you can leave your tinfoil hat on

one weird difference between boston & lawrence, kansas is that folks in boston generally have the good sense to feel at least little bit of shame about adhering to a libertarian political platform. libertarians in lawrence just let it all hang out. i’m sure there are out & proud libertarians in boston, but i managed to live there for eight years without having any run-ins with them. boston is a pretty comfortable place to live if you are a lunatic fringe lefty like myself. every now & again, a republican would be elected governor, but beacon hill was always solidly democrat & they passed a lot of social safety net legislation that was nice to have. a person can call herself an anarchist & enjoy all the perks of volunteering for an anarchist bookstore & getting invited to parties with the best music. a person can call herself a socialist & shill newspapers outside the library & be lovingly mocked by the anarchists. a person can call herself a communist…if she’s cool with everyone assuming she’s either under the age of 17 or over the age of 55. something for everyone. but if she wants to fly her libertarian freak flag, her best bet is probably to just move to one of the small towns along the pike, get a hound dog, & spend all day polishing her rifle on the front porch. live the libertarian dream!

i made the acquaintance of a woman here in lawrence who has begun exploring libertarianism, which mainly takes the form of becoming obsessed with supporting ron paul’s presidential campaign. in a political movement that is inspiring me to perhaps buy stock in tinfoil hat manufacturers, ron paul may be the biggest wingnut of them all. the woman i know is an avowed feminist who supports your typical feminist causes, such as the right to choose abortion. i asked her how she felt about ron paul’s avowedly anti-choice politics, which have manifested in a strong voting record restricting access, defunding abortion providers, & attempting to tax women at a premium for buying health insurance that covers abortion. she said that she was uncomfortable with his stance, but she respected the fact that he’s not a hypocrite about the issue. “he’s opposed to all forms of violence, including war,” she said, implying that abortion is a form of violence.

i pointed out that it’s difficult to imagine too many things more violent than forcing women, as a matter of course, to carry pregnancies & give birth against their will. i’ve been pregnant. it’s not a picnic. i have not given birth, but i suspect that it’s not really a whole lot of fun. the big selling point for many women who do give birth is that they have a baby at the end & they’re pretty pumped about that. but for women who don’t want the baby? how is this not some science fiction dystopian nightmare come to fruition?

a week or so after this conversation, i bumped into her at lawrence’s first GLBT summit. i was joking with a friend & when i turned around, she was standing there. “hi ciara,” she said, “i really want to talk to you about ron paul.” i was strongly reminded of being accosted on the street by religious fundamentalists in prairie garb, trying to sell me on their church. before i could say anything, she jumped in & said, “don’t you think the federal reserve is illegal?”

“um, no,” i said. “if you have any better suggestions for a body that could regulate financial institutions in an effort to avoid the destructive boom & bust cycles that were constantly plunging thousands of americans into desperate poverty every five years for the first 125 years of the united states existing as a nation, i’m all ears.” i also pointed out that when you google “federal reserve illegal,” you are mainly directed to websites that sandwich their anti-fed screeds in between examinations of how 9/11 was an inside job & how the government is poisoning the american people with airplane contrails. i’m a big advocate of looking around at whatever wingnuts happen to agree with my pet theories every now & again, & the other crazy bullshit they believe in, & asking myself some difficult questions about whether i’m in a cohort that isn’t a fucking embarrassment.

one of my friends is working on a project with a dude who also espouses libertarian ideologies. he proudly stated not too long ago, “i’m so conservative, i’m practically a member of the tea party!” but the weird thing is that he is also a punk who seems to feel that his beliefs are a close cousin of anarchism. he’s not, like, someone’s uncle who has a big mustache & is always inviting you over for barbecues at which he gets drunk & starts ranting about immigration or something.

small government sounds nice in theory. until you look around at all the crap the government provides & start to wonder how we’d be getting along without it. when jared paid his state taxes a few months ago, he said, “i just paid my state taxes, without which this land would be uninhabitable.” i guess we could probably all live in yurts & forage for berries & wild rabbits or something, but i’m not actually all that interested in living in a real-life version of clan of the cave bear. i like paved roads & fire departments. i like housing codes & emissions standards. & call me a tree-hugging liberal, but i’m a pretty big fan of indoor plumbing.

here’s a link to the official libertarian platform. it all sounds pretty easy, breezy, & appealing until you start parsing out how some of this shit would play in real life. yeah! we should get rid of laws that impede a person’s ability to secure employment! oh, but…corporations are far more powerful than individuals, & labor activists fought long & hard for things like weekends, eight-hour days, & child labor restrictions. yeah! parents should have control over public education! oh…but that creates a government that is not bearing any of the responsibilities of creating an educated electorate. hmmmm. there are A LOT of things that sound a lot better in theory than in practice. like bacon mousse. i, for one, have little interest in living in some post-apocalytpic “mad max”-style nightmarescape founded on the maxims of “personal liberty” (not to mention the carcasses of all the people who were unable to save themselves from the machinations of the wingnut tyranny) until that day, hopefully very far in the future, when i wake up in a stephen king book & have to make my way to las vegas to found a new society predicated upon the religious visions of a toothless old woman.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I was really into libertarianism when I was about 18 years old. (It was while I was going through my mercifully-brief Ayn Rand phase – don’t judge me!) I got over it pretty quickly once I realized that without laws and regulatory bodies, people with more power would feel free to stomp all over those with less. Shit, they do that anyway, but without legal and government protections in place it would be even worse.

  2. Erin H. says:

    “he’s not, like, someone’s uncle who has a big mustache & is always inviting you over for barbecues at which he gets drunk & starts ranting about immigration or something.”

    Wow, you really pegged my uncle. He even has a mustache!

    I kind of feel the same way about libertarianism as I do about anarchy. Like, would this work in reality? Sort of like how communism never works? I have lost all patience for hippies/anarchists/libertarianists/anyone-not-rooted-in-reality. Peace and love and freedom is something we should all strive for, but it would be cool if people actually thought about consequences and the psychology of humans and, you know, money.

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