As I watched this scene unfold, I couldn’t help but think that this is how most people understand libertarianism from without. You don’t have to look hard to see opponents mischaracterize the doctrine as individualist atomism at the expense of community, independence at the expense of cooperation. To make matters worse, many self-professed libertarians actually perpetuate this philosophical straw man. But they are wrong. Libertarianism is neither about social isolation nor autarkic independence.
This misrepresentation of libertarian individualism is often held up in contrast with some collectivist philosophy disguised as cooperation and community. This is a frequent, yet subtle theme in many popular works of literature, film, and music. And it is repeated because it is effective. Indeed, it is how all collectivist philosophies have been sold to the masses across the 20th and 21st centuries. Fascism was not advertised as authoritarianism, but as organized cooperation. Socialists did not use mass graves and famine to promote their ideas; they used social equality and the spirit of community. For decades, libertarians have believed they must focus on the individual in order to stand in starker contrast against these more destructive economic orders. But when we accept this contrasting caricature, we play right into statist hands.