Interference, liberty, and libertarianism

Posted on Posted in liberal/conservative, libertarianism, moral psychology, Political Philosophy, Uncategorized

Robert Nozick includes this curious quotation in his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia:

“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.”
General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.”
― Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

There is obviously a big difference between the way liberals and conservatives view and experience the world. But for quite a while I think I didn’t truly understand just how huge that gap is. I would read Nozick, or listen to conservatives and think that they truly must be from a different planet, or maybe even a different universe, or maybe that they not human, like some sort of crazy p-zombie.

But it all makes sense, even stuff like the above quote or Nozick’s claim that taxation is like forced labor, when you understand that the most fundamental personality trait of a libertarian-conservative is that they absolutely cannot stand any interference in their personal life. It is literally intolerable for them. Well, not literally but they fucking hate it.

It is this intense emotional response, known as reactance in psychology, that drives them to moralize liberty in the way that they do.

And when you get that all the irrational things that libertarian-conservatives say become intelligible.

Of course they also become obviously wrong as psychological reactance is certainly not the foundation upon which to build a moral or political theory.

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