Libertarianism Is a Rejection of Identity Politics

by | Feb 6, 2024

Libertarianism Is a Rejection of Identity Politics

by | Feb 6, 2024

depositphotos 26101623 s

Politics often places people into oversimplified groups based on singular traits, attributes, or beliefs. People are rarely this one dimensional, so why is it so pervasive?

It’s useful for politicians to separate people into different groups to consolidate power. A dictator may only need to do this once. In a democracy it’s a continuous practice. If a politician can subsidize farm products (driving up the cost of food) while simultaneously subsidizing groceries for low income citizens, they can earn the vote of two voting blocks at no personal cost to the politician.

What separates a voting block from identity politics? Is a group of farmers blocking the streets of Paris with their tractors to protest cuts to subsidies identity politics? Seems more like a simple voting block than identity politics.

Identity politics is often defined by a characteristic that is meritless, like race, but not always. Something identity politics always does is give individuals responsability for the actions of others in their group, good or bad. This is the characteristic that libertarianism protects against through its emphasis on the individual and their own merit.

Identity politics are devisive by nature; you’re either in the group or outside it. What is rarely mentioned is that the dividing line can be drawn anywhere; black, white, girl, boy, tall, short, Christian, athiest, birth place, age, hair color, what color shirt you’re wearing…anything.

I belong to a historically oppressed group, left-handed people. The world isn’t built for this minority group, and to make things even worse, left-handed people have been forced to do things the “right” way on many occasions. I speak for the left-handed community when I say we are tired of right supremacy.

This satirical example illustrates the narcissism needed to call yourself the voice of a “community” that shares one trait, when in reality that “community “is a scattered set of people not in contact, not choosing leadership, and who may not even identify strongly with the chosen trait.

Libertarianism’s built-in focus on individual rights inhibits identity politics.

Identity politics are all about focusing on the good of the group over the good of the Individual. That is the opposite of Libertarianism.

This focus on individual rights simultaneously protects against falling into the trap of identity politics as well as violence in general. Identity politics are required to “other” someone, to begin the dehumanizing process.

When the group is valued over the individual, violence follows. When the individual is at odds with the group, the group justifies using violence on the individual to reach the goals of the group—the “gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet” justification.

Communism provides the clearest example of misalignment when the collective is valued over the individual. On a surface level this may sound logical and even reasonable until we dive into the actual effects. When the group is valued over individual rights, terrible things happen. In Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union the goal of rapid industrialization was valued over the rights of the individual, which led to the confiscation of farm produce by state party leadership to sell internationally so that funds could be raised for factories, all while leaving millions of farmers to starve to death. A famine was engineered by men simply to reach an economic goal.

Why do we keep falling into the trap of identity politics? I would argue it’s in our DNA. For most of human history it was advantageous to be in a group or tribe for protection. Only recently has society grown to the point where political overlords can pit groups of strangers against each other.

And why do they keep doing it? Because it works.

About Josh Tullis

Josh Tullis is an emergency room nurse and former paramedic in the Kansas City area. He is a proud father of four.

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