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“The Setting of Their Leftist Suns”

I loved the title of this autobiographical article by Tim Blair, describing how he came to turn away from the left wing views of his youth.*

Tell your personal stories of political evolution, in any direction.

*Basically he can’t keep his mouth shut.

45 comments to “The Setting of Their Leftist Suns”

  • PapayaSF

    My parents were Republicans, I went through a brief college socialist phase, then settled into libertarianism. However, in recent years it has become clear that pure libertarianism is an impossible ideal in the face of mass immigration from the Third World, and from Islam itself. “Free movement/no borders” simply can’t work to preserve what liberty we still have left. So I feel that a degree of “borders-language-culture” conservatism is needed, plus some sort of probably pre-Enlightenment-style defense against Islam.

  • The most obvious breaking point in my descent into cynicism was an argument I had with Matthew Stark, then the director of the Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Most of our libraries had racks in the entrances where people could put their stacks of free publications, thus exposing them to the public. Stark argued that these racks must be removed from the libraries, because there weren’t enough of them to accept all possible publications of this type. 😡

    Right. It seemed to me he was championing equality by reducing opportunity to zero, thus making all free publications equally unavailable. So much for unbridled idealism.

    My path could be seen as going from left to right, though it was more of a trip from believing the government was doing bad things, to believing it was doing too many things. Count me as a minarchist, I guess, which is definite proof that I’m not of the Left these days.

  • CaptDMO

    I was amused by David Mamet’s “The Secret Knowledge”, outlining his evolution from champion playwright of “The Cause”, and into a grown-up.
    It’s ALWAYS amusing when the rare folks who feed on celebrity find themselves in a position where they no longer give a crap about “outragious that sells”, and unexpectedly find steady, “blue chip” success in reflecting on 5000 years of (IMHO)Captain Obvious.
    I was fortunate in that I went to a progressive private prep school. I was a “bad boy”, in that I wasn’t buying the side dish of socialist/communist philosophy indoctrination served up with the pretty demanding main course of Arts and (actual) Sciences. Oh sure, I pulled MORE than my weight in “The Community” to compensate for the actual work slackers, because 1. It just NEEDED doing, and 2. Because I COULD-strapping young testosterone fountain that I USED to be.
    I didn’t have to wait to get to college before discovering Holy crap, these are going to be the men and women who will end up sucking dicks for attention, shelter, bus fare, and something to eat, RIGHT after they’re done burning through the inheritance lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Here in Australia, the shining messiah of utopia through big government was Edward Gough Whitlam (Gough rhymes with ‘cough’, to non-Australians). The Whitlam government went from 1972 to 1975, and seemed hell-bent on proving that money Did grow on trees. Gough was unfortunate in that the oil crisis happened in the middle of his big programs, but he would still be a larger-than-life advocate of paradise by populism. After that, whilst I never warmed to his Rand-reading successor, John Fraser, I kept voting for Fraser and the Liberal Party.

  • Mary Contrary

    I was brought up as a very Conservative child, and joined the Young Conservatives at 16, mainly because the local Conservative Association had a private bar and let the YCs use it (YCs are 16-30), so I could get away with drinking while underaged.

    Through that I met a student from York Uni (which turned out to be a hotbed of libertarian radicalism), who told me a whole lot of stuff I’d never heard before about how taxation is theft, the NHS should be privatised, government welfare should be left to private charity and insurance, and so forth.

    A little while later, I was roped into a school exercise where each week one person was picked to make a speech to the whole year group – pick any topic, it doesn’t matter, the point is to get experience (and confidence) in public speaking. So I gave a speech talking about what this guy had said, with the theme (“it doesn’t matter that it’s nonsense, we should all think about *why* it’s nonsense, so we can argue and rebut. Be thoughtful, everybody!”).

    That was sometime in January. My speech was mentioned again at the end of the school year, in June. I realised that in all that time I hadn’t come up with any reasons why the libertarian critique of my conventional conservativism was nonsense, after all. So I adopted it as my own.

  • I’ve met Tim Blair a couple of times in person; last time was in Sydney and we got smashed on vodka. He’s a great bloke, a very genuine guy, and happy to rub shoulders with mere bloggers even though he’s very successful in the MSM.

