Admiration Does Not Mean Blind Devotion

by Matthew McCaffrey

Libertarians enjoy accusing each other of blind devotion to their favorite ideas and thinkers. In fact, it almost seems like a major pastime in the liberty movement to make this charge, and to revel with others in self-congratulatory “gotcha!” moments directed toward members of the outgroup.

I find this state of affairs frustrating, all the more so because in many cases (and I assume everyone knows of at least a few examples) neither side is really interested in reaching an accord. The result is that both accusers and accused perpetuate disagreement and factional conflict.

With that in mind, I’d like to draw attention to some problems relating to the accusation of dogmatism.

To begin, accusing people of uncritical devotion is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. It starts with one side saying: “Look how crazy those supporters of X are!” In response, the supporters of X fight fire with fire. They passionately deny being crazy and make their own accusations. In doing so, they end up seeming to prove the first group right. The first group then declares victory.

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