Sometimes, after hearing anti-authoritarian arguments, a question comes up: do those who are against libertarian ideas even know what they are arguing against? It seems that some are confused when someone takes a principled stand against government wrongdoing in the abstract.
Take the case when someone argues against police abuse invariably suggest that the only reason someone could take a stand against police activity is due to personal animosity due to a personal bad experience. Very shortly in the conversation the topic will turn to what individual personal experiences one has had that could cause someone to actually have a bad opinion.
If someone takes a stand about taxation, especially taxation in whole as a concept, the assumption is always that the person taking that stand is doing so because he simply wants his own taxes lowered. Often it is simply assumed that the actual argument is nothing more than a cover, in order to create the illusion that there is theory behind the anti-tax argument.
It is the same with arguments about drug use, in which advocating legalization is assumed to be because it is a cover for personal use of drugs. And the Tea Party protests are assumed to be angry because a particular party is out of office and not because of the policies of the party that is in office. Arguments against business licensing reduce to wanting to got to unscrupulous or unqualified vendors, or wanting to be an unscrupulous or unqualified vendor.
Over and over the one thing missing is any recognition that someone is actually making a principled pro-liberty argument. Authoritarians seem incapable of believing that a pro-liberty argument is being made.
Are libertarians capable of understanding authoritarians? In general later societal stages can understand earlier ones. If they try barbarians can understand tribesmen and citizens can understand barbarians. Libertarians can understand that authoritarians believe people need to be taken care of. Do authoritarians understand that libertarians believe people don’t need to be taken care of?