Consider The Implications of “Thick Libertarian” Strategy

“Thick Libertarian” Strategy Doesn’t Help Libertarianism.

Leftists, now shying from that term and its negative antipropertarian connotations, and calling themselves “thick libertarians“, tell us that we must “expand” our philosophy. They tell us we must do this, because that will make our radical movement more popular. They tell us there’s a lot of grey area in the voluntary vs. coercive spectrum. That if we don’t catch up with the times and start treating people special because of their race and gender, not only will we not succeed, but that this makes us racists.

The ill defined ad hominem attacks should be enough to dismiss these fools outright. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who are stupid enough to fall for this trick, even today, and even in libertarian circles. Just say “racist” and everybody goes “Racists? Where? I hate racists!” without taking two seconds to even identify what racism is, consider whether or not it even matters, and whether or not the target of the attack in fact engaged in it. This knee jerk reactionary insult to human intelligence is really enough to explain statism in and of itself. If you will fall for this, you’ll really fall for just about anything. State violence isn’t even necessary if you’re this stupid, the deception is enough to enslave you.

If our tactic then, is to take advantage of people’s ignorance and lack of intelligence, then let us just imagine what kind of wonderful people we can expect to draw into libertarianism. If we race bait and promise people equality, what sort of people might that draw into our movement? Well, we don’t have to imagine this. We’ve already seen it repeatedly, with the Democratic party, and Occupy Wall Street. Let’s have a look at some of the fine folks I had the pleasure of chatting with at Zuccotti Park back in 2011. (The text that follows is more important, so skip the videos if you’re short on time)

And That’s Not All

Left Libertarianism

Left Libertarianism

But realistically, that doesn’t even begin to cover the problem. Not only do these folks say we need to bring in the dregs of society shown above, we have to boycott and ostracize “racists” like Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul, and Murray Rothbard. Nevermind that thickists like Cathy Reisenwitz classify “shaming” as “unjustifiable coercion”. Coercion has a lot of grey area to these folks after all, so we can apply “unjustifiable coercion” to “racists” (people who don’t care about race), just not to races. Unless of course that race is white, and especially if said white person is male, because they have some “privilege” that is unacceptable to thickist egalitarian views, and that this particular white male author has yet to find for himself.

So if libertarianism should ostracize Ron Paul, and Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell, but it should embrace the types of people we saw at Occupy protests across the world, let’s just imagine what that looks like.

The Ron Paul Campaign

Well, since Ron Paul is a racist, and libertarianism rejects racism, we can’t very well have Ron Paul be part of the libertarian movement. According to Reisenwitz, the Ron Paul campaign was really a terrible thing for libertarianism. Celebrating this horrible racist old man and all. We should all really have been much more focused on marriage equality, and getting to the bottom of those 40 year old newsletters.

Hey Tucker, any suggestions where we might look?

Nevermind the fact that the Ron Paul campaign was the single biggest boost to libertarianism in the history of the word libertarian, especially amongst young people. This was tragically backwards, and we should really have spent more time talking to Obama supporters, because, you know, this woman will make a fine libertarian someday if we just promise her equality.

The Ludwig von Mises Institute

If Rockwell and Rothbard are racists, and libertarianism rejects racism, well, then we’re really going to have to resign this unfortunate incident to the dustbin of history. We’ll sort of sweep this tragic mistake of the LvMI under the carpet and pretend it never happened.

Yes, I know this may be difficult for some of you to understand, as we do away with the planet’s premier source of Austrian economic thought, but such is the price that egalitarianism demands. We must do away with the many thousands of hours of audio and video, thousands of free books in the literature section along with the full run of rare and wonderful journals, biographies and bibliographies of great economists, an active bookstore with outstanding titles as well as ties and shirts, and a full community with forums, chat, user blogs, and more.

Sorry racists, the #1 libertarian website on planet Earth, that has been host to hundreds of libertarian writers since 1999, that’s gotta go too. Way too much white male privilege going on there.

That sounds an awful lot like replacing libertarianism with something else

Thick Libertarians

Thick Libertarians

Of course, silly. Did you think the goal was to help libertarianism? Leftists have been doing this to political movements for over a hundred years. Why are you so surprised?

This is the most predictable and obvious thing imaginable, and the fact that people who call themselves libertarians fall for it just destroys my faith in humanity.

Subscribe via email and never miss another post!

[mc4wp_form id=”7723″]

  • “Thick” be damned. If it’s not in accord with the Zero Aggression Principle — and nothing planned by these fascisti-in-flannel-pajamas has anything to do with keeping their friggin’ hands off other people’s lives, liberties, and property — then I’ll walk past them without breaking stride.


