Anarchists, Voluntaryists, Libertarians: Please Stop Being Pretentious

As I’ve exposed myself to the writings of fellow anarchists, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend that, honestly, appears to exist with practically all of them: they’re obtuse, needlessly long-winded, overly complicated, superfluous, and pretentious. Here’s one single sentence from a fellow voluntaryist:

Bezboznik’s argument for taking this route, in a manner of speaking, was multifaceted, in stating that it would lead to a reduction in congestion since there would be “no free riders”; that it would lead to less crime, citing private roads that are rarely utilized by comparing them to public roads utilized by nearly everyone; that it would hold road owners to more responsibility for maintaining both order on, and sustentation of the roads compared to that of government monopolies, a free market point I won’t refute; that it will encourage construction of infrastructure, which goes without saying; and that it will encourage small business, which brings me to the alternative that will later be discussed.

I’m sorry, what?

One has to wonder if such people are trying to create an echo chamber. It reminds me of an argument I had recently with someone on Quora (I find myself saying “an argument I had recently with someone on Quora” quite a lot), where I pointed out that if you mean “The dog ran,” then it’s best to say that, instead of “The canine did make hasty locomotion.” Yet there are a lot of people who would seriously consider the jackass saying “The canine did make hasty locomotion” to be a great writer, forgetting that the point of writing is to communicate, and if one is writing something like this, it’s not communicating much to very many people.

In fact, the only thing this does is function as a screen, to weed out those who don’t agree with the statement. Reading the sentence I quoted above is an honest-to-fuck chore, and you couldn’t pay me to do it again. I read it once to verify that it was all a single sentence, but if I came across it again, I would gloss over it and skip it entirely.

My life is words, and I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. What is the problem with this sentence?

I am not enthralled. It is the equivalent of a monotonous drone, and I cannot read it without hearing the voice of that old dude from the 90s “Clear Eyes” commercials saying it. Just for the sake of curiosity, I want to see if I can make this sentence… You know… readable.

Bezboznik’s reasoning for taking this route was multifaceted. First, he argued that it would reduce congestion on roads, since there would be “no free riders,” and that it would decrease crime, citing that private roads are rarely utilized compared to public roads. He argued that road owners would be more responsible with maintenance than is a government monopoly, which is a free market point that I won’t refute, and that it would encourage the construction of infrastructure, which goes without saying. Lastly, it would stimulate small businesses.

It’s still not the way that I would go, if I was writing it organically, but that’s where personal taste and style enters the picture. If I was the editor for the person who wrote this, that is how I would have edited it; it is not the duty of an editor to rewrite a piece entirely.

Of course, it’s not just the one article. If I’d only seen this once, I wouldn’t be bothering to write an article about it.

How about this monstrosity of pretentiousness masquerading as intellectualism?

 I would myself like to posit the merit of individualism and say that while they are talking about racial demographics, individuals are all exceptional in their own right. The problem with the egalitarian movement as I see it, so far as race relations are concerned, is that it intends to dismiss empirical knowledge, a point which Molyneux and Mr. Taylor make in the discourse of this interview. Constituents of the liberal egalitarian movement wish to espouse the aforementioned individualist view while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the measurable differences between collectives. It is important to remember that even individualists form collectives by consequence and that there is in fact pertinent measurable data that can be gleaned from the study of collectives. What I am intending to say is this, “Open your mind, but never close your eyes.” It is when you begin to look past what is actually taking place around you in order to protect an ideology that you leave yourself vulnerable to being taken advantage of or worse.

Since this person obviously wants to be overly obtuse and unnecessarily pretentious, I would like to point out that the phrase “so long as” is never correct, and “so” should always be replaced with “as.” But just look how pretentious it is!

  • Posit
  • “so far as”
  • “dismiss empirical knowledge”
  • “in the discourse of this interview”
  • “Constituents of the liberal egalitarian movement…” Oh, my god, I just vomited.
  • “wish to espouse the aforementioned individualist…” Holy shit, it got worse.
  • “measurable differences between collectives.” Fuck my life.
  • “form collectives by consequence”
  • “pertinent measurable data that can be gleaned from the study of collectives”

Jesus fucking Christ. I didn’t realize it was that bad.

Of course, when I saw this, I immediately posted on Facebook that I wished voluntaryists would stop this sort of thing. It’s clearly meant to screen out people who don’t confuse pretentiousness with intellectualism. People above a certain threshold of intellect will recognize this for the codswallop of trite inanities that it is, while people below a certain threshold will not even understand it. There is a narrow place between those two thresholds, where there exist people who can be dazzled by the spectacle, much in the same way that people are enraptured by the antics of stage magicians.

The preceding paragraph is more pretentious than I’d like, but I don’t really know how else to say it.

People who are genuinely smart will see this for the codswallop of trite inanities that it is, a load of bullshit trying to mask its simple point with big words, while people who are kinda dumb won’t understand it anyway. Between those two, there is a group of people who are smart enough to know what it means, but dumb enough to be impressed by it. Well, an impressive argument is obviously a convincing argument, isn’t it?

A lot of people think this way. I’d even say that a growing number of people think this way.

Let me reiterate with this last person said, but without being needlessly obtuse:

Yes, discrimination is bad, because all individuals should be treated as individuals. However, that doesn’t change the fact that black people jump higher than white people on average, and facts like that can’t be ignored.

Goddamn, was that really so hard to say?

No.

No, it wasn’t.

It was rather easy to say.

And it makes… exactly… the… same… point.

The Point

Look.

If you’re out there writing, talking, or doing whatever in an attempt to sway people to your side, what good do you think you are doing by pulling stuff like this? Great, you wowed some people with your pretentious hogwash. You duped six people into joining your cause–at least until someone else comes along with “them thar big fancy words!” and disputes you.

You will succeed in turning off people like me, like the guy whose article I quoted first. Not only do I dispute the message of his article, but I also won’t read anything else he has to say, because… well, he didn’t actually put forward an argument. He just basically said “But taxes do work,” and took a few borderline unreadable paragraphs to do it.

So people who are intelligent enough to see through the veil of pretentious language will likely ignore you, while people who don’t understand it will also ignore you. In the end, you will convince only the easily-fooled. You will sway only the people who watch David Copperfield and shriek, “Oh, my god! How did he do that?! It must be real magic!”

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