Libertines and Liberal Bigots

Libertines and Liberal Bigots
by Keir Martland

Libertarians are being torn apart from within. Two groups are responsible for this: the libertines and the liberal bigots. ‘Liberal bigots’ is a phrase that I have stolen from Peter Hitchens and I am using it to describe a group within the libertarian movement who are more concerned about being politically correct than defending anybody’s right to discriminate. By libertines, I mean simply those who view libertarianism as a rebellion against tradition, hierarchy, morality and authority and who believe that the best way to achieve libertarianism and the libertarian ends of life, prosperity, cooperation and so on, is to live in communes, engage in ‘free love’, and at every opportunity attack conventional wisdom and morality.

The former, the liberal bigots, in my view are often ‘thin libertarians’ of the worst kind: libertarians who believe in the nonaggression axiom and nothing else. These people can only think in terms of libertarian legal theory and, as cultural Marxists, will defend anybody’s way of life, except, oddly enough, a traditionalist and antiegalitarian way of life. The latter, however, are usually ‘thick libertarians’ and in this sense are an improvement upon the liberal bigots. Thick libertarians are libertarians who, in addition to being well-versed in libertarian law, think about how a libertarian society would, could and should function. Thick libertarians judge not only whether or not something is legal, but whether it is conducive to libertarian ends. However, sadly, the modal thick libertarian is a libertine: someone who believes that prosperity, happiness and other good ends, for which we all strive, are achieved not through a ‘sensible’ lifestyle but through a relatively reckless one.

Liberal bigots will be the first to apply the word ‘bigot’ to someone who is choosing to discriminate or offend an individual or group. Yet, as libertarians should know, the right to associate also implies the right to discriminate, i.e. to not associate. And the right to freedom of speech implies the right to offend and the right to trade implies the right to boycott and charge higher prices to certain types of people. Liberal bigots will of course not tolerate bigotry, except bigotry against those who they decide to label as bigots. They will not tolerate intolerance, except their own intolerance toward the intolerant. Thus they become entangled in contradiction after contradiction.

Libertarians often make the point that legality and morality are two separate things. Yet, while conservatives and objectivists have a clear conception of morality, libertarians do not. Most libertarians become ‘thin libertarians’, interested only in libertarian politics and dismissive of any talk of morality. And because even socialists have a moral code, libertarians often resort to conceding the morality of other philosophies yet simply saying that they are ‘impractical’ whereas libertarianism is ‘practical’. But, as Ayn Rand correctly said, the moral is the practical: there is no dichotomy.

What, then, is morality? I am of the opinion that Ayn Rand and the more recent Stefan Molyneux, plus some insights from Hans-Hermann Hoppe, can lead us to a libertarian morality. Ayn Rand argued that as anyone who speaks of morality must be alive, they have shown that their standard is life. And since life requires prosperity, happiness and health, any arguments against these are also arguments against life. Stefan Molyneux has shown that it is logically impossible to defend a moral code stating ‘thou shalt kill’ or ‘thou shalt steal’. Combining these truths leads to a ‘live long and prosper’ moral philosophy. This is a moral philosophy which does not morally validate just anything since actions which are contrary to the presuppositions of argumentation cannot be rationally defended. Since we all must live for as long as possible, immediate gratification is not always morally justified for if it was then rape and burglary would of course be morally okay.

In the free society, we will have the right to discriminate whenever we wish to do so. Even liberal bigots who of course loathe discrimination must concede the right of anybody to discriminate against criminals. If we wish to protect our loved ones then it becomes a moral obligation, surely. Yet, if it is conceded that we have a moral obligation to ostracise, penalise, and dissociate from criminals, then why is it not also a moral obligation to discriminate against suspected or probable or potential criminals? Some people are more likely to be criminals than others: this being empirically or statistically true as well as being affirmed by decent psychology. Surely it is of some importance to us as libertarians to know who these people are and to aim to exclude them from (or at least keep an eye on them) a future libertarian paradise. If we do not even take the facts gathered from sociobiology, sociology and psychology into account when discussing how best to achieve and to then, when achieved, maintain liberty then we cannot truly say that we are ‘libertarians’.

