The World of My Time: Insults and Infighting

Column by Alex R. Knight III

Exclusive to STR

Last time here on STR, I thought I had spoke to all of the reasons why I no longer find active promotion of a free society to be in my own personal best interest, but on subsequent reflection, I find that I neglected to address an area that deserves some attention, if only in brief. Consider this an addendum, if you will.

As voluntaryists, we suffer a lot of mud-slinging at the hands of the statist world we are essentially prisoners in. Government-apologists of every persuasion attack not only our ideas, but we personally, virtually every time we speak our minds. In this, Right, Left, and “moderates” unite – as if against a common enemy – to denounce, often with explosive viciousness and vitriol, any suggestion that removal of government aggression from the realm of human interactions might solve quite a number of problems. Never mind that I get a little tired of playing St. John the Baptist in such scenarios – I have to ask myself if it’s really worth it to be immersed in that kind of negativity . . . all in the interest of attempting to educate those who have consciously chosen to remain ineducable. The answer to that, of course, is a resounding No.

It doesn’t end there, however. Among voluntaryists themselves (ourselves?), there is a sufficient amount of bad blood to rival sparring with the statists. Infighting is rampant in libertarian circles – in social media, on message boards, and in person. Look at the accusations of Disloyalty to the Cause which have been heaped upon Stefan Molyneux of late. Jeffrey Tucker has drawn any amount of criticism for various reasons. And I don’t think I even need to elaborate upon how much hate has been generated around all things Chris Cantwell. The list goes on. Perhaps some of these criticisms have merit, and maybe not. Regardless, they are all indicative of a wider phenomenon – one that eats away at this movement like a cancer.

Just myself alone, in the course of making my way through a typical Facebook session (which mainly consists of trying to market my books – social interaction is very secondary and usually occurs when I’m temporarily “stuck” while writing novels) recently, in addition to all the recriminatory jabs from the myriad of committed statists, I was accused by one “voluntaryist” of being a “collectivist” because I remarked that I found most atheists to have a Newtonian conception of the cosmos. In another instance, I was told that the issue of IP, from a voluntaryist perspective, was “settled,” and that any view which deviated from the negative was not only “stupid” but also unacceptable – even when I proffered the following article which posits a contrary view, written by a man who was a voluntaryist long before the critic (who shall remain nameless) was ever even born . . . which said critic then flatly refused to even read. And there were more incidents like these. As there always are. Again, and again, and again.

Bear in mind as well that the tone of these incessant infighters is insulting, arrogant, condescending, self-righteous, intolerant, abusive, and crass. They behave like snotnosed brats for whom the world shall operate one way, and one way alone. They remind me, in truth, of the rash of leftist college students we’ve heard so much about lately, to whom ideas with which they disagree are intolerable, and must be banished at all costs. That this is grossly unproductive goes without saying. That it is all the more so because it is a complete and utter waste of my time and talents brings me back to my prior STRticle, as aforementioned.

Those who have chosen to waste their own lives and time, engrossing themselves in such conflict, and spreading such discord, are welcome to it. I have a life and I intend to live it as fully as I can. As I stated previously, I do not expect to see a free society in my lifetime, but it is not made as free as it can be, regardless, by paying any attention to, or engaging myself in, diatribes and convoluted, pathetic ego-tripping sessions such as are regularly made manifest by those who seem to have little other purpose or enterprise.

Now back to the world. And what actual freedom there is to find.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 153

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales.  He has also written and published poetry, non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues.  He currently lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University.  Alex's Amazon page can be found here, and his work may also be found at both Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  His MeWe group can be found here.


Jim Davies's picture

Oh dear!  Perhaps we disagree here and there. Does that make me a snot-nosed brat?
I've heard that infighting such as you describe is common within any "movement" at all. I've seen it in Evangelical circles. It's a great pity, I wish it were otherwise. An anecdote which may amuse you is recorded at my The NH Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Zygotes.
Lines must be drawn, somewhere. I've drawn a few myself. But you're right, some people tend to draw them every time a hat drops.
The fix, though, is surely not to quit in disgust but to set an example (hello, Sam!) of gentlemanly discourse?  In the British parliament for example (which institution I do not of course for a moment endorse) this tendency to squabble is moderated by a few rules. Members must refer to one another as "Honorable Members." And they must not, ever, accuse another Honorable Member of lying!
Churchill famously worked his way around that by accusing an adversary of expressing a "terminological inexactitude."

Samarami's picture

Alex, I hope you haven't taken your bat, your ball, and left the playing field. That's my concern for you. Whether you have or not is your decision.

As I see it, your fallacy is in thinking of liberty as a "movement". Movements imply leadership (rulers, if you will).

