January 10, 2014
I have a publication program at Loyola University in which I co author articles with students. This material starts out as term papers for my courses and ends up in refereed journals. I agree with the theses of all these papers, otherwise I couldn’t co author this material with them. I am proud of all of my student co authors, but, in a bout of shameless self-promotion, I am most pleased with myself when I help a student publish a term paper in a scholarly periodical which takes a position very much at variance with my own views. Naturally, I can’t co author an attack on my position, but I can improve its wording, add footnotes and supply encouragement. I am very delighted with these students since they had the courage to engage in a frontal attack on their teacher, that is, me. This might sound perverse to some, but I enjoy helping all of my students, even those who are highly critical of libertarianism as I understand this philosophy. Maybe, even, especially so. However, often, I publish rejoinders to these student essays. Aiding and abetting students of all persuasions is one thing, but promoting the truth is even more important to me.
I mention this background since I am about to embark on a similar journey in the present paper. It is a response to a critique of an essay of mine. It is written by an undergraduate student, although at another university, not Loyola. I greatly appreciate the courage of this student also, since it takes a lot of that quality to take on someone such as me with a long track record in libertarianism.
On December 24, 2013 I wrote the first version of an essay on the topic of homosexuality, feminism and libertarianism. Allison Oldak pointed out to me some inaccuracies in it, whereupon I thanked her for this constructive criticism, apologized for these errors on my part, edited the piece, and published this second version of it. I followed this up with a third iteration of it, on a different blog
I had quite a few over the transom criticisms of the first problematic expression of my analysis of this situation from initial readers of this first error-filled blog. But when I offered the second and third renditions of it, they were satisfied with the changes, and congratulated me for correcting my mistakes.
Not so for a piece published on the Students for Liberty blog, written by Cory Massimino and entitled “Some Feminists and Gays are Libertarian”. Although Mr. Massimino was kind enough to take me to task not for my admittedly erroneous first foray into these philosophical waters, he was not at all satisfied that even my later efforts were compatible with libertarianism, the viewpoint we both ostensibly share.
Let me begin this second foray of mine by first summarizing what I said, initially, and then responding to this publication of Mr. Massimino’s. In my article, I wanted to make two points of clarification about libertarianism. First, against the feminists. While rape is of course a violation of the libertarian non-aggression principle (NAP), “leering” at women certainly is not. For the feminists in India to offer a video objecting to the latter, in the context of the former, was an outrage in my opinion. Second, against the gays. At the time of the Stonewall riots of 1969, homosexuals who participated in it were acting in a manner fully compatible with the NAP. They were defending their right to engage in consenting adult behavior. But nowadays, all too many members of the gay community are insisting that other people tolerate their lifestyle, interact with them against their will, something they have no right to do. The Libertarian Republican blog, in a republication of my initial essay put it this way, very appropriately: “Gays have gone from sexual libertarians to anti-choice, sexual lifestyle totalitarians in less than 4 decades.”
Ordinarily, I would not respond publicly to a student other than my own, certainly not in the intensive highly critical and painstaking way I now intend. I usually reserve that treatment for my own students, and advanced scholars. I herein deviate from my usual practice, and do so for two reasons. First, his critique of my views appeared on the web of the Students for Liberty, an important group in the libertarian movement; one with which Iam associated. I don’t much like to see the spread of misunderstandings of libertarianism percolate through that community of mine. Second, in the comments section of this blog, two older members of the libertarian movement, Tom Palmer and James Peron, warmly supported the efforts in this regard of Cory Massimino. The latter is an undergraduate student. Judging from his picture, he is a very young man. The same cannot be said for Palmer and Peron. These are men of mature years. They have been active in the libertarian movement for decades. They really should have known better. They should have been better acquainted with libertarian theory than this in some ways very promising newcomer.
Let us now consider Massimino’s contribution to libertarian theory. Before I discuss its difficulties, let me note, and thank him for, the tone of this article. It is scholarly. It is measured. It is polite. All of these things are important if we are to have a civil discussion, and without that, it is difficult to see how we can make much progress. However, substantively, he starts off on the wrong foot. He says: “His post claiming ‘feminists are not libertarians; neither are gays’ quickly caused a social media uproar in libertarian circles. The wave of animosity towards Block and his article prompted him to take it down and post an edited version.” Au contraire, this “uproar” did not “prompt” me to do any such thing. I received one very constructively critical e mail from Allison Oldak, and I quickly amended what I saw to be my mistakes. I was not aware at that time of any “uproar.” Massimino attributes to me motivations that are simply not true. He could have contacted me to ask me about this, but he did not. Motive mongering is a difficult task, and leads us away from the substance of the argument.
