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The Malevolent Stigma Towards Tobacco Users

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In July of this year, my post on overcoming smoker’s guilt got picked up by people on reddit. The reddit thread can be viewed here. I thought I’d revisit the subject, as it apparently gathered some attention in that dark corner of cyberspace.

In the original post, I detailed how social engineering, fostered through public policy, has created a secondary class of people who are addicted to tobacco, victimized through mental torture, and I explain how the gang of anti-smoking activists feel justified in destroying the lives and mental health of people through social stigmatization, because they don’t like smoking and find it a flaw of character so repulsive that it deserves public ridicule. There is a deep disrespect for fellow human beings and an anti-humanistic world view that enables people to treat others with such contempt. It reveals itself in a total disrespect for differing values and sources of happiness in life. It is anti-individualistic and evil. That was the basis for my argument. This obviously flew way over the head of these reddit debaters, as is blatantly apparent from the thread title “Proud Smoker: How Dare You Try to Guilt Me Out of Giving Myself Cancer!?” An argument out of compassion is hence portrayed as whines from an insecure smoker. Little do they know.

This becomes apparent in the way the they conjur up personal attacks and attempts to portray the author as a person who is nothing but a chain smoker trying to rationalize his addiction; a person who is careless about his health; an insecure person who yearns for sympathy; a person who ignores the deaths and misery that tobacco has caused many users and their family members, and by doing so they must unsurprisingly distort the argument that is made. The OP starts it all off by picking out quotes from my original post and commenting on them, true to the mission of upholding the stigma:

Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do.

“I’m not just doing this to be a contrarian” – said every contrarian ever. But later:

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones… The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life.

So acting contrary isn’t just one of the benefits of smoking; it’s essential for a healthy life! But this isn’t one of his motivations for smoking – oh no – it’s just a happy coincidence that it makes him feel superior to everyone else.

It begins with a cheap gag that is undressed by its blatant ignorance. Delving into the history of humanity, by learning how a recreational substance has been cultivated and enjoyed for hundreds of years, and to enjoy the flavors and notes of a product that has attracted millions of people to its fruits, in order to proudly enjoy and become a part of something that has shaped humanity and modern society – for better or for worse – is not to be a contrarian. If it were, then we are all contrarians at all times, always. It renders the word meaningless. A contrarian has a counter-cultural ideal at hand, in order to do simply what is opposite of what is the authority of the times. These are not the same. For anyone interested in the underlying argument, this distinction could be meaningful and appreciated. For someone who is lead on by an irrational anger over dissenting views, it obviously falls on deaf ears.

Continuing, what is essential for a healthy, individualistic human life is to overcome stigmatization, discrimination and anti-humanistic bickering from people who possess a world-view that entails a complete disrespect for fellow individuals – simply because these individuals find a different source of happiness in life. Acting contrary is simply not the point. If a tobacco smoker finds joy and meaning in his recreational activity, it is imperative for his happiness to not be affected by the anti-humanistic and anti-individualistic sentiments of others. To not suffer from their hatred, you will have to strengthen your own identity and purposes in life. For a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, that means to either stop smoking or to overcome said smoker’s guilt. Believe it or not, someone enjoys their tobacco, and for them I offered a solution to said problem, based on my personal experiences and gathered testimonials.

I can imagine their chantings: “Oh, to believe that someone would have compassion for people who enjoy tobacco!? How obscene! How ignorant!” No, not obscene at all. And neither is it about shutting yourself away from the knowledge available. There is nothing in overcoming smoker’s guilt that entails a complete disregard of medical research. On the contrary, the issue is to ensure the well being of fellow individuals. To take the position that smokers are inherently too stupid to factor medical advice into their lives is, if anything, self-glorifying and cynical. It’s a better-than-thou snobbery that reveals a dark and cold view on humanity. Stigmatization is an evil force in social life – one which fuels the ruination of the mental health and happiness of others, thus it can have detrimental effects on the lives of its victims. Those who feed and uphold this stigma will never care for the souls they break. In their ignorance, they claim to worry about passive smoking, yet could not give a flying toss over the negative consequences of their dehumanization of smokers. How ironic. I find such hypocrisy distasteful at best.

