|Illustration by Ryan Dunlavey|
I remember thinking way back in high school, when I first read Atlas Shrugged, that it was about the most unfunny damn book I ever got hold of. I wasn't sophisticated enough to critique it in other ways, but later I came to realize that the problem with it is that it takes an extremely important thing, economics, and elevates it to being the only important thing. That's what makes (many) libertarians and Marxist/communists seem alike. All they talk about is humanity as an economic phenomenon. Neither has room for any other factors. And there are a lot of other factors. Now, keep in mind that I've read hardly any of Marx, but a lot of Marxists. My understanding is that Marx himself wasn't nearly as foggy-minded as most of his followers, and that he actually did consider things other than economics. But I'm talking about our current Marxists, and they, like libertarians, tend to ignore spirituality, nationalism, ethnicity, religion, and all the other non-economic factors, or consider them all "social constructs" to be done away with as soon as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of libertarians think exactly the same way, though they usually phrase it differently. So Marxist think that you can construct a communist utopia using any kind of people — Swedes, Cubans, Papuans, whatever — while libertarians think you can make a libertarian society with any kind of human material. That's why they idiotically advocate open borders. They think people are only economic units with complete fungibility. They're wrong.
Michael Enoch seems to agree with what I say here, but he goes deeper. He argues that Marxism and libertarianism attract the same personality types. By Henry George, I think he's got it! He writes:
If you are like me and you have spent more time than is probably healthy in libertarian political and intellectual circles you have probably taken note of various irritating and often ironic trends peculiar to the milieu. One such trend is the tendency of libertarian activists and fellow travelers to be converts from the left. They didn’t start as libertarians and they likely will not die libertarians. Some people stay libertarian for their entire political lives, but considering the intellectual dead end of libertarian ethical constructs like the NAP, these types inevitably become pedantic, tedious bores that perseverate on the same dumbed down talking points while hawking cheap, kitschy merchandise to the latest class of noobs as they roll in. Most libertarians came to the movement from some other radical community. They are usually more than happy to share the story of their ideological journey into the light if you ask them nicely. Most of these stories, mine included, start with Marxism.
This may surprise some people, but it really should not. Just because the two ideologies seem to be polar opposites in terms of doctrine and goals does not mean they do not attract essentially the same personality types. I have rarely met a libertarian that claims to have never been involved with the radical left at any point in his life. This actually makes perfect sense. I would be surprised if it were any other way. You may shake your head and come back with the rather cliched claim that libertarianism is the political expression of individualism, capitalism and freedom while Marxism is the intellectual grandfather of tyranny, totalitarian socialism and collectivism. What gives? Are not these two ideologies in direct opposition to each other? Sure they are. In theory they are bitterly opposed. But that is exactly why there is so much crossover.
Marxism and Libertarianism are essentially perverted mirror images of each other. Both are uncompromising, totalitarian, utopian and reject the status quo as morally intolerable according to their own esoteric philosophical constructs. These qualities are more likely to be attractive to a certain type of person than any particular point of dogma. Utopian idealogues are going to be attracted to revolutionary ideologies regardless of what turn out to be in reality rather minor differences in doctrine. It’s really just a matter of who gets to them first. Given the leftist nature of our culture, it will likely be the Marxists that make first contact. (Keep reading HERE.)