Part of me wants to drop it, due to the extreme silliness of the situation, and I will after this post. But everyone here has been so awesome, hilarious, and insightful for the past few days, that I thought I’d update you and let you know that Peter Thiel’s assistant sent me a self-aggrandizing note that Thiel wrote in response to my post making fun of him and his fantasies about escaping the horrible land of women’s suffrage and functional government infrastructure. Mind you, it’s an infrastructure that made Thiel’s wealth possible—since Thiel is a dot com millionaire, and the internet was developed through heavy use of government funding through universities, Thiel can only expect his sexist, live-with-the-mermaids fantasies to be taken seriously because he’s a recipient of extensive government spending that was only possible through taxation. But I digress. Thiel’s email to me was about how he doesn’t care if women vote, as long as they vote against their own interests.
I had hoped my essay on the limits of politics would provoke reactions, and I was not disappointed. But the most intense response has been aimed not at cyberspace, seasteading, or libertarian politics, but at a commonplace statistical observation about voting patterns that is often called the gender gap.
I believe that politics is way too intense. That’s why I’m a libertarian. Politics gets people angry, destroys relationships, and polarizes peoples’ vision: the world is us versus them; good people versus the other. Politics is about interfering with other people’s lives without their consent. That’s why I advocate focusing energy elsewhere, onto peaceful projects that some consider fantastical. Voting is much less important, but whenever voting can defend liberty, it is a great thing to do. Women should vote, and they should vote for liberty.
“Liberty”, of course, is an empty word that can mean whatever the person wielding it wants it to mean. In this case, women should vote for the “liberty” to get paid a fraction of what men do for the same work, and the liberty to be sexually harassed and abused without having any recourse. We also, in the libertarian paradise, have the “liberty” to be subject to discrimination with no recourse, the “liberty” provided by having to find our own ways to educate our children (since there’s no public schools in mermaid libertarian paradise) and therefore usually end up leaving careers because paying for school is too expensive, and even the “liberty” to die of cervical cancer or in childbirth because we can’t afford free market health care, especially not with our “liberty”-level paychecks that fall well below even basic living standards.
Clearly, the sole reason that women won’t vote for this paradise of liberty is that our wee female brains make us hate freedom (as well as apple pie), not because we’re rational creatures who vote our own self-interest.
Here’s an interesting example of the horrible miscarriage of justice and freedom that you get when Thiel’s worst nightmares are realized:
First, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to raise the state’s gasoline tax by 15 cents over three years. Then the House approved a bill allowing the use of medical marijuana, by a vote of 234-138. Next, it voted to repeal the state’s capital punishment statute. The House wrapped up March with a vote to legalize same-sex marriage, and the Senate followed suit yesterday.
I count three strikes against oppressive state power and one mild consumption tax. Clearly, that sort of love of freedom should mean that the New Hampshire state legislature has rid itself of the rot of freedom-hating women, right? Well, of course not. I did say this was Thiel’s worst nightmare of out-of-control femininity. The New Hampshire senate is the only one in the entire country that is majority female–54% in fact, 13 out of 24 senators. Alas, their house isn’t quite as representative of the general population, so the overall percentage is only 37.7%—we have a long way to go before we can completely destroy freedom by letting people marry who they like, smoke what they please, and do so without the threat of getting executed by zealous prosecutors who are indifferent to whether or not you’re actually guilty of murder.
Of course, we all know that these major gains in the service of freedom are irrelevant when compared to that horrible travesty of justice, that 15 cent gas tax. And don’t tell them that New Hampshire has also created a kindergarten, which is anti-liberty, in no small part because it gives mothers of small children one more year to be free to have a full time job. How is freedom anti-liberty? When it’s lady freedom, of course. That’s a different kind of freedom. You know it counts less because it comes in pink packages.
The irony is thick here, because the initial draw to libertarianism for a lot of adolescents is the arguments against vice laws, which are the draw because it’s the only sane thing libertarians ever say. But the draw is also the least important aspect, which is why I doubt many so-called libertarians are going to vote for these women who have committed the crime of ladyness, but also of raising taxes and doing things that help women, even as they embrace social freedoms that libertarians hang onto in order to avoid being called complete assholes.
Before I put this to bed, I want to address Thiel’s ridiculous assertion that it’s the voting franchise and political debate that is distasteful and ugly. I beg to differ. As Luke in the comments of this post aptly pointed out, the belief that unfettered capitalism is the One True Freedom that is so important that democracy itself should be sacrificed for its favor has been tried. The population of any nation, when told that the majority has to embrace miserable poverty and wealth redistribution all the way up to the top, will disagree. And you can, as Thiel fantasized about doing, strip away their right to vote. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t have dissenters that fight for democracy and the right of the governed to choose their own leaders. So, you’ll be forced to strip those people of their freedom of speech to stop agitation against the One True Freedom. At what point, the resistors will go underground, and you’ll have no choice but to start kidnapping, torturing, and mass executing people in order to silence the will of the majority. How do we know this is the path that happens? Because it’s been tried. That sort of thing makes the ugliness that Thiel’s bitching about seem like dances with ponies in a field of rainbows.
I suppose you could start a seastead or a moon colony to escape this, but good luck with that. All new societies will start to drift into a direction of some people hoarding all the wealth for themselves, leaving a huge and growing class of people that doesn’t get its share of the spoils, even though they do most of the labor. And they’re going to start pushing back, especially if they have access to Enlightenment philosophies about human rights and the consent of the governed. And so violence will have to be employed to maintain the One True Freedom.