Ask a Libertarian

Ask a Libertarian: Why Is There So Much Movement Infighting?


Welcome to Ask a Libertarian with Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. They are the authors of the new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America.

Go to to purchase, read reviews, find event dates, and more.

On June 15, 2011 Gillespie and Welch used short, rapid-fire videos to answer dozens of reader questions submitted via email, Twitter, Facebook, and In this episode, they answer the question:

Why are libertarians so susceptible to infighting?

For the complete series, go to and's YouTube Channel at

Produced by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, Josh Swain, with help from Katie Hooks, Kyle Blaine and Jack Gillespie.


NEXT: Happy Birthday, Magna Carta

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  1. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People’s Front.

    1. Wait, I thought we WERE the Judean People’s Front?

  2. I posted them in the abortion thread, but applicable here too:

    robc’s rules of libertarianism

    #1 Everyone agrees with libertarians about something.

    #2 No two libertarians agree about anything.

  3. Because we are all assholes.

    Except for me. I’m delightful.

    1. …..

    2. If you’re not a smarmy prig, you’re not really one of us.

    3. Splitter!

      1. Shit. That was meant for upthread, but I guess it works here.

    4. Hey, some of us are huge assholes. Don’t sell us…ahem, them short.

    5. Fuck, Sugarfree beat me to it. By the way, Sugarfree is an asshole. Me, I love kittens.

    6. I’m really more of a fuckwad than an asshole.

    7. I feel so at home here.

    8. Hey, some of us are cunts.

  4. Like herding cats. Libertarians by definition are not herd animals. Political party? WTF?

  5. This is the most interesting video and a subject that has interested me. As a libertarian, I don’t resent the infighting; I welcome it. Infighting means independent thought is being done. There was no party line, no ostracism for deviation. Infighting, in my opinion, is the surest way to prevent groupthink. ‘Effectiveness’ is not worth risking cognitive closure for.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more.

      1. It’s just like you to say something like that. Goddamn sycophant.

        1. Fuck you, you non-anarchist and therefore statist whore.

          1. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!!11!!1!

            1. You’re dead to me, Jim!

              1. I know it was you, Epi. You broke my heart.

          2. If your pro-rulers yes your a statist. I don’t know about the whore part.

            1. Maybe you aren’t realizing that JW and I are jokingly trading insults.

              1. Don’t cross the sarcasm streams

              2. I trade nothing! I expect full compensation for my services, you pinko-subversive rat-fink.

  6. I have a feeling that if we could just get rid of, i.e. assassinate, Tulpa the infighting would stop.

    1. That’s hard to do without violating the nonaggression principle.

      Besides, I agree with Nick & Matt’s distinction between marginalist and philosophical libertarians.

      Some of us (me included) are more interested in messaging and getting the right answers, while others are more interested in getting shit done now.

      One side is right, one side is woefully misguided, but both are important for the movement.

      1. I’m just kidding I don’t actually think anyone should harm Tulpa. Maybe lock him in a dungeon somewhere, but not hurt him.

        1. Tulpa spends his weekends in a dungeon in downtown Atlanta being whipped by a 300lb dominatrix in a Rahm Emmanuel mask.

          She beats him with hardbound volumes of the Federal Register yelling “this is how we maintain a productive and rational society” until he either wets himself or loses consciousness. Then she performs a special move on him that she likes to call Mission Creep.

  7. We love freedom more than conformity?

    1. “Yes, we ARE all individuals!”

  8. We’re from the invective = correctness school of debate.

  9. The ‘nonaggression principle’ only exists in theory

    1. Not true. I saw it once.

    2. Your continued existence is all the proof you need.

      1. I prefer to think of rather as an externality, like pollution. We are all so funny, the universe was forced to birth an equally unfunny, uninsightful, backward and pig-ignorant force to oppose us. Kind of like how testosterone gave Bob bitch-tits.

        Or she is just an obsessive dumbass with the emotional maturity of a petulant houseplant.

