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The Freedom Advisor

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Looking for Libertarian Love
Dear Advisor,

I was looking through the latest issue of Doing Freedom and saw the comments to Sunni Maravillosa's article about a PTer quitting. One comment mentioned that a person considered PT, but you don't meet women that way.

Does this have to be the case? Dedicated libertarians are difficult to find in either sex, but the ladies are nearly nonexistent. Where are they, and how can I meet them? Or should I accept the apparent fact that libertarians just don't pass on their genes?


Hi Anonymous,

Of course it doesn't have to be the case. You can meet members of the opposite sex almost anywhere ... the question is whether they are the kind of individual you'd want to get to know better.

More seriously, the matter of finding "ladies of liberty" does seem to be rather challenging. I've heard of women who seem to be libertarian, then when they meet "Mr. Right," a lot of pro-freedom attitudes seem to disappear (e.g., freedom to have relationships with other women, particularly sexual ones). That isn't the case with all women, of course, but it is something I've seen more than once. So even if you do find one, it may be that she'll change if she thinks you're the "marrying sort." More on that in a minute.

Perhaps your challenge to finding libertarian women is actually finding single, therefore "available," libertarian women. I don't know what you've tried, but here's what I'd do. Go to places where libertarians are likely to be, and be your best self.

LP functions are an obvious example, and should work -- if you're among those who think electoral politics works. If you're a died-in-the-tigerskin anarchist, you may find more headaches (and potential heartaches) if you meet a minarchist femme. Do you participate in local political protests? Others who are there are likely to share some of your fundamental principles and values. What about rock concerts of bands like Rush or Blues Traveler? Now that's a little more risky, since a chick may just like the band and not have grokked their lyrics, but it's still a possibility.

And of course, there's the wonderful internet. You don't have to like going out to go out there and meet people. Find email lists, chat rooms, etc. that cover topics you're genuinely interested in (or less interested in if you're desperate, but that could come back to haunt you), sign up, and participate. If you lurk, no one else will know you're there, let alone discover your keen intellect, wonderful sense of humor, and all that other great stuff about you. For this strategy to work you must be yourself. Don't try to be someone you aren't; be genuine and try to write as you really talk. That will make for less of a potential disconnect if you do meet someone and want to know each other in realspace. If you see someone on two or more of the online activities you're involved in, chances are high that your basic ways of being will mesh well.

Now, back to some side issues that need bringing up here. Before you go off questing for Ms. Right, it'd be a very good idea to consider just what you do want in a relationship, and what you can and cannot give. Is a conventional marriage -- whether by a pastor or judge -- just not in your future? Or is that acceptable, but you don't intend to honor the fidelity vow? Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions will make it easier for you to communicate your needs and desires.

And consider the lady: does she have to be libertarian? If so, how libertarian? (Keep in mind that the more libertarian you want 'em, the more rare they seem to be.) Remember that people will change over the course of a relationship -- for better and for worse. It might be the case that Libertarian Letitia may become The Anarcho-Bitch from Hell a few years down the line ... or that Conservative Calla may start reading your Heinlein collection and bloom into a lovely anarchist. You just never know.

Love, like life, is full of gambles. But because it involves the deepest, tenderest parts of us, we're understandably hesitant about some of those risks. If you want a rewarding, meaningful relationship with a wonderful woman, first get your own house in order (make yourself the best person you can be), then take the time to identify your limits and needs with respect to romantic relationships, and when you're out and about, always put your best face forward. And if you find yourself in a thorny spot, remember -- that's where the roses are.

Best wishes to you.

Some specific internet suggestions:

Raising Libertarian Children

Dear "Advisor",

I read your recent bit of drivel about respecting childrens [sic] "personhood." Your theory sounds all nice, but it won't work here in the real world where parents have to work like dogs to cover the bills. What stops the kids from tearing each other's hair out? What keeps them from eating candy for breakfast and ice cream for dinner? Your approach just won't cut it.


Dear X,

Wherever did you get the idea that we advocate spoiling children, or letting them be unsupervised for hours on end? Yes, it can be very challenging to be there for your kids, especially when both of the parents are working, but that doesn't mean one should just give up.

Our approach to childrearing is actually a cornerstone of the freedom philosophy: treat an individual in the way you'd like to be treated. We don't know a lot about what newborns can think and understand, but they definitely are human. Which would you prefer when you're sleeping: someone entering quietly, keeping the lights low; or someone charging in, talking in a loud voice and turning on the lights? Don't you think any reasonable person would prefer the gentle approach? Then why not treat a baby the same way? Dr. Seuss was right when he declared, "A person's a person, no matter how small."

Sure, it would be easier in one sense to just tell your kids not to hit each other ... and then spank them when they don't obey. But what do they learn from that experience? They learn: that adults are hypocrites; that it's okay to use force to try to get your way; and that their feelings don't matter. (Yes, I know ... "I was spanked and I turned out okay, so it must not be too bad." Try that argument on the Holocaust survivors and see how far you get. Just because some people do okay does not make something right.)

We view children as like adults in fundamentals, but greatly lacking in experience and knowledge. It's part of a parent's responsibilities to help a child gain these, and to extract the learnings from them, if needed. Yelling at a child, dictating what must and mustn't be done, spanking or other hitting, and inconsistent parenting all are great ... at producing a confused, unhappy, psychologically unhealthy person. Look around you for proof. Or, look at yourself.

How does a child learn to do right, then? By example, and by being talked to. I don't know about your family, but in our family we respect each other's bodies. If a person asks not to be hugged, we honor that request. We talk about how initiating the use of force is wrong, and encourage even our toddler not to do so. Older children go in time-out for doing so, and the toddler has consequences as well. When we parents have a disagreement, we don't yell, throw things, or hit each other; we talk about it in normal voices, with no name-calling or other ugliness. We also don't hide our disagreements from the children. If they ask questions about the grownup's conversation, we do our best to answer them.

Yes, there will be temptations (just as there are for adults). We deal with them in a reasonable way. For example, we don't buy much chandy, because it isn't nutritious and we don't want a lot of it about. But when we do, it's our property, and a child who understands property rights will respect that. We share treats we do buy with our children, as a treat for being cooperative during the day, or for eating a good dinner, or sometimes simply as a way to say "I love you." And yes, if a child didn't earn a dessert, she or he won't get one. Believe me, even a young child will understand the principle of "choices have consequences" after one or two such experiences.

It can be tough, raising children when both parents are working. We've been there, we know. But ... what's more important, your child's welfare or having a new car every three years? Parenting is all about making choices like this. You can justify and rationalize it any way you want, but many times it comes down to what the child needs versus what an adult wants. An adult can postpone gratification, or even substitute at times, but a child's true needs (i.e., for guidance, love, support, or help) are usually immediate. Those get deferred at the child's peril, and ultimately everyone else's too. (Again, look at American culture for examples.)

We respectfully disagree with your assessment of our approach. You see, between us we have five children, ranging from 1.83 to 15 years old. Despite the "help" of parents who don't see things as we do, we've been raising our children in the way we've described. While they aren't perfect (they are, after all, children), they are happy, well-adjusted, reasonable individuals. And best of all, they all know and understand at some level that they're free. We have our failings and bad days, but we can see that this approach works better than any modern theory we've seen. That's all we need.

Send your questions to The Freedom Advisor. Unless requested otherwise, all replies will be published here in Doing Freedom!.


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