Eat Your Sacred Cow Already

Sacred cows are popular among people from all walks of life, and of all political persuasions, but young libertarians seem particularly prone to them.

These same iconoclasts that revel in tearing down teetering liberal constructs like ‘economic justice,’ and punching holes in conservative sensibilities about ‘decency’ and ‘duty,’ only go on to replace these sacred cows with their own golden calf of choice. We libertarians are well-known for our gold fetish.

RawPaw bathes in gold

These libertarian sacred cows vary. First it was Ron Paul, the incorruptible politician with a heart of gold (get it??). If you wanted to know your stance on Somali pirates, the Civil War, or Fall colors during Spring, just find out what Ron had to say on the matter. He probably explained his stance on YouTube already.

Then it was the Constitution, a document so uniquely incredible and infallible that it was the source of all earthly authority. It had to be taken as literally as possible. Christian libertarians, who would shout down their parents for taking the Bible too literally or too seriously, would then shame anyone who didn’t first consult the Constitution before having an opinion on anything from 9/11 to toll bridges. Christian fundamentalism was out, but Constitutional fundamentalism was in. Should murder be illegal nationwide? No, states have to decide that on their own, because the Constitution doesn’t allow such a federal law.

Then it was the Non-Aggression Principle (the NAP). Long story short, any time you’re made to do anything you don’t want to do (pay taxes, follow a regulation, be murdered, be sexually assaulted, be drafted for a war, or be forced to wear a seatbelt), that was ‘aggression’ of the NAP. As long as something is voluntary it’s totally okay, whether it’s suicide, prostitution, snuff films, or even anime. Taxation was tantamount to theft and/or slavery, and it was better to allow your entire family to die of starvation rather than steal a loaf of bread from the Microsoft Company Picnic. If you’ve decided feeding your child isn’t what you’re into, and they then trespass into the pantry and try to steal your hard-earned property, you have every right to shoot them in the face. Finally, a moral system that makes sense.

Are your principles just false idols?

Fabulous Golden CalfIf someone asks you why we shouldn’t drone-strike children in Pakistan, and your answer relies on any single one, or combination, of the sacred cows I mentioned above, I have to ask you why you give such authority to these idols of yours. Why should anyone else care what violates the NAP, what Ron Paul thinks, or what is Constitutional? This is a real question to you.

Did scientists somewhere discover the Law of Non-Aggression just like they discovered the laws of thermodynamics? Is the Constitution a well-established theory based on mountains of evidence just like the theory of evolution, or was it divinely inspired? Is Ron Paul a holy prophet or an angel sent here to teach us the way?

Or is the NAP just a self-consistent ideology that justifies your strong individualist sentiment, the Constitution just a powerful political tool to rein in an oppressive government, and Ron Paul just a shockingly honest, humble, and refreshing politician?

In the absence of guidance, people create these false idols to worship: the proverbial sacred cow. You’re not supposed to worship cows though; they’re just cows. If you find them useful, use them. Treat them with respect, then go ahead and eat them already. Trust me, they’re delicious.

Woman with cow

All is not lost.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not some moral relativist or nihilist here. I’m not even the sort of consequentialist or lukewarm politician that would sacrifice principle for the sake of pragmatism.

It’s just that my principles might be different from many other libertarians’ principles, and they’re a little more complex than “Well is it voluntary/Constitutional/supported by Ron Paul???”

The scripture and messiah I consult for my principles aren’t the Constitution or Ron Paul, they’re the Bible and Jesus. Rather than relying on the direction of America’s poll numbers, I rely on the direction of the Holy Spirit, and, rather than obeying the tenants of Austrian economics, I obey the catechism of the Catholic Church. So I’m still getting my principles from something sacred, just like you may be, but I actually feel these really are divinely driven and inspired. Why? Well that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. Or two. We’ll see, so please bear with me.

As for how I actually try to apply these principles in policy? That’s where academic studies, peer-reviewed science, life experience, and a dash of common sense come in. If those don’t help me (like, say, what stance should I take on Israel and Palestine?), I try shutting up. Like this.

15 thoughts on “Eat Your Sacred Cow Already

  1. “Then it was the Constitution, a document so uniquely incredible and infallible that it was the source of all earthly authority. It had to be taken as literally as possible.”

