Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.
Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer
For the purpose of this article “groupthinkers” refers to people who want and even demand to be a part of authoritarian collectivist organizations with a monopoly on power, and they want that power to be mandatory for everyone. This almost always means imposing some form of government on an entire society.
Also for the purpose of this article “libertarians” refers to people who want and even demand to be a part of voluntary organizations with no power to force them to join, participate in, or prevent them from or punish them for leaving. This almost always means seeking some form of severely limited government, some form of voluntary “governance” such as post-statism or some form of complete laissez-faire free-market anarchism.
Book Break: Your Libertarian Opinionizer’s Pick
Conformity vs Self-Ownership
Libertarians are individuals. Because of that they can never totally surrender themselves to any form of permanent coercive control by others. Groupthinking collectivists give up their individualism to the extent that they enter into a group that demands their obedience to the group. By definition:
“In collectivism, it is some sort of group rather than an individual who is at the centre of all social, political, and economic concerns, and issues. Those who are proponents of this ideology say that the interests and claims of groups (it may even be a state) supersede those of individuals.” – differencebetween.com
Groupthink requires conformity and compliance; libertarianism requires individualism and self-ownership.
Because of these most deeply held philosophical, psychological, emotional and existential differences libertarians can rarely if ever become groupthinkers nor can groupthinkers become libertarians.
An example of the chasm between these ways of thinking can be clearly evident in a short article titled “Libertarianism’s Amorality” written by Mark Wilson in 2012 and posted on the QUANTUM MERUIT website.
Non-Aggression Isn’t a “Moral” Principle?
Note first that the only way libertarians can be called “amoral” (neither moral nor immoral) is to consciously ignore the libertarian non-aggression principle (NAP) against coercion, intimidation and fraud. Both the writers below do exactly that. But this NAP is the libertarian moral/ethical code. Apparently groupthinkers want a moral code that dictates to people what they must do, not what they mustn’t do.
Of course to libertarians that would be an immoral code. So maybe this was entirely too complicated for the author so he just split the difference and called libertarians “amoral.”
Wilson opens his article with a quote from another writer, Jeffrey Sachs, that becomes the premise for this entire “amorality” theory:
“By taking an extreme view — that liberty alone is to be defended among all of society’s values — libertarians reach extreme conclusions.”
(Forget for the moment that libertarians see living under a political power exercising monopoly rule over everyone’s lives as the real “extreme view.”)
To illustrate his point Sachs asks us to imagine a poor starving man living next door to a rich man and then scolds libertarians:
“The libertarian says that the government has no moral right or political claim to tax the rich person in order to save the poor person.”
Libertarians believe, Sachs then says correctly, that there is nothing that the government should do and then incorrectly claims that the moral value of saving the poor person’s life simply “does not register with libertarians.”
But apparently, none of this properly registers with Sachs. He’s the one who discovered the poor starving neighbor in the first place but as a true Groupthinker he believes that if government doesn’t save the hungry guy no one will save him.
But what about Sachs himself? Why can’t he feed the poor guy, or contact voluntary agencies to help the neighbor, or contact a neighborhood group to help him? And what also doesn’t register with him is that libertarians are people much like himself who will gladly voluntarily come to the aid of others when they’re in need.
Be Social, Not Socialist
The Groupthink Interpretation of Libertarianism
But incredibly the biggest thing that failed to register with Sachs is that the very thing that he denounces libertarians for—the “extreme view” of libertarians defending “liberty alone”—is itself the very thing that makes it possible for Sachs to help others, i.e., no one has the right to prevent him from helping others.
But that further highlights the true mark of the Groupthinker; the knee-jerk reaction that if government doesn’t solve every issue no issue will ever get solved.
From this narrowly myopic view the original author, Mark Wilson, jumps back into his own article with this astonishing conclusion:
“The Libertarian point of view reduces all people to numbers, and civilization to a spreadsheet.”