It is assumed that libertarianism is supposed to be ‘pro-gay’ or ‘pro-Islam’ or ‘pro-abortionist’ simply because these are minorities. Not so. Libertarians should not only hold that we have the right to discriminate against these groups, but also that to the extent that they are immoral or dangerous or socially backward groups, we ought to do this. It will depend upon what ethical standards we have whether we label some people moral or immoral, but, it should be plain to see that the conventional – soon to become the unconventional, however – English way of life is the most conducive to libertarian ends. If somebody wants to have a sex change twice yearly or have twenty abortions or stand on street corners shouting obscenities or kill stray dogs then it would seem that many libertarians would simply say “they have the right to do so”. The question too often neglected is: do we want these things to happen in the free society? If we don’t want them, then it would be perfectly within our rights to discriminate against these people. Furthermore we could set up our own restrictive covenants where each member has to live by certain rules if he is to be allowed to continue living there. These rules would be up to the businessman or community leader who runs the covenant: no smoking, for instance, or no loud music. Of course, both the libertine and the liberal bigot would be heartbroken, with the liberal bigot fiercely proclaiming “but, women have the right to walk about stark naked, even in a restrictive covenant, if they want to!” and with the libertine adding “only by walking about naked can we free ourselves of the shackles of oppressive Western culture!” – Both would, needless to say, be wrong.

There is also the Orwellian technique of saying simply that ‘black is white’. Lies are passed off as the gospel truth by libertines and liberal bigots alike. The most awful example is that of militant feminists who claim that women are the slaves of men. But, as Rothbard pointed out, it is the slaves who work while the masters stay at home. Now who are the slaves? Rothbard also responded to the ridiculous suggestion that it is wrong to think of women as ‘sex objects’. It’s simple biology that women are sex objects to men, and men are to women. One exception is of those women who declare that they ‘have no need of men’ and, in order to prove they are dedicated to the cause of women’s lib, turn lesbian. Similar to the militant feminist movement is the LGBT ‘community’ (almost always represented by a minority of militant gays) who are intent upon the politicisation of sexuality[1].

A mocking of British culture and a disdain for the past displayed by the BBC is of course to some extent responsible for the tidal wave of politically correct libertarians. Notable examples of BBCPC are Blackadder and The Thin Blue Line. While it is easy to laugh at the physical humour of Rowan Atkinson in both comedies, the politically correct jokes are obvious and the disdain for the past rather shameful.

Turning to religion, few modern libertarians are religious. Historically, of course, some have been agnostic and yet today almost all are ‘atheist’ or ‘antitheist’. It is also interesting to note that most of these atheists are self-described ‘empiricists’ who reject the possibility of a priori knowledge. Yet, aside from the self-refuting premise of empiricism itself, their stance on the existence of a God is flawed. If they believe that nothing is a priori true, then how is it that they believe that it is a priori untrue that a God exists. And for an a priori defence of God’s existence, look no further than St Thomas Aquinas’ ‘Five Proofs’. Incidentally, St Thomas Aquinas is responsible for the whole body of thought termed ‘natural law’, upon which the most radical libertarianism has been based so libertarians owe a lot more to the Catholic Church than they think.

Ignoring other religions, can libertarians be Christians? Modal libertarians say no, I say yes. In fact, there is a whole philosophy based primarily on Christianity which is libertarian[2].

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” 1 Corinthians 9:19

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

Britain, we are told, is a melting pot. We are multicultural whether we like it or not and Britain has long been tolerant and cosmopolitan. Those who feel uneasy about the transformation of some areas of Britain into something unrecognisable, yet recognisably unBritish, are labelled fascists by the liberal bigot. Though I hardly agree with his analysis of British history throughout the rest of the book, Bentley Gilbert in the preface to his ‘Britain since 1918’ hits the nail on the head when he writes: “Fairplay, tolerance and moderation are still the code that Britain lives by. They keep the country, as it has long been, a museum of civilized virtues. But generosity of spirit may be a weakness in an unreasonable world and the willingness to give way to the threat of violence, whether internal or external, whether economic or military, may produce a situation in which the civic balance that has made Britain what it is becomes itself a danger.”

33 responses to “Libertines and Liberal Bigots

  1. “It is assumed that libertarianism is supposed to be ‘pro-gay’ or ‘pro-Islam’ or ‘pro-abortionist’ simply because these are minorities.”

    “It is assumed” by whom?

  2. “Libertarians are being torn apart from within. […] In the free society, we will have the right to discriminate whenever we wish to do so.”
    Who are these libertarians that are denying you the right to discriminate privately? I can see plenty of people advocating all kinds of totalitarian nonsense, but they are not libertarians. No one is tearing apart Libertarians from within on this issue.

    “Yet, if it is conceded that we have a moral obligation to ostracise, penalise, and dissociate from criminals, then why is it not also a moral obligation to discriminate against suspected or probable or potential criminals?”

