Response to Curt Doolittle on Libertarianism

 

First, I want to thank Curt Doolittle for taking interest in my post and taking time out of his day to share his thoughts on my critique. He came at me like a gentleman, and I want to do the same for him.

 

So, let’s head right in. My original text is in black, his comments are in red.

 

response1

 

His first set of objections deals with my failure to define oppression and asks if all are oppressed equally. I agree to the first statement. As part of the manosphere/reactosphere, I took for granted the audience and assumed that they were familiar with the concept of oppression. So, I’ll provide google’s definition for simplicity’s sake, which was the concept I wanted to convey:

 

oppression – the state of being subjected to unjust treatment or control.

 

I believe that everyone can find a reason to believe that they are some degree of oppressed, either by government or society. Now, I do not believe this oppression is equal, and whether this oppression actually exists isn’t really important. What’s important is that people gravitate to justifications for these feelings.

 

Liberals harbor all demographics with their privilege/oppression narrative as long as they aren’t white, straight, males. So what other ideology harbors white, straight, males? It’s Libertarianism, because it explains their particular oppression. Libertarianism doesn’t intend for this to happen but that’s where the demographics migrate in actual reality. Exceptions? Of course. But the trends are trends for a reason.

 

As I explained in my previous post, the script of liberalism and Libertarianism are too close to be truly opposition to each other. Rather, they are complementary. Liberalism is a concave puzzle piece, taking in all groups that surround its open middle. Libertarians are the connecting piece of the missing group. Both make a complete narrative which contain rights, equality, and freedom.

 

This by itself doesn’t mean that Libertarianism is factually wrong, but it puts the Libertarian narrative in proper context as a bizarro-world leftist narrative.

 

This isn’t a tangent, but integral to my critique. Those who reject the liberal narrative usually find Libertarianism, and many Libertarians were once liberals. This is no coincidence. My critique serves to highlight the bait and switch that many Libertarians have fallen for. If one is weary of the liberal modus operandi, then one should similarly be weary of Libertarianism.

 

response2

 

Next, Mr. Doolittle claims that I confused oppression with meritocracy and I don’t see where I’ve done so.

 

As for the Dunning-Kruger effect, I believe what Mr. Doolittle means is that these groups, for whatever reason, are unable to achieve in the meritocracy, but lack self-awareness in knowing why they’ve failed. They do not recognize their own incompetence, and so they find justification in the privilege oppression narrative. Of course, that’s what I’ve garnered from his response. They are my interpretation of his words. Personally, I think this is insightful (if indeed I have understood it correctly), and I agree.

 

response3

 

A slight misunderstanding here. I am a proponent for property rights and meritocracy for a multitude of reasons that I won’t go into here. Just because I oppose Libertarianism, and Libertarianism advocates for property rights/meritocracy, doesn’t mean I oppose those things. Thus, I’m not sure how to respond.

 

response4

 

My answer would be no. Socially, it is destructive to reward failure and punish success. I believe we are on the same page here.

 

response5

 

Libertarians do not call it oppression, but the concept might as well be.

 

The state holds people down, particularly white males. This influence can be defined as oppression. The Libertarians think in terms of this influence. Therefore, Libertarians think in terms of oppression.

 

Mr. Doolittle is probably well aware of the tendency of statists to deny that taxation is theft because of the negative connotation of the word “theft”, even though by defintion taxation is theft. He is making the same mistake here by denying Libertarian’s focus on oppression because the word sounds outside the Libertarian lexicon.

 

response7

 

I’m not so sure on the accusation of selective reasoning. Much of my piece entailed connecting Libertarian ideology with its liberal counterparts. Caretaking, at least in my view, has little to do with it.

 

response6

 

Mr. Doolittle states that PC backlash is caused by the state because people cannot counter-sue in the state’s court of law. I think most conservatives and reactionaries would find that notion rather absurd. Mr. Doolittle, like the other Libertarians I previously aligned with, has found an excuse to blame the state when the link is tenuous. PC battles aren’t something you can win with a counter-suit. I think what Mr. Doolittle misses is the memeplex going on outside the influence of the state and the social damage that can be caused by it. If anyone here has heard of the kerfuffle with Adria Richards getting two men fired for their just slightly un-PC-think then they see for themselves that the witch hunt can be entirely private and perfectly legal. Media outlets don’t need to be funded by the government to run hit-pieces on political dissidents. Propaganda can be, and many times is, privately funded.

 

Hollywood is a good example of this leftist manipulation because it receives far less government intervention, and so the government is harder to blame. Are actors, producers and directors not disproportionately liberal? Do they not disproportionately make movies with a liberal slant? How would one blame the government on this one? Mr. Doolittle waves of the question entirely by saying:

“Libertarians believe that people are not fooled by these influences, and the data show that to be correct. There is no evidence to the contrary.”