Next, Massimino avers: “Block … links (to) a video about men leering at women. He explains, ‘at best, this video just muddies the waters; it takes time, effort, treasure, away from the only proper task, the elimination of rape.’ While this might be true, it does not mean feminists who oppose leering are wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t libertarians. A woman’s personal preference to not be leered at because she thinks of it as objectifying her like a piece of meat doesn’t prevent her from embracing the NAP and being a libertarian. After all, she isn’t holding a gun to a guy’s head telling him not to leer at her. It is perfectly legitimate and compatible with libertarianism for women to request not to be leered at.”
One serious problem I have with this critique of his is the word “request.” Try as I might, I find no evidence of the use of any such word in this video. Nor is this an accident, an oversight, a slip of the tongue (well, keyboard) or a typographical error, since Massimino doubles down, no, triples down, on this word choice. To wit, he employs this language two more times: “It’s simply a request for respect. Just like when I request people I debate with to not call me names, it doesn’t mean I think I have a right not to be called names. People have every right to insult me, but I prefer they treat with me with respect (emphasis added by present author).”
No fair-minded person who carefully views this video can interpret as a request for anything or a mere “preference.” Nor does this word, or anything else like it, appear in the material accompanying this video. I now quote that material in full:
“One year after the horrific New Delhi gang rape that garnered international attention, an Indian film school is trying to get men to think twice before treating women as objects to be leered at.
In the 90-second video, the filmmakers take a unique angle at combating the sexualization of women in public spaces — by using strategically placed mirrors to show leering men just how creepy they really look.
“The ad shows men leering at women’s breasts and thighs in public places, such as on city streets, public transit and restaurants. As the women notice their glance, they place a mirror strategically on the body part the men are looking at, obscuring the view of the women’s bodies and reflecting the men’s gazes instead. Many of the men, noticeably unsettled by their own stares, shift their gaze away as they realize how uncomfortable their leering is.
“The lyrics to the Hindi song playing in the background reportedly translate to: “Look how you look when you’re looking at me.”
“The school, Whistling Woods International, released the ad on Dec. 16 to mark the anniversary of the New Delhi gang rape that occurred on a public bus just one year ago. The victim, a 23-year-old student whom the public have taken to calling ‘Nirbhaya,’ or ‘fearless one’ (the real name of the victim was not released at the time, as per Indian law), died two weeks after the attack, causing uproar among women’s rights activists in the country.
“‘The horrific incident of Nirbhaya’s rape case not only shattered Nirbhaya’s family but every single Indian,’ the video’s YouTube description reads. ‘This incident did trigger a sense of solidarity to stand up, fight against and do our best to eradicate such atrocities and gender inequality.’
“Since the video was posted to YouTube, it has been viewed close to one million times and received more than 1,000 comments.
“Watch the video below to see how New Delhi has changed since the Nirbhaya rape case.”
Getting men to “think twice” about something sounds far more like a threat than a request. Telling men they are “creepy” seems to me like a claim that they are engaging in assault, if not threatened assault and battery. Rape is very properly described as “horrific” and as an “atrocity.” Someone may request that another person pass him the butter or the salt. Requests are never made in the context of horrendous activities such as rape. Nor are mere “preferences.”
The creators of this video of course are not literally “holding a gun to a guy’s head telling him not to leer at her.” But figuratively, they are at least threatening this. Do you think these people do not favor passing a law against “leering?” No one can say for certain, but that would appear to be entirely compatible with the tenor of this film. And, when and if such a law comes into being, it most certainly will “hold a gun” to men, telling them that if they violate the enactment, they face a fine or jail, and if they refuse to pay or come quietly, well, then, yes, a gun will be employed against them by the government.
But it gets worse for Massimino’s interpretation. He completely ignores the context in which all this is taking place. The context, let me remind him and those who support him in this defense of that video, is a series of rapes some of which ended up in the torture-death of the victims. It does not get much more awful than that. Ayn Rand emphasized the importance of context. She stated:
“Whenever you tear an idea from its context and treat it as though it were a self-sufficient, independent item, you invalidate the thought process involved. If you omit the context, or even a crucial aspect of it, then no matter what you say it will not be valid . . . .