  • I mentioned my gradual early-twenties departure from my left-wing upbringing in a recent post, and I commented a while back about my parents’ unwisdom in dumping all their no-longer-‘relevant’ decades-old leftwing books in my room – where I read them when I was bored enough, so got to see what left-wing propaganda looked like when it was really stale and one knew what happened next. So for this reply to Natalie’s question, I’ll mention something else that played a role.

    I was just too young for the 60s. I was like the younger Lovell daughter in the film Apollo 13, who clearly thinks her essence-of-60s elder sister is an idiot. My parents were immense intellectual snobs. The very amiable, very courteously expressed, very well-meaning contempt they felt for the lesser entertainments of the masses naturally translated into contempt for a lot of 60s stuff, from pop music and drugs to the more intellectually vacuous forms of dissent. Thus while absorbing and echoing a ton of vote-Labour values, I was almost encouraged to disdain the pot-smoking marcher under the mindless sign. My parents were left-wing but they were also parents, with enough common sense to guess how obnoxious a standard 60s rebel would be to have around the house. Being too young for the lure of it, I too could see that. And since all those rebels were lefty, my family unintentionally allowed me to think it was possible to be too lefty, or lefty in the wrong kind of way.

    They also made the basic mistake of making me earn my pocket money (by doing well in exams, mowing the grass and suchlike), instead of just giving it to me as an unearned entitlement. As a tiny tot I got a very tiny sum (great wealth to a tiny tot) for merely existing, but all raises were tied to performance. This attitude did not mesh perfectly with the developing trends of 80s-and-after left-wing thought.

  • Jacob

    There are quite a few tales of lefties that saw the light, or perceived what is actually going on, and abandoned the dogmatic leftist doctrines.

    There are no stories (that I am aware of) of conservatives or libertarians who converted to red utopia. Can anyone think of such a story?

  • Mr Ed

    There are no stories (that I am aware of) of conservatives or libertarians who converted to red utopia. Can anyone think of such a story?

    The Conservative and Unionist Party?

  • Jacob

    Yes, it’s true.
    The Conservatives in the UK and the conservatives in the US (the establishment Republican party, like McCain and Romney) are indistinguishable in their ideology from Labor or the Democrats.

    But there are no dramatic stories of personal conversion (or light seeing) – “How I Abandoned my Selfish and empty pursuit of Personal Wealth, and joined the Noble, uplifting fight for the Poor in Calcutta”.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I think it is universally common that experience through age makes the foolishness and the hypocrisy of leftist ideology apparent. The problem we face is the rise of the “hard” left in an era where, those who remember the last time they were in power, are dying off.

    For me, I was always a young wavering idealist but still pro-socialist as sound liberal values still seemed to resonate more with the left, until they willingly got into bed with fanatical religious conservatives under the guise of protecting an “oppressed minority” and totally blew their progressive argument. If “progressive” now means siding with misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist bigots – for any reason whatsoever – then I don’t want to be progressive any more.

  • There are no stories (that I am aware of) of conservatives or libertarians who converted to red utopia. Can anyone think of such a story?

    The entire British middle classes? Just because they think ever-increasing government expenditure, state meddling, and a highly manipulated housing market are conservative policies, it doesn’t mean they are. I gave up finding true conservatives years ago: most are conservative right up until you start questioning their own particular special interest.

  • Watchman

    I’m still not convinced I’ve had a political journey – I just think the world moved around me…

    As a child I was fairly tribal Conservative (from the working class side of the family, which always confuses my middle-class friends – my self-made, middle-class grandfather was a socialist…), but I always seem to have been more liberal than much of my family, and most of my arguments with my dad were against government intervention. I drifted away from tribalism in the mid-90s, partially as a reaction to the lack of anything to endenger loyalty in the then Conservative party, but also because I had a circle of friends that covered just about every political opinion, but were united by our dislike of people trying to tell us we couldn’t be friends (at one point I was in a relationship with a Conservative party member, whilst my flatmate (almost racist in his views) was sleeping with a Labour supporter, whilst my main drinking partner (a Liberal Democrat) was going out with a reforming socialist worker – it made for good nights in the pub, although preferably with a game nearby to focus the competetiveness). I kind of settled on a free-market, liberal approach which flirted with libertarianism but which could not accept its views on guns (sorry folks, but guns are inherently illiberal devices) and worried about its adherents easy association with anti-abortionists and the like (seemingly less of a problem now). The world of work made me more aware of contracts (and the threat to the ability to contract that activist judges present), and kind of completed my basic current philosophy – socially and economically ultra-liberal, but with a strong focus on the individual ability to contract. I’ve still to find my label though.

