Friday, December 09, 2011

Big Mouth Libertarians, or, The Armchair Anarchist

A few weeks ago I witnessed yet another example of an all-too-common phenomenon in the libertarian movement -- the Big Mouth Libertarian.

These Armchair Anarchists are like the Armchair Revolutionaries of the Left and the Armchair Generals of the Right. These windbags are all talk, and no sacrifice.

In this most recent example, I was at a libertarian supper club in Los Angeles. The night's theme was "How to Start Your Own Libertarian Country." It's the sort of "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" thought experiment that's popular among people who mistake Atlas Shrugged for reality.

As the attendees discussed and planned Libertarian Land, the issue of public revenue came up. How would taxes be collected?


"That's a deal breaker!" one libertarian shouted.

He then parroted the old "taxation is theft" mantra a few times, while repeating that any taxes whatsoever would be a "deal breaker" that would prevent him from supporting or moving to this hypothetical libertarian nation.

He lied. Not so much to us, as to himself.

In his fantasies, this Armchair Anarchist may imagine himself a sort of John Galt figure. As someone who refuses to compromise with the State. But it just ain't so.

This Armchair Anarchist -- who looked to be in his late 50s/early 60s -- lives in the United States. He's had plenty of time to emigrate to some tax-free nation. Perhaps even homestead onto some deserted island with his generator and survival skills. Or maybe disappear into the Alaskan wilderness and live off the grid, hunting and foraging off the land.

Yet Mr. Big Mouth Libertarian continues to live in the U.S. -- and presumably, pay his taxes.

For that matter, he lives in high-tax California, despite Nevada (which has no income tax) being less than 200 miles away.

Clearly, paying taxes is no "deal breaker" for him.

Sure, it's tough to move; to leave behind friends, family, business connections, etc. But if it were a "deal breaker," Mr. Armchair Anarchist would move despite the hardships. That's what "deal breaker" implies. That compromise is impossible.

Yet compromise with the State is possible. We do it every day. I do it every day.

Of course, I'm a minarchist and Constitutionalist -- I believe that government has legitimate authority to collect taxes for certain purposes -- though that does not include war and empire. So I'm no Anarchist, Armchair or otherwise.

Whatever your philosophy, if you're gonna Talk Big -- let's see some action. Yet for all this "principled" talk of taxes being a "deal breaker," he plugged his video camera into a wall socket, taking energy from a State sanctioned monopoly. And he continues to live in the U.S. -- and California -- because taxes are clearly no "deal breaker" for him. He merely enjoys the rush of shouting his principles, beating his chest, and perhaps earning the admiration of the handful of nearby libertarians.

He's also a living example of why the police think libertarians are a joke.

PS: here is my favorite Tom Tomorrow cartoon -- a satire of neocon Armchair Generals of the sort that inhabit Free Republic.

Like many of Tom Tomorrow's anti-conservative barbs, this one applies equally well to progressives -- and libertarians.


Anonymous said...

I wonder why I didn't respond to this post earlier.

Your article describes exactly why I HATED the libertarians as a whole. Its all fucking irritating as hell when most of them go around bragging "Death rather than losing our freedoms" and other such stuff-yet most of them merely rants such stuff on the internet but could hardly even loudly express their beliefs to family relatives with opposing veiws let alone yell it out in public.

They go around acting like they're willing to die for freedom yet few of them actually are registered with the libertarian party and most of them waste their time writing blogs and such instead of actually doing stuff to advanced their "Freedoms" IRL.

Of course after reading this blog along with having a friend IRL who's libertarian I can't say I hate libertarians as a whole. You're the exact polar opposite of the scale-a libertarian who's not only a REALIST but also realizes how ludricious much of the members of this political spectrum can be.

I wish tehre were more libertarians like you around. I would never have gone anti-libertarian for a while if more people proclaiming themselves as "libertarians" actually could walk the talk.

I agree with your post fullheartedly.

I really am surprised I haven't responded to this post yet despite seeing it over a year ago when I was on an anti-libertarian trolling spree lol. I still think the libertarians as a whole a joke and mockery for the same reasons you posted in your blog but I can't say I'm anti-libertarian-I'm no more fond of most liberals and conservatives boasters (though as we both unfortunately libertarianism's followers are the biggest of the bunch).

Have a safe and nice Christmas and I look forward to chatting with you some more.

Cannon said...

You're a minarchist?

In other words, you are incapable of differentiating consistent thoughts with inconsistent ones.

Sure, you don't think taxes should be used for war or empire. SO WHAT?

Every has a subjective opinion on what taxes should or should not be used for. If you support the practice of taxation, what consistent argument do you have to claim that your preferred goal of tax money is any more valid than those of, say, socialists?

You don't think it should be used for A, B, or C? TOUGH SHIT. Other people do, and you have no more argument left, because you've already acknowledged your opinion that theft by government is justified. Your opinion on what it is justified for and what for it isn't, is no more than an irrelevant brainfart among millions of irrelevant brainfarts.

You think the government gun has merit? Then stop whining when it is pointed at you for the purposes of corporate welfare, the National Endowment of the Arts, or the invasion of Timbuktu.

Now you can go back to whining about "armchair anarchists" who don't wish to move to places where taxes are lower, and police brutality or censorship are higher, you logical fallacy-spewing minarchist ignoramus.