 

On top of being absolutist and completely unsupported, I think that view is a naïve and not very reasonable. Of course people are fooled by influences. There is whole litany of cognitive biases that are essentially bugs in human mental programming which can be exploited. There is a whole list of persuasive techniques that are used to influence people. Everyone from politicians to sales people have developed strategies to take advantage of these mental quirks. This is an actual thing. Persuasive techniques are an actual thing. Manipulating people via conditioning is an actual thing. I’m sure Mr. Doolittle is aware of Asch’s conformity experiments, where participants outright denied reality because others did the same. Mr. Doolittle is experienced with economics and political thought, but I get the impression that his background in psychology, particularly social psychology, is rather limited.

 

People aren’t immune from psychological conditioning from the media. The sole purpose of advertisements is to change people’s beliefs and behavior. If they did not work, then the market would see no use in having them. The fact that they exist on a market means they’re working. Media, whether it be the news or fiction (though they are not always mutually exclusive), creates the worldview of reality beyond our limited personal experience. Selecting certain elements out of a Rorschach blot can generate any picture the artist desires, and so selecting certain pieces of information while ignoring others shapes perception of reality itself. People are indeed rational actors/thinkers, but they are rational based on the information they have. Control the information and you control the frame, and media has control of that information. It can craft whatever narrative it desires, and it doesn’t need the state to do it. Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman; who was the victim? Alternative question: who was the real victim, who was the media’s victim, and who do most people view as the victim because of it? See my point?

 

This manipulation does not work with everyone always, but it is a real thing. There is a whole science behind persuasion, a whole industry behind advertisements, and people who spend countless hours collecting data on how much other people’s views can be changed. Mr. Doolittle and the Libertarian opinion on this issue wants to completely erase these effects, stating that they simply don’t exist, that we are somehow immune from absorbing the sensibilities that are taught in school or observe in entertainment because the notion that we can be manipulated is Libertarian kryptonite. It reveals that tyranny can exist outside the state, and that is something Libertarians can’t even begin to rectify through their ideology because their ideology only focuses on the state. That is their Achilles heel.

 

Finally (it’s a big one):

 

response9

I believe Mr. Doolittle has a misunderstanding of my position that is not his fault, but instead my own. I have only recently started commentaries about society and politics as a reactionary, and so I haven’t gotten a chance to get to my views on democracy.

 

In short, democracy is mob absolutism. On paper, it tries to guide society’s path by the wisdom of crowds but in practice it only gives more power to people who spawn more, and those people are more likely to be of low intelligence and ability. Hey, I don’t make the trends, I just tell it like it is.

 

For the record, I reject universal democracy, so Mr. Doolittle’s last statement doesn’t really apply to me, but is insightful by itself. That’s why I’ve included it.

 

So, in summation, plenty I agree with, plenty I don’t. I still think that Libertarianism is a counterpart to Liberalism rather than actual opposition because they function nearly the same, save for their nomenclature. I also believe that Mr. Doolittle illustrates how Libertarians overlook the influence of the media as a part of society that can work against Libertarianism (and the rest of us) without the state. Not only do I think my original point still stands, but that Mr. Doolittle has inadvertently supported it by trying to wave it off.

A Critique of Libertarianism

 

First thing’s first: society oppresses everyone. There are social rules and expectations which can result in praise or shaming for all people, regardless of race or gender. Economic inequality and government influence are systems that work against everyone to varying degrees, but they are things one simply cannot change. This present day isn’t optimal for you, whether you’re white, black, male, female, or the hybrids in between. This is just reality, because reality itself is oppressive.

 

But most of us don’t know why this is so, and so we search for reasons. If you’re a woman, you find the answer to your oppression in Patriarchy. If you are black, you find it in your Afro-American history and the legacy of racism. If you’re gay, your oppression is from heteronormativity and homophobia.

 

But what if you’re male, and white, and straight?

 

There is an ideology that explains your oppression, and it is no different, practically speaking, than the gender/heritage studies. It is Libertarianism. For the white man, there is no better justification for one’s oppression than economics and the state.

 

For the longest time, I saw Libertarianism as the polar opposite to the left’s oppression studies, but after reviewing my own Libertarian positions, I now see that the ideology is opposite to left ideologies in the sense that mirrors offer a copy in reverse.

 

Both Libertarian and its liberal counterparts have their own oppression narrative – only different sources of that oppression. For Liberals, it’s economic inequality wrought by the rich; for Libertarians, it’s economic inequality wrought by the state. Liberals see a right-wing state holding back progress while Libertarians see the exact reverse. Both focus on different forms of Liberty – Liberal positive liberty vs Libertarian negative liberty. Libertarians and Liberals fight endlessly as to whose “rights” trump the others, but it’s always an argument on rights, never mind that rights themselves are simply fictions. Libertarians and Liberals both have egalitarian views, though expressed slightly differently. Liberals declare that everyone is equal, while Libertarians hold the view that people are individuals and have equal rights and should get equal liberty – so, essentially, equality. Libertarians don’t judge people’s actions because they value liberty so highly while Liberals don’t judge people’s actions because they value tolerance so highly. Libertarians and Liberals are both content with overturning advantageous social traditions and taboos in favor of expanding individual autonomy. And finally, Libertarianism, like the Liberal counterparts, is complete with its own University departments and activist groups.

