Libertarian History/Philosophy

The Virtues of Libertines



Cato's Jason Kuznicki offers a valuable contribution to the "libertarian morality" discussion that's been meandering around the Internet of late. In a post on his personal blog, Kuznicki says, "but of course I'm a libertine."

Kuznicki is reacting to a strange strain of libertarianism he spies lately, one that advocates fusing libertarianism and social conservatism in a way we haven't seen since the 1960s. As evidence he points to Damon Linker's recent "What if your daughter was a porn star?" piece (which both Scott Shackford and I have written about) and a piece in The Federalist by Rachel Lu, which asserts that "if millennials want liberty, they need virtue too." I would also point you to this post by Pamela Stubbart, who left the libertarian group Young Voices over its promotion of porn star Belle Knox's writing, and the bizarro cult of Stefan Molyneaux

These folks differ from social conservatives in that they don't always advocate using the state to impose their morality unilaterally. But "the sentiment remains the same," Kuznicki writes:

If you don't share our morality, then you're doing freedom wrong, and bad things will happen. 

What makes all that a little hard to swallow is the fact that almost nothing so-cons have wanted—obscenity laws, sodomy laws, tough standards for divorce, stigma around birth control—has panned out for them in the past 50 years. Meanwhile "libertines"—a term Kuznicki uses with tongue firmly in cheek—have been getting exactly what they want on matters of vice. How's that working out for American society?

Pretty well, I'd have to say. Let's imagine some victory conditions: How about massively falling crime rates? Check. Also falling abortion rates? Check. A whole lot less teen pregnancy? Check. Falling divorce rate? Yep, got that one too!

No traditionalist would ever have predicted the present moment. On every single one of these matters, if the numbers had gone the other way, the so-called libertines would be taking every bit of the blame. Perhaps reasonably. But over here in the real world, we have a paradox: It begins to look as if the way to get almost every item on the social conservatives' wish list is to give us libertines what we wanted.

Sure, we may now be a nation of cohabiting, contraception-using, homosexuality-supporting, pot smokers, but we've also become a nation that's infinitely less bigoted and misogynist. If the former makes one a "libertine" (or a "cultural libertarian"), then most of us may be so, but "in another sense none of us are libertines—if by that word we mean foregoing all moral judgement," Kuznicki writes. 

Essentially nobody does ??that??. We give a very false picture of developments since the 1960s if we suggest that it's all been a matter of things disappearing from our moral radar. We have added many new norms as well, and we are clearly better off for having them. Norms against drunk driving, smoking, racism, and sexism are stronger than ever, and those are certainly better than the norm that permits you to disown your son if you find him having gay sex.

Leonard Steinhorn, a professor at American University, makes similar points in his writing on the baby boomer generation. He thinks "boomers deserve far more credit than they're typically given" for what the '60s hath wrought:

In surveys, 71 percent of Greatest Generation whites said that blacks smell different, 36 percent said they wouldn't try on clothes a black had worn, and 94 percent disapproved of interracial marriage. In 1954, only 12 percent said they would allow an atheist to teach college, and in 1957, 80 percent said that an unmarried woman had to be sick, neurotic or immoral. Boomers refused to accept this America, and ever since the '60s they have quietly agitated for change. They did it by transforming society, by changing attitudes, norms, institutions and families, and the result is an America more inclusive, equal, tolerant and free than any time in our history.

And here's what I wrote about libertarian morality at The Dish last week: 

… libertarian-minded folks are plenty capable of placing blame at the feet of people who deserve it. We have no problem expressing moral disapproval of an administration that rains death on innocent people, or of the insane militarization of our police force and the attendant terror it's causing. We cast stones at those who let their own discomfort come before women's safety and those who think any abuse by the state is warranted once someone has committed a crime. These are absolutely moral judgements – you don't have mere differences of opinion on whether it's okay to kill Pakistani children and African-American teenagers.

I ventured into different moral arenas than Kuznicki, and that's the point here: morality can be conceived of in many, many different ways. It's easy to frame libertarians, or American society as a whole, as decliningly moral when you define the parameters of morality. But if we dig past purity in its many manifestations, there's a whole host of ways in which libertarian libertines are making the world a much more safe, just, tolerant, moral, and free place. 

NEXT: Sheldon Richman on Mission Creep in Iraq

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. they don’t always advocate using the state to impose their morality unilaterally

    I’d say that if they’re libertarians, they never advocate using the state to impose their morality. And if they never advocate using the state to impose their morality, they could be libertarians — no matter their personal views on icky sex stuff or whatever. Easy peasy.

    1. I’d say that if they’re libertarians, they never advocate using the state to impose their morality.

      Laws against murder or theft or fraud are not based upon moral positions?

      no matter their personal views on icky sex stuff or whatever

      Oh, you mean those moral views.

      1. Laws against murder or theft or fraud are not based upon moral positions?

        They shouldn’t be. We should have laws against crimes that produce unwilling victims, and they should be evaluated on whether they reduce the number of unwilling victims.

        Laws based on morality require the acceptance of a moral code. Such codes can never be universally accepted. But laws based on morality can’t be questioned, since they must only be consistent with the moral code selected.

        A prime example is the war on drugs, which fails both tests. Voluntarily taking a drug creates no unwilling victim, and the war has for decades been an utter failure. Yet we still have prohibition because anti-drug morality demands it.

