sniffnoy: (Chu-Chu Zig)
[personal profile] sniffnoy
OK, OK, I know, any number of people have written things about how there are multiple types of libertarianism. Like, the "it's just good policy" sort vs. the deontological sort. Or the "UBI sounds good, just don't go distorting any markets" sort vs. the "hands off my money!" sort. But, here's another distinction I want to talk about.

I'd always thought of libertarianism as, y'know, fundamentally individualistic. I mean, it's based in classical liberalism, right? Enlightenment stuff, John Stuart Mill... about protecting the individual weirdo from the group, who insists everything be done their way. Do your own thing, and if you're not harming anyone, you shouldn't be punished for it. Certainly don't punish people for building new things! (But neither should you have to be building new things.) I don't consider myself a libertarian, but, that's basically what I want to see out of liberalism in general, you know? Protecting the individual from the "village".

But I'm realizing now that there's this other sort of libertarianism out there that doesn't seem to be about the individual. It's especially visible in the Republican party's pseudo-libertarianism, where often it's specifically the federal government that's singled out as a problem. (Not a political philosophy that's very portable to other countries!) But there does seem to be a more principled form of this, that makes the issue fundamentally about local control.

The thing that really bugs me about this is -- well, firstly, calling it "libertarianism" at all seems odd, but they call themselves that, so whatever; but ignoring that, well, it's often local governments, county sheriffs and such, that do the most (among governments; usually government isn't the problem, seems to me) to harass and oppress the individual weirdo. Indeed, in the US, oftentimes it's the federal government that protects citizens from local governments! Now any libertarian with their salt will point out that this structure is ridiculous, but the point remains -- favoring local control, without doing more to limit local governments as well, doesn't seem to be individualistic at all, but rather enabling the "village" in its oppression of the individual weirdo.

So, needless to say, one of these two sorts I am pretty sympathetic to; and the other sort, I'm really not.
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