I'm still not convinced, so suck it

More than anybody else, Robert Anton Wilson's life and attitude represent the essence of what attracts me to libertarianism. His example inspires me to engage in a libertarianism that is curious, comfortable with an imperfect world, and interested in understanding and appreciating man-as-he-is rather than molding him into a New Libertarian Man. I especially admire the way he combined sober thinking with a gigantic sense of light-heartedness and humor. Only a man with his humility and playfulness could give fringe topics like ritual magic and psychopharmacology the energy and attention they were due without sounding like he was selling something. He exemplified a libertarianism, to sum it up, that viewed the human condition as a frontier to be explored, not a prison to be escaped.

Sometimes I think those who identify as left libertarian are advancing this spirit; other times, the movement seems to be careening into the swamps of Ideology, working on its own (perhaps looser) straitjacket for mankind. To the latter group, I join ol' Bob in extending a giant middle finger (though the particular people I'm talking about appear to not have heard of blogs and think Yahoo!Groups is the wave of the future, so I'm probably not flicking you off, gentle reader). I refuse to let certain "ideologically consistent" types browbeat me into living by their Rule Book, and I deny their authority to bestow or withhold the title of "libertarian". Or as Bob wrote:

...there is an opinion abroad in the land that libertarianism does mean a mindless, heartless and mechanical system of medieval dogma. I don't know how this impression came about, although it probably has something to do with Randroids and other robot Ideologists who occasionally infest libertarian groups. Frankly, I have always loathed being associated with such types and devoutly wish libertarianism could be sharply distinguished from Idolatry and fetishism of all sorts. If liberty does not mean that we can all be more free, not less free, then I need to find a better word than "liberty" to describe my aspirations; and if we are to be governed by a Natural Law Rule Book of extramundane authority, we can scarcely claim to have advanced beyond the dark ages and might as well make our submission to the Pope again. (He's funnier than Ayn Rand, anyway.)

I do not see this dispute, then, as merely philosophical hair-splitting, and I would hate to see it degenerate into Ideology. I am not claiming to offer Eternal Truth here (I don't know where such a commodity is to be found) but only stating an attitude. If Ideologists ever convince me that this pragmatic, individualistic, scientific attitude is incompatible with libertarianism, then I will find some other name for myself and not use the word "libertarian" anymore. I am not interested in Ideologies and don't give a damn about labels at all, at all. I am interested only in what makes the world a little more reasonable, a little less violent and somewhat more free and tolerant than it has been in the past.

- Robert Anton Wilson (Natural Law, or Don't Put a Rubber On Your Willy)

Written on Monday, November 03, 2008