    ^^not exactly sure what kind of ‘libertarians’ you’ve been talking to…

    • The type of people who list Ron Paul 2012 as their employer. They’ve been dying out lately in favor of the NAP or paranoia.

  2. Pingback: I Told You So! |

      • Nah, this post just seems like the musings of someone who used to be a Ron Paul uberfan, who thought (or thinks) the Constitution is extremely powerful and important, who thinks (or thought) that the NAP is a legitimate means of political organization.

        In any case, it really smacks of a desire to mis-characterize the positions of those with whom you disagree… only to paint them as ridiculous and childish. Of course, you sort of admit that all of this is anecdotal and based only on your own perceptions of the world around you. However difficult you may find it, it is possible to think that Ron Paul has successfully beaten the odds (in terms of being a good man in the face of perverse incentives faced by politicians), to think that the Constitution as it was intended is better than many alternatives, and that the NAP is probably the best political rule to follow (especially because it is essentially the Golden Rule applied consistently to all people, regardless of the intellectual cover the state enjoys). I daresay that these positions are more widely held than the ridiculous caricature you present.

      • Haha now *that* sounds like projection. Nah, I’ve always been an evil consequentialist, and I’ve always preferred a Rand Paul type over a Ron Paul type.

        I like the NAP, I campaigned for Ron Paul, and I would prefer people follow the Constitution.

        What I don’t like is the groupthink around these issues. The constant search and battle for purity regarding ideas that aren’t even sacred. The people who will accept nothing less than strict adherence to their sacred cow. These people are fools and they need to learn to eat their damn cows already. If you’re not one of these people then I don’t see what there is to be butthurt about it.

  3. Ah, the ultimate sign of an inability to deal… the butthurt charge. Anyone who questions Steve *must* be “butthurt”, right?

    I suppose my experience is just different from yours. I suppose you spend a lot more time around a bunch of glaze-eyed 18 year olds than I do.

    “The people who will accept nothing less than strict adherence to their sacred cow.”
    This is just more mischaracterization. Unless you’re talking about the aforementioned 18 year olds, I don’t see what you’re talking about. Demanding “strict adherence” to the principle of “the rules apply to everyone” isn’t something to be shouted at.

    • Well let’s take a look here. It’s a post countering the purists and their obsession with NAP, the Constitution, and RawPaw.

      Your input is some ad hominem about projection, and insisting that these purists don’t actually exist in the liberty movement.

      Sounds like butthurt to me.

      • It wasn’t ad hominem, Steve, merely an observation. Eventually you’ll understand the difference.

        I don’t see the overabundance of purists that you claim exist… not nearly enough to write a blog post about them. It’s a simple disagreement that you seem to be unable to get over.
        Keep crying about each and every bit of criticism you receive, though, Steve.

      • I was just hoping there might be some actual input here, anonymous internet man, that’s why I asked.

        If your point is just that I’m actually the secret purist, and that purists aren’t a big part of the libertarian movement, then lol. That does make me cry.

  4. I’m simply making an observation that the majority of people I run into in the libertarian movement are well-intentioned, intelligent, thinking people. They aren’t blind idiots who just fly from one idol to another, as you suggest. Further, I suggest that your own experience might need to be broadened a bit if this post does represent your actual perception of the movement.

    • There we go. That’s what you wanted to say all along.

      Obviously my experience has not been quite the same. Try a Liberty on the Rocks some time, or shit just look up Justin Stout and his followers, and see if you can survive. Unfortunately the wonderful pockets of liberty are often drowned out by derp. I’m honestly glad to hear that you haven’t had the same experience though.

  5. I really enjoyed this article. But, a HUGE but, if you will, I don’t see how you can criticize “economic justice… decency… [and] duty” when these are precisely what the Bible and especially Jesus demand of you.

    • Hmm, I didn’t necessarily criticize these notions myself. I pointed out that it’s a libertarian hobby.

      As Christians I think some degree of ‘economic justice’ must be considered, as well as a sense of duty and decency, you’re right. However, the way that liberals view economic justice, and conservatives view a sense of decency and duty, is certainly a deeply flawed approach.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s