 

The irony is that Libertarians think they are the exception to the Liberal narrative, just as I thought it was when I was a Libertarian. Looking back, it doesn’t surprise me that my personal journey from Liberal to Libertarian was a quick bait and switch, for so many aspects of what made me a Liberal also, in the end, made me a Libertarian.

 

That is not to say that Libertarianism is completely 100% wrong, or that I have something personal against the ideology. It is useful to a degree. For example, weighing down the virtuous and good with state regulation, which is meant to control the chaotic and immoral, is surly an overreach into tyranny, tyranny that Libertarians valiantly oppose. In that respect, the ideology is beneficial, but at the same time Libertarianism has its problems.

 

Libertarians hold economic matters as an extension of personal liberty, and in holding that liberty as the highest ideal they tend to overlook other, sometimes more powerful systems that control a people. For example, the Libertarian will be against government intrusion of free speech, but the Libertarian ideology is powerless against political correctness in the market. On principal, the Libertarian is fine with censorship, firing of political dissidents, and media ideological control just so long as it occurs without direct coercion. Their response would be something to the effect of: “well, if you don’t like political correctness, just watch another channel. Let the market decide. If people want to pay for political correctness, then they have every right to do so. If your employer doesn’t like your views, then they have every right to fire you just as long as it’s not a breach of an employment contract.”

 

And I would bet that a Liberal would say the same thing.

 

By focusing so much on economic matters, Libertarians miss the social and media influences which can create tyranny and despotism without having to appeal to the government. The tyranny that is found in a free and politically correct Libertopia would likely be worse than anything the state could do in suppressing one’s speech. It’s not as if the government could fire you for being a racist, but you could lose your job and empire if the media thought you were. As a white man’s social justice movement, and as a minority in the face of other, more powerful social justice movements, Libertarians would likely be crushed as the PC police use the media and markets against them. No bureaucrat would need to lift a pen. Since the Libertarian is trapped defending the means of their own destruction, they would have no defense against such an exercise of mass personal liberty.

 

Another thing I find wrong about Libertarianism is that in holding such a high esteem of personal liberty, they tend to devalue personal judgment, for if someone wishes to destroy themselves on drugs, then they have the “right” to do so. This view of liberty holds both virtue and vice in equal weight, since both are exercises of personal autonomy. There is no judgment regarding what people should do, only that they should be allowed to do whatever doesn’t directly hurt someone else. However without higher virtues, philosophies, disciplines, etc. there is no reason to deny yourself the self-destructive pleasures of this world, pleasures which, in on a free market, would be plentiful and cheap.

 

What Libertarianism lacks is a value that surpasses liberty. Strength, honor, loyalty – these are aspects that transcend far beyond the basic ability to choose. Indeed, choice is needed in higher virtues, but choice itself is such a lessor ideal. Ironically, Libertarian ideology is stuck at the bottom of human action, supporting the diversity of behaviors but not the value of those behaviors.

 

And ultimately, Libertarianism tries to spread a diversity of behaviors to people who should not get them. Extending liberty means that not only will people have the option to improve, but the option to self-destruct. Many, if not most, lack the intellect to differentiate between the two. Allowing people free reign assumes they can handle it when most cannot. This is no different than allowing a small child the liberty of using the stove when they are unprepared to do so. The moral thing is not to give liberty to those who would crash and burn, then walk away when they inevitably do so, but to give it to people who need to ascend higher and are currently held back by the system. Libertarianism, however, does not differentiate between the two.

 

So what’s the endgame of Libertarianism? Libertarian economic policy is about allowing market efficiency to replace inefficient, centralized bureaucracy. I think that’s great actually, but where is all the excess wealth going to go? Well, it’ll return to the economy. But when the people have no higher virtues or values because Libertarians ignore such notions and Liberals destroy them, what goal does the economy have? Without higher values, hedonism is the default. So all the economic surplus gained from Libertarian economic policy will simply grow the tumors of an economy that are geared toward supplying hedonistic demands of pleasure and entertainment. How then is that not replacing government economic waste with private economic waste? There needs to be something more here, not just a restructuring, but also a rechanneling. Libertarianism stops half way.

 

In the end, I have to ask myself, who benefits from Libertarianism? It’s not the people at the bottom who would exercise their new liberty by making self-destructive choices. It’s not the government and its employees who would see a drastic (and much needed) trimming of fat. Clearly, the beneficiaries of Libertarian economic policy are the merchants who dole out simplistic pleasures. Ah, there’s the rub.

 

I realize that I’ve been a little harsh on Libertarianism, but that’s because those who are dejected from an ideology are also the ones who hold it in lowest regard. And that’s not to say I don’t like some aspects of Libertarianism, it’s just that its worldview is incomplete. The ideology needs something more, some greater value which recognizes liberty as a means to an end rather than just an end. Freedom, the opportunity to ascend, is only the first step in one’s personal evolution.

 

Update: Curt Doolittle has written his own critique of my critique.