Smashing Stereotypes About Libertarian Punks

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As insulting as it is to be labeled a fascist, and as easy as it is to respond vehemently with anger, it’s more productive to reply with facts and logic and take an opportunity to expound upon what libertarianism actually is.

If you do it right, you will blow minds. You may not claim a libertarian convert, but you will broaden the discussion and open the door to more tolerance from your left-wing punk friends and acquaintances.

The trick is to be honest about the things you disagree on while focusing on the things you agree about.

Last year, I started a blog called “Confessions of a Conservative Punk,” and the choosing of the term “conservative” wasn’t an accident. I consider myself a libertarian-conservative a la Barry Goldwater, the father of the modern conservative movement (that was stolen by neo-cons and the Religious Right).

When people message me to tell me how stupid I am they’re surprised when I reply in a calm, rational and friendly manner. They’re also confused to find out that I’m anti-war, for legalizing marijuana, pro-gay marriage and willing to call out George W. Bush as readily as Barack Obama.

And I let them know I disdain fascism, racism, corporatism and blind loyalty to the US empire as much as they do.

Libertarianism and freedom can’t exist without tolerance and giving other people the right to be “wrong.”

Because I feel that logic, facts and history are on our side, I’m hopeful that libertarianism will seep into mainstream punk culture, but that can only happen if we make friends. It’s easy to scoff at anarcho-communist rhetoric; it’s easy for them to scoff at anarcho-capitalist rhetoric.

We have to stop scoffing and start talking.

Always take the opportunity to smash stereotypes.

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  • Good stuff.

  • Agreed. I have also found the good old argument “so, let me this straight…you hate the government…and your solution is…MORE government?” to be effective…however, this works best with friends wo already understand my sarcasm. I have found most “left wing” friends are there not for their love of government, rather to rid government from their personal decisions…sexuality, choice, moral laws, etc…one you can show them Libertarians offer better options for that than Democrats, you can at least open the door to a more in depth discussion. And the current administration makes it an easy point to make!

  • “and willing to call out George W. Bush as readily as Barack Obama.” – Do you mean that they’re two different guys? Mind==blown.

  • “We have to stop scoffing and start talking.” Best piece of advice I have heard in awhile.

  • Government is amazing at one thing, they are Branding experts. Before the term even existed, these “people” were on the front lines. They branded marijuana as the drug that would make white kids have sex with black kids, and make black people kill everyone….AND IT STUCK! They have branded the war machine as foreign policy and imperialism as peace keeping. A man can sleep with 12 interns and be for Christian family values. You can never have served in the military and be a defense expert.

    Libertarians got branded by the powers that currently hold sway. I don’t like to say mainstream because that is part of their branding campaign. All they ever need to say is that something is out of the mainstream and a lot of people start closing their ears. This is an up hill battle that should be simple common sense. Most people who label themselves as Republicans and Democrats are often over heard complaining about the same things that are the heart of the Libertarian platform.

    The hardest part I have with Republicans is the military industrial complex. I can show them video of Dwight D and his warnings and often I get something along the lines of “That isn’t the world we live in today”. To which I try to explain that the world we live in today very well wouldn’t be like this had we listened to his warning when we were first warned. Wars overseas will never make us safer, they will only breed fear in other countries and create more enemies. A safe country is a country with strong national defense that doesn’t go around poking into other SOVEREIGN nations. We were not given a special right to do to other nations glibly what we would call an act of war if done to us.

    The most trying time I have with Democrats is social services. I just don’t believe that you can go around demanding that you have the freedom to smoke marijuana, the freedom to protest any way you want, and the freedom to marry whomever you want; and then say you are entitled to the labour of someone else. If you believe you are truly entitled to my labour then I am entitled to say how you live your life. Freedom doesn’t work in half measures, and it doesn’t survive long when it isn’t in use.

    Where I can find common ground with these groups though is ALMOST EVERYWHERE. You want social programs? Great! Work with your local communities and local governments, see if you can find a program that is affordable and better for your area. Get involved. All too often big government programs are really about helping anyone, it’s just people saying “Can’t someone else do it?”. Libertarians, and punk rock Libertarians even more so are all about doing things ourselves.

    I would keep going here but I have to get to work.

    • Wynn

      “If you believe you are truly entitled to my labour then I am entitled to say how you live your life.” nice, good t-shirt or bumper sticker.

  • Jennifer

    Conservatism never works because things always change, and you can’t hold back it back.

    Communism won’t work because there will always be a few selfish individuals who will take advantage of the system.

