There are many roads to becoming a classical liberal, and I would be sure that among the various contributors to this blog, we’ll have traveled a wide variety of them. Many people older than myself once held faith in the institutions of government, only to learn over time that their faith was unfounded. They were part of the system until they learned how asinine the system was. I took the opposite road.
I’m a bit of an introvert. I grew up without a lot of confidence in social situations, and accordingly, found myself a fly on the wall observing the behavior of others. You learn quite a bit about the world when you close your mouth and open your ears, and what I saw increasingly just didn’t make sense. I watched the group dynamics of my “peer group” throughout school, where more importance was placed on which clique you were a part of than what occurred between your ears. It became more important as people got older that you acted to “fit in” to a group than be yourself and let the chips fall where they may.
And it’s not gotten any better with age. I sit now and watch the bickering between the Democrats and the Republicans, knowing that neither group considers principles or ideas to be the guiding force in their actions, it is partisan politics and satisfying interest groups that’s important. It has become a clan mentality, where protecting members of your clan is a moral imperative regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Where you regularly proceed with slandering members of opposite clan, even if they’d normally be someone you’d be friends with. It is now more important to fit in with your political party, or your race, or your class, or your gender, or any number of manufactured cliques than it is to even hold beliefs and stand up for your own thoughts.
I observed all this from a vantage point on the outside, and I became disgusted. I resigned myself to make up my own mind on every issue based on the evidence and the arguments I had available to me. I named my personal blog the Unrepentant Individual, which has led some to believe that I hold myself above reproach and act without apology for things I do. This is not true. What I will not apologize for is being myself and only myself. I consider myself to be an individual, and any “membership” I hold with others of my political party, my race, my socioeconomic class, my gender, or any other manufactured clique is just ancillary. I am not a “classical liberal” because it sounds fashionable, rather because the arguments I’ve found towards classical liberalism seem much more compelling than any other political philosophy I have yet found.
Eric has asked me, as well as many other bloggers, to blog here because we tend to agree on a wide variety of issues. We look at the world in much the same way, and we have very similar goals. But I am not here to kowtow to the wishes of a group, because while this is a “group blog”, it is a coalition of like-minded individuals, not membership in a club. Most of these bloggers are people who I consider to be my closest friends in the blogosphere, and are all people I respect very highly. I can’t say that for all conservatives, all libertarians, or even all people who consider themselves to be classical liberals, and there are quite a few people on the opposite side of the debate who I highly respect, no matter how much I may disagree with them. These are individuals that I respect, not members of my clan.
To people that don’t understand the way I think, I tend to appear far more obstinate, stubborn, and curmudgeonly than anyone born in the late ’70s has a right to. But part of being an unrepentant individual makes me not care one iota about that. I am who I am, and people who don’t like that know where to go.