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L. Neil Smith's
Number 761, March 9, 2014

Don't You Know There is a War On?

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A Recovering Libertarian
by Sean Gangol

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Recently I discovered this one particular article on The Libertarian Enterprise Facebook page titled "Why I Fled Libertarianism and Became a Liberal." The article was written by Edwin Lyngar of Salon, an online think tank of the left. Lyngar claims that he once started off as a libertarian, but later became a liberal through a series of experiences with other libertarians (so he says). What I find telling about his article is that for a man who once claimed that he was a libertarian, he seemed to have a fundamental ignorance of what libertarianism is all about. Some of his reasons for fleeing libertarianism sound more like straw man arguments made by people who know little to nothing about what it means to be a libertarian.

At the beginning of the article, he claims that he worked with the Ron Paul campaign where he met fanatics that were obsessed with various conspiracy theories. To be fair, I was part of a Ron Paul meet up group back in 2008 and I saw my share of nut jobs. Though it is worth pointing out that every movement has its share of fanatics. Just take a look at the freaks that show up at anti-war protests. As for our so-called obsession with conspiracy theories, I can't speak for all libertarians on this issue, but I can say that with the exception of the JFK assassination, I am not that big of a conspiracy theorist. Unfortunately like others on the left, he likes to paint all libertarians with the same brush.

He then slams libertarians further by saying this: "In my experience, most seemed to be poor, white and undereducated. They were contortionists, justifying the excesses of the capitalist elite, despite being victims if libertarian politics succeed." I will say that this is a slight change from those who accuse libertarians of being rich corporatists who hate the poor. Yet, I find this claim even more insulting. The reason why we have a "capitalist elite" is largely thanks to the statists who are in league with corporations. Many of which are in the very party that he now supports. What I find the most insulting is his assumption that his former colleagues are so poor and stupid that they would automatically become victims of the corporate elite if libertarian politics were to succeed. I just love how left-wingers claim that they are speaking for the "little guy", while doing a poor job of hiding their own elitist attitudes.

Also, I find it funny that he thinks that libertarians are undereducated considering that most of the libertarians that I know of seem to be the most educated in history, economics and science. Many members of the left, despite their all-knowing attitudes, seem to have at best a basic knowledge of history that was derived from government school text books. While the left claims to be pro-science, they seem to show their ignorance whenever they contribute every form of natural weather phenomenon to "Global Warming' or "Climate Change." Right now, there are people on the left who want to ban electronic cigarettes because they are afraid of all the second-hand smoke that will be created by water vapor. Of course the subject that the left has the most glaring ignorance in is basic economics. It's about the same as the creationist understanding of evolution. Leftists seem to have an almost cult-like devotion to Keynesian economics despite it having one of the worst track records of all-time. I guess no statist argument would be complete without a nice dose of pseudo-intellectualism.

His libertarian bashing continues when he says, "If you think that selfishness and cruelty are fantastic personal traits, you might be a libertarian. In the movement no one will ever call you an asshole, but rather, say you believe in radical individualism." Actually, I am not afraid to call anybody an asshole. Especially those who are arrogant enough to believe that they know how to spend my money better than I do. Apparently, Lyngar assumes that all libertarians are selfish just because we believe that we should be able to spend our money the way we see fit. I have always found it telling that the left likes to pride itself with being generous to the less fortunate, while they seem to give the least amount of money to charity. I guess it's easy to be generous with other people's money.

He then goes on to explain why he lost respect for the libertarian movement. "I started losing respect for the movement while watching the financial meltdown. Libertarians were (rightly) furious when our government bailed out the banks, but they fought hardest against help for ordinary Americans. They hated unemployment insurance and reduced school lunches."

It's not that we hate these programs. We just don't like the way the government uses force to fund them. "I used to say similar things, but in such a catastrophic recession isn't the government supposed to help? Isn't that the lesson of the Great Depression?" He has definitely been reading government school text books, otherwise he would know that the government was responsible for deepening the depression in the first place.

He then brings up the Tea Parties, where he said that they were full of birthers and racists. He even claims that he personally heard the N-word used by Tea Partiers. Never mind that birthers and racists only represent a fringe element of the movement. Assuming he actually heard the N-word used (his credibility is lacking), it's nice to know that he isn't just painting libertarians with the same brush.

Lyngar then finishes the article by saying that he loves his community and doesn't want the less fortunate to starve. He then tells us that extreme selfishness is isolating the movement. He even accuses libertarians of being slaves to their own ideology. To sum it all up, Edwin Lyngar thinks that libertarians are crazy and selfish. Not that these arguments are anything new. I just find it odd that a man who claims to have been a libertarian is making arguments from the point of view of a leftist who has no understanding of libertarianism. Not once did I even hear him mention the Zero Aggression Principle, which is actually central to the whole ideology. I am even more flabbergasted that this former "libertarian" can honestly say that we would willingly watch the poor starve. Has this man ever heard of private charities? I guess when you are part of a demographic that doesn't contribute much to charity, then you probably wouldn't have much faith in it. As for the part about not being slaves to your own ideology, he may want to take his own advice.

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