Awareness and conversation about liberty is flourishing, some of it a little more focused on particular messaging than others. Most are fixated on the United States, whether as a criticism of the empire and its wars or a romantic aspiration of converting the nation into a republic of virtue. All nations hold dear a certain mythology that generates pride and loyalty. The natural bias towards the local and familiar that can stir pride and inspiration. Such a bias is also a crucial ingredient for imperialism or any other of the nasty “isms.”
With the current change of power inside the U.S. Libertarian Party, much of liberty media is focused on the new direction that the party should take. But is the U.S. Libertarian Party the avatar for liberty? And in a world where many of the leading liberty representatives are contributors from all over the world, is an American focus misguided and archaic? Is the belief that the American populace and government itself will be born again and give up the exceptionalism and hubris that has defined its history? A history that has led to the biggest government ever.
There are enough people on this planet who believe in individual liberty to make change and a difference. The trouble is that they are scattered, with many not believing in the traditional (usually violent) means of rule and social controls of revolution or government. Those who believe in the rights of individuals lead their lives in a variety of manners. Many do not have social media accounts and have not read Hoppe, Rothbard, or Mises. To them liberty is an instinct. One does not need to read a book to understand that human beings are not property and one does not need a God to justify this belief. At times the liberty movement seems constrained by traditions that are being created in the moment.
Perhaps the ‘movement’ is trying the same old methods out of habit, though such traditional methods seem to only be effective for statism. Though what comes next? Even if the U.S. Libertarian Party wins an election, gets a president and cabinet in office, the reality is going to be sobering. At best imagine an atheist being elected Pope. The Church will remain along with its dogmas and exceptionalism. The reforms will likely be token at best and compromise, always compromise will forever be reached. Every president that has ever spoken with the tongue of liberty from Jefferson to Reagan always ends up growing the government and removing freedom from the individual. Men lie with words but tell the truth with deed, especially the politically motivated.
Is it the corruption of the office itself or is it just how human beings evolve once they have the legitimacy of political power and the might of legal government around them? It takes a certain person to believe that they have the answers and solutions for millions of strangers, to believe that a powerful institution can control and steer so many lives and cultivate a world for a collective good. Those who usually ascend to such a position are not pro-liberty or for individual rights, but tend to be collectivist in nature. It is after all a statist mindset to believe in the virtue of government, to have the wisdom of gods that can centrally plan human lives and destiny with omnipotent command.
The Left in its early days held an internationalist universalism. The belief that justice and egalitarian rights should be spread far and wide was a scourge to all governments and institutions of power. In an era when few were talking about human bondage, colonialism, suffrage, and indentured workers it was those with an internationalist, leftist ideology that spoke up and fought for the downtrodden. Unfortunately the revolutionaries often became terrorists with murder and indiscriminate violence as their blunt means. When the radicals seized power, the revolutionary spirit and internationalism mutated into the pragmatism of the nationalists and imperialists.
The curse of liberty is that those who live it and care about individual rights do not seek power, do not have a God delusion, and trust in the wisdom of free markets and human cooperation. The ability to interact and develop relationships free of coercion is something that we understand to be healthy, normal even. The impulse to steer other’s income, what they read, say, consume and so on becomes an important aspect of rule, even for those who were once radical champions of such freedoms. From within the spectrum of liberty some of those who claim to champion individual rights cling to a puritan moralism and disdain for certain livestyles. It is this disdain that will define their rule. Not their claims to adore liberty.
When it comes to voluntary sexual interactions outsiders wish to control what is allowed, often claiming to do so with a form of moral paternalism, that degeneracy is infectious or that children will be harmed. The government, they demand, ought to be wielded by those of certain ideologies and religious inclinations. Right now certain moralities have found themselves in the liberty movement, proclaiming anyone with a libertine pen or performs sex work is a degenerate, those defined as LGBT may be a ‘groomer,” and that pornography is destroying society. Around every corner is a pedophile, another Satanic panic unfolding on our very screens. One does not need to agree or seek to partake in such a lifestyle. It is the obsession with condemning and denigrating individuals who partake in this behaviour that is concerning.
Liberty is diverse. Our understandings of it is individually unique and those who seek and live it often wish to not only to be left alone but to leave others alone. Liberty as a philosophical concept is romantic. That does not mean that husbands won’t beat wives, neighbors will not quarrel, con artists will not work, and that rape will not occur. The difference will be that the monopoly of coercive government will be either decentralized or non-existent. It is not a utopia, just as it is not a dystopia. It will be different. We see it in the freest parts of our lives already.
The present belief that big government or that tyranny is only something found in the left or has SJW tendencies is contemporary and disregards much of history. It also ignores the reactionary nature of both the Left and SJWs to issues and traits that have occurred or may be common place. That does not justify the SJW methods and cancel culture just as it does not legitimize the left-wing history of genocide and centrally planned monstrosities. The ugly nature of the SJW culture and Left also do not suddenly absolve conservatism or right-wing politics. Such is the trouble of collectivist ideologies and statism itself. It creates caricatures, propagates slurs, and seeks power at the expense of individual rights and humanity.
The liberty moment is here and it may grow and flourish more in the future. It is something that needs sunlight and feral waters to thrive, and the stale screens of social media and pits of partisan politics will not spread liberty. It will only taint the word, much as how “liberal” or even “libertarian” have become compromised terms thanks to politics. The idea of making alliances with the right-wing or “dumbing down” the message to gain votes is needed is another reason why party politics is dangerous. Just as the belief that every Republican or conservative has a liberty spirit beneath the surface is a self defeating delusion.
Nationalism is an extreme form of chauvinism. It is the belief that citizenship or a passport entitles one to certain rights above or beneath another. That somehow the government of a person’s land has dominion over that individual and that they are culpable or responsible for any polity. It is further fuelled by the belief that the foreign is evil, corrupting, and will destroy society while the local is pure and sacred. It is a bias that is hard to kick and a major point of difference between individuals in the liberty movement. The seduction of nation and patriotism seems for some to be more powerful than the principles of liberty and individual rights. This is the compromise that empowers politicians who slur the foreign and collectivize individuals, it is the fear mongering that snuffs liberty and grows government.
This essay is more critical than it is a singular solution. How does one heard cats? And how do you accomplish that when they are not only spread all over a continent but the world itself? Just because individuals from different parts of the world are not on social media discussing liberty philosophy does not mean that they do not exist. To assume that liberty only exists through the prism of social media interactions is not only limiting but also denies perspective and comprehension that liberty is not just what you and yours think it should be. Sometimes we may have more in common with a stranger from another part of the world speaking another language than the neighbor over the fence. In an age where the word “inclusive” has become a meme, perhaps the liberty movement should be inclusive to people the world over and not just from a certain area.