Me, playing with filters . . . and not with my cat, Bene.

On Quora, a question was asked — “What aspect of ‘big government’ frightens conservatives and libertarians?” And answered: dependence. And that answer was then commented upon . . . which then received an additional comment. That last little comment — nothing more than a quip, really — irked me enough to respond.

As the old saying goes, “Libertarians are like housecats. Completely dependent on the people around them for survival, yet utterly convinced of their own independence.”

Ben Patch

This misconstrues the nature of interdependence.

Libertarians celebrate our interdependence in the form of voluntary cooperation — especially in trade. This is the most obvious thing about individualist intellectuals, and has been since Adam Smith and Anders Chydenius. When libertarians talk about dependence we are talking about non-reciprocal aid over long periods of time. The goal of an adult should be a morally autonomous being capable of offering moral (and economic) support to family, friends, and neighbors, but is not a burden to same.

Conflating interdependence with dependence is something of a perversity.

And as for the cat thing — “I bought me a cat” a decade ago because I needed protection from rodents. My cat could have survived for some time in the wild. But in my house he kept it vermin-free for ten years — and has survived longer than he could have on his own. This is important. It is reciprocity. And he certainly is not my slave; and neither, really, am I his. He is not my dependent, not like many people on the dole are to the state.

The “old saying,” above, is a calumny against both cats and libertarians.


Nota Bene: Then followed more discussion, which the curious may drill down to with the link given above.