    Edited to remove neologism competitivsim

  • Watchman

    Me Ed/Jacob,

    Isn’t it a feature of any collective organsiation that has to function ‘on behalf of’ (rather than simply for) its members that it will always tend to be more collectivist, if only because the mindset of anyone that runs such an organisation is likely to be collectivist and unlikely to be particularly individualistic. Plus the urge to break things is never applied to one’s own party, so the party tends to be a relic rather than a contemporary device, and therefore inherently conservative. And conservatism is primarily reluctance to change, so tends to drag people back to a centralist consensus.

    None of which is to say the individuals involved had any sort of right to left journey – although I could cite the current Speaker of the House of Commons in this respect, albeit this seems to be the same institutional conservatism rather than an outright conversion to socialist dogma.

  • Y. Knott

    Nobody cares about me, so here goes. A Canadian, I was until fairly recently (mid-2003-ish) a full-blown bleeding-heart liberal; with a couple poignant exceptions – I didn’t believe CAGW at all, ever, and my country’s ( – and mother-country’s – ) fleering contempt for metal things that go ‘BANG’ filled me with ‘maze. Other than that – steady diet of leftist pabulum, and liked it.

    Sitting bored one day (in 2003 – I looked-up the first reference-date on my ‘quotes’ page), I began pondering these “blog” things; and a general-interest site having several blogs listed along its right border, I started surfing them. I quickly discovered three things –

    1) leftwing blogs LOVE people with whom they agree, no matter how hypocritical; HATE (and denounce in terms so vile, I never effin’ used language that bad) anybody who questions or disagrees with them; take pride in yah-butting, what-abouting, misdirecting and sweeping inconveniencies under rugs; and think it meritorious to lie through their teeth sooner than countenance the merest modicum of truth, however trip-over-it obvious.

    2) rightwing blogs kick @$$, take names and shred all who deserve it, especially their own who’re caught monetising ‘interested motives’; finally,

    3) you CAN find-out what’s going-on in the world, and read-up on insightful developments with authors who appear to know what they’re talking-about and have no axe to grind – but only on rightwing blogs.

    I called my first-ever political crisis correctly in 1990; still (occasionally) get things right, thanks to knowing where to get news now. Liking my comfortable new niche on the right wing, and really REALLY happy ( – the only one in my extended family and workplace, I must add – ) about Brexit and Trump. No point telling ’em; leftism is a religion…

  • PeterT

    Lefty until college, read Atlas Shrugged, then Anarchy State and Utopia, mostly blogs since. Probably more of a Conservative now. Mainly due to the realisation that people have a tendency to drift towards collectivism without a Lord Vetinari character pushing back. Parents and other families still rampant lefties (I was informed only two days ago that it has rained in the Antarctic for the first time ever and almost all the polar bears are dead – these are ostensibly educated people). When my parents die I’m going to get a Gadsden flag tattoo, and maybe “1776/2016” across my shoulder blades. Well, if my wife lets me of course.

  • Y. Knott

    As always, somebody else has already said it far better than I ever could…


    Through the always-excellent Small Dead Animals.

  • Alisa

    Have never been a lefty myself. Used to be a conservative statist with an anarchist streak: the conservative part and the anarchist bit – by temperament, statist – due to not having been aware of practical alternatives.

  • I wasn’t really political when I was a teenager; my father voted Tory but had views any decent Conservative association would repudiate, and I associated Labour with class hatred, so I called myself a Liberal.

    Remained vaguely Liberal/liberal through university (Cambridge) then was led by a sort of patriotic idealism to become a civil servant, thinking that serving the nation and state (didn’t realise then that they’re not the same thing) was a noble and good thing. Totally disillusioned by the ineptitude, complacency and leftist idiocy of the British civil service (I was in the Inland Revenue (!) and would probably not have had the same experience in a less lefty department like Defence), promptly veered a long way to the right and became anarcho-capitalist in my thinking and Tory in my voting.

