This has been bizarrely relevant in the past couple weeks, as a point of discussion between myself and dialectical peers. Though libertarians are far and few between in my county, there are a couple advocates at my school (that I really can’t stand, aside from our political similarities), and I end up associating heavy with Marxists and liberals, despite our differences. It’s led to a few thoughts on youth interaction with political ideology:
Separate the principled stance from the implementation. Marxists and members of the communist party in the states have always had the romantic advantage. Persecution under McCarthyism and being tabbed by the FBI are not goods in themselves, nor are they goods for what they bring; still they are voguish and romantic in outsider retrospect. Today, a good many Marxists work as artists or adjunct professors, and these are modernly picturesque as well. Being altogether apolitical is also romantic, combined with a vagranthood: the draw of Bukowski working odd jobs on the streets of Los Angeles simply to supplement a poetic lifestyle.
There are a good amount of libertarians working as contributors and writers, each profession romantic in its own sense, but it doesn’t nearly balance the phantasmagorical image of polar ideologies. Our Editor-in-Chief is traveling, working odd jobs and blogging with minimal resources, which is definitively romantic, but Brandon isn’t generalizable in his lifestyle, and seems to be a rarity. And often enough, libertarians in the spotlight are crass or poor communicators: take Stefan Molyneux, who is a bad content-creator and worse philosopher. Liberty’s public figures aren’t much in the way of youth appeal.
The romanticism of the Black Panthers, working communally to protect neighborhoods from police harassment, is aspiring for many Black Lives Matter protesters right now. The inspiration of grass roots is just absent from many larger libertarian circles: as I apply to summer seminars, looking at the IHS, Independent and Cato, there’s observable ambition and prestige, but lack of romanticism. Romanticism might not seem important in principle but it drives so much history and myth – in the connection between reality and ideas-sense, not the ancient legends-sense – that it shouldn’t be discarded.
Even though Marxism and libertarianism are wholly different, they are both growing outliers in a stagnant political landscape and (arguably) reject authoritarianism. Anarchists populate both circles, with their own interpretations of how society ought to function and the legitimacy of government. I think that’s where the romantic edge used to be – the anarchists – but with the institution of an iconic libertarian, grown in a rhetoric-lite but sentiment-heavy miasma, liberty is ripe for a solid 21st century figure, which is supremely important for future alignment.