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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


From a Comment is Free article by Nick Cohen:

Leftwingers have benefitted for years from being typecast as decent people. They may possesses the self-righteousness of “a teenager who had just become a vegetarian”, as Jess Phillips, the marvellous Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, warned. But like teenage vegetarians, they mean well. If the world does not always turn out the way they planned, that is the world’s fault. It would be a better place if it did as the left told it to, sat up at the table and ate its greens.

Stereotypical rightwingers could not be more different. They are sexist, racist and hypocritical. Tories are motivated by greed and prejudice. The far right is driven by brutish blood lusts.

The hold of these stereotypes among the progressive, university-educated middle classes explains why you never hear a rightwing political comedian on Radio 4 or see a leftwing villain in a television drama. Comics and writers tear into Daily Mail and Sun readers but never Guardian and Observer readers. They assume that you are virtuous.

The article goes on to explain how Jeremy Corbyn means that people do not think the left are nice any more. I do not think we are there yet.

But I do wonder if it is possible to market libertarianism as the right choice for nice people. We are, after all, the ones who want everyone to be rich.

Would it not be useful if self-righteous teenagers were declaring themselves to be libertarians instead of vegetarians?

29 comments to Marketing

  • lucklucky

    Self-righteous teenagers are violent people that want to impose their will on others, so no, they cannot be Libertarians.

    We must remember that most explicit violence occurs between teenager and 40 years old age. In fact if teenagers want world peace i think the one expeditious way is to freeze themselves in cryogenic chambers until they will be 35 or so years old. Communism, Fascism, Radical Islamism would not be possible without young people. “Libertarianism” can.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)


    I disagree. Some self-righteous teenagers may be violent people. Other self-righteous teenagers are merely self-righteous, either because not inclined to violence or because they have learned to restrain their violent impulses. You are stereotyping self-righteous teenagers as all being violent. I strongly agree with Rob Fisher’s last sentence. A few self-righteous teenagers already do declare themselves to be libertarians, their adherence to libertarianism being all part of them being so self-righteous. And it is entirely possible that a world might be contrived where this happened a lot more than it does now.

  • Darin

    According to Nozick

    Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

    the origin of communism is school, the excellent straight-A students who are rewarded and admired in school but not in later life become communists or other kind of rebel. If this theory is proven, the best way to spread libertarianism would be to recruit failed straight-F students.

  • RRS

    Would it not be useful if self-righteous teenagers were declaring themselves to be libertarians instead of vegetarians?


    That would likely be dependent on how close the “declaration” might be to conviction; which, in turn is likely to depend on “how” and “why” they come to such determination for declaration.

  • Bruce

    Two thoughts:

    “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”.

    And, as my brother observed many years ago:

    The most dangerous organism on the face of the planet is a “concerned citizen”.

  • Veryretired

    The sophomore effect—the 19 year old who has a year or so of college and took a few courses, so he or she decides they know the answers to all the world’s problems—is ubiquitous in human cultures, but seems especially hard-headed in the west.

    In older cultures, and several major current cultures, the wisdom of the elders was revered, and youth who rebelled often suffered very serious consequences. But those older cultures were also extremely dangerous, and young men, especially, who survived to middle age were unusual. Therefore, the turnover of clan leaders and other forms of elders was high, and the leadership of many hunting and/or military cultures was often quite young, as noted by historian Barbara Tuchman in her examination of the 14th century.

    In today’s world, longevity has significantly increased, and the extended adolescence of western youth has led to many living in an limbo of artificiality, school kids who are simultaneously told they are important, and yet not mature enough to have any major influence on society.

    I witnessed this long standing paradigm being turned on its head in the revolts of the 1960’s, when major elements of long standing social conventions were challenged, and many rendered obsolete.

    Unfortunately, many of the stereotypes of the time, and my generation, were created out of whole cloth by the endless sensationalism of the media, and many of the so-called leaders of the counterculture were in thrall to the crudest stereotyping of the 19th century, the myths of class determination and class warfare.

    There has been a long-standing moral inversion in human culture, based on the lifeboat nature of primitive cultures, when the survival of the clan often required the submergence of the individual into the dire needs of the group. In its best and noblest form, this value was, and still is, the honorable motivation of those who place themselves in dangerous or other demanding situations to protect their families and communities.

    But, unfortunately, this motivation has been turned against those who wish to be virtuous by those who only desire is to manipulate others to fulfill their own lust for wealth and power. This corrupt perversion was most blatantly played out for all to see during China’s Cultural Revolution, when the tendency of young people to become zealots in pursuit of the perfection they have discovered in some doctrine was used to destroy their own futures in a quest for yet another delusional utopian social reformation.

    Now we see two more regrettable manifestations of this youthful vulnerability to cultish beliefs and reckless behavior in the west, for one, and across the world for another.

    The college youth who have decided that they must live their lives without ever being troubled by ideas they find disturbing are the fruits of a poisonous, parasitic vine that was planted in our culture many years ago, and is now coming to fruition in a determined drive to contravene, and negate, some of out society’s most precious values—free speech, thought, and association, among others.

