OK Fellow Libertarians, Is this true?

Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Elizabeth Conley, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member


    When I first read this article, about a month ago, I was intrigued. It could explain a thing or two. I waited for more information, but I never saw any follow up articles. Really, who care how Libertarians think? OK, a few people care, but usually only for the purposes of converting the Libertarians to Democrats or Republicans. There is minimal interest in extensive study of this question.
  2. (Libertarian, here...) I skim-read the article and I can see how this conclusion would come out in an online survey. But personally, I think it's a simplistic explanation. I value logic and rationality, and I never make decisions based solely on emotion, but I never ever disregard emotion. In a real-life situation (as opposed to some internet anecdote about who gets to go in the life boat and who drowns, or whatever), emotion does affect decisions, outcomes, and ultimately the way we structure our society. For good or ill, that's the nature of humanity, so I don't ever disregard emotion. (My husband, on the other hand, is a spreadsheet wizard anarcho-capitalist, and does do cold calculations to make most of his decisions. That's his occupation, and his personality better fits the profile in the article. But that doesn't mean he's always right! :D)

    Something left out of the article is people who operate primarily by intuition. My intuition is quite strong and it is definitely different from emotion (sometimes it is directly at odds with emotion). I've learned, over the years, how to effectively follow my intuition. It has literally saved my life on numerous occasions, and has also led me to many wonderful opportunities. This very much jives with libertarianism -- to succeed, I need to follow my intuition rather than the path prescribed to me by the government or any other institution. Sometimes I need to reject entirely the "correct" path and forge my own. For example, when I was having kids, after one visit to an OB, I very quickly decided to have a homebirth. I made the decision based on my intuitive attraction to my midwife. It was only after I made the firm decision to have a homebirth that I did all the research to back it up. Homebirth was very much the right decision for me, but if I had ignored my intuition and followed the accepted, institutionally-prescribed route of childbirth (which has its own set of statistics to back it up), I probably would have had my babies in the car (which would have sucked!), considering how fast my labors were.

    Because my intuition serves me so well, I maintain an ideological standpoint that allows as much freedom to make one's own choices based on whatever method works for each individual. That's why I'm a libertarian, not because cold calculations jive with me.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  3. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    It does describe my son:
    This trait has always been concerning to my son's boomer/genX parents. I thought he might be slightly along the autistic spectrum. It turns out he's just a natural-born libertarian.:D
  4. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    I hear you ladies.

    Personally, I rely on intuition as well, but I use my brain to keep myself safe emotionally and physically. Arguments that don't make sense don't effect my opinions or decisions, except of course where my personal intuition is concerned. I trust my intuition, because I don't think intuition is magic. I think "intuition" is simply a function of observations and thoughts the subconscious is engaged in. Since my intuition is almost always right, I figure it's logical to trust it.

    I think the accusation that Libertarians experience "less empathy and less disgust" is not entirely fair. You can't get me to empathize with someone who is throwing a tantrum in order to manipulate others, because if I let a these Thespians play me once then they'll continue to manipulate me for the duration of our relationship. (Anyone who got through high school without anti-depressants or crack knows that.) I do empathize with genuine emotions, whether I want to or not. Whatever people around me are feeling, I experience it almost as fully as they do. It's exhausting, and the reason I require so much time alone. People often wear me out. I don't permit revulsion to prevent me from changing adult diapers or making sausage, but my stomach does churn at least as much as those who claim "I just can't!"

    Most of the time when people say "I just can't!" they really mean "I won't, and I'm too cowardly to admit I'm making a choice." My inner demons would drive me mad if I engaged in that brand of self-deception.

    I majored in Mathematics, because I enjoyed reality, and the liberal arts classes I took consisted of memorizing and regurgitating the fantasies and wishful thinking of willfully ignorant polemicists. In mathematics classes I was either right or wrong, and it didn't matter how I got the right answer, although professors preferred to see my work. Math Professors didn't disagree about facts. If something was provably factual, it was correct. In liberal arts classes, correct was not so easy to pin down. In a liberal arts class it was necessary to figure out what the professor believed and make a convincing pretense of believing the same thing. This pretense had to be maintained even if I knew without a doubt that the professor believed things that I could easily disprove with concrete facts. If I wanted a decent grade, I had to be a good actor.

    While I enjoy acting very much, engaging in deception is an entirely different matter. It makes me feel very uneasy. When I'm pretending in order to make some professor happy, I feel a vague but persistent inner anxiety. I experience a feeling of wanting the pretense to be real, so I don't have to endure persistent self-contempt over my outward dishonesty. I also experience a feeling of mild disgust for the liberal arts professor, because I can't entirely respect someone who prefers to be deceived than to be challenged. It's a relief to get away from the liberal arts department and engage in a bit of honest discourse with self-respecting people who choose to interact reasonably and honestly. It was because of the emotional turmoil I experienced in Liberal Arts classes that I preferred Science and Mathematics. It wasn't lack of emotion, it was a way of protecting myself from the pain of unpleasant emotions.

    In short, the author of the study mistakenly interprets the unwillingness of Libertarians to be intellectually swayed through emotion by discounting the richness of their emotional lives. This is junk science.
  5. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Some of that rings true wrt hardcore libertarians. If you read Murray Rothbard, the founder of the libertarian movement, to go along with his excellent economic critiques, he has pretty extreme views, IMO, including questioning the need for any government, any police, etc, and is willing to accept practices in the name of complete freedom of action that many would find reprehensible. A brilliant guy, but he goes a bit too far. So that article rings true for me wrt Rothbard, and by extension, those who follow completely in his bent. Admitted, though I tend to be libertarian, I part company when it turns absolute.

    If you're interested, here's a site that has an exhaustive library of his writings.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  6. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    You've got a point there. Hardcore Libertarians may well be exactly as described. When someone is questioning the need for ANY government, I wonder if they're more Anarchist than Libertarian. I will definitely be following your link and having a look. Thank you
  7. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    good observations. Murray is not called an "anarco-capitalist" for nothing...
  8. I can get totally wrapped up in emotions. I've usually got a surplus of empathy and have to watch myself with it. Before I got married, I had a tendency to attract and truly enjoy really crazy and messed up people. But in another way, this is very libertarian -- I accept their rights to be who they are, and deal with their issues in their own ways, and I don't think it's the government's responsibility (except perhaps in dangerous cases), to fix them or tell them how to fix themselves.

    I also, actually, totally admire an anarcho-capitalist vision. I think it is a beautiful thing to work toward. I just think it takes parsing, careful, baby steps to get there, and we're so far off we won't see it my lifetime. In fact it's perhaps completely unattainable, but it's a valiant target to aim for.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  9. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    I feel similarly about "crazy, messed up people," except that I avoid 'em like the plague. I attract them, I empathize with them, but I won't have them around me. They are too disruptive to my life and make it hard for me to be productive and happy. Their head games make me cranky, and a few of them have even tried to create serious problems for me. (This last purely for the entertainment value, although they would never describe it that way. All they understand is that they're striving to get their needs met. How it effects others never crosses their minds.)

    They can be as nuts as they need to be; I support their legal right to be bonkers. On the other hand, I stand by my right to erect firm boundaries between their craziness and my life. They've got a right to their chaos, and I've got a right to my peace of mind.

Share This Page