If you have never taken issue with a single utterance from Ron Paul or Bernie Sanders, if you believe entirely in every plank of your party’s platform or the current consensus of it’s members, or if you trust every story from your favorite news source to be accurate, it’s the same conformist disease of applying faith rather than reason to what should be your own beliefs. As libertarians (especially counter-culture ones, which really all are given libertarian’s place in the American political hierarchy), we all arrived here after finding prevailing ideas inadequate and opening up our thinking to something new. That questioning attitude and openness to the kind of reason that isn’t accepted by the masses is integral not only to libertarianism, but to personal growth and individuality that allows liberty and freedom to be effective enough to deliver prosperity.
Libertarians tend to be contrarians, and disagree nearly as much with each other as they do with “statists”, or at least libertarians seem to spend more time and effort doing so than enlarging the tent. Often, libertarians will even argue about what it means to be a libertarian. However, those arguments generally revolve around one of two things. One, is arcane points that those outside of the movement often can’t even distinguish between. I mean, debating whether the Austrian or Chicago school is preferable, whether Objectivists are actually libertarians, or whether praxeology is even a branch of science… these arguments do little outside of our own echo chamber. The other thing arguments tend to revolve around is merely a matter of degree. On the most extreme end, there are those in the libertarian party who advocate literal anarchy, and then there are those on the more minarchist side, still extreme by common standards of accepted thought. However, the first steps towards whatever goal is in mind tend to be the same first steps, and politics always advances incrementally when it doesn’t resort to violent revolution. That said, there are two issues in particular that I don’t categorize myself as “libertarian” on which don’t fall into either category, and both were subjects with trending news stories today.
The first is Lena Dunham making comments about how she wished she had had an abortion. Obviously she’s never had children, because nobody who has children ever say they wish they had instead had an abortion. There may be an exception somewhere, but this is true in general, because we’re not a society of sociopaths. This statement is not only offensive to those who have pro-life views, but also to those who are pro-choice and have made the difficult one of choosing an abortion, whether they regret it or not. Obviously she makes her money off of being offensive, and if I had a significant amount of followers, mentioning the story would only help her. There was a time when the most outspoken voices in the pro-choice community would say, in rote, that they wanted abortions to be “safe, legal, and rare”, not celebrated and desired, and though I’m not offended, I do find the remarks to be detestable.
Given the slant I’ve used, it’s probably easy to guess which way I lean, but in general I try to keep myself from the topic entirely. It’s the one political topic that you can never win, where the actual facts don’t matter, and is likely to produce anger and frustration even among people who are comfortable debating any other political topic. Among the libertarian community, the debate generally focuses on whether or not abortion violates the non-aggression principle, or how to resolve issues that involve conflicting sets of rights, but the majority of libertarians are pro-choice. My position is more nuanced than one or the other, because “life” and “choice” are oversimplifications of what I see as a complex legal and moral issue, but I’m going to play censor right now and cut myself off before I write an entire post getting into the weeds right after telling you I personally avoid the topic.
The other news story making the rounds that highlighted a non-libertarian position of mine was the Christmas market massacre in Germany. Now, whenever there’s a terrorist attack in an EU country, which is becoming more common, the left tends to make it about guns, the right tends to make it about Islam or immigration, and libertarians tend to posit it as Europe’s problem, and not our concern. In this case, this is part of a trend of terrorists not using guns because trucks are easier and more effective. The right has grabbed onto the fact that it was committed by not just an immigrant, but an immigrant that by law was meant to be deported months ago, in a continent-wide union with open borders in a year that the Brexit vote was successful.
Like abortion, I don’t find immigration as an issue that’s as simple as “pro” or “anti”, “open borders” or “closed borders” or even “legal” versus “illegal”. Not all immigration is equal or has equal effects on a nation, and not all immigration follows the same pattern. Here in the US, much of modern immigration to this country is from, predictably, our own hemisphere. The immigrants who come from our north, tend to be more highly educated, share our language, and hold cultural values and norms more compatible with what currently exists. Hell, Canada is practically just another state. From south of our border, we tend to get younger workers, who tend to have less skills, education, or proficiency in English, but provide a strong benefit all the same, from diversity of experience to a generally high work ethic and focus on self-reliance. In fact, immigration from south of our border I think is one of the primary reasons that social security hasn’t completely collapsed yet and is merely in the red.
In other parts of the world, immigration is much different. For instance, in England, immigrants tend to be more educated than it’s native population. The immigrants most common to Europe as a whole have a much different set of cultural and religious values than the native population, and taken as a whole they present a security risk that isn’t as comparable to any of the violence of the drug war in the US. What Europe allows in terms of immigration, whether they keep their open border policy among EU nations or not… well, I think the American government should remain largely silent on these matters, but my opinion would be much more important if I lived in Europe.
Taken as a whole, America accepts more legal immigrants than any other country in the world. I believe that despite this, it can still be advantageous to take in more. However, I accept that some limitations are desirable, that separate groups of immigrants are not interchangeable, that there are valid concerns about cohesion, culture, security, and the like, and that even Milton Friedman conceded that open borders weren’t compatible with a massive welfare state. This is an issue that both libertarians and the left tend to always fall on the open border side of the coin, while those on the right tend to be much more nativist in their approach, while reality doesn’t fit nicely into either extreme.
Alright… now that I’ve offended or alienated much of my audience, I’d like to open the floor. What opinions do you have that conflict with libertarian orthodoxy (or if you’re not actually a libertarian, what opinions do you have that conflict with the orthodoxy of the grouping that most closely aligns with your political beliefs)? Send your article submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org .