Damn Dirty Hippies

Labels are fascinating (though often annoying) things. I am a libertarian. But my path has been a strange one and I now identify as a hippie also. I was a veteran in Iraq and Afghanistan, I earned a degree in Economics from The College of Charleston, and I worked in the suit-and-tie non-profit world of Washington DC… but none of that felt 100% right to me, the fight against government was not all I wanted. In my experience hippies tend to be associated with “the left” (whatever the fuck that even means anymore) while libertarians have a history of aligning with “the right” (again… WTF does that mean), particularly over economic issues. The focus on economic freedom and aligning with the right has in many ways tainted the word “libertarian” in many people’s minds. Some of the tainting is justified, while some of it reflects a lack of understanding of what it means to be a libertarian.

As a libertarian I believe in the freedom to do what I wish with my body, my mind, and my labor, as long as I am not harming someone else. Being a libertarian DOES NOT mean that I have a slavish devotion to corporate hierarchy, consumerism, or crony capitalism. In fact, I hate all three of those things… though the last is the most offensive because it violates both my personal preferences and my libertarian philosophy. Crony capitalism is the use of government (read: guns) to prohibit others from competing (read: acting freely) in order to make money. That isn’t just un-libertarian, that is evil.

Being against government is the easy part of libertarianism, it is well defined and fits neatly into a black and white world view. Violence is wrong, government action is all violence, therefore government is wrong. While many conversations and debates can be had on issues of practicality or the utilitarian results of reducing government the ethics behind it easily stand. Many libertarians believe that libertarian philosophy stops with government, I am not one of those libertarians. Government is certainly a destructive force posing as the “will of the people” or communal action, our fight doesn’t end at anarchy… our fight continues until bigotry, sexism, and any power that treats one life as less than another or sees equality as the enemy is destroyed. It may be easy to see the government as the only true use of coercion against people but that is not reflective of reality.

Coercion, harm, oppression, and the other ills that libertarians strongly philosophically oppose do not exist solely in the realm of governments and criminals. Mental harm can come from harassment, bullying, and generations of institutional (government or otherwise) discrimination have very real harmful effects. We have learned enough about the human brain to know that it can be harmed, even if it is not touched physically. Libertarians would benefit from recognizing the legitimate claims that harm exist outside of the state and defeat of the state will not solve the destructive forces of racism or sexism.

So yes, I am a libertarian. I believe in markets, economic freedom, and personal freedom to do what you wish as long as you don’t harm others… but I believe that harm comes in many forms and is a more complex concept than “no physical force”. And yes, I am a hippie. I believe in loving people first and foremost, love is limitless, I enjoy expanding my views of the world, I find the body beautiful and enjoy being naked as often as possible, and I believe complete freedom cannot come until we cast of the shackles that we place on others and ourselves. In the end I feel most at home in where my libertarianism and hippyness combine, a place that is peaceful, anarchist, accepting, and loving (ie Burning Man). In the end, the labels are worthless.

I am me, part of we, and that is fucking awesome.

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