Editor’s note: while we are on the topic of things Cory Massimino has said wrongly about libertarianism, which is what inspired my article today, I was reminded of a piece that Bionic Mosquito (BM) had written last year, specifically addressing, and responding to, Massimino. Since I once asked BM if I could repost some of his articles as I saw fit, and he kindly answered yes, I am taking the liberty once again to republish what follows. It is important not only because it calls out the faux-libertarianism of some of the Students for Liberty crowd, which suffers from the same corruption of libertarian doctrine as many other “trend-libertarian” outlets (such as BHL and C4SS), but also because it re-emphasizes the precise nature of libertarianism as a political theory, not as a worldview, not as a social outlook, and not as a push to approve of everything trendy and “hip” and Progressive. Enough of my babbling, here is BM’s laudable takedown. –CJE
The Children Come out to Play
I am not referring to chronological age….
A couple of years ago, I commented on an interview by Alexander McCobin at The Daily Bell. He is the Executive Director of Students for Liberty (SFL). I will not rehash the entire interview; I conclude as follows, reflecting on his statement that “This is the most libertarian generation that has ever existed….”:
If this represents the greatest libertarian generation in history, you can have it.
I only bring this up because I now come across another SFL colleague, a Cory Massimino:
From his twitter intro:
Cory the GreⒶt@CoryMassimino: Your daily dose of individualist anarchism, virtue ethics, Austrian economics, and punk rock.
Cory the Great. I’m glad he warned me.
Why bother with a self-absorbed member of “the most libertarian generation that has ever existed”? I guess just because it will be fun. Plus, as I will explain later, there is absolutely no reason to take Cory seriously. You will notice that I don’t. this makes it even more fun.
He has written a response to Lew Rockwell’s post, “What Libertarianism Is, and Isn’t.” Little Cory’s is entitled “Libertarianism is More than Anti-Statism.” Let’s gather a few pearls of youthful wisdom together, shall we?
There is a growing division among libertarians regarding the relationship between our fervent commitment to anti-statism and other principles we might hold regarding social and cultural issues.
I didn’t realize that libertarianism as libertarianism held this as a distinction. I have noted a curious tendency lately to create this narrative, however.
This distinction is a false dichotomy, though.
I am glad Cory the magnificent agrees; but I suspect I will be proven wrong.
Put simply, libertarians are for one overriding principle: liberty.
While liberty is a result, technically this isn’t what libertarians as libertarians are for. Libertarians concern themselves with one question. When is violence or aggression justified? From this, liberty flows. Yet, from faulty premises (to say nothing of faulty definitions) come faulty conclusions:
This principle applies to situations involving the state and situations that don’t. Being concerned about non-state injustices in addition to state created ones strengthens our commitment to liberty. It means libertarianism is about more than anti-statism.
Oh boy, here we go. Liberty means being free from non-state injustices.
Cory the great takes umbrage at Mr. Rockwell’s definition of libertarianism:
Mr. Rockwell argues, “Libertarianism is concerned with the use of violence in society. That is all. It is not anything else.”
Any concern for social and cultural issues beyond this is merely a person’s preferences that have nothing to do with their libertarianism.
Suffice it to say, I tend to agree with Rockwell’s view on this. Let’s see if the great one can convince me otherwise:
I don’t believe this is the case. My aligning myself with the ideas of feminism, anti-racism, gay and trans liberation, and worker empowerment is an outgrowth of my libertarianism.
It may be an outgrowth, my young, enormous eminence; but is it an inherent feature of libertarianism? Come on, King Cory, let’s get to it. Write something convincing.
The reason I concern myself with violations of peoples’ liberty that don’t owe their origin to the state is explained by Rockwell when he writes, “Our position is not merely that the state is a moral evil, but that human liberty is a tremendous moral good.” Exactly! I am against authoritarianism, domination, and believe in equality of authority.
This is interesting. I guess Cory never held a job. Or had a dad…. I wonder if he has ever had a landlord.
