Liberty Is For All, Not the Chosen Few

With liberty as our North star, we are sure to make strange and unexpected bed fellows. As anyone who has ever shared a bed knows, there is bound to be some initial tension and eventually a need to set some informal ground rules regarding sleeping habits.

Some people snore. Some toss and turn all night. Some have frigid or stinky feet. Some may even sleepwalk or dream out loud. The possibilities are endless. And just as this is the case with sleeping habits, so too is it the case with the diversity of cultural perspectives.

I had hoped young libertarians would be more hopeful, creative, and cooperative rather than defeatist, despairing, and factional. Yet, I myself have too often given into the latter rather the the former.

Something about follow the political news everyday is draining to the spirit and makes one resentful. Most of the political narratives on offer just seem downright depressing.

The other night, I was texting an old friend about my political blues, and in his usual insightful fashion, he pointed out a truth he had gleaned from my writings about politics:

“Seems like you are projecting your own discontent.”

He was right. He is right. As texted him in response, I am discontented with the “power world” at large.

“Power world,” he texted back?

“All the politics/big media/banking blah blah blah,” I responded.

“I coulda told you that!” he wrote, “the abyss always stares back at you in that world. I’ll just tune out that world and listen to the music.”

“Yeah, I would join you, but I loathe the political for what it does to so many good people, so I feel the need to scream at it,” I admitted.

Several years ago that would have been the end of my thoughts on the subject. For a time, I loathed the world of power and all its trappings. I truly was staring at an abyss staring back at me, and all I knew to do was shout at the top of my lungs. I thought the only way to change the world for the better was to enter into the world of state power and politics.

I can proudly say I no longer feel or think this way.

Though I still hold contempt for politics, I now see ways around the state, other ways to inspire liberty. Instead of holding up a closed fist of dissent all the time, what is now required of me is an opened hand of creativity, friendship, and tolerance.

Do not hate, but love your enemies.

I hope those who claim to love liberty go about changing the world for the better because they hold a radical love and devotion for the dignity of their fellow human beings, which of course requires respecting the innate liberty of all humanity.

Yet, that is not always the case.

I’m here to make accusations. I have little interest in calling out or shaming anyone. It just seems to me to be a contradiction to harbor bigoted views on the one hand while also respecting individual liberty and dignity on the other.

Good god, folks, liberty is about more than just property and political fights. Liberty begins and ends with the innate freedom and creative will of the individual before it ever becomes a political question. Racism, sexism, homophobia, but especially partisan bigotry — which can even turn well-intentioned people who seek to eliminate, say, racism or sexism into bigots themselves who are quick to swiftly shaming others prior to much investigation— are inherently dehumanizing, combative, and unnecessarily divisive attitudes. If one is seeking political and economic ‘freedom’ in order to be a bigot or pose pridefully on some moral high ground for the sake of power, then I argue one does not understand liberty in its most profound sense.

In a world where we need more and more people from diverse backgrounds (especially from ‘non-Western’ nations) jumping into bed with liberty, principles such as tolerance, civility, curiosity, and understanding are absolutely necessary. Why assume from the get-go that liberty cannot be spread to other nations and their unique cultures? Why can’t liberty spread to where most people on earth live? Isn’t that admitting failure before even trying?

Indeed, and what is now required is a cultural movement that not only says libertarianism stands for individual rights in the political and economic sphere but also shows libertarians joyously celebrating their liberty while seeking to correct the practical injustices of the world through study, entrepreneurship, charity, writing, story-telling, song, art, and all other forms of creative action and good works.

And, of course, in the spirit of liberty and individualism, I am not here and I see no need for anyone to claim a ‘pure and chosen’ or ‘one true’ culture of liberty — Western or Christian or White or otherwise. History is not destiny. A vast diversity of cultures is the stuff of liberty. Unlike so many movements that have sought to seek and wield state power for the sake of their cause, libertarians cannot force harmony nor should them deem certain cultures or peoples a lost cause; harmony must be built and accepted and worked, day by day, person to person, with no guarantee of success. The future is uncertain, but if liberty is to meet a tragic end, let it be such a cathartic and beautiful tragedy so it may serve as an example to those not yet born.

Hopefully, the end goal of such a movement will be to attract non-political types, folks like my old friend who wants to just tune out the world of power and politics so he can simply listen to the music he loves.

One day soon, I hope to send him songs and stories inspired, not by political parties or resentment against scapegoats and unjust authorities, but inspired by people who humbly seek to warm the heart and tickle the mind to the possibility of happiness when we do the hard work of respecting human liberty and dignity for all.

Reprinted from Medium.


Joey Clark

Joey Clark is a budding wordsmith and liberty lover. He blogs under the heading “The Libertarian Fool” at joeyclark.liberty.me. Follow him on Facebook.