A friend of mine formerly known as Glomar Responder (Mr. X) on Twitter sent over this screed as a guest post. It’s an interesting commentary on the bifurcation we’re seeing in libertarianism. I’ve spoken on this matter before, as my natural inclination is toward smaller government and so I have historically been rather sympathetic toward libertarianism. But there are problems in libertarianism that continually get overlooked, and an increasing number of “left-libertarians” making their political debut. There are open-borders libertarians who do not realize they are slitting their own throats by encouraging, or at least allowing, the mass importation of people who work counter to their goals. It’s clear there is something going on, and Glomar explores the idea below.
Met with a high school friend last night, talked a bit about how libertarianism became a leftist shit show so quickly after the so-called “libertarian moment” where it looked like the Rand Pauls and Ted Cruzes were the new hotness in politics.
And she has a theory.
Libertarianism isn’t one movement, it’s two.
The popular political branch that actually got people elected and polls well in the southeast is based in the classical Anglo-Saxon system, as carried on especially by the British Isles border peoples. It basically stopped evolving at Locke.
And when founded in the US, it was REACTIONARY. It was a restoration of the rights of Englishmen and the small, local systems that the border Welsh, Scots, and Irish were used to.
So you have volunteer fire departments based on the militia system. You have Sheriffs with real law enforcement power, instead of a constabulary. You have common law rather than large bodies of code.
And then there’s intellectual libertarianism, which continued to evolve, especially in France, Germany, and Spain.
And Proudhon and Stirner had a huge influence on them.
So you get your John Henry Mackays, linking libertarian political thought with sexual promiscuity and outright pederasty.
Something that would have gotten you lynched by the “libertarians” of e.g. Kentucky.
So, unfortunately, “intellectual” libertarians run the movement, such as it is. Politicians and elites are far more likely to gravitate towards intellectual movements based in French and German philosophy than they are to say “hey, maybe those rednecks and hillbillies have preserved a great system, and we should adopt it.”
So you get think tanks, and a few college professors, pushing “respectable” libertarian thought that is atheist (due to both French revolution era and German influences), sexually promiscuous and experimental, and radically atomized individualist (because Stirner).
And the people it attracts in the academy and in young political life are the white upper middle class degenerates, because it gives them permission to be freaks, without giving them the obligations to the worker from classical communism, the obligations to the progressive stack from Frankfurt branches, or the obligations to God from social conservativism.
“Dude, weed” is actually their ideal sales pitch to the classical Anglo-Saxon borderer libertarians.
Because the Stirnerites think they should be able to have their hedonistic experiences as they choose, and the hillbillies think “you think Washington can tell me what crops I can grow? Fuck you, buddy.”
It’s a solid point of agreement between the two. As is shrinking government intervention in their lives generally.
But the hillbillies, their basic stance is “leave me the fuck alone, I can get by just fine with my family, neighbors, and church.”
And the intellectuals are much more “leave me the fuck alone, the child consented and anyway I’m raising average wages worldwide by making cheap crap in China without any trade barriers.”
You’ve got a bunch of government minimalists and localists on the one hand, who have a very long history of voluntary participation and civic duty.
They don’t like a distant crown passing edicts on them, but they’re cool with showing up at the fire hall when the chief tells them to.
And then you’ve got a bunch of people who want to be left alone because they’ve bought into the atomized individualism that lets them live without obligation. They can fuck who they want, exploit who they want, and act like general eternal teenagers.
“Fuck you, dad,” the political movement. So abortion is cool, because “the child is trespassing on my body.”
And voluntary hierarchy? REEEEEEEEEEEE!
The former is attractive or at least understandable to many normie Americans, because it’s just a more radical version of the system they were born and raised in.
They can see the Jefferson in it.
The latter is repulsive to most of them.
It rejects many of their fundamental institutions. Of course we serve in the military (militia tradition, remember).
Of course we have laws regulating marriage (still religious, never adopted the atheism of the Continental libertarian/anarchists).