“A context-dropper forgets or evades any wider context. He stares at only one element, and he thinks, “I can change just this one point, and everything else will remain the same.” In fact, everything is interconnected. That one element involves a whole context, and to assess a change in one element, you must see what it means in the whole context.”
Massimino completely drops the context of despicable rape. He sees these very properly angry women as merely making a “request.” He puts words into their mouths. Well, this one word, in any case. Nonsense. Nonsense on stilts.
Another difficulty I have with this author’s rendition concerns “piece of meat.” According to the old aphorism, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Translating this to the present context, and employing the Austrian emphasis on subjectivism, we can say that “meat” is in the eye of the beholder. Just because a man looks at a woman does not mean he is denigrating her. For many heterosexual men, that is precisely the way a (loving) relationship begins.
Can lesbians “leer” at women? Can females look upon others of their gender as pieces of meat? Of course they can, unless they are blind. That is to say, they can check out other women. Why did this video not warn us of this “danger?” I have no doubt that in the entire history of the universe, there has been rape perpetrated by a female heterosexual. But males are wildly, disproportionately, responsible for this disgusting behavior. But that is precisely the point. In a video ostensibly concerned with male on female rape, it is a distraction to even discuss leering.
Let us now suppose, arguendo, that our author is correct, the better to follow the “logic” he employs. Massimino continues his critique:
“Furthermore, the idea that leering doesn’t deserve consideration because there are worse problems in the world is misguided. Block wrote a fantastic book on the privatization of roads and highways, but he would hardly say this is the most pressing issue facing society. We all can’t spend all of our time railing against the very worst ills of society. Sometimes we focus on lesser, but still important, issues and that’s okay.”
Again, we have a serious case of context dropping. Of course, I agree we need not always object to the most serious problems society faces. But why bring up “leering” when the subject is the appalling one of rape, and rape-murder. In such a context, to do so is to take attention away from the real problem. It is thus to diminish the importance of this crucial challenge. It is to cheapen rape. It is as if during a protest against the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on Japan, someone were to object to the color of the American flag. It is as if in the midst of opposition to Nazi mass murder a protester were focus on beer or sauerkraut or wiener-schnitzel. And the same goes for “gender inequality.” What in bloody blue blazes is that doing in a video ostensibly dedicated to combating rape? Of course there is “gender inequality.” Men and women are different in many, many ways, more than a few of them biologically driven. Why do these harridans seek to water down the opposition to rape with such distractions?
Is “leering” even a problem? This may not be politically correct (ok, ok, I full well know that it is not), but one man’s leer is another’s interested glance. According to the old aphorism, “I’m firm, you’re stubborn, he’s a pig-headed fool.” In similar manner, I fondly gaze at a lady, you appreciate the view of that woman, he leers at her.” Emotively, these are very different; cognitively, not so much, if there is any difference at all. (I greatly regret that my book Defending the Undefendable II has just recently been published. Had it not been, I certainly would have included in it the “leerer.” Well, I will just have to wait until Defending the Undefendable III for inclusion of a chapter on that topic.)
Who gains, qui bono, if men are precluded by law, or by custom, from gazing appraisingly, or appreciatively, at women? Who gains, qui bono, if women are precluded by law, or by custom, from dressing in such a manner as to attract male attention? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the losers would be heterosexuals, of both persuasions. Hey, I told you this would not be politically correct, but as an economist, a social scientist unafraid of the truth, it is difficult to avoid this conclusion.
Massimino agrees that I am “right in saying leering doesn’t actually violate any rights. No one has a right to not be looked at. However, this claim misses the mark since just because women prefer not to be leered at, doesn’t mean they view not being leered at as their right.” Yes, yes, of course. But, here we go once again with the context-dropping. In the context in which rape is discussed by anti libertarian feminists, where no one denies that women have a right not to be treated in such a barbaric manner, to focus on this issue is tantamount to saying females also have a right not to be leered at. I concede they nowhere make this claim explicit. But it is clearly an implicit one, readily seen by anyone who appreciates the context in which this is all taking place.
