Who has the fear advantage?

One of the reasons I envy religious conservatives is that they don't have to live in a constant state of fear the way the rest of us turkeys do. Now, I know I can't speak for all of them, but for many religious people there is only one fear that matters, and that is the fear of God. Sure, they have other fears, but they fear God more. It's the fear that trumps all other fears.

This may touch on why religious people are more likely to involve themselves in contentious political debates, and why they are less likely to try to avoid contentious social issues (which they often see as religious issues).

Libertarians are just as opinionated about social issues as religious conservatives, but as the saying goes, just try getting a libertarian to show up. I have long thought the explanation was that they simply want to be left alone, and they practice what they preach by leaving other people alone. That this can also rationalize laziness is perhaps no accident.

Or is laziness the right word to describe this libertarian reluctance?

Not long ago, Glenn Reynolds linked an observation (by best-selling author Seth Godin) that might be helpful in understanding libertarian reluctance:

I think laziness has changed.

It used to be about avoiding physical labor. The lazy person could nap or have a cup of tea while others got hot and sweaty and exhausted. Part of the reason society frowns on the lazy is that this behavior means more work for the rest of us.

When it came time to carry the canoe over the portage, I was always hard to find. The effort and the pain gave me two good reasons to be lazy.

But the new laziness has nothing to do with physical labor and everything to do with fear. If you're not going to make those sales calls or invent that innovation or push that insight, you're not avoiding it because you need physical rest. You're hiding out because you're afraid of expending emotional labor.

This is great news, because it's much easier to become brave about extending yourself than it is to become strong enough to haul an eighty pound canoe.

Are libertarians afraid to expend emotional labor? Think about it. Many libertarians became converts to the cause because they came to loathe the left. But I don't think it is as simple as philosophically opposing socialism, or being fed up with nanny statism. Many libertarians found themselves uncomfortable with the left because leftists tend to be personally confrontive, will hurl insults at the drop of a hat, enjoy calling people racists and attacking white people as being guilty of "white privilege" and much, much more. So I think a lot of libertarians at the core suffer from a form of political "LET ME OUT OF HERE!" thinking. They not only rejected the left, they fled from the left, and I think many of them might have come to the default position that fleeing from confrontational situations is simply the way to deal with politics. While that may be personally the best thing to do (especially if the goal is to avoid stress), in politics it is about as effective as failing to show up in court.

It is the best way to lose.

Especially if you are dealing with adversaries who are guaranteed to show up every time, and who have the additional advantage of fearing God.

Not fearing God really sucks, because it means you're just stuck with the rest of your fears, especially the fear of confrontive interactions with other people. And when the God fearing people think that God actually wants them to confront people, they have even more leverage. Because the normal human fear of other people that they might have is subordinated to the greater fear of God.

This is not a judgment for or against religion or religious conservatives, just my attempt to explain why they have such an advantage in politics, and why libertarians would do well to remember that not having the fear of God is not an advantage.

It is a disadvantage, to be overcome. I say this as a doubly disadvantaged libertarian who believes in God yet who does not fear God. Which means that if I were honest with everyone about my inner thoughts, I would have to live in constant fear of confrontations with both religious conservatives and atheists.

It would be so much easier to simply have a "side."

I'd probably feel more courageous.

posted by Eric on 11.16.10 at 12:35 PM


Simon I know you are out there.

Eric sounds like he needs a Rabbi to give him a good 'rash on "Fear" in this context.
Perhaps believers should also 'Fear' being a poor representative of Gods love, understanding, forbearance, and forgiveness.

Eric, Cheer up, you are trying to be on the side of the Angels. You may not win this inning or even the next, but if you can hold your mouth just right :) you can enjoy the game.

Will   ·  November 16, 2010 2:00 PM


I don't fear God. That crap is only for those who don't have a direct connection. When God tells me what to do I do it (it is how I got 4 kids despite not being - initially - into having a family). And why do I follow orders? Well the results have been unfortunate when I didn't. But that is not fear per se. It is experience.

Now who is the voice in my head? I dunno for sure. It might be God, it might be my mild schizophrenia. It might be something else. But the advice is good so I listen.

And it is really less of a voice and more like a feeling. As in "I have a bad feeling about this."

M. Simon   ·  November 16, 2010 9:57 PM

And Will,

You can train yourself to listen. I got my training from reading Aleister Crowley books.

And A.C. according to some was the Devil incarnate. Today he would be classified as a member of the "Sex, Drug, and Rock 'n Roll" school of yoga. A path rather frowned on by most of society.

M. Simon   ·  November 16, 2010 10:00 PM

Irving Kristol on John Kenneth Galbraith:

"Galbraith thinks he is an economist and, if we take him at his word, it is easy to demonstrate that he is a bad one. But the truth is that Galbraith is not really an economist at all: he can more accurately described as a reluctant rabbi."

Neither Eric or M.Simon are very good libertarians. Both of you guys are reluctant rabbis. This is why you are so much more interested in what the "social cons" have to say than in what the statists are doing. You'd much rather talk about morality than about economics.

Hey, nothing wrong with that! The world would be a better place with more rabbis and fewer economists and libertarians. It's just that your natural religious impulses end up coming through rather weird and distorted when filtered through that "libertarian" mask.

flenser   ·  November 16, 2010 10:40 PM


The deal is: I have no beef with the right on economics (for the most part). I have no beef with the left on social policy (for the most part).

So I hit the right on social policy and the left on economics.

Sounds pretty libertarian to me.

