I know not how the world will receive, nor how it may reflect on those that shall seem to favor it. For in a way beset with those that contend, on one side for too great Liberty, and on the other side for too much Authority, ‘tis hard to pass between the points of both unwounded. – Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
I am a former libertarian.
I was exposed to libertarianism in high school, when I read The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and We the Living. I admired the rugged individualism of (((Ayn Rand’s))) protagonists, like Howard Roark, Hank Rearden, and Kira Argounova, and shivered at her all-too-familiar leftist antagonists, from the heartless (Pavel Syerov and Victor Duneva), to the soulless (Ellsworth Toohey), and the brainless (Rearden’s family and friends).
In college, chafing against the dismal science of Keynesian economics, I read F.A. Hayek, which naturally led me to Austrian economics. The systematic quality of Austrian economics appealed to me: everything was deductible from the axiomatic truth of human action. Since Austrian economists such as (((Ludwig von Mises))) and (((Murray Rothbard))) were also libertarians themselves, the political philosophy followed quickly and easily. Much like Austrian economics, libertarianism was systematic and logical: everything was deductible from the axiomatic truth of the non-aggression principle. At the same time, I was introduced to libertarian-revisionist history through Tom Woods and Thomas DiLorenzo, who taught me that, much like in economics, most of what I had been taught in school about American history was wrong. All in all, I believed that I understood everything about the way the world worked.
I was a donor to the Ludwig von Mises Institute and attended several of its conferences. I voted for Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 and donated to every single “money-bomb.” I listened to the (((Peter Schiff))) Show and read Antiwar.com every day, invested heavily in gold, began stockpiling weapons, and drank, smoked, and fucked too much. I spent a lot of time online debating statists and writing for a number of blogs. I began to take seriously Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s theory of “individual secession,” whereby we bring down the state by refusing to grant it any legitimacy in our daily lives. I was content to “live and let live” and “surf the crash” while waiting for the apocalypse (either a financial meltdown, violent revolution, or dissolution of the Union).
Frustrated with the intellectual and political complacency of libertarianism after Ron Paul’s final defeat, as well as infiltration and subversion from fairies like Tucklypuff and sluts like (((Reinsenwitz))), I began exploring “paleo-libertarianism” and “paleo-conservatism.” I became far less interested in politics and economics and much more interested in history and culture. After joining the Sons of the American Revolution and Sons of Confederate Veterans, I began thinking more about my ancestry and feeling more of an identity. My country and my people, which once were no more to me (a deracinated and atomized individual) than arbitrary lines on a map and strangers in a crowd, started to mean something to me once more. I remembered who I was and realized that I was more than what I had become: I was a part of a nation with a past, present, and future, with a duty to honor my ancestors and pass on my patrimony to my descendants. I began to understand just how unnatural it was to tear human beings up from their roots, as I had been.
The massive political assault on Confederate symbols in the South was a turning point. The tearing down of flags, toppling of statues, and digging up of graves turned my stomach and hurt my heart. Seeing the ruling class – an “occupation government” and “government against its people” – and its slavish minions flaunt their hatred of my heritage was a profoundly embittering and hardening moment.
After reading Ann Coulter’s Adios America, Patrick J. Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower and The Death of the West, Mark Krikorian’s The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal, Samuel P. Huntington’s Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, and Jared Taylor’s White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century, I was rudely awakened to the existential threat which mass-immigration from the Third World posed to Western Civilization. Despite my best efforts to sound the alarm, libertarians refused to acknowledge that “demography is destiny” (even though most immigrants are anti-white/anti-American and vote left) and were opposed to doing anything which might violate the nebulous “freedom of travel” (even though immigration is a government program). Libertarians were fiddling while Rome burned.
I started reading Alt Right websites every day. Along with Justin Raimondo, Walter Block, Ralph Raico, and Stefan Molyneux, I announced myself as a pro-Trump libertarian, mainly because of his “America First” stance on illegal immigration and foreign intervention. Drawing heavily from Hoppe’s right-wing libertarianism, Buchanan’s opposition to open borders for immigrants and imports, and Raimondo’s anti-interventionism, I wrote a long article titled, “I’m a Libertarian Who’s Voting for Trump.”
Although I had grown up in a nice white part of Florida, at the time I was living in Los Angeles, where