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Why I fled Libertarianism — and became a Liberal

***Disclaimer - this isn't me but feel free to vote down. I found this in another forum

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The night before the 2008 Nevada Republican convention, the Ron Paul delegates all met at a Reno high school. Although I’d called myself a libertarian for almost my entire adult life, it was my first exposure to the wider movement.

And boy, was it a circus. Many members of the group were obsessed with the gold standard, the Kennedy assassination and the Fed. Although Libertarians believe government is incompetent, many of them subscribe to the most fringe conspiracy theories imaginable. Airplanes are poisoning America with chemicals (chemtrails) or the moon landings were faked. Nothing was too far out. A great many of them really think that 9-11 was an inside job. Even while basking in the electoral mainstream, the movement was overflowing with obvious hokum.

During the meeting, a Ron Paul staffer, a smart and charismatic young woman, gave a tip to the group for the upcoming convention.

“Dress normal,” she said. “Wear suits, and don’t bring signs or flags. Don’t talk about conspiracy theories. Just fit in.” Her advice was the kind you might hear given to an insane uncle at Thanksgiving.

Then next day, I ran into that same operative at the convention, and I complimented her because Ron Paul delegates were being accepted into the crowd. I added, “We‘re going to win this thing.”

“Bring in the clowns,” she said, and smiled before I lost her in the mass of people.

I will never forget that moment: Bring in the clowns. At the time, I considered myself a thoughtful person, yet I could hardly claim to be one if you judged me by the company I kept. The young lady knew something I had not yet learned: most of our supporters were totally ***** nuts.


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It's a well-written hit piece, nothing more.

Doubt very much if that guy ever believed in Liberty.

It's not true that he became a liberal. He became a socialist, that's in many ways the opposite.

Obedience to God is resistance to tyrants.

"he [never] became a liberal. He became a socialist" - YES!

Those rotten bolsheviki stole our word!

A great linguistic injustice...

WE (not they) are the true liberals in the original 19th century sense of the word, the sense in which Thomas Jefferson or Lord Acton or Grover Cleveland were liberals. There's a word for what these modern "liberals" are, a more accurate word, and that word is socialist! To call socialism liberalism (from 'libertas,' meaning freedom) is positively Orwellian

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

More information

The history of how the socialists stole the word "liberal," and many other far more important matters, are addressed in these extremely informative lectures "History: The Struggle For Liberty" by Ralph Raico of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Check it out.


P.S. FYI, the first lecture is on the bottom of the page, the last one on the top, if you want to listen to them in order (as you should).

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Faulty Premises and Ad Hominem attacks abound

"After leaving my small town upbringing, I learned that libertarians are made for lots of reasons, like reading the bad fiction of Ayn Rand or perhaps the passable writing of Robert Heinlein. In my experience, most seemed to be poor, white and undereducated. They were contortionists, justifying the excesses of the capitalist elite, despite being victims if libertarian politics succeed."

Wow, really? Mises, Rothbard, Woods, Rand, Paul, etc. poor and undereducated? And even if there does happen to be more white (whatever that means) libertarians than other races, that is a racist statement in and of itself and has no bearing on political or philosophical idealogy and is a classic collectivist tactic to divide and conquer and lump individuals into groups -- the very thing that libertarians can't stand.
Also, please define the capitalist elite? Wealth is not a zero sum gain. In a true free market where the NAP is observed
(i.e. no monopoly on force) and contracts are honored, anyone has a chance to excel and gain wealth and to use that wealth as they see fit, whether charitable or not.

If you think that selfishness and cruelty are fantastic personal traits, you might be a libertarian. In the movement no one will ever call you an asshole, but rather, say you believe in radical individualism.

