Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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To See with Eyes Unclouded

One of my favorite heroes in any story is Ashitaka in Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.

He is an action hero, but his violence is only performed in immediate self-defense and in the defense of others. He never engages in preventive “self-defense.”

He pursues no vendetta. He is not out for revenge or to vanquish villains. He doesn’t treat any of the other characters as “villains” at all, even the characters who commit atrocities. He communicates with all sides and factions, strives to persuade them, and to stop them from pursuing war and conflict.

At one point, a character asks about him in bafflement, “Whose side is he on?” Ashitaka’s most characteristic moment in the film is when he steps between the main figures of both sides of the war, and prevents them from killing each other, even at the cost of grievous injury to himself.

I think Ashitaka is a wonderful model for friends of liberty. A libertarian should seek immediate self-defense and restitution and nothing more. There is no social utility or personal fulfillment in seeking vengeance for its own sake, or to harbor ill-will toward other human beings. Most libertarians are far too embattled.

I was first drawn to libertarianism as a pro-capitalist. But I do not wish ill on any socialist. Then the anti-war cause became a moral passion for me. Yet I do not wish ill on any warmonger, not even Dick Cheney. Now I try to refrain from calling such people “monsters,” because dehumanizing language does no good.


I don’t want to see anybody’s head on a pike. I don’t want to see anybody “locked up.” Neither blood vengeance nor incarceration makes any victims whole.

I ardently disagree with individuals associated with both the alt-right and antifa, but I wish ill on neither. Same goes for right-libertarians and left-libertarians. In fact, I think it is preoccupation with political “villains” that is the source of most anti-liberty deviations among libertarians, both toward the left and the right.

At one point a character asks Ashitaka, “What exactly are you here for?”

To this he answers, “To see with eyes unclouded by hate.”

Hate none, not even those who hate, not even those who do harm. All souls are mixed, and no one is beyond redemption.

Politics is not the whole of life. The individuals you regard as political enemies are not defined as individuals by their politics. In addition to being a “socialist,” a “nationalist,” or even a “bureaucrat” or “politican,” each person may also be a partner in peaceful commerce and community. The socialist may be your barista. The nationalist may be your plumber. The bureaucrat is someone’s mother. The politician is someone’s brother.

The pursuit of liberty is a mission, not a crusade.



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