Where’s the Love in the Libertarian Movement?

“People don’t care how much you KNOW until they know how much you CARE” – Unknown

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not LOVE, I am a noisy GONG or a clanging CYMBAL. And if I have prophetic powers, and UNDERSTAND ALL MYSTERIES AND ALL KNOWLEDGE, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not LOVE, I am nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 2

“You can see the rider serving the elephant when people are morally dumbfounded. They have strong gut feelings about what is right and wrong, and they struggle to construct post hoc justifications for those feelings. Even when the servant (reasoning) comes back empty-handed, the master (intuition) doesn’t change his judgment.” ― Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind

“Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” (T 2.3.3 p. 415) – David Hume

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To the Libertarians interested in spreading the Gospel of “Liberty”: we have a messaging problem. It’s not an intellectual problem. We fail to demonstrate LOVE.

Did you notice yourself immediately feeling uncomfortable when I mentioned “Love” or while reading the quotes above? Keep that feeling in mind, because it’s you, especially, this message pertains to. [As I write this, be advised this is primarily an inner-dialog than anything else. My inner-voice is quite confrontational and blunt. There’s no way I can actually know your exact situation and for something as deeply personal as this, I acknowledge this.]

I’m going to steal some concepts from Reformed Christianity to help illustrate my point. Even as an Atheist, Penn Jillette has been exploring Evangelical churches to learn from their techniques in demonstrating “love” to apply to his Atheist church, United Church of Bacon. #LoveNeedsNoGod

There are three, primary “roles” in the Kingdom of God:

– Prophets (Speakers of Truth)
– Kings (Day-to-Day Administrators and Organizers)
– Priests (Relationally focused, ministering mercy and sympathy)

Jesus perfectly encapsulates all three, while humans tend to be strong in one or two roles, and weak in another. Libertarian Prophets are Ludwig Von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and others. Libertarian Kings are successful free market Capitalists. Libertarian Priests are . . . largely non-existent.

I’ve been reflecting on this shortage, since within myself, I have a strong deficiency in my Priestly attributes, and weigh heavily as a Prophet/King. The quotes above and the term “Love” causes my Elephant to buck. As the “Rider,” I began searching into my heart (the Elephant), and realized my Elephant has a knee-jerk reaction to look down on those who exhibit Priestly qualities. My Elephant reacts: “Emotions make me feel uncomfortable due to past emotional traumas.” Then the Rider justifies the Elephant: “Priests are pussies, weak-minded, idiots, contradictory, and emotionally wishy washy. I, on the other hand, in my great Ivory tower of Reason, Logic, and Intellect am superior and could never lower myself to pander to people’s hearts. That would be untrue to who I am.”

For Libertarians, our God should solely be Individualism and to proselytize for new believers. But we have strayed from our one, true God. Instead of Individualism, we have created an idol out of Intellectualism. Instead of humbling ourselves, as Christ humbled Himself even to the point of a torturous death on the cross, we choose to demand non-believers to come to Orthodoxy on their own efforts (through Logic and Reason that their Elephants have no regard for).*

If you were to be a missionary to the darkest depths of Congo, and only communicate to them in English, don’t you think that’s foolish? Why insist and denigrate the Elephants who are incapable of understanding the language of Logic and Reason? Understand them. Empathize with them. Humble yourself to their world, and then speak to them in a language they can understand: Love.

Or another example: what is the more effective tool to win converts to Christianity? The hellfire and brimstone confrontations of the Westboro Baptist Church? Or the hopeful, and love filled messages of Rick Warren and and Joel Osteen? Libertarians would be wise to learn from the outrageously successful, positive messaging these Preachers profess. **

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Progressives are right to be skeptical about Libertarians’ claims that charity will adequately provide for the legitimately needy. Libertarians put their “faith” on the goodness of humanity or self-interested individuals to care for those in need. There are no strong, intellectual arguments that can guarantee there will be enough charity, one way or another. Progressives would prefer the sin of “theft” if it means there’s a minimum level of “care” that can be guaranteed. What’s the best way to deal with this “leap of faith” we ask non-believers to make so they don’t have to choose from the “lesser of two evils?”

“Actions speak louder than words.” As Libertarians, we should be like a “City Upon a Hill,” and “Salt Unto the Earth.” Libertarians should be the ones with communities that have the happiest and healthiest relationships. Dumping the intellectual arguments as secondary, Libertarians should have the most loving communities in existence that drive Progressives crazy with jealousy. “By this all people will know that you are Libertarians, if you have love for one another.” ***

Instead, what do Libertarians have to show for a loving community? Ayn Rand? Why do you think non-believers reliably point to Ayn Rand’s personal life as the primary reason to discredit Libertarianism? Yes, I agree, it’s MADDENING! What’s a person’s heart have to do with their ideas? But it’s all about speaking to the Elephant. It’s about pointing to explicit, real world examples that are deeply personal and speak to the heart (and not intellect) of the individual.

Let the doubt toward charity for the needy be washed away by the demonstration of Libertarian communities. Libertarians should be known for communities filled with Love, Peace and Prosperity; “but the greatest of these is Love.”

The Libertarian movement has enough Prophets and Kings. What we need is a revolution of Priestly love. What we need are “Elephant Whisperers” and that starts with us reflecting on our own hearts, humbling ourselves for the sake of Liberty.

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What does this mean practically? Well, I’m sure as hell not an expert. But if I were to confess my sins publicly and project them onto you (as to minimize my own discomfort), here it goes:

1) Stop intellectually masturbating over how logical and reasoned you are (no one cares except you)

2) Stop mocking all those “idiots” out there who don’t know how to speak logic and reason (they certainly don’t like it!)

3) Focus on developing your own emotional intelligence (yes, a very different type of “human capital” than what Intellectuals typically tell you)

But the overarching, #1 priority is to practice and grow your Love muscles. I know. Your Elephant is bucking again. So is mine, even as I type it. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Let your Grinch heart grow!

Sorry, it’s the objective truth. Learn to Love others as they want to be Loved, or you will remain ineffective in influencing people. The reality is that those who can be convinced by Reason and Logic have already done so. The rest requires a whole lot of Love.

And lest you fail to realize that you have your own Elephant and are in denial that your Rider is not actually fully in control, you may need to work through some emotional trauma. Even I, while typing through this article, have a long way to go before I can fully embrace the message of Love.

I know. . . echhh. Just give it some time and reflect upon it. Notice how this discomfort you feel is different than the discomfort you feel when intellectually challenged with questions on the existence of Free Will, or if Truth is relative or absolute. I’d say this is a clear indicator it’s your Elephant that’s being challenged, and not so much the Rider.

See! Now you know how those whom you denigrate as idiots feel!

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* Reflect upon Jesus, and how he interacted with various individuals in the Gospels. He changed his communication style depending on the individual he spoke to. Ranging from no words, “Jesus wept;” to speaking in Parables; Jesus was a master Elephant whisperer. And. . . let’s just skip those examples where Jesus rails into the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, unless your objective is to be crucified just like Jesus!

** I recommend listening to Tim Keller on preaching to the heart: http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library/preaching-to-the-heart

*** The Free State Project could be the most compelling argument for non-believers if the Free Staters can exemplify a loving community. Or it could be the worst thing if it breaks down into bickering over intellectual matters that non-believers don’t care about. And I would be remiss not to mention Tom Woods’ Contra Cruise! Also, all the Facebook communities being created to help support one another. Well, already, I’m sure the Libertarian community is already heading in a much more “Loving” direction. Keep it going!