First of all, anyone who says they do not do things for selfish reasons is lying -- and that includes being charitable. For many, charity makes you first of all, feel good yourSELF, and second of all, even though it is not mentioned, there is the expectation that the charity will come back YOUR way should you ever need it.
Secondly, Many Libertarians I know are very charitable, especially for those who are unable to provide for themselves or are deserving of it. The difference is they are NEVER charitable with OTHER PEOPLE's money. To a libertarian, the state is the cruel one that robs our money and property and then misappropriates in the guise of "Helping". There are no shortages of how the govt. hurts more than helps, most glaringly in it's democidal wars.

"Libertarians were (rightly) furious when our government bailed out the banks, but they fought hardest against help for ordinary Americans. They hated unemployment insurance and reduced school lunches. I used to say similar things, but in such a catastrophic recession isn’t the government supposed to help? Isn’t that the lesson of the Great Depression?"

How is it morally right to steal from one and give to another? How many theives would it take for the author to stop calling it theft and start calling it taxation? I bet you if taxes were optional he would pay little to none and the system would soon collapse. How many homeless or poor people has he personally helped? Red Cross and other charities do infinitely better than the govt. in helping people. Hurricane Katrina is a great example. There is clear evidence that the govt. caused the Great Depression -- that's what it does cause the problem and then pretend to fix it. Stop printing money, stop the monopoly of force that enables crony capitalism (NOT a true free market) and you should see an end to the great depressions and recessions.

"There are a lot of libertarians in the Tea Party, but there are also a lot of repugnant, religious nuts and intolerant racists. “Birthers” found a comfy home among 9-11 conspiracy people and other crackpots. After only a few months, I had absolutely no desire to ever be linked to this group of people."

I don't like to generalize, but my experience has shown me how collectivists by dividing people into groups tends to make them more racist and predjudiced than individualists or libertarians. I could just as easily call the author a part of the "Moochers" or "Statists" or "Looters" or "Environmentalist Whackos" but all that does is reduce your argument to ad hominem attacks and takes away any credibility. Collectivist tend to make emotional over rational empirical arguments nine times out of ten. "If it happened to you or your family wouldn't YOU want the government to help you?" Quite frankly, no.

"I began to think about real people, like my neighbors and people less lucky than me. Did I want those people to starve to death? I care about children, even poor ones.

So what are you personally doing about, Mr. Lyngar? Join or start a charity if you wish, but right do you have to impoverish other poeple in the name of your crusade? I have news for you to. Eventually, you will run out of other people's money. Why don't you address the root of the problem instead of trying to put a bandage on it. Tell the Fed to stop monopolizing money. Tell the govt. to stop stealing our wealth. Teach the non-agression people as far and wide as you can. Be the change that you want to see instead of forcing others by taxation. Stop looking for 1 size fits all solutions. Use education and persuasion rather than force.

I love the National Park system.

While I admire the sentiment and am a fan of natural conservation myself, again the free market can do a far more efficient job than the government, which has no incentive to, can. National parks are frequently overcrowded. from Mises.org:

"A common problem today in national parks is that they are becoming continually more crowded. Notice that this problem is not as extreme or as common wherever there are private property and markets. Usually, grocery stores open lanes when there are long lines. If it experiences high demand, it might open another location. The same happens with every good or service offered by competing entrepreneurs. It is very rare to find extremely inefficient businesses. They simply do not survive if customers do not care for the quality of service being offered there. Further, even if a business were to somehow remain inefficient (perhaps surviving by spending capital) compared to its competitors, there's no obligation to patronize them; one can simply refuse to participate. Not so with state-controlled parks where taxation is almost inevitable and avoidance is risky."

I would encourage the author to read the rest of the article to see why private ownership of parks would be superior to public ownership:

"Libertarianism is unnatural, and the size of the federal government is almost irrelevant. The real question is: what does society need and how do we pay for it?"