    A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor will a libertarian advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else.

    Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim.

    — L. Neil Smith

    • hiernonymous

      Caveat: this post is offered in the spirit of genuine curiosity, not veiled argument.

      How does your view of libertarianism deal with non-forceful threats to the commonwealth?

      For example, let’s suppose that a group of ranchers has long made a particular river valley their home, but the headwaters have been unoccupied. Now suppose that a group of people settles the uplands and begins using the river in a way that threatens the livelihood of those downstream – perhaps by dumping by products of their own economic activities, or by damming or diverting the flow. Those people have not used force against those downstream, and are not attempting to coerce them into any action. What recourse do those downstream have under the Zero-Aggression Principle?

      • “How does your view of libertarianism deal with non-forceful threats to the commonwealth?”

        Your example – violation of the downstream ranchers’ property rights in the form of the flow of clean water carried to their use by the river – is aggression. It is the taking of an element in the commons without the permission of those who had established a prior material interest therein, and without compensation for damages done.

        None of this is particularly a libertarian issue, nor is a government particularly necessary to manage the retaliatory use of deadly force to abate continued rights violations by the upstream aggressors.

        Mediation has long been effective in resolving such disputes, and failing peaceable agreements arrived upon in a spirit of mutual – remember that word: mutual – regard for the involved parties individual human rights, peaceable people must always be prepared to meet aggression with retaliation.

        Ultimately, all laws – whether uttered by a governing class or worked out by the participants’ uncoerced agreement – depend on the readiness of human beings to put deadly force behind such agreements.

        Government – to the extent that government is either necessary or legitimate by the standards wrangled out during the Enlightenment – is nothing more than a systematized means of managing retaliatory lethal force in these and other such matters.

        • hiernonymous

          Roger, thanks for taking the time to respond. I think I understand the framework you’re using now.

      • illuminarch

        I think the only correct answer is: “I don’t know.” And that’s true in any non-specific statist society, too. There are a lot of possible ways this problem can be resolved, and a lot of others it never gets resolved.

        The downstream residents may negotiate with the polluters and pay them some money not to pollute, or the polluters may pay the downstream residents money to buy off the pollution. The downstream residents might make it a bad PR situation for the upstream people and get them to mend their ways, or the downstreamers might simply leave. Some third party might be called into arbitrate, or a technological solution might be offered to obviate the conflict.

    • PGies Chan

      lol zero aggression principle. Good luck when you get an itch. And you aren’t allowed to breathe.

    • Roderick T. long

      No left-libertarian of my acquaintance rejects Smith’ definition. The difference between thick and thin libertarianism is not about who counts as a libertarian.

    • Ricky James Moore II

      Smith, by the way, is a nutjob who loves IP Nazism.

      • Smith, by the way, is a nutjob who loves IP Nazism.

        And ain’t that just a spectacular example of the friggin’ brain-dead fallacy of argumentum ad hominem?

        Just what the hell is “IP Nazism” supposed to be. putzie? How has Mr. Smith ever advocated such?

        (Like you got a URL to cite?)

        And – of course – do you agree or disagree with Smith’s take on the non-aggression principle?

        Address the fucking TOPIC, why don’tcha?

  • illuminarch

    A simple argument, but a devastating one.

  • Zakolev

    What Cathy is trying to push into libertarianism is similar to the Atheist plus movement. Pretty shitty. But I’m not sure I’d say she isn’t a libertarianism. I don’t think Chris is saying this, but that the other stuff she is trying to demand as a new definition are just bullshit. Feminism is BS and it’s two biggest underlying arguments “patriarchy and rape culture” in the western world are just plain not true and bad. Please God dont’ let us go down the road of atheism plus.

    • Ricky James Moore II

      Humanists are the only people I loathe for than the Liberaltarian Left. And God Damn it if they aren’t all Humanists, too.
      Atheist+ and all the other conflationary bullshit that pretends atheist Christianity is ‘scientific’ is absolutely at the core of today’s statist cult.

  • AtlasAikido

    Co-opting the L and B word/concept so that it has no meaning. Such was the case with the A word. Is any one surprised? So? Out innovate them.

    Walter Block [also] says we cannot give up any words. So, in this essay: at Lewrockwell. He asserts that we have to keep all the words. He writes, “Every word we use to describe ourselves is precious. We must keep them all, jettison none of them.”

