By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial
In 1996 and 2000, the Libertarian Party nominated a self-help author as its presidential candidate.
Harry Browne was a veteran, capitalist, and investment guide that managed to grab the nomination spot for the LP. His advocacy for strong Libertarian principles, refusal to take federal matching funds, and charisma made him the type of Libertarian we were all longing for after 2016.
What stands out about him, though, is his book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. Being Libertarian, the book was, of course, about freedom, yet the related books on Amazon are not radical manifestos or economic treatises. Rather, they are self-help books.
Why in the world would a Libertarian activist and author be writing self-help? Browne wrote this book because he realized the libertarian movement needed something more than an angel candidate or a gracious billionaire donor. No, Libertarians need to be better versions of themselves. Jeff Deist eloquently explained this view around a year ago:
Both Deist and Browne discuss the importance of becoming better versions of ourselves and improving ourselves because that is what will improve the movement. Deist made clear that when teenagers would enter Ron Paul’s office in D.C. looking to help, the orders they received were to work hard in school and get a great job. They needed to go put their lives in order and sort themselves out.
Sounds sort of like someone else we’ve been hearing an awful lot about lately.
Dr. Jordan Peterson is a prominent psychologist that has repeatedly made headlines for many of his ear-catching ideas. Dr. Peterson is into Jungian psychoanalysis, and he is translating that into layman’s terms so that young men and women internationally can better themselves in whatever way possible.
He lectures the viewers of his popular YouTube page about how they can “sort themselves out” by “cleaning their rooms.”
Oh yeah, and he is a self-help author. Ever since the release of his book 12 Rules for Life on Amazon he has kept a secure hold of the #1 most-read nonfiction book. Jordan Peterson is saying what everyone knows but don’t know that they know. He is helping his viewers reveal the truth about how to bring order out of chaos within their own lives. His ideological revolution is monumental and unprecedented.
How does this tie to libertarianism?
Something that many libertarians are seeming to forget, notably those within the LP, is that we need to be responsible for our own lives. Ayn Rand touched on this for many, yet with that came the package ideology of Objectivism, which proves questionable for anyone wanting to help the poor.
Instead, we are faced with hedonist libertinism. We have gone from “free-markets are great and we need to take control of our own lives” libertarianism to “I want the government off my back so I can do whatever the hell I want” libertarianism.
One of those sells well to those looking to improve the livelihoods of themselves and those around them. The other sells well to man-babies who’s chances of ever actually “growing up” are very, very low.
True libertarianism doesn’t mean freedom to be the worst version of ourselves. It means freedom to be the best version of ourselves with nobody else forcing us to do so.
That is how Jordan Peterson is fitting into the Libertarian doctrine. Every libertarian needs to focus on how they themselves can be a better version of themselves than they were yesterday.
We need to take hold of our fight for freedom and with it pursue meaning, not expedient self-interest or hedonism.
Dr. Peterson himself is not a full-blown libertarian, but he holds the same reservations about totalitarianism, leftism, and fascism that most freedom fighters do. That does not matter. Libertarians don’t need Jordan Peterson for political help. They don’t need him to reinforce the same natural-rights principles and laissez-faire theories. What they need is to heed his words of self-actualization.
Improved libertarian individuals will improve the libertarian movement. Jeff Deist and Harry Browne knew this, and it is about time the rest of the movement started to adopt this principle too.