Thoughts on libertarianism and white fragility

But not this time, Friday. You’re not going to get me today. I was 2000 words deep into writing The Fight Club Guide to Content Marketing Vs Native Advertising for B2B when I looked at the time and realized I needed to get my shiz together and get this out the door.

satan

Last night I got into my uber at 7:20 pm wearing black thigh highs and a choker and the driver says, “Are you going to work?”

me

Um, this seems ill-advised. But, rednecks from Arkansas gonna redneck I suppose. As Mike Tront put it, “BLM is far from perfect, but it kills me that libertarians aren’t embracing and fighting w/them on these issues.”

Some are. Jeffrey Tucker, for instance. I don’t know. The other day someone told me that there are several former-libertarian neoreactionaries who credit/blame me for their conversion. Like my social justice warrioring was so offensive to them that they has to flee libertarianism. My first response was to roll my eyes. But upon further reflection, two points. First, I’ve never advocated doing anything to grow government on net to advance social justice causes. Or any causes. So the idea that it’s my message that’s causing the fleeing is ridiculous.

Second, it pains me that libertarianism is so full of little flowers so delicate that the mere mention of the realities that other people have to live every single day of their lives causes them to be so triggered that they have to flee an in-group that is mostly openly hostile to and in denial of identity-based oppression for an in-group which actively and openly advocates for identity-based oppression.

It’s not just libertarianism. White fragility is very real. When polled, most white people actually believe they are the real victims of racism in America today. The mere mention of any attempt to correct for racism causes white job applicants to get so nervous they throw their interviews. White people aren’t even strong enough to think about the realities black people live every day.

I’m fucking exhausted. I’m exhausted by white identity politics. I’m exhausted by the fact that in libertarianism open racism and sexism by old white men is hardly remarked upon but a woman who is openly opposed to racism and sexism is angrily shouted down and told to leave their whites-only safe space.

I’m not a libertarian. Any philosophy that is supposed to address power and yet is perfectly compatible with racism and sexism is, in my opinion, both morally bankrupt and practically useless. So if you let someone who isn’t even a libertarian cause you to abandon a philosophy that is perfectly compatible with your racism and sexism for a philosophy that welcomes it, you were looking for an excuse, buddy.

Libertarianism will always be useless to me except as shorthand for other things because “limited government” isn’t inspiring except as a tactic to get something else. If you want wealth or freedom or opportunity it’s a way to get there. But it’s not a destination. What does “limited” even mean? Limited government does not describe an ideal society. It tells us nothing about power, because power is so much more than the state.

So, it less kills me that libertarians aren’t embracing and fighting with BLM on issues like overincarceration, police abuse, police accountability, and police departments harassing poor people for revenue generation, and more doesn’t surprise me at all and is part of why fuck libertarianism.

23 Comments

  1. rob

    “Power is so much more than the state”. This sentence is so impossible to define that it’s the same as saying: I’m worried about things that happen sometimes.

  2. Ken

    I think if BLM had different tactics they could easily find unity with libertarians. Their messages include a lot of government directed action which is obviously against libertarian ideals.

    Libertarians find much core agreement with BLM when it comes to the effects of policing. We do not agree with either their methodology to correct it or the tactics they use to spread their message.

    Addressing issues of abuses of power by government regarding race should include existing practices that discriminate on that subject. Affirmativate Action quotas for government contractors and sub contractors for example, minority only business loans, and many others. Racial differences are codified in law giving non white males special advantage. Not being able to realize this is an issue as much as the unwritten rules that cause police and courts to react more harshly to the same events for blacks and latinos than whites and asians is problem. One should be against both if one wishes to actually pursue equality.

  3. Your observations of libertarians exactly fit with my observations of conservatarians. I think that name is pretty self explanatory. There are ton of them in the DC area. Many in the Koch organization seem to fit the bill.

    The Libertarians in my circle absolutely do advocate for all of those BLM causes that you named in this piece. Acknowledgement and discussion of the plight of minorities, women, sex workers, and any other class that’s getting extra fucked by the state is commonplace. In fact, I think it’s one of the primary drivers of much of the Libertarian Party related activism, at least in this area. So, before you write off libertarianism as incompatible with your goals, you may want to expand your L circle a bit.

