Depressing Discoveries About My Libertarianism, Part 4

This is the final entry in a 4-part series. Previous entries are found here, here, and here.

I can make an argument that I’m a libertarian because I’m a Mormon. I can also make a separate argument that I’m a libertarian because of my background in economics. Lastly, I can make the argument that I am a libertarian because I believe that individual liberty is vital to economic and social prosperity. But none of these arguments feel very honest to me.

Total honesty, then?

Depressing Discovery #4 about my libertarianism is that my political “ideology” is little more than an oft-times juvenile hatred for authority. Like all petulant children, I think I really just hate being told what to do.

Comments

  1. Scott, you’d make a terrible cultist.

  2. Are you saying that “juvenile hatred” shouldn’t be taken into account when dealing with political issues?
    Often public hatred is a crucial part of politics.

  3. Juvenile hatred of authority telling you what to do is an essential characteristic of Americanism. Nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Well, now I’m disappointed.

  5. “I can make an argument that I’m a libertarian because I’m a Mormon.”

    But can you argue that you are Mormon (M) because you are libertarian (L)?

    P(M|L) = 1 / [1 + P(L|¬M) P(¬M) / P(L|M) P(M) ]

    My conservative estimate is that at most 2% of Americans are Mormon and at most 75% of American Mormons are libertarian (as are at least 15% of non-Mormons):

    P(M|L) >= 1 / [1 + (0.15) (0.98) / (0.75) (0.02) ] < 0.1

    So the probability of being a Mormon merely by dint of being libertarian is at most 10%. The other 90% is some other reason, perhaps the Holy Spirit at work? I dare you to put that into your next testimony at Church!

  6. madhousewife,
    I am sorry to disappoint you, but I am more surprised that you had your hopes up in the first place!

  7. Jacob M,
    I don’t disagree. I don’t think I am especially different from anyone else in this way.

  8. Dan Weston,
    Cite a Presbyterian during Fast & Testimony meeting? Surely you jest.

  9. Scott,

    Aren’t you up past your bedtime? Nothing good every happens after midnight. Make sure to wash your face and brush your teeth before you hit the hay. No reading, straight to sleep.

  10. Stan Beale says:

    Currently we hear the expression of “menu mormon” to describe members who choose whichever part of doctrine or standard beliefs to accept or reject, as if they were items on a menu. Quite often it is used as a perjoritive, a knock on anyone who has any problem of belief.

    I do not want to use it as a perjoritive, but as a more descriptive term for Church members who call themselves libertarian. Almost all Mormons I know who have labeled themselves as such could be more accurately described as menu libertarians. There are usually a fair number of libertarian positions they will not take: pro gay marriage, ending gambling laws, complete legaization of ponogrpahy, decriminalization of prostitution, abrogating laws on incest, abortion on demand, eliminate marriage and replace it with a contract, no provision for alimony to name just a few (Source: Platform of the California Libertarian Party).

    Would you consider yourself a (non perjoritive) “menu libertarian?”

  11. Why not cite a Presbyterian during Fast & Testimony meeting? Just yesterday my bishop was citing Hilary Clinton in that very meeting. The man behind me almost cheered.

  12. “menu libertarians” — but which Libertarian menu? George Phillies (a libertarian candidate for president)’s or someone else’s menu?

    Calling someone a menu libertarian sometimes is much like a Trotskiest calling a Marxist-Lenist a “menu communist” while the Stalinist and Maoist look on and laugh.

    Interesting point, though.

  13. I think you’re being too hard on yourself, Scott. Despite your self-depricating series, I think there is more logic and consistency to your libertarianism than you are admitting.

  14. When this series is done, I demand “impressing discoveries about my libertarianism” or some such.

  15. I liked this series. I also consider myself a libertarian, and some of these confessions have rung true for me. Others are a representation of you being too hard on yourself. It’s not clear to me that any other major political position would be more honest and have fewer problems from any advocate’s viewpoint. In other words, I don’t think most of us agree unilaterally with most ideals, and I think your main point in these confessions illustrate this.