        In truth, morality does not consist of “doing the right thing.” Morality consists of choosing to do the right thing, whatever you believe it to be.

        “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one is looking – even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” Aldo Leupold

    2. People need to learn the distinction between mor?s and morals.
      Morals are universal, mor?s vary among groups and are dependent upon circumstances.

      1. Morals are universal, mor?s vary among groups and are dependent upon circumstances.

        Morals are universal? I notice that you did not provide a single example. I can’t think of a single one which people hold universally, or even close to it.

        1. The prohibition on murder is probably the closest.

          1. But there’s widespread disagreement on the definition of “murder.” Abortion? Execution? Self-defense? Terrorism? Killing while intoxicated? While mentally ill? By law enforcement? With drones? Collateral damage? Assisted suicide? Catching someone with your spouse? Hunting animals? Factory farming? Leather and fur coats? Killing someone to save their soul?

            All have been defined as “murder” by some people somewhere.

  2. Awesome meme at the top of the Molyneux page right now

  3. I would also point you to this post by Pamela Stubbart, who left the libertarian group Young Voices over its promotion of porn star Belle Knox’s writing

    I just want to point out here, since Stubbart didn’t see fit to respond at her own blog, that she is admittedly a divorcee (no fault) and on (or perhaps has been on the Pill). So her whole fucking argument is that the relatively tiny share of women who might decide to rent their body out for sex is harming the mating market, while she practically gloats in participating in two behaviors that have done far, far more to distort the mating market than the existence of porn.

    Of course, that should only matter if you care about changes from the traditional mating market. But she does. Except when they benefit her.

    1. I should point out that Pamela is a friend of mine and we used to write together at a women’s health blog. But I think she’s all sorts of wrong in this situation

      1. I don’t know anything about her other than that post, so it’s not like I have issues with her one way or the other. But the double-standard was glaring for someone who actually has read bitchfests about mating market distortions for years. Sex workers are the least of those people’s worries.

        1. “Bitchfests about mating market distortions” is a thing? Perhaps I really should check my gender privileges.

          1. Remember that Nicole is the worst, CN. Never forget that.

            1. Now you’ve gone and done it. She’s going to wear that comment like a crown.

          2. Why do you think MRAs are always so upset about no-fault divorce?

            And you can read tons of socons hand-wringing about What The Pill Hath Wrought.

            1. Have you heard of the neo-reactionaries?

              1. OMG yes!

                1. I’m currently kind of fascinated/intrigued/appalled by them.

                  1. Did you read Kuznicki’s hilariously terrible hit piece?

                    1. yes


                      There’s some good critiques at that site. This is not one.

                  2. The 4th corner of the Nolan chart is bound to have some people in it.

                  3. I’m currently kind of fascinated/intrigued/appalled by them.

                    Me too, and by Less Wrong’s descent into serious wtf-ness. I read one looooong thing on monarchism a couple months ago and was so…yeah, just totally fascinated.

                    1. LW’s baseline WTF-ness is pretty high (or low, to be consistent with descent. I’m bad at words).

                      Are you talking about Yvain/Scott Alexander’s giant planetary nutshell thing?

                    2. I honestly don’t remember and can’t find quickly what it was I read that I’m thinking of in particular, but it was something by Moldbug.

                      But, yeah…their baseline WTF-ness was already…whatever. But it’s gotten much, much weirder than it was when it was basically only Eliezer Yudkovsky.

                    3. Less Wrong is essentially a slightly subtler and more sophisticated version of the Dawkins “brights” project, which means it tends to be very poor at identifying and arguing against alternative philosophical systems. The Anti-Monarchy FAQ is a good example of this. (I’m not a neo-reactionary, but even so it was a poor showing.)

            2. No-fault divorce is anti-libertarian (unless you put a no-fault clause in your marriage contract).

              1. I don’t think libertarianism has anything to say about no-fault divorce so much as it does the alimony laws which is what MRAs decry. It does not violate the NAP to end an association. It does violate the NAP to then use the government to force a prior association to continue forking over a percentage of his property.

          3. “mating market”

            Good idea for a grocery store, or best ever?

            I’m scrapping my plans for “Whore Foods” as we speak.

    2. (Also, in the very post condemning Knox, she admits to watching porn)

    3. That is a good point.

  4. Leonard Steinhorn, a professor at American University, makes similar points in his writing on the baby boomer generation. He thinks “boomers deserve far more credit than they’re typically given” for what the ’60s hath wrought

    Let’s not bring idiotic generational collectivism into an otherwise very interesting article, ok? The boomers didn’t do shit; society changed. Because that’s what societies do.

    1. Well, I’m not saying I agree on that front, was just trying to add to Kuznicki’s examples about how things have changed for the better

      1. Totally, and those examples were right on the money. I just didn’t see what Steinhorn’s generational thoughts brought to the table (*cough* nothing *cough*).


        1. Episiarch, it’s been ten days since your idol offed himself. You can stop being a dick now.

          1. We should go watch a marathon of Cadillac Man, Toys, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jack, and Patch Adams. And then hang ourselves just like him.