    If I had experienced what it seems you have, I’d say fuck libertarianism too. Thankfully, my experience has shown me something quite different.

    And, yeah, limited government is a meaningless phrase.

  4. Never mind the existence of other non-libertarian communities trying to influence people. Never mind the state school system that incorporates unlibertarian ideas into their curricula. Never mind the media that skews coverage in favor of government. The real problem is just a bunch of white guys not stepping up their game. I guess all those brown and black people out there with their own ideas are just waiting for a white man with his best sales pitch, huh?

    The fact that you are concerned with classifying people based on their natural accidents [i.e. being born ‘white’ and ‘male’] tells me your principles suck, you don’t have any, or you suck at communicating them.

    • Libertarianism is a political philosophy. Even if it’s a moral philosophy about non-aggression, that’s still irrelevant to bigotry except to say you don’t get to beat me up for being a bigot or for being a member of a certain social group.

      No one with *any* intelligence takes into account whether there exists bigots or not in any given philosophy. In all my research on philosophy, I never once considered how many bigots might or might not be among the adherents. What would be the point? It has no relevance. If this question is important to someone, they would just have to reject all political philosophies because they all have bigots among their followers. So a few vocal bigots won’t have the same impact that they might have had if they weren’t vocal about their bigotry, so what? That’s life. There are plenty of people who aren’t bigots that spread the philosophy, so it’s irrelevant.

      “I’m not a libertarian.”

      Few people considered you one anyway, but good riddance.

  5. Nice click bait.. But I’ll bite. Libertarians dont associate with BLM because the crux of that movement is perpetual victimhood, and racism with no understanding of individual responsibility. And “White fragility”? What the hell is that? It’s not straight white males begging for safe spaces, and trigger warnings. Somebody is upset that a group of people don’t buy into her bullshit; so we must be racist. It’s always funny how people talk about fragile white masculinity when mere words are too much for you to handle. Take your pathetic plebe ass back to tumbler and take this PTSD i gave you as well.

  6. Alex

    Also, have you done anything to address the over-representation of Jews in positions of power in the US? Another -witz name bashing Whites but ignoring Jews who are actually doing what you accuse Whites doing.

  7. Minister

    Limited government means giving total power to private tyrannies. Libertarianism is a homicidalist eugenics hate ideology against poor Whites & minorities. And it is far from a threat to the establishment — that’s why this year Faux hosted the first nationally televised libertarian debate. The entire American system is essentially organized in order to do its best at exterminating the “inferiors” of society. Racial diversity makes socialism impossible (read “Race, Ethnicity and Welfare States”), which is why the USA despises its poor. The root cause of the maladies that inflict black communities is economic. Libertarians are worse than Nazis. Read Chomsky.

  8. Minister

    Wealth for whom? Certainly not for negroes. Certainly not for Whites. Of course, the diversion tactic of the elite is to center things around a “White privilege”. Libertarianism is a psychopathic darwinist hate screed worse than anything Hitler ever wrote. That’s reality.

  9. Mike Lorrey

    Cathy, show me where BLM folk ever showed up for muh 2nd Amendment events, for jury nullification, for eminent domain reform, asset forfeiture reform, or other liberty activism? They didnt, they were marching for gun control, and still do, and cheer for antigun democratic candidates, they demand more eminent domain, more taxes, more regulation, and more hand outs and set asides. So don’t cry about us not showing up. We’ve been fighting for liberty for decades. BLM is still fighting for statism. They are just unhappy that they got their wish, good and hard…

  10. My Libertarianism is all about power and control.
    My Libertarianism is about non-aggression and positive empowerment.
    Maximize the power of all individuals to control themselves, their property and their environment, without infringing on the rights of others.
    Everybody wants liberty for themselves. The difference is that Libertarians want liberty for everybody.
    Maximize the power of black people to control themselves = Black Lives Matter.
    Maximize the power of women to control themselves = Women’s Liberation
    Maximize the power of Hispanics, poor people, white people, LGBTQ people, Christian people, Muslim people, Jewish people, atheist people.
    Freedom of association means that people can choose their own identities, to pool their resources and work together to empower themselves.
    This is Libertarian identity politics.
    Our struggle is a peaceful struggle. The most powerful tools for self-empowerment are tolerance, forgiveness, self-reliance, and self-control. Intolerance, discrimination, hatred, and war are powerful tools to control others.
    So take your social justice war and shove it.
    Because I am a Black Lives Matter Libertarian.
    I am an Intersectional Libertarian. In six years I have gone from a dedicated anti-politics non-voter to Regional Rep on the Libertarian National Committee (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio) and candidate for the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. In the last ten days, I have debated in Virginia, California, Texas, and Florida. I am not being shouted down. I am being shouted up.
    Fuck libertarianism?
    Fuck you.