    Party allegiance has since been Ukip (disappointing), then LPUK (Libertarian Party of the UK, which was fun), back to Ukip (more disappointment) and now to the Tories, trying to hang around with the Conservatives for Liberty crowd.

  • Chris C.

    I was never a lefty, even as a youth. I put this down to, despite being born in the early 80’s, having parents who were born during WW2 and got to experience rationing in all its glory. They were also very conscious of not pushing any ideology onto me, rather letting me come to my own conclusions. The end result is that I was more or less Classically Liberal / Goldwater-ish at 18 and am still more or less Classically Liberal / Goldwater-ish now. Over the years I’ve wavered between being more ideological or pragmatic, but that’s about it.

  • Erik

    I did a counterclockwise traversal of pretty much the entire political compass during my life and am currently nursing a grudge about how the supposed “Authoritarian-Libertarian” axis really needs to be split into two separate things, much the way the compass split the Left-Right line in the first place.

  • Cal Ford

    >whilst I never warmed to his Rand-reading successor, John Fraser, I kept voting for Fraser and the Liberal Party

    Do you mean Malcom Fraser?

    >I’ve met Tim Blair a couple of times in person; last time was in Sydney and we got smashed on vodka. He’s a great bloke, a very genuine guy, and happy to rub shoulders with mere bloggers even though he’s very successful in the MSM.

    Does he know about all the terrible things you’ve said about Australians over the years?

  • My mother is as hard-left as anyone, and pretty much always was. My father is on the right, but didn’t push back against most of the cultural absurdities of the left. After they divorced, my mother got custody, and my father got visitation rights.
    My mother, my school, my literature, and my cartoon shows, taught me that boys and girls were identical in all but the defining difference. My father didn’t teach against it very often, since [a] He might’ve believed it too, and [b] He rarely got the chance anyway (no custody, and do you want to spend your short visits with your children haranguing them about gender?). Sometime when I was in late elementary school (between ages 10 and 12) I had a conversation very similar to this with my mother:

    Mom: You should never hit a girl.
    Me: Well, you can hit her back if she hits you first.
    Mom: No, not even then.

    It shocked and horrified me; I thought she either didn’t believe that boys and girls were identical, or else she was too stupid to see that the non-identity was an inherent consequence of her assertion. Since then, I’ve realized other options, including the one I think most likely: She is smart enough, but simply doesn’t have the time to think things through, because she was busy raising two boys, working part-time, and taking evening courses at the community college. However, I still take a dim view of the philosophy that led to the contradiction.
    There were a few other things I picked up a few things from US public schools & culture, relating to politics:

    [a] The right-wing was the Establishment, and the left wing was trying to Change Things for the Better.
    [b] Reading forbidden books is an important way to experience knowledge that the Establishment wants to keep hidden for their own protection.
    [c] Right-wing books are evil and I shouldn’t read them.

    I was able to simultaneously believe those three things by assuming that I was lucky enough to be in a small part of the culture consisting of Good People who believe Good Things. This small part included my mother, my public schools, Disney, Warner Brothers… However, since I believed [b], I was willing to risk breaking [c] when I found my dad’s copy of Bias, by Bernard Goldberg. When I got to the chapter where he suggested that the disproportionate rates at which women get custody of the children after divorces would count as “persecution” if the sexes were reversed, it started a cascade of failures in my left-leaning understanding of the world.

  • Alisa

    She is smart enough, but simply doesn’t have the time to think things through, because she was busy raising two boys, working part-time, and taking evening courses at the community college.

    That is as fair a description of the majority of voters as any.

  • Y. Knott

    That is as fair a description of the majority of voters as any.

    The other part of the equation is, where can one encounter more nuanced info they won’t automatically dismiss as ‘propaganda’ because it challenges their mental state, which is at the deep-end of frazzled and they don’t have time (or energy) to think about it in the first place? Lefties are very, very good at stopping the message getting out; and peers at making you feel ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ for even listening to it. You become a pariah for trying to discuss this with the very people you feel you should be comfortable discussing things with; and all lefties excel at ladling sternly sanctimonious guilt.

    “Well you SHOULD!!!” or “What’s WROOONG with you???” used to leave me wallowing in shame and self-loathing, as the speakers intended; now they just make me mad.