    There are usually a fair number of libertarian positions they will not take: pro gay marriage, ending gambling laws, complete legaization of ponogrpahy, decriminalization of prostitution, abrogating laws on incest, abortion on demand, eliminate marriage and replace it with a contract, no provision for alimony to name just a few

    That’s weird. I agree with all those, and I’m pretty sure my Mormon friends who claim to be Libertarian would agree with all those too. Nevertheless, you’re right, I would not take the axioms and principles of libertarianism to their logical conclusion which would necessarily imply anarchism.

  16. Also, I agree with #14 and #15. I’m anxious to hear the defense of your view (especially since I imagine I will agree with them). Personally, I find libertarianism surprisingly logically consistent when compared with other political philosophies of the day.

  17. I think we all underestimate how much of our logic and reason in constructing our individual world-views (or even the collective world-views of ideological positions) are actually post-hoc rationalization.

    I’ve enjoyed these posts Scott. I hope everyone (regardless of their ideological preference) would do similar self-evaluation.

  18. I’d be curious to hear what you libertarian-leaning economists make of this: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/economics-has-met-the-enemy-and-it-is-economics/article2202027/

  19. I think we all underestimate how much of our logic and reason in constructing our individual world-views (or even the collective world-views of ideological positions) are actually post-hoc rationalization.

    Yep. My own world view isn’t much more than some gut feelings shot from the hip.

  20. I think you can tap into this to be a really good Mormon. Want to “stick it to the man”? Follow the counsel of your church leaders. Nothing flips the bird at the Mother of Harlots like helping the needy or paying tithing. Being righteous can feel good at a whole new level.

  21. Scott, I look at it this way: The Book of Mormon warns us about tyranny in government. Today, we see lots of very bad things happening all over the world because of evil or unwise politicians spending tons of dollars to get reelected. We also see that the things they promote tend to reduce freedom and increase dependency on the largesse (re: tyranny) of government. What may at one time seem like largesse eventually catches up to us, and we see the true tyranny and enslaving architecture behind it all.

    Your independent, teenager rebellion kicks in because you realize you do not need a nanny running your life. Nowhere does it state that the government must or should provide health care or a bunch of other things to anyone.

    Most parents, who bear you in innocence and protect you when you literally cannot do anything for yourself, guide their kids to someday be independent and off on their own. The federal government does not work that way. They do not take care of you only during times when you are incapable of doing it yourself, but also seek to do it always and forever. They set up programs that destroy independence. Providing welfare to unwed mothers, but only when a father is not in the home, encourages the destruction of the structures that allow us to be independent.

    If our parents refused to allow us to grow up and become independent, we would naturally rebel. Libertarians are Americans that want to be grown ups. They want government to provide basic protections they cannot do for themselves (defense from other nations and from criminals***). Then they want government to get the heck out of the way, and allow them to be the adults their parents trained them to become.

    ***Criminal activity can include your laundry list: pornography, prostitution, gambling, etc. Look up info on the sex slave trade in America and elsewhere. Look up the graft involved in the gambling environment, and you will see a major problem there, too.

  22. Question for the libertarians:
    In order to not have this devolve into a political shouting match, I’m going to seriously try to be fair in this comment; forgive me if I fail. Based on my reading of history from the 1870′s to the 1930′s (which can easily be flawed), the large increase in government was in large part an attempt to address the gross corporate tyranny that most Americans were suffering under. While unions went a long way a combating corporate tyranny, it was insufficient and eventually the consensus was that government needed to be large enough to deal with the large businesses. This was a feeling shared by both democrats and republicans (at the time there were many progressive republicans). While the term “big business” was used throughout this ~70 year period, it was only in the 1940 that GOP nominee Wendell Wilke used the phrase “big government.” I think Occupy Wall Street is evidence that no one likes it when big business and big government work together. The entire historic reason for “big government” was to be a check on “big business” and address the collateral damage of “big business.”

    If we propose to do away with “big government” what is the proposed solution to keep business in check? How do we insure that there is not abuse on people or the environment? Certainly improvements can and should be made in a wide array of government services, but I just don’t see most of the supposed problems from government as listed by many of my libertarian friends as being as calculated or as problematic as they make them out to be.

    That said, I have much more love for libertarians than I do for virtually all [others? I guess libertarians can be on the right and left] on the political right because they are at least logically consistent in their array of views. I don’t agree with many of them, but I appreciate the consistency.

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