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Apathy is a lack of care or concern. Apathy concerning political and economic issues is a major cause of ignorance and inactivity concerning these matters among the public. The tendency of the masses to prefer entertainment to the hard work of becoming informed and taking action has been bewailed by many libertarians. Ludwig von Mises notes, "It is more fun to listen to the radio speeches of a dictator than to study economic treatises."[1]

In some cases, a formerly impassioned classical liberal will announce that he is suddenly leaving the field of economics or politics because he no longer cares what happens to the country. In most cases, this expressed newfound apathy is actually pseudo-apathy — i.e. the person cares so much that the only way to avoid an extreme sense of dismay at the unsatisfactory state of affairs is to "shut down" and become numb with regard to the situation, to the point that he convinces himself that he no longer cares. It is similar to how a circuit breaker will trip when the capacity of the system is in danger of being exceeded; it protects the electronics from being overwhelmed by switching off functionality until the source of the problem has been successfully addressed. Such declarations of disengagement from economics or politics can be interpreted as (1) announcements that excessive load caused his system (i.e. his ability to continue function as an economist or political activist) to go down and (2) invitations to collaboration in the search for the cause of the fault, and for a workable solution; while in the meantime, as a safety measure against being overwhelmed, the person remains non-operational in his capacity as economist or activist.

Sometimes a classical liberal will announce that, because the cause is hopeless, he is leaving the movement and never coming back. Murray Rothbard writes, "The contemporary movement is now old enough to have had a host of defectors; analysis of these defections shows that, in almost every case, the libertarian has been isolated, cut off from fellowship and interaction with his colleagues. A flourishing movement with a sense of community and esprit de corps is the best antidote for giving up liberty as a hopeless or 'impractical' cause."[2]

Although apathy is fairly common, since everyone has some topics about which he cares little, admitting apathy about another person's concerns is sometimes considered rude.


  1. Mises, Ludwig von. "Introductory Remarks". Planned Chaos. 
  2. Rothbard, Murray. "A Strategy for Liberty". For a New Liberty.