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Libertarianism and Atheism

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ViennaSausage Posted: Tue, Mar 25 2008 3:07 PM
Do you find that many libertarians are atheists? Vice versa? From experience, it appears that most atheists are liberals. But for libertarians, they come from a wide array of religious to non religious, but don't impose their ideology on others.

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Mark B. replied on Tue, Mar 25 2008 3:23 PM

ViennaSausage:
Do you find that many libertarians are atheists? Vice versa? From experience, it appears that most atheists are liberals. But for libertarians, they come from a wide array of religious to non religious, but don't impose their ideology on others.

There are a substantial number of atheists in the movement.  But most libertarians seem to be Christians of many varieties.  Even quite a few Catholics, which would seem quite an oddity, given that Catholics are generally social justice types.  Not any pre-millenialist/dispensationalist Christians, thankfully, we don't want them. :)  They all hang out with the neo-libs <i.e. Boortz>. :)

I describe myself as a nontheist, and find the libertarian/Austrian enviroment a perfect fit.

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
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Not any pre-millenialist/dispensationalist Christians, thankfully, we don't want them. :)  They all hang out with the neo-libs <i.e. Boortz>. :)

I'm a premillenialist. Had to look it up to double check, though, because we don't use the term. There's only one kind of millenialist in my church.  Smile

Gary North doesn't like us very much, because we don't share his vision of perfecting the world. Those of us who are libertarians are such because liberty is right, not because liberty is likely to flourish before Messiah comes. North calls us "pessimillenialists" for some reason.

But I think that the distribution of religion/atheism among libertarians roughly matches the population at large. Religion is mostly orthogonal to one's view of liberty. There might be fewer Muslims among us, and more atheists, than in the overall population. Just a guess.

--Len.

 

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I'm actually an Ignostic, of which I also find the Libertarian enviroment a nice fit.  I more or less arrived at such after being throughly annoyed with trying to have intelligent conversations with (offline) Atheists w/ possible contradictions of Atheisism.  Needless to say, I'm not encouraged by almost oppressive to different opinions Dawkins as of late; despite his possible brilliance in other areas (i.e. originating the concept of 'meme'). 

Sadly, many of my friends (whom are Leftists & mostly Atheist, actually) keep throwing back my Ignostic status with either with "You sure you don't mean Agnostic?"  or "That doesn't make sense, since in philosophy class we blah blah blah..."

As for Christians, it doesn't surprise me due to some overlaping principles (the just cause war theory, for example).  Although, I'd imagine Mormons would be fairly tolerant of Libertarianism. 


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DBratton replied on Tue, Mar 25 2008 4:06 PM

Mark B.:
Even quite a few Catholics, which would seem quite an oddity, given that Catholics are generally social justice types.
 

Check out the talk by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn for some insights on Catholics and anarchism. He makes a good case that anarchism necessarily originated in the Catholic world and could not have originated anywhere else.

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I used to be Christian, then became a staunch Randian atheist, and now I lean to deism.

 

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MacFall replied on Tue, Mar 25 2008 4:57 PM

Every libertarian I know "in real life" is a Christian, as I am. Although most of my Christian acquaintences outside my church are raving neocons/theocons, just about everyone in my church distrusts the Religious Right. I feel quite at home there. I think my pastor may even be an individualist anarchist of sorts from some conversations we have had, though he probably wouldn't accept the label.

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Mark B.:
  Not any pre-millenialist/dispensationalist Christians, thankfully, we don't want them. :)  They all hang out with the neo-libs <i.e. Boortz>. :)

 

Along with Len I am also a pre-mil. Even though many happen to be neo-cons pre-mil lends itself to anarchism since it believes that no one is worthy to rule but Christ alone. The a-mils and especially the post-mills, such as Gary North, have a too higher view of the capacity of man to rule and thus lend themselves far more to statism than pre-mil. 

The atoms tell the atoms so, for I never was or will but atoms forevermore be.

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BWF89 replied on Tue, Mar 25 2008 5:53 PM

I've only met two of what I would consiter libertarians in real life. Neither of them I knew very well and we mainly just communicated via MySpace messages becuase I saw them posting on a friend's account. The subject of religion never came up but on their MySpace profiles one described himself as "Christian - other" and the other as "agnostic". Based on my experience on libertarian forums (Myspace Libertarian Group) and the libertarian (mainly anarcho-capitalist) people I'm suscribed to on YouTube a lot of them (or atleast the more proiminent ones) are athiests, agnostics, or skeptical of religion in general. I suspect this has to do with the fact that libertarians tend to be more skeptical of exsting institutions than that of the statist mainstream population.

From my experience also it seems like the majority of a good chunk of the people who later became libertarians used to be liberals (by the American definition of the term). This I find somewhat perplexing as I used to be a neo-conservative and I would assume that if you held onto the general phislophy that government is best which governs the least it would be less of a jump between conservatism and libertarianism than liberalism and libertarianism. Although this might be because liberals (traditionally it was conservatives who were anti-war but this stance has seemed to have shifted) and libertarians share a lot of the same anti-war rhetoric and were initially drawn into or exposed to the movement because of their initial agreement with that stance.