    Capitalism won’t work because left unchecked, it will destroy our planet, while stealing and taking everything it can. (And a few selfish individuals will take everything, 100x more than what they need).

    Religion won’t work… because it is dumb, and illogical.

    Libertarianism won’t work because as a society we need to work together, and to take care of each other. (And a few selfish individuals will take everything, not caring how many people they hurt).

    We need a better solution, I agree, but I’m sure as hell we don’t need libertarianism.

    Try again please.

    • Incorrect, all over.
      Libertarianism isn’t Conservatism, though Libertarians can be Conservatives… or not. You’re probably confused about what Conservatism is, since it’s been misused so much.

      Communism won’t work because Communism won’t work. There are many things wrong with the idea, TOO many to even bother with it. If you like a totalitarian government, try Communism; you’ll have totalitarianism right from the start.

      Capitalism works – of course. Look at all it’s given you (aren’t you on a computer right now?). “Government didn’t build that”. Problem is, Capitalism has rarely been pure, it’s tainted with Corporatism.

      If you don’t like Religion, that’s your problem. It worked as a source of inspiration for the Founding Fathers, just fine. It doesn’t matter anyway, since we’re all agreed we don’t want a government based on religion.

      In Libertarianism, people do work together. Just not as a ‘collective”.

      • FredNomasters

        It’s a common misconception, but the funny thing is that conservatives will say libertarians are liberals and liberals will say libertarians are conservative. People are brainwashed into thinking there’s 2 sides and if someone disagrees with you they must be on the other side.

      • Two things, Robert: “Capitalism” in the US, if you want to call it capitalism, is heavily subsidized and regulated by the government. And that’s the ONLY way it works. “Of course” you glibly say capitalism works, we have computers! Look at the stuff in Best Buy that you can buy! The fruits of the free market! The reason I’m typing this on my computer right now, and you are reading it on yours, is not that some brave investors with a vision of the future took all the risks and like Dagney Taggarts leading us into the brave new world of internet porn and pointless bitching like I’m doing now, but rather that the government subsidized the electronics industry for about forty years through the DOD and NASA. We have paid for our laptops and ipads many times over through our tax money, or our parents’ and grandparents’ tax money. By the time computers were powerful enough to do anything that the average person would pay for, that’s when the technology was turned over to the private sector, and Microsoft and IBM and Apple make the profits on billions of dollars of taxpayer funded government research. The American “capitalist” system is to subsidize the expense of something, and privatize the profit.
        Second: The founding fathers were not fans of organized religion. It didn’t inspire them. I don’t know why you would think this. In their day, religious people were like the Puritans in Massachusetts hanging their neighbors for witchcraft, and the FF were intellectuals and products of the Enlightenment And most Christians where I live (Mississippi, admittedly not a very enlightened place) DO want a government based on religion–their brand of orthodox protestant Christianity. Here are quotes from Jefferson, whom “libertarians” revere more than any of the other founders:

        “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.” — Jefferson’s letter to John Adams, April 11 1823

        “The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.” — Letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822

        “Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church … made of Christendom a slaughter-house.” – to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822
        . . .

        “It has been fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and then I considered it merely the ravings of a maniac.”
        .

        “They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.”
        .

        “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.”
        .

        “We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication .”
        .

        “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.” -Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
        .

        “… I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself.” – letter to Horatio Spofford, 1816
        .

        “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
        ..
        “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law.” -letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 1814
        .

        “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot…. they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose.” – to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814
        .

        • Wynn

          the gov’t should demand a cut as investor then and maybe a vote should be by referendum, then. The internet came from military usage, didn’t it. Microsoft’s Bill Gates is a leftist, I think.. so I call his operation FASCISM. gates is also a huge part of that new nationwide program for public schools (Common Core).

        • Jim G.

          That idea that our technology exists only because the government was the first major investor in it is an either-or fallacy. It is true that when a government agency has a specific need for something, such as equipment for military capability or space travel, the technological spin-offs become profitable private industries, but that does not mean that those inventions would not exist to fill a need in the private sector. The transcontinental railroad is often held up as a great victory for government “investment” in private industry, but with the great mineral wealth of the West providing the funds to build it, it would have probably been built anyway a few years later, without the massive graft and giveaways at the peoples expense.

      • Proof that American capitalism rewards mediocrity and punishes innovation: would you rather be Preston Tucker or Henry Ford?

      • In N Out Burger or McDonalds?

        Dennis Ritchie or Steve Jobs?

