A Strategic Libertarian Case Against Non-Violent Degeneracy
Ask ten different libertarians about their political priorities, and you’re likely to get ten different answers. These might range from the quite moderate like marijuana decriminalization or a tax reduction, all the way to the more dramatic like the complete overhaul or abolition of the entire State apparatus.
Ask still others, and you’ll find priorities that aren’t libertarian at all. Like gender equality, fighting paranoid notions of racism, or combating the social stigma of certain behaviors, often involving sex or drugs. Such efforts often gain favor amongst self described libertarians, and are often a path of lesser resistance since in most cases these efforts have nothing to do with the State apparatus whatsoever. Whether the State is actually involved or not, it allows them to make common cause with radical left wing ideologues with access to manpower and resources. This is appealing to many libertarian activists who find themselves quite frustrated with the slow or even negative growth of the libertarian movement.
There are a lot of reasons I’ll go into as to why this is misled, and I’ll give some very specific examples, but I’ll start off by summarizing briefly. Regardless of what anyone says about the virtues or maladies inherent in the “left/right paradigm” of politics, this paradigm does exist, and for good reason. Were politics a rational thing whereby logical people tried their best to organize human civilization for the health and well being of all, we would all be Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists and this post would be quite unnecessary. Sadly, that is not the nature of our political affairs. We operate in a left/right paradigm due to real and explainable biological phenomenon which quite regrettably have nothing to do with logic, reason, or evidence.
Even amongst self described libertarians, there is an identifiable demarcation between left and right priorities. The right libertarian will prefer to focus on self defense, property rights, taxes, and economic matters. He may oppose the State itself as an institution and have very serious disagreements with the war on drugs, violence by police, and foreign policy matters, yet still recognize that a free market society would have security forces and discourage degenerate behaviors. The left libertarian will be primarily focused on sex, drugs, misled notions of equality, and opposition to wars and police violence no matter how justified relative to the current organization of society. Concerns about taxes, guns, and the economy are secondary issues to this creature if they even cross her radar at all.
These traits, were they to play out in a society operating on strict property rights would naturally come to the least destructive of negotiations. Were the whole of the civilization privatized and working within the confines of a market, a political strategy would be wholly unnecessary, and we would all be better off. But that is not the civilization in which we live. We live in a civilization where common spaces are imposed upon us by governments, as are the costs of our neighbor’s bad behaviors.
For the libertarian pursuing political solutions to our disagreements with the State and its agents, it may at first seem axiomatic that wherever the filthy paws of the State may touch, they ought to be slapped away without a second thought. Indisputably, the State is an agency predicated on initiatory force. As libertarians we oppose this predation root and branch with every ounce of our being. Sadly, this strategy is misled when dealing with society as it actually exists, where commons are monopolized by the State and the costs of degeneracy are redistributed.
The dissatisfaction of the populace with bad behavior in common spaces will naturally lead to the populace asking government to outlaw or otherwise legally discourage the undesirable behavior everywhere, an expansion of government. Simultaneously, as bad behavior is met with scorn from the public, the degenerate demands protection from the State to engage in whatever non-violent behavior they see fit. This will come in the form of not only police presence, but also in anti-discrimination laws, both expansions of government. Degenerate behaviors have negative social and economic consequences, which lead to dependence on State welfare programs, further expansions of government. The combinations of sanctioned degeneracy, increased government burden, and freely available resources via welfare programs, work to undermine the family unit which has served for millennia as the cornerstone of stable civilizations. Undermining the family unit has always been a primary goal of Marxists and other anti-freedom left wing movements, because the State is empowered by filling the gap left behind by a lack of familial bonds.
Thus, non-violent degenerate behaviors in the presence of government subsidy necessarily lead to a more oppressive State than the State which outlaws degenerate behaviors.
As perhaps one of the less controversial libertarian arguments (if any lack of controversy might even be said to exist in such things) let us take the drug testing of welfare recipients.