The comment ends by speaking of “superiority”. Who is the one guilty of possessing thoughts of superiority over others: The person who wishes that people can seek out different sources of happiness in their lives without being ridiculed, hated or dehumanized for their choices, or the person who glorifies himself to a moral high ground, from where he feels compelled to stigmatize and push people over the cliff, belittling their choices with his megalomaniac authority on what is decent or indecent, in order to socially force them into his own behavioral patterns?

The same user goes on in another comment:

I noticed that this guy brags about using cigars and pipes, as if this makes smoking more organic and wholesome. But isn’t it actually way worse because of no filtration?

Of course an anti-smoker wouldn’t understand why anyone would choose to smoke. There’s not even an attempt at understanding what smoking means for people. No compassion, no empathy. Organic? Wholesome? Worse because of no filtration? Obviously, the person doesn’t know how different tobacco products differ in their uses and contents, and neither does the person have any clue about how people enjoy and cultivate their different recreational tobacco uses. Needless to say, the lack of such insight leads one to see differing behaviors as mere bragging and identity issues.

This is the heart and soul of the typical anti-smoking nincompoops. It reveals a narcissistic, anti-humanistic and anti-individualistic world view. It’s just another evil to overcome for those who suffer from all the rampant social stigmatization in the world, as if the world didn’t have enough. This applies for smokers as non-smokers alike, because here comes the big surprise for the reddit users in that thread: Smoking was never the main issue. The main issue was the evils of stigmatization. This is the message that flew way over their heads. The reddit thread is a micro-cosmos of these evils. Behold as they foster and mold.

An ending message to smokers and other victims of stigmatization: Seek out happiness in your life. Stay informed in your life-decisions, but let your decisions be your own and be proud of them. Cultivate them! Enjoy them! Let them be a source of happiness! Do not let the evils of others bring you down. After all, it’s your life, not theirs, and it’s a beautiful life worth enjoying.

Written by Morten Rolland

December 6, 2013 at 4:08 am

Ambivalence In Love

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The subject of ambivalence is one which has long been discussed within the individual centered aspects of sociology and social psychology. While the perspective of conflict theories are often caught up in the collectivized or group-think attitudes that create tension in stratas or across whole societies, the application of ambivalence, however, takes a different turn. Ambivalence creates conflicts within ourselves as individuals. It applies the internalized experiences and cultural norms within us and put them up against the new experiences we collect during our trips through this thing we call life. It shapes and molds the way we think, but when ambivalence occurs, it is often a great source of personal turmoil. What was once a happy and stable life that could easily be made sense of, will now rip us apart and pull ourselves in opposite directions. We don’t know what to do or what to think. Some can think of this as just the need to make a tough decision, but it could also be a make or break situation for happiness and success or self-destruction, and the problem of ambivalence occurs when neither choice immediately has an obvious outcome.

One way of understanding ambivalence could be on the topic of love. Our search for ‘romantic love’ and happiness is one that is a norm, and even a personal obligation, in most (especially western) cultures. In this search for love there are many traps to fall in. Also, each and every experience we make will in some way affect the way we approach our quest for love. Some people may have the ability to treat every single instance as isolated instances, where old experiences do not rise up as notable variables that affect what they decide upon through their new experiences, yet, for most people, what we bring with us guides us and sets us up for tricky decisions. At some points in life, the choices aren’t merely those between different lanes in the same direction. Sometimes we come to a fork in the road, with different paths to take. Often, the choices are simple. We do what we must or we do what we want. Some choices are simply not up for discussion. It’s where each choice (at least initially) appears to us as equally good or bad that ambivalence sets in. We cannot take two different paths at the same time. In love, this could mean either to seek out a relationship in a chance to obtain happiness, even if the circumstances are less than ideal and could lead to disaster, or to postpone or abandon the quest, because experience says that to take the chance will likely lead to failure, and that you might rather keep up the hope for another chance to occur in the future – one which will fulfill all your needs, or you simply let it slide in order to save yourself from much distress. These are, however, just some examples of how it could unfold.