    And, like a biblical plague across a ancient land, there has arisen a closed society of religious murderers who strike out at any opportunity to inflict death and destruction, anywhere in the world they can sense a weak point in a culture made up of just such places.

    It is ironic that the world which abandoned the once common walled cities of past ages now finds itself opened and vulnerable to a new marauding horde, drive by a variation of the ancient blood lust that once terrorized and destroyed whole civilizations. Now, however, instead of armies of Huns on horseback, we are faced with small groups of men and women with rifles, and even swords, who kill everyone in a certain selected place, and then die in some gruesome manner.

    And the basis for all this murderous rage?

    The ultimate two-way stereotype—-they are the chosen of God, and everyone else is damned, and deserving of death.

    And that “everyone” means you, your family, and every person you know.

    So, pardon me if I stereotype the murderers who would do this, and consider them to be no different than a rabid dog, and deserving of the same fate that dog requires.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “But I do wonder if it is possible to market libertarianism as the right choice for nice people.”

    Of course! We are the ones who are against violence.

  • Paul Marks

    The left are, mostly, not nice people – that is becoming obvious. The young students demanding an end to Freedom of Speech in universities (and elsewhere) are not nice.

    And the teachers and university lecturers (and so on) who brainwashed these students in the first place, are not nice either.

    It is time that we abandoned the idea that the left are, mostly, nice people who are misguided.

    They are, mostly, not nice – not nice at all.

    They will not “play fair” – try and “work with them” and they destroy you.

    I know of what I write.

  • What about teenagers who’ve just finished reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’ ?

  • Greg

    Let’s not forget what it is to be a teenager, or even young adult: if you’re young and conservative, you’re heartless; if you’re past youth and liberal, you’re brainless.

    But to the topic of the post: how might this adage be modified to include Libertarian thought?

    I’m sure that formulation has been made by others, but allow me to give it a go (and please, you regular commenters and posters, give it a try yourself because I’ve no doubt you will come up with something better than mine):
    Young and conservative? Heartless!
    Not young, yet liberal? Brainless!
    Libertarian? Full of heart, brainpower, knowledge, and good looking, too!


  • Jerry

    You want to raise the hood ( bonnet ) and look underneath at what the true hard core left looks like ??
    Take a short trip over to democratic underground and pick a topic, any topic, and proceed to peruse the comments contained therein.

    Decent ?


    Vicious would be much closer but still completely inadequate.
    Raging viciously is a bit closer but still …………

    There is NOTHING nice or decent about any of them once the ‘shields are down’ and you can see the truth about what you are dealing with !!
    Am I stereotyping ?
    But what I read, hear and have experienced is all I have to go on and those teach me that ‘the left’, in general, should be avoided at all costs.

  • lucklucky

    “You are stereotyping self-righteous teenagers as all being violent.”

    Correct. I am because most are. Note that when i say violent i include in violence shouting down others, general bullying, asking for State to intervene, lawfare etc…

    “The college youth who have decided that they must live their lives without ever being troubled by ideas they find disturbing ”

    Once again a completely wrong analysis of what is happening.

    That youth is not troubled by ideas they find disturbing, that youth hates those ideas, wants to combat them by censoring them feigning false sensitivity because journalists and the Marxist culture for decades had teach them that manufactured outrage is the fastest way to get Power.

    Don’t you understand that such aggressive youth cannot be at same time sensitive flowers?

    I almost find more disturbing how people can’t understand that what is happening is nothing more than tactics to build a slanted battlefield for their side and get a easy win than the issue itself. There is no biggest total victory than to silence others.

  • Martin

    The left are the worst offenders regarding self-righteousness without a doubt. They don’t have a monopoly on it though, I’ve found many extreme nationalists, libertarians and neoconservatives exhibit that trait often as well, usually when presented with realities that collide with their ideology.

  • Mr Ed

    “The college youth who have decided that they must live their lives without ever being troubled by ideas they find disturbing ”

    should be commiserated with on their lack of intellectual rigour and curiosity, and be expelled from their institution on the basis of a lack of intellectual capability to learn and understand, with no refund of any fees paid, for their own safety as well as that of others.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Many kids just want to rebel against their parents. This phase will pass.
    As for marketing libertarian values, we can trump the socialist creed of ‘Share Money!’ with our own sharing value- ‘Share Power!’. Power is more valuable even than money, and typical socialoids want to monopolise power so they can then ‘fairly’ distribute money and property.
    So, fellow freedom-lovers, ‘Share Power!’

  • Malcolm Hutty

    Rob asks the right question.

    I don’t know the answer, but I found the thread participants’ lack of interest in attempting it to be profoundly depressing.

  • RRS

    @ Malcolm H.:

    But I do wonder if it is possible to market libertarianism as the right choice for nice people. We are, after all, the ones who want everyone to be rich.

    Is that the question?

    That query and the one following are both “Max U” based.

    I sense that statement has a tongue in cheek.

    Whether one takes a social, or more limited political, view “libertarianism” is not a concept that can be “marketed” as a choice. Not everyone (probably most do not) care what others (we) want for them, whether its riches (material) or salvation (spiritual).