It gets better. Cory understands Rothbard better than Rockwell does:
Rockwell quotes Mr. Libertarian himself, Murray Rothbard, to support his undecorated libertarian position. Rothbard writes, “Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles.” I believe the true implications of what Rothbard is saying here supports the idea of a broad view of libertarianism, as opposed to Rockwell’s view.
Look, Rockwell may be wrong, and Rothbard may be wrong, and Rockwell might be wrong about Rothbard (that should pretty much cover it). But I’m willing to take a wager that Lew, better than anyone else on this planet, understands Murray’s implications (maybe different on Planet Cory?). Besides, how many different ways can one interpret “Libertarianism does not offer a way of life”?
Rothbard’s argument shows how liberty is needed for each person to find their own purpose and achieve their own good. This goes beyond the actions of the state. Repressive cultural norms and domineering social customs also prevent people from flourishing…. A black person can’t flourish if he lives in a staunchly racist community with employers and businesses who refuse him service.
Here we go with racism again. It is easier to take this kind of comment more seriously if someone like, oh, Sheldon Richman writes it, as opposed to when it comes from a self-proclaimed tremendous nobleness. I will still disagree, and for the same reasons; it’s just easier to take seriously.
But I will try. Oh immense, exalted Cory: please reconcile the non-aggression principle with the suppression of “Repressive cultural norms and domineering social customs” for which you don’t approve. I suggest one must be subservient to the other. Demonstrate that this is not so, and that they can both hold equal status in a libertarian society.
I have yet to find a means consistent with the non-aggression principle to do much of anything about it – beyond organizing a voluntary boycott of the racists. Hopefully his magnificent munificence can enlighten me on this matter.
(NB: I feel the obligatory need to state that I do not approve of racism as suggested in this example.)
Rothbard continues, “Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that “liberty is the highest political end” – not necessarily the highest end on everyone’s personal scale of values.” While this is an excellent quote by Lord Action, it doesn’t go far enough. Why would liberty only be relevant in the political sphere?
And what, young prince, do you suggest to do about it when you see it in private spheres? (Don’t worry, little king, this isn’t a new question; just a restatement of my last one. I wouldn’t want to overly tax – in the non-state sense – an up and coming member of the greatest generation too much.)
Showing concern for authoritarian social relationships outside the purview of the state is merely fully fleshing out our core principles of autonomy and freedom.
Go ahead, gigantous Corysimous, fully flesh away: tell your boss you are going to be gone for lunch as long as you like. Let the landlord know that she will get the check…whenever. Spread those autonomous wings against the weight of “authoritarian social relationships outside the purview of the state.” Have a field day.
Well, perhaps youthful Cory doesn’t mean all authoritarian social relationships. Just the ones he is speaking of. That should clarify it.
Forgive the length of the following cite; I promise it is the last one.
We support self-sovereignty, individual autonomy, and personal freedom. These are the bedrocks of our philosophical ideas: the pizza crust. Opposing statism, political tyranny, and centralized force and supporting civil liberties, free markets, and non-interventionism are one set of conclusions we must embrace: the tomato sauce. But this hardly the whole story. Our foundations also mean opposing cultural repression, societal intolerance, and authoritarian relationships and supporting feminism, gay and trans liberation, anti-racism, and worker empowerment, which are the other set of conclusions we must embrace: the cheese. Combined, all these things make up a large, delicious, beautiful pizza known as libertarianism.
Young collegiate Cory, obviously more knowledgeable about pizza than he is libertarian thought. I will only comment on the cheese. Suffice it to say, his eminence Cory, with his irrelevant requirements, has pretty much excluded 99.9% of the world from ever even considering the concept of libertarianism. Talk about a small tent.
You think I am being a little too disrespectful of a poor, misguided lad? Don’t worry, Cory doesn’t take himself seriously, and neither should the rest of us. Don’t believe me?
Cory the GreⒶt @CoryMassimino · Apr 4:
@KevinCarson1 that’s my only concern. I don’t even believe in what I write. I just aim to be controversial.
Tighten your aim, SFS colleague Cory. To be controversial, it helps to at least understand your subject.