  • Cal Ford

    If she’s taking courses at the Community College then she has time to think over her political beliefs.

    But for most leftists, you could leave them alone for ten years with nothing to do, and they’d still believe the same things. It’s not about time. It’s about getting out of your bubble and exposing yourself to different belief systems.

  • NickM

    The road from Hell is paved with bad intentions.

    For me anyway there is no single point, no turn right from the Tom Tom. This is a good thing because I could crash the server with the stations of the cross that took me from my Dad (who thinks Corbyn is the best thing since bread came sliced).

    So what about a brief round up? Having a ZX Spectrum not a BBC Micro and learning to program it (RANDOMIZE USR 0!). Having a cat (if they aren’t libertarian Perry De Haviland is a Commie), visiting communist Yugoslavia and noticing all the waitresses wore the exact same shoes. Owning a bit of the Berlin Wall (Yes, Ronnie – I wept for you. I didn’t for the Princess of Wails). Seeing where Jan Palach torched himself in Prague. Seeing post Commie Prague in general including (a) a statue of a man urinating on a map of of the Czech Republic outside the Kafka Museum. (b) the fact that as a gift from Russia (how thoughtful) Prague once boasted the largest statue of Stalin in the World which the Czech’s dynamited (in one of the largest controlled explosion in Europe since WWII) and turned it into a skate park. I have spent a lot of time in post Sov Central Europe and they still value freedom in a way we take it for granted. I really like the Czechs and they do excellent beer and they deep fry cheese. I bought a mug in a Czech pound store which celebrated a certain US Whiskey brand called, “Knob Creek”. It had the sub-slogan, “For the taste of it!” and a really cheesy image of an ’80s couple getting jiggy in what looked like a Florida panhandle Howard Johnson. He was really amused but that is what being brought up by Viz does to you. I was also brought up by Viz. And, yes, I have met the Fat Slags in person on more than one occasion. Unlike Roy Batty I didn’t (usually) do questionable things with them.

    And so many other things. Nothing to do with Ayn Rand. Nothing to do with Karl Marx but a bit to do with Paul Marks. I could go on and on. And on but I shall not.
    So I guess there is no road to Damascus moment for me. Maybe Borges or Tolkien if I am pushing it. But I just watched and did.

    OK, I realise I’m starting writing the autobiography of a fairly average guy who lives just outside of Manchester and not answering Natalie’s question. But no one is average. Even me. Nobody saw the sun rise over the Santorini Caldera like I did when I was 22. Nobody will take that away from me. Ever.

    Libertarianism is being me and not a part of a tribe.

  • Does he know about all the terrible things you’ve said about Australians over the years?

    I imagine so. He linked to this post, anyway. I have found most decent Australians agree with me on the things I’m serious about and laugh at the things I’m not.

  • bobby b

    Hard-core lefty from Day One, I was the white kid in the neighborhood, first fun memories of playing “run from la migra” through the network of dry concrete rivers criss-crossing the neighborhood on their way to L.A. My teacher parents moved us to liberal Minnesota, I helped start our local SDS chapter, got arrested at three antiwar and anti-Nixon protests, went to THE most liberal college you might imagine . . . I was an obnoxious wanna-be Bill Ayers.

    Then I started reading things that hadn’t been recommended to me by my betters. Learned a lot about the Khmer Rouge, which really soured me on the basis of the philosophy. Last lefty gasp working for Mondale at HQ – I knew him, and was in lust with his daughter. There, I got to listen to the cream of lefty intellectualism defending The Cause, and it was lacking. And they knew it, and didn’t much care (when they were talking to each other) because what they put forth as their cause wasn’t really their cause.

    They wanted to become a more polite Khmer Rouge.

    And I never really had a chance with Eleanor.

  • Duspeptic Curmudgeon

    “I think it is universally common that experience through age makes the foolishness and the hypocrisy of leftist ideology apparent”

    It is often said that wisdom comes with age. But all too often age turns up alone…

  • Deep Lurker

    I can’t point to a particular moment, but I can point to a particular idea. I was bullied quite a bit as a child and young teenager, and among the advice I got was a lot of half-hearted advice to fight back. But there was also an unspoken subtext, even half a century ago, that “fighting and violence are always wrong, even – especially – when it’s fighting back in self-defense.” Which is why the advice to fight back was so half-hearted. But I didn’t recognize that, at the time.

