Monday, December 14, 2020

Word PSA


Radical, a. 1. Of or pertaining to the root; proceeding directly from the root. [1913 Webster] 2. Hence: Of or pertaining to the root or origin; reaching to the center, to the foundation, to the ultimate sources, to the principles, or the like; original; fundamental; thorough-going; unsparing; extreme; as, radical evils; radical reform; a radical party. [1913 Webster]

I often see the word "radical" mis-used to mean "extreme" or even "knee-jerk contrarian," including by libertarians who complain that this or or that person or organization in the libertarian movement isn't "radical" enough.

For example, this morning at the Libertarian Institute, Peter Quinones argues that libertarians should be against not just mask mandates, but against mask-wearing as such.

His argument is not that masks are ineffective (which is not a question libertarianism could be expected to address), but rather that anything "the enemy" is for, libertarians should be against. Otherwise we're just playing respectability politics. After all, "the ideology of libertarianism you promote is radical to the normie to say the least. Or it should be! Do you want to be democrat or republican lite?"

Libertarianism is inherently radical insofar as it addresses all issues from one root holding: The unacceptability of aggression. Everything else is irrelevant to, or at most orthogonal to, libertarianism. 

"The libertarian position" on masks is that unless wearing one or not wearing one would constitute an initiation of force, it's impermissible to either require or forbid wearing one.

Any problem vis a vis libertarianism with "the enemy's" position on mask mandates has nothing to do with masks and everything to do with mandates. Being against masks because "the enemy" is for them isn't "radical," it's just dumb.

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