        1. How can you tell if a houseplant is being petulant? Does it refuse to grow?

          1. see how libertarians focus on the REAL issues…

        2. WTF is a petulant houseplant, does it live in a perpetual state of near death?

          1. I supposed your houseplants are sooooooo happy. “Oh, look at me! I have an overjoyed fern!”

            1. I got a bj from a pitcher plant once. Does that count?

              1. Did it make the plant happy, or was it only to satiate your own base lustiations?

                And did the plant spit or swallow?

                1. Neither, it caught a lot of flies.

                2. The plant swallowed, but we had an awkward moment later that week when I got some test results back, and had to tell the plant that it needed to get itself checked out.

                3. spit or swallow?

                  A very important question.

            2. All my houseplants would die from neglect. Atleast my dog alerts me to his lack of nourishment, usually by chewing my couch to pieces.

              1. Tell me sugarefree how do you reward your little Merry Troop Of Masturbating Munchkins? ? ?? I’m sure, I’m not the only one who wants to know your little HS lunch table game.

                I love that you are trying to relive your adolescence-it’s fascinating

  10. Look, I don’t like you and you don’t like me. Let’s just defeat some statists so we can go our separate ways.

  11. There is a old libertarian joke that goes something like: If there are two libertarians that agree on a issue. You know one of them is a sellout.

    1. Can’t be THAT old

  12. Because it takes a certain level of independent thinking to be able to reject the nonsense that most people are indoctrinated with. Once you begin thinking for yourself, you tend not to trust other people who want to tell you what to think, even if they agree with you on a lot of things.

    1. Good answer. I bet all the fucking minarchist will disagree.

  13. Libertarians are completely irrelevant to the actual practice and use of power, so only things they have to argue about are the degrees of Ayn Rand’s sainthood or whether they should support private ownership of thermonuclear weapons.‘s_Law
    On 20 December 1973, the Wall Street Journal quoted Sayre as: “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.”

    1. I love how statists like you are too stupid to understand that we don’t want to practice and use power. It’s good that you’re so fucking dumb, since you do want to wield power.

      1. unfortunately they figured out how to vote

      2. You certainly don’t actually know anything about my desire to wield power or if I am a “statist”, so I guess you are just trying to prove my point with your bitter invective.

        I know the truth hurts, but do you really feel better after calling me names?

        1. HURR DURR!

        2. Dude, your high horse isn’t internet ready.

        3. I don’t need to know anything about your desire to wield power, you pathetic anonymous pussy. Your impotence and passive aggressive whining say all that needs to be said about you.

  14. I fight because I don’t like any of these people.


  16. “I just plain don’t like black people.”

  17. I try to avoid being part of any type of group, and it distresses me greatly that I happen to agree sometimes with some of these people. Fuck.

  18. Being a libertarian is like Highlander. There can only be one. Everyone else is just libertarianish.

    1. I’m waiting for,, and to officially announce The Gathering, so that we all have to fight and cut eachother’s heads off.

      1. It’s next year in Somalia.

    2. Bullshit. I am so sick of stupid fucking statist saying this kind of shit. I know alot of libertarians they are people who do not want to initiate force against another. How hard is that to understand.

      1. and there goes my head. and my powers.

      2. matt, have you considered getting humor implants, or at least a sarcasm-seeing dog?

        1. Wouldn’t that be a seeing-sarcasm dog?

  19. I stopped telling people that I am libertarian when Wayne Allen Root became the face of the party.

    Vegas Baby! *barf*

    1. Who’s that?

  20. Just to be contrarian I’m totally watching these videos out of order. Take that bitches!

  21. Well, after reading the comments to this point, there is one thing we can agree upon, that we don’t agree upon much of anything, but we have a good time doing it.

  22. Shorter version of this video: while the anarcho-libertarians are the only ones who can defend their philosophy effectively, there’s nothing wrong with making common cause with minarchists to win the little battles on the way to a more free society. So, be a minarchist if you like, but you’ll have to grapple with anarchy at some point.

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