The topic of ambivalence in love has become very clear to me over the past year. I have, perhaps naively, although with nothing but the best intentions for my own happiness in mind, made the attempts at long-distance relationships – one of which was actually cross-continental and hard to uphold, yet still very dear and strong, but retrospectively I see it was set up to fail miserably, which it also did. These were plagued by miscommunication and perhaps youthful desire clouding one’s mind of what is the best choice to make, which needlessly sets oneself up for a likely doom rather than success. This, in my own opinion, wasn’t all my own fault, as it takes two to tango, yet it has become part of my experiences and it’s written into my guide book for future endeavors into the world of love. This guide book is now characterized by a roller coaster ride of short term happiness and states of personal distress; stability and turmoil; realistic optimism and a state of surrender and apathy. These are my experiences, which are characterized by the difficulties of long-distance relationships and a failure to communicate thoughts and worries at an early stage, and an inability to work said worries out in a cooperative way.

This leads me to this very day. When my latest endeavor at achieving love felt like the planets aligning, it was actually the lessons I had learned from my past experiences of worries, troubles and toils, that fell perfectly together with the situation I now found myself in: A short distance relationship and a chance for romance in my daily life, and an ability to bond a relationship based initially in more than just love and desire, but also in a strong friendship and a capability to be a moral and emotional support, whenever the situation deemed it necessary. I wanted all of that. I wanted it all or nothing, and it seemed to be within my reach, which became a huge source of happiness for me. There were no feeling of ambivalence here.

That changed drastically today. The person who I had set my eyes on; the one who I would spellbind and woo with my wit and charming demeanor, could suddenly no longer meet up to my criteria for short distance. For personal reasons not controlled by herself, she had been met with a dilemma, and while this indeed made her feel very ambivalent towards her own desires, this all sparked a feeling of ambivalence in me as well. My hope for a short distance relationship fell short, so to speak. Several questions came up during the day: Should I make the same risky choices as before, when this could lead to problems that are hard to overcome, or should I hold off and leave my chances alone for now, with a hope that it could rekindle in the future, if fate would have it so? Neither choice seemed to satisfy me completely, and this lead me to search for other alternatives, none of which could fulfill all my desires. I needed to prioritize and sketch out a new plan for myself.

To many, it might seem trivial, but because of several personal tragedies over the past year, and because of the decent amount of effort I had put into this being what I had been waiting for this whole time; the planets aligning, the fact that it all fell apart now made me almost split into two different personalities in an instant. The feeling of ambivalence to the whole notion of love became very real within me. One part of me said: “This is gonna fail now. Would you risk destroying your chances with this girl forever, with an attempt to something that never worked before? Are you gonna take another knock to your persona like that? You should put things on hold and see what chances appear further down the road.” The other part of me, however, was shouting: “Seize the day! Just because your other attempts didn’t work out, doesn’t mean this one will follow the same pattern. It’s a different person and a different situation, and if she wants the same there’s nothing to debate! This time, you have a chance to communicate and avoid all the traps and wrong turns you have made in the past. You know from other people’s experiences that it can work out, as long as you both know what you want and cooperate to make it happen.” I wanted it. I wanted her! Yet I was afraid.

The state of surrender and apathy spoke very heavily to me at one point. I didn’t want to go through with it again. I didn’t want to experience another sad turn of events on top of all the others, and perhaps most importantly, I didn’t want to be a cause for distress in her dilemma. Yet, somewhere in my mind spoke my inner optimist – the one who has been my greatest source for success and happiness throughout my whole life, who told me to keep looking for alternatives and possibilities; to keep up the effort of making things work out. My values and experiences were battling it out within me. I believe I know who won the battle, although the war isn’t over. In all of this, this very experience of ambivalence had enlightened me. This is how ambivalence unfolds itself in every person. This is the inner conflict that pulls Man apart and reassembles Him in new ways. This is the psychological force within the individual that eventually leads it to reflect over past experiences and newfound wants, needs and opportunities. This is where structural explanations fall short of explaining human behavior. Within the institution of love, ambivalence showed itself to me in its most profound way. Whether or not I have set myself up for another failure and another situation where I’ll feel an even stronger situation of ambivalence in the future is hard to say, but I guess one cannot help but hope for the opposite and much more pleasant outcome. So what will be the best route forward? To take the chance or leave it? Both choices are pulling on me, as there is an inherit problem with both choices. Should I let the state of surrender have me avoid possible long term emotional turmoil, or should I let the optimist take control and have me play this game, where all I stand to lose is simply to achieve nothing at all, yet where victory let’s me walk home with everything?