And a few decades of middle and lower class guys going to college and reading e.g. Rand has kinda mashed the two together in many places.
But there’s still a fundamental divide, and it’s becoming more apparent as the “I don’t owe you or your culture shit” libertarians side with the left.
Child drag queens don’t bother them.
Why would they? So long as I don’t make you do it, I don’t owe you shit.
Immigration? Borders are just imaginary lines, statist, stop making my lawn mowing more expensive.
No, I don’t owe my neighbor’s kids shit. They should lower their price and compete with the Guatemalan lawn crews and their riding mowers.
They have to speak Spanish at school? Oh well, we don’t have an official language.
That lawn crew will eventually vote away my buttsex? Well, I’ll be dead.
Libertarian VOTERS didn’t change.
They’re still just classical Anglos (or at least spiritual anglos).
But the money and the “movement,” organized libertarianism, doesn’t represent them, it was always fundamentally different.
Anyway, long story short she’s convinced her formerly very active libertarian husband to disassociate from movement libertarianism because Darth Fonzie is cringe and gross, and Latin American socialists don’t vote with her very, very white daughter’s freedom and interests in mind.
Here’s a bit of heresy: ban nothing. Did that raise the hair on your back? Did it strike a chord? Did you find yourself thinking “but Thales, that can’t possibly work!”
One of the more bizarre news items of the day relates to a continuing fetish of American municipal governments for banning plastic straws. Now, a liberal acquaintance of mine assured me that he was not inconvenienced by the use of biodegradable paper and wax straws, and plastic straws do have various environmental consequences. In this, my liberal acquaintance is entirely correct. Yet I still disagree vociferously with these straw bans.
To illustrate why, let us go back to the days of Prohibition. Take a gander at these propaganda posters from the period:
Alcohol had then, and still possesses, a number of terrible consequences for overuse. We have drunk drivers, alcoholics, violent drunks, and to say nothing of the things I see DJing the clubs. Yet Prohibition failed and was repealed. Why?
The usual argument is that banning doesn’t work because people will get what they want regardless. There will be speakeasies and bootleggers, organized crime and street thugs. That’s partially correct. But let’s be frank. None of those things will be a problem for banning plastic straws. Certainly, I don’t see organized crime selling crates of plastic straws out of the backs of sketchy minivans. So what’s the real issue?
Freedom of choice.
If the harm of alcohol was eventually outweighed by freedom of choice, then how can we justify banning plastic straws? Many of the same Leftists arguing for banning straws are, in turn, proponents of the legalization of marijuana. Any substance, device, or creation of mankind will have costs, that is to say negative effects. This applies to every single thing man creates. Automobiles have negative effects. Cubicles have negative effects. Medicines have side effects, or can lead to addictions. Those ugly, tacky garden gnomes have negative effects (the sight of them used to drive my dog into a rage for reasons that are clear only to him).
The trick of the Left is to focus on those negative things in an arbitrary fashion. For the things they like, they speak only of the positives. Weed will save lives, reduce pain, relax people. For things they dislike, they speak only of the negatives. Straws will hurt turtles, and won’t degrade for decades. Animals might ingest them. Ban straws. Legalize weed. Ban guns. Legalize gay marriage. There is no principle here, no overriding guidance they are following, only arbitrary emotions. These are the whims of a mob. If 50% + 1 don’t like something that you like, ban it!
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the mob is not necessarily consistent. 50% + 1 may be found to ban anything and everything, because a person may like ban A, but be against ban B.
Most Leftists are essentially reacting emotionally, not rationally. However, some attempt to rationalize it by amount of harm. They attempt to weigh all of the consequences and all of the benefits, and say that if the balance is more toward harm than good, we should ban it. This presumes that all the consequences and benefits are known (or a sufficient number of them to make a reliable decision). This tries to masquerade as principle.