Massimino’s anti leering sentiments fit in, moreover, with the “war against boys” and men orchestrated by radical anti-libertarian feminists. The two best critics of this injustice are Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers. What Massimino does not seem to realize, but that these female writers do, is that men are different than women. One of the things they do differently, at least this applies to male heterosexuals (and lesbians), is scope out women, check them out, in a word, leer at them. And women, at least those of the heterosexual persuasion, apart from checking out men, often appreciate this, particularly if the leer comes from a man in whom they are interested. It is often said of a women who dresses provocatively, “She is asking for it.” But what, precisely, is she asking for? To be raped? Of course not. Rather, to be noticed, by a man to whom she is attracted. Why do men disproportionately leer at women and not the other way around? Because, for sociobiological reasons, men are typically more attracted to female physicality, while what more often interests women is the ability of a male to financially support her and her progeny. One bit of evidence for this claim is that female beauty is more highly correlated with greater income or wealth than that of males, while richer men are able to attract prettier women. To call for an end to leering is thus tantamount to a call for a termination of this type of male-female heterosexual interaction. Is this something we really want to promote, and in the name, of all things, of libertarianism?
Our author’s next objection is as follows: “While I, and most libertarians, agree with Block that private firms should be allowed to discriminate all they want, he, again, misses the mark and makes faulty conclusions.
“While it’s true that many homosexuals support laws preventing companies from discriminating, it is also true that most Americans support such laws as well. There is no reason to use the claim that because homosexuals support anti-discrimination laws they can’t be libertarians and not acknowledge that this applies to Americans as a whole. It is incorrect to single out gay people in this regard since most Americans also support anti-libertarian laws.”
I cannot see my way clear to agreeing with Massimino on this point either. Why is it incorrect to single out anyone? Surely, the truth should be our criterion in terms of “reason,” or propriety. Even if there were no particular justification for singling out homosexuals, there is still nothing wrong with so doing. It is not illicit to single out any group for analysis. But there is a justification for doing just that in this specific case. As I quote above, “Gays have gone from sexual libertarians to anti-choice, sexual lifestyle totalitarians in less than 4 decades.” I doubt there is any other group of whom it could be said that their political philosophy took such a 180 degree turn. I do not mean to say that in 1969 during the Stonewall era that all gays were libertarian. Rather, that is what they were widely known as: victims. All men of good will saw them in that context, as did they themselves. Nowadays, however, with their high profile demands that others respect them, deal with them, not discriminate against them, they are fast becoming rights violators. If that is not a good reason to “single them out,” then nothing is.
Let me point out another very serious error in Massimino’s analysis. He states: “Libertarianism is unique in that it is one of the few political ideologies that recognizes and stresses the fact that only individuals act. It identifies that groups, societies and states do not act; only the individuals that make them up act. It is bizarre and un-libertarian for Block to criticize entire groups of people and entire social movements as un-libertarian.”
Our author fails to distinguish between methodological individualism (for more on this see here, here, here and here) and political individualism; between fact and value; between positive and normative economic analysis. Methodological individualism is one of the basic building blocks of the entire edifice of the Austrian school of economics, and is absolutely and apodictically valid. An aspect of praxeology, it states that there is no such thing as a group, apart from the individuals who comprise it. Only the latter can act, not the former. It cannot of course be denied that clubs, countries, groups, etc., engage in behavior, but all we can properly mean by these shortcuts is that certain specific individuals undertook a specific activity. Thus, methodological collectivism is fallacious. It maintains, falsely, that there is something more to the group than the individuals who comprise it. Take away each and every member of the group, and the group still exists? All rational men must of course reject such sheer nonsense.
Methodological individualism lies entirely within the field of positive economics; that is, it is a matter of fact, of cause and effect, and it completely eschews values. In very sharp contrast, political individualism is totally within the realm of normative economics; it concerns values, not facts, or causal relations. And, as such, it is a fallacy, I contend, at least as far as libertarianism is concerned. What political individualism means it that there is something about the individual that we must prefer, as libertarians, vis a vis the group. Stuff and nonsense. If this balderdash were true, then individual sports such as swimming, track, singles tennis, would be more highly valued than team sports, such as baseball, football, basketball, since the former are conducted by individuals and the latter by, horrors!, groups of individuals. It would mean that whenever there is a dispute between an individual and a group, that is, between a single person and a group of people, the libertarian must be inclined in support of the former. This is just plain silly. To be sure methodological collectivism violates the laws of logic, but libertarians must be indifferent between political collectivism and political individualism. That is, we see no relevant difference between a team and an individual sport. When a single person is in a legal dispute with a group of people, libertarians can infer absolutely nothing from this: it all depends, rather, on the specifics of the case. It implies that for the libertarian, collectivist groups such as nunnery, convent, kibbutz, commune, collective, syndicalists, cooperatives, monastery, abbey, priory, friary, religious community, family, corporation are every bit as legitimate as individual efforts such as single proprietorships.