            1. At some point you need to get past denial and anger and move towards acceptance.

              1. I CAN’T!!!

            2. I paid to see Patch Adams in a theater. I’m not sure how I didn’t end it right then.

  5. And I know for a fact one can be an asshole AND a libertarian.

    1. Personal experience, even!

      Mine and yours.

    2. Based on a quick survey I just did in my head of all the libertarians I know, I think asshole might be a requirement.

      1. Speak for yourself, asshole.

        (looks in mirror)

        OH NOES

      2. This. I was wondering when that became an option.

      3. I thought our greatest virtue was our lack of virtue.

  6. America more inclusive, equal, tolerant and free than any time in our history.

    I’m gonna take exception with free. I noticed in your closing you said “making the world a much more safe, just, tolerant, moral, and free place” which might possibly be true. I don’t think America has gotten freer in general lately. Maybe your definition of freedom differs from mine or you’re using some weighted calculation.

    1. We are freer! We are free to chose which hand our sex-monitoring chip is implanted in. And if we don’t want to pay our taxes, why, we’re free to spend a week with the Pain Monster.

      1. See you next April!

  7. At the risk of being called a “thin” libertarian, I don’t think it particularly important whether you are a social conservative or a libertine, or that either one is “more” compatible with libertarianism. There is more than adequate room for grown-ups to be “social conservatives”, religious, libertine, pagan, etc so long as they are responsible about the outcomes that result from their choices. A libertine libertarian will need to ensure that their actions do not damage the sanctity of others’ property or damage others. A religious libertarian needs to be mature and realize that if they choose to proselytize on their company’s dime, there may be consequences up to and including a firing.

    As far as all the issues brought up by Kuznicki, considering how much more violent crime we have today (and how much worse divorce and illegitimacy rates are today) than in, say, 1920, I wouldn’t call those areas a resounding success for those in favor of libertinism. In any case, these are side issues which should not be incorporated into libertarianism or classical liberalism proper, since they are more a matter of personal preference than of political activism.

    1. Oh, agreed. Abstaining from pre-marital or extra-marital sex and not doing drugs or drinking doesn’t mean you can’t be a libertarians. What you can’t do is force those choices on others.

    2. I’d find it hard to actually compare those rates (crime, illegitimacy) in the 20’s compared to what they are now. How are they collected now vs. then?

      What about the significant differences in a lot of confounding factors? Like law enforcement and real racism (not today’s pale pretender)?

      But I agree on it mostly being a side issue; a distraction from the real issue of government involvement in things they should have nothing to do with.

      1. “I’d find it hard to actually compare those rates (crime, illegitimacy) in the 20’s compared to what they are now.”

        Definitely. My great grandparents despised each other. They never divorced, they just didn’t live in the same state and didn’t speak for the last 40 years of their lives. My grandmother had a miserable childhood.

        My “wife” and I are not married, and our daughter is “illegitimate.” My wife and I have been together for 25 years, no end in site.

        Given the trend in my family, is the “family” getting better, or worse?

        1. Good questions, but if you live by the time-series sword, you die by it, too — and when Kuznicki makes a statement about declining rates and limits analysis to a very recent time period (last 10 years, give or take), he should also have to answer for the parts of the time-series data which are not favorable to his side of the debate.

          1. Fair enough, which is why I’m skeptical of such “trends” generally speaking. It’s the same logic by which one determines that the average inhabitant of the universe has 4.5 limbs and a hyena.

  8. those are certainly better than the norm that permits you to disown your son if you find him having gay sex.

    Ah, that would be forbidden then? By force or merely met with disapproval? No force or law (which means force, right?) meddling in personal morality means in any direction, yes?

    1. leting your chil dstarve i the streets is true liberteriansim no?

      1. … and good spelling is heteronormative too.

      2. Not my child. Yours.

  9. That Federalist piece is so bad that it gave me cancer. Look at this shit.

    Libertarians and social conservatives do need each other, and not only for the purposes of building a winning coalition. We need each other in order to present a complete and satisfying conservative vision.

    1. You know who else wanted to create a movement that was both cultural *and* political to prevent society from collapsing into a degenerate mess?

      1. Ron Paul?

      2. Stefan Molyneaux?

      3. The High Sparrow?

    2. Translation from SoCon: We’re probably headed to the historical dustbin, might as well try to ride the coattails of the possible up-and-comers.

      1. I’m waiting for the Second Coming, you’re waiting for the Libertarian Moment, let’s see which happens first.

        1. ‘Possible’ is there for a reason. I’m far too cynical to expect either to happen.

        2. Let’s call the whole thing off.

    3. If that’s the price of success, then I’m definitely rooting for a complete and massive failure.

      1. If the two major parties in America were a socially conservative party and a libertarian party and they swapped power back and forth like the Rs and Ds do today, America would be a much better place.

        For one thing, communism and its fellow travelers would be getting 1% of the vote like the LP does today.

        1. No, because the SoCon party would shift to economic socialism over time (to capture those votes that the libertarians can’t court), and hence capture 90% of the vote.

          Don’t you remember “compassionate conservatism”?

  10. to present a complete and satisfying conservative vision.

    Wait. What?

    1. He means, “Help us take back the power, so that we may then beat you down with it.”

      1. “I’ll teach you libertarians to drink on Sundays!”