    Because libertarianism is about natural rights of individuals. On that basis it seems immoral to discriminate against whole groups of people. Everyone indeed discriminates. However, it is a difference whether you discriminate individuals or whole groups of people. Nevertheless, morality is of course an individual issue and everyone has to make their own decision. There is no libertarian position on this.
    I find it interesting that people who complain about an allegedly Marxist enemy from within the libertarian movement are not just quick to point out that you have a right to discriminate against, but also always try to make it look like there is some kind of libertarian obligation to discriminate certain groups of people. But libertarianism is not about lifestyles. You can certainly live in your conservative community, but a lot of libertarians might not join you there, as the idea sounds quite unattractive to them.

  3. Pingback: Randoms | Foseti

  4. Just where are these reckless libertines? You know, the ones “who believe that the best way to achieve libertarianism and the libertarian ends of life, prosperity, cooperation and so on, is to live in communes, engage in ‘free love’, and at every opportunity attack conventional wisdom and morality”.

    Obviously I don’t get out enough, having never encountered one.

  5. Much too complicated for me. I like things simple.

  6. Freedom of association must include the freedom to not associate – and that means the freedom to choose (to discriminate means to choose).

    One can condemn the choices of someone else (call them a bigot and so on) but one must allow them to choose who they have on their property and who they choose to trade with or employ.

    As for the other “liberal” dodge – the dividing of business freedom from personal freedom (a division that may go back as far as J.S. Mill) – it is hollow, no such divide is legitimate.

    Talk of “common carriers” and “public accommodations” is a throw back to the declining period of the Roman Empire, where the distinction between public (state) and private was breaking down in the law. It has no place in libertarian thought.

    Short version.

    A P.C. libertarian is not a libertarian at all.

    However, the Frankfurt School have managed to smear anyone who tells the truth about these matters of legal philosophy (jurisprudence) as “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic” and so on. Thus turning political opposition into a form of mental illness.

  7. “From the psychological-engineering point of view, the liberal’s idea of tolerance is a remarkable one. It encourages him to feel magnanimity in upholding his own beliefs whilst damning all others, with little or no care for the truth or reasonableness thereof, which is to say, it encourages him to feel magnanimity in bigotry. Liberal bigotry is that wonderful state of mind in which one is compelled to call a bigot anyone who stands at odds with it, which is to say, it is bigotry made sublime. Or: the typical liberal is so great a bigot that he feels magnanimous as such.”


  8. I am amazed, utterly amazed, that anyone who would write a pile of thoughtless garbage like this would dare to call anyone else “thick”[1].

    And if Martland wants to believe in a bunch of Middle Eastern tribal religion, that’s up to him. If he wants to believe, bizarrely, that this is somehow “the English way of life”, that’s up to him too. But lecturing the rest of us about it as if it’s some kind of objective truth is ridiculous.

    Martland of course reveals the corrosive ideology of the “authoritarian libertarian”. He only subscribes to a form of “liberty” in which the State is eradicated so he can set up a little Albania, with everyone forced to live by a gargantuan rulebook which prevents any behavour he might himself consider “libertine” without any of that pesky old liberalism getting in the way. This isn’t liberty. Liberty isn’t a choice of tyrannies. We already have that, thanks.

    “Welcome to Martlandland. No smoking, no music, no bumsex and no darkies. Enjoy!”.


    [1] Yes, I know, that’s a misrepresentation. Why not? Martland’s effusion of bilge misrepresents everybody else.

  9. baloocartoons

    Another very insightful piece. Certainly applies to US libertarians. I’ve reprinted it all with the infamous Venn Diagram here:

  10. The idea spread by the “libertarian” left that they are only against GOVERNMENT discrimination must not be allowed to stand.

    That was the position of the “Brown….” judgement of 1954 (a lot of the stuff around the Brown…. judgement was dubious, to say the least [with irrelevant sociological stuff about black girls playing with white dolls being admitted as “evidence”), but the fundamental principle, that government should not discriminate on grounds of race, was sound).

    “Civil Rights” has moved on since then (even the 1964 Act in the United States and the 1965 Act in Britain went well beyond GOVERNMENT discrimination) – indeed in some States (such as New York) it had already moved on as far back as the 1940s.

    What we now have is a structure of “law” similar(in its principles – or lack of principle) to that of the late Roman Empire – the division between state and private has come under attack (with legal doctrines such as “common carriers” and “public accommodations” indeed a general idea that a place of business is not private property in the same way that one’s home is private property) .

    This is not a good thing.

    Whatever may have been the case at the time of the “Brown ….” judgement in 1954 (a judgement only relevant to the United States – as neither English or Scots law had “Jim Crow”), the modern Civil Rights movement (with its Frankfurt School “Cultural Marxist” – “Critical Theory” aims) is no friend of liberty – and those libertarians who imply that it is a friend of liberty, are (at best) fools.