Read a little of AA history and you'll see that there was lots of internal strife until we finally agreed that, in order for us to be effective in sobering up drunks, AA had to be the most libertarian organization in town. There are no dues or fees. Nobody can declare you in, nobody can keep you out. If you cause a ruckus and become combative, a couple big bruisers might sandwich you between them and ease you out the door until you cool off a bit. But that's not AA, that's mutual defense against violence. AA has no "discipline". Unbelievable -- and at the core of a number of squabbles of and by itself -- particularly around the "AA Club" atmosphere of the early days.

AA has no involvement with "alcoholism treatment", has no opinion regarding enforced insurance for the treatment of drunks and junkies. A few of us might volunteer to help conduct AA meetings at treatment facility locations and jails. But we have no affiliation with them or their programs. That's merely extending the hand of AA to those who will soon be "on the outs" -- with no place to go and nobody upon whom to lean for support.

I do not see personal freedom as a "movement". Well, perhaps it is -- but if so, it is a movement of one: me. Your freedom is your movement, my freedom is mine. I can't change you and you can't change me. Unless either you and/or I wish to be changed.

I like that: a movement of one, with me in charge. :-(

Each of us can influence the other -- both you and Jim Davies -- and Mark Davis and Paul Bonneau and tons of others -- have greatly influenced me. In fact, I have to say that I am not the same individual as I was before meeting all y'all in cyber space. I've moved from rank collectivism to stark anarchy in a few short years due to the influence of those of you on the web (and through books written by Harry Browne and Robert Ringer and many others).

I said "a few short years", but those few short years have morphed into well over fifty years since I fell under the influence of an old and late renegade named Karl Hess during the political campaign of Barry Goldwater in 1964 -- the last time I participated in a political bread-and-circus event, called "election".

I can be free. Here. Today. Where I'm "at".

    "...precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little..."

Thanks, Isaiah.


Glock27's picture

Sam: Thanks for that.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Hi Sam:  Thanks for your concern.  As for ceasing the authorship of future STRicles here, and voluntaryist pieces on other sites and venues, absolutely not.  As for abandoning Voluntarism as a personal philosophy, HELL no.  And I may even have some limited conversation about the topic with select people from time to time, here and there, when and if the mood strikes me.  But everything else I wrote stands.  

Jim Davies's picture

Sam, good post. But why does a "movement imply leadership (rulers, if you will)"?
Granted, that's the norm; but that may be because collectivism runs so deep. It's drilled in to kiddies all through school. Also perhaps because it's easy to confuse a leader (a person whom others choose to follow, recognizing his qualities) and a ruler (one who issues edicts, imposing punishment for disobedience.)
But I don't see any reason why it must be the norm. There can, as you say, be movements of one - millions of them, cooperating for mutual advantage since value is subjective. That is exactly what an an anarchist society is: a marketplace.
In that zero government society, some will no doubt be distinguished by the excellence of their skills in particular fields. Music, business, crafts, professions, and so on. Those will attract more rewards than others; there will be very rich and less rich. But there will be no rulers at all, and I'm not sure that even those folk will be seen as "leaders", except in the sense that Bethoven's Ninth would suffer badly if the orchestra and choir did not follow the conductor's baton.
Slowly, the enormous implications of L K Samuels' In Defense of Chaos are sinking in to my own mind. Belatedly, I added it last week to the set of books recommended for readers of the Zero Government Blog - click on "ZG Book Store" at top-right. Voluntary interactions between millions of sovereign individuals are just what human beings are fitted to have, just as the rest of the natural world operates without imposed order.
Our "movement" is merely a way to get there, and the way I favor doesn't have leaders and would fail if it did; for leaders make it dead easy for the state to decapitate the movement.

Samarami's picture

Short response (gotta get to "work"): This could amount to a definition issue as to the meaning of "movement". I tend to cling to our old and late friend Harry Browne's admonition regarding what he deemed as "The Group Trap".

My basic rant is that each and every one of us can be free. Here. Now. Where we're "at". Today.

Not that it is not nice to interchange with other like-minded folks for support and encouragement. But where the rubber meets the road is individualism.

We could get into all kinds of dickering as to the difference between "rulers", "leaders", "supervisors" et al. And that, too, amounts to individual choice -- not mandated definition. I've even witnessed fights among "libertarians" over whether or not parents "own" their children (one of my rants is that the human family -- totally apart, separate and indistinguishable from "the-animal-kingdom" -- is the only legitimate governing unit).

Those, too, can be a topics of dispute between "libertarians". Sam

Glock27's picture

Sam: Free at last, free at last thank Sam for all that.