    2. Mad Scientist is right – it is the French premier begging FDR for clouds of aeroplanes to fight off the Germans in 1940…

  11. Let me preemptively respond to anyone who thinks that mine, or anyone else’s, private behavior needs to be controlled by the pearl-clutchers and moral scolds via the state:

    Fuck off, slaver.

  12. Sure, we may now be a nation of cohabiting, contraception-using, homosexuality-supporting, pot smokers, but we’ve also become a nation that’s infinitely less bigoted and misogynist.

    Are those two sentiments related?

    Norms against drunk driving, smoking, racism, and sexism are stronger than ever, and those are certainly better than the norm that permits you to disown your son if you find him having gay sex.

    Who is arguing that disowning your son is a better cultural norm than anti-drunk driving — and for that matter, what kind of comparison is that? As far as smoking norms today go, I can’t see how essentially treating smokers as second-class citizens is some sort of triumph for the human will or even particularly libertine.

    there’s a whole host of ways in which libertarian libertines are making the world a much more safe, just, tolerant, moral, and free place

    Live your life how you want, but this is hollow self-congratulation. Very little of what has changed in American culture has to do with libertarians, much less the small subsection of them which is libertine.

    1. How is a norm *against* smoking in any way libertine?

      1. I think the point was “Hey we bash smokers, instead of gays! Yeah for us!”

        1. As a smoker I ask you all to check your Carcinonormative privilege.

    2. That’s absolutely false, and one of the funniest socon reactions to this stuff is their absolute denial that libertine impulses have caused it.

      It’s entirely true that we are less free in many ways, and those tend to relate to huge government, the drug war, the war on terrorism, etc. However, socially, we have become freed of a lot of crap, yet many (if not most) of the problems predicted by the trend of being freed from that crap have failed to materialize. That is the point here. Libertine impulses actually resulted in many of the results socons wanted, yet the way they wanted to try and achieve them was even more restriction.

      The overall point here is that social liberty leads to good outcomes as much as economic liberty, even those there are many detractors who claim the sky will fall if we liberalize.

      1. Norms against smoking have nothing to do with liberty or government; ditto most of the other nonsense that most people drag out during these debates. They certainly have nothing to do with libertarians. Maybe they have something to do with libertines, but the number of libertarian libertines is insignificant (also true of the socially conservative vs socially conservative libertarians). It is self-congratulatory to act like a driver of these changes when you had very little to do with them in the first place.

        1. Did you not see that I used the phrase “libertine impulses” and never the phrase “libertines”? “Libertines” is so amorphous as to be meaningless. But there are absolutely libertine impulses in many people, and those have come together to cause these changes.

          You are failing to get the point: social liberty has positive effects as much as economic liberty does, and the proof is in the decline of “negative” social problems even while society has liberalized a lot of its “rules”.

          1. I think you’re failing to get my point: I agree with you about social liberty, but social liberty is more about creating a very broad space for different cultures and societies (including libertines and traditionalists) to manifest and emerge based on peoples’ preferences, rather than being a specific laundry list of things that those considered culturally left approve of (which per Kuznicki evidently includes treating smokers like we used to treat gays). Some of cultural leftism is fine, other parts of it are retarded and other parts mere aesthetics. I believe in allowing pluralism, we give cultural leftists and everyone else the opportunity to create their own cultures without coopting the state into stacking the deck in their favor. This is, I think, the best way to do it regardless of how socially beneficial one thinks their subgroup is.

            My original response was to Kuznicki and ENB, and she closed out the article talking about how “libertarian libertines” are making the world a better place, which is exactly what I said above: silly self-congratulation.

        2. …smoking…drag out…


    3. “Who is arguing that disowning your son is a better cultural norm…”

      Since 40% of homeless adolescents report as being LGBT, it’s bound to be a lot of people.…..y-2012.pdf

      1. That is not responsive to my original comment, nor is it even evidence of a “social norm” towards disowning LGBT children.

        1. I think she’s simply pointing out that homeless LGBT teenagers may have opinions about the value of it being socially acceptable to abandon your LGBT children.

          1. Oh, well I’d probably agree with them. It’s shitty parenting, if nothing else. I just don’t see how employing the Bos of the world to go rhetorically bludgeon everyone into agreement with the One True Libertarian-Libertine Way is in any way related to our sense of agreement.

        2. I disagree. The numbers in the study argue that expelling an LGBT child from the home is still basically acceptable. Although, there is no mention of the consequences which may occur to the families that do this. But barring any information to the contrary I think it’s safe to at least assume that there’s little to no social stigma involved.

          1. They couldn’t possibly “argue” any such thing unless you have a reason to believe that this is the cause of that disparity or whether this supposed pro-gay homelessness social norm is a stated reason for such, as a social stigma would have to be to at least some level for it to in fact be a social norm.

          2. Do the numbers indicate how many are runaways? Because a runaway is a whole ‘nother thing than an abandoned child.

  13. ‘Libertine’ attitudes are not a problem when framed in the context of personal responsibility towards one’s actions. It only really spills over into ‘moral degeneracy’ when one is forcing others to cover the costs.

    1. That’s where the Libertarian part of Libertine comes into play to negate your concerns. Though, those forcing morality upon society incur staggering costs of their own through billion dollar prison schemes and trillion dollar wars just to name a couple.