    Finally recognizing and rejecting that anti-self-defense message was what turned me into the radical libertarian I am today.

    A secondary shock, one that didn’t really change my own political position but did reveal how deep the rot on the Left ran was “Dixiecrats Triumphant” which showed me just how much of a fascist git Woodrow Wilson was, and by extension just how fascist the whole progressive/liberal movement was.

    That showed me that it wasn’t just the pro-commie left that was the problem, but pretty much the entire 20th century left-of-center project in the US. With further problems from the far too many conservatives who had drunk the Progressive Kool Aid on various issues.

  • Ferox

    As a teen, I fancied myself an avid socialist. Four things occurred that moved me to support free-market capitalism and libertarian individualism:

    1) I used to make what I thought was a clever point – that for every dollar a person makes over the mean per capita income, someone else has to make a dollar under that mean per capita income. The immorality of personal wealth, etc. A patient adult finally pointed out to me that economic activity isn’t dividing up a pie, it’s making the pie.

    2) I read all three volumes of The Gulag Archipelago as a freshman history student.

    3) I observed repeatedly that progressives claim to combat racism by having different rules for different races, that they claim to combat sexism by having different rules for men and women, and that most of the levelers clamoring for equal outcomes are outlandishly wealthy themselves. Hypocrisy is the heart and soul of modern leftism.

    4) Finally, I read Man, Economy, and State, by Murray Rothbard. I don’t know how any honest person could give that work the care it deserves and come out pinko at the end of it.

  • Jamesg

    I was a Labour supporter as a kid. Stayed up to see Kinnock lose. Campaigned in the ‘Labour’ party at school mock elections. My first vote was when Labour got in with Blair. Remember the lecturer telling us we had to really vote Labour. First time voters back then only ever remembered Tory governments so New Labour seemed very exciting.

    Probably spent most of my 20s somewhat pro left. Weirdly, I can’t remember exactly how or when I eventually rejected the left. The financial crisis probably started me on the journey proper. I was determined to understand what really happened, which got me into Austrian economics.

  • Paul Marks

    I think I have always believed (as far back as I can remember – certainly to junior school) that the Sword of State should, in theory, be that – that the state should be about defence (nothing else). Although that never meant that I thought that the Welfare State could be abolished tomorrow or anything like that – generations of people have been led to be utterly dependent on the state, one can not tell an 80 year old can not be told “you should have prepared for your old age when you were young” when they were taxed into the ground and repeatedly lied to.

    However, I do remember changing my political opinions on at least one matter – back in (I think) 1983.

    I had always despised drugs (I still do) and I had assumed that addiction to such things (addiction undermining Free Will – agency) was a natural thing the Sword of State should guide against – but Milton Friedman asked a simple question (in his “Tyranny of the Status Que”) that I could not answer – show how prohibition has reduced the use of additive drugs. Of course the law has NOT reduced their use (if anything the opposite) so the case for the law falls apart.

    On immigration my view wavers over time (it always has) – depending on whether the immigrants seem to be loyal or not. There is no harm in allowing a friend in the gates of a town (or nation), but to allow enemies inside the gates is a disaster.

    Of course a Welfare State makes open gates (even to friends) utterly impractical – I have always known that.

    On money and banking I was a Rothbardian before I read Rothbard – that is why some of his other views (the false history and so on) were such a let down.

    Also a worry from the start is the corruption of the Sword of State – for force is evil and it corrupts. But getting rid of the Sword of State is illusion – the need for force will always be with us. Ordinary people can and should be experienced with arms – but there is a need for a professional force.

    And no one is successful in war if they totally respect private property – so the corruption (the evil) is not optional, the evil is necessary to prevent greater evil.

  • Fraser Orr

    You know I grew up in Glasgow, which is pretty leftie. My parents were mildly leftie, but for some reason I never really was. I was one of the few people in Glasgow who loved Maggie during my high school years, and I was the only person in Scotland who thought the poll tax was a good idea.

    However, that made me a conservative. Then I read Harry Browne’s book “The Great Libertarian Offer” and some of his other books, then the burgeoning libertarian on that new “world wide web” thingie. That gave me an understanding of free market solutions to things I was sure needed the government.

