Faux stoicism of the confused libertarian / Trumpian variety

I recently read about a woman who committed suicide. She had a degenerative muscular condition that was kept in check by expensive medicine. Under Trump, funding to two of the programs she used was cut. The supplier of the medicine that kept her from dying a slow agonizing death announced billions in profits and a price increase in the same week and she wasn't going to be able to afford it. One of her last posts was that she had about a week's supply left. She put a message on a group board asking someone to come pick up her cats and take them to her mother's house and hung herself.

If one tells this story to the right people – to many of the Trump supporters – they are willing to say "good riddance" to this person to one's face. They feel no one should be forcing them to pay for other people's health care, and if people with degenerative conditions die, that's a righteous outcome of natural selection.

Very likely, the pills she needed were only artificially expensive. They're cheap to make but someone has a patent on them, and that's where the high price tag comes from. They will respond that the patent is property, and the freedom to do whatever one wants with one's property is fundamental, self-evident, and more sacred than other people's needs.

Such people may argue that feelings aren't a good basis for a system of laws. That feelings are irrational and ill-founded. In a way, this is right. We should not outlaw homosexual acts just because they offend the religious.

But reason serves feelings, not the other way around. In everything we do, our underlying motivation is to escape unpleasant experiences and to have pleasant ones. Our success in coexisting with other people and creatures hinges on our ability to identify and communicate our preferences, empathize with those of others, and compromise to meet them. To the extent we cannot coexist, it's when not everyone is open to dialogue.

There is a type of libertarian – not that far from authoritarian – that tries to escape this dialogue by convincing himself that for him, reason is in charge. He puts a tarp over some deep seated feelings and hides them behind "self-evident facts". These "facts" just so happen to coincidentally serve his interests. This avoids acknowledging that, like anyone else, he's motivated by what's pleasant. It helps him mount a better than thou position where he is rational and right (because he is principled, everything he does is motivated by "facts") and other people are irrational and have no common sense (because they are motivated by their own feelings, which are in some ways incompatible with his).

This is faux stoicism of the authoritarian – Trumpian – confused libertarian variety. Not only is the person motivated by feelings much like anyone, but they assume their feelings are an absolute point of reference. They gain certainty in the righteousness of their preferences and a heart of stone for everyone else. Since this view is self-centered, it's resistant to correction except through profound emotional suffering.


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