Leaving Libertarianism

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A series of suggestions for how to start undoing libertarian programming.

See also: Testimonials By Former Libertarians And Objectivists.

Many libertarians eventually start noticing that libertarianism is unsatisfying. They start recognizing that their arguments don't really work. They find they can't get health insurance or experience other personal failings of markets.

This is a very painful realization: the recognition that your world view is junk. No longer can you confidently argue based on years of self-indoctrination: that power has become hollow. In some ways it is like leaving the religion you grew up in, except it tends to happen much later in life when it is harder to learn alternatives. You start noticing your reflexive answers prevent you from actually thinking about things, and distrust your instinctive answers. You lose your community: you are expelled, shunned, ridiculed, reviled, treated the same way you treated "the enemy" in the past. You had not realized that you and your former friends had been trained to shut off infection by outside ideas like that.

The normal human reaction is grief. Whether you prefer "five stages of grief" or psychological resiliance ideas of grief, finding a new community is a good way to begin recovering. Start some new activities that are not political or religious, concealing your past ideology.

  • Any sort of social physical skill: exercise, dance, martial arts, cooking classes: begin or resume.
  • Do some charitable volunteer work, especially with people outside the middle and upper class bubble. Think about how you could make the biggest difference to other people.
  • Write about the conflicting ideas in your head. Even just listing them all helps stop the "thrashing": the endless cycling through the same ideas.
  • Read alternatives to your old ideas, and write down what you do and don't like about them and why. Some suggestions are:

What to avoid:

  • Avoid using Libertarian Propaganda Terms. Take a look at the list, and you will be startled to see how often they come up in your thinking.
  • I've met many Christians who when they left became Randians. Out of the frying pan into the fire. The truth is NOT out there. You are on the rebound: if you find a really attractive ideology, you are making a mistake.
  • Don't pick labels for yourself for a long time.
  • Don't be in a rush to decide what you think is right: accumulate several ideas and compare them.
  • Don't put yourself in situations where you want to respond with your old arguments.

Daily life does NOT depend on you having true beliefs about ideology, politics or economics. Take your time deciding about those. You got along fine for years without correct beliefs, and you can continue just fine while you are looking for better.

Good luck deprogramming yourself! If you have more suggestions for this page, let me know.

Links

Testimonials By Former Libertarians And Objectivists (10 links)
Let's see what we can learn from some of the many who have left libertarianism.
A few books to help you understand what is wrong with libertarianism. (11 links)
These books generally do not attack libertarianism directly, but as you read them, you will understand more about how libertarianism is basically propaganda in favor of the policies the .01% want and how libertarianism has basically no philosophical legs to stand on..
Alliance of the Libertarian Left [More...]
"The Alliance of the Libertarian Left is a multi-tendency coalition of mutualists, agorists, voluntaryists, geolibertarians, left-Rothbardians, green libertarians, dialectical anarchists, radical minarchists, and others on the libertarian left [...]" A large index of these anti-corporate-capitalist ideas.
Georgism (3 links)
Most libertarians are opposed to property taxes. The Georgists have an answer that libertarians are unable to rebut. Also known as Single Tax, Land Tax, etc. The idea is that a tax on land is the only legitimate tax because land is not man-made.
No One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual Choice (book) (1 link)
Tom Slee's easy to read game-theoretic description of how MarketThink, the dogma of individual choice, does not lead to optimal outcomes.
The Kind of Anarchism I Believe in, and What's Wrong with Libertarians [More...]
Noam Chomsky points out that anarchism means requiring justification for authority: not blind opposition to authority. He describes libertarianism as a preference for private, unaccountable authority. And he discusses our system of propaganda and control.
The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult [More...]
Murray Rothbard's scathing description of 1972 Objectivism as a cult. "Thus, power not liberty or reason, was the central thrust of the Randian movement." Excellent reporting.

Quotations

Well one of the main problems for students today -- a huge problem -- is sky-rocketing tuitions. Why do we have tuitions that are completely out-of-line with other countries, even with our own history? In the 1950s the United States was a much poorer country than it is today, and yet higher education was … pretty much free, or low fees or no fees for huge numbers of people. There hasn’t been an economic change that’s made it necessary, now, to have very high tuitions, far more than when we were a poor country. And to drive the point home even more clearly, if we look just across the borders, Mexico is a poor country yet has a good educational system with free tuition. There was an effort by the Mexican state to raise tuition, maybe some 15 years ago or so, and there was a national student strike which had a lot of popular support, and the government backed down. Now that’s just happened recently in Quebec, on our other border. Go across the ocean: Germany is a rich country. Free tuition. Finland has the highest-ranked education system in the world. Free … virtually free. So I don’t think you can give an argument that there are economic necessities behind the incredibly high increase in tuition. I think these are social and economic decisions made by the people who set policy. And [these hikes] are part of, in my view, part of a backlash that developed in the 1970s against the liberatory tendencies of the 1960s. Students became much freer, more open, they were pressing for opposition to the war, for civil rights, women’s rights … and the country just got too free. In fact, liberal intellectuals condemned this, called it a “crisis of democracy:” we’ve got to have more moderation of democracy. They called, literally, for more commitment to indoctrination of the young, their phrase … we have to make sure that the institutions responsible for the indoctrination of the young do their work, so we don’t have all this freedom and independence. And many developments took place after that. I don’t think we have enough direct documentation to prove causal relations, but you can see what happened. One of the things that happened was controlling students -- in fact, controlling students for the rest of their lives, by simply trapping them in debt. That’s a very effective technique of control and indoctrination.
Noam Chomsky, "The Kind of Anarchism I Believe in, and What's Wrong with Libertarians"
Well what’s called libertarian in the United States, which is a special U. S. phenomenon, it doesn’t really exist anywhere else -- a little bit in England -- permits a very high level of authority and domination but in the hands of private power: so private power should be unleashed to do whatever it likes. The assumption is that by some kind of magic, concentrated private power will lead to a more free and just society. [...] that kind of libertarianism, in my view, in the current world, is just a call for some of the worst kinds of tyranny, namely unaccountable private tyranny.
Noam Chomsky, "The Kind of Anarchism I Believe in, and What's Wrong with Libertarians"