Actually we are all born free, but the state attempts to indoctrinate us from an early age that only govt. can solve society's problems. Respect for life, liberty and property (common law) and the NAP are really all that you need for a society to succeed and flourish, all of these other regulations and statutory laws instituted by the govt. are arbitrarily chosen and enforced and lead to far greater harm than good. Most individuals do not choose to fight or go to war. War (or democide) is a product of govts. It is also a myth that govt. is there to protect you. No one has a cop in their back pocket. Ask the people of Detroit how helpful the police are. No the natural state of humanity is freedom, not oppression. I agree with the author that the size of the govt. is irrelevant. When that size is zero, it's the best size. A small govt. will never stay small, and it's a fantasy to think that it will. It's also a fantasy to think that someone else will represent you accurately on any issue as special interests will 9 times out of 10 will have far more sway than your tiny little vote ever will.

What does society need? Why don't you let the free market decide. How do we pay for it? Let each individual voluntarily pay for it as he or she wishes to -- WITHOUT COERCION!

"Libertarians think they own the word “freedom,” but it’s a word that often obfuscates more than enlightens. If you believe the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free,” then libertarians live in a prison of their own ideology."

How does anyone own a word? But words DO have generally agreed upon meanings and collectivists tend to like to change their meanings (doublespeak) to suit their purpose. From Merriam-Webster:

1) the quality or state of being free: as
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence

Liberty is freedom personified. Libertarians seek to achieve maximum individual liberty, and understand that with that personal liberty comes personal responsibilty. Collectivists seek to restrict individual liberty in the name of the so called "Greater Good" which is ambiguous at best and can lead to Nazi style or chattel slavery at it's worst, even death for those who peacefully oppose the state and choose to be free on their own. Freedom is freedom and slavery is slavery. A libertarian (or better than that a Voluntaryist) is ok if you, Mr. Lyngar want to be a tax social slave to the state. But would you be willing to allow the libertarian to be truly free so long as he does not harm you? The usual answer is no, unfortunately. Please don't sick your one size fits all govt. on me. Let me be free.


Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

Pragmatics, there's no other argument necessary

Do you believe in the use of force on others to make them comply to what you wish them to do?

Yes or no?

If no, then your thoughts are libertarian. If no except in cases of states enforcing rules, then your thoughts are libertarian.

If yes, then you were never libertarian.
There's no other argument necessary for libertarian ideology.

This is what pragmatics does -

This is what pragmatic shift can do to any belief system. If you make those who use the language appear crazy or ignorant, you've silenced their argument among the majority. This tactic has been around for so long that today it has reached a frightening level of sophistication. Even an attempt at explaining it might make me seem unbalanced, but that is the beauty of this medium - it doesn't matter here.

Example: I was discussing the lunar landing with a co-worker a few years ago, casually chatting about - at a contained volume - the radiation levels of the Van Allen Belt. "Where was NASA," I asked him, "when the Fukushima plant was going critical? If they can get a man passed the Van Allen Belt, a nuclear melt-down should be a cake-walk for these guys." This isn't a conspiracy, mind you, this is scientific reasoning.

Yet, I suddenly stalled my co-worker from commenting on that question with my eyes. A pretty young woman who had just been hired was walking toward us. He turned to look and nodded at my request for silence, holding his comment until she had passed.

"Thanks," he said.

"I know it's an ugly question," I said.

"Yeah," he said with a laugh, "it really wouldn't help me to look like Dale Gribble."

For anyone who doesn't know, Dale Gribble is the crazy conspiracy nut from the animated television show King of the Hill. Where I was living at the time, this show was pretty popular. His allusion made immediate sense to me. This Dale Gribble is portrayed as lovable and clever, but he is also weak and not very masculine. He has only one child, the product of his wife's on-going affair with the more masculine John Redcorn.

Pragmatics . . . I'm not attempting to dish on King of the Hill here, but the sign this show impressed into society - which was likely unintentional - is that anyone who questions the logic behind the affirmations of standard pundits is incapable of physically satisfying a woman. It gets a laugh, but what does it do after-the-fact? No, I am not saying this show is somehow bad here or that anyone who watches it is an enemy of the truth. This show is not a conspiracy. This is just one very small example - anyone who has studied the development of the standard logic behind the Libertarian and Tea Party movements has seen this type of shift used in excess.

