Last night, I got into a small argument with a guy (I think) who goes by the handle moine on Twitter. It was regarding two articles that I’d written: The Atheist Libertarian Connection and Libertarianism Incompatible With Atheism. So he took to something called TwitLonger to explain. But before I get to that, I want to point out a couple of things that I find really annoying!
I really don’t know if I’m talking about a guy or a gal, because when I went to his (used as the neuter from here on) website’s About page, there was no actual information except that he is “retired and grumpy and in need of a nap.” Which is great! I like that style of writing. But everywhere I go on blogs, I run into these too-clever “about pages” that don’t so much as provide a name. I blame it on Digby (Heather Parton), who for years was thought to be a man. I also don’t appreciate the lack of a photo. That is, by the way, one of Jakob Nielsen’s top ten things wrong with blogs. And I see it everywhere. A number of famous bloggers are very cagey about this. But fine, knowing a name would be a start.
Regardless, Moine thinks that I am wrong to think that there is a connection between libertarianism and atheism. He thinks that it is just that some atheist just happen to be libertarian, just like some atheists are into knitting. Well, it depends upon the kinds of atheists you are talking about. I’m an atheist the same way that Terry Eagleton is a Christian. We disagree with everyone and everyone, in turn, hates us. So if we are going to push the atheist envelope wide enough (and I think we should), there are huge numbers of atheists in this country. And they most certainly do not have a tendency toward libertarianism.
But if you look at the public atheists, they roughly fall into two camps: humanists and anarchists (libertarians). I think there are actually more humanists. But the libertarian crowd is very big and it is very much linked. For one thing: Ayn Rand. She was an anarchist who was an atheist and very much linked the two. She is still hugely popular. Go look on Amazon; even great novels of her time sell for 1¢ (The Grapes of Wrath!), but Atlas Shrugged might as well have been released earlier this month. You will not find the book cheap, even though it is, even on the basis of a story, absolutely dreadful. People read it as “philosophy.” These are people who don’t know what philosophy is, but never mind.
The other connection between atheism and libertarianism is a certain way of thinking. I call this group the “first principles” people. They think that they can prove in a deductive (or mostly deductive) way that libertarianism is “natural.” And this feeds into Social Darwinian thinking which feeds into Darwinian thinking which, for idiot atheists, proves that atheism is correct. For more, see: Clueless Atheists.
But above all, I just see it. I hear a lot of libertarian junk thinking coming out of the mouths of atheists. Often, they don’t even know it is libertarianism. The utter ignorance of atheists about just about everything is only eclipsed by the utter ignorance of American Christians. And remember: I used to be a libertarian. I worked for the party. I wrote about it at length for years. I read everything Ayn Rand ever wrote. I know those people. I know how they think. (But don’t be mistaken; most libertarians are not atheists; I could go on about the kooky ways that libertarian Christians justify that mind-blowing cognitive dissonance.)
That’s all I have to say on the matter right now. The truth is, I don’t disagree with Moine about anything but this one point. And his blog is interesting, although he doesn’t write enough to get me too excited. But it is worth checking out if you are interested in issues of faith and atheism.