And what is Massimino’s take on all of this? He states: “Block’s charges are rife with collectivism and ignore that the feminist and gay movements are filled with unique individuals, all with their own views and opinions. This is the kind of groupthink the libertarian movement needs to reject.”
Although to be sure there are many libertarians who have rejected all types of collectivism, and I can thus see why Massimino has been taken in on this; but they, and he, are in error here. Of course my writings are “rife with collectivism” and there is not a single thing wrong with that, provided, only, that my collectivism is of the political, not the economic-methodological variety. And it is, it is. Sociologists speak in terms, practically, of nothing but groups (families, genders, income classes, races). Are they all wrong, and necessarily so? Of course not. And the same goes for political scientists who discuss countries and political parties, biologists who study genus, species, family, and chemists who concern themselves with grouping chemicals into the periodic table of elements. There is nothing intellectually wrong with “groupthink” and anyone who thinks there is does not fully understand science and the systematic study of reality. Nor is there anything anti libertarian whatsoever about such an undertaking. The essence of libertarianism is making deductions from the NAP and private property rights, and applying that to real world events. It has nothing at all to do with thinking in terms of categories. And as for me not realizing “that the feminist and gay movements are filled with unique individuals, all with their own views and opinions,” Massimino has overlooked the following statements of mine, from the article of which he is so critical (emphasis now added): “Do the feminists there come out against rape? Well, of course, some of them do, quite properly, as rape is a per se violation of the libertarian non-aggression principle (NAP). But, many of them also oppose “leering…” “But, nowadays, many gays do not limit themselves to upholding their (and by extension, everyone else’s) rights. Now, of late, many in the homosexual community have been insisting that other people, who do not appreciate their lifestyle, and who wish to have nothing to do with them, be forced, against their will, to engage in commercial activities with them.” “In my assessment, the majority of gays have gone from a group defending the NAP to one attacking it.” Thanks to Massimino, I now have yet another new entry for Defending the Undefendable III: the group-thinker. “Group thinking” is not a violation of liberty. It is not incompatible with libertarianism, Massimino to the contrary notwithstanding. And yet it is despised by libertarians such as this author. I thank him for providing me with more grist for the mill of my Undefendable series.
There are all sorts of reasons why libertarians should think in terms of groups. How do we best tailor our message to the left? To the right? (They are both very different from us). To women? To men? To the different racial, religious and ethnic groups? To young and old people? To Americans and foreigners? To gays and straights? Should we tailor our message to any group, or not? Why, pray tell, is this “the kind of groupthink the libertarian movement needs to reject?”
Let me take another hack at opposition to collectivism, groupthink, categorization, stereotyping, etc., since this fallacy seems rife within certain (beltway) elements of our libertarian movement. For the ancients, reality was divided up into air, water, fire and land. These are categories. If categorization is anti-libertarian, then so are these distinctions and those early philosophers. Obvious nonsense. Modern chemists divide physical reality into scores of elements. This collectivism would have to be seen as somehow incompatible with the freedom philosophy according to Massimino. Here are some stereotypes: On average, men are taller, stronger and heavier than women. The typical white man cannot jump as high as the typical black man, nor run as fast either in the sprints or the marathon. Of course is it a fallacy to say every man is bigger, heavier, stronger, than every woman. Nor is it correct to affirm that every black male is a better athlete than every white male. But still, these stereotypical generalizations are correct, despite the fact that they will likely offend the Massiminos, the Palmers and the Perons of the world. There is nothing wrong with thinking in stereotypical terms. This is part and parcel of the scientific method, e.g., induction. Much less is it somehow incompatible with libertarianism. To think it is bespeaks a profound misunderstanding of the libertarian philosophy. To repeat, this perspective is based on the two bedrock principles of the NAP and private property rights based on homesteading. Racists, bigots, Nazis, Communists, sexists, homophobes, can all act compatibly with libertarianism, provided, only, that they keep their mitts to themselves; that they do not initiate any violence, or threat thereof, against the groups of people they hate and despise. They can stereotype to their heart’s content and still remain libertarians in good standing. Admittedly, these are not nice people. But niceness and libertarianism are not at all the same thing, and those who conflate the two only confuse matters. They reveal that their understanding of this philosophy needs much improvement.
How could Massimino have strayed so far from the libertarianism of the NAP and private property rights so as to see this philosophy, instead, as inclusive of opposition to of all things groupthink, collectivization and categorization? I really don’t blame him for this. He is, after all, just at the beginning of his career as an exponent of freedom. He is still an undergraduate, mislead, perhaps by beltway “libertarians,” by bleeding heart “libertarians” – people who nowadays are attempting to highjack the good ship libertarian, which has recently been changed from almost a curse word to something more popular, thanks likely to the Ron Paul phenomenon. That is one possibility.
Another is the bad reputation of the “collectivized” farms of the bad old Soviet Union. But these agricultural areas were collectivized at the point of a Red Army gun. Their problem from a libertarian point of view was not their collectivization, but rather the threat of, and the actual use of violence so as to bring this about. If the collectivization were instead done in a voluntary manner, under the aegis of free enterprise (think of a business merger), it would not have been problematic from a libertarian point of view. From the perspective of economic efficiency, entirely a different matter, it might well not have passed muster. Collectivism, then, on a voluntary basis that is, sometime works and sometimes it does not. The free market sorts these things out. But there are cases when “collectivization” is economically efficient. For example, Henry Ford’s assembly line a century ago was a collectivism what was very profitable. Ford in effect amalgamated, replaced, collectivized, dozens of auto companies producing a half dozen cars per year into a gigantic group enterprise. Walmart and other supermarkets played a similar role vis a vis hundreds, not thousands, of mom and pop grocery stores. Then there are other collectives that lost ground. At one time in the early history of Israel, the kibbutz accounting for far more of that countries agricultural production than at present. But this is neither here nor there in terms of libertarianism. The enemy of libertarianism is not collectivism, or groupthink; it is violations of the NAP.
Walter Williams tells the following story. You go to a college campus. You re to select one student who can dunk a basketball, and another who can solve a quadratic equation. If you succeed you are paid $1000 for each success, and the two students who fill each of these bills receive the same amount of money. Who do you choose. You cannot ask any students if they have the requisite skills. You cannot go to the university math lab or to its recreational center. You must choose based solely on student appearance, as they walk by on the quad.
If you are a mental midget and want to exclude group think, collectivism, common sense, induction, you may only choose at random. But if you have even the slightest scintilla of rationality, if you are not a recent immigrant from Mars with no experience of earthlings whatsoever, you will choose a black kid for the basketball dunk and an Oriental kid from glasses as thick as the bottoms of coke bottles for the math test. If so, you will be relying on induction, on experience, on group think, on collectivism, on the scientific method, all of which is looked upon with horror by certain so called “libertarians.” If this is libertarianism, I want no part of it.
These previous words of mine will strike some as not politically correct. Others will see it as racist or sexist (note, we did not choose a female for either of these tasks.) Massimino will likely interpret this as anti libertarian. But since when did it become a requirement of libertarianism that one take leave of his common sense – that one has to lie about reality? Only in the beltway.
Why am I going on and on about collectivism? It is because if we are to make any progress as libertarians, if Students for Liberty is not to be mislead concerning what we are supposedly about, then we must be clear, crystal clear, as to what this philosophy really means. If the leaders of this movement are confused, mistaken, as to what it really is, how can they possibly promote it? They cannot.
This very courageous essay uses categories, stereotypes, collectivism, groupthink, induction, etc. According to politically correct beltway types, to those who write for bleeding heart “libertarians,” to the Massiminos, the Palmers and the Perons of the world, it would be anathema, racist, and hence non-libertarian. It is too bad they call themselves libertarians, and yet haven’t a clue as to what this philosophy is all about.
One last point. Here is a reductio ad absurdum of opposition to collectivism, categorization, groupthink, etc., at least when offered by a libertarian. Libertarianism is itself a category, a collective. We libertarians as a group are distinct from liberals, conservatives, fascists, communists, communalists and other animals in the political menagerie. But it shares with all of them the fact that we and they are all groups.So, if Massimino is to be logically consistent and retain his opposition to collectivism, categorization, groupthink, he is precluded from even being considered a libertarian. That would mean, also, that he would have to reject being categorized as a young male, a student, an intelligent person, because he is a member of those groups as well. This is just plain silly.
I wish to thank Angela Keaton and J. Buzz Webb for feedback on this article. Reading their remarks on an earlier draft of this essay was very helpful to me.