Mr. Wizard Part 7: Versus Libertarians
When asked to explain my views in one word, I say that I am a libertarian. That’s what I told Mr. Wizard. And though it’s not precisely accurate, I couldn’t very well say I was a neo-reactionary-anarcho-traditionalist could I?
Hell, most people don’t even know what a libertarian is.
The basic idea – according to the founder of libertarianism Murray Rothbard – is that using force, or the threat of force, against other people is wrong. That except for self-defense, the use of force is a bad way to solve problems.
Most people agree with that idea. And so, in their everyday lives, most people are libertarians. You probably are too. You don’t push people out of the way at the supermarket. You don’t point a gun at people and demand they inject themselves. And you don’t threaten to lock people in cages for growing a plant.
You don’t DO that.
Congratulations! You’re a libertarian. Maybe.
But when it comes to politics, this simple principle often goes out the window. The temptation to ‘tell other people what to do,’ or ‘what to think,’ or ‘pay for things one likes’ is just too strong. Kind courteous people become tyrants and looters when in office, or even just checking boxes on a ballot.
For me that’s a problem.
But for Mr. Wizard, people like me are the problem, a problem he wanted to fix. So he started sending me personal messages, such as a video titled, “Why I am not a Libertarian.”
Along with it came his message: “Thought you might be interested in this. He makes some good points. And he ends with “my fellow apes”, which I think we all tend to forget.”
Umm, why would I be interested in the reasons Mr. Wizard, or the guy in the video, were not libertarians? I didn’t care. He can be whatever he wants to be for whatever reason he likes. It’s none of my business. And what the hell did “my fellow apes” have to do with anything?
But of course, this was just Mr. Wizard’s super clever way of trying to convince ME not to be a libertarian. Just the latest installment of Mr. Wizard’s supposedly ‘constructive criticism.’
I watched the video.
First point was that Ayn Rand was kind of creepy. Not a very convincing point, since Ayn Rand was an objectivist, not a libertarian, but whatever. It wasn’t my job to explain the difference to Mr. Wizard.
Second point was a rehash of John Rawls ‘original position.’ A fantasy in which you imagine you were conscious before you were born. And since you had no idea whether you would be born rich or poor, and your chances of being poor were higher, you ought to prefer a system better adapted to serving the poor. Socialism according to Rawls.
Mr. Wizard presumed that I had never heard Rawls argument before, which is a fair presumption, since most people haven’t. But he was wrong. Again. And I was also familiar with the counter-arguments.
For one, why restrict the choices of Rawls idea to the merely human? Let’s say we were destined to be born as a cockroach. Cockroaches are after all, more numerous than human beings, so shouldn’t we set up society for the benefit of the cockroaches?
I don’t know what that would be since I am limited to the experience of the real world and not privy to the wisdom hidden within Rawls fantasy. And since we are all here in the real world, perhaps some real world evidence of Rawls preferred solution might reasonably be asked for?
And perhaps more importantly, we might ask who is to decide? The people themselves, or John Rawls and Mr. Wizard? (or the cockroaches?)
I offer this here, not as a bulletproof refutation of Rawls, but as evidence that Mr. Wizard had not presented me with anything new, nor with anything particularly convincing or problematic. Though he may be convinced by it, that was not my problem.
My problem was that Mr. Wizard wouldn’t stop bothering me. If it were just one message okay. But it was multiple messages every day. Something had to change. So I made this proposal:
“Let’s get together and discuss it sometime…”
Face to face. Mano-a-mano. Bring it. Let’s get it on. But no. His response was this little beauty:
“I’m flying back home in March for 8 months. See you after that.”
I laughed. It was a bullshit answer.
March was six to ten weeks away depending on his departure date. It didn’t take that long to pack a couple bags, or clean a small apartment. And he wasn’t going to eat for the next six weeks? Give me a break. He just didn’t want to do it. And that’s fine. Probably a wise decision on his part.
But he didn’t have the guts to say so, or the sense to come up with a believable excuse. I was tempted to offer to help him pack, just to see what other silliness he would come up with. But his bluff had already been called, and I hoped that meant his endless stream of “constructive criticism’ would also cease.
But I was wrong. They kept coming.
Next day he sent me a video titled, “A CONSERVATIVE solution to global warming.” It was titled just like that, with CONSERVATIVE in all capital letters. Accompanying it was this message from Mr. Wizard:
“Interesting guy. I think he is libertarian. He has a bunch of incredibly informative videos backed up by lots of facts. Thought you would be interested that his solution is basically capitalism.”
What the hell Mr. Wizard? It said a “CONSERVATIVE” solution right in the fucking title in all fucking capital letters. The guy in the video was not a libertarian, nor were his solutions. You don’t know what the fuck you are talking about you fucking little fuck-wit. You can’t even read!
Well, that seemed a bit mean-spirited. So as usual, I didn’t reply at all. No doubt my silence reinforced Mr. Wizard’s assumption that I was unable to handle his supposedly constructive criticism. That he was winning. That he was wearing me down.
And he was wearing my patience very thin indeed. It seemed to me, that one way or another, we were headed towards a final showdown…