What Moves You?

Tom Woods and Michael Malice discuss “Healing Libertarian Rifts.”  They are reviewing an earlier discussion hosted by Malice between Woods and Matt Welch.

There is discussion between Woods and Malice about this rift – let’s say the rift is between the Mises / Rothbard (meaning Rockwell) wing and the Cato / Reason (meaning Koch, although I think they recently disavowed this label) wing.  Woods asks “if we can resolve it, that’s valuable.”

Malice offers a key comment at about the 8:50 minute mark (captured as best as I can without listening to it ten times):

It’s also just bizarre that a movement that’s rooted in individualism and regards value as subjective is going to be baffled that other people have different priorities and different perspectives, and not only just baffled but insist that those priorities are wrong.

Stare at this long enough and dwell on it.  If (and I do not grant this “if”) the libertarian movement is rooted in individualism, do you believe that there is a “movement” that will ever amount to anything?  If the “different priorities” of other libertarians are values that are abhorrent to me – more abhorrent than my libertarian priority – is there a movement?

Abortion, war, torture, immigration, borders.  I think it is safe to say that you will find libertarians on both sides of these issues.  What if the other side of any one of these issues is of more value to a libertarian than supporting “a movement that’s rooted in individualism”? Real Dissent: A Libert... Thomas E. Woods Jr. Best Price: $8.48 Buy New $7.93 (as of 03:10 UTC - Details)

Family, religion, conservative values.  What if these are more important to some libertarians than gay marriage, pot smoking, and prostitution?  Is there really “a movement that’s rooted in individualism”?

In other words, is there a “movement” at all?

I think not.  If libertarianism is rooted in individualism, there is no movement.  No libertarian who holds conservative values will fall on their libertarian sword for your right to have a sausage orgy.


Jeff Deist gave a great speech about a year ago, asking just this question: what are you willing to die for?  In history, I am yet to find one example of anyone willing to die for “a movement that’s rooted in individualism.”

I have written before: I admire Tom Woods for his ability to be gentlemanly and balanced in discussion.  He is a better man than I am.  With this said…I have no interest in healing libertarian rifts.  I do have an interest in what it takes to achieve liberty.  Given all that I have read and observed, these are two very different things.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.