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Thursday, June 20, 2019

On The Libertarian Obsession With The Word “Narcissist”

Narcissus gazing at his own reflection
(Painting by Caravaggio)
Ever since Trump became the president, the community of libertarian scholars has become obsessed with the word “narcissist”. They have been flooding the libertarian websites and forums with articles and blogs which proclaim that Trump is a narcissist and therefore he is unfit to hold the office of president.

Let’s assume that Trump is a narcissist, as the libertarians claim, but does that necessarily make him a worse politician than a non-narcissistic man? Why is narcissism a problem? I am not enthusiastic about narcissistic politicians, but I don’t believe that a politician who is full of empathy, and is filled with self-hatred and self-doubt, will make a better president. If the libertarians think that narcissism is a bad thing then they need to explain why. As far as I know, not a single libertarian has cared to elucidate the Libertarian Theory (if  there is such a theory) of narcissism in politics.

Only the libertarians know why they have been using the idea of narcissism to make their case against Trump. The people are not worried about narcissism. They don’t see narcissism as a problem. They are quite used to narcissistic politicians as they have been voting for such men in election after election in the last 100 or more years. A humble and meek man, a man who is full of self-hatred and self-doubt, a man who empathizes with all, can never be a successful politician in America or in any other advanced democracy in the world.

Obama was much more narcissistic than Trump. And the presidents before Obama too were narcissistic. Being narcissistic is, I think, an important trait in a politician in an advanced democracy. A politician’s job is to convince the voters that he is the best man to solve the problems that they face in their life—he can’t do that unless he is to some extent convinced that he is really the “best”. So self-confidence and self-admiration — in other words, narcissism — is an absolute must in a politician.

Finally, it is strange that the libertarians are so appalled by the sight of narcissistic politicians when they themselves are an extremely narcissistic group. They are so convinced of the perfection of their own ideology that they seldom write an article without quoting from a few libertarian scholars whom they adore. Their method of argumentation is: Mises said it so it is correct; Hayek said it so it is correct; Ayn Rand said it so it is correct; Rothbard said it so it is correct. But this kind of writing is narcissism. They are what they accuse Trump to be.

I think libertarian writing on contemporary politics has become extremely sloppy and pedantic in the last 15 years. No one is impressed by their political writings except other libertarians.

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