So is not-belief.
I wish more Libertarians – and even “conservative” minarchist (small government) types – were also ok with either.
There is an important lesson to be learned from the Russian Revolution. The Bolsheviks were the minority. Yet they achieved power. Why? Because the Mensheviks and other not-Bolsheviks squabbled endlessly among themselves rather than concentrate on their common aims – and common enemy.
The liberty movement is similarly fractured.
Especially over the fault lines of religious belief – and lack thereof.
People who otherwise agree on the basics – roughly, at least – will often nonetheless heap their greatest contempt and expend the most energy on marginalizing like-minded people who happen to not share their Christian faith.
Or any faith at all.
It is a tragedy – and a disaster.
I, like many Libertistas (like that one?) began my journey hop-scotching over the works of greats such as Leonard Read, Bastiat, Henry Hazlitt and then – of course – Ayn Rand. I admired Rand – and still do – but she probably more than any other among the pantheon crippled the movement as much as she helped to awaken it by insisting on rigid, doctrinaire unanimity of belief rather than acceptance of the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) as the basis of her philosophy. One must revere Rachmaninoff – never Wagner. If you inclined toward Doric or Ionian columns rather than Frank Lloyd Wright, you were suspect. And other such nonsense.
Of course, Rand was a spittle-spewing atheist above all else – reserving some of her most volcanic eructations of bile for those who “believed.” She called them “mystics” and “witch doctors” and much worse than that.
But the difference between myself and Rand – and between myself and most latter-day “conservatives” – is that I do not see a conflict between advocacy of liberty, the movement toward a voluntarist, free society – and people’s personal preferences – their beliefs about whatever.
So long as they accept as their premise (again, to use one of Rand’s favorite words) the NAP. To refrain from aggression. To leave other people alone.
To live – and let live.
It is incredibly depressing that so many “conservative” small government people regard non-believing Libertarians as untrustworthy because they derive their sense of value, their ethics, from secular rather than sectarian sources. Agnostic and atheistic Libertarians are suspicious folk – because they do not believe in the God of the Bible (or any gods at all). Yet these are people who have intellectually rejected aggressive violence, including theft-by-ballot!
And they are cast as the enemy – not to be allowed around kids, etc.
It would be funny if it weren’t so god-damned tragic.
I do not worry about Trekkies – people who dress up like Klingons and Mr. Spock and immerse themselves in role play. Nor do I worry about the gender of consenting adults who wish to marry – or have sex with each other. Why should I worry about people who revere a man in a white costume with a funny hat, who like to eat a special cracker every Sunday and who get a sense of great relief from having done so?
I am inclined toward a belief in the actuality of life – technologically advanced life – outside the solar system. In fact, I believe strongly that the universe is crowded with life, with civilizations – and that we here on Earth are currently in a position not unlike the Spaniards of 1491, on the verge of discovering that – yes – there is an undiscovered country beyond the horizon. I also have this oddball liking for black velvet Elvis paintings – and I prefer ’80s hair rock to Bach.
Who is harmed by any of it? Why can’t belief in whatever not only be tolerated – but embraced as glorious, the ultimate manifestation of individual liberty – rather than an affront to some orthodoxy that must be stomped?
Heterodoxy in all things – except the one thing: Trying to impose your will, your way of life, your beliefs, on someone else. Orthodoxy against that only.
Those who read this column regularly – and the comments that follow – have probably read some of the back and forth I’ve had with a reader named David. He’s a believer, an ardent Christian. But we are not enemies. Though we’ve never met in person, I regard him as a friend. Because he does not insist that I believe what he believes. And I, for my part, do not mock his beliefs – much less demand that he shed them – “be rational” – else be the object of ridicule. Or at least, not allowed in the proverbial clubhouse.
We are allies where it counts. He knows I will defend his right to believe – and I know he will defend my right not to believe.
Belief – and non-belief – can co-exist in exactly the same way that my preference for Kawasakis (and Pontiacs) in no way precludes my ability to bond with those who prefer Hondas or Fords. We both like bikes – and cars.
And – per myself and David – we both like liberty.
The liberty to believe what seems right to us – or simply appeals to us, whether it’s “rational” being utterly beside the point.So long as we’re not hurting unconsenting others. That’s the thing – the only thing.
I don’t pester Dom (EPautos.com’s webmaster) about his gross (to me) habit of dipping snuff. And if he told me he dressed up as a Klingon sometimes, I’d probably snicker – but never censure.
What matters is the essential thing: The NAP. If we can agree on that, the rest is incidental – and our ultimate victory assured.
If, however, we continue to peck at one another – and insist on orthodoxies outside the NAP – it is likely, probable, that the liberty movement will go the way of the Mensheviks.
And we’ll have lost a battle we should have won.
Throw it in the Woods?
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