      1. I wouldn’t call it a concern, more a reminder that the libertine attitudes that libertarians support are distinct from the more statist ‘libertine’ attitudes (i.e. a women’s reproductive freedom is only guaranteed through free birth control, subsidized abortions, etc.). And that the latter is likely far more popular than the former.

  14. I am not quite a “thin” classical liberal — there are certain cultural values which are profitable for encouraging the type of government I’d prefer — but there is great value in having libertarianism remain pluralistic in its approach to culture. First of all, having a clearly-defined vision of culture requires cultural enforcers — and if you don’t think libertarians are capable of being hectoring nannies and crybabies about culture, you haven’t read enough Bo comments. That’s something I’m not particularly interested in. Secondly, there is not clear consensus among humans on what makes for the good life, or even most of the starting premises of debate — your body-soul dualist is not going to agree with a physicalist on the essentials of humanity, for instance. Thirdly, the libertarian space is immense, even if it is “right libertarian” or “left libertarian” — allowing ample opportunities for dissident and just plain weird cultures. Put another way, if I did not find libertines allowed to live their lives in a right-libertarian country, or if I didn’t find traditionalists free to do the same in a left libertarian country, I would question the libertarian nature of the enterprise.

    1. If I were to suggest something, it would be that all cultures and groups considered libertarian-friendly should 1) have some regard for the individual as a foundational unit important unto him or herself, 2) be open as far as individuals leaving the group (entry can be more exclusive, I think), and 3) have some regard for members of the out-groups as human beings with rights that should be respected.

    2. …if you don’t think libertarians are capable of being hectoring nannies and crybabies about culture, you haven’t read enough Bo comments.

      Or ENB articles.

  15. Rachel Wu

    I think you mean Rachel Lu, but then again, they all look alike anyway

  16. Funny, I thought we were still putting people in jail for using the wrong kinds of intoxicants. It sure is nice we now just have to worry about social disapproval of libertinism. Oh wait.

    Frankly, those traditionalists who understand the state is the wrong tool to achieve their ends are miles ahead of the vast majority of the population. And I say that as someone who cares very little for their pet causes.

    The average Joe may disapprove of fewer parts of my lifestyle than [insert conservatarian of the day], but even one disapproved behaviour is enough for him to support throwing me in jail.

  17. I was raised to believe that the more open the mind the more easily garbage could rain into it and wreak havoc and decline. Then one day a long time ago I started exploring this so called ‘garbage’ and found some of it far more palatable than my youthful forced diet of fear, narrow-mindedness, and tradition.

    The Libertarian/Libertine-minded folk are anathema to those who deem adult behavior as deviant when it runs afoul of preconceived social constructs. This is where the law and order crowd within all social/political ilks can lay claim to their morality game and associated bell curve. Fabricating a ‘decline’ in morals allows for codification and violent resistance from the state upon that which is different or ‘deviant’.

    This rigidity and domination negatively impacts society even while the traditionalist and social pontificater stridently claims that tyrannical jurisprudence is necessary and useful.

    There is no question that society is improved when open-minded ‘transgressors’ peacefully travel their own pleasurable paths that deviate the norms because this approach is simply more about the ideal personal life and less about fucking around with others people’s lives with law and punishment just because they aren’t Libertarian Libertines.

    You are free to speak as many tongues as you wish, bro, and recycle as many plastic bags you want, sis. Just get your fucking laws out of my lifestyle.

    1. In the DC ‘burbs, the one unmovable taboo that remains is being something other than a good and obedient liberal Democrat.

      Evidently, I’m some kind of savage with my weird beliefs.

      1. The best kind of savage, bro.

    2. I was raised to believe that the more open the mind the more easily garbage could rain into it and wreak havoc and decline.

      “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”
      – G.K. Chesterton

      1. The GKC seems to forget that mouths have multiple uses.

    3. Does this mean I can have a cigarette in a bar now?

  18. In Charles Murrary’s latest book (can’t remember the name at the moment), the entire premise is basically that successful, happy people should “preach what they practice.” In other words, he thinks he’s identified several key things common to people who consider themselves happy. Those happy people should encourage others to do the things they did.

    Of course, different strokes for different folks, but in general, it’s a good idea. “Hey, you know what made me happy? Not banging that chick with the crazy eyes and the Alf tramp stamp and being sucked into paying child support, crippling my financial possibilities for the next 18 years.”

    You have every right to tell people how they should live their lives, but not with any kind of coercive threats behind it.

    1. Yes, this.

  19. “the bizarro cult of Stefan Molyneaux.”

    re: ^This,

    I have a request.

    (I’m almost tempted to start with, “As a libertarian…”, but since i generally make fun of that i suppose i shouldn’t)

    …if you’re going to note something not everyone is familiar with, and while doing so, Pass Judgement on that particular thing (e.g. its ‘bizarro cultishness’)… your link should BY NECESSITY provide an example as to why this is the accepted wisdom.

    If you don’t, you are an asshole.

    I don’t mean to be insulting, but its true. That’s “asshole behavior”.

    [*disclosure: I’ve listened to stefan a few times, and occasionally find stuff he says interesting. Other times I’ve noted he has a creepy tendency to tell other people what to do with their lives, and has a strange kind of absolutist moral calculus I’ve never completely understood. Or cared about that much. Regardless, if there’s something *Super Weird* about him that I’m unaware of, then enlighten me as to what that is, specifically.]

