From left: Maajid Nawaz, Michael Lloyd, and Sam Harris.

 

by Michael Lloyd

I used to be a socialist. 

It wasn’t even that long ago, in the scheme of things. I grew up in a household where companies were evil and government was good. Where taxes were considered to be too low. Where it was genuinely believed that anyone who wasn’t a socialist was just a greedy, self-serving money grabber who hated the poor. 

It should be no surprise then that I supported Bernie Sanders when he ran against Hillary, or that the last time I voted (about 5 years ago), it was for the New Zealand Labour party, of whom my biggest criticism was that they weren’t left-wing enough. 

My political activism first came as a result of my interest in science. Following great scientist thought leaders like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins, I would eventually become a militant atheist, idolizing the great public speakers like Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. During this time, I cared about two things: raising taxes to increase spending on ‘public’ services, and abolishing religion. 

I consumed all the usual one-sided media, happily living in a left-wing echo chamber and ‘owning’ right-wingers and religious fundamentalists who I identified as easy targets. 

But two things happened that have led me to The Liberalist movement. Two connected events that have changed my life beyond measure.

First, a man named Dave Rubin (who I’d never heard before) ushered in his new show, The Rubin Report, by interviewing my idol, Sam Harris. The Rubin Report would become my favourite show, and for it’s first two years, I would watch every episode. I would start to see ‘right-wingers’ like Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopolous and Larry Elder, and realize that my vision of right wing politics had been heavily skewed by the bias of my upbringing. Eventually, after an appearance on the show by renowned psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, I came to read his book The Righteous Mind, which truly transformed how I saw the divide between left and right. 

It became clear to me that I had not truly sought to understand other opinions, and I had been content living in an echo chamber for too long. 

And so, I set out to expose myself to ‘real’ conservative and libertarian viewpoints. Not just the caricatures I’d dealt with up until that point.

It’s amazing how quickly things began to change. I started reading books on economics and saw how much of the ideology I’d built my life upon was deeply flawed. I began to recognize the disingenuous behaviour of the left when dealing with conservative and libertarian viewpoints. I saw my own vapid understanding, that had at one time driven my reasoning, reflected in people I used to respect. 

It was clear to me that the 2 party system was deeply flawed, that discussion was becoming more and more toxic, so I set out to create my own place for the disenfranchised left and right to come together and have real discussions. This was when I founded Logic, Empathy, Honesty, around the time that thousands of other people began leaving their echo chambers and forming what some would call ‘the new center.’

Thankfully, the momentum continued and this new centrist movement continued to grow. I fulfilled a dream and was interviewed by Dave Rubin for the Rubin Report (Rubin fan special number 2) and continued writing for a growing audience.

It wasn’t long before Sargon of Akkad, a person whose videos had been in my feed since my militant atheist days, would propose the Liberalist movement: an attempt to bring back classical liberalism under a new label, and a place for people of varying political leanings to work together to restore sanity to political discourse. 

This was exactly the catalyst I’d been looking for. A place for all of this to come together. A place to connect with like-minded individuals, free of identity politics and collectivism. 

When I joined the Liberalists in January of 2018, there were only a few hundred of us. Now we number 5000 strong in the primary group alone.

I’m proud to be a part of this growing movement because it represents exactly what myself and thousands of others have come to know. That there is a chance for true liberalism to be restored, for real discussion to be valued, and for powerful change to be realized.

I don’t know that I really ‘found’ the Liberalists. I like to think that we all found liberalism, and together we’ve built something special. A place where freedom of speech and diversity of opinion are valued.

Perhaps a place where we can come together to change the world.

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