Many atheists, myself included, once passionately believed in our religion. We would fiercely defend it against all critics, usually with canned talking points we knew by heart. When doubts started creeping in, we went on serious searches for answers, and were dismayed by what we found. At first we rejected anything that contradicted our beliefs, but as the evidence piled up that became harder and harder to do. Eventually, it became impossible. We left our beliefs behind (and in some cases, all our friends and family as well) in order to embrace reality and more forward.

I find it very discouraging that so many atheists, the majority of them in my experience, are progressives: far-lefties who believe in the state with the passion they once reserved for religion. They reject religious laws as nothing more than words written down by goat-herders thousands of years ago, but have a great reverence for words written down more recently by weasels in suits. They deny that taxes are taken by the threat of force. They talk endlessly about The Social Contract, a construct as imaginary as The Holy Spirit. When expensive Keynesian economic policies inevitably fail, they insist it was only because they weren’t big enough. They love Obamacare. They will do everything they can to eliminate choice in education – fighting against charter schools, private schools, homeschooling and unschooling. They defend Obama murdering American citizens with drones. They denigrate capitalism, always confusing it with the corporatism we have in place in the US. They refuse to admit that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. And they despise the very idea of libertarianism.

The worst example of this is Humanism, which I’ve written about before. Join any humanist forum and leave a few posts that are liberty oriented. Talk about the rights of the individual, the invisible hand, or the advantages of free-market capitalism over socialism, then watch how they react. (Do not try this experiment unless you have a thick skin and flame-proof underwear.)

Progressives have no idea what libertarianism is. They’ve created a voodoo doll caricature of it, and they hate that doll.

The typical libertarian, according to them, is a selfish loner who doesn’t care about anyone else, not even a little. He wants to create a society that will cater to him, while contributing nothing himself. He’d like to live by himself, counting his bullets and his pre-1965 silver coins, only leaving his lair to buy dangerous drugs from vending machines conveniently located on school grounds. On the way, he’ll rub his hands and chuckle as he steps over the corpses of the poor who died in the street for want of food and medical care.

In reality, Libertarians are the same as most other people. We want a happy, productive life full of friends and family, helping out others as much as we can, teaming up with like-minded people to accomplish mutual goals, while being free of violence and coercion. There are only a few things things that separate us from the general population: we recognize that the source of most violence and coercion is the government, we rebel against (and often ignore) stupid laws and we are quite willing to let other people lead their lives as they see fit, even if we strongly disapprove of their choices.

(The term “voluntarist” is becoming popular among the liberty-minded. I like it; it encompasses non-violence, involvement and cooperation in one short word.)

Trying to explain this to a progressive usually a waste of time – it’s like arguing evolution with a fundy. Information on libertarianism is readily available, but they prefer to embrace their ignorance, clinging to it like the religious cling to their gods. Smugly hating the caricature is so much easier than learning the reality.

This is a plea to my friends who are progressive atheists. You know, from experience, how to rigorously examine deeply held beliefs. Please apply that skill set to your political and economic beliefs as well. Ponder the idea of force, and stop denying that it’s the government’s only tool. Figure out how many government “solutions” are responses to problems created by government in the first place. When there is a problem, ask if it can better solved by individuals acting freely, than by government force. Stop making excuses for the failure of Keynesian policies. Consider the idea that free individuals can, as a direct result of acting in their own best interest, create a society of abundance and liberty. Reject the caricatures of libertarians presented by The Daily Kos, ThinkProgress and Mother Jones. Visit Reason, The Cato Institute, and other sites that espouse real libertarian thought. Listen to Free Talk Live to hear real libertarians vigorously debate ideas with each other. Smartenize yourself on the subject. And most importantly, stop trying to force your morals and life-style on everyone else with laws and rules and regulations.

You can do it. Please, give it a try.


12 Comment(s)

  1. The second post actually precludes the first, Dave. Your article “Statists” is all that defines “Work for me, or else!” Or, does it?
    I especially appreciate your comment, “We would fiercely defend it against all critics, usually with “Canned talking points…”
    Your talking points by your own admission did not allay your doubts. How is it you remained in the WatchTower organization so long? I know that women and children remain in abusive relationships because they have no where else to go. As a youngster that would certainly have been the case for you under the circumstances in the organization. I can only guess what that may have been like.
    Minnie Louise Haskins wrote a poem some years ago which captures both the anticipation of distress and the assurance of safety, but I have not seen that in WatchTower people. I had some come to my door again which I find remarkable if you recall my comments in an earlier response to a post of yours. They are not very engaging people and when you do not agree with them they become agitated, resort to contempt and ridicule, and eventually go off with an air of false righteousness that is evident.
    Back to Minnie Louise Haskins.
    “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
    “Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!”
    And he replied:
    “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
    That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
    I believe it was written in 1908.
    The “WatchTower as we know it was pretty much yet in its infancy and its adherents in anticipation of 1914. As with almost every notable conflicting challenge as exists with organizations such as the WatchTower and Mormons, Adventists, and others, the Bible is held untrustworthy, and all of Christendom corrupt. It is not even necessary to believe in God to hold that view as you yourself must admit. It is an interesting paradox, yet has its basis in the same source.
    In “Work for me,” you make an astute observation, including in it the phrase, “As most other people.” You go on regarding common traits, a desire to be happy, productive, with a life filled with friends and family, and helping out others as much we can.
    You then go on to inform us the basis of your remarks is in actuality a plea. Of course you recognize they are your personal thoughts and subject to be disputed even as your comment that Elaine in the previous article was “Wrong.” You then continue to close your remarks with a plaintive, “Please.” I don’t know why you would do that? I can only guess that you are yet not so self assured. Are you asking for agreement?
    You won’t find that with me, because I heartily disagree with you. I yet have the same desires as you posted above, but my reasons are far removed from yours.
    You are a clever writer and I agree you have opportunity for a considerable following. However, you are aware of certain information others may not be privy to or investigate, and yet they will hang attentively on your every word, nodding in approval.
    Loving liberty does not mean standing up for the rights of people you disagree with. Loving liberty means standing up for what is right. Loving liberty means nothing to persons who desire only safety or security. More often than not in todays world, that is at the expense of courage, the more necessary ingredient to assure freedom.
    I was preparing to write a letter earlier to someone very dear to me. I was going to restate the commandment, “Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” from Deuteronomy 13.
    You are not a “Prophet,” but I will suggest you are a “Dreamer of dreams.”
    I am not suggesting that in the sense of magic or one who is a conjuror, but rather in the sense of holding a view that may be held to the light of examination and found faulty.
    I can still be friends with you, though I am somewhat questioning that opportunity because of your long standing prejudices.

