It’s like, so embarrassing when you realize that you fought someone over something because you were too immature to understand what they were saying. Last night I spent literally 45 minutes (okay, maybe 30) reading Jack Hunter’s brief history of “the liberty movement” and predictions and advice for us in Trump’s America.
First, damn is it embarrassing that we call ourselves that. But, Jack knows of what he speaks. I was not a libertarian until Ron Paul ran for President, at which time I joined a movement of people, mostly young, who began to think and read and speak about (and campaign for) liberty for the first time. I joined the liberty movement Ron Paul sparked. And while I don’t sell the idea of liberty full-time anymore, I’m still very much a part of that movement.
Which I was reminded of this morning by my good friend and fellow traveler (though his libertarianism predates Ron Paul) George Godwyn.
Because, apparently, I’ve been potatoed.
The timing is funny, because my Facebook memory this morning was from two years ago, when I got… last suppered?
It’s not clear to me whether whoever took time out of their day to create these aesthetic masterpieces did it to amuse the people whose pictures they used, hurt their feelings, amuse their friends, all of the above, or none of the above. I find it flattering and hysterical.
One thing Jack Hunter got right, among many things, in his piece was the human tendency toward paying attention to and having strong feelings about personalities. We create celebrities, and gather around them. Some gather to adore, some gather to mock and criticize. But either way our gaze is fixed upon them. Ron Paul is an obvious example of a person igniting a movement. But the people potatoed and last suppered are also celebrities. More minor, obviously. But that anyone gives a shit about any of us demonstrates what Jack was saying about human behavior.
Jack outlines some broad divisions within the liberty movement. The main lines he identifies are political versus ideological/philosophical and right versus left.
The thing that struck me while reading Jack’s piece is when he pointed out that factionalizing, dividing, and infighting are easy. They are natural. Especially for libertarians. Acknowledging the important role each faction plays and working together when necessary to get things done is the hard thing. And, it’s the mature thing. Jack has been around long enough to see this, and I hadn’t. I have been a much more “accuse and purge” kind of libertarian. But it’s like crying wolf, a little bit. If you want to accuse and purge everyone who disagrees with you, you get nowhere, alienate everyone who doesn’t agree with you (and some who do) and lose your credibility on the people who really need to be accused and purged.
Jack’s “let’s work together to get shit done” attitude is both right as a tactic for shrinking government and makes me take him seriously when he says that the fascist, white nationalist alt-righters and the speech suppressing SJWs actually need to go. Because he doesn’t want to divide and factionalize. Because he wants to work with anyone who is going in the general direction of liberty. If he doesn’t want to work with you, you’re really not going in the general direction of liberty.
I used to feel disappointed in Jack, and other people who would tolerate and work alongside people I found morally reprehensible. I felt like he was compromising, and tacitly endorsed right-wing bullshit. He wasn’t, and he doesn’t. He’s come out loud and proud against the worst of the right-wing bullshit. Which means he’s principled. And principled people who get shit done do so by picking their battles. I’m not good at that. I’m not good at working with people, I was going to say with whom I disagree but I think we can safely end the sentence there. I’m a bomb-thrower. That’s what I’m good at. I’m good at blowing shit up, whether it’s my own life to get out of a rut and into what I hope will be a healthier relationship or the liberty movement broadly.
And that’s okay. Because, as Jack said, we need all kinds. Sometimes shit needs blowing up.
But I want to stop judging people for working with the people who will work with them to get shit done. I don’t want to judge people as “compromising” when they are just trying to align along the lines they can. We are all flawed. I am wrong sometimes. I don’t want people to stop reading me because I get something wrong. I want to draw thin, squiggly, impermanent lines and only around the shit that really, really matters. So that I can be taken seriously on those lines. And so that I can spend less time dividing and factionalizing and more time getting shit done.