Libertines and Liberal Bigots


Libertarians are being torn apart from within. Two groups are responsible for this: the libertines and the liberal bigots. ‘Liberal bigots’ is a phrase that I have stolen from Peter Hitchens and I am using it to describe a group within the libertarian movement who are more concerned about being politically correct than defending anybody’s right to discriminate. By libertines, I mean simply those who view libertarianism as a rebellion against tradition, hierarchy, morality and authority and who believe that the best way to achieve libertarianism and the libertarian ends of life, prosperity, cooperation and so on, is to live in communes, engage in ‘free love’, and at every opportunity attack conventional wisdom and morality.

The former, the liberal bigots, in my view are often ‘thin libertarians’ of the worst kind: libertarians who believe in the nonaggression axiom and nothing else. These people can only think in terms of libertarian legal theory and, as cultural Marxists, will defend anybody’s way of life, except, oddly enough, a traditionalist and antiegalitarian way of life. The latter, however, are usually ‘thick libertarians’ and in this sense are an improvement upon the liberal bigots. Thick libertarians are libertarians who, in addition to being well-versed in libertarian law, think about how a libertarian society would, could and should function. Thick libertarians judge not only whether or not something is legal, but whether it is conducive to libertarian ends. However, sadly, the modal thick libertarian is a libertine: someone who believes that prosperity, happiness and other good ends, for which we all strive, are achieved not through a ‘sensible’ lifestyle but through a relatively reckless one.

Liberal bigots will be the first to apply the word ‘bigot’ to someone who is choosing to discriminate or offend an individual or group. Yet, as libertarians should know, the right to associate also implies the right to discriminate, i.e. to not associate. And the right to freedom of speech implies the right to offend and the right to trade implies the right to boycott and charge higher prices to certain types of people. Liberal bigots will of course not tolerate bigotry, except bigotry against those who they decide to label as bigots. They will not tolerate intolerance, except their own intolerance toward the intolerant. Thus they become entangled in contradiction after contradiction.

Libertarians often make the point that legality and morality are two separate things. Yet, while conservatives and objectivists have a clear conception of morality, libertarians do not. Most libertarians become ‘thin libertarians’, interested only in libertarian politics and dismissive of any talk of morality. And because even socialists have a moral code, libertarians often resort to conceding the morality of other philosophies yet simply saying that they are ‘impractical’ whereas libertarianism is ‘practical’. But, as Ayn Rand correctly said, the moral is the practical: there is no dichotomy.

What, then, is morality? I am of the opinion that Ayn Rand and the more recent Stefan Molyneux, plus some insights from Hans-Hermann Hoppe, can lead us to a libertarian morality. Ayn Rand argued that as anyone who speaks of morality must be alive, they have shown that their standard is life. And since life requires prosperity, happiness and health, any arguments against these are also arguments against life. Stefan Molyneux has shown that it is logically impossible to defend a moral code stating ‘thou shalt kill’ or ‘thou shalt steal’.  Combining these truths leads to a ‘live long and prosper’ moral philosophy. This is a moral philosophy which does not morally validate just anything since actions which are contrary to the presuppositions of argumentation cannot be rationally defended. Since we all must live for as long as possible, immediate gratification is not always morally justified for if it was then rape and burglary would of course be morally okay.

In the free society, we will have the right to discriminate whenever we wish to do so. Even liberal bigots who of course loathe discrimination must concede the right of anybody to discriminate against criminals. If we wish to protect our loved ones then it becomes a moral obligation, surely. Yet, if it is conceded that we have a moral obligation to ostracise, penalise, and dissociate from criminals, then why is it not also a moral obligation to discriminate against suspected or probable or potential criminals? Some people are more likely to be criminals than others: this being empirically or statistically true as well as being affirmed by decent psychology. Surely it is of some importance to us as libertarians to know who these people are and to aim to exclude them from (or at least keep an eye on them) a future libertarian paradise. If we do not even take the facts gathered from sociobiology, sociology and psychology into account when discussing how best to achieve and to then, when achieved, maintain liberty then we cannot truly say that we are ‘libertarians’.

It is assumed that libertarianism is supposed to be ‘pro-gay’ or ‘pro-Islam’ or ‘pro-abortionist’ simply because these are minorities. Not so. Libertarians should not only hold that we have the right to discriminate against these groups, but also that to the extent that they are immoral or dangerous or socially backward groups, we ought to do this. It will depend upon what ethical standards we have whether we label some people moral or immoral, but, it should be plain to see that the conventional – soon to become the unconventional, however – English way of life is the most conducive to libertarian ends. If somebody wants to have a sex change twice yearly or have twenty abortions or stand on street corners shouting obscenities or kill stray dogs then it would seem that many libertarians would simply say “they have the right to do so”. The question too often neglected is: do we want these things to happen in the free society? If we don’t want them, then it would be perfectly within our rights to discriminate against these people. Furthermore we could set up our own restrictive covenants where each member has to live by certain rules if he is to be allowed to continue living there. These rules would be up to the businessman or community leader who runs the covenant: no smoking, for instance, or no loud music. Of course, both the libertine and the liberal bigot would be heartbroken, with the liberal bigot fiercely proclaiming “but, women have the right to walk about stark naked, even in a restrictive covenant, if they want to!” and with the libertine adding “only by walking about naked can we free ourselves of the shackles of oppressive Western culture!” – Both would, needless to say, be wrong.