Ron Paul was interviewed by Larry King back in 2010 as part of a debate against Michael Moore on the topic of Socialism. Click here to view it on YouTube. This debate was centered around healthcare, and many of us here have already seen it. But just before the first break, after Dr. Paul asserts that he and Michael do agree on a certain stance regarding corporatism, Larry King says, "Well, maybe the difference is one of semantics." But at this stage in the development of the rhetoric of both parties, pragmatics is more like it. There is no real difference in the context here - both parties know what end they are attempting to bring about. They are the context themselves. Moore already knows that any socialist government will maintain corporate hierarchy and that capitalism and free-market are detriment to this system. Linking Dr. Paul's argument with the rabid near-sightedness of Moore would only damage the integrity of his stance. This type of "degradation-by-association" is what has ruined the Liberty movement at every turn and what keeps the truth from being heard at ever-increasing volumes.

Interesting comment, thanks

...and this bit made me laugh.

" anyone who questions the logic behind the affirmations of standard pundits is incapable of physically satisfying a woman"


"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

One of the stupidest articles in recent memory....

I love this part: “Bring in the clowns,” she said, and smiled before I lost her in the mass of people.

I will never forget that moment: Bring in the clowns. At the time, I considered myself a thoughtful person, yet I could hardly claim to be one if you judged me by the company I kept. The young lady knew something I had not yet learned: most of our supporters were totally ***** nuts.

So this guy an an epiphany that "most of our supporters were totally nuts" based on a comment by somebody he didn't even know. What a moron. Anybody who has been a part of this movement for more than 20 minutes realizes that there are more thoughtful, intelligent, coherent, and articulate people in this group than anywhere else you could name.

So he decides that because we're so totally nuts, he decides to be come a LIBERAL? Talk about nuts! How nutty are these people that they think total surveillance and a police state is the way to go? Or that the Federal government getting their fingers into every aspect of our lives is sane? THOSE are the nutty ones. The guy was so insecure and unsure of himself that he let an offhand comment by a complete stranger shame him into joining the "sane majority" even though they are the insane ones. Shame on that guy. He should reexamine his own motivations.

There are a lot of nuts but

There are a lot of nuts but you learn to deal with it. Second thought....there are a lot of nuts everywhere.

Sooo.... Cripto-liberal turns liberal

This is why liberals make my skin crawl.

Think they're morally superior, yet they have to use lies, shills and underhanded double dealings to get people to join them. Nothing more than a cult as far as I can tell.

I see no reason to believe...

...that this person was ever a libertarian.

He thinks libertarianism is defined by a lifestyle or by various conspiracy theories, making no mention of the philosophy itself (in either its economic or ethical aspect), except to attack the gold standard (!).

So, if he was never a libertarian, he never "fled." I've yet to meet a real libertarian, i.e. one who actually understands the philosophy, who abandoned it for another school of thought. Once you see the sun, you never go back to shadows on the cave wall.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

He burned trash in his

He burned trash in his backyard. If that doesn't make him a libertarian, I don't know what does. Burning trash is the litmus test.



"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

There's no Going Back from Libertarianism

Yes, there's no going back. Once you believe that groups of people forming a government don't have any rights that individuals don't have, you don't ever go back and say, "wait a minute, sometimes it's okay for government to murder people." I suppose you might, under torture, wish the government would murder the people who tortured you, but, then, it wouldn't be murder if they were using torture.

The Libertarian Party welcomes minorities of all kinds. We consider minorities of one to be our core constituency and of highest importance--minorities of one are who we defend. This includes conspiracy theorists, too, but if there ever was a political party who could not be judged by a single member, it's the LP. Someone could easily (and many have) abandon the LP, but you're absolutely correct that if they have discovered the truth of libertarianism, they don't ever give that up. This writer probably got confused between the Party and the philosophy, and never really understood either.