    I mention this partly because this sort of offhand-dismissal is precisely how Reason magazine has been often treated in the past by Our Betters in the media landscape. And still sometimes is.

    I think its unprofessional and juvenile. If you have a beef with something or someone, you’re obligated to say why rather than just have it accepted as though you’re the Cool Popular Kid talking about the Lame Unpopulars in junior high.


    1. You are one step ahead of me. I have no fucking clue who he is.

      1. I’ve seen the name someplace, but I can’t remember why it was significant.

        1. I thought it was a department store clothes brand. Had no idea this “Stefan Molyneaux” was an actual human.

      2. he has a podcast that is quasi-popular

        He did a few debates with ‘sam seder’ that were frequently referenced as “Liberal vs Libertarian”. In the Youtube world, he probably has more followers than anyone else who is vocally ‘libertarian’.

        I’m more of the view that he has some strict philosophical views that overlap with libertarianism, but also go off into some odd other places. I’m not even all that hip to it honestly.

        I think calling him a ‘bizarro cult’ is a little odd, because that is coincidentally the exact label that hyper-liberal Sam Seder types et al throw at him.

        While i am no fanboi of the guy, i think ENB should probably do better than parrot things that Blantan Screaming Leftards happen to say about the dude. (and would likely also say about, FWIW. See example)

        *I find it odd, even listening to these guys now, that they insist he’s like an “L Ron Hubbard” type, but they still seem to fall short of actual specific examples.

        Even if the guy *is* indeed pretty creepy at times (which i grant – partly why i’ve never gotten overly into his steez)… if you’re going to slander the guy, at least be specific.

        1. Stefan has a serial killer smile. That is all

          1. This is true.

        2. I didn’t think I could love you more, GILMORE, and then you used the term “steez.”

          1. You know how we do

        3. Also maybe “linkworthy”

          he was interviewed by Matt Welch a year ago for ReasonTV

          There was no mention of bizarrocultism at the time, FWIW

          1. although, speaking of “Cult Leaders“….

    2. +1. I have no idea who he is.

      1. He’s a recurring charachter on SNL Weekend Update. He reviews NY Clubs.

      2. Now I’m scrolling down the facebook page, and I’m not picking up anything particularly weird.

        1. The problem most people have with Molyneux is that he argues that you should distance yourself from loved ones and family members if they’re statists, hence the ‘cult indoctrination’ argument. He also seems to follow a kind of Lite Objectivism philosophy. More recently people have been complaining that despite being an anarchist he gets Youtube to take down counter arguments to his videos.

          1. Makes sense. Unfortunate.

    3. I’m not a fan of his, but I agree.

    4. The cult of personality around Molyneaux is bizarre enough in and of itself. At best, he’s an sometimes interesting heterodox Objectivist radio talk show host who has a hangup with the whole virgin/whore paradox.

      1. I watched that video.

        You could have maybe found a less-screechy ‘voice of reason’. she didn’t really seem to have any specific answers herself.

        Again, i think there needs to be more direct-evidence of his “off the reservation”-ness, rather than this endless second-hand stuff.

        *for the record, i’ve seen 2-3 examples of his own creepyness. Just not the ‘cultism’ as referenced.

        His show frequently features people who suffered from abuse, addiction, bad relationships, religious dropouts, etc.

        And he does his ‘intellectual deprogramming’ stuff. which, if you compared him to almost any Radio Pop-Psychologist? Is probably no different in its basic approach…

        …though yes, some of his “life advice” borders on the kooky. He has odd ideas that i’m not sure have anything to do with ‘libertarianism’ per se and instead are derived from his own philosophical extremism.

        Also, WTF: nobody pronounces the @!$)#$ guys name the same way twice.

    5. Point noted.

      Here’s a little bit more on him if anyone’s curious:…..n-molyneux

      I guess I’ve just been seeing a bunch of folks complain about him on Facebook recently, which skewed my perception of people knowing who he is.

      1. ” I’ve just been seeing a bunch of folks complain about him on Facebook recently”

        Like we needed another thing to add to “Signs of the Coming of the Anti-Christ”

        “…and Lo, The Book of Faces will speak as one in derision, and many links will be severed, and friends un-made”

  20. Libertarians and gentle fops, I bid you welcome to my website.

    1. Warty doesn’t do libertinism halfway.

  21. I can’t really add much to The Immaculate Trouser’s posts except to say these kinds of discussions always seem beside the point to me.

    What’s the point in caring about someone’s personal belief system or set of values? Libertarian political philosophy has room for bible-thumpers and Presbyterians, beer drinkers and Bud Lite drinkers, Priuses and F150s. The only thing that matters is not using force against your neighbor (NAP and all that).

    Much more than that and it starts to seem like a subjective pissing contest about “my personal way is better than your way na na na na!”. Who cares?

    1. Well, the folks called out in the post care. That’s the problem.

      1. Yeah, They seem to be saying that the socons didn’t get what they wanted politically but the actual outcomes are toward their liking.

        But that is argument against the use of force to achieve your ends and not that some other way of living (libertine!) is better.

