One Individual Defines an Entire Ideology?

Sunni's picture

Yesterday, while doing some browsing in between craft sessions with the snolfs, I encountered a statement by someone I had been thinking fairly well of (I say “fairly well” because his writings have, of late, been focused on a specific person ... you know the one ... running for Grand Poobah Over Us All). His statement floored me.

It’s here, but because it’s short and comments can easily be memory-holed, I’ll post it in its entirety:

Anyone who claims they are against Ron Paul and are also "libertarian" are not libertarians.

Now, I know it may seem odd, that a place where at least two contributors have expressed dismay over the word’s dilution over the past few years is now taking umbrage at a statement such as the above. However weak it may seem to purists, though, the term “libertarian” retains a nontrivial amount of relevance. And as I wrote in my piece linked above, I am not entirely ready to jettison the term: to the degree that “libertarian” means for genuine freedom, it applies to me. But that’s a very minor part of what has me riled about that statement.

No single person defines an entire ideology. No individual can, after it’s been shared with just one other person, much less spread around the world. Ayn Rand tried, and we all know how well that went, even while she was alive and trying to rein in those unruly splitters who dared to do what she exhorted—to apply one’s own ability to reason—to her ideology. It is even more absurd to advocate the foregoing litmus test for being libertarian, when the ideology pre-existed the person. (And I’m not going to get into the quagmire of Mr. Potential Grand Poobah’s positions on various issues, because in a genuinely free society—one that’s been freed of the structure of the USSA’s current ruling pestilent class—his positions would be no more or less important than any other individual’s who has consented to be part of the voluntary community.)

Let us not forget that Mr. Potential Grand Poobah isn’t even running for Head Pestilent under the libertarian banner this time.

I would like to think that the comment was written as many are: in the heat of the moment, when many don’t take care to think carefully about what he or she wants to communicate, much less take the time to choose the best words for conveying that idea. If so, I can overlook such a lapse—I’ve certainly lapsed and gaffed all over the ’net myself. But I don’t know how likely that is ... the fever pitch with which some approach their advocacy seems to leave little room for recognizing gross overstatement ... especially when it comes from themselves. Having one person—one human individual who has changed his mind and made mistakes, as each human does—asserted to be the sole measure of being for freedom is enormously repugnant to me.

[As a pre-emptive measure, in case some who read this want to try to persuade me of the error of my thinking, please read this first, then consider whether you want to invest some of your precious life to that task.]

I saw it

I saw that comment and was extremely disappointed that he wrote it. It makes me worried that the phenomenon of "he who shall not be named" has become more of a cult of personality than a genuine movement for increased freedom. As you said, no one person can or should define an ideology. I also believe that as soon as you put your freedom in anyone else's hands, you are one step from losing it entirely. You are responsible for making your own freedom.

Exploring the issue elsewhere

For those who are members at The Boondocks, he and I have had a few exchanges on a thread there. Not a lot of light shed on the statement yet, but not a lot of heat either, which is good.

How silly...

There is only one real definition of "libertarian" to my mind, and that is one who lives 100% by non-aggression. Sadly, that was never the real intent of the "Libertarian Party" - or of very many who call themselves libertarians.

They wish to "reduce" government, steal "less" and leave you to deal with your own life "as much as possible," or "within reason." But someone else will define "possible" or reasonable.

Somehow, those don't appear to be the same thing.

I admire much about Mr. Paul. I think he's probably a very good person. But do I want him to run my life? Not a chance. Not from the next room, next door, and most certainly not from Washington DC. Does he really want to run my life? I doubt it, but he demonstrates that he thinks some bunch of people (government) should and must do certain things that will affect my life, whether I agree or not. And that's too close for me.

The really amazing thing about this whole RP mania is the idea that a single person, without the support of congress or the vast bureaucracy and herds of politicians, could actually do anything at all to change this police state into a free country - or anything remotely like it, even if they allowed him to live past the election.

Just who elected all those creepy politicians and hired all those bureaucrats, police, or any of the other parasites? I don't see any mass uprising of people demanding that they all be fired and sent down the road - or hung for crimes against humanity.

The people of this country can't be forced to live free, any more than they can be forced to be happy or prosperous. Those things must spring from a core of personal responsibility, integrity and non-aggression - with their only government that of self control and voluntary association.

How many Americans are ready to live that way and give up the false security and stolen goods their chosen government gives them? I have not met too many...