Wisdom from Tom Woods – 1/7/2019

January 7 is my mother’s birthday. Today marks repetition 102 of that event. Lilyan Bachrach passed away about 6 months after her 98th birthday.

Like Tom Woods she had an opinion on everything, but as best I know never used violence to impose her opinion on anyone, unless you consider voting to enable the government to do your bidding using violence.

In honor of her birthday, here is an email from Tom Woods I received on 1/7/2019.

The teensy-weensy problem of humorless libertarian automatons

Today you may say, “Woods, you send me such powerful arguments on important topics on such a regular basis — so why are you focusing on this boob?”


(1) Because it’s fun.
(2) Because it genuinely clarifies what libertarianism is.

The other day someone reproduced one of my Facebook posts from two years ago. It read:

Two things about this.

First, I know you all disagree with me about untucked shirts, and that I am fighting a losing battle. I see it as part of the general trend of having men look more and more like slobs with each passing year. I am not winning popularity contests with this view. I get that.

Second, I assume virtually everyone gets the playful nature of the post. It’s just a fun New Year’s post, right?

In walks the Libertarian Automaton.

You know this guy. You may not know this particular one, but you surely know the type.

My reply:

Why do I bring this up?

Well, it’s bad enough when our opponents caricature us. But I think this guy considers himself a libertarian.

Libertarians are opposed to the initiation of physical force. That’s it. You can be a full-blown libertarian in good standing while still thinking some fashion trends are better than others, some ways of living are more desirable than others, or some personal habits are superior to others.

You can likewise be a libertarian and criticize the way a business firm conducts its affairs. Duh.

For some reason, this guy thinks libertarianism means taking no position on anything anyone else does. He thinks it’s a form of relativism. As in: don’t be “judgmental,” dude!

(Why don’t people who criticize “judgmentalism” rebuke themselves for standing in judgment of my judgments?)

You can be as “judgmental” as you want and be a perfectly good libertarian.

Also: I never liked the formulation, “I’m a libertarian because I don’t know how to run your life.”

I’m not saying I know how to run every individual’s life, obviously. But I do think that lazy people who do nothing to improve themselves would be better off if they got some ambition. I think people who lie should tell the truth, and I think people who gossip all day would form better relationships and be happier if they stopped.

In other words, there are plenty of knuckleheads out there whose lives are a mess, and for whom it doesn’t exactly take a genius IQ to figure out what the problems and solutions are.

For the libertarian, the point is this: even if we did know how to run your life, we oppose the initiation of physical force that would be involved in making you run it differently.

We are in no way committed to the proposition that all ways of living are equal. We simply don’t want to put politicians — the worst people in the world — in charge of everyone’s moral uplift. That won’t end well.

Another thing: I don’t even think being a libertarian necessarily means being an “individualist,” whatever that term is supposed to mean. You can be very attached to your family, your community, your church, or — yes — even your culture, and as long as you don’t advocate the initiation of force, you’re a libertarian.

And lastly, you can be a libertarian and have a sense of humor, though sometimes I understand why people wonder.

By far the biggest concentration of socially competent libertarians anywhere, with nary an automaton to be found, is in my secret group.

You’ve been meaning to join, right?

No time like the present (and I’ll see you in there):

Tom Woods