Being a libertarian in this day and age is tough. With politics at possibly the most tense point in a generation (especially in the US), it’s safe to say emotions are running high. Unfortunately for libertarians, this leaves us with no friends. That is because we subscribe to an ideology that requires intellectual consistency, oftentimes finding ourselves unapologetically breaking down situations to their most basic parts in order to uncover it. And although most intellectually curious individuals cross paths with libertarianism at some point, whether favorably or not, without a decent understanding of the Austrian business cycle and a willingness to follow your principles into “uncomfortable” territory, many people find themselves parting ways with it. Mainly because the overwhelming majority of people today operate politically off of emotion. And what’s worse, many do so while under the impression they are adhering to logical consistency, rather than emotional inconsistency, which, when adopted by the majority, actually begins to make consistency itself appear inconsistent. Allow me to give you a few examples.
Last year, after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, many libertarians were accused of allying with the alt-right group in attendance, causing their inclusion in the accusations of Nazism. This was due in large part to the unemotional, intellectual consistency of detaching yourself from the words being said and defending the notion of freedom of speech, something emotionally-driven pundits don’t seem to comprehend. The idea that libertarians would defend the right to speak, even for those on the opposing side of that rally, went unnoticed by almost the entire country. Even conservatives like Ben Shapiro, often regarded as an intellectual heavyweight, started calling libertarian activists “alt-righters” on social media. It would seem principled stances make friends hard to come by.
Now, libertarians have come under fire again, only this time from the exact opposite crowd. James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired after his not-so-controversial memo went viral, is suing his former employer for discrimination. For the emotional right, this is a clear-cut case that Damore should win. After all, they have the morally-daunting “discrimination card” at their disposal. Ironically, the left has decided that private entities can and should be able to do as they please – for once. Unfortunately, many faux-libertarians have allowed their hatred for collectivism, now ingrained in the left, to blind them from principle and partake in peddling the emotional wares of the conservatives. Make no mistake though, the consistent stance is for Damore to lose this case. I myself have written about the danger of setting a judicial precedent where people may be forced to participate in professional relationships they did not consent to. Naturally then, advocating in favor of these forced relations is as antithetical to libertarianism as one can be. It should come as no surprise, however, that our “friends” in the alt-right have already begun to openly criticize libertarians for standing with Google’s right to employ who they’d like, while some on the left applaud our position only a few months after accusing us of being Nazis. In this ever-changing political merry-go-round, the term “single-serving friends” comes to mind.
As we’ve seen, to operate under the assumption that the mainstream is logically consistent would be to misunderstand the problem completely. And it’s equally important not to let the inconsistent derail the conversation, otherwise you’ll end up arguing sheer nonsense – as is what most political conversations today have become. “Issues” like the President using the term “shithole” to describe third-world countries dominates news cycles for days, even prompting a response from the U.N., while the murder we carry out in third-world countries goes unreported for years.
I can only imagine the embarrassment felt when people inevitably look back on this era and realize the trivial rubbish they allowed themselves to be preoccupied with at one point. And yet, we’re told we should feel bad about not joining in on the bandwagon or having these people as friends. Not at all. Rather than get upset, I find it to be a better use of my time to simply emphasize the utter lack of principles held by both these groups. As the saying goes, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
Thomas J. Eckert
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