A common example is when they argue that guns don’t have sufficient benefit to outweigh the harm, but automobiles do. So even though automobiles kill more than guns, we should ban the guns, but keep the automobiles (some other Leftists want to ban both, there’s ban A and ban B for you, again). However, what is accepted as a benefit is not consistent between proponents and opponents of the bans. For instance, a Rightist is likely to include incidents where a thug was discouraged from attack merely by the brandishing of a firearm (such events are common), whereas the Leftist generally only wants to include incidents of a bad guy with a gun, stopped by a good guy with a gun, where the good guy is not employed by the government (far less common).
Furthermore, the Leftist generally tries to include suicides, even though many other alternate (and just as easy) suicide methods exist. Japan has a higher suicide rate than the US, despite a robust gun ban. The Left artificially reduces the perceived benefit, and magnifies the perceived harm by some subtle manipulation with regards to which statistics are accepted, and which are dismissed.
This leads us right back to the lack of principle. What the Left doesn’t like must be banned. They are quite casual with bans, too. They’ll ban guns and plastic straws, both. I heard a tale once of a town in Texas which banned inflatable gorillas. While I’m sure there is an amusing story behind the ban, it illustrates that nothing is beyond the reach of the ban hammer.
This morning, a local community page was full of demands to ban fireworks on behalf of pets, veterans with PTSD, and idiots who hurt themselves doing dumb things with fireworks. The chief proponent of the ban rattled off statistics not unlike what you see in the Prohibition propaganda. 12,000 people annually are hurt by fireworks, she said, and we can’t even count the harm to pets and veterans. They should be replaced with laser light shows, she demanded.
Once you get into debating the pros and cons of a ban, you have already implicitly conceded that bans are justified given a certain harm/benefit ratio. At that point, you are now vulnerable to the manipulation and spin of said data, which is commonplace. It’s an endless rabbit hole, and debates like that spiral into infinity. We’re all caught over the event horizon of a singularity of stupid.
So I’ll repeat the heresy: ban nothing.
An opponent of this statement may attempt to bring extreme circumstances to bear. “Oh, you mean you wouldn’t ban crime? Murder? Theft? Rape?” Each of those things is a violation on the individual’s rights to life, liberty, and property. Those are the consistent principles. So what about extreme drugs like cocaine, heroin, etc… Well, never mind the notion that banning these things has objectively failed anyway, regardless of how much I might loathe them. In my heart, would I like to ban them? Sure. Do I think it’s practical to do so? No. Every attempt has failed utterly. And that circles right back to the original point. Just because I loathe something doesn’t mean it should banned. This is a truth the Left has utterly failed to grasp. To them, dislike is coextensive with “get rid of it, get it out of my sight.” It’s the mantra of tyrants.
In any event, the principle of banning nothing need not necessarily be adhered to 100%. It’s probably impractical, just as my support for limited government does not necessarily imply that I think no government whatsoever can work practically (however much I’d like that). We might say we want to get as close to that principle as is possible and practical. Certainly we do not violate the principle for something as trivial as drinking straws. If you’re going to disobey the rule, you better have a damned clear, concise, and dare I say obvious reason for doing it. And even then, be exceedingly cautious.
Ah, but am I being arbitrary, even with that small concession? Maybe. I’d at least admit that I am, instead of trying to spin the argument otherwise. However, even those things I find incredibly distasteful, I would still not ban. The principle overrules my desires in all but the most extreme of cases – and possibly not even then, if the concerns of practicality can be addressed.
Don’t get caught in circular arguments about the harm and benefits of each thing the Left desires to ban. Instead, respond to the ban demand with some heresy. Tell them you want to ban nothing, and watch their heads explode with anger. For you have just dismissed the core of their entire worldview: that their subjective like or dislike of a thing should be taken seriously and given real weight.
My previous post on the limitations of Libertarianism, and its failings before the Progressive enemy, ruffled a few feathers and stirred up some further discussion. Contrary to the paladins of Social Justice, I find that disagreement on such matters is evidence that the subject is important enough to merit further investigation (SJWs, naturally, prefer to shut down such discussions).