    • Interesting bait and switch. You start with the implied claim that left libertarians are lying when they say they are only against government discrimination, then “prove” that with the lie that left libertarians pretend the existing “civil rights” movement is a “friend of liberty.”

      Nice try. No cigar.

  11. Thomas – I told the truth.

    If you choose to pretend that these people have not being hugging up to the Civil Rights crowd (on race, gender, sexual orientation – and on and on) that is up to you. But you are not doing a good thing by sticking your head in the sand.

    As you know perfectly well – a real libertarian would (for example) defend the rights of private employers to follow their own principles in their place of business (if people do not like that – they do not have to work there, or shop there).

    P.C. doctrine is NOT compatible with libertarianism – it was never intended to be so.

    After all it was invented by the Marxists of the Frankfurt School in the 1920s and brought to the United States by the Marxists at Columbia University in New York (then off to California and so on).

    Those libertarians who said nice things about Obama in 2008 (for example some of the Reason magazine crowd) or try and “work with” the “liberals” in universities in the United States (or the rest of the Western world) are radically misguided.

    Pretending they do not exist (your position) is just no good.

    You would do better to admit what you actually know to be the truth – and work to CORRECT it.

    For example, when a young libertarian starts using the language of the enemy (about “Social Justice” or “Anti Discrimination policy” or “no platform for Hate Speech” and so on) you should, politely, step in and say – “no – that is the language of the enemy, we do not believe in that stuff, our beliefs are not compatible with that for the following reasons…….” and then explain the reasons.

    Ditto those “libertarians” who nod with agreement at the latest media propaganda blaming “the rich” or “the corporations” for everything. It is no good pretending that this propaganda is about attacking subsidies from the Federal Reserve (or whatever) – it is about the EXISTANCE of rich people.

    Is not dealing with the problem openly better than your position – of pretending that the problem (the problem of the existence of the “libertarian” left) does not exist?

    • You are conflating preference with principle.

      It is true that most left-libertarians tend to PREFER an environment of private non-discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

      And it is true that all libertarians, right or left, consider it a matter of PRINCIPLE that THE STATE should not be allowed to discriminate on such matters in terms of delivering equal protection of law and so forth.

      It is not true that most — for that matter, ANY that I know of — left-libertarians support the existing “civil rights” movement’s agenda of getting the state to coerce private persons or businesses to not discriminate on such matters.

      I will not pretend that “the problem does not exist.” It does exist … in the fevered imagination of Paul Marks.

  12. Bulllshit Thomas – Bullshit.

    I have personally been present when self styled libertarians (people PAID by the Adam Smith Institute and other organisations) have made speeches filled with statism.

    Me made up the existence of the “libertarian” left?

    I wish to God that I had made it up – but I have not.

    They exist.

    And you know they exist.

    • I’m not affiliated with the Adam Smith Institute, so I can’t really respond to your characterization of them. My perception of them, based on their blogging and so forth, is that they are classical liberal / right-libertarian “small state” types.

      Of course the libertarian left exists. It’s just that it doesn’t even mildly resemble your obsessive nightmare vision of what it is.

    • No swearing, please. Mobile telephone companies are classifying us as an adult site because of all this effing and blinding.

      No swearing – not even when discussing the Adam Smith Institute.

  13. Thomas – a charitable interpretation of your words, would be that you do not know anything about the “Social Justice” and P.C. types who now work (in little – but important positions) at the ASI. And that you do not know anything about the “libertarian” left either.

    But I am not inclined to the charitable view.

    • I work for the libertarian left’s single most effective institution.

      I don’t need you charity. However, I would gladly contribute to a fund to allow you to get treatment for whatever ailment is responsible for your near complete mental dissociation from reality.

  14. Thomas – you persist in saying things you know not to be true (you know perfectly well what sort of people have wormed their way into a few positions in such organisations at CATO and in Reason magazine and….- yet you persist in choosing to lie about it). That, in the end, is your problem.

    My apologies Sean – in future I will use the words “horse feathers”, that should keep the officials happy.

    • You must have me mixed up with someone else.

      I pay very little attention to who gets hired and fired at Cato, Reason, Adam Smith Institute, etc. The last time I noticed much along those lines was when the “liberaltarians” left Cato around the time that a right-libertarian (Objectivist) got installed as president.

      And if you think that Cato, Reason or ASI are “left libertarian,” you’re even more delusional than even I thought.

  15. Wonderful Thomas.

    You are now claiming ignorance of who has wormed their way into CATO, Reason magazine and so on (as if the “Bleeding Hearts” were some sort of secret).

