I know any number of what we’ll call “libertarian anarchists.” These are people who believe, strongly, that no government at all is preferable to any government and, further, that this belief is the only moral stance that one can have about the very nature of government. Obviously, their political involvement is going to be limited. To the extent that they comment on politics, their commentary usually takes one of two forms. First, they like to point out the hypocrisy of any political stance that claims to believe in X, except where it applies to Y. The purpose of this seems to be to demonstrate the superiority of their own world view. The second assertion is that both parties (I am focused, here, on the American two-party system) are wrong on roughly half of what they advocate – implying that both of the parties are equally bad. The purpose of this seems to be to justify the anti-political nature of their activities (or non-activities, as the case may be) by demonstrating that all politics and politicians are wrong. And bad.
What this often means is that the worst criticisms, the worst attacks, are reserved for those who almost entirely agree with them, but not quite. This is perhaps because one feels that those most in agreement with them are the most likely to be influenced. It may also be a variation on the idea is that the greatest sin is when you fully understand the nature of your evil, but choose to do it anyway. In other words, isn’t the “limited government” libertarian, who fully comprehends what’s wrong with government, doing the most harm, by advocating for government anyway?
Next in line for invective are those actively involved in politics who claim to have common cause with the libertarian activists. The “Liberty Republicans,” in particular, seem to be singled out. While the theme, at least on its face, is anti-politics or, particularly, against the two party system, the negativity isn’t really spread evenly. The “both are to blame” seems to smack around the right harder than the left. “While Democrats are for increasing the size and reach of government, the Republicans want to [fill in the blank.]” It would seem to me that if your fundamental philosophy is to reduce the size and reach of government, albeit reducing to zero, it doesn’t matter what fills in that blank. You’ve just identified the real enemy and the enemy of your enemy, whatever his faults, is still your friend.
I’m picking on a particular political sub-type here, but this flaw seems to be a problem throughout the right side of the political spectrum. Conservatism is thick with people who say “I’m an independent.” Granted, the left has always had a huge chunk of “I’m an independent,” but (in my experience) it is usually intended as commentary about themselves. What they mean by “I’m an independent” is “I have an open mind and consider all sides of the issue before I choose to back the leftist view.” At least that’s been my experience. A left-leaning person who claims political independence is at least as locked into their views as the one who acknowledges their allegiance to the party, if not more so. Think about it, “I’m a Democrat but I don’t agree with…” leaves a lot more room for dissent then merely planting your open-mind flag on the hill you’re about to defend.
On the right, by contrast, “I’m an independent..” is as often as not preceding an attack on Republicans. Republicans are too radical, or not radical enough, or really Democrats, or not like Republicans used to be, etc. Even if its true (and worded thoughtfully, it probably is), aren’t we missing out on the bigger picture? If you’re libertarian, or conservative, or even that which used to be considered “moderate,” isn’t it that case that whatever you see as wrong with Republicans is also wrong with Democrats, and then some? Can you really justify the “Republicans are even worse on [core Republican issue] than the Democrats?” You can’t believe that. Even if you did, hasn’t post-election 2019 made you rethink your position?
The more I reflect on the state of society, the more it seems that we are in the early stages of a civil war – simply a stage where the bullets have yet to fly. At some point it seems that everyone is going to have to pick a side and learn to get along with their adopted brothers-in-arms. The alternative is to stand between two closing armies screaming “I’ll take on the lot of you” until somebody shoots you just to shut you up.
Or am I becoming too cynical?