The right libertarian might say that since one has no natural right to reap the rewards of another’s work by State redistribution schemes, they have no right to complain when that redistribution scheme sets standards for entry to such a program, like mandatory drug testing. Even if certain figures showed the cost of drug testing said welfare recipients would outweigh any projected savings, the right libertarian might look upon such projections with scepticism and still support such a proposition. To him, subsidizing poverty is a sure way to create more of it, and adding subsidized drug addiction to the mix is a recipe for disaster. His opposition to the war on drugs is a wholly separate issue. If one desires to use drugs, they are responsible to suffer the social and economic consequences of their degeneracy, and those consequences ought to be what deters them therefrom.
To the left libertarian, this might be seen as an act of profound tyranny. To them, there is nothing wrong with doing drugs. Not only should the drug war end immediately, but social stigma ought to be eliminated as well. They may even go so far as to assign a mystical value to intoxicants under the auspices of spiritual journies or connections to higher planes of existence. Their opposition to the welfare State (if it even exists) is a wholly separate issue. No stigma or consequence can be assigned to drug use because drug use is a favored behavior. If this increases the tax burden, societal dependence on government, and general lack of decency in the civilization, that’s just fine because after all, collapsing this thing is the goal.
These two strategies for achieving a more libertarian society are in direct opposition to one another. The two may well have quite similar or even identical end goals, but their strategies put them at odds with one another. Since either strategy involves the use of the State apparatus to carry it forward, this conflict is a violent one and for either to succeed the other must be utterly defeated and violently suppressed.
This conflict is only magnified by the nature of party politics. With libertarians a small political minority, they are compelled to work within the two party system if they want wield political power. Working within the two party system compels the libertarian to make common cause with other members of their party, advancing the interests of said party even as some number those interests include expansions of State power. One is thus compelled to choose not only a strategic position on an issue, but also a strategic favoring of a political party and its agenda as a whole.
As another example, let us look more recently and closer to home, for me anyway. In New Hampshire, the state I now call home, a controversy recently found its way into mainstream liberal media surrounding a campaign known as “Free The Nipple”. The “movement” seeks to de-sexualize female breasts, and normalize female toplessness in public, amongst other things which we’ll touch on shortly.
As it pertains to the State apparatus, it again may seem axiomatic to the libertarian that this peaceful behavior should meet no sanction from the State. They might cry from the rooftops about freedom of speech, bodily autonomy, and self ownership in a short sighted bid to oppose State intervention in a non-violent matter. Indeed, many self described libertarians have done exactly this. Ian Freeman of Free Keene covered two “Free The Nipple” events on his blog, and later covered the trial of two women who received summonses during one of the events. An associate of the Free State Project, and elected Democrat by the name of Amanda Bouldin recently voiced opposition to a bill in the state House of Representatives which would outlaw female toplessness in public, with the exception of breast feeding.
Axiomatic, right? No victim? No Crime! Seems open and shut at the libertarian’s first glance. But the trained eye sees a greater conflict underneath the short sightedness of the degenerate libertarian’s rhetoric.
The beach is a public place funded at the expense of taxpayers, where families bring children to play. Those families have no choice but to fund this public space. It is monopolized by government and a comparable private sector alternative does not exist. They have a very real interest in keeping sexual imagery from their children, including that of female breasts. Early sexualization of children has numerous profoundly negative impacts both for the children themselves and for society at large. They seek to raise their children in an environment conducive to what they (rightly) perceive to be healthy, conservative, sexual norms.
The supporters of “Free the nipple” favor unmitigated public sexuality, and have an interest in direct competition with that of the parents. They have a social agenda which involves upending societal views on sex and gender, and the earlier they can influence young people, the better for their agenda. One of the women cited at one of the protests even claims to not “associate” with the female gender, despite being named “Barbara” and having breasts, further morphing the issue from one of simple nudity to one challenging gender dimorphism itself. If one listens to audio of the trial, they hear both defendants talking about “rape culture” and “slut shaming” and “gender equality” not just in toplessness but “in everything”.
Thus we witness the tragedy of the commons. The people are compelled to pay for government monopolies on public spaces. Predictably, competing interests emerge. The two world views cannot peacefully coexist in the same space, but are compelled to share said space by force of government nonetheless. One seeks the healthy raising of children. The other to destroy the social fabric of Western civilization, and both seek to do so at taxpayer expense.
“Free The Nipple” is thus obviously not the promotion of the non-aggression principle, limited government, constitutional law, or any other libertarian axiom. Gender equality “in everything” means equal pay, equal representation in government, academia, the corporate world, and in all other things, regardless of merit. These goals run contrary to biological and economic reality and are thus unsurprisingly pursued by way of government legislation and regulation. “Rape culture” is an absurd nightmarish conspiracy theory of radical feminists, who claim rape is socially acceptable, and that society must be reconstructed from top to bottom for the elimination of patriarchal male privilege and dominance. “Slut shaming” is opposition to healthy social consequences which discourage female promiscuity. In brief it is the same dogmatic leftist psychobabble which is presently turning once prestigious universities into rainbow room safe spaces devoid of intellectual rigor.
While seemingly laughable at first glance to many right thinking people, this is actually quite dangerous. Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, universities which will produce the next generation of senators, representatives, presidents, captains of industry, and other important leaders, are proving incapable of teaching students to cope with basic reality. We are raising a generation which loses their composure over halloween costumes, and can’t tell the difference between rape and a hangover.
This is not some far off threat that may or may not someday emerge, it presents itself as we speak in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Amanda Bouldin favors the radical left wing feminist cause, and denounces a bill in the house aimed to stop it. In her denouncement, she claims the bill lacks an exception to female toplessness for breast feeding. Clearly, she commented out of ignorance because that provision does in fact exist. While Amanda fancies herself a representative of her constituents, she apparently does not see fit to understand policy before making judgement on it. Why would she? Her agenda runs contrary to reality, and thus the effort to understand her opposition may as well run so counter as well. All she cares about is the advancement of her left wing social causes, reality and consequences to her opposition be damned.
While I cannot claim to have poured over Amanda’s entire legislative record, I can say from my experience before the House Legislative Committees at the General Court that where I witnessed Amanda’s appearances was exclusively at left wing social causes. Legalizing Narcan (an antidote to opioid overdose), electronic cigarettes, and barring police from obtaining military equipment off the top of my head. Noble enough goals to be sure, but even her rhetoric on police demilitarization rang familiar to that of gun control advocates, claiming that the mere presence of heavy weaponry would compel its usage. She was noticeably absent at hearings pertaining to civil asset forfeiture, vehicle inspections, and registrations. These are perhaps not the most decisive of examples, but there are numerous others I fail to recall and the pattern became obvious to me nearly a year ago.
In addition to her ignorance that the proposed bill had made exception for breast feeding, Amanda’s other complaint was that all the co-sponsors were male Republicans. When opposition predictably found its way to her ignorant commentary, she denounced them as misogynists. These claims are not arguments but assertions of wholly imagined victimhood, appeals to identity, and hardly the level of discourse that should be expected of a New Hampshire State Representative. Yet, as we speak, a whole generation of Amanda Bouldins are about to come streaming out of the universities and into our legislatures and executive offices, to rule over our civilization in a state of purposeful ignorance, reality denial, and imagined victimhood.
So to rewind back to that axiomatic libertarian response, it may well seem at first that a libertarian ought to support the non-violent behavior of the topless protesters. Or perhaps, the cause of liberty might be better served by telling a bunch of left wing activists that if they want to show off their repulsive chests, sexualize our children, and destroy our way of life, they would be better off moving to somewhere warmer.
I’ll take the liberty of suggesting California. They ought to fit in there just fine.
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