    Yet you also call me “delusional” for saying things about a subject you admit (or rather claim) you know nothing about .

    If you really were honestly ignorant – you would say “well I will check that out” and then come back and say “well actually you were right – there are P.C. Social Justice supporters (backers of John Rawls and co) calling themselves libertarians and getting positions”.

    Or you would come back and say “no Paul – the problem is not as serious as you believe, the Bleeding Heats (and other such) are being pushed out” and show me how their defeat was being achieved.

    But instead you just stick your head in the sand and pretend there is no problem – smearing me for the terrible crime of pointing out that there is a problem.

    In this you act like those people who let the left destroy Classical Liberalism a century ago – for example turning “The Nation” from a publication that had led the defence against the ideas of Richard Ely and co, into a publication that supported those ideas.

    • I’m not claiming ignorance of who all works where because it’s some kind of “secret.” I’m claiming ignorance of who all works where because I’ve got better things to do than spend my days going through personnel rosters to see who is, and who is not, a Marksist.

  16. Thomas if you honestly do not know – perhaps you should stop writing about a subject that you (by your admission) know nothing about.

    • Ignorance of who happens to work at which organization is not ignorance of libertarianism.

      There is certainly some ignorance at play here, but not just on my part. You quite transparently are incapable of determining either what left-libertarianism is or who advocates for it (hint: It’s not the “Bleeding Hearts”).

  17. The justice issue is a basic one.

    Is justice – to each their own (the non aggression principle).

    Or is it a “distribution” of income and wealth for the advantage of the “least favoured” (as John Rawls and his supporters claimed).

    Turning to the Social Issues.

    There is only one that (in my view) libertarians can legitimately have different views about.

    There can be no libertarian case for government imposed “anti discrimination” or government imposed “anti hate speech” stuff – it is like a “libertarian case for Jim Crow laws” (it is just nonsense).

    The social issue where there can be legitimate disagreement is, I believe, the abortion issue – and (full disclosure) I am on the minority “pro life” side.

    “Paul is it an accident that the social issue you can say there can be legitimate libertarian disagreement on, is the one you find yourself in the minority on?”

    I have no good answer to that.

    • The reason that there can be legitimate disagreement between libertarians on abortion is because both sides are reasoning from non-aggression. They just have different opinions on underlying factual issues (is the fetus a person with rights? If so, in becoming pregnant, did the mother commit to an obligation to host it until birth, violation of said commitment being a violation of its rights? Etc.).

      I don’t agree that that’s the only issue libertarians can disagree on — libertarians can disagree on what pizza topping is best, whether to cheer for Liverpool or Man U, you name it — but it’s one of a very few at most which libertarians can disagree on on libertarian grounds.

  18. As for the more extreme left “libertarians” – it should be noted that Kevin Carson and co (unlike the Bleeding Hearts) have never formally broken with the non aggression principle. They twist it to suit themselves (pretending that they only hate those rich people who made their money in bad ways – whereas in fact they hate all rich people), but they have not made the formal break with the traditional libertarian view of what “justice” is – the BH people have done so.

  19. “pretending that they only hate those rich people who made their money in bad ways – whereas in fact they hate all rich people”

    Bovine scatology.

    I can’t think of a single rich person whom I hate.

    Even the ones who made their money by working a system that has aggression built into it, I don’t hate, and I’d be perfectly happy to leave them with their accrued wealth, so long as the aggression is removed from the system going forward.

  20. Thomas when, in this thread, have I accused you of being part of the “Libertarian” Left?

    A for Kevin Carson – his endless attacks on all rich people (which were first brought to my attention back in 2006 with his attack on the very idea of employment as a form of serfdom) are a matter of record.

    Nor is it just corporate employment. The hatred of all large scale individual businessmen is also often made obvious. Both present and past.

    I repeat I have not claimed in this thread that you are part of the “Libertarian” left.

    I have not accused you of being one of these evil people.

    • Paul,

      Let me see if I have this right:

      1) I’m an idiot if I don’t know who cleans the toilets at the Cato Institute; but

      2) You a genius who doesn’t know that I’m the guy who edits Kevin Carson’s stuff for publication.

      Does that about cover it?

  21. Errr Thomas – it was you who said you did not know anything about who was getting in at Cato (in influential positions – not “cleaning the toilets”) and the ASI and……

    I repeat – you said this. Indeed you almost seemed to be boasting of your ignorance, which led me to assume (perhaps unfairly) that you were being insincere (in short that you did know who was worming their way in – and were pretending that you did not).

    As for Kevin and co – they have often posted on this very site.