Why Atheist Libertarians Are Part of America's 1 Percent Problem

Thinking Ron Paul is a genius because he’s anti-war and anti-drug law is like thinking a Big Mac is good for you because it has lettuce and a pickle.



In the days running up to Thanksgiving, Walmart urged its workers to donate food to their most in-need colleagues. You know, instead of Walmart having to pay said workers a livable wage. When people ask me what libertarianism looks like, I tell them that. By people I mean atheists, because for some stupid reason, far too many of my non-believer brethren have hitched their wagon to the daftest of all socio-economic theories.

It doesn’t help when atheist luminaries publicly extol their libertarianism. Penn Jillette writes, “What makes me a libertarian is what makes me an atheist—I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe….I’ll wait for real evidence and then I’ll believe.”

Well, the only excuse Jillette has for his breathtaking ignorance is that he earns his living performing as a Las Vegas magician. Also, he graduated from a clown college.

Famed science author and editor of Skeptic magazine Michael Shermer says he became a libertarian after reading Ayn Rand’s tome Atlas Shrugged. Wait, what? That’s the book that continues to inspire college sophomores during the height of their masturbatory careers, typically young Republicans (nee fascists). But unless your name is Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), most people grow out of the, “Screw you, I have mine” economic principles bestowed by the Russian-born philosopher by the time they’re legally old enough to order their first beer.

Atheists like to joke that faith makes a virtue out of not thinking about things, but the belief in libertarianism is an act of faith given libertarianism has not only never been tried before anywhere, but most of the world’s leading economists denounce it as a folly that would exacerbate the central economic challenges we face today—most significantly, wealth disparity.

When I hear an atheist say he is a libertarian, I know he's given absolutely no thought to it other than the fact that he likes the sound of no foreign wars and no drug laws. The aphorism that libertarians are Republicans with bongs is just about spot-on. Thinking Ron Paul is a genius because he’s anti-war and anti-drug laws is like thinking a Big Mac is good for you because it has lettuce and a pickle.

Atheists who embrace libertarianism often do so because they believe a governing body represents the same kind of constructed authority they’ve escaped from in regards to religion. This makes sense if one is talking about a totalitarian regime, but our Jeffersonian democracy, despite its quirky flaws, is government by the people for the people, and it was the federal government that essentially built the great American middle-class, the envy of the world. In an op-ed titled “Abject Failure of Reaganomics,” Robert Parry writes, “From the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.”

But then came the period of Reagan’s holy trinity: privatization, deregulation and free trade. Now here we are today, facing the largest economic crisis since the 1930s. Libertarianism will serve only to replace government with a feudal serf model, which is what corporations are pushing so hard to achieve. In short, libertarianism can be described as anti-communism or "capitalism with the gloves off." With communism, property is theft; capitalists are thuggish villains; workers rule; the poor are oppressed. With libertarianism, property is sacred; all governments are bad; capitalists are noble heroes; unions are evil; and the poor are pampered good-for-nothings.

Libertarians love abstract, fact-free arguments because there are no facts to support their arguments. Atheists love facts, so I don’t understand why so many are libertarians. I guess they viewed a YouTube documentary on how the Federal Reserves is the source of all evil, and yelled, “Uh huh!”

Robert Reich says that one of the most deceptive ideas embraced by the Ayn Rand-inspired Right is that the free market is natural, and exists outside and beyond government. He writes:

“In reality, the 'free market' is a bunch of rules about 1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); 2) on what terms (equal access to the Internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections?); 3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?); 4) what’s private and what’s public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); 5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?). And so on. These rules don’t exist in nature; they are human creations. Governments don’t 'intrude' on free markets; governments organize and maintain them. Markets aren’t 'free' of rules; the rules define them.”

When it comes to wealth disparity and income inequality, America is facing its greatest moral crisis since the Civil Rights movement, and its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. We are here today because of the influence of Wall Street when it comes to economic policy; the destruction of labor; the serf-level minimum wage; and the deregulation, monopolization and privatization of industries. Libertarianism will not only push us deeper into becoming a winner-takes-all society, it will help religious organizations fill the vacuum created by the destruction of government.