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

The author of this peice is immoral.

Liberals think they are morally superior because they feel compassion for other people. The reality is that they have personality disorders which involve lack of individual identity and boundaries; they don't know where they end and others begin, and the evidence is they are always putting their hands in my pockets to pay for their charity.

Is it really charity to force one man who produces wealth to give to another? Sounds more like theft and the destruction of the natural inclination of most people to be charitable.

The person who puts forth this advocacy of Liberalism, which is essentially a form of slavery, is a disturbed, delusional, ignorant low life, no doubt a failure in his own life, wanting to be taken care of by others. He has no understanding of libertarian concepts or the benefit that freedom bestows upon us, else he would not make such irrational statements or reach such a foolish conclusion.

"Bend over and grab your ankles" should be etched in stone at the entrance to every government building and every government office.

JustLiberty4US's picture

This "article" was published

This "article" was published at Salon in order to smear libertarianism.

As someone below mentioned, he's a liberal posing as a libertarian. It appears that maybe he wrote the essay in one of his creative writing courses.

It's a superficial essay using statist language.

We are taught that the political spectrum

is a straight line, with liberals on the far left, and the libertarians on the far right. This is not true. The line is actually in a circle that does not quite touch at the top. This self proclaimed libertarian on the right side of the circle gap looked over and saw liberals that he felt he shared alot in common with. This is because these groups are similar, (government staying out of their lives and bedrooms). However, they arrive at these conclusions for different reasons. The libertarians are for liberty and personal choices, while the libs believe in gay rights becasue their is no God to answer too. A person cannot jump from one group to the other, without going completely around the circle. This is why this individual was in the liberty movement to begin with. He did not move from libertarian to liberal, that is not even possible. He slowly went around the circle to the left. He himself admits that the government should help in a depression. That is simply ludricous, and this individual is totally lost. The goverment always causes the recessions/depressions by practicing fractional reserve banking with fiat money.

Horton heard a who?


I'm sorry to let you in on the big secret but you have always been a liberal and now you're also a troll.

Go fish in another lake. You're wasting our time.

It only takes one to KEEP AMERICANS FREE. Know your duties & rights as a juror. Stop the unconstitutional conviction of innocents in federal custody. The Fully Informed Jury CALL 1-800-TEL-JURY www.fija.org IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. It's that important.


I've heard craziness out of Repubs and Dems too. Mindless, stupid stuff, compared to Libertarians who at least are free of the matrix and Searching for Truth.

The person who wrote this and the Democratic Party deserve each other.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~J. Swift


Am I to assume that Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, et al are "normal" (by society's standards)?

I don't care what people think - I support(ed) Ron Paul because he stood (stands) for what is right. I can not control the behavior of anyone else nor do I care to belong to something because the participants are deemed more normal (when in reality they are status quo for fear of being labeled...no thanks).

No compromise on truth.

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
Ron Paul - The Revolution

Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

Michael Nystrom's picture

Note to Poster

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Thank you for your cooperation.

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.


I care about the hungry, homeless, and everyone less fortunate....However, i also care about the government getting powers that lead to increasing the amount of aforementioned poverty. At some point, government becomes a burden to society - i draw the line at state government. My state can give money to poor and do it in a way that is non-political, efficient, and honest - but when the federall government does it becomes political, corporatist, and generally corrupt....Therefore, i am libertarian on the issue - "let the states decide".

And if you think the Ron Paul crowds were compromised intellectually or mentally, just imagine how the same applies to liberal crowds....Actually, you dont have to imagine, just go to a union rally or Wal-mart and tell me if you feel comfortable with the level of ignorance or self-deception.


i think this is a liberal "posing" as a used-to-be-libertarian. A true libertarian believes what they do because they believe it helps the most amount of people. Free markets increase prosperity for people, decreases poverty, reduces wealth inequality, increases average per capita earnings etc etc. Freedom of choice allows people to live their lives as they see fit.

