Epicureans are often stereotyped as apolitical hermits that take refuge in the isolation of their gardens among their circles of friends, and avoid public life. But history bears witness against this stereotype: many Epicureans–like founding father Thomas Jefferson and feminist abolitionist Frances Wright–have found that, in their particular circumstances, involvement in politics and activism has positively contributed to a life filled with enjoyment. Onfray calls for a renaissance of the libertarian left, arguing that politics does not need to entail intrigue or take away from our serenity and pleasure, and furthermore that it is nearly impossible to be apolitical while experiencing life in the human flesh.
True to the Epicurean focus on the unmediated experience of the individual, as it is lived in his flesh–as opposed to the Platonic focus on the “life of the state” or polis–, Epicurean politics are characterized by small acts of resistance, by personal choices that swerve in this or that direction, that constitute a lifestyle of activism and power over our world. He argues that this is no less political that other forms of activism that directly concern themselves with the state. Even by ignoring and being indifferent to the narratives of the state and articulating our own, we are engaging in libertarian politics, acting as free women and men.
Aiming for a better state, a peaceful society, and a happy civilization is a somewhat infantile desire … We need nomadic Epicurean Gardens, constructed around ourselves. Wherever we find ourselves, there should we build the world we aspire to and should avoid the one we reject… Is this a minimalist politics? Yes. A wartime politics? Of course. A politics of resisting a more powerful enemy? Clearly. But it is still politics.