It seems like every year libertarians fall over themselves to show how “hip” and “with it” they are to the reigning cultural Zeitgeist. Well, it’s 2015, and the current year is no different. From the Students for Liberty blog :
Students for Liberty (SFL) is pleased to announce that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina from the Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot will be headlining the 9th International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC16) on Friday night. The two will kick off the largest annual gathering of libertarian students with a performance and a Q&A session.
Pussy Riot’s anti-authoritarian stunts have gained international attention and the Kremlin’s ire in recent years. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were famously arrested in 2012 after performing a song critical of Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral. The two were released in December 2013 after nearly two years in detention. Only two months later Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were famously attacked with whips by Cossack militia members at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
In the past year Pussy Riot have begun releasing English language songs, turning their attention to more international political topics. In February, they released “I Can’t Breathe,” a song titled after Eric Garner’s famous last words and dedicated to “all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from State terror.” In November, they released “Refugees In,” filmed at Banksy’s Dismaland exhibit, calling on the international community to welcome persecuted peoples fleeing violence in the Middle East
Of course it’s easy to be an enemy of “authority” when you get the backing of the U.S. State Department, as Pussy Riot had for their first single. Of course, this is nothing new, as the U.S. has funded “avant-garde” artists from Pollock to Rothko since last century.
What is more puzzling is why libertarians, the so-called enemies of government authority, would fall for this type of governmental agitprop. The truth is, libertarianism represents a “safe” opposition to the system.
While SFL flies in State Department-backed singers to their flagship conferences, the National Policy Institute and its views are described as “abhorrent” by the functionaries of the American Government.
Libertarianism, especially culturally, is just yesterday’s liberalism shouting “me too! me too!” While the more doctrinaire among them will protest that the “free market” is neutral, in fact its just a reflection of the culture it grows out of.
Like the leftist Howard Zinn said, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” This is true, and clearly libertarians are staying true to their liberal roots and siding with the hegemonic cultural/governmental liberalism of our time.
For any young libertarians reading this, ask yourself who is really challenging authority—a group who invites government-financed “protest artists” to its annual decadent party in the capitol city or a group whose president has actually felt the weight of that power come down on him?
You’re not rebels, you’re apologists. We’ll be here when you’re ready to do something real.