Humility and the Unfortunate Rise of the Anarcho-Hipster

I think there are two types of people involved in passionate movements, more or less.  There are people who are more concerned with being absolutely “right” in their ideological purity, and there are people who are more concerned with effectual change.  Both types of people have some sort of concern for the other thing, but the notation of priority is key here.  You see, holding ideological purity as one’s highest priority gets you a lot of things.  It makes you feel right.  It can make you feel downright indignant, and it can also make you feel smug.

I am often reminded of a time when I was younger and less mature and felt satisfaction in getting a rise out of people. As I matured, I realized that I was more interested in actual communication and friendship with people, a sort of togetherness based on mutual understanding, and more importantly I became more concerned with effectiveness, as opposed to shock value. Many anarchists still act like punk-ass school kids eager to catch a glimpse of an open mouth and widening eyes at the sound of their voice. No one cares if you hate the state or aggression if you act like an asshole.

Of course, none of this would be an issue if for not for this one fact:  In order to have a voluntary society, you must garner the support and goodwill from the people around you.   Extend this to a national level and this explains pretty well why I support Ron Paul in what he is doing.

Ron Paul acts as the proverbial slow boiling water in that old adage about the frog in the pot.  If you consider that state supporters and authority endorsers are the frog, throwing them in a boiling pot of water, akin to let’s say, shouting at them about how they are horrible people for supporting government roads, is only going to serve to alienate them.

I truly believe that most people do not have malicious intent.  In my many discussions with people who think things like public schools, social programs and even the wars overseas are a good idea, their basis for these beliefs more commonly can be attributed to lack of education in these areas, concern for others, and more importantly, fear.

Consider for a moment:  Did you always have the same philosophical beliefs as you have now?  The answer is almost certainly a resounding “no”.

We’re all human, and that’s the point. Like it or not, we need others to survive. We can’t live completely isolated. And so therefore, we need to grow as a movement, which can only be done through compassion, empathy and education.

Liberty is not some obscure indie band to use to make yourself feel cooler and above it all.

Because you'll never be as cool as this guy.

The way I see it, we have two choices: Focus on the positives and what we all, as humans can agree on and reach out to others with understanding and love, or sit smugly upon the gilded saddle of our high horses spouting indignantly about the evil ways of citizens who don’t agree with you.  You may be technically right in the latter choice, but being “right” won’t make you free.


23 Responses to Humility and the Unfortunate Rise of the Anarcho-Hipster

  1. Irony: Your post about tolerance is filled with condescension and name-calling directed at those with whom you disagree. I’d recommend recognizing that those at whom your post is directed probably have good reasons for feeling the way they do, even if you disagree with them. It’s at least as much credit as you give to the people that are actually advocating hurting other people.

    Instead of writing a diatribe to convince the TINY amount people that simply choose not to vote or participate, why not write one for the millions that support Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and all the others rather than trying to convince those that reject the entire system? At least they already accept the framework within which you choose to exert your political efforts.

    • Hi Daniel,

      I don’t think the article is targeted at all anarchists who choose not to participate in the political process. Rather, I think it is meant for people who are smug and self-righteous about it. I know, respect, and love some anarchists who are morally opposed to supporting Ron Paul. These aren’t the same people who brag about how morally superior they are because they don’t vote.

    • Daniel,

      I’m not sure sure she disagrees with the ideology of those she is criticizing. Rather she is criticizing their uncharitable treatment of non-anarchists which generates and lot of heat but almost no light in the minds of those they disagree with.

      • I read it as not just criticizing non-anarchists. (actually I would say you CAN criticize non anarchists to the extent that they are working against liberty) but as criticizing those that say “supporting ron paul” and “anarchy” are defitionally incompatible.

        Mostly theyre new kids to the movement trying to create as much distance with a past that theyre embarassed of.

        Reminds me of those atheists with a hardon for Christianity. Mostly theyre former Christians just bitter that they were duped for all those years and trying to prove.

        Fags, the whole lot of them.

    • What I find interesting is that you are simultaneously advocating liberty and personal responsibility, then attack a “group” that you’ve decided exists. If what you’re really advocating is not being an asshole, wouldn’t be more constructive to maintain some level of intellectual integrity and condemn the individual actions? As is, your “argument” seems to simply be some strange straw man/ad hominem with foggy intentions.

      • People like I’ve described definitely exist. I could have easily specified actions of specific people, but I preferred to keep it from being personal, which would be inevitable if I addressed it individually. None of it is ad hominem (as per its definition) and it’s definitely not straw man because I’m not accusing any one person of this. I’m describing general behavior I’ve observed.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly.

    I went on a pseudo-rant a while back on some anarcho-4chan-esque facebook group I frequent (aka “the trollboard”) about how a lot of people are what i called “libertarian hipster fucks”. (I like your “anarcho-hipster” phrase better, but I think my “aspergo-capitalist” covers the same group of people).