    But this sort of fixation on words [“libertarian” suits just fine] is a sort of idolatry. As if getting just the right words [“and the last thing we need is another term”] were going to fix everything [anything]. They won’t. The good news is, we don’t have to treat words as though they were a SCARCE WORLD RESOURCE. They aren’t. New words are INVENTED every day….

    See “Word Idolatry”
    by Jim Davidson

    • Nilo BP

      You cannot always win by withdrawing. The Earth is not infinite. If libertarians could find themselves a corner to live in away from the statists, I’m sure many would have, myself included. And that’s not even getting into the enormous benefits of human interaction. Coexisting with other people is a, uh, rather crucial part of the human experience.

      And there can be no intellectual intercourse of any significant depth without a solid agreement between all those involved on the meaning of words. That is stunningly obvious, and no number of anecdotes on gesticulating over vegetables changes the fact.

      Language is not unlike money. They’re both extremely important media of exchange. They both become corrupted over time to some extent, largely as a matter of course. And their corruption can be accelerated by ignorance and/or evil, with unpredictable, but predictably dire, results.

      A person who toys and tinkers with words may believe himself a witty and open-minded fellow, opening up new possibilities and making the language more flexible and accommodating. Or he may be a manipulator trying to tip the balance for or against someone. Not unlike a Keynesian central banker, and just as irresponsible.

      So no, “libertarian socialism” is not intriguing, and it’s not fine. It doesn’t exist. It’s a smear, for all practical purposes, and may even have been constructed with that very intent. Every time a self-respecting libertarian sees or hears such an enormity, he should not hesitate to call BS. Otherwise we’ll become the next “liberals”.

      • AtlasAikido

        There was a father who left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons.

        When the father passed away, his sons opened up the Will.

        The Will of the father stated that the eldest son should get 1/2 (half) of total camels while the middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third) and the youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the total camels.

        As it was not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three sons started to fight with each other. So, the three sons decided to go to a wise man.

        The wise man read the Will patiently. The
        wise man, after giving due thought, brought one camel of his own and added the same to 17. That increased the total to 18 camels.

        Now, he started reading the deceased father’s Will.

        Half of 18 = 9. So he gave the eldest son 9 camels

        1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 camels

        1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave the youngest son 2 camels.

        Now add this up: 9 plus 6 plus 2 is 17 and this leaves one camel, which belonged to the wise man and he took it back.

        Moral: The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to find the 18th camel i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the 18th camel the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times.

        However, to reach a solution, the first step is to understand that a peaceful solution *IS* possible.

        If you think that there is NO solution, it is a GUARANTEED CERTAINTY that you won’t be able to find one!

      • AtlasAikido

        Not true, even the Bare Minimum tinyurl (dot) com/The-Bare-Minimum is not agreeable for all 7 billion people on the planet. As pointed out in the article those who subscribe to bare minimum make value amongst themselves. They don’t require non subscribers to agree with them. Just like those who use bitcoin, linux, encryption. Bare minimum only needs 2 individual you provide value for each. I don’t have to make every poor person rich before I can gain wealth. I don’t have to educate libertarians in order to have knowledge.

  • AtlasAikido

    Regarding the Co-opting of the Lib word/concept such that it has no meaning ANYMORE.

    Such was the case with the A word (anarchy). Is any one surprised? So? Out adapt (INNOVATE) them.

    Block [also] says we cannot give up any words. So, in an essay: at
    Lewrockwell. He asserts that we have to keep all the words. He writes,
    “Every word we use to describe ourselves is precious. We must keep them
    all, jettison none of them.”

    But this sort of fixation on words
    [“libertarian” suits just fine] is a sort of idolatry. As if getting
    just the right words [“and the last thing we need is another term”] were
    going to fix everything [anything]. They won’t. The good news is, we
    don’t have to treat words as though they were a SCARCE WORLD RESOURCE.
    They aren’t. New words are INVENTED every day….

    I don’t call
    myself an anarchist, an anarcho-capitalist, a libertarian socialist, or
    even a “Libertarian.” My political philosophy is libertarian as opposed
    to authoritarian, my economic philosophy is propertarian and free
    market, and my self-identification is “sovereign individual.” If these
    things are difficulties, then more discussion might be worth having.

    of the reasons I like “agorism” so well is that it is not tainted by
    association with a lot of past indiscretions by people who had their
    heads firmly stuck in their own rectums. But, look, type the word
    “agorism” on your Facebook status (sarc intended), or in a comment, and
    your computer probably identifies it as misspelt, depending on your
    browser and whether you’ve added this word to your dictionary. It is a
    new word.