Ultimately, atheist libertarians are not part of the solution; atheist libertarians are part of the problem.

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well we overwhelmingly voted for the President.  if i remember correctly, the "nones" voted for him around 75%.  i don't know if it's b/c atheists lean liberal or we are really turned off by what the other side has to offer.  so much of what Republicans would like to do is based on their religious views.  

it's more complicated when it comes to the economy and solutions for our financial problems.  most people, even many liberals, consider themselves "fiscally conservative".  exactly what that means has changed, in my opinion.  the new fiscal conservative ethos is tiny gov't and low taxes, no matter what.  while i prefer lower taxes in general (who doesn't?) the current situation perhaps requires tinkering with tax rates, especially for those who have benefited the most from the inequality in the system.  it's the rigid inflexibility of fiscal conservatives today that bothers me.  you have to adapt to changes in the world, even if it goes against your orthodoxy.  but, much like their religious views, no amount of logic or reason can sway them.  

One of my son's best friends is on disability.  I really don't understand since he is 22, can drive, and has had jobs, albeit low-paying ones. He has several medical disabilities, but nothing you could tell from being around him. When he qualified, his doctor had said he wouldn't be able to drive, etc. Well that has changed, yet he is still taking the benefits. I forgot what it's called, like Medicaid Disability?  Anyway, his parents are VERY right-wing, post stuff on FB about lazy people taking hand-outs, etc. Yet they don't see the irony of their son getting the very thing they are against!  They are not religious at all either.

I voted foe Obama because I thought he might be different from the abject corporate and religious fascist that was George H.W, Bush.


Boy, was I ever wrong!!!!!

Obama was so smooth a speaker that I wondered if he had some sociopathy in him.

But the alternative. McCain and Palin? Then Romney and Ryan?

The Republican Party became ill around 1960 when their far right started expelling their moderates.

Later during the 1960s they restored their numbers by recruiting the racist Southern Dems.

Reagan invited the unthinking authoritarian evangelicals. Their numbers enabled them to take over the state Republican parties.

That required their national candidates to go far right to win nomination and then return to the middle to win election.

The Tea Parties were able to defeat the few remaining moderates, and most of their crazies lost to Democrats.

When one party goes nuts the other party can go more corrupt.

And has.

Oh dear,  

"Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Maxims for Revolutionists

G. B. Shaw had to say voters were incompetent and incumbents were corrupt so that elitists like himself could govern.

Churchill knew what he was saying: Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other kinds we have tried.

I love Robert Reich and totally agree with him about the free market.  It's not 'free'.  There's a price to be paid and usually (always) by those who aren't wealthy.  I agree with few libetarian ideas.  I don't think most atheist do.  We seem to be a more compassionate bunch.

@ Tonya Wynn,  No one is trying to force you to do crap.

I'm free to believe what I like.  So are you. 


I tend to believe you're a theist.


And...I don't eat animals....

not sure why you're doubting her atheism.  but other than that i agree with you.  i'm sorry, Laura, that the gov't does things and this costs money.  perhaps you're not aware that our taxing power is what gives our currency value.  and one of the things we've decided, as a society, is to care for our least fortunate.  that you're in a minority who disagrees is telling.  maybe someday the majority of America will embrace cruelty and selfishness, but i hope not.  

I don't know matthew.  There's just something about her that seems totally outside the realm of atheism.  Maybe it's just the libertarian leanings that throw me.

Maybe she's a new atheist that isn't comfortable yet.  I really don't know.

And that was Tonya I was repling to.  Not Laura.

oops, thanks for the correction.  sorry bout that Laura, if you're reading this.  

i'm not so sure there is a realm of atheism.  all it requires is one little thing - not believing in the supernatural.  elsewise we have no reason for being similar.  that many of us have liberal leanings may have more to do with current culture than deeply held ideological beliefs.  

I don't understand not wanting to help the less fortunate either.  I don't understand not having empathy, or thinking people are poor by choice, or because they are lazy.  I wouldn't want to live in a world like that, and I don't want my kids to. Our humanity is all we have.


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