Trigger Warning: ranting, sentences, pixels/ink, trigger warnings
On numerous occasions I’ve seen libertarians accused (and been accused myself) of not wanting to face reality, either because the accused is “naive” and “utopian”, or because they are “sheep” who have not bought into the accuser’s pet conspiracy theory. These accusations come from both allies and enemies, and are sometimes justified, however, more often than not when the assertion is addressed it turns out that the accuser is simply miffed that the other person doesn’t have as dreary of a worldview as they do. This is partially a rant, partially a stake in the ground for the next person who makes this jab.
To give a couple examples:
While the Ferguson hoopla was going on I was informed (by a libertarian no less!) that all police are racist and are trained to be so, with the implication that all police are “bad cops”. I do not remember if it was specifically stated in this instance, but the common assertion in this type of argument is that the person who doesn’t believe the doom-tale is naive and too scared to face reality. When I objected that the blanket statement is false and that there are “good cops”, I was told that I was a statist sympathizer.
When I wrote my Nuclear Anarchism series of articles one of the responses that I expected was the accusation that I was a utopian who wasn’t considering the true costs (defined by the accuser to be effectively infinite) of privately owned nuclear weapons or devices. And yet in the articles I had clearly stated some rather horrible things that were likely to happen, and argued that those costs were going to happen either way, merely that they would be handled better by a private system. Right on cue both enemies and allies tore in as though I had suggested raping their daughter. For sheer predictability it rivaled the classic “Who will build the roads?”.
I could give more examples, but that is enough.
So let us be clear: People who think that government can solve any problem, even when it has been proven to be incapable of solving that problem, are realistic and practical. But when I say that government can’t solve a problem and that the problem can’t be solved once and for all, but can only be mitigated, and even then only by private institutions, I am a utopian.
Then on the flip-side; those whose map of the world is based on blatantly obvious and simplistic villains (seriously, the only thing missing is the cackling laughter) who are easy to distinguish from the saints who are valiantly defending against these dastardly plots, these people are bravely realistic and willing to see the uncomfortable parts of life. But having a map where the villains are replaced with useful idiots and systemic incentives, and has few or no villains who can be specifically targeted to end the threat, and that you can never know if you are dealing with a villain or normal person till the interaction starts? That is being too scared to face reality.
In my world there are “good cops” who try their best to live up to the sheepdog ideal, “neutral” cops who aren’t outright villains or sheepdogs, and also the scumbags who really do deserve to be shot. And unless you are very familiar with reading body language you often can’t tell the difference until after you start interacting with them and are vulnerable to their abuse.
In my world terrorism is all it is hyped up to be, and government is as dangerous as it is hyped up to be. In my world terrorists cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, but in the long run there is nothing that can be done to stop private nukes from existing.
Yet I am the person who is “utopian” and thinks everything will turn out perfectly. Or alternatively I am “naive” because I haven’t bought into a conspiracy theory that has a level of overall sophistication akin to the lowest grade of trashy romance novel.
My map is terrifying if you bother to dig beneath the optimism. Don’t you dare tell me I am a utopian, or too scared to face your pathetic doom-tale.