The Libertarian Mind


by Keith Preston
http://attackthesystem.com/2012/12/16/the-libertarian-mind/#more-26137

A new study of the psychology of political beliefs indicates that Pareto was correct when he said that an individual’s political views are as much an indication of their own innate personality type and psychological makeup as much as anything else. In other words, we may be “hard-wired” to adapt certain political outlooks. Read about the study here. And see what the same study said about liberals and conservatives here.

Emma Goldman once said that anarchists are born and not made, and Sean Gabb said in his interview with me that being a libertarian is like being a homosexual in that it appears to be innate to the person’s own essential characteristics and not something that is merely adopted. I generally agree with that with the qualification that political beliefs, like sexuality, are something of a continuum. Someone can be either a hard-core libertarian or merely be a libertarian-leaning liberal, conservative, socialist or centrist. Also, I’ve noticed that people raised in libertarian or anarchist families seem to be much more likely to hold those views as adults when compared to people raised in environments where more conventional political views were the norm. The ironic observation that we can make from this is that people who are normally herd creatures (which is most people) can in fact adopt libertarian or anarchist views if such views are the norm for the “herds” with which they are the most closely associated. There is also the question of “libertarians of convenience,” that is, folks who adopt libertarian views because they believe their values or references groups are under attack by the existing state and embrace libertarianism as a survival strategy for their own kind.

This study indicates indicates that 7.6 percent of the people observed exhibited libertarian personality types. This is consistent with something that I have long understood: Individuals with a libertarian psychology are a minority and always will be. Therefore, for libertarians to influence society they must be capable of exercising influence and, indeed, domination way beyond their actual numbers. There are plenty of other groups who do indeed maintain a social and political influence that are disproportional to their size. Jews are one example, being only 2.5 percent of the population but clearly holding influence in institutions that is much more pervasive than what such a percentage would intuitively imply. Homosexuals are another group, with hard-core self-identified homosexuals probably being only about three percent of the overall population but with the gay rights movement clearing holding power beyond what such a percentage would normally indicate.

I have long argued that for libertarians to become the dominant political force in society, they must become the leadership corps of a much larger populist movement that brings into its ranks the potentially vast array of persons who might become “libertarians of convenience,” or who will become libertarians merely out of herd instinct as libertarians become the dominant herd, or who have a partially libertarian psychological makeup and can be swayed in our direction or siphoned off from rival movements.

I should probably also qualify how I’m using the term “libertarian” in this context. By “libertarian,” I’m not referring to any one set of political dogmas or labels but rather I’m using the term to describe those with a generally anti-authoritarian outlook and for whom freedom is a primary value. This could include people from a wide variety of actual political sects, from neo-classical liberals to anarcho-communists, followers of John Stuart Mill and followers of Emma Goldman.

For anarchists and libertarians to achieve political preeminence, the following things must first be accomplished:

1. There needs to be an effective way of working around the hyphens like anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-capitalism, eco-anarchism, anarcha-feminism, etc. Proponents of outlooks like anarchism without adjectives, anarchism without hyphens, anarcho-pluralism, tribal-anarchism, national-anarchism, and synthesist anarchism seem to be on the right track with this even if one does not agree with the some of the specific ideas expressed by adherents of these.

2. There needs to be a serious effort to reach out to and connect with persons from overlapping movements with whom libertarians and anarchists may shared some of the same values in some instances, including liberals, socialists, Greens, and progressives from the Left, and conservatives, classical liberals, distributists, and nationalists from the Right.

3. There needs to be a serious effort to reach out to potential “libertarians of convenience,” i.e. persons who regard themselves as under attack by the present state and who can become libertarians by default.

4. Anarchists and libertarians need to abandon culture war psychology and advocate for a cease fire on cultural conflicts that are divisive questions in mainstream political discourse.

5. There needs to be a concentrated focus on those issues where there is the most agreement among anarchists and libertarians. These would most likely include the American empire and imperialism generally, the state-capitalist/corporate-plutocratic economy, and the police state.

6. A strategic vehicle that is largely value-neutral is also necessary. This is what pan-secessionism is intended to be.

7. Ultimately, of course, there needs to be a way for anarchist and libertarian movements to gain the support of the majority of persons residing within particular societies, primarily by championing their economic and cultural interests against those of the state and state-allied plutocratic and cultural elites.

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7 responses to “The Libertarian Mind

  1. Will Wolverhampton

    For anarchists and libertarians to achieve political preeminence…

    Eek.

    A strategic vehicle that is largely value-neutral is also necessary…

    Yeek.

    A new study of the psychology of political beliefs indicates that Pareto was correct when he said that an individual’s political views are as much an indication of their own innate personality type and psychological makeup as much as anything else.

    This is why it’s useful to have an objective way of arriving at The Truth, or an approximation thereto. I prefer Queen Mathematics and Princess Science. The trouble is, whether or not you’ll want to bow before them is also dependant on psychology. The further trouble is, lots of people (naming no Nick Cohens or Richard Dawkins) think they’re on the side of Science and Reason but aren’t, or not in a political sense, at least. Whereas people like Peter Simple, no fan of Mathematics, Science or Reason, got it Right by instinct and intuition.

    Re. anarchists and libertarians achieving political preeminence: I think mass murder would follow sooner or later. Anarchism and libertarianism are both akin to religious cults. A lot of politics must be crypto-religious and employing ancient religious brain-circuits.

    I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme — whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence — the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication. — C.S. Lewis.

    I’m democrat too. I only wish we had a democracy in the UK.

