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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Radical Libertarian Psychology

I'm starting to better understand the psychology of libertarian radicals.  In libertarian radical ethics, how good a person you are is a function of how pure and comprehensive is your hatred for the guys in the black hats -- the enemies of freedom.  Thus, to be a true lover of freedom, not only do you you have hate the enemies of freedom, but you also have to hate the non-enemies of the enemies of freedom.  Of course, when you compute this transitive closure, you end up hating almost everybody, but that's a good thing: it shows just how morally pure and exceptional you are.  It also saves you from a lot of excess thinking -- especially if you are selectively sloppy in how you compute your transitive closure e.g. regarding Ron Paul, or the founding fathers, or the LP itself.  Severe crankiness ensues when you accidentally notice inconsistencies in your computation of that transitive closure, and so a disproportionate amount of your hating budget is spent on people at the frontiers of your computation: i.e, fellow Libertarians who don't hate as broad a network of people as you hate.

In my ethics, how good a person you are is instead a function of the foreseeable results of the principles and policies you advocate.  Perhaps unfortunately, this requires a lot of hard thinking and imprecise judgments about counterfactuals.  It also has the consequence that most hats are some shade of gray, and so a black-hat-wearer isn't always immediately available when you have a need to hate somebody. Luckily for me, I enjoy challenging thought problems, and my hatred budget is already claimed by actual aggression in the world.  So maybe the reason I'm not a libertarian radical is rooted in my personal psychology, and not in a rational and objective evaluation of the intellectual merits of libertarian radicalism.