Our own L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright has a couple of interesting essays that she wrote on her transition from the lefty liberalism of her youth to a more conservative stance as she matured. Check out her essays The Ones Who Walk Away From Washington Reboot and Part Two: Seeing With Eyes Unclouded By Hate. She talks of her idealism as a youth, i’ve never really understood that. Leftism has always struck me as a nihilistic death cult, but i’ve been a crusty old reactionary for decades.
In my youth, I was a Liberal of the fiercest sort. I never went so far as declaring myself a communist, because it was clear to me, even at a young age, that communism would not work. However, I was for every other Liberal policy one can imagine.
When John and I got together, we had many discussions (and arguments) on economics and politics. John was a Libertarian at the time. I thought this meant, “he did not care about people.” In fact, I would have summed up politics as: Liberals care about people, and other political groups do not.
Then, one day – after many, many hours of fierce debate with my future groom – I had an epiphany. All in a flash, I saw my philosophy in a new way. Up until that time, I thought that politics was a matter of trying to get the government to put in policies that would help people. Suddenly I realized that someone had to decide what these policies would be – someone had to decide what they thought would help people. Who got to decide this?
Implicate in the Liberal mind-frame, I realized, was the idea that we, the elite, decided what they, the masses, needed.
Close on the heels of this realization came three more:
1) The entire Liberal mentality was based on the idea that ‘we know better than you.’ (As in ‘we know better than you how you should spend your money, so we’ll make you pay for this with your taxes, instead of giving you a choice.’) Liberals were patronizing.
2) While I favored the system that allowed the patronizing elite to decide the fate of the masses, there was no guaranty that my ideas would come out on top. If they did not, then I was one of the masses who did not know better that the other guys to whom the other guys were being patronizing.
3) Treating someone in a patronizing manner often curtailed their freedom of choice.
Suddenly, I was at an impasse. Patronizing the poor was in conflict with freedom, and I had to chose which side I was going to stand upon. I could believe people were too stupid to take care of themselves or I could trust them and side with freedom.
It’s a very scary thing to decide to trust people, especially when the evidence around you suggested that they might not qualify to be trusted. However, I could not knowingly turn my back on freedom. For I was convinced that to be happy, a person needed wisdom, and to be wise, a person needed the freedom to make mistakes.
So, bravely, I chose freedom, turned my back on telling other people how they should live their life, and joined the rank of the Libertarians.
John and I lived some happy years as Libertarians – happy for us. Not so happy for the poor souls we harangued. In general the philosophy suited me, for it required you to believe that if you did something you would often get the opposite result from what the general mass of humanity would expect (lower taxes brings higher revenue, for instance.) This fit my model of hoe the universe worked.