      2. How many of those people are libertarians in any way, shape or form though?

        Every statist wants [statist flavor]-libertarian fusionism, by which they mean that the libertarians should vote for [statist flavor] candidate in exchange for that candidate using the word “freedom” at least once per speech.

        1. They’re not libertarians. But they’re trying to school us as if they have some secret knowledge that we don’t have, instead of realizing we just disagree.

      3. And it’s just as silly as when Kuznicki and the folks at Bleeding Hearts glory in the “triumph” of anti-smoking norms and such.

        Bottom line: no single group of humans holds a monopoly on truth, so why not diversify?

    2. See my post just below. Thats what I thought too, but apparently some around here have a problem with me not being libertine enough.

    3. I’m sure that Bud Lite violates the NAP somehow.

      1. Yeah, it sometimes takes a lot of effort to tolerate someone else’s terrible lifestyle choices.

  22. This seems to be an example of what happened to me the other day when I called payday loan operators “scum”.

    Apparently, thinking people can be scum for doing something that also should be legal is wrong to some of you.

    Well, fuck you.

    1. I have been reminded many times that I’m a highly opinionated person. Usually because someone was offended that I expressed that I disapproved of some behavior, not specific to an individual. There are a whole slew of actions or lifestyle choices I disapprove of, that would put me in the penalty box here. Despite my somewhat puritanical views, I absolutely support anyone’s right to disagree with me, and live how they want, so long as it isn’t interfering with my right to do the same.

      I see a definite under-current of libertarianism within current conservatism. Maybe I’m just a bit too optimistic, but I don’t think it’s just lip service. The issue is that small government intentions dissolve quickly in the acid filled trough that is DC.

    2. Apparently, thinking people can be scum for doing something that also should be legal is wrong to some of you.

      Well, fuck you.

      So nothing but straw men now rob? I think the majority argued that since you do not know a person’s personal situation you can’t know the benefit of a payday lender or a drug dealer and therefore a prick for assuming you could.

      It wasn’t that you were claiming it should be illegal and no one said that you didn’t have a right to your opinion. I was simply trying to change it.

      I will attempt to remember not to respond to you in any fashion except snark in the future, since your skin is apparently baby fucking thin.

    3. “To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

      – GK Chesterton (the real one, not our ‘Notorious GKC’)

  23. On a related note, on another site, I saw “truck chasers” refered to as “douchey” and an argument broke out.

    For those not aware, some people will follow beer trucks around from store to store when they are delivering rare beers. Especially those that stores often put limits on, like max 2 bottles. That way they can buy 2 bottles from a 1/2 dozen different stores.

    I agree that it is douchey behavior.

    1. it is douchey behavior.

      You are an expert.

  24. From the Kuznicki article:

    “No one, least of all us, wants to go back to a time in which the state savagely and arbitrarily repressed people whose morality was not up to snuff. If we’re being fair to them, not even most of the so-called social conservatives want that.”

    OK, so you brought up the subject because…?

    “We got exactly what we wanted on questions of vice, as much as anyone ever does in politics.”

    Really? You *wanted* cigarettes to be overtaxed, and cops to kill guys trying to evade the tax? You *wanted* bans on sodas, transfats, plastic bags, light bulbs. etc? Or perhaps you don’t include these as vices?

    “falling abortion rates”

    That links to a chart showing abortion rates rising in the 70s and starting to decline in the 80s, by 2005 being slightly above what it was in 1975. It’s almost as something happened in the 80s, like a prolife President, to change the situation. And it’s almost as if a prolife movement emerged to get restrictive laws passed against abortion, and to protest abortion facilities, all to the indignation of people complaining about “restricted access to abortion.” You can’t have it both ways – are these laws and activists restricting access to abortion, or did libertine policies reduce the abortion rate? And if libertine policies reduce the abortion rate, then I suppose the 70s were a conservative era, because the rate was rising then.

    1. “in 1957, 80 percent said that an unmarried woman had to be sick, neurotic or immoral”

      The other 20% were afraid the nuns would rap their knuckles if they said something like that.

  25. Has

    “Mind your Own Business”-libertarianism been replaced by

    an Affirmative Social Liberalism

    …which specifically attempts to denounce and excommunicate the more socially-conservative from their midst?

    I’m socially liberal. However, I also don’t really give a fuck about people who aren’t. I come from a more ‘mind your own business’-school where most of these issues aren’t up for public debate.

    To some people (see: Bo, et al), this lack of concern about, say, people using ‘godly language‘ in a school setting is tantamount to Endorsement of Theocracy.


  26. addendum to the above =

    the more-election-conscious* of the libertarian types tend to note that, in practical terms, that there are Far More Votes to be gotten by dragging SoCon voters to a Libertarian candidate than there are to be gained trying to convert Welfare-Statist Liberals to the idea of ‘individual liberty’.

    (*and it is noted, these are surprisingly few)

    Harsayani made this point here

    I noted this, and was accused by The Usual Suspect of being a ‘closet SoCon’ (again) for even thinking that there may be some truth to this.

    It raises the question – is there a goal for libertarians to make progress on specific policies/get people elected?

    Or is it to provide a warm-fuzzy place for Ideologically Pure but Electorally-Irrelevant people to congregate and complain?

    1. in practical terms, that there are Far More Votes to be gotten by dragging SoCon voters to a Libertarian candidate

      Believing it wouldn’t make you a SoCon, but it would make you wrong. Not that there’s a ton of votes on the other side either.