  2. Will Wolverhampton

    Sorry — I should have made it clear that “I am a democrat because…” is the beginning of a quote. I wish I had said that! (And did, inadvertently.)

  3. This is an extremely interesting observation. I for one have long noted how my views and “internal 3D brain model” of the world and how it works, have found that conclusions I come to as if automatically about what is going on all around, and therefore how to react and behave and think, are at complete odds with what others around me, even my dear wife, would come to ordinarily.

    (It’s a source of some more or less occasional and (still) mild family strife, and her current stated professional goal is to be appointed as an “Ofsted Inspector”. I will not interfere.)

    One of two scenarios is the case:-
    (1) Libertarians are completely heartless cheapstake tightwad scumbags who hate and despise anyone less “talented” and less “self-starting” than they are, and who are therefore ruthless slayers of the “weak”, and lackeys and running-dogs of the “strong”. Libertarians think that success, however you define it, is a zero-sum-game, where it’s “dog eat dog” – and if you have succeeded, then it’s tough-shit that some poor bastard has gone to the wall in return.

    (2) Libertarians instinctively recognise, perhaps without being able to articulate it, that different people are more or less good at different things, and so a fairly equable society can be got through different people co-operating by trading relationships – even between those who don’t know each other. Libertarians think that what my old father used to euphorically call “The Platonic Philosopher-Kings” are thieving charlatan warlord scumbags who are no better than they ought-ta’be. He often said to me that he thought these people “must be” “appointed”, to “save mankind from himself” (his words, not Plato’s) and would “rule absolutely and with benignity”.

    I think he thought they approximated to graduates of British Universities in the 1920s and 1930s. It was obvious to him, without it having to be explained, who and what sort of people should be “appointed” as the Philosopher-KIngs. He could not even articulate it when pressed.

    Post-war GramscoFabiaNazi conditioning of children, in schools owned and run by the GFN state, has of course not helped, by achieving its stated objective of rendering as many as possible of the population into uncurious, uncritical helots and drones. This is not the fault of the helot-drones. But perhaps it was ours and that of people like us for not making enough of a fuss 40, 50, 60, 70 (even then) years ago, when the state-terror-apparatus was not fully in place, and we could have made a difference.

  4. “Anarchism and libertarianism are both akin to religious cults.”

    I’ve always wondered how people with a belief in being ruled by a small group of elites can turn around and tell those wanting freedom that their beliefs are religious (dogmatic’s another popular slur).

    Personally, I wouldn’t have the nerve to say such obviously hypocritical bullshit.

    But then I suppose if you can say “Re. anarchists and libertarians achieving political preeminence: I think mass murder would follow sooner or later.” you must be wearing some pretty big blinkers to the reality of what government is and what it does.

  5. Will Wolverhampton

    David Davis: But perhaps it was ours and that of people like us for not making enough of a fuss 40, 50, 60, 70 (even then) years ago, when the state-terror-apparatus was not fully in place, and we could have made a difference.

    Some libertarianians I’m not so worried about. You, Mr Davis, and Mr Gabb do not strike me as obvious megalomaniacs-in-waiting, tho’ your (singular) syntax and physiognomy do make me wonder exactly what’s going on under the neurological bonnet. But as for libertarians like Mr P. Marks and the anarchist community — well, I’m not so sure.

    Andrew:

    I’ve always wondered how people with a belief in being ruled by a small group of elites can turn around and tell those wanting freedom that their beliefs are religious (dogmatic’s another popular slur).

    I don’t have a belief in being ruled by a small group of elites, and particularly not the elites we have at present. And I don’t call libertarianism religious, I call it akin to religion. What worries me about those who “want freedom” is what exactly they mean by freedom and what they’ll do when they get it. The communists wanted all sorts of good things for Humanity, but found their pure motives changing once they got their hands on power, or power got its hands on them. See Animal Farm. Like Orwell, Peter Simple and Auberon Waugh didn’t use maths or science to understand the world, but they also reached conclusions I agree with. Here’s A.W.:

    Politics, as I never tire of saying, is for social and emotional misfits, handicapped folk, those with a grudge. The purpose of politics is to help them overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power. “The Power Urge,” essay in The Spectator (15 December 1982); reprinted in Another Voice (1986)

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Auberon_Waugh

    In their quest for power and self-importance, to compensate for whatever feelings of social inadequacy or sexual insecurity, they (Politicians) are prepared to perpetrate something which is hard to distinguish from mass murder if they think they can get away with it…” ― Auberon Waugh

    http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/65325.Auberon_Waugh

  6. What exactly libertarians mean by freedom is the non-aggression principle – the non-initiation of force.

    That’s the opposite to communism and democracy in that they’re based on aggression, in forcing people to do what they’re told.

    I agree with both your quotes, which is why I don’t believe in either democracy or any form of politics. It seems odd to acknowledge that when people are given power others they become monsters, but then to support the process which achieves this.

    And likewise for mass murder: it seems odd to believe it would, sooner or later, happen in a society based around not attacking each other. Especially when mass murder has been a standard government tool for as long as there’s been government. If I remember right, weren’t there more hours spent debating fox hunting than deciding whether slaughtering johnny foreigner was the right thing to do (as if they was any real doubt)?

  7. On the note of psychology, I do remember reading a study in which Leftists(“liberals”) were most feminine and Libertarians most masculine, hardly surprising.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1665934

    I believe this is it.

    Will Wolverhampton, I’m not going to argue with you as I have the flu, I will however recommend the book “Democracy, the god that died”.