“Of course you don’t care.”

I was thinking about all the people that hate libertarianism that I know.

Most people say that libertarians are the individualists, egoists, and “only care about themselves.”  

But wait a minute.  I would say that a large majority of libertarians are the people who are pretty well off — own/rent decent homes, work, live comfortably, in general.  But they still care about other people — such as those affected by the drug war, the poor trapped in the welfare state, innocents in other countries being hurt by war, etc.  

And then I look at the non-libertarians.  While we are alike in that we are both “comfortable,” but non-libertarians do not seem to find anything wrong with government inflicted damage to fellow human beings.  

It is interesting that we are “collectivists” in our sense of caring for fellow human beings, but not in the sense that we would join groups or tag along with government because it is the “easy way” out.  We don’t have to care, actually, it hurts to care, but we do anyway.  It is obvious why many choose not to care, they don’t have to in order to live comfortably.  That’s not to say that society’s problems won’t eventually catch up to them, which is why more and more people are becoming libertarian as the years go by.  We will see what the future will bring — I am hoping that “philosophical revolution” comes soon!

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5 thoughts on ““Of course you don’t care.”

  1. It’s also the notion that the “free(d) market” economy which a lot of libertarians want to establish would have a chance of creating a highly competitive *culture* where people would throw cooperation and mutual aid in the backseat if they felt it would prevent them from getting ahead. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes view the “competition vs. cooperation” as a false dichotomy, but it’s hard to deny that extremely competitive atmospheres have the ability to fuck up people’s ethics regardless as to what role the government plays. This is one of the reasons that I wish more libertarians (both “right” and “left”) would start looking at culture and realize that there’s so much overlap between it and political economy (for example, a lot of our culture is shaped by the economic system we live in, as the system has all sorts of external effects on us who participate in it and vice-versa). Society is way too complex for everything in it to be placed in a “the market vs. the state” view.

  2. excellent argument Julia. I’ll be posting an article about Bob Black tomorrow on S4SS, who is basically making your point too, I think. I too try to put anarchism in a cultural context, so I catch your drift there.

    • Xavier, I’m actually writing my senior thesis (or I will be going to very soon) on the way political economy (namely, the presence of money) shapes people’s values and culture (so yeah, as you’d figure I’m citing Marx and Simmel and anthropologists like Mauss, Zelizer, and Graeber for all the empirical stuff). It’s quite fascinating, but my point is that there’s tons of works which prove that these little itty bitty economic transactions can have a large effect on society as a whole.

      But in all reality, I don’t see why libertarianism is totally contradictory to caring. Mutualism, where free(d) markets are based on reciprocity and not profit, is a perfect example of this.

  3. Because caring opens ones self to be hurt in this world.

    It is very hard to see the benefits of caring and very easy to see and feel the negatives of doing so.

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