The latter voice within me, whom I have learned to embrace, achieved victory in the final argument. My optimism wins once again, and for good reasons too, yet the outcome is still to be seen. If nothing else, I have at least achieved personal enlightenment around how ambivalence works and how it leads us to try and rationally explore possibilities and make us come to terms with the feelings and experiences we have, in order to make sense of the world around us. We can’t be all social or cultural dopes. There must be something within us that let’s us overcome the structural and external influences.

Written by Morten Rolland

September 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Getting Over Smoker’s Guilt: Overcoming the Stigmatizing Propaganda Against Tobacco Users

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It’s now more than a year ago since I actively took up the hobby of pipe smoking, after having had much fun and pleasure from smoking cigars for quite some time. It might seem like a counter-cultural act to bring back what some regard as outdated, or just socially contrarian. Today, the majority opinion is that tobacco is a bane of society that has to be purged, by force if need be. Political forces work like ants behind the dark facade of government and bureaucracy to enact regulations, programs and laws that will throw tobacco smokers out on the streets and squeeze tobacco companies and tobacconists out of business.

Daily, we hear campaigns against tobacco smoking, where politicians and activists are actively putting a stigma on the back of everyone who abuses “cancer sticks”. The commercials are many – either you see lungs filled with tar, skin that is gray and weathered, fingers that are yellow and stubby, or rampant warnings lights while the word “cancer” is screaming in your face. The result from all of this is a social engineering of stigma against tobacco users; a government creation of discrimination and hatred. In the view of anti-smoking activists, smoking is an evil that people have every right to call you out on. Public schools will teach kids about the “dangers of tobacco” and urge kids to spread the word to their friends and family members. The victims of this stigma develop smoker’s guilt. They will try to keep their habit hidden, shying away from social settings in order to fulfill their need for some nicotine. They start to hate themselves for doing something thought of as disgusting, yet it’s hard for them to stop it, because they secretly enjoy it.

It’s very disturbing to see just how many who will admit to being a smoker, while doing so with a hint of shame and guilt in their voice. Not all have ambivalent feelings towards their habit, but many do. It seems like mentioning the topic of smoking will depress them, as it reminds them of every time someone has stigmatized them for their habit. One can only imagine how the words chanting in their head from all the anti-smoking activists, politicians, journalists, doctors and scientists makes them hate themselves for being voluntary “slaves” to something they grow to regard as inherently bad – as if being a smoker is a sign of poor character and immorality.

…And the worst thing is, most people think this is okay.

This angers me intensely. Not only is it immoral to impose your own preferences through the power of government, but stigmatization is also a very destructive tool to use in order to force through a political cause. While you may end up with some smokers who quit smoking (although these numbers are anything but impressive after decades of expensive tax-funded anti-smoking campaigns), many of the remaining smokers will develop guilt and depression because of their habit. This will arguably have a much more devastating and immediate effect on the individual than any of the possible health risks from smoking will have, leading to a range of other social problems that aren’t as easy to observe. If anything, it only stands to reason that if “good public health” was the main goal of anti-smoking activists, then active stigmatization is an extremely poor choice of strategy. The reality is that anti-smoking activists are only putting you and your habit down, because they themselves have made the choice of not smoking, and through a collectivist world view find it in their right to force others to make the same choice as well.

There exists, however, an individualistic remedy to overcome this stigmatization and remain proud and happy about what in essence should be a very positive and enjoyable hobby.

I mentioned to begin with that I myself have just over the last few years taken up smoking more and more, despite the ever increasing stigma against tobacco users. Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do. My choice came from a complete disregard of any propaganda of the pros and cons of tobacco smoking. It was a completely individual, rational and personal choice, fueled by a lust to enrich my daily life with a joy and hobby that I could experience and enjoy both physically and mentally. For instance, the collection of pipes is a long lasting project, where purchases are made not only for short-term enjoyment, but also long-term fun and interest. As such it has a deeper meaning to it, rather than it just being a meaningless anti-trend statement. There is a great excitement in trying new tobaccos with new flavors, going through the meditating routine of packing your pipe, checking the draw, doing a false light, then a proper light, puff it a few times to get the flavors going, and feel the gentle taste of the smoke roll across the tip of your tongue and through your entire mouth, before attempting to blow smoke rings.