Let us begin with Jordan:
Libertarians don’t believe that government is the sole enemy of freedom. You’ve setup quite the strawman there. There are all sorts of libertarians out there and you’ve basically described a loud leftist minority.
No such strawman exists, but I readily concede how it appears that way. The point I am attempting to make, and which I have evidently failed to articulate sufficiently, is that Libertarians have a marked tendency to tolerate those who do not, in turn, tolerate them. A common theme in the #GamerGate movement, which has attracted a number of Libertarians, is that SJWs have gone too far, by demanding things like the censorship of games, the implementation of hate speech codes/laws, lying repeatedly about gamers themselves, committing fraud and other such ethics violations, etc…
In other words, if SJWs would stop being dicks, for lack of a better way to put it, many Libertarians would consider the battle sufficiently won and return to playing their games. Libertarians are thus fighting in the pursuit of tolerance. This makes them vulnerable to subversion, which is precisely how SJWs obtained power to begin with. Already, with CultOfVivian’s attacks on TheRalph, one can see the beginnings of SJW infiltration into GamerGate itself.
CultOfVivian is a great example, because she has repeatedly stated that she observes the dictates of Political Correctness, is concerned on matters of racism-sexism-homophobia, etc… She agrees with the SJWs on all ideological points. It is only their implementation which bothers her. She would prefer a less obnoxious, less obvious means of ideological subversion. Yet, for the longest time, Libertarian GamerGaters supported her. She didn’t argue for official enforcement of the Trifecta (racism-sexism-homophobia), and thus Libertarians were fooled by her.
Fundamentally, I share many of the core principles of Libertarianism. But where something clearly does not work, it must be discarded and replaced with something that does work. The test is practical application. The Left has exploited the natural tolerance of Libertarians for their own socio-political ends.
Now, it’s important to note that Libertarians are not the only ones who have failed. Conservatives, likewise, have failed to stem the Progressive tide. They have been in retreat for decades, perhaps centuries. They have failed to stand up to the Left at all. Libertarians have at least done that in some smaller scale actions. GamerGate successfully rolled back a lot of smaller scale ethical corruption in their own industry. But compare to the wider Culture Wars:
Libertarians are able to successfully fight “The Man” in certain areas. In particular, they have done well on organizing resistance to government censorship, and have established bona fides in resisting some forms of corporate corruption, also, especially where such ties into government. They know how to fight official organizations.
But SJWs are more like mobs. Or, perhaps, chameleons. They infiltrate organizations from within, including Libertarianism itself. There is no “The Man” for Libertarians to fight. The Libertarian’s live and let live philosophy makes such infiltration and subversion easy. They will win a small victory against the Left, at which point the Left’s ire is raised and either the mob of Social Justice will come for you, mobilizing the political establishment against you, or individual SJWs will attempt to ruin your group from within.
A simple analogy would be that Libertarians are perfectly willing to fight a defensive action, but find the notion of offensive action unpalatable.
If the Conservatives are too wimpy to fight (somebody might call them mean names), and the Libertarians easily infiltrated and subverted, how then are we to win the Culture Wars?
Tough call. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. In any event, the core principles of Libertarianism are something I still hold dear. But there’s a point at which you have to realize that a good portion of the populace doesn’t just disagree with you, they want to destroy you. They want to bankrupt you, take away your livelihood, threaten you, ruin your life, or even take your life, should they find the power to do so. They are your enemies. Tolerating them in the name of live and let live won’t work. You may very well have to destroy them back.
Francis over at Bastion of Liberty sent a great link in reply, one which my readers would be well-advised to peruse. The money quote is below:
I hope to see a continuing refinement of libertarian-conservative or “fusionist” thought. I do what I can to advance it. Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Larry Elder, and others of greater stature than myself are also working on it, from their particular perspectives. It is the most important effort under way in political thought. Unless it succeeds, and allows us to build a single front — united on critical matters and tolerant of divergence on lesser ones — with which to oppose the statism and special-interest-propelled panderings of the Left, freedom in America is doomed. Libertarians will have to face an accelerating loss of the freedoms they cherish. Conservatives will have to face the ongoing reduction of their bastions, as the power hungry, ideologically propelled forces of the Left eat into their numbers via the schools, the media, and the awful power of their patented divide-to-seduce technique.
The answer may well be in some form of Conservative-Libertarian fusion. Libertarians have the backbone that, evidently, Conservatives are lacking. And Conservatives can consider the breaches of absolute freedom that may be necessary to preserve the remainder of it from Leftist destruction, something Libertarians have some difficulty with. The combination could result in a movement which, as Francis describes, is united on important matters and tolerant of divergence on more minor matters.
The beginnings of such a movement have already begun, with the televised collapse of the Republican establishment on Prime Time, a necessary prerequisite to building something stronger in its place.
An answer must be found to the Progressive weapon of ideological subversion and deconstruction which has continually been employed against us since at least before World War I. Vox Day, TheRalph, and others have had some success with employing such techniques against Leftists themselves. Trump has more or less hinged his entire candidacy on this.
But that brings up something I read in one of Tom Kratman’s books, not long ago. When you fight an enemy long enough, there is a tendency to become an awful lot like him. I’m not sure that’s the angle to go for, either.
I, like many in my particular circle of political pundits and commentators, often think of myself as a recovering Libertarian. That is to say, my instincts are to live and let live, and to avoid enmeshing myself in someone else’s business. Those are very Libertarian instincts, when converted into political parlance.
Thus any alliance with the “Social Conservatives” has been one of convenience. We share a common enemy in Progressive Leftism, and that is all.
But as I’ve aged, I found portions of Libertarianism to be self-defeating. Namely, Libertarianism is chiefly defined by its opposite. What Authoritarian Socialists like, Libertarians dislike, and vice-versa. Given that Socialism is one of the most insidious and pervasive of society’s ills, that’s not a bad place to start. But it’s just that, a starting point.
But Libertarianism tolerates its own ideological destruction. It would sit idly by, for instance, while civilization tore itself apart so long as that destruction was not perpetrated by a government force. When Brenden Eich was ousted from Mozilla for his donation to an anti-gay marriage campaign, Libertarians shrugged. Let the market decide, they said, even though this was a gross and obvious error.
Libertarians thus allow de facto silencing and censorship, so long as the ruling class retains plausible deniability over its enforcement. If a government had demanded Brenden Eich’s resignation, they would have been rightly outraged. When a group of immature, anti-civilizational SJWs attempt to strongarm the overall culture, the Libertarians remain silent.
Libertarians have correctly identified the enemies of freedom in government (pretty much all of government, really). But they fail to understand that enemies of freedom can exist outside the bounds of government, also.
This is a fatal flaw. A Libertarian society is likely to fall victim to the quotation commonly attributed to Lenin: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
A better way to put it is, a smart Capitalist would use his brain and decline to sell rope to Communists who want to hang him. Libertarians are well-advised to consider this.
Or, to put it in a modern context, accepting illegals from a Socialist-leaning Third World country like Mexico is unlikely to further the interests of freedom in America. Soon, any nation that did this would be overrun with Socialists and would no longer be free in the American sense. The same could be said with large-scale Muslim immigration. The places they come from are not bastions of intellectual and economic freedom. Unless the individual immigrant is some kind of pro-Western, pro-Freedom revolutionary, they are unlikely to serve the cause of freedom in America.
But Libertarians often feel they must accept immigrants regardless of political leanings, culture, religion, origin, etc… Indeed, in debating with many of them, I find they are torn. Many of them see the results of this problem, but are unwilling to compromise their principles in order to fit reality. They will fuss and fawn over the poor, down-trodden migrants as much as any Leftist.
They dislike radical feminism but countenance its destruction of everything from higher education to toys for girls. They concede the other side’s right to disagree without understanding that the other side does not reciprocate. If SJWs ran the West openly — and weren’t merely subverting it — I’d be thrown into an oven before nightfall. Trying to have “meaningful” dialogue with such people is an exercise in futility.