Now if you go to the sidebar of Libertarian Republican you will find my other blog featured on the sidebar. So some one thinks I'm kinda libertarian.

I dunno. Maybe you don't understand what you are talking about.

As to statist. The socons are as statists as they come. Just about different things than the lefties.

And you know around the turn of the last Century (early 1900s) the socons were allied with the Progressives. It is how we got alcohol prohibition. Ever hear of Billy Sunday? You can look him up.

Since hen there has been a division of labor. Both sides hate each other and the end goal of both is the same. More government power. Who ever engineered the split was very smart. Two "opposed" parties working towards the same end. Most excellently clever.

Not to worry. I was a communist for a time in my youth. So believe me I know a statist when I meet one. Maybe when you grow up you will give up statism too.

M. Simon   ·  November 16, 2010 11:42 PM

Sometimes I'm a little obtuse. Make that a lot of the time. In dealing with charismatic evangelicals determined to be prosecutors for the awe and wonder inducing omnipotent and omniscient being that created the laws of the universe and judges the hearts and minds of men; it is often helpful to remind them they are human and pretty much suck at omniscient and eternal judgment. On the other hand being a good example of love, tolerance, self discipline, and self control is an attainable goal.
When someone tells me they are motivated by the "Fear of God" I try to explain to them that the "fear" referred to in Proverbs 1:7 and other verses is defined as one of deep, profound, respect for something powerful, dangerous, and uncontrollable. Sort of what you feel when you get too close to the edge of a great waterfall or a rioting mob.
I will soon finish my economic, and social activities/obligations for the next year and seek some refreshing solitude.
Simon, no voices for me. No matter how I set my mind to chase its tail I never get there. Sleep deprivation works but a few days of rest and I'm back to my own insanely rational abnormal self.

Will   ·  November 17, 2010 4:12 AM


There is another pewrspective (isn't there always?).

Generally, people who want to be left alone to live their lives also want to leave other people alone to do the same thing.

The problem with that is when such people avoid exercising power it creates a vacuum. Those who fill that vacuum are exactly those meddling busibodies who think they know how you should live and who crave control over others. Thus, one winds up with people looking into your toilet tank, your light socket and your deep fryer.

I think the "silent majority," formerly willing to tolerate some intrusiveness, has now become aware of the fact that it is incumbent on them to provide obstruction or the nanny-state will win.

T   ·  November 17, 2010 9:49 AM

Will, as C.S. Lewis put it in Chronicles of Narnia, "It's not as if he's a tame Lion!"

SDN   ·  November 17, 2010 9:49 AM


Simon, no voices for me. No matter how I set my mind to chase its tail I never get there.

Without a direct connection to the Maker (missing in most people) all that is left is real fear to keep people in line. Which is why religion in America is so corrupt and of course non-existent in Europe.

Connecting can be taught. There are methods. Most of which are pagan in origin. And thus anathema to Christians.

We are at the beginning of a revival. And how can you tell? By the very dullness (as in drab, unclear) of the current spiritual culture.

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda .... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning ....

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ....

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back. Hunter S. Thompson

We were very close once. Maybe the next time the barriers will be broken

M. Simon   ·  November 17, 2010 12:35 PM

The deal is: I have no beef with the right on economics (for the most part). I have no beef with the left on social policy (for the most part).

I've noticed this. The problem is, having no beef with the left on social policy (for the most part) means having no beef with coercive big government policies. Which makes you not a libertarian.

flenser   ·  November 17, 2010 4:06 PM

I was a communist for a time in my youth. So believe me I know a statist when I meet one.

You haven't changed. You were committed to social liberalism as a communist, and you're committed to it as a libertarian. That's your core, and it's a statist core. Your views on economic issues are, as we've seen, highly flexible.

flenser   ·  November 17, 2010 4:20 PM


So leaving people alone is social liberalism? I guess I'll be a liberal 'til I die.

I suppose putting the heavy hand of government on the people does have a lot to recommend it. If you are a totalitarian and like living in a police state.

We need more true American like you sir. You should be proud. You have a lot to be proud of.

M. Simon   ·  November 17, 2010 6:14 PM

Aleister Crowley does not inspire me. He was quite good at despising and manipulating others, as well as deceiving and indulging himself.

We humans are quite good at deceiving ourselves; especially when it allows us to do what we want, yet still be admired, gain status, wealth, or power. Some are so desperate to have some type of power they can thrive on being despised.

Muhammad meditated regularly. He saw and heard an angel too. Power, control, sex, drugs, Magick ... what is really being sought, what is the inner motive for seeking?

I enjoy being alone, and I indulge myself in long periods of solitude. I try to use that time constructively, but I also try not deceive myself. My motive is primarily a selfish one and could easily become self destructive.

Good luck Simon, I hope your voices don't turn to inner demons.

Will   ·  November 17, 2010 8:48 PM

Aleister Crowley does not inspire me. He was quite good at despising and manipulating others, as well as deceiving and indulging himself.

For sure. My friends in groups that studied him always remarked that about half the folks were led astray and half were led to a higher path.

In many ways he was an amplifier. If your good angels predominated the work he suggested could amplify them. And if you were ruled by devils than that got magnified as well.

I was always amused by the traps he set.

My point is not that his way is THE WAY but more like a way.

“My adepts stand upright; their head above the heavens, their feet below the hells ..."

Between heaven and Earth.

As to the voices: by their fruits ye shall know them. And you know even Christians suggest listening to the "small voice".

BTW you might like to read about my 40 day (more or less) fast here:

God Party vs TEA Party

M. Simon   ·  November 17, 2010 10:33 PM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits