I have a confession to make to all of my fellow libertarians. I can’t remember the last time I watched the news. What’s more, I rarely even look at the news online unless someone shares it on Facebook, and somewhere along the way stopped being interested in arguing for the government to enact any particular policy. I often see Facebook posts by libertarians criticizing a particular policy and blaming the fact that it was enacted on people who don’t stay informed about politics. I can relate to their feelings because people like me used to cause me the same frustration. I thought if only more people got involved in politics, things would get better. I’m not so convinced anymore.
For the first 18 years of my life, I didn’t care about politics, but all that changed when I took my first Economics class in the midst of the financial crisis of 2008. With the political nature of all the fascinating events and the action taken in response to them, my interest in Economics and politics became linked. Through my exploration of different ideas of politics and economics, I stumbled upon libertarianism. When I began to recognize both the economic and philosophical origins of the problems of the world, I wanted to do something. So I did the only thing I knew to do.
I spent a huge amount of time watching the news, reading, worrying over what politicians were doing, and discussing it all with family and friends until they were probably tired of it. I was concerned with understanding all the issues and voting for the “right” person. I even got so engrossed in all of it that I was bothered when people didn’t follow politics. I never tried to tell anyone who to vote for, but I encouraged them to get involved and do their own research.
I am glad I went through the process of learning, but that is no longer the role I want to play. I am no longer trying to convince others to take that path. I am not sure exactly when I made the transition to basically being an apolitical anarchist, but I know the reasons why I did.
First, I realized that it was unreasonable to expect other people to allocate the amount of time necessary to grasp even a small percentage of the relevant issues. Frankly, it is stressful and a huge commitment of time. On top of that, inherent in politics is the presumption that some people have special authority over other people, which is the antithesis of individual liberty.
Most importantly, I became apolitical for the same reason I am a libertarian. I believe strongly in the sacredness of self-ownership and right of individuals to create their own destinies without being, controlled and having their amazing diversity suppressed by others who claim authority. Why would I wish those individuals to spend the time that they could spend maximizing their life and potential in order to follow the ugly and corrupt business of politics?
There is definitely merit in following the issues and pointing out the problems with policies that hurt people to make people aware. However, don’t expect that everyone else should do the same. That isn’t the role for everyone, and thankfully for the rest of us, there really is more to liberty than politics.
Just because some people don’t follow the healthcare debate or some other important issue doesn’t mean they cannot further liberty. Perhaps they help someone else experience a better and freer life and better maximize their own life and liberty. Isn’t that the point after all? The world will change for the better, not by everyone spending more time in the uninspiring and coercive world of politics, but by people maximizing their own individual potential and that of those around them in a way that activates that special thing, which I can only describe as spiritual, which allows them to experience the joy, passion, and liberty that life was meant to hold for all of us.