Liberty, Creation, and Destruction – Nathan Kreider


Across the ideological spectrum, there is a mindset of creation and a mindset of destruction. These mindsets do not neatly overlay the left vs right political spectrum, but each mindset is more prevalent in some worldviews than in others.

Ayn Rand, for example, primarily held a mindset of creation. Her protagonists are producers, her antagonists destroyers. Roger Scruton, despite having very little in common ideologically with Rand, also holds this mindset of creation. He weaves it into his own definition of conservatism by describing it as “the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.” An ideological pacifist is one that would take this creation mindset to the extreme.

As for the mindset of destruction, there are certain revolutionaries like Saul Alinsky. Political action, in this sense, is not about creation, but about destroying the enemy. Organizations like Antifa do not exist in order to create. They riot and deface in order to destroy “the system.” Certain ideological deconstructionists would take this destruction mindset to the extreme.

An appropriate mindset is likely one leaning towards creation, but doesn’t entirely dismiss destruction. Restated, this mindset would be one that loves the creation of great things, and wants to defend those great things, and from this concludes that the destroyers of these great things should be opposed.

But what is the purpose of discussing any of this, and what does this have to do with liberty?

A libertarian with a mindset of creation will lead a far better life (and do much more tactically against the state) than a libertarian with a mindset of destruction. To this first libertarian, liberty results in the creation of the good. For some, that means a more moral society that avoids the violation of natural rights. Liberty leads to virtue. For others, it leads to the development of great works of architecture, literature, and technology. It leads to a just and orderly society, with a higher standard of living.

Under the libertarian mindset of creation, this liberty-based society is good, and therefore organizations like the state are evil, because they are an obstacle and opponent of such a good. The end goal is the pursuit of the good, which means opposition to the state is done in pursuit of the good. Rand’s protagonists were not focused on simply opposing the state, but on preserving the good. When the state tried to intervene, they did what they could to continue on with their goal, outside the grip of the state.

A libertarian with a mindset of destruction is still surely a libertarian, but has a different priority than the libertarian described above. To this libertarian, the destruction of the state is the ultimate goal. The state is the enemy, and all things aligned with the state are surely opponents as well. The priority here is not about creating the good, but about destroying the evil. This may seem like a meaningless difference, but it does have practical ramifications.

A libertarian with the destructive mindset may adopt accelerationism. He may encourage the destruction of law, order, and society, because doing so would weaken the state’s dominion. He may believe that the destruction of the state through debt default or a collapse of the welfare state would be a net benefit.

The trouble with this mindset is that it would be much more willing to sacrifice the good things to destroy the state, because that would be worthwhile in achieving the end goal. Meanwhile, a libertarian focused on the good as the end goal would see this as doing far more harm than good.

This concept of two different mindsets is not meant to divide libertarianism even further, but to encourage consideration of which mindset each person falls into. Is your life entirely revolving around the state? Is your life’s purpose to knock down the state as best as you individually can? Or is the purpose of life the pursuit of the good, and you’ve found (as most of us do) that the state is an opponent of this good?

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Nathan A. Kreider is author of the Misconceptions column for Being Libertarian, and has written for the Austrian Economics Center, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Liberalists. He also occasionally publishes a blog and video content, including short book reviews, which can be found on his website, He can be contacted by email via