There is also the Orwellian technique of saying simply that ‘black is white’. Lies are passed off as the gospel truth by libertines and liberal bigots alike. The most awful example is that of militant feminists who claim that women are the slaves of men. But, as Rothbard pointed out, it is the slaves who work while the masters stay at home. Now who are the slaves? Rothbard also responded to the ridiculous suggestion that it is wrong to think of women as ‘sex objects’. It’s simple biology that women are sex objects to men, and men are to women.  One exception is of those women who declare that they ‘have no need of men’ and, in order to prove they are dedicated to the cause of women’s lib, turn lesbian. Similar to the militant feminist movement is the LGBT ‘community’ (almost always represented by a minority of militant gays) who are intent upon the politicisation of sexuality[1].

A mocking of British culture and a disdain for the past displayed by the BBC is of course to some extent responsible for the tidal wave of politically correct libertarians. Notable examples of BBCPC are Blackadder and The Thin Blue Line. While it is easy to laugh at the physical humour of Rowan Atkinson in both comedies, the politically correct jokes are obvious and the disdain for the past rather shameful.

Turning to religion, few modern libertarians are religious. Historically, of course, some have been agnostic and yet today almost all are ‘atheist’ or ‘antitheist’. It is also interesting to note that most of these atheists are self-described ‘empiricists’ who reject the possibility of a priori knowledge. Yet, aside from the self-refuting premise of empiricism itself, their stance on the existence of a God is flawed. If they believe that nothing is a priori true, then how is it that they believe that it is a priori untrue that a God exists. And for an a priori defence of God’s existence, look no further than St Thomas Aquinas’ ‘Five Proofs’. Incidentally, St Thomas Aquinas is responsible for the whole body of thought termed ‘natural law’, upon which the most radical libertarianism has been based so libertarians owe a lot more to the Catholic Church than they think.

Ignoring other religions, can libertarians be Christians? Modal libertarians say no, I say yes. In fact, there is a whole philosophy based primarily on Christianity which is libertarian[2].

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” 1 Corinthians 9:19

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

Britain, we are told, is a melting pot. We are multicultural whether we like it or not and Britain has long been tolerant and cosmopolitan. Those who feel uneasy about the transformation of some areas of Britain into something unrecognisable, yet recognisably unBritish, are labelled fascists by the liberal bigot.  Though I hardly agree with his analysis of British history throughout the rest of the book, Bentley Gilbert in the preface to his ‘Britain since 1918’ hits the nail on the head when he writes: “Fairplay, tolerance and moderation are still the code that Britain lives by. They keep the country, as it has long been, a museum of civilized virtues. But generosity of spirit may be a weakness in an unreasonable world and the willingness to give way to the threat of violence, whether internal or external, whether economic or military, may produce a situation in which the civic balance that has made Britain what it is becomes itself a danger.”


  • Emile Yusupoff

    On the one hand, you have some very good points. I certainly agree that the way to fight intolerance is not to be equally intolerant. Likewise, for private institutions and associations any rules, exclusions or degrees of openness are of course at the discretion of those involved. Admittedly, I would personally avoid any institution that, say, discriminated against transgender individuals. But I’d respect their right to have such an institution, just as I’d respect the transgendered individuals’ rights in choosing that ‘lifestyle’. I also agree that many libertarians can forget about many kinds of lifestyles (such as being ‘traditional’, religious or discriminatory). It is also true that political correctness and cultural relativism are guilty of blocking criticism (and ridicule) of ideas and practices that are objectionable.

    On the other hand, I’m very uncomfortable with your approach to ‘discrimination’ and the extent to which you’d want to apply it. Of course, as noted, any private group should have the right to criticise and challenge any other group, and can avoid them. But saying that we should view someone who wishes to have multiple sex changes as immoral is unpleasant. Perhaps frame it as ‘unwise’ or ‘not advisable’, but immoral? Likewise, grouping transgenderism (is that the right term?) and abortion alongside political Islamism is unfair.

    Additionally, dissenting views (even if they’re unpleasant) shouldn’t be discriminated out of existence. I may have no understanding of why someone would want to live according to the principles of Sharia Law, but if they consensually opt to do so without forcing it on others and without looking for it to be enshrined as actual law, I see no reason to seek to end this.

    On libertines - I’m not sure how many think that living hedonistically will create a libertarian society. Certainly they don’t think that that is the key means. They just see that lifestyle as being their right, which it is as much as being religious is. Likewise, I don’t know any libertines who want the whole of society to run around naked all the time. Many just like doing things like taking drugs or being promiscuous. Not sure that they want everyone to do these things.

    As for the Christianity points, Christians can of course be libertarians. As can Jews, Hindus and Muslims. And atheists. And there is much in the Bible that can serve as great inspiration. But (as with any ethical or practical application of biblical principles) when you take a moral point from such a massive and inconsistent text you’re having to skip out objectionable and contradictory passages. In this case, there are those passages that advocate the death penalty, genocide, racism and rape.

    [Your point about 'a priori' rejection of God is also incorrect. No one advocates the position that 'there is no god' is an a priori truth. What they say is that there is no empirical evidence, and that formulating the enormous amount of evidence necessary to safely make the hypothesis of God's existence is practically impossible. No one is certain God doesn't exist, but, the argument goes, it's just not a worthwhile hypothesis.]


    “The former, the liberal bigots, in my view are often ‘thin libertarians’
    of the worst kind: libertarians who believe in the nonaggression axiom
    and nothing else.”

    Can you name any of these people??

  • James Rigby

    One of the challenges of being a libertarian is accepting that you are in the same pigeon-hole as some people who hold views you might consider distasteful (that includes you Keir). However, provided you don’t wish to have your views imposed by law, then we can live together comfortably in our little pigeon-hole and agree to differ.

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