I’ll say it: Hippies should not be communists.
In truth, I have always been puzzled as to why this is not truer. Hippies are for love, peace, easy living, and following their own path. A main tenant of being considered a hippie, in fact, is that a hippie rejects the rules of established institutions. If this is the case, who is not more in line with that than the libertarians?
Hippies are, as a whole, anti-war, in favor of drug legalization, and have no issue with peaceful behavior that many may disagree with.
Just change one word of that statement and nobody would disagree.
Libertarians are, as a whole, anti-war, in favor of drug legalization, and have no issue with peaceful behavior that many may disagree with.
Hippie and libertarian values fit together almost perfectly!
All of this then begs the question:
Why are hippies communists in the first place then? Why is anyone, for that matter?
I believe there are 2 reasons.
1. The differences between ideals and application is not clearly understood.
The communist idea is beautiful. There is a classless society. Everyone pitches in. You give what you can, and take what you need. There is common ownership of everything.
The problem is in the application. Communism has had a ruling class everywhere it was done on a large scale, and without incentives and property rights, people tend to pitch in too little, and take too much.
One of the best examples of this ideal vs. reality in U.S. history is the colony at Jamestown, where communal living on a new frontier lead to needless death. There are countless other examples.
Socialism sounds cool in the classroom and nobody can deny the sexiness Che Guevara emanates from each rotting pore but in reality, it sucks. Every adult knows it’s just communism lite, and that means bureaucrats with “Godlike power.” as Milton Friedman put it. Nobody wears Che T-shirts in Cuba and the fat man in the beard who runs the place is just a reverse Santa who takes every gift God gives and hands it to someone less deserving. Without the invisible hand of capitalism slapping over achievers on the back and spanking lazy bottoms, waiters mope around like the whole thing is below them.
The trendy Che Guevara t-shirts are the ideal. The reality is the gulag that everyone ignores.
2. Freedom can be crushing.
It is also possible that for some, freedom is too much.
Teenagers scoff at their parents “oppression” but too often then choke on the freedom of buying their own groceries, financing their own car, and finding rent money.
In this same way, adults so easily give up their freedoms to the political class.
One of my favorite philosophers, Eric Hoffer, studies the reasons why people voluntarily give away responsibility and join mass movements and mobs. One quote he collected came from a young German who explained that he joined the Nazi party to be “free from freedom.” The desire to avoid responsibility can be overwhelming. That desire is so great that it has fed some of the greatest epochs of tyranny and acts of brutality the world has ever known. It is a desire so pervasive, so delicious, that tyrants have been able to rely on it in every era of human history.
Healthcare? Security? Retirement? Education? Fair lending? How free it is, to be free from these freedoms!
So join me in encouraging hippies everywhere to accept the reality, instead of the ideal, and to embrace freedom with all of its uncertainties.
(A third possible reason is that while living under the benifits of freedom, prosperity, and safety – people quickly become ignorant to what causes freedom, prosperity, and safety.)