In May of this year, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published by the American Psychiatric Association. This near-comprehensive set of diagnostic criteria is just another example of the progress which government-funded medical research has made in recent years. Many hurdles remain, however, and psychiatric professionals are discovering new personality disorders and previously unknown mental dysfunctions on a near-daily basis. With that in mind, I offer the two following observations:
1: Psychosis is defined by experts as a mental state involving a “loss of contact with reality.” (1)
2: Ludwig von Mises, a cult figure among Right-wing extremists and described by many as the “Paul Krugman of Libertarianism”, once offered the following bizarre statement in defense of his repugnant ideology:
“Its statements and propositions are not derived from experience. They are, like those of logic and mathematics, a priori. They are not subject to verification and falsification on the ground of experience and facts. They are both logically and temporally antecedent to any comprehension of historical facts.” (2)
The consensus amongst professional Economists today is that this statement is merely another glaring example of the shoddy circular logic and solipsistic reasoning for which extreme right-wing “thinkers” are notorious. Could it be, however, that an altogether more tragic story lies behind the creation of Ludwig von Mises’ hate-filled works? Perhaps history may judge the man more kindly if the sociopathic nature of his “philosophy” can one day be ascribed to mental ill health rather than wilful malice.
Whilst it is undeniable that the “Libertarian” movement exhibits continuous atavistic spasms of illogicality and delusion, the majority of individuals aligned with the “Libertarian” and Conspiracy movements are not, of course, mentally ill. Most are simply malcontents; socially inept individuals who, suffering from boredom as a result of the record amounts of leisure time afforded by recent improvements in the economy, engage in anonymous confrontational thrill-seeking online. Many are only semi-literate and, having perhaps read Ayn Rand, but not von Mises or Rothbard, merely parrot slogans and catchphrases which they have learned by rote from darkly charismatic leaders within the cult-like environs of shady online message boards.
The fact however, that the majority of “Libertarians” and conspiracy theorists are merely useful idiots should not lull ordinary patriotic Americans into a false sense of security. The ugly core of the “Libertarian” movement is comprised of highly dangerous fundamentalists who cling to the unhinged writings of von Mises and his ilk as if they were holy books. Make no mistake – these zealots pose a clear and present danger to the security and prosperity of all Americans.
It therefore behooves everyone involved in constructive political discourse to challenge “Libertarianism” and Conspiracy Theory wherever it is encountered; but please, do so with compassion, since advances in psychiatric medical science may soon change our view of the “Libertarian movement” entirely.