A Letter to Libertarians from a Former LibertarianSubmitted by No.7 on Thu, 08/08/2013 - 20:19
"The following was written by Megan Arnold, a student at George Mason University.
The pivotal moment for me was realizing that beliefs, ideas, and preferences don’t exist in a vacuum but are informed and created by the social, political, cultural, and material reality in which they develop. This doesn’t make our beliefs any less our own but rather individualizes them down to our particular perceptions of the world. It does not mean that we can’t find certain patterns of ideas and preferences that coincide (not coincidentally) with particular races and ethnicities, genders, income and class positions, etc. Too often libertarians’ hostility to framing things in terms of groups results in a failure to understand or even consider this point and its implications. In this case, “we’re all just individuals” is a cop out used to avoid confronting and interrogating why we think the things we think or why we like what we like. And that’s fine. Not everyone wants to go down that road or thinks it’s worthwhile and they probably have a lot less cognitive dissonance to deal with as a result. But those of you who are interested in social and political change should constantly be asking yourselves these questions because many of your interlocutors already are and are making judgments of you based on what you say or how you present yourself regardless of whether or not they scratch at any truth.
One way many libertarians reveal the context in which their ideas developed is by habitually siding with employers in discussions of employer-employee relations and especially with regard to discriminatory hiring and firing practices, which Ross Kenyon wrote about in his essay on class divisions within libertarianism. Other similar demonstrations can be found in the prioritization of reducing or eliminating corporate and estate taxes and an emphasis on eradicating or drastically reducing social welfare programs with hardly a peep about the far more nefarious corporate welfare, as well as the tolerance of racist, misogynistic, and anti-LGBTQ people both in the movement and outside of it. The tide is slowly turning against bigotry in most of its forms, but it saddens me that people who profess a love of liberty aren’t always ahead of the curve and still harbor and defend some of these elements in the name of individual liberty. To those outside of the libertarian movement and even some within it, these priorities indicate a desire to preserve and propagate the interests of wealthy, straight, white men. In other words, libertarians are seen as defenders of the status quo."