It’s much more than just feeling the buzz from the nicotine. It’s a source for great joy and relaxation. You are able to collect yourself from all the pressure that life put on your shoulders, and just take a little bit of time to experience something different and develop a skill and taste that is completely your own. There is a sense of beauty to all of this, and that beauty is something that can never be brought down by any means of stigma or hatred.

(Image by Pipesmagazine.com)

As such, the stigma that is actively being put on smokers does not affect me.

The overarching goal in anyone’s life should always be to achieve happiness. You only have this one life to experience happiness, so you’d do well in making use of all the tools at your disposal. If you are a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, then you are left with two choices: Quit smoking immediately, or changing your mindset and cultivating tobacco smoking as a source for something good in your life, embracing it with pride and conviction. Most tobacco users suffering from smoker’s guilt are likely cigarette smoker. I would like to suggest the following to you:

Rather than trying to quit smoking, how about delving deeper into the world of tobacco and try to make it a fun hobby? Tobacco is very much like beer, wine and spirits – yes, you can abuse it, but you also have a vast source of enjoyment to find inspiration from. It’s all about having the right mindset. You could for instance try a new brand of cigarettes/tobacco each time you buy some more, in order to explore the flavors the tobacco gives. There is no point in being brand loyal in what should be regarded as fun experimentation. Also, the price difference between cheaper brands and more exquisite brands are limited. And even if you’re on a strict budget, there are more than enough possibilities to get you started with, without having to blow away all your money.

I would also suggest you explore the world of tobaccos beyond cigarettes, like cigars and pipe tobacco. These ways of enjoying tobacco have had the pleasure of being cultivated as a part of finer culture for hundreds of years, where purity and taste have been in the main seat all along. Here you will find a whole new range of tastes and experiences, and there are also lots of fascinating things to learn. Pipe smoking, for instance, also adds the fun activity of pipe collecting and caring for your pipes. If you would like to combine tobacco smoking with a relative health benefit, then proper cigar- and pipe smoking is also a fairly good compromise. Regardless what your preferences are, you will certainly find inspirations at your local tobacconist, or at a tobacco store online.

By trying some of these things for yourself, smoking will always be something fresh and interesting. You will learn how different types of tobaccos give you different experiences, and you will find tobaccos and brands that better suit your taste, reshaping your habit into making it about cultivating something good. Most importantly, you will find many like minded individuals on your way. You will feel better about yourself and stand proud and steadfast in the face of those who wish only to bring you down.

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones, and perhaps even some unexpected ones, as noted by Bertrand Russel, himself an avid pipe smoker his whole life. The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life. Remember, you only have one life to achieve happiness. There is no time to lose.

As an ending remark, I would like to quote Jeffrey Tucker, who echoes this sentiment in his essay “Bring Back the Breakfast Drink”:

Everyone knows the rule: drink no liquor before noon. How insufferable such advice is! It has caused morning drinkers to hide their habits, deny them when confronted, and otherwise feel like they are doing something wrong or immoral or socially intolerable, a combination which leads to other forms of pathology.

It is time for them to stand up and proclaim themselves and their habit as the noble act it is. All over the world, there exists a grand tradition of including a bit of spirits with one’s breakfast, or at least a bit of beer or wine. How tragic that those who struggle mightily to uphold this practice are reduced to doing so alone, enjoying their pleasure only in the privacy of their own kitchen for fear of inviting public humiliation.

The Dangers of Exclusion and the Evils of Collectivism: Why Individualism Is the Remedy Against Terrorism

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On July 22nd, 2011, Norway was struck by an act of terrorism and witnessed an unfathomable slaughter of innocent children and young adults on an island in East Norway. We have all read the news and we have all heard the tales of the evil that was brought upon innocent people that day.

