It is still Holy Week. And while I have busied myself with trifles (see previous post), I have also been doing the work of the church. So this posting will be short too. I have a song to practice for worship tonight…
In polite company I often times call myself a libertarian. (In impolite company I call myself an anarchist, which is closer to the truth.) But I feel compelled to explain exactly what I mean by this.
The libertarianism I largely espouse is prophetic. It is not law. I believe that involuntary collectivism and communalism is humanity’s inescapable lot. There is much voluntary cooperation between human beings, but there is much that is not. But that said, those who believe in the moral legitimacy of some kind of collective or communal aspirations for human beings often ignore that collectivism and communalism often times demand the unwilling sacrifice of some human beings — their time, their talent, their wealth, their lives. Those who believe in a common good often ignore the very real fact that “common good” they seek is usually seen by an individual or a tiny handful of individuals and it is imposed — with a combination of consent, assent, indifference and begrudging acceptance in the face of raw power — on the community. Most days, I doubt there is even such a thing as the “common good” at all. Just the self-interest of those individuals who have or aspire to power over others.
In fact, all that is left, then, is raw power — the power to coerce, to compel, to control what Gramsci (and, I believe, the Frankfurt School) saw as the language of discourse, so that people have little intellectual choice but to assent or agree to the exercise of power.
And power will ALWAYS — I cannot emphasize this enough — ALWAYS be used on those least able to resist it. Believe in “justice” all you wish, but in the end, the power you use creates and sustains marginalization, impoverishment, and suffering. Any power that can corral the wealthy can annihilate the poor. Any power which can elevate the marginalized can also further push them into the margins. Guess which is easier? Even well-used power will do these things eventually.
I believe libertarianism is, or can be, a prophetic critique. Individual human beings matter. No one should be sacrificed against their will for the alleged wellbeing of all. No order is so important, necessary or righteous that some individuals within that order can be thrown away because their lives are less valuable or are viewed as a threat to the community or collective. And yet, that is what all collectivism and communalism does. It throws human beings away. Regularly. And calls it righteous.
In the end, I believe it is important for those who have been marginalized, abused, and excluded from whatever involuntary community they find themselves in, from political and social power, to have safe places to flee to. Where they can build some kind of community with others like them. This is why I like big cities. And why I’m not keen on civil rights movements. I do not understand — why would anyone demand to part of a community or a society that has clearly rejected them?
That makes absolutely no sense to me.