Agreeing to disagree still requires, paradoxically, a certain level of agreement. Instead Progressives attack Libertarians incessantly, but when attacked themselves, retreat behind freedom of speech. It is similar to the Islamic way of fighting these days. They will murder, terrorize, and commit genocide. But when attacked themselves will revert to tearful denunciations of the evil Western Imperialists. We’re babykillers, they will say, or something equally offensive.
Too many Americans fall for this ruse.
I’m not sure what the proper response is. I don’t wish to destroy freedom in an attempt to save it from the clutches of the Progressive Left. But I can tell you that the Libertarian road leads to eventual defeat. And tolerance of the intolerant is a critical weakness of the West, as a whole.
It used to be understood in the laws of war that when an enemy took off his uniform, but continued to fight, he could be executed as a spy, tortured, and otherwise deprived of the usual protections applied to a prisoner of war. Wearing the uniform was a certain base level of agreement between the combatants.
Similarly, Progressives seek to destroy our freedoms and do not agree on our basic rights. But they will attempt to shelter themselves behind its protections whenever challenged. I said of the freedom of religion, once, that if you do not believe in freedom of religion yourself, you ought to be deprived of its protections. Let it be as you desire. If the Buddhist or the Jew will live with me, the Christian, in peace, all is well. If any should come along and suggest that I shouldn’t be allowed to practice my religion (or, worse, must convert or submit to theirs — see: Islam), why, then, is he allowed the comfort of his own? There are places in the world which function under religious tyranny and enforced orthodoxy. Go there, if this is what you want, don’t turn my country into that.
If I cannot exercise my right to freedom of speech, why, then, do we concede their right to speak?
It’s a dangerous road, one that Libertarians rightly fear, because it trespasses on the knife’s edge of freedom and tyranny. But where they won’t consider it, I must.
But nobody said freedom was easy, simple, or free.
Politically, I am a strange animal. Larry Elder once called himself a “Conservetarian,” a sort of hybrid between a Conservative and a Libertarian, or a right-leaning Libertarian, as it were. I don’t care for labels overmuch, but that is the closest fit I’ve been able to find. And so, individuals like Ron Paul produce mixed reactions from me. There is much to be said about his commitment, his economic and domestic values and his no-nonsense speaking style. Whatever his other faults, the man displays a minimum of hypocrisy and doesn’t waffle, a rarity for any modern political figure. Ron Paul would be perfectly correct in a world more like the one that existed prior to the 20th century. Even still, his ideas on economic and domestic policy are mostly sound, with few exceptions.
The problem is that he doesn’t understand the military situation, the nature of 4th Generation warfare and how to fight those battles. Even here, he has a few good ideas (the return of letters of marque and reprisal would actually be positive). But ignorance of the threat posed by radical Islam is a gargantuan black mark against him.
I see the logic of his positions, and if we were dealing with relatively civilized, reasonable enemies, he would be right. But that’s the whole point, they are AREN’T reasonable. He seems to think they would be if we left them alone, like a hornet’s nest: don’t disturb it and you’ll be fine. But in this case, the hornets are deliberately seeking to expand their territory and sting more people. The nest must be burned out, from time to time, to keep them from getting out of hand.
Western civilization used to have some idea of how to do this. Individuals like my esteemed colleague, KodeTen, definitely have notions on how this could be achieved. Islam does respect strength and threat of overwhelming force. It can be made to be (relatively) peaceful if they realize that the cost of waging war is too high. But their bar is set much higher than that of the Western World. Purchasing peace with them requires doing things that would, in any other scenario, be considered profoundly unethical and disturbing.
Ron Paul lives in a fantasy world where most nations of the world are civilized, Westernized and committed, underneath it all, to peace. He is a good man, nonetheless, his poor choice of words on Chris Kyle’s death non-withstanding. But I would not vote for him, especially not for the position of Commander-in-Chief. That position requires a modicum of understanding in matters of War. He has demonstrated that he possesses none.