    Gary Bovey | Dec 1, 2013 | Reply

  2. Gary, you’re encyclopedic screeds are getting annoying. Go bother someone else.

    Dave Hitt | Dec 2, 2013 | Reply

  3. Dave, I don’t share the same bitter, abusiveness you do. I am confident my assessment is correct regarding both yourself and your blog. The Watch Tower has proven itself an efficient machine in your life. You are really no different now than when you were ensnared in the Watch Tower. In fact the personalities are of the same spirit, just a different tune, same song.
    With that, I shall end any further comments to you.

    Gary Bovey | Dec 2, 2013 | Reply

  4. Dave, I am not angry or upset in case you misinterpret my prior post. I am just agreeing to your request that you should not be further “Annoyed” or “Bothered,” as you put it.

    Gary Bovey | Dec 2, 2013 | Reply

  5. You don’t know what far left is if you think it has anything to do with liking anything Obama has done, including Obamacare and drones.

    We certainly don’t like the huge government created by extreme right-wingers like Obama and Clinton and Reagan and the Bushes.

    From what I’ve seen of Libertarian Party type Libertarians is that they like capitalism, which isn’t possible without large, brutal governments. Leftists, on the other hand, are the original libertarians.

    Duane McCormick | Jan 15, 2014 | Reply

  6. Corporatism, the system we have in the US now, isn’t possible without huge, brutal governments. Free Market Capitalism functions very nicely with no more government than is necessary to punish force and fraud.

    Leftists, on the other hand, are the original libertarians.

    Not today’s leftists.However, libertarians are very close to the original Classical Liberals.

    Dave Hitt | Jan 15, 2014 | Reply

  7. “Free market capitalism”? Where can one find that? Markets don’t exist without governments. “Free Markets” generally mean free for those that are protected heavily by governments, even subsidized by governments.

    Duane McCormick | Jan 15, 2014 | Reply


    Chomsky on the history of the word. Like he says, anyone can have the word, and it’s not to say your use of it is in any way illegitimate.

    Duane McCormick | Jan 15, 2014 | Reply

  9. You generalized comments are impassable at best. Every atheist that I know, myself included, understands that libertarianism is not completely selfish; to say otherwise makes me wary of your post. I know many atheists who are libertarian. They are in no way mutually exclusive. I think you need to reevaluate your understanding of atheism and libertarianism; it’s clearly a rant for which you have no fundamental basis other than your inAbility to reconcile your disagreement and unsure footing in either. With all of these generalizations, you’re starting to sound like a fundy.

    Bill | Jan 17, 2014 | Reply

  10. Markets don’t exist without governments.

    Nonsense. A market exists any time two people want to swap goods or services. And again, you’re confusing free market capitalism, which we don’t have enough of in the US, with Corporatism, the system that is in place now. In a free market capitalist system, for instance, we wouldn’t have bailed out the banks and bought stock in GM to (artificially) keep them going. We wouldn’t be passing rules and regulations and laws that provide significant barriers to entry to protect entrenched corporations.

    Every atheist that I know, myself included, understands that libertarianism is not completely selfish; to say otherwise makes me wary of your post.

    I’m basing it on the atheists I know, not the atheists you know. You either don’t spend much time on atheist forums and FB pages, or you’re not very observant. (I’m guessing the latter.) Virtually every mention of the word results in several rants spewing slight variations of the voodoo doll I described. And your use of the word “completely” makes me suspect you’re one of them.

    With all of these generalizations, you’re starting to sound like a fundy.

    Is that trite and stale insult the best you can come with? Really? How sad.

    Dave Hitt | Jan 19, 2014 | Reply

  11. Hi there. I’ve written up my own post about the politics of the atheist community that essentially expands upon your thoughts.

    I hope you like it.

    BreadGod | Mar 28, 2014 | Reply

  12. Brilliant piece, Dave. Many atheists substitute Big Brother for their previous deity of choice and cannot be talked with at an intelligent level. Please feel free to join us at The Real Libertarian Atheists facebook group.

    Rock Cowles | Feb 15, 2016 | Reply

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