You may have noticed something that I have observed: too many of “capital L” Libertarians are irrationally offensive in their manner.
What’s up with that? If you had to describe the behavior of these Libertarians in one word, what would it be? I would describe them as angry. Not only are they emotional, but it is a specific emotion.
Anger expresses a sense of injustice, something is not fair. What from their perspective is unfair? Think for a moment about conversations with an angry Libertarian…you might even have been the angry Libertarian in that conversation.
Putting myself in their shoes for a moment, I see three different sources of perceived injustice, but to what extent are their judgments consistent with reality and what skills could help them alleviate the stress of their incorrect judgments.
IMHO, the first perceived injustice is that their interlocutor does not agree with them. Their vitriol is inversely proportional to the perceived degree of agreement as the Libertarian dismisses actual objections as unimportant. In addition to actually listening to the other person, the Libertarian would do better to respect the right of the other person to hold a differing independent judgment on an issue. In their verbal bullying, the angry Libertarian ignores that a rational mind can not be forced without it losing its value. However, this is a proximate issue and not the underlying cause.
A secondary perceived injustice comes from the fact that in general people overwhelming disagree with the angry Libertarian’s fringe political ideas. Like Vegans and Muslims, angry Libertarians focus on one area of ideas out of context from the requirements of their life and use these ideas as the core of their self-identity. Example conversation:
Average person says, “It was a beautiful day and I really enjoyed some time outside playing with my kids in the sunshine.”
Angry Libertarian replies, “The government should not be involved in the weather!!! Ron Paul…blah…blah…blah…”
While politics is an important part of one’s life, angry Libertarians need to gain some perspective by putting it into an appropriate hierarchy within the context of their life.
The crux of the perceived injustice is the angry Libertarians evaluation of government’s role and actions. Unfortunately, they can not actually distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate government actions, which translates into an anarchistic fetish. Angry Libertarians are secondhanded thinkers who repeat a catechism preached by others without having validated these out of context statements against reality; thus, they argue and approach problems rationalistically. When their slogans don’t work, then they explode because they have nothing else in their otherwise empty heads. If they are serious about politics (as opposed to being a crank), the angry Libertarian should spend less time “debating” and more time reading history and political philosophy, including the ideas of those who they oppose.
There really isn’t anything that a stranger can do to fix the angry Libertarian…other than calling BS. However, once the angry Libertarian acknowledges that they have a problem, there is plenty that they can do to correct themselves.
From the standpoint of Selfish Citizenship, what are the lessons learned?
- Accept that others can disagree with you on politics as they have a right to be wrong; however, do not hesitate to judge them if they irrationally persist in error.
- Remember context…politics happens in reality and in your life. It is not a disembodied game of Platonic forms out there in a separate idealized realm.
- As in all aspects of your life, the virtue of independence applies to politics. Even when you agree with someone else’s point, you should still understand through your own personal mental effort how that point ties back to reality and integrates with your other ideas.