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Is “Telling it Like it is” Counterproductive?


Lately I’ve been getting flak for telling it like it is about minarchists and calling self-identified anarchists who participate in government anarchists-in-name-only. Is telling things straight and without candy-coating counterproductive? Am I alienating potential “converts”? Is this moralizing? Should I be catching bees with honey instead of speaking truth to people who are supposed to be my comrades?

It’s the Inconvenient Truths that Most Need Saying

I’m convinced that sometimes hard-to-hear, inconvenient truths must be said out loud, often and emphatically. And frankly I’m surprised that other ostensible liberty-lovers don’t recognize the truth in this, since being an advocate for liberty in the 21st century requires just this! You just can’t be for liberty today without recognizing that liberty itself is an inconvenient truth. People don’t want to hear about it. They tell you to shut up. They pooh-pooh your beliefs. They laugh at you.

If We’re all Allies, Why the Need to Sugarcoat?

So when libertarians do the same thing to their alleged comrades, it’s quite surprising. It’s befuddling. Even if they think the best way to promote liberty to the public is via delicate education, surely within our own circles there is no need for that? If minarchists and anarchists-in-name-only are truly allies of market anarchists, surely they don’t expect us to candy-coat things for them? Discussion is always franker inside of a group than it is when the group converses with outsiders.

On Alienation

Take a look at this claim that telling people straight out what I have determined is the truth drives them away from liberty. That’s an implicit claim that people can’t handle the truth, which implies a pessimistic outlook on human nature, something generally not even compatible with the basic libertarian choice to value liberty over security or equality. I think people are generally good and capable and can do anything they put their minds to. Not everyone reacts well to inconvenient truths, but they need to be said because the price of silence is high. Persisting in error is expensive. And even an initial bad reaction does not guarantee that the person will not continue thinking about the issue and eventually come around.

It’s not Moralizing if you’re Right

Moralize, in my dictionary, means to “comment on issues of right and wrong, typically with an unfounded air of superiority.” The operative word here is unfounded. When I say minarchism is obviously self-contradictory and is not a feasible form of government, or when I say that anarchists-in-name-only are acting immorally when they vote and run for office, I’m doing it having explained the foundation for my opinions. Therefore, I am not moralizing.

Moral Certainty is a Prerequisite

I was also recently told it was wrong of me to be so certain about the truth.

“You don’t factor in that perhaps you are wrong, or that perhaps your truth has been rejected. I’m not saying this about anarchism specifically, just in the term “wake-up” as it applies to anything.”

One poor fellow even told me that “There is no absolute truth.”, which of course is an absolute truth. Listen, liberty is all about the moral certainty that the initiation of force is wrong and/or we own ourselves. We go forth as liberty activists with that moral certainty as our most reliable and basic weapon. If you do not hold moral certainty about your beliefs, you need to find that because without it you will accomplish nothing. It’s the statists who thrive on moral uncertainty and its resultant confusion, not us.


Speaking truth to power – including the power that is alleged comrades’ peer pressure – is part of a long and fine tradition. It’s a respected activity and I invite all liberty-lovers to join me in it. Think hard about what is right. Get certainty and go out tell people what you think. Subject your conclusions to tests, including debate. Don’t worry about those of delicate sensibilities, they will take care of themselves eventually. Our kind of evolution requires a small band of thoughtful, dedicated, courageous gardeners anyway, and certainly not a wheelbarrow full of pansies.

Photo credit: BotheredByBees. Photo license.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

6 replies on “Is “Telling it Like it is” Counterproductive?”

Funny the people that say you shouldn’t say things because they are not certain. The others won’t shut up just because you will. In fact if nothing is certain and nothing uncertain should be said every person on Earth should keep quite until the day they die.
I have started to be open about my political views and this is a good way to get the ideas out there and to find like-minded people.

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