I have been completely out of the online libertarian community for about the last 3.5 months. I haven’t been on Reddit or Facebook pages, I haven’t even been watching YouTube videos. I have no idea what the latest libertarian in-fighting is about…and it has been refreshing!
That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a libertarian. Over the past few months I’ve reread some Huemer, Block, and Rothbard and I’ve been getting into WWII history. I also talked to more “normal” people about libertarianism than I typically do. Wow, what a wake-up call!
When I get engrossed in the libertarian community I forget that most people have never heard of Mises, Rothbard, or Bastiat, and they don’t really care who they are! It seems like over the past few months I’ve been asked all the questions we joke about, “Who will build the roads?”, “Wouldn’t that be chaos?”, “Sure it could work if everyone was like you, but there are evil people in the world.”, “So you want a world where every dispute is settled with a gun?”, and “Wouldn’t a country like North Korea just invade?”. I almost made a coworker fall out of his chair when I said I don’t think we need government for anything.
It’s kind of funny thinking that the people asking these questions think they’re really sticking it to us and this is their “Gotcha” moment. We think about this stuff all day, do those Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton supporters really think we never thought about roads? The truth is, they do! Even though many of these people know I was a Republican for most my life and volunteered my time around the elections to help the Republican Party, they assume I’m totally naïve and changed my entire political view (views that most people get emotional over when someone disagrees) on a whim or a random article and I never thought about how these ideas would work in the real world. You’d think they’d at least hear me out and give me credit for doing research and keeping an open mind. Unfortunately they’re usually asking the next cliché question before I’m able to respond to the first question.
However, these are legitimate questions. Most of us libertarians have had those same questions at some point in our conversion (I think it’s safe to say most of us didn’t grow up libertarian), but somehow we all found the answers. We all enjoy debate, and most of us prefer respectful debate, so it’s been a lot of fun talking libertarianism with “normal” people and not worrying about what Cantwell, Kokesh, or Borowski recently said. I’m sure I’ll get sucked back in, but I have to say, it’s a lot of fun when I don’t know what’s going on in cyber libertarianland!