    People may care for what others provide or make available to them; or especially what others prevent them from obtaining (regardless of reasons). Thus they should have the least conflict with libertarianism in the latter, while freedom of choice is the chief contribution of libertarianism to the former.

    Libertarianism can probably best be analogized to a faith – which can be attained (but not by exchange)- it begins with faith or belief in “self” or “selves.” Like all faiths, that can get overstretched. But, it can’t be dealt with in a “market.”

  • Rob Fisher

    Too busy and I was to brief. Brian has the sense of it. Part of the purpose of this blog is to change the metacontext, and I think stereotype perception would be needed to convince the voters.

    By “useful” I meant useful for the cause of advancing liberty.

    What I find when I talk to people is they are by default leftist because they think that is how you help poor people, and they want to be seen to be helping poor people. I want to convince them there is another option, but too often they dismiss markets as simply uncaring.

    I an interested in finding arguments that will convince that type of person.

  • Rob Fisher

    And not just arguments but a slogan and a poster and soundbites. I don’t like it but rhetoric seems to work.

  • Quentin

    IMHO the key to marketing libertarianism is to focus not on the liberties but the responsibilities that ensue: “You don’t need the nanny state to do that for you – that’s your responsibility.”

  • lucklucky

    Well The Telegraph says that a bunch of young people that were breaking things in Athens because they want more State are… wait a minute… Anarchists…


    Do not corrupt the poor for your own narcisism.

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. old proverb

    Markets take more people from poverty than caring people.

    Without markets there will be famine.

  • The Fyrdman

    If you want to capture a teenage market you need libertarian heroes. Teens are romantics looking for someone to inspire them, and at least metaphorically lead them to a promised land. Most Che Guevara t-shirt wearing teens could barely string together to sentences about the fella but they recognise a good looking man being pitched a freedom fighter. Libertarianism needs the same. Which is a bit of a bugger because by nature libertarians are suspicious of these very types…

  • Watchman

    Surely the point about libertarianism is that it doesn’t have leaders and prophets, but simply precepts (which are vague). None of this is likely to attract a self-rightous type, as they tend to favour religion or ideologies with leaders (dead and alive). Libertarians should not be hoping to replace the left – they should be seeking to destroy the structures that encourage people to believe in leftish ideas and stereotypes.

    Put it this way. If someone comes to libertarian views but sees themselves as a follower of Ayn Rand, are they really fully libertarian, knowing that their views are actually those of someone else. Or are they just another leadership cult/religion, relying on creed and faith rather than reason and logic?

  • RRS


    Ah! y’had me fooled. I thought I sensed irony.

    We seem to be concerned here with “Western” Teens.

    We may be observing certain types of commonalities of responses to (or within) stereotypical circumstances rather than stereotypical teens.

    The “teens” being observed (actually only a segment) as stereotypical have already passed through the phases of original motivational formations in what today constitutes the circumstance of family. Families are far less (if at all) stereotypical (regionally, ethnically or otherwise) than they previously seemed.

    As Quentin notes, meeting or dealing with obligations (of which responsibility is one) seems to be a lesser product of original (en famlie) motivational formation.

    What we are looking at (whether we are observing or not),as teens “build” on their original motivations, is not streotypicallity, but, more likely, quests for commonalities in stereotypical circumstances that have superseded stereotypical families.

  • Brad

    This all can be reduced to the fact the Hitler Cared with a capital “C” just like any collectivist does/did. Stalin “Cared”. Mao “Cared”.

  • Alisa

    Put it this way. If someone comes to libertarian views but sees themselves as a follower of Ayn Rand, are they really fully libertarian, knowing that their views are actually those of someone else. Or are they just another leadership cult/religion, relying on creed and faith rather than reason and logic?

    Does it really matter, Watchman, as long as they are content to leave you alone?

  • RRS


    We might go a bit further.

    The sanctity of the individual self is the heart of libertarian conviction.

    How can an individual achieve conviction in the sanctity of self solely through “pure” reason and logic?

    Is it Aquinas reading time again?

    We have to remember Aquinas got to the Philosopher via Maimonides.

    We jes’ ain’t all that smart!

  • Deep Lurker

    We are, after all, the ones who want everyone to be rich.

    Actually we’re the ones who are perfectly happy if someone wants to drop out of the rat-race and be not-rich. It’s the old socialists who wanted everyone to be rich – and who wanted to force people to work hard for their own good and for the greater glory of “society.”

    As George Bernard Shaw put it in The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism

    But Weary Willie may say that he hates work, and is quite willing to take less, and be poor and dirty and ragged or even naked for the sake of getting off with less work. But that, as we have seen, cannot be allowed: voluntary poverty is just as mischievous socially as involuntary poverty: decent nations must insist on their citizens leading decent lives, doing their full share of the nation’s work, and taking their full share of its income. . . . Poverty and social irresponsibility will be forbidden luxuries.

    Compulsory social service is so unanswerably right that the very first duty of a government is to see that everybody works enough to pay her way and leave something over for the profit of the country and the improvement of the world

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Some study done years ago claimed that the most efficient welfare organisation was The Salvation Army, a private enterprise. Mention that to young people if they ask about helping the poor.