Quotable: Christopher Beam on libertarianism

“It’s no coincidence that most libertarians discover the philosophy as teenagers. At best, libertarianism means pursuing your own self-interest, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. At worst, as in Ayn Rand’s teachings, it’s an explicit celebration of narcissism. “Man’s first duty is to himself,” says the young architect Howard Roark in his climactic speech in The Fountainhead. “His moral obligation is to do what he wishes.” Roark utters these words after dynamiting his own project, since his vision for the structure had been altered without his permission. The message: Never compromise. If you don’t get your way, blow things up. And there’s the problem. If everyone refused to compromise his vision, there would be no cooperation. There would be no collective responsibility. The result wouldn’t be a city on a hill. It would be a port town in Somalia. In a world of scarce resources, everyone pursuing their own self-interest would yield not Atlas Shrugged but Lord of the Flies. And even if you did somehow achieve Libertopia, you’d be surrounded by assholes.”

–Christopher Beam, in New York Magazine

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4 Responses to Quotable: Christopher Beam on libertarianism

  1. Older_Wiser says:

    Excellent! Unfortunately, too many don’t drop the philosophy until they have a spouse and family of their own and have to share. Some wait until middle age, alas, to have kids, and some never marry, marry someone of like mind, or never learn to share anything. Those are the ones for whom I have pity. I’m always hoping those people leave all their wealth (if they have any) to charity, esp homeless children and those ravaged by war, children whose hopes have been stolen by selfish narcissists hellbent on their own glory.

  2. I’m lucky…my high school teachers never made us read that dreck. It was never available in the school library, either. In fact, they stayed scrupulously away from it (bad writing, hellishly time-consuming onaccounta all the repetition, etc.) and got us to read GOOD books. Among others (and this made me smile as I was picking out the quote), we read Lord of the Flies in Grade 11. It pretty much taught me all I needed to know about absolute libertarianism, not to mention the bully-hierarchies it spawns. Anyone who thinks it leads to free interactions between equals is living in a fool’s paradise; the playing field is not level enough for that, and never has been. And anyone who’s drawn to it on account of their own narcissism, I have just one thing to say to THEM: You ain’t all that, Miss Thing.

  3. ceti says:

    The article begins pretty baldly, by conflation real concern over the erosion of civil liberties, habeas corpus, due process, and the encroaching police state with libertarianism as a political creed. It’s almost as if he supports the state’s right do whatever it wants with citizens. Concern for that is a far cry from Randian insanity.

  4. chris says:

    Thanks. Read the whole article and couldn’t agree more. The last line in the quotes needs to go viral.
    OT. Chavecito et al. show how it’s done, again.
    Happy New Year!

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