This is a perfect example of Groupthink as the basis for all bigotry, that every individual is identical to the group and every group is identical to the individual. Groupthink is where we get such odious stereotypes like racism, ethnicism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other mindless clichés: Black people love watermelon, women are ball-breakers, men are rapists, liberals are airheads, conservatives are authoritarians, and onward into endless rounds of political, social and cultural groupthinking.
So of course some libertarians reduce all people to numbers and civilization to a spreadsheet if they happen to be mathematicians, economists, actuaries, statisticians, accountants or pollsters, but this is hardly a definitional attribute of all libertarians or of any group of non-libertarians.
Rebranding the Randian Stand
From there Wilson inexplicitly detours into a muddled paragraph of Ayn Rand bashing with his own interpretation of The Fountainhead in which he describes Elsworth Toohey, the primary villain of the book, as “a comic villain a la James Bond who explicates his plans for reducing the world to a shambling mess of mediocrity.”
At this point Wilson interjects an online troll laugh of “Mwahahaha!” thereby obliterating whatever credibility he had hoped to claim for his article. Then he asserts that Rand’s message here is that “Taxes and regulations are put in place not to support those who do not prosper, or to ensure fair dealing, but out of explicit jealousy toward innovators and entrepreneurs. The rest of us are so upset that we can’t come up with good ideas that we use government to ensure that entrepreneurs can’t flaunt their abilities in our faces.”
(You were warned that his thinking here was muddled.)
But that’s not Rand’s message. The message is that manipulative Groupthinkers like Elsworth Toohey—Politicians, career bureaucrats, corporatists, banksters and other recipients of ruling class looting—put taxes and regulations in place because they only care about amassing as much power, wealth and ego gratification for themselves that they can get. It isn’t jealousy that drives them, it’s psychopathy.
Wilson also seems to have failed to note that in the book some of the “innovators and entrepreneurs” are themselves members of the looting ruling class.
But the truly odd thing about Wilson’s inexplicable detour into Rand World is that his original thesis is “libertarian amorality” while Rand and her Objectivist philosophy at best runs tangential to today’s libertarianism. While many libertarians do indeed accept Rand, she herself rejected libertarianism and many libertarians either reject Rand, have never read Rand, or have never even heard of Rand.
Members of today’s Modern American Libertarian Movement come from many different pathways and chances are that the most recent generations of libertarians have no clue about any Ayn Rand writings, and if Next Gens and Millennials were asked who Elsworth Toohey is the most common answer would be “Huh?”
Deeper Into the Groupthink Quicksand
Yet Wilson chugs on:
“Back in reality, rules are to be enforced even when the outcome of that enforcement defeats the purpose of having those rules in the first place.”
That too is a trademark of Groupthink: rules for the sake of rules, rules for the sake of good intentions rather than for good outcomes. So in the spirit of Mark Wilson’s “Mwahahaha!” troll laugh let’s look at just one rule that accomplishes Wilson’s purpose “back in reality.”
For half a century or so the War on Drugs has been putting thousands of people in cages for the possession of marijuana even though this has destroyed more young lives than the actual possession of marijuana ever could have, and in the process helped create the biggest prison population in the world. Thanks, Wilson. That’s what you Groupthinker’s love of government rules for the sake of rules gets us.
At this point our anti-libertarian Groupthink author seems to have run out of arguments after a mere 380 words, of which 117 were purloined from Jeffrey Sachs’ article to begin with, so he returns to helping the starving, or specifically the disadvantaged:
“Libertarianism also ignores behind-the-scenes forces that generate inequality. It’s easy to argue that the disadvantaged should not be afforded help when you are unaware of all the advantages you were afforded.”
Anyone catch yet another favorite feature of Groupthink? Concepts are not people, meaning in this case that the concept of “Libertarianism” can neither acknowledge nor ignore anything; only individual persons called “libertarians” can acknowledge or ignore things.
This isn’t just a semantic nit-pick. Groupthinkers constantly believe that their concepts are distinct “things.” It’s why they think that a “social contract” is an actual item rather than an idea, why they think “fairness” or “diversity” or “tolerance” are specifically identifiable entities rather than just general viewpoints that different people think differently about.
So, while the concept of “Libertarianism” neither acknowledges nor ignores anything virtually every individual libertarian acknowledges and fully understands that not everyone has the same advantages in life. That is precisely why libertarians hold to their Non-Aggression Principle, to help protect the disadvantaged from being taken advantage of by people who have no qualms against using coercion, intimidation or fraud against the disadvantaged, or anyone else.
The Unlibertarian Clarion of the Captive Crowd
What exactly is it that prevents Groupthinkers from comprehending that the greatest advantage-takers of all are the very psychopaths who gain control of the hierarchical power structures of governments and use their monopoly on force for their own personal advantage?
What exactly is it that prevents Groupthinkers—including Mark Wilson and Jeffrey Sachs and millions of people just like them—from comprehending that in a free voluntary libertarian society they—along with millions of others including libertarians—have every right and opportunity to form themselves into organizations and societies and associations and institutions for the explicit purpose of helping the very disadvantaged people that they so adamantly claim to care about?
What in the hell is wrong with groupthink people that they can’t possibly help others themselves without whining to the government ruling class to do everything they are perfectly capable of doing themselves if they would just freaking do it?
So now we too can return to the original premise of this article and retitle it “Groupthinker’s Amorality” and throw their own premise back in their faces with a hardy “Mwahahaha!”
“By taking an extreme view — that THE GROUP alone is to be defended among all of society’s values — GROUPTHINKERS reach extreme conclusions.”
What government Groupthinkers never seem to get is that championing liberty above all other values in society is precisely the very thing that makes all those other values in society possible!
References and Links
This is the source of the definition of collectivism used in this article.
Excellent Discussion of Collectivism vs Individualism
Know your friends and your enemies: There’s more to both of these concepts that most people really understand.
The Fountainhead’s Ellsworth Toohey
Much more than the simplistic character Wilson paints.
What is Post-Statism?
An introduction: “Post-statistm” and “consumer-controlled governance.”
Example of Data vs Dogma: Groupthink in Global Warming
© 2017 Garry Reed
Garry Reed (author) from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas on November 06, 2017:
Duane, I've come to realize that nearly everyone uses that response when they disagree with things they read that go against their own worldview. Me included. We tend not to separate opinions from facts so when we see opinions we don't like we call them fallacies and straw man arguments.
All of my articles begin with this subheading: "Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer" so that all readers know they're reading my opinions about issues, not factual reports or accounts.
So this has been argued by many people at many times and I haven't given it any deep thought but a quick look at google posts and articles seems to offer this response:
Opinions are subjective and therefore cannot be objectively wrong. People can be right or wrong about understanding objective facts and therefore base opinions on non-factual conclusions. A post at Auburn.edu begins this way:
"Matters of right and wrong can be known objectively--they are not matters of opinion. Though seizing or killing innocent people to terrorize governments into submission is objectively wrong, given the rights to life, liberty, and property, many people do not recognize that terrorism is wrong."
But if that's just an opinion about opinions then we're all lost.
Duane Townsend from Detroit on November 05, 2017:
There's a lot of false dilemma fallacy and strawman arguments in this Hub.
Garry Reed (author) from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas on October 27, 2017:
Thanks as always Mama Liberty!
Garry Reed (author) from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas on October 27, 2017:
Unfortunately I don't think there's very much balanced thinking left out there. I've tried a few articles recently discussing how both free market libertarians and voluntary socialists could possibly bridge the gap between the two ideologies for example only to catch hell from both sides. Few comments I get on my articles are from thoughtful people, but then that's what I get for posting on Facebook Groups. They're mostly people permanently locked into their belief systems based on table scraps they got from someone else. They think the scraps are an actual meal and never budge from there deeply embedded "facts."
For my current article, as you can see, I just went back to presenting my own beliefs and leaving it at that.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 27, 2017:
You've hit the nail on the head with a good article. It's food for thought, but I prefer more balanced thinking. I think that's part of our problem today, it's "all or nothing" regardless of whose side we're on. There was a time when Americans could compromise for the good of the country.
MamaLiberty on October 27, 2017:
Excellent analysis, Garry!