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Andrew replied on Tue, Mar 25 2008 6:18 PM
Personally I'm an atheist. I see why so many libertarians are Christians due to the doctrines of Jesus. But I can't understand why liberals are mostly atheists. I think most atheists tend to be humanist, and think that the welfare state is something good for humans. Any true humanist would realize how free market capitalism has improved the lot of mankind. Why liberals who are always touting evolution, which is a aggregate of random processes, that form a natural order or structure, but can't understand how capitalism works, I will never know. I think most liberals are atheist, and then discover Marx and assume he is right because he appeals to their religious ideology. Plus it is related to the disgust of a higher power who controls your life, and liberals just take this one step further and blame it on CEO's because most see them as having the control of god. And when you can't believe there is a god who controls everything, everything must be blamed on powerful and rich humans because they are real. Yet they never seem to blame the state, which they worship. Most people need something to blame. And liberals blame capitalism, because they don't believe in god

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It is unfortunate but most atheists are statists, and usually of the "left" variety. I think this is partially due to the cliche way in which contemporary cultural politics is framed in public discourse. Since it is assumed that the "right" is for religious people, the secularist has more of a tendency to flock to the "left". Of course, I reject the notion that the "right" is necessarily any less statist then the "right", but that's beside the point. Furthermore, most atheists are still functioning with a religious mindset in that they have merely substituted other things as dieties (the state, the nation, the planet or environment, etc.). They seem to think that in the absence of such things or at least the absence of their use as a rationalization, there is no order or morality, much in the same way that some theists seem to think that in the absence of a deity there can be no order to the universe and no objective morality. Or, alternately, atheists often make the mistake of diving head first into moral relativism and nihilism in assuming that there is no objective morality and epistemological certainty in the absence of a diety. I think this erroneously concedes to the false premises of the theists. But in my view atheists should reject the state and other such worldly "geists" for some of the exact same reasons that they reject the concept of a god.

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Fascinating argument.

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Mark B. replied on Tue, Mar 25 2008 7:31 PM

I am glad to see that there are some pre-millenialists that are not raving neo-conservatives.  I tend to associate pre-millenialism/dispensationalism with the John Hagees of the world, and most churches in that sect are strongly supportive of neo-conservatism.  Evidently some are not.

I will watch that piece on Catholism.  I was raised United Methodist and have never really had much direct experience with the Catholic Church, other than seeing the pronoucements of the Catholic Clergy regarding politics.

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
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I am what the Church could call a heretic.

 

I do consider myself a Catholic, but not a Roman Catholic - as I see the Church being compromised by the Great Satan (the state).  

The Origins of Capitalism

And for more periodic bloggings by moi,

Leftlibertarian.org

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drogue replied on Wed, Mar 26 2008 12:14 AM
Dear Mark B. Pre-millennial but non-dispensationalist here. My denomination is probably dominated by Republicans but we have a high independence quotient. There are other libertarians among us, but no anarchists to speak of. Perhaps the RP wave of the past year or so will make a difference (adding some anarcho-caps). I have been exploring libertarianism for the past four years or so, but the lights really came on when I discovered Murray Rothbard/LR.com/LVMI.
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Ego replied on Wed, Mar 26 2008 3:59 AM

When asked, I usually will reply that I'm atheist.

If I have time for a discussion, I'll explain that my views are probably closer to deism than atheism, and probably closer to "polydeism" than deism. If I were to say that upfront, however, people would think I worship multiple Gods or something else entirely different from what I actually believe.

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Brainpolice, I couldn't agree more.

 

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It is unfortunate but most atheists are statists, and usually of the "left" variety.

Christian types would cite that as proof of C. S. Lewis's contention that people innately have a "God-shaped hole" in their souls. Atheists, having rejected God, are forced to "fill" the "God-shaped hole" by worshiping the state as a god.

Cool

--Len.

 

 

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Taelor replied on Wed, Mar 26 2008 4:15 PM

MacFall:

Every libertarian I know "in real life" is a Christian, as I am.

That's interesting. I'm the other way around. All of my Libertarian/Anarchist friends are also Atheists (as am I). It wasn't untill I started reading LRC that I found out it was even possible to be a Christian Libertarian.

You can't take the sky from me.

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MacFall replied on Wed, Mar 26 2008 4:48 PM

Taelor:

MacFall:

Every libertarian I know "in real life" is a Christian, as I am.

That's interesting. I'm the other way around. All of my Libertarian/Anarchist friends are also Atheists (as am I). It wasn't untill I started reading LRC that I found out it was even possible to be a Christian Libertarian.

I submit that's probably due to the fact that my friends are primarily Christian (though by a narrow margin), and I would suppose that yours are primarily non-religious to a significant extent.

Pro Christo et Libertate integre!

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Thanks for the responses everyone. Quite insightful.

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MacFall replied on Wed, Mar 26 2008 7:50 PM

You're welcome. And on an unrelated matter, your user name has made it necessary for me to stop at the deli on the way home...

Pro Christo et Libertate integre!

