes is a couple lazy, sexist, racist, fraudulent, or hypocritical members to allow freedom’s enemies to throw the whole group into the scumbag category. It’s not fair, it’s not reasonable, and it certainly isn’t logical, but no amount of denying that the bad apple isn’t representative of the tree will matter as long as that apple is still attached. I’m sorry, but guilt by association really works.

Take the cautionary tale of liberty activists in Keene, New Hampshire. The Keeniacs, as they are affectionately (or otherwise) known, were some of the pioneers of the local liberty movement, in particular gaining national (international?) headlines for their spirited resistance to parking enforcers. I will speak no ill of them here, because although I’ve had my disagreements with them, I respect their contributions to the cause. However, it’s unavoidable to mention that they have been ostracized by large chunks of the Free State movement, much of it in connection with their acceptance of a certain individual known as Cantwell, or the Anarchist Atheist Asshole (his words, not mine).
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Why Liberty Attracts Scumbags

scumbag

News flash: I care deeply about the cause of human liberty. I believe government is the greatest blight on human achievement and well-being. Of all political labels I most closely identify with libertarianism. So much so, in fact, that I moved to New Hampshire for the Free State Project in order to join other like-minded liberty lovers in ushering in a new era of freedom and progress for mankind.

And, naturally, I’d want to believe that people who think like me are the best this world has to offer. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s very far from the reality.

Now don’t get me wrong, most libertarians are decent people. In fact, the majority of the most humble, generous, hard-working, kind, and intelligent people I’ve come across are liberty activists. I know many people of great achievement, selfless compassion, and brilliant humor who easily outclass their counterparts outside of the liberty movement. However, that doesn’t change the fact that a sizable chunk of this movement is comprised of some real lowlifes. [Read more…]