Roderick Long has posted a brief call for courtesy amidst the angry debate between various factions of libertarian types. I can see his intent, but I don’t agree.
Let’s get something straight: I’m not here for the libertarian movement. I judge that the libertarian movement (whatever it is, with whatever sorts of people graft themselves onto it) is a waste of time at best. And I don’t care overmuch about you, Gentle Reader, either. Specifically, I don’t care whether I convince you of anything in particular.
I’m here for me.
I judge that having a worldview that’s more in accordance with reality is of value to me. As Mencken put it,
I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.
Thus, I continually look for things that refine my perception of reality. If those things come without effort on my part, that’s fine. If I have to work for them, then that’s fine too. An example of something that came without effort on my part is this entry on the subject of abortion by fellow No-Treason’er Joshua Holmes. I’d thought about the subject in passing before, even gathered tantalizing hints from other people I respect, but Holmes knocked the argument out of the park in seven paragraphs. Something that took a tiny bit of effort was getting this correction from Stephan Kinsella. Despite the sharp tone of the discussion, I could and did recognize that I was wrong. And by doing so, I’m personally better off. I judge that neither Kinsella nor Holmes were looking to do me any favors there, they wrote what they did for their own purposes. And that’s just fine with me.
So what’s wrong with a sharp tone, anyway? Given my goals (which again explicilty do not consist of persuading anyone of much of anything) it’s at worst irrelevant. In actuality though, I judge blunt honesty to be a benefit. “I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie.” I have no problem whatsoever with exposing my ideas to the criticism of others, I judge that they can stand or fail on their own merits. I don’t ask for or expect any quarter whatsoever if I’m wrong: instead it’s in my interests to be corrected as quickly as possible.
My goals as a principled individualist are perhaps different from those who view themselves as part of some greater movement. I have no desire to build coalitions with or gently persuade people who can’t deal with blunt honesty. To put it quite simply, people who can’t handle criticism aren’t going to be of any use to me at all: I judge that folks who crack when their flaws are exposed are never going to have a signifigant amount of ability to expose mine.
I don’t expect many people to agree with any part of the above. I flies in the face of what a political movement is supposed to be about, but I’m not a part of any movement. I’m looking to better my own self, and if other people gain value from my content, that’s just gravy for them. To sum it up once again, I’m here for me.