By James Sweet III | United States
The libertarian movement is one that encompasses a wide variety of ideologies. Whether you believe in communal ownership of property or the virtue of selfishness, you can still advocate for the center of governance to be more local than it currently is. Yet, a select group of libertarians refuses to believe this, seeing libertarianism as an “inherently” right-wing ideology. This group often holds traditionalist values and sees any left-leaning libertarian as a walking contradiction. They may also see these “hypocrites” as degenerate due to not emphasizing morals and values over the will of humans. How can one claim to be a libertarian when their primary goal is not to free the people, but to encase them in a narrow mindset with no respect for opposing cultures and views?
What’s an Ultra-Conservative Libertarian?
An ultra-conservative “libertarian” differs from a libertarian with a conservative lifestyle in the aspect that an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees their morals and policies as one and the same. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle believes their lifestyle is preferable to others but does not allow it to get in the way of furthering the movement of letting an individual decide their own life. For example, an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees drugs and pornography as degenerative and that a libertarian society could not exist without these things being discouraged. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle would refrain from engaging in this degenerative society but sees a libertarian society possible if some of their fellow individuals still decide to engage in this behavior. This distinction is essential, as I see myself as a libertarian with a traditionalist-leaning lifestyle. In no way do I see morality as a negative thing to hold close. Rather, having a strong set of morals is a good way to define one’s self.
Does Left-Wing Libertarianism Exist?
A prominent criticism of organizations like the Libertarian Party is that they allow libertarian socialists to be a part of the party. Ultra-conservative “libertarians” criticize the existence of this group, seeing them as detrimental to the existence of both the party and the liberty movement as a whole. They criticize the “degenerative” aspects of libertarian socialism, despite these “degenerative” tendencies actually being rooted in immature behavior or the lack of formality. This can exist in any person and is not reserved for libertarian socialists. The stripping of James Weeks on the stage of the Libertarian Party National Convention is often cited as an example of this “degenerative libertarian socialist behavior.”
One can be a libertarian socialist, but to understand how, one must look beyond the ideological label. If one believes in the use of government force as a way to achieve libertarian socialism, then the likelihood of them truly being a libertarian has hit the floor. If one is a disciple of Noam Chomsky or other like-minded individuals and sees the tyranny of both the state and corporations as something that should be thrown away, then it is likely that you are a libertarian socialist. Noam Chomsky sees the views of Adam Smith as more egalitarian than what the typical American libertarian would believe. According to his interpretation of Adam Smith’s works (like The Wealth of Nations), a man should not subjugate himself to unjust authority in the form of the government and the corporations that exploit the value of a human. He argues that equality could exist under completely free markets and absolute liberty, but yet he differs from the typical laissez-faire capitalist. Chomsky argues that modern-day corporations go against libertarian values, as those in charge will hold on to their wealth and power similar to the way corrupt politicians do.
There is much more to libertarian socialism than what I just described, and I will admit that I have not read libertarian socialist literature. Yet, from what Noam Chomsky has said, it is rational to infer that the difference between a libertarian socialist and a right-wing libertarian is the enemy they see in society. A right-wing libertarian sees the state as the most corrupt institution that exists and should be restrained as much as possible in an attempt to minimize its influence in the lives of the individual. A libertarian socialist might agree with this but believes the state is not alone in its faults. A libertarian socialist, for the reason stated previously, believes that the 21st-century corporation is at fault for many problems as well and that they should not be spared from criticism. Yet, both libertarian socialists and right-wing libertarians want to reduce the power of the state, and they split when it comes to what they do once the state is reduced or abolished. Do they rely on corporations, or do they rely on voluntary, communal sharing of goods under a free and equal market that is unobstructed by the corruption of suits and ties?
Libertarian socialists, like Noam Chomsky himself, can still oppose engaging in unnecessary foreign conflicts, as well as call for the end of the Federal Reserve, War on Drugs, and market regulations. They can even call themselves conservative, as Chomsky himself did. So why do ultra-conservative “libertarians” deny the legitimacy of this group despite not having an ideological split with them until far down the road, when the government is heavily reduced or flat out abolished?
The Tyranny of the Mind
The mind of a human is one’s greatest ally but can also serve as the silent, unknown enemy. We think with our mind, and our decisions arise from there. Ultra-conservative “libertarians”, whether knowingly or not, want to control the minds of others. This form of tyranny is worse than both the state and the corporations combined, as they wish to change the course of an individual’s life that was already chosen by themselves. The higher authority, the Big Brother, is not a man or woman, but rather the ideas that the ultra-conservative relies upon. By influencing the morality and attempting to control the actions of a conscious, is one not engaging in tyranny? Can one truly consent to have their beliefs and opinions changed by another man’s personal principles? Listening and deciding to change your ways through civil discussion is not what I am describing here. The constant ridicule and discrediting of opposing ideas by ultra-conservative “libertarians” is what I am arguing against, as breaking down another man’s brain and building it up with your own beliefs is not freedom. It is the most dangerous form of tyranny that has existed on this planet. A libertarian does not enforce their ideas on another person, whether through the state, corporations, or the breakdown of the mind.
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