L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 926, June 11, 2017
What Michael Shermer Doesn’t Get About Libertarianism
by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
For those of you who may not have heard of him, Michael Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and is used frequently as a representative for skeptical thinkers whenever you have a TV show that discusses something that is paranormal in nature. I referenced him once in my article, “ Secular Statists” where I mistakenly referred to him as the editor of the Skeptical Inquirer. My apologies to Michael Shermer. Though what I did get right about Michael Shermer is that his political beliefs do lean in the direction of libertarianism, but he has a long way to go before he can call himself a True Scotsman.
Now I have discussed the whole concept behind the No True Scotsman fallacy in the past. I don’t particularly like it when the Anarchist libertarians use the same fallacy against Miniarchist libertarians. However, as I pointed out before there are times when it is appropriate to call someone out for not being a True Scotsman. It’s one thing to question someone’s Scotsman status just because he likes to pour sugar on his porridge since that really has no bearing on whether one was born or raised in Scotland, but another when a person was neither raised, born or can’t even so much as locate Scotland on a map. The same logic applies to libertarianism as well.
There have been times when I have had to call out many prominent personalities that I have much respect and admiration for such as Larry Elder and Greg Gutfield for mistakenly calling themselves libertarians. Sadly, I am going to have to do the same with another man that I respect. Recently, Michael Shermer appeared on an internet talk show, hosted by Dave Rubin, where he talked about the attacks that he received for supporting anti-gun laws while having the nerve to refer to himself as a libertarian. This was brought to my attention by black anarcho-capitalist YouTuber, “That Guy T.” He said that Dave Rubin, who is a self-proclaimed classical liberal and a former co-host of The Young Turks, seemed to have a better understanding of libertarianism than Shermer did.
Michael Shermer said that he had libertarian leanings on most issues, but once he supported certain gun laws such as magazine limitations and extended background checks he found himself attacked by libertarians. He then went on to talk about how dogmatic we libertarians are about our beliefs. I always wonder how so many people who identify as libertarian have never heard of the Zero Aggression Principle, which says that the initiation of force is a major no-no if you are libertarian. Of course there are the obvious fallacies, such as the assumption that a terrorist is going to be honest enough to purchase firearms from places that perform background checks or that limiting magazine capacities is somehow going to limit the abilities of mass shooters. Yeah, tell that to concealed carry activist, Suzanna Hupp, whose father was killed when he tried to rush the shooter as he was reloading during the infamous Luby’s Massacre. Though the real issue is that these very laws that he supports require some form of government force to carry out. That’s a Libertarian No-No, Michael.
The most surprising aspect of the conversation was when Shermer revealed that he was a war mongering interventionists. He says that he didn’t understand why libertarians didn’t think that it was the duty of a more powerful country to protect the civilians of a weaker country with a tyrannical government. Okay there are two basic problems with the notion of America being the world’s police. One of them being how we get to decide which country needs our help. North Korea has one of the most oppressive governments on the globe. By that logic it is our duty to wage war with them. The same would go with China. Hell, we would probably have to wipe out most of the middle east, if we wanted to rid the world of tyranny. Though the main reason why we libertarians reject such a notion is because it violates that pesky Zero Aggression Principle to attack a country, unless it has attacked us or is threatening to do so.
Seriously, Michael, you really need to read up more on the libertarian movement. You call us dogmatic, but you have to understand that in libertarianism we have certain principles that can’t be compromised. One of them being the prohibition against the initiation of force. This is actually central to the entire ideology. It would be like someone calling himself a Christian while believing that Jesus never existed. It would be like a self-proclaimed Muslim saying that Muhammad was full of crap. For that matter it would be like somebody proclaiming to be an atheist, while recognizing Christ as his savior.
I want to note that this article is not meant to be a personal attack on Michael Shermer in any shape or form. There is much about Michael Shermer that I actually do admire. I just believe that when somebody chooses to call himself a libertarian, he should actually know what that word means. He also shouldn’t call us dogmatic, just because we choose to stand by the very principles that actually defines libertarianism. If he wants to have a better understanding of libertarianism, than he needs to do some serious reading on the subject.
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