One of the major differences between libertarians, on the one hand, and conservatives and progressives, on the other, is with respect to freedom and reality. When it comes to the concept of freedom, libertarians have a grip on reality. Conservatives and progressives don’t.
Both conservatives and liberals are convinced that they live in a free society. This mindset is reflected in various ways. The Pledge of Allegiance comes to mind. Having had this pledge inculcated in them in public schools since the first grade, conservatives and liberals continue to recite it at public events long into adulthood and all the way until the day they die. As they dutifully put their hands on their hearts and recite the phrase “with liberty and justice for all,” not one iota of doubt enters their minds. They are convinced they are free — no doubt about it.
Another example of this phenomenon is the profuse thanks that conservatives and liberals heap on U.S. soldiers. They incessantly thank the troops for their “service,” which consists of constantly killing people thousands of miles away from American shores. They are grateful that the troops are protecting and defending their “freedom.”
One sees the phenomenon at major sporting events, like baseball games and football games, which have acquired a major military component to them. Fans are exhorted to stand and thank the troops for defending their “freedom.”
A great example of this freedom mindset among both conservatives and progressives is reflected by the lyrics in Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA”:
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me.
Those lyrics are the mindset of both conservatives and liberals. They “know” they’re free and, equally important, they “know” that the troops who died “gave” them their freedom.
The mindset of libertarians is precisely the opposite. We know that we don’t live in a free society. In fact, our goal is the achievement of a free society. We want to know what it’s like to live a life of freedom before we pass from this life.
Why do we libertarians feel this way? Let’s examine a few of the reasons:
- Mandatory charity. We live in a society in which charity is mandated by the government. That’s what Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farm subsidies, and foreign aid to dictators are all about. The government forces people to be good and caring through the income tax and IRS and what is called the “welfare state.” There is no possibility that people who live under a system of mandated charity can genuinely be considered free. Freedom entails the right of people to choose for themselves whether to help out others.
- Drug laws. We live in a society in which the state wields the authority to punish people, with fines and incarceration, for ingesting what might be considered to be harmful substances. There is no way that people in such a society can legitimately be considered free. A genuinely free society necessarily entails the right to ingest whatever a person wants to ingest, no matter how harmful or destructive.
- Assassination, torture, and secret surveillance. We live in a society in which the military and the CIA wield the authority to take Americans into custody as suspected “terrorists,” incarcerate them in military dungeons or concentration camps, torture them, and even assassinate them. Also, the power to conduct secret surveillance on the American citizenry. All without due process of law and trial by jury. All confirmed by the federal judiciary. Those are hallmarks of totalitarian regimes. There is no way that people in such a society can legitimately be considered free.
- Parents are forced to submit their children, when they reach the age of 6, to the control of the state, where they are subjected to indoctrination, regimentation, conformity, and deference to authority. If they resist, they are drugged with Ritalin, Adderall, or some other mind-altering substance until they get their heads “straight” and become like everyone else. There is no way that people who live in a society based on compulsory school attendance can legitimately be considered free.
- Sanctions and embargoes. Americans who travel to and trade with certain unapproved foreign countries are prosecuted, fined, and incarcerated by U.S. officials. There is no way that people living under such a system can legitimately be considered free.
Those are just a few examples of why libertarians understand that they are not living in a free society. They show how libertarians, unlike conservatives and liberals, have a grip on reality. In fact, the plight of American statists can best be summed up in the words of the German thinker Johann Goethe: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Does it make any difference that conservatives and liberals are denialists when it comes to freedom? I’m not a psychiatrist but here is what Wikipedia says:
Freud employs the term Verleugnung (usually translated either as “disavowal” or as “denial”) as distinct from Verneinung (usually translated as “denial” or as “abnegation”). In Verleugnung, the defense consists of denying something that affects the individual and is a way of affirming what he or she is apparently denying. For Freud, Verleugnung is related to psychoses, whereas Verdrängung is a neurotic defense mechanism.
What is psychosis? According to Webmd.com, “When you lose touch with reality and see, hear, or believe things that aren’t real, doctors call that psychosis.”
You know, like when a person who isn’t free is convinced that he is free.
Meanwhile, conservatives and progressives continue to wonder why they live in a society in which there are soaring suicide rates, especially among young people, mass drug addiction and alcoholism, and periodic mass killings of innocent people for no rational reason. It just doesn’t make sense to them as to why there is so much unhappiness and dysfunctionality in what they “know” is a free society.