Philosophical dogma and infighting within the liberty movement
Fellow Examiner Eric Field tends to think Gov. Gary Johnson has a “lackluster” knowledge of libertarian philosophy and economics due to a June 2nd interview with Robert Wenzel of Economic Policy Journal.
Apparently, not pledging fealty to Murray Rothbard and/or Ludvig von Mises is an act of heresy. While Austrian economics certainly play an important role – there is a boom-bust cycle and good reason to fear it – so does public choice economics. So does common sense.
My gripe with Wenzel, Smith, and any other persons claiming one man’s theories as the libertarian gospel is this: they are creating a climate of cultist dogma as opposed to free thinkers. The liberty movement is larger than all the different sects, schisms, and divisions. It doesn’t matter if you’re anarcho-capitalist, classical liberal (hello!), minarchist, market anarchist, bleeding heart libertarian, or paleo-libertarian.
Libertarianism is, at its core, about individual liberty, which grants us the right to be different. Whether our philosophical influences are all uniform is irrelevant, so long as they (largely) lead us to the same conclusions.
So to all our brethren in the liberty movement, we agree on about 95% of everything! Why must we constantly talk of infighting? Instead, we should be sharing ideas and information in a conjoined effort to educate the rest of the statist population about the magic of individual liberty, free markets, and non-aggression.
I’ll start with a simple quote that, for me, hits the nail on the head:
Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrolled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men.
–John Locke, The Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690)
Or as our favorite fictional libertarian, Ron Swanson, would say, “Life, liberty, and property. That’s John Locke.”
Will Wilkinson once said he “heard some good things about individualism. Maybe some of us should try it.” Perhaps we should all make an effort to be a little bit more “inscrutably idiosyncratic,” more Wilkinsonsonian.
Image via Google Images
UPDATE: Over at The LRC Blog, Laurence Vance joins the anti-Johnson, Rothbard-or-bust refrain. Vance shared his feelings about Johnson and Jeffrey Miron (Director of Economics at Harvard – I know, a free market Prof. at Harvard – and economic advisor to the Johnson campaign) back in January, so this latest screed isn’t exactly a surprise (and while we’re on the topic of Rothbardian righteousness, here’s a 1992 piece from Murray showing his solidarity with…David Duke!). I find it ironic when libertarians grant any one person a monopoly over their own thinking and seek to burn heretics that diverge in any manner. While I respect Vance and the good people at Lew Rockwell, what the fuck do they think any of this circular firing squad shit is really going to accomplish? Locke, Smith, Hume, Hayek, and Friedman weren’t anarcho-capitalists, does that mean they’re statists and shall be disregarded? If so, I guess I’m throwing my lot in with the statists.