      You think there’s common ground because they’re nominally pro-economic freedom. Talk to them about free trade and you’ll see how hollow that commitment is.

      (Alternatively, talk to Liberals about children being taken from their families for the smallest reasons, and discover their concern for civil liberties evaporate when it’s FOR THE CHILDREN)

      Revealed preference: Ultimately people aren’t likely libertarians if they’re going to bat for some other position. Your best chance for recruitment is amongst people who have stopped actively supporting whatever original statist position they once held.

      The good news is that group is growing. The bad news is that only a fraction is remotely amenable to libertarianism.

      As to your more philosophical question, the only real objective of libertarians right now is going to be:

      #1 Try to limit the destruction of human liberty in the country (a bit by participation in politics, mostly by the construction of alternative institutions).
      #2 Education, so that #1 doesn’t die with the current generation.
      #3 Bide our time and be ready for when childhood mortality rates starts increasing (or whatever the catalyst for political collapse will be this time).

      1. #4 aim for 30% annual increase to output of orphan-slave diamond-mines

        i mean, come on. we gotta eat, right?

        1. That one’s easy, all you need is good recycling tech: Orphans are 18% carbon (by mass).

  27. We have added many new norms as well, and we are clearly better off for having them. Norms against drunk driving, smoking, racism, and sexism are stronger than ever, and those are certainly better than the norm that permits you to disown your son if you find him having gay sex.

    Wait so drunk driving and anti-smoking laws and attitudes are part of a libertine and tolerant society? Seems like “tolerant” people are just intolerant to different things than the Socons.

    1. yeah, i was going to ask about this “smoking” thing next.

      It seems to be that the people labeled “Social Liberals” have a fairly long list of things that they don’t mind demonizing, much less *banning*… in the name of our collective ‘welfare’

      I know smoking cigarettes are BAD. Thats almost exactly why i think they are something that makes for a real test case for the willingness of “social liberals” to really show their colors.

      as per my above note = i think in many ways the ‘mind your own business’ types are in fact far more actually ‘tolerant’ than the so-called Social Liberals.

  28. a strange strain of libertarianism he spies lately,

    You mean, he only just heard of deep libertarianism? Well, OK, but don’t act like its something brand new that was just trotted out.

  29. Divorce on the rise? Check…..ers-fault/

    Illegitimacy rates rising (yes, teen unmarried births dropping, women in early twenties significantly rising) which is bad for poverty and will increase calls for federal and state aid? Check.

    Anti-smoking laws? Check.

    General fertility rate at its all-time low, rendering social programs that people love unsustainable? Check.

    Due process for those accused on campus of sexual assault annihilated by the OCR and Title IX and now pretty losing in every court? Check.

    Restriction of speech on campus increasing? Check.

    Abortion rates falling? According to the Guttmacher institute, a pro-choice organization that doesn’t factor in parental notification laws and sonogram culture, as pointed out in this article. (Will not let me link to huge WaPo article)

    Exactly what is going on that’s so good here?

    1. Exactly what is going on that’s so good here?

      I’m going to go with unlimited immigration, ass sex, and pot.

  30. Unless you are making a crystal clear distinction between civil society and government, these discussions are always going to devolve into mush.

    Take “norms” against smoking, etc. To the extent these exist only in civil society, they are not offensive to libertarian philosophy (regardless of whether any given libertarian shares them). To speak of norms against smoking in the current US of A without acknowledging that these aren’t really part of civil society, but are instead embedded in laws, is deeply misleading and/or confusing.

    1. To clarify: the minute a “norm” becomes embedded in the law, it is no longer part of civil society, but is not part of the apparatus of state control, and needs to be evaluated on that basis.

      A bar where smoking isn’t allowed because the owner banned smoking voluntarily – sure, exercising his property rights and free association rights.

      A bar where smoking isn’t allowed because its illegal to smoke in a bar – state control is being exercised.

      To a libertarian, there is or should be a huge difference, even though in both cases we’re talking about a non-smoking bar.

      1. And the point of the SoCons that is so ridiculed is that these declining norms will eventually have effects and laws that fall under the aegis of state control, and they’re not entirely wrong about that point, nor should their points be dismissed, given a basic understanding of American History, post-Great Society.

        1. In a nutshell, that’s the case for deep libertarianism: if civil society doesn’t have some pretty widely observed and accepted norms, then the State will fill the vacuum.

    2. One more, then I’ll quit.

      Jason refers to “Norms against drunk driving, smoking, racism, and sexism”

      Sadly, none of those are civil society norms. They are all part of the apparatus of state control now.

      1. I was going to respond to all of this with Title IX, the EEOC, MADD’s lobbying, affirmative action, etc.

        The list could be endless.

      2. Sadly, none of those are civil society norms. They are all part of the apparatus of state control now.

        Instead of criminalizing things the socons hate we criminalize the things the progs hate which is completely different so tolerance and progress!

  31. but is now part of the apparatus of state control

    Stupid internet.

  32. Good to see Reason still tilting at that Paleolibertarian windmill a generation after it ceased being an issue. Show us on the doll where Lew Rockwell touched you…

    1. I wish there was a “like” button. Or, a “that’s fucking funny” button.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.