  11. You finally admit to not being a libertarian, and even say “fuck libertarianism.” If only you had been this direct and honest from the beginning.

  12. A. Wyatt Mann

    You’re right, you’re not a libertarian and you never were. Libertarians seek to maximize genuine freedom (not polyamory shit), and anyone interested in that has to realize that homogeneous societies are the only ones capable of being free. If you’re serious about freedom, then you have to become a White nationalist

    • “Libertarians seek to maximize genuine freedom (not polyamory shit)”

      These are not mutually exclusive ideas, they’re just two different topics.

      Libertarianism allows for polyamory. As do some other philosophies. But there’s nothing specifically un-libertarian about polyamory.

  13. Joe

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the weekend, and it strikes me that many libertarians are apologists of the status quo, especially in regards to poverty.

    This week I was listening to a podcast of some nationally known libertarians. First thing they did was talk about how sweatshops are good for the 3rd world poor. Most of us will have heard the argument before, essentially, they are good because it is a better option than what was previously available. It is a argument very common in libertarianism and yet it completely ignores how corrupt 3rd world governments provide favoritism towards the companies running the sweatshops. These countries are not free markets and the governments often shield the corporations from any market forces.

    That’s the part that gets left out over and over again.

    The podcast went on to talk about the over policing of Black-Americans and I was listening intently. I had just read Connor Friedersdorf’s article on body cavity searches over at the Atlantic. It was a great article and wasn’t taking any excuses for a practice that amounts to orgasm-less rape in the quest to find a trace amount of drugs. Libertarians are often very good about the police.

    Not so, the podcast. I wasn’t sure if the argument was that the police aren’t racist, or if the speaker was arguing that the police were justified. The former is reactionary, it does not engage in whether or not the current policing is correct policy, it only pushes back on a liberal/progressive narrative. The latter is essentially conservatism. Everything is as good as we could hope for, nothing to see here.

    For those few of you who have waded through this rant, the speaker was saying that because blacks are over-represented in suspect description for any crime save drug use. It stands to reason that they would be 1) over policed and 2) over arrested for drug charges, despite studies that show that there is not much difference in drug usage between blacks and whites. I had seen this argument before in regards to police shootings.

    And I know this is crazy, but maybe just maybe, if blacks are over-represented in crime rates, it’s because of government distortion? So why is a libertarian talking about how government is correct in dealing with a problem that it exacerbates? Why not be talking about barriers to entry that hurt the working poor? Why not be talking about density laws that drive the cost of housing up and force poorer Americans to live in out of sight out of mind neighborhoods?

    If libertarians are talking about crime and fail to mention how government takes away option after option for the poor, effectively incentivizing crime, then libertarians are being apologists.

    Maybe it should be no surprise that there are so many alt-right types in libertarianism. Rothbard and Rockwell both hand-wring at the fact that modern liberals have effectively shouted down any attempt at examining “the race question”. Which seems similar to complaints about “pc” culture.

    If you’ve chased a few of those types out of libertarianism by mere power of blogging, we need to get you a more powerful computer and shake some more out of the trees.

  14. Cathy, I don’t care what you choose to call yourself or the fact that there’s plenty I disagree with you on: You’re one of the most original writers in this area of thinking and it never hurts to hear differing points of view 🙂

    I first saw this post a couple weeks ago, and each time I’ve reflected on it I’ve concluded that labels are just that: *labels*

    You’ve put up with some of the most egregious insults ever from the very group of people that ought to be more open-minded on these issues, so I can’t blame you for wanting to drop the label.

    Most ironic of all is that the very people who’ve hurled insults at you this entire time probably will never match what you’ve been able to do for the movement, which is yet another reason I don’t care what you choose to call yourself.

    Keep doing what you do 😀

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