    Basically, as anarchists, none of us “support the state”… we all got this far already. But for some reason (perhaps insecutiry) some people have to always interject thsi belief even when it’s only tangentally related tot he topic of conversation.

    E.G.: Whenever Ron Paul comes up in any discussion among anarchists, the topic of conversation clearly is not: “is the establishment of the presidency anti liberty” (obviously it is), but rather along the lines of: “being that we have a state no matter how wrong it is, do freedom-loving people have any preferences or opinions on what happens within this (admittedly immoral) state”.

    And, without fail, someone always chimes in with “I dont support the state” or “I dont support ron paul”.

    Ok. Great. How is that relevant to the discussion?

    I don’t think this is specific to anarchists at all. Just in any subset of people, you have some that always want to add in non-sequiters to get approving pats on the back from others or something.

    Whenever I hear these libertarian-hipsters, I’m always reminded of that scene in Pulp Fiction when Samuel L. jackson’s character mentions that some lady was in a t.v. pilot, and John Travolta’s character says “I don’t watch t.v.” in that same smug, off topic, insecure way. (Youtube the scene before they go into the apartment to get the breifcase back from the young kids)

  3. Normal libertarian: “Wow, dude, someone just punched you in the face. Do you want me to drive you to the hospital, or try to run after the guy?”

    Libertarian-Hipster: “That guy had no right to punch me in the face!”

    Normal Anarchist: “Yea. Cool. Got it. He didn’t have a right. but he still did it. So, uh, do you think it would be better if i ran after him? Or maybe drive you to the hospital?”

    Libertarian Hipster: “Dude, he was totally wrong. I didn’t agress against him…”

    Normal Libertarian: “Shoot me please”

  4. The divide is between those who believe the only acceptable reality worth pursuing is a completely stateless society, and those who,while always pursuing it, recognize that full realization of their ideal is probably not gonna happen in their lifetime. In other words, we all pick our spots. I think while there are significant philosophical problems for anarchists to support Ron Paul (thereby lending legitimacy to the ideas of government and democracy), there is a place for them, if they want it.

  5. This reminds me a lot of Harry Browne’s New Years Resolutions; a quick read, I try to keep it in mind more often and find that it helps me have be a better debater.

  6. Did you always have the same philosophical beliefs as you have now? The answer is almost certainly a resounding “no”.

    while this is most certainly true — for me as I assume as it was with you it was the message not the messenger that mattered — look I am no fan of skinny jeans a bad attitude and Weezer’s glasses but if that hoity-toity hipster hates the state and knows his stuff — in my eyes he is an asset rather than the liability you imply.

    not everybody is as cuddly to the “mainstream” as Bob Murphy — Rothbard was not and neither is Block or Hoppe — heck I don’t even think Ron Paul is — the message rather than the messenger ultimately is what matters and each above individual contributes uniquely in his own way — extend this.


    • Elliott,
      I never stated that someone of that nature would be a liability. I am only trying to point out that being absolutely out of touch with the general populace, and even worse, splitting hairs with those that do agree with you by acting like it is some severe betrayal of Voluntaryism that they choose to vote, is silly and won’t garner more support for your cause. However, I’d argue that Rothbard was quite humble and attractive to many. Hoppe, maybe not, but Block isn’t so prickly either in my opinion. As far as being “right”. Simply “being” right, will not make you free. You have to have the agreement of others around you to not do things like lock you up or hurt you because you are acting free. So, we don’t agree on that.

  7. Sometimes, I wonder if too many of us libertarian/ron paul folks live in this computer generated fantasy world. Online, we are philosophical kings and queens, amassing throngs of Facebook Supporters and spitting words of eloquent wisdom via Twitter. But in the real world, we are either too meek to share the “gospel of liberty” OR so pissed off that all we do is yell at those that disagree with us.
    As a blogger, it is tempting to think that I can be effective by reposting links, youtube vids, etc.
    I realize that being human, talking to people, and listening to their concerns is a far greater way to campaign for Ron Paul rather than becoming Conan the Anarcho Capitalist Keyboard Warrior.

  8. I like what LibertyVini had to say. Most of the time, anarchists and libertarians wax overly esoteric, certainly more than the “average voter” is going to listen to in my opinion. A couple of simple baby steps are better than attempting “full realization of their ideal,” which is likely NOT going to happen in their lifetime. When KJ made the remark about Harry Browne, I remembered what glues things together for me. Back 30 years ago when I read “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World,” I bought into what Harry had to say, but something nagged at me. A friend and I were talking about him one night and Jay pointed out that the philosophy is very self-serving. I try, since, to separate completely self-serving from what may actually effect change in society at the same time that it serves my freedom.

    But, then, I am not an anarchist. I am a libertarian Constitutionalist, if you try to classify me. And, there are many things I take a totally different view on than you would think.