        Any of the small businesses that used to be in your town. . .or Wal-Mart?

        In all of these examples, the mediocre rises to become the dominant business/person not because they represent a better choice for the consumer but because they steamroller over a better choice. Robert, I agree that communism, at least of the Soviet Union style, doesn’t work. Marx was wrong about a lot of things. One was that religion was the opium of the people. In America, the opium of the people is not religion, but fantasies of wealth, and I just don’t think you can present a convincing case that American style capitalism represents a meritocracy where the best and brightest rise to the top.

        By the way, I don’t hate religion or faith. I just think they have a horribly corrupting influence in American politics.

      • Wynn

        I am an atheist, too and want all mention of God and/or religion out of any gov’t meeting or decision. Religion should be a personal choice just as much as homosexuality is or who you date/marry is. A few of the Founding Fathers were NOT religious…were probably atheist or agnostic, but dared not say so ‘back in the day’. Thomas Jefferson is the main one. Morals and good senses CAN be found in an atheist. I demand my freedom and rights the same as a religious person/theist. Besides, Sharia law (islam) is becoming more prevalent in other countries, incl. UK. It is only a matter of time before Christians get a taste of their own medicine when the Muslim tried to impose his belief onto YOU !!! It is already happening in NY with cab drivers.
        Conservatism is traditionalism, so says Ayn Rand. I agree. They want thing to be as they always were without looking hard at these traditions to see if they really serve us well.
        I am ‘selfish’, Jennifer. It is a positive word. it DOES NOT mean manipulative or hurting others. it means I look out for my own good, mind my own business.
        There are some capitalists who would gladly cheat and steal, and do so, but quite often they do so with the help of gov’t. When huge corporations do so, it is called fascism. We are moving towards fascism, in my opinion. Microsoft, GM, big banks (who run the Fed on the down-low) are part of that.
        People need to learn to take care of themselves, Jennifer. We should be taught in school not to have blind faith/trust and to be objective. So often, victims GIVE their power away. They have been conditioned to not say no or fight. Nature is all about one trying to overcome another, from bacteria, to plant life, to mammals (which includes us).
        Jennifer, the best author in the world for you to read is Ayn Rand !!!! Her book ‘Selfishness is a Virtue’ (I think that’s the title)
        is awesome. She helped change my life. I cried like a baby when I read Fountainhead…the part where that artist cried because others despised him for his talent. It is ok to be excellent and to try hard and be smart and logical. Rand is an atheist from Russia. Many libertarians love her.

    • chad

      Yes, Jennifer, we do need to work together, but we can do so voluntarily. Working together at the point of a gun, by force, is some sort of mutually enforced slavery. Freedom IS the answer.

  • Stephen.freels

    Couldn’t agree more, very well written, keep up the good work. People like you, those not afraid to stand up, are the ones who will lead the charge to restore America to a state of true liberty, the liberty our forefathers laid the foundation for.

  • steve wilson

    George W. used 9/11 to turn the country into a fascist nation with the Patriot Act, TSA, DHS, etc, over the temporary outrage…

  • FredNomasters

    That opening line confused the hell out of me. People call libertarians fascists? I thought it was the libertarians that called other people fascists, well, statists.

  • duke

    I would love to go to your college. I live out in Missouri but i could make things work.

  • Claudio

    I, my own damn self, am not a Tea Party supporter. I disagree with them on social liberties, our overseas wars, Obama’s birthplace, Sarah Palin, and the conspicuous absence of tea at their rallies. ~ Penn Jillette

  • Thralls David

    I fucking love this place

  • Wynn

    yeah, we need to educate others about what Libertarianism IS and isn’t.. So many just don’t know. We need t-shirts to wear with the main points listed on the back so people can read it without feeling as if they are staring, without feeling rude. Ex: FOR on one side of back, AGAINST on other side of back.
    Also, I think we should move AWAY from the word ANARCHY. I thought I was an anarchist when 15 or 16, until I ran away from home to Little Five Points, a punk area, in Atlanta. I quickly realized some rules are good and should be enforced: theft, sleeping with minors, sexual harassment, assault, ect.

  • W.Buckaroo

    I’m an old school punker circa 1984. I am currently working on a 3 part series/discussion entitled “Lessons in Libertarianism through the Punk Rock Experience.” While Punk may be more “attitudinal” and culturally relevant than it ever was or will be politically viable, the punk scene demanded, and still demands, a hyper-sense and palpable level of FREEDOM for it to survive. I’ll be visiting this site again. Love it.