Most people in Norway are still mourning the loss of their dear ones, and the wounded are still fighting to make it through. All our thoughts are with them in these tough times, and the sorrow they endure is something we hope no one will have to endure ever again. That is why we need to learn from what has happened and become stronger because of it. We need to fathom the unfathomable. As we are able to get some sort of distance to it all, and been able to reflect over the tragedy, we do see a glimpse of what the truth is in all of this. A manifesto (basically a cut-and-paste collection of many intellectual and meaningful works and pieces of literature – some of them even very good, others very bad) has been released. The manifesto is a collection of many incoherent ideas and opposing schools of thought, put together in a collectivist and conspiratorial way by one man and his world view.

In this scrap book of thoughts and influences, among the many over-lining topics that he focuses on, there are some parts that show the biggest inconsistencies, and that I feel needs to be brought up. He sees himself as an anti-collectivist, and he also do make some references to very good libertarian, classical liberal and objectivist literature (although it should be noted that he also references a lot of neo-conservative and even some communist and socialist literature, but that’s not the topic now). Does this mean he was a terrorist actually working in the name of individualism, or is he mixing up his terminology, just as he’s mixing up his influences in his creation of his own world view?

I think it’s a distinct quality of collectivism and a collectivist world view that enables a man to fully identify himself with some greater force, and to then feel justified to wage a war between the one force and another. In Anders Behring Breivik’s case, he thinks of himself as part of a pan-European mono-ethnic force that is under attack by Islamic colonists and their Marxist collaborators. He theorizes about a possible civil war between these two forces, and he thinks of himself as a pioneer in this war, and is certain he will be remembered as a hero in the future. Knowing this, you’d have a hard time arguing for him being a true individualist. He is 100% a collectivist by any measure of the word. It makes a lot more sense to me that when he speaks of anti-collectivism, he puts that in context of anti-globalism and anti-multiculturalism – he does not want his own collective sharing anything with other “enemy” collectives under a broader regulatory welfare collective. As such, he does not seem to understand the true meaning of the word, and he most certainly is not an individualist.

An individualist could turn to self-defense and could in such a situation take the life of someone, sure, but an individualist would be completely unable to launch an attack against an imagined class or group of people, in the name of his own imagined class or group of people, because that’s not the way individualists see the world. You can probably find killers in any society (and some more so than in others), and I’m certain there can still be deadly crime in an individualist world. We’re all still human. But only collectivists can be mass-murderers and terrorists, because a collectivist world view is a very distinct quality of a mass-murderer and a terrorist.

Now we can make an attempt on a remedy (which I wasn’t able to see in the middle of this tragedy, but after reading an article by Norwegian blogger Onar “Onarki” Åm it all became very clear and obvious to me, and I was able to structure my own thoughts in this article because of it): Having an open society that is able to include all sorts of opposing, alternative and even extreme opinions. That does NOT mean agreeing with them all, but simply to let them be heard in the public sphere, bring them into the conversation and always meet them with rational and logical arguments. I know us libertarians and classical liberals have a really hard time being heard in the modern socialist power house that is the world today, and some of us have felt how it is to be squeezed out, vilified and stigmatized. This was the content for my Bachelor Thesis in Sociology, Spring 2011 (I focused on people identifying themselves as classical liberals and objectivists), and stigmatization of political minorities is very much a reality, especially in Social Democratic Norway. People who are not among the general majority of political opinions will always experience a stigma that is to some unbearable. If you push them far enough and hate them enough, there will come a time where they will “snap”. This have happened with Islamist terrorists, and this have now happened with a guy in Norway, who have long tried to speak about his distaste for Muslim immigration to Norway and Europe, but has never been heard – not even been talked to. A crusader-fixation was his desperate and twisted way of being heard. It’s like a stigmatized nation getting hold of Nuclear Weapons in order to be taken seriously.

