Browse > Home / Civil Liberties, Satire / A libertarian guide to Valentine’s Day

| Subcribe via RSS

A libertarian guide to Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2011 Posted in Civil Liberties, Satire by

It’s that time of year again when every economic liberal can celebrate the reduction of our highest emotional connection with another human being by supporting the greeting card, floral and sugar processing industries, whilst ignoring the troubling history of the festival.

The original St. Valentine, about whom little is known, is claimed as a  priest martyred in the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II (@270 AD). His principle crime was helping Christians marry, the pre-medieval equivalent of birth control.

His doom was only confirmed after arrest when the pagan Emperor tired of his endless attempts to convert him, and romantically sent him clubbing with his mates; where upon he got hopelessly stoned and entirely lost his head. He was reportedly buried on February 14th.

The Saint’s Day itself was inaugurated in 496 AD by Pope  Gelasius and may have been a direct replacement for the Roman Festival of Lupercalia. A thoroughly unpleasant 3-day rite that began with animal sacrifice, involved young nobles running around town naked, and concluded with the beating of women with whips in the hope of improving their fertility. A tradition continued today by young British holidaymakers throughout the summer.

There are references throughout history after that including the acres of greeting-card quality poetry in the age of courtly love; Shakespeare’s cheery musings in Hamlet; up to the modern reinterpretation of the Valentine ode “Roses are Red, Violets are blue” by the balladeers of Aqua.

Why should libertarians care about this festival?

First it  despised by anti-consumerist elements on the left. Antivalentinism detests the crass commercialism of the festival and worries it distracts attention from the true joyless collectivist meaning of love, something unfairly distributed and horded by those rich in social skills and good looks in the capitalist system. Besides which they harbour strong suspicions that Kraft and Hallmark could pay more tax.

Second it is loathed by authoritarians. Saudi Arabia occasionally  bans it as a Christian holiday, and consequently enjoys a black market in roses. Gay rights campaigners in China use the day for protest marches. Nationalists in India threatened to shave the heads of  celebrants in 2004.

That cheesy card you send extolling the virtues of your dear one beyond any actual qualities they might have is a direct snub to dictatorship.

Third the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was a direct consequence of prohibition, and the gangsterism it encouraged.

Fourth it’s not a state-approved official holiday. Whether or not you participate is up to you.

So whilst sitting in an over-priced restaurant filled with over-perfumed couples anxious about whether or not to reciprocate a relationship status update on Facebook, might not be your thing… it is surely your duty to support the cause of global freedom today by buying your loved one a walnut whip. Or not.

Enjoy the freedom to choose.

3 Responses to “A libertarian guide to Valentine’s Day”

  1. Dick Puddlecote Says:

    Well, that’s sold it to me. Is there a florists still open? 😉

  2. Steve Bradley Says:

    St valentine is buried in a church in Dublin by the way.

    Which explains a lot about Irishmen…… ;o)

  3. tim leunig Says:

    principle crime? Or principal crime?