I would like to note that I did not become a libertarian because I wanted to "fit in." Rather, it was a byproduct which fueled me to learn more and more about the ideas in which I believed. For a few years, I became the obsessed "liberty evangelist," trying to "convert" the masses (the same stereotype I make fun of a lot nowadays). A part of me wonders if I took on the evangelist role because I subconsciously believed it would increase my social group and social standing.
Brainpolice posted something a few years ago on Facebook which set a catalyst off in my mind. I don't quite remember what he said, but it was something across the lines of "most libertarians are libertarians because they want to fit into a social group." At the time I was deluded enough to scoff at what he said, and I dismissed it offhand. But through a lot of self-reflection, I realized he was 100% correct, at least in regards to my own experience.
As I have grown older, my personal and professional successes have increased, resulting in a massive boost in my self-confidence. Even though I still struggle with it, I came to the understanding that I don't need other people's validation to define me as a person. Once I became more comfortable with who I was and what I really believed, I started to see some resistance.
For the last two years, I have been exploring ideas of privilege, especially racial privilege and male privilege. Even though I have never rejected the philosophy of liberty, I have witnessed a lot of resistance when speaking out against systematic oppression. Some of the names I have been called include "cultural Marxist," "race traitor," and "misandrist." I guess I can see where these people are coming from; after all, I am a white guy in my mid 20s.
But I don't think the characterizations are fair. I am not your "average" mid-20s white guy. My parents are both working poor and I spent much of my childhood moving around, living in a trailer park for the latter half of my childhood (almost everyone I grew up with is still in poverty, and many of them are in prison). I've had to deal with a visual disability my entire life. I literally dug myself out of the gutter and taught myself a marketable skill to find work after the 2008 financial collapse left me unemployed and almost homeless. Yet despite all of those obstacles, I still recognize that I have privilege because I am a white male.
You see, I did have help along the way. Despite my childhood conditions, I had parents who made sure I went to school every day, who loved me and cared for my needs. When I was almost homeless, extended family took me in and gave me time to heal emotionally. And being a white male working in a predominantly white male field gave me so many advantages, which even I sometimes take for granted. But because of systematic oppression, many people do not have these structures in place and do not have the opportunities I had to succeed.
This is why I really dislike libertarians these days. The event that inspired me to write this post is the caging of Lauryn Hill for not paying her taxes. Before she was sentenced, she made the statement, "I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them. I had an economic system imposed on me." And of course she is right; American capitalism (corporatism for all of the ancaps out there who want to jump my shit for using capitalism in a derogatory way) was built on slave labor and cheap labor from blacks.
But I saw a lot of libertarians making thinly veiled racist comments about Ms. Hill. I saw these comments on Infowars.com, Stefan Molyneux's Facebook post, George Donnely's Facebook post, and a few other random Facebook posts. So wait, it is totally cool to support white tax resistors like Ed and Elaine Brown, but Ms. Hill should rot in a cage because of a false statement about hating white people attributed to her over ten years ago? Get the fuck out of here.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface. My activism regarding women's rights and feminism have been attacked even more than my work against racism. I have received countless death threats and hate messages from (mostly) white male libertarians. At this point, I no longer feel like I am welcome in this so-called "liberty movement." And honestly, I'm happy for that, because over all, the great majority of libertarians I come across hold racist and sexist views. God help us if they ever gain power.
I would like to finish this diatribe by pointing out that there are a lot of great libertarians out there who do speak out against privilege, notably Angela Keaton, Roderick Long, George Donnelly, James Padilioni Jr, Sharon Presley, Stephanie Murphy, Charles Johnson, Carol Moore and Nick Ford. These libertarians give me hope for a future where I will once again feel comfortable applying the term "libertarian" to myself. But until the movement stands for something more than just advocating for the liberties of white dudes, I really can't identify myself as a "libertarian."