hypocrisy From the Greek for acting a part, in particular today simulating a virtue with the intention of misleading others. But in a broader sense it is simulating anything deceptively, even a vice: Cecily was right when she said, “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy” (The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde). A liar is ipso facto a hypocrite with respect to the lie. And *proactive lying is in itself at least somewhat *illiberal (see *honesty). But a liar might thereby be upholding a more important *moral value than honesty, such as even politeness can sometimes be. Thus hypocrisy is certainly not always immoral.

However, merely failing to reveal one’s, supposed, moral (or other) faults, without affecting not to have those faults, is not hypocrisy. Nor is it hypocrisy to give advice that one does not pretend to live up to oneself, as famously observed by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). Nor is it hypocrisy to have ‘double standards’ (to *discriminate) with respect to the treatment of different, groups of, people. These points are contra the, muddled, *commonsense understanding of ‘hypocrisy’. Furthermore, this *meme is very often used as an ad hominem fallacy. For it is simply not relevant to the *truth or morality of what someone says that he might be a hypocrite (except in certain self-referential cases).

A *libertarian *anarchist is not inherently hypocritical (or even morally culpable if he were) for using *tax-funded resources or working for the *state. He can hardly avoid using *coercively *monopolized, tax-funded streets and there is no reason that he should: he merely asserts that it would be better if the streets were anarchically owned. He can honestly replace a statist *academic by joining a predominantly tax-funded *university. He can work for a tax office with a view to, at least later, helping others to minimize their tax-*extortions. A fortiori, he can unhypocritically live on tax-extorted handouts given that he is in effect *punished by state-extortions and rules if he does work, *bribed with *government benefits if he doesn’t work, and that he is thereby tax-punishing almost only *statists (in principle, perhaps he should offer his infinitesimally small share of state handouts back to the tiny number of libertarian tax-extortees, but then equally so should the libertarian academic and tax official). It seems that a libertarian can unhypocritically take most state grants or subsidies on this basis. Moreover, money cannot be legitimately owned by the state. And the more one takes, the less it leaves the state to spend on its *criminal activities.

There must, however, be grey and black areas of state handouts and employment that it would be hypocritical to accept while averring libertarian morals. It is hard to see how one can take tax money for armaments or *arms research, or be an *immigration or customs officer—unless, perhaps, one is taking bribes to let people and products in (see *corruption). What of a torturer or a politician? (The latter usually being responsible for indefinitely more suffering, albeit often in diffuse *opportunity cost form: he reduces *utility far more compared to what it would have been, but with the loss broadly spread.) Neither position would seem to have any libertarian excuse, unless it were a genuinely libertarian politician whose real purpose were to *depoliticize.

Despite the fuss that people make about it, it is usually completely irrelevant, or at most trivial, whether normal statist politicians are hypocrites or not. What matters is the *objective damage to *liberty and *welfare that they assist the state in causing.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism