Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Defense of Libertarian Brutalism

by Kathy Shaidle

“[L]ibertarians can generally be divided into two camps: humanitarians and brutalists.”
That’s Jeffrey A. Tucker’s provocative proposition in a widely discussed new article in The Freeman.
Humanitarian libertarians value the principle of liberty, Tucker writes, because—among other things—it permits freedom of association and promotes the primacy of the individual over the state.
However, he also claims that liberty “keeps violence at bay” and “protects human rights of all against invasion.” Neither proposition is self-evident to me, but Tucker boldly declares, “We know all this from history and experience.”
So I’m dumb.
Tucker then contrasts these “humanitarian” beliefs with those of “brutalists.”
Brutalists also treasure liberty, but for the wrong reasons, and find those listed above “boring”:
To them, what’s impressive about liberty is that it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on “politically incorrect” standards, to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions, to be openly racist and sexist, to exclude and isolate and be generally malcontented with modernity, and to reject civil standards of values and etiquette in favor of antisocial norms.
Yet I don’t detect much difference between some of these examples of “good” liberty (freedom of association) and “bad” liberty (the formation of homogeneous tribes). Tucker, however, insists that these “two impulses”—the humanitarian and the brutalist—are “radically different.”
I reject other premises of Tucker’s as well, primarily the importance (or even existence) of “racism” and “sexism,” at least as defined and (supposedly) experienced by Western progressives.


  1. Although I understand, other members of my "tribe" wouldn't take kindly to being called homogenous.
    Talk about getting brutal.

  2. Seriously is it this hard to understand libertarianism? How hard is it to under the concept of "Leave me alone" If someone wants to use force against another individual or groups of individuals for reasons outside of self defense than they're a statist. Liberalism, Neoconservativism, Paleoconservatism, Warvangelical/Theoconism are just different flavors of statism.

    1. "How hard is it to under the concept of "Leave me alone"

      According to Steven Horwitz, very hard.


      Here is my response, by the way.


  3. I have absolutely no idea what Tucker is talking about. Libertarians always say they are for "legalization" of drugs. They never mention that implicit in libertarianism is the fact that you could be fired for using drugs, banned from various businesses or private neighborhoods for life for using drugs, drug tested on a daily basis by those with whom you might want to contract and/or charged 5x what non-drug users are charged for insurance, if you can get insurance at all for using drugs. So where's all this brutality?

    I cannot recall even the mildest attempt by libertarians at pointing out to pious religous types that they could form their own neighborhoods and schools so that their kids might never even see a druggie, thug or non-believer. And that it's no else's business if they do.

    No wonder that nitwit Huckabee is leading, warning everyone about us immoral hedonistic libertarians.

  4. The elimination of anyone/anything that tries to own me is - Brutal?