Between the Lines

Ideology and Everyday Life

I’m a libertarian, as perhaps some of my readers know.  My late mentor, Murray Rothbard, practically founded the movement in his living room, and I’ve been an activist since my teenage years—a long time ago.

I wear my libertarianism like a comfortable old shirt.  Yet ideology and everyday life don’t always mesh.  In my youth, there was no problem: I rushed about at such a speed that I didn’t notice the little glitches, the contradictions, that came up in the course of a day.  Oh sure, I was riding a public bus, one that was traveling on a government-built road, and that policeman over there stood guard so that a pickpocket didn’t feel bold enough to lift my wallet out of my pants while I was busy contemplating the abstruse wonders of libertarian theory.  So what?  In a libertarian world, I knew, it would all be different—but, somehow, very much the same.  Order would be maintained; there would be buses and roads; it’s just that the government would have little if anything to do with these familiar trappings of civilization.

I think living in a city shields one from reality, in many ways: not only the reality of the natural world, but of human society.  City folk imagine moving to the country will get them away from people and imbue them with a blessed solitude, but the reality—once you really do move there, as I did—is quite different.  The...

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