  9. A lemma to the above, regarding: “We’re all human, and that’s the point. Like it or not, we need others to survive. We can’t live completely isolated. And so therefore, we need to grow as a movement, which can only be done through compassion, empathy and education.”

    Society is necessary if we care about those who cannot make it on their own. I do care about those people because of my Christianity. In fact, my Bible tells me “real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” For me, this makes me a liberal libertarian, as impossible as that sounds (not that I would characterize myself as liberal at all). And, it supports compassion, empathy and education to the hilt.

  10. “for anarchists to support Ron Paul (thereby lending legitimacy to the ideas of government and democracy), ”

    Dumb this down for me.

    E.G: If I pay Starbucks $2.50 for a cup of coffee, all I am saying is that, at that point in time, I valued the cup of coffee more than the $2.50. It doesn’t imply that I agree with everything about the company regarding eminent domain, possible favorable laws, or bailouts and subsidies they may have recieved. All it is saying is that at that moment in time I choose the possession of a cup of coffee over possession of the $2.50 I had.

    So it seeems that it should be similar regarding politics. Howewver, “supporting Ron paul” (somehow leaving undefined what “supporting” actually entails) apparently is more than just the decision that Ron Paul is preferable to the other choices. Somehow this action implies a “support for the system”, “consent to have a presient in the first place”, “consent to be taxed”, etc??

    I can see how one can say that “supporting Ron Paul” is a less than optimal use of time. To which I would point out that not everything I do at all times of all days is what most efficiently “spreads anarchy”. Some people like to watch a movie once in a while as their consumption good. Why can’t others choose holding a RP sign?

    I can also see how “supporting Ron Paul” can possibly lead to a false sense of security or a false belief that one is doing more than they actually are. However I would respoond that provided one isn’t a modal Ron Paul fanboi with the belief that “if Ron Paul is elected all our problemz are solved!!!!!!!1″, and provided one keeps in perspective that RP is a gateway drug to liberty and ONLY a gateway drug to liberty, then this mitigates this false sens of security. (e.g.; if one drinks an unsweeetrened iced tea it CAN be dangerous if one falsly believes that this now allows him to order an extra serving of french fries. However if one is aware of the exact extent of the benefit of the tea versus cola, and doesnt use it as an excuse to overcompensate elsewhere, then it still DOES have a net positive impact)

    What I can’t see is how “supporting Ron Paul”, with the two caveats I listed above, necessarily “lends legitimacy to the ideas of government and democracy”. Please elaborate.

  11. However, I’d argue that Rothbard was quite humble and attractive to many. Hoppe, maybe not, but Block isn’t so prickly either in my opinion.

    Rothbard attractive to many yes “force and money are impotent against ideas”– humble no — I think David and Milton Friedman, Nathaniel Branden, Keynes (hero or villain), Fisher and many many more may disagree.

    as for Block you may not find him prickly and I believe you — that being said I don’t think his quest to reclaim the N word is a tactic of which I would think you approve — correct me if I’m wrong.

    As for this “You have to have the agreement of others around you to not do things like lock you up or hurt you because you are acting free.

    yes you do — but that agreement must be rooted in a evolved understanding of the issues at play — by the majority of man or else that agreement will crumble when faced with adversity.

    • And my point in all of this is that understanding won’t occur if fierce animosity and antagonism is what people experience when they encounter those in favor of liberty.

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  13. Putting politics before principal so we can achieve a little liberty seems very utilitarian to me and sadly the idea has consistently failed in all attempts thus far, so what we’re left with are anarchists who only promote the State system while compromising their beliefs thus achieving a net loss of liberty.

    Voting, putting on bumper stickers, making calls…This stuff is easy to do, but living a life without initiating force and winning people through reason and logically consistent arguments takes effort for most. The hardest things to accomplish in life are the most worthwild. How can we promote liberty without living it ourselves first?

  14. It’s great that Ron Paul is using the state’s propaganda machine to spread the message of liberty. But that doesn’t automatically mean that real libertarians should be supporting him.

    The two people described at the beginning of this article represent a false dichotomy. It’s ideas that move the world, and to effect the right sort of change requires the right ideas.

    So the “two kinds of people” are really: the ones who know that our ideas must be sound if we want them to be effective, and the ones who try to pragmatically effect change through any means that seems convenient.

    It’s good when statists hear Ron Paul, and it starts them thinking about liberty, because it makes them that much more likely to eventually figure out that the state is illegitimate.

    But EVEN BETTER would be if they had met a market-anarchist who explained why they shouldn’t support ANY politician.

    As one of the very few people walking around who understand that a moral society is a purely voluntary one, advising people to support a politician is both a breach of ethics and a strategic blunder (you’ll find the first is always the second).

    Ron Paul’s position is much better than most people’s, and he points statists in the direction of liberty. But for market-anarchists to direct people toward Ron Paul, we have to point in the wrong direction.

    “Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.” W L Garrison

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