On Missing the Goddamn Point

I’m a libertarian. My political philosophy can largely be summed up by the idea that while I think it would be nice if we could guarantee everyone’s safety and happiness, we cannot, and that attempts to do so by a central polity can reliably be counted on to generate perverse incentives, corruption, and disastrous failures. It’s less that I think private entities are automatically morally better, and more that I think public ones just can’t seem to do good things as efficiently.

I don’t want to tell people how to think. I like bringing things up, trying to invite them to think about things. I point out that de Soto’s privatization and individual recognition reforms in South America did a world of good for the country’s underclass. I draw attention to the fact that China’s economic special zones such as Hong Kong or Shenzen seem to be doing a lot better than other parts of the country. I indicate that the drug war seems to be having the opposite effect of what it was intended. The point is that I want to open the dialog, to get people to think about the real implications and side-effects of their actions, however well-intentioned they might be. Libertarians have a lot to contribute to the social discourse about how the world might be improved, in particular in the arena of civil liberties vis a vis equality before the law.

So imagine how much I throw up in my mouth when I read any libertarian thread on feminism, slut shaming, and gender-defined behavior.

So. There’s a blog I follow, the Skeptical Libertarian. Great blog – basically a Libertarian organization aimed at calling out pseudoscience thinking and using critical thought to hold up libertarian and non-libertarian ideas alike to careful scrutiny. Fun fact, I was one of the first members of the TSL Facebook page. I fondly remember our days spent demolishing the naturalistic fallacy.

Recently they posted a link to an article discussing why libertarians need to be concerned with slut shaming as a phenomenon. Immediately the mind-boggling, idiotic comments started coming out of the woodwork. “But libertarianism is a political philosophy, why do we need to be concerned with how people treat other people” seems to be the sum of it. Also, on the comment “there seems to be an anti feminist sentiment growing in libertarianism,” someone posted “good! There’s something wrong with modern feminism.”

These comments are the kind of thing that drive me crazy. Rather than being interested in engaging the ideas, in using new ideas and comments to consider, critique, and configure our positions, we immediately resort to commentary that closes the discussion. “So and so isn’t a libertarian anyway because…”  or  “…what’s next, do I not like Bieber so I’m not a libertarian?”

No attempt to engage with the idea. No attempt to go “ok, they say this a problem, but what about…”

Absolutely never do I ever see, “Huh. This is a point I had not considered, and I will do so,” and I especially don’t see anyone coming back and further elaborating after taking time to stop and consider the discussion.

What in the world is wrong with us? Do we lose some kind of membership in the libertarian club if we don’t immediately engage in huffy insistence on what libertarianism really is?

And that’s all before we even get into the discussion of slut-shaming itself, and how it relates to us as people.

I’ll leave that part at this – libertarians are people. We interact with people. People are affected by slut shaming. Therefore it is absolutely vital that we, especially as people who claim to best represent those who have been taken advantage of by an uncaring and incompetent system, consider what happens to other people and how we might respond to it.

But I guess that I’m just some bleeding heart leftist who isn’t a real libertarian after all.

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