Now, as I mentioned, there is a very good reason why true individualists (like libertarians, classical liberals and objectivists) cannot become terrorists in such a situation of stigmatization that we find ourselves in. Our own opinions and world view inhibit us from thinking in such directions. Individualism makes us morally unable to, and it’s also completely against our own self-interests. We will always continue the long and hard road ahead of us by trying to spread the word of liberty and freedom in peaceful terms, and hope to turn a few over to our side as we go along. We are wired that way, and we would not be individualists if we weren’t wired that way. A collectivist, however (and perhaps also altruistic as such), can see it as both justified and in his own self-interests to take a bunch of lives (and maybe also his own) for his own warped imagery of the greater good. To him, one life does not matter. To him, the unalienable rights of fellow men and women does not exist. All he see is the greater good and people as pawns in a game much greater than themselves. All individualists must reject any such notion, and as such becomes the greatest opposite to acts of terrorism.

It’s certainly a pity that Breivik brings a bad name to good literature on his way into the history books, and it’s just another way for the majority to put a stigma on more minorities through guilt by association, and let me just make it clear that it’s a completely natural answer to such atrocities, but it’s also the wrong answer. More openness, inclusion and debate is the real answer! If we were to believe our Prime Minister here in Norway, this is actually what we’re gonna work for, but if we were to believe all newspapers and many individuals in Norway, we will see a stigma put on the backs of many innocent people in the years to come. I can see that the work for libertarians and classical liberals in Norway will become much harder, as we’re far outside the political majority, but hopefully we will be able to show that we are right in the end. I know I will fight even harder for individualism, liberty and freedom, because I know it’s the real remedy against such atrocities that we have endured, and I do not ever want to see them happen again to anyone.

The Synergy of Libertarianism and Sociology

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Modern Type & Sociology Books

On a libertarian group on Facebook, someone asked if the teachings of sociology were in opposition to the ideals of libertarianism and free will, where sociology teaches us we base our actions on the input from those around us, and that all our choices are influenced by social interactions and social contexts, and went to ask how libertarians felt about this sociological knowledge.

I felt compelled to answer, and I thought I could supply the same answer here.

Whether or not social interaction and society around us influences us and ultimately limits or shifts our values and effectively guides our choices is pretty much a given. People are social animals.

However, that does not contradict the libertarian ethos of individual rights and personal freedom, and a belief in free will. I hold the non-aggression-principle high, because it’s moral and just. I hold private property rights high, because it’s moral and just. I hold the respect for my fellow Men high, because it’s moral and just. I expect people to respect me, my choices, my personal freedoms and property, because it’s moral and just.

My values and choices beyond this can easily be affected by others, because that’s part of what I am. But that does not belittle my own free will. If anything it underlines its strength. If we defined by our humanity would not have complete authority of our selves as individuals, then we would not have the option of breaking free of evil influences if that was all that surrounded us. We must have the opportunity to choose our influences and social contexts, or else we most certainly would perish. Because of this, the fact that we are influenced by those around us and those who brought us up proves to me the strength of our own free will.

What of the poor souls who were surrounded by nothing but lies, but still could see the deceptions that had been fed to them? They are numerous throughout history, and we have much to thank them for. They gave us the Age of Enlightenment, they gave us liberty and capitalism, and once and for all proved that we can choose a free life. Somewhere along the way we may have lost it, but the words of liberty spread across the world like never before and will never be forgotten. If people had no individual preferences or ability to choose for themselves, then such ideas could not spread.

So to sum it up: We are influenced by others, because we’re social animals – and that’s the study of sociology, but we have reason and free will which enable us to choose among those influences, because we’re human – and that’s the study of philosophy.

I know all too well that the field of sociology is made up by collectivist thinkers; marxists, socialists, social democrat-leaning liberals and statists. There is a religious belief in the good of authoritarian rule – as long as it is the rule for good. The way I see it, all the social injustice and problems of society that sociologists do well in identifying and try to fight against are attributed to state authority and a lack of respect for freedom and private property. They wish to use the same authority to do good, and blatantly ignore the fact that you cannot do good with evil. A belief in the system of government authority over economic and social questions will doom us into never finding the right answer, and that is the bane of sociologists today.

There does exist a call for a field of sociology that develops a different understanding of the State, that can be based in the libertarian and objectivist philosophies. The problems of society are the symptoms of the disease of government, and the best sociologists are the ones who make the proper diagnosis.

Written by Morten Rolland

April 14, 2011 at 11:55 am