    Of course I have taken this further since then and realized that the whole libertarian thing is based on a the idea that we can convince a lot of people the accept “The Great Libertarian Offer”, and realized that they won’t. It became clear to me that all those libertarians were running around thinking that the problems of the world would be fixed by fixing government, which suddenly became apparent as a gross contradiction in terms. So I kind of gave up on -isms.

    Just for fun, here is a headline from the Washington Post that just illustrates how whacked these people are:

    ‘”WASHINGTON — The “health care bill” that Republicans are trying to pass in the Senate, like the one approved by the GOP majority in the House, isn’t really about health care at all. It’s the first step in a massive redistribution of wealth from struggling wage-earners to the rich — a theft of historic proportions.’ (my emphasis added.)

    I assumed this was from the Onion, but apparently not. You can’t make this stuff up.


  • Julie near Chicago

    Follow Fraser’s link, read the column, be sure to take along your sick-sack. The thing is a diatribe. The GOP wants to cut Medicaid way back if not out altogether, for the benefit of The Rich, and it just gets worse and worse.

  • Myno

    Raised atheist conservative, but Mom gave me Anthem in Jr. High, and was reading Rand to Dad at night as I was in High School (I recall her voice narrating the story of Dagny landing in the Gulch). But Mom never pushed The Books at me. Got to college, first (ever) girlfriend got me to read Atlas, and so I was a earnest Randroid, though hopefully not too insufferable. (Was one of those who wrote a Letter to Ayn Rand, and actually sent it. No reply. Had asked if it was ok to feel emotions… so no sh*t I didn’t get a response!) Libertarianism was starting to rise in Los Angeles, and I got to know some of the local players: George Smith (anarchist), Karl Bray (political activist), and an Argentinian expatriot who was one of the early contributors to Reason Magazine. Absorbed Hazlett and Hayek, and started a gradual escape from Objism, which like any half respectable religion has its quirks. Found value in Branden’s Intensives, and was one of those who met a girl there. 35 years happy and counting. Our pact is to never stop growing. Found this delightful site a few years ago (Thank The Hippo!), and have been mostly lurking regularly since, learning much from all you fine folk. Now help to run a “freethinkers” group near my hometown, which keeps my edges sharpened. Overall trend: atheist conservative => libertarian minarchist.

  • Jamesg

    I’ve also evolved on my views on religion. As a child I believed in God, and for about a month got very interested in the Bible. Teenager years saw me rebelling against what was obviously all just lies and control. I would look at those well dressed Christian missionary types with pity them for having been fooled. Feeling superior just from announcing my atheism.

    More recently I absorbed the new atheist movement and fully subscribed to the Hitchens’ anti-theism line of attack. I would look at the missionary types now with contempt for both lying and for definitely making the world a worse place with their lies.

    But more recently, probably after reading Nassim Taleb, I am less concerned with the importance of the truth, and more about what works. Stuff by Jordan Peterson about behaving as though you were theistic also chimes in with this. So now I find myself looking at the Christian missionaries standing outside the station early in the morning with a grudging respect. The fact that some of the new atheists like Dawkins and Grayling have come out as uber-EU-elitists who just don’t get it, shows me they have a massive blindspot in their thinking. I’m also finding myself increasingly swayed by the still alive Hitchen’s conservatism. Although, I’m still and will likely always be an atheist and I’m critical of the lack of reason and individualism in religion still.

  • Umbriel

    American in my early 50s here. I was an only child, with fairly apolitical parents who raised me without much indoctrination beyond the most basic and sensible sort of anti-racism. They did seem to accept certain Lefty assumptions like the legitimacy of government’s role as wealth redistributors to help the downtrodden, but I expect that was part and parcel of their having grown up during the New Deal. They were disapproving of the campus protests of the Vietnam era, so I guess they sowed the seeds of my pretty staunch anti-Communism.

    In 1980 I had a high school history teacher who was a pretty staunch Reagan supporter, and explained “supply side” economic theory to our class. The convergence of an explanation for why redistribution and handouts were ineffective with my existing anti-Communism made me identify pretty clearly as Republican when I reached voting age, however the culture-warrior excesses of the religious Right might have annoyed me.