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macsnafu replied on Thu, Mar 27 2008 10:31 PM

ViennaSausage:
Do you find that many libertarians are atheists? Vice versa? From experience, it appears that most atheists are liberals.

I'm an atheist, but it took a long time for me to get there, from Methodist to Unitarian/deist to agnostic to atheist.  Most of the libertarians I run into tend to be agnostic, really weird, or very quiet about their religious beliefs.  There seems to be a certain tendency among libertarians that atheism is the logical or intelligent position to hold, and I tend to agree with that.  Nonetheless, as a libertarian, I certainly think that people should be free to believe whatever they want to, as long as they are not forcing their views on others.

 

 

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Nitroadict replied on Fri, Mar 28 2008 12:13 AM

macsnafu:
There seems to be a certain tendency among libertarians that atheism is the logical or intelligent position to hold


I'm surprised that more libertarians don't see the (logical and/or philosophical) problems with being atheist, such as claiming God doesn't exist but (some of them) being unaware that they still believe in the concept of God, actually. 

Nothing personal though; individuals will always hold different views :).

I would also think they might see that contradiction after realizing the possible problem of some Atheists substituting God with The State, as was mentioned earlier with Liberal Atheists.

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Taelor replied on Fri, Mar 28 2008 12:50 AM

Nitroadict:


I would also think they might see that contradiction after realizing the possible problem of some Atheists substituting God with The State, as was mentioned earlier with Liberal Atheists.

 

That's not a problem with atheism. Atheism does not tell people to replace the God with the state. Certianly many do, but they do that on their own. The problem is with them, not atheism.  

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Indeed, I mis-worded that;  I meant to say some Atheist's take it upon themselves (as was mentioned before) to substitute God with the state. 
 
I apologize; it would be silly to say Atheism itself pre-disposes one to do such.  

"Look at me, I'm quoting another user to show how wrong I think they are, out of arrogance of my own position. Wait, this is my own quote, oh shi-" ~ Nitroadict

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Len Budney:

It is unfortunate but most atheists are statists, and usually of the "left" variety.

Christian types would cite that as proof of C. S. Lewis's contention that people innately have a "God-shaped hole" in their souls. Atheists, having rejected God, are forced to "fill" the "God-shaped hole" by worshiping the state as a god.

Cool

--Len.

 

I'm thinking more along the lines of Max Stirner's "geists". That most atheists have merely substituted worldly "geists" or "spirits" for the formal concept of an external or supernatural god. The qualifier though is "most". This isn't an inherent tendency within atheism. Just an unfortunately common one. I'm not a follower of Stirner though, but I did find some interesting insights related to that topic from reading "The Ego and His Own" (which, at least in the case of the copy I have, was translated by Benjamin Tucker).

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 Interesting, I should read this.  Do you think there would be any copies of it floating around?

"Look at me, I'm quoting another user to show how wrong I think they are, out of arrogance of my own position. Wait, this is my own quote, oh shi-" ~ Nitroadict

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Nitroadict:

 Interesting, I should read this.  Do you think there would be any copies of it floating around?

I'm pretty sure it can be found for free online if you search about. I myself found a pdf of it that I downloaded as a torrent. After doing a search on yahoo, one of the first things that popped up were these text versions:

http://www.buildfreedom.com/content/books/ego/

http://tmh.floonet.net/teaho/theego0.html

Stirner was one of the first self-proclaimed egoists, although I think his version of egoism seems kind of nihilistic in its implications (which might seem like a contradiction).

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I am trying to find the version translated by Tucker, but it appears I'm often picking up that it was published by Tucker, but translated by a Steven T. Byington.  I hope they are one and the same version.

I found this page, http://www.lsr-projekt.de/poly/eninnuce.html, interesting for making the case that Stirner was 'ripped-off' by Nietzsche & Marx for his ideas...

"Look at me, I'm quoting another user to show how wrong I think they are, out of arrogance of my own position. Wait, this is my own quote, oh shi-" ~ Nitroadict

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Nitroadict:

I am trying to find the version translated by Tucker, but it appears I'm often picking up that it was published by Tucker, but translated by a Steven T. Byington.  I hope they are one and the same version.

I found this page, http://www.lsr-projekt.de/poly/eninnuce.html, interesting for making the case that Stirner was 'ripped-off' by Nietzsche & Marx for his ideas...

All the original translations are Byington I think. I might have flopped in saying that Tucker did his own translations. He may have just published it. But the pdf version I have says its translated by him I think.

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JAlanKatz replied on Sat, Mar 29 2008 2:10 PM

I'm Jewish, but not particularly religious.  There are a fair number of Jewish libertarians - Murray Rothbard and Israel Kirzner, for instance.  Actually, just this morning I was discussing libertarianism over Shabbat lunch in synagouge.  Needless to say, I was the only libertarian there, although the rabbi was surprisingly open to the arguments.

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Grant replied on Sat, Mar 29 2008 2:35 PM

Inquisitor:
I used to be Christian, then became a staunch Randian atheist, and now I lean to deism.

What, you're not a Mercykiller? :(

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But of course I am, in service of the Invisible Hand.

 

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