HOW ANGER RUINS LIBERTY
The libertarians are right about many things, and the general populace is notably libertarian in many ways. And yet, relatively few people have any interest in the libertarian “movement.” At this point, two or three generations of libertarians have wondered why they couldn’t get more people, but they have few answers, save for being more and more flamboyant.
There are many reasons for the lack of libertarian ideas spreading of course, but my point today is a very simple one:
Libertarians major in anger, and that chases millions of decent people away.
I’m sympathetic, you understand. Once you see what coercive institutions have done to mankind, it’s completely understandable to become angry. But if our writings are a one-note symphony of complaints, we doom ourselves to the fringes, no matter how right our ideas may be. There has to be more than that if we’re going to draw people in.
Doing more of the same things that are failing – but doing them louder and with more “edge” – hasn’t worked. If we want people to receive our ideas, we’ll have to give them a positive image to move toward, and few libertarians ever do that.
Yes, positive libertarianism. Please see this article, which makes the case for it pretty directly.
Many libertarians complain simply because it seems to be “the libertarian model.” But that’s a silly reason. And what’s worse is that complaining ties us to the things we complain about. That keeps us from covering new ground and keeps the same old abuses in the forefront of our minds. In other words, it’s a recipe for stasis.
What the World Sees
A young friend of mine is particularly engaged in this issue and recently sent me these comments:
These people are very angry… they all seem to talk with a “screw you” tone of voice and connotations.
People with this philosophy are almost universally lacking in kindness. Perhaps they have it, but they don’t express it in their words.
In my head, the philosophy is a kind one. When you think through the logical implications, you realize that this would produce benefits… but you have to actually tell people that, rather than just say, “Screw you; taxation is theft!”
The delivery of the message is sending people away.
It’s not about the taxes. It’s about people. It’s about respecting and valuing people, and libertarians are really failing at that.
Where Anger Ends Up
I hate to post the following images, but I think they’re important to see. All of these come from the social media feeds of people who boast of “freedom,” “ancap,” “libertarian,” “anti-state,” and so on. This is where anger can lead, and part of the pathology involves picking on women.
Yes, I know this isn’t representative of all libertarians (thank God), but the people who post this kind of filth have hundreds of thousands of followers and likes.
So, the libertarian movement has a problem, and at the root of it lies anger.
Anger Is Poison
Let’s get to the bottom of this: Anger, while it may be an understandable response to abuse, is highly toxic if not purged. And it is definitely not suitable as a modus operandi.
Not all libertarians deal in anger, of course, but the many who do are poisoning their own progress. Pointing out evil is fine at times, and occasionally necessary… but not all the time.
If the choir we’re preaching to demands negativity, it’s a choir we need to leave behind. If our “click-numbers” sag, then so be it; if we can’t put goodness above numbers, we’re poisoning the people who give us their time and attention.
We need to build what’s right, not to complain about what’s wrong.