    With the end of the Cold War, politics again seemed to drift into diminished relevance. I harbored some vague hope that post-Cold War the US could abandon its support for the various third-world tin pots that had been its strange bedfellows against Communism, but beyond that I largely snoozed through the Clinton years.

    The “Eat the Rich” Lefty populism of the Edwards, and to a lesser extent Gore, campaigns in 2000 set off some alarm bells for me, and I recognized that not only had government not been shrinking, the demise of the Soviet Union had if anything strengthened the domestic Socialist crowd. I was leery of the growth of the Security State post-911, but recognized that some sort of response was probably justified. I identified as a libertarian-leaning Republican, inasmuch as I still believed in a strong defense, and tended to write off card-carrying Libertarians as silly idealists better suited to debate than governance.

    The combination of the Republicans’ obvious lack of a plan for after the Iraq invasion, and acceptance of things like adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare served to thoroughly disillusion me with them — the party was completely dominated by “Chamber of Commerce” or “Rockefeller” Republicans, and Goldwater/Reagan principles were a mere vapor in the room at best. I remain registered Republican in order to be able to vote in primary elections in my state, but have been voting Libertarian in each election since 2008, worked to get Ron Paul on the state primary ballot in 2012, and voted for his son in the 2016 primary.

    Regarding Mr. Ed and Jacob’s question above: I have seen a few essays by alleged Libertarian apostates on the likes of Salon and the Huffington Post. Their stated motives always seem to come down to simply not wanting to be seen associating with “Racists”, and to the extend that they express much substantive political thought, it seems to come down to “I recognized that the rich favor limited government because the deck is stacked for them to begin with.” Implicit in that, I think, is at best an assumption that truly shrinking government – diminishing corporate welfare and corporate empowering regulation – is simply unthinkable, so they might as well make sure that the “good” pigs get to keep their place at the trough. Personally I find that mentality sickening enough to drive me out of the political mainstream rather than just swim over to the virtue-signalling end of the cesspool, but there you have it.

  • Duspeptic Curmudgeon, June 23, 2017 at 7:19 pm: “It is often said that wisdom comes with age. But all too often age turns up alone.”

    Twas ever thus. As the fool says to King Lear: “Thou art old before thy time. Thou shouldst not have been old before thou wast wise.” (quoted from memory; I’m away from home and Shakespeare today).

    Fraser Orr, June 24, 2017 at 1:40 am: “I was the only person in Scotland who thought the poll tax was a good idea.” Not quite 🙂 – but we were indeed a minority in numbers and a much greater minority in willingness to speak out in public. Sturgeon claims she never met anyone who approved Maggie when she grew up in Dundee, and while that doubtless reflects her obnoxious ‘no point taking to her’ mentality, it can’t have been far from the truth in Dundee, the only place in Scotland that could give Glasgow a run for its money as regards leftism – and social problems, and watching the police helicopters hover over the town of an evening. Maggie fitted an English archetype: a vague notion with hints of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria and governesses in old novels and stuff, but she did not fit any Scottish archetype. Despite this, Scots Tories survived politically – to the astounded fury of the left – in 1992; their ‘chilling effect on free speech’ had failed to chill the ballot box as much as expected. It was John Major’s blowing of the reputation he’d inherited from Maggie of Tory fiscal competence that led to the ‘We own Scotland’ Labour result of 1997. And the rest, as they say, is history.

  • Alisa

    Jamesg, I was going to mention Peterson, but you beat me to it… However, this is problematic to me:

    I am less concerned with the importance of the truth, and more about what works.

    I don’t know about Taleb, but Peterson certainly is not dismissive of truth – quite the opposite, he spends pretty much most of his time stressing its importance. It’s just that he defines it differently from people like Dawkins, Harris, etc.

  • Y. Knott

    Hypocrisy is the heart and soul of modern leftism.


  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Cal Ford, his full name is John Malcolm Fraser, usually known as Malcolm Fraser.

  • Surellin

    My own story is unexceptional – conservative parents, then I discovered Robert Heinlein. My father had an interesting statement, however. He said that in his twenties he was a (U.S.-style) liberal and by the time he was in his forties he was a conservative – all without his changing his opinions a bit. A reflection on how things changed between the mid-60s and mid-80s.