    Where did it come from? It comes from the word “agora”
    which is Greek for market place and forum or gathering place. It was
    used by Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3) to identify his economic and
    political philosophy of withdrawal from the state and entrepreneurship
    (with such).

    So, WAIT, we (I) can have new words? Sure! The
    English language borrows words from every other language it encounters.
    There are hundreds of thousands of words in our language, which is
    living and growing, with new slang words, and new meanings for old words
    all the time.

    Words are not precious. They are trivial. Words
    don’t make things great, **ideas make things great**. Better ideas make
    for better gardens! You can call a rose by any name and it smells
    exactly the same. So why are you fixated on words?

    I think some
    of the fixation has to do with wanting to make people understand by
    getting past their barriers of defensiveness. So a term like
    “libertarian socialist” might be intriguing to people who are interested
    in social justice and civil liberties (We-isms). And that’s fine. If
    that sort of work makes you wealthy, or brings in funds for your centre
    for a stateless society, wonderful. But at the end of the day, if your
    libertarian socialism becomes tolerant of state socialism (or is
    co-opted), then it was a failure—no matter what words (energy) you use
    to excuse the statism part of the problem.

    See “Word Idolatry”
    by Jim Davidson

    PS Hopefully this won’t trigger “Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by you know who…

  • “The ill defined ad hominem attacks should be enough to dismiss these fools outright.”

    Nah. I keep coming back to read your stuff regardless.

  • Davy Goossens

    perhaps you could include advocating things like a minimum wage. you know, to “win more people over”.
    i wish it would’ve been a joke, but to some of our friends at, among other websites, it was apparently not a joke, but a serious thingie. a policy to be recommended.
    “the libertarian case for socialism” as it were.

  • Matthew Reece

    Tl;dr: Thick libertarians are fake libertarians. Thin libertarians are true libertarians.

  • Roderick T. long

    Sigh. We’ve explained repeatedly that left-libertarianism and thick libertarianism are two different things, neither of which implies the other (though we embrace both). And we’ve been using both terms for years. As Cantwell would learn if he’d bother to read what he criticises.

    And of course he accuses us of abandoning NAP when we’ve never done anything of the sort. He refuses to see the difference between addition and subtraction.

    • Christopher Cantwell

      I’m not failing to understand anything you dishonest liberal piece of shit. The fact that your ideas are incoherent and there’s no solid answer to anything makes it really convenient for scum like you to spread misinformation, but the fact of the matter is it makes perfect sense to lump left/thick together and you know it.

      • Christopher Cantwell

        Some of you shy from the term left just because you know it has negative implications, its the same liberal horseshit we’ve been hearing from Democrats just marketed to libertarians.

      • Ricky James Moore II

        Roderick is actually a pretty good formal philosopher, it’s when he tries to talk politics/morality that he comes unglued. His shit on Mises and Wittgenstein is top-dollar, unfortunately (ala Rothbard’s Law) instead of writing technical philosophy he spends all his time on morality wankey.

        Personally I suspect the problem is that morality is bullshit, and libertarianism is a legal and not an ethical system. But, either way, his blog is boring as fuck.

  • ッ Kevin Hughes

    I know exactly what you are pointing at Chris, the same shit has happened over here in the UK. The oldest libertarian website in the UK now has Kevin Carson as a regular guest spewing sugar-coated shit. Fuck em says I. Stay Brutal, take NO shit.

    • Ricky James Moore II

      I am pretty sure I called Kevin Carson a retard one time.

  • Mike

    “This knee jerk reactionary insult to human intelligence is really enough to explain statism in and of itself.”

    Minor point but the better word to use here would be reactive as opposed to reactionary. Because ‘reactionary’ has taken on the meaning of basically anti-leftist so things that are deemed reactionary are often actually good. I don’t know why they call it that but they do.

    • Ricky James Moore II

      Reactionary always meant that, or something close. It’s just that classical liberalism was also inane, violent, leftist nonsense; contrary to libertarian delusions.
      Now, reactionaries proper were not libertarians, but they were in favor of a polycentric society without an overarching bureaucracy or nationalistic democracy. They were “feudal” in their outlook but, compared to the US in 2015 or 1915, they were damn near anarchists.
      The same is true of those Christian Reconstructionists and Hezbolah, they might be crazy and into stoning adulterers but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the liberal Nazis we have in the West.

  • Ricky James Moore II

    One thing I hate about the whole ‘racism’ thing is that ‘racism’ doesn’t even mean anything. At least fascist _used_ to have a meaning, I am not convinced that ‘racist’ was not always a pure smear term.