I get the draw to being a liberal...people want to help people...the problem is they don't understand that it is counter-intuitive. They don't understand that the bigger the government the ending result is more inequality, more poverty, less per-capita earnings etc.

I sympathize with liberals....but I view them somewhat like Rand Paul "Liberals have big hearts, but tiny brains."

Not that liberals are stupid....I just think they haven't sat down to really look at the historical evidence and statistics when it comes to what they preach.

Why I left the Republican and Democrat parties

Many Republicans don't, can't or won't read the Constitution.
Most Democrats can't do simple mathematics, such as 1 government program + 20,000 others = $17 trillion in debt.

Read "Evolutionary Surfer" by Tim Leary

Being a surfer and around the sport for 25+ years, I believe surfers may be predisposed to liberty/individualism because surfing really is not a team sport. It is a peaceful, artistic pursuit that is the opposite of warlike team sports. It is also interesting that the most successful and famous surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, was tweeting his support for Ron Paul during the election in 2012.

This comment in a Surfer Mag forum appears to me to be too slick to be real. First of all, the “writer” seems to be on the wrong site. It’s a long commute from the Nevada ranch to the surf in California or Oregon. But I digress… I’ve read a lot of these forums and the level of intellectual political discourse rarely gets beyond 2 or 3 sentence soundbites from either side of the left/right paradigm. That’s not to say all surfers are stupid, just that I’ve never seen an attempted (and, in my opinion, failed) point by point refutation of any political ideology such as the one noted here. Call me crazy, (this writer surely would) but I suspect that the authoritarian political opinion shapers active in comment threads are trying to dissuade so-called “liberals” in the surfing community from considering supporting Ron Paul or libertarianism/individualism.


"The real question is: what does society need and how do we pay for it?"

Nuff said!

Libertarians range from liberal to conservative

That's why I like the party. You get a little bit of everyone's views and not just one staunch stand saying you have to be this way and stand for this way of doing things.

I lean a little more on the liberal side, until it comes to wasting money. Then I lean pretty conservative.

One thing that distinguishes libertarians

is that they tend not to think they are, or should be, whatever label they happen to be associated with at the time.

Until they find libertarianism they may switch back and forth between parties trying to find the fit with their growing understanding of morality, economics, and principles.

If Christians they tend to be thoughtful, not dogmatic Christians. They may switch affiliation to find the best fit with their growing understanding of morality, economics, and principles.

A person who will speak against the group, even one they associate with, on principle is one likely to become a libertarian. If the group is in error, the truly most caring and loyal thing to do is try to correct the error. But if it cannot be corrected, the principled thing is to cease the association.

But too many people think that their 'team' is them, and they are their 'team', they think the perceived successes of their team somehow accrues to them and they must defend the mischief of their team else somehow the resultant opprobrium applies to them as well.

I think this is why they socialize the cost of professional sports, and subsidize it with tax money so much. It trains people to think this way. Well think is not right, it trains them to feel this way, no thinking is involved.

We are training the humanity out of people.

Without the ability to make moral judgement on the merits humans are indeed just hairless apes.

If you can't reason with someone because they feel they are on another 'team' and will always oppose you, at an emotional and sub-rational level what are you faced with ultimately, but a feral animal?

Terms can be so incredibly misleading

Liberal means the opposite of it's original usage. Conservatives champion a cause that was lost long ago and that they are willing to use radical means of restoring. Libertarian means being cruel and believing in every conspiracy theory that comes along? That' news to me.

It is good that the writer does not call himself a Libertarian any longer, because he never really was one. By using that label, like Maher on tv, he just confuses people further.

The writer cried when Obama was elected? Obama doesn't have a libertarian bone in his body. The writer deserves the label "liberal" because nothing else could possibly apply.

Quite a painful read.

The forum there doesn't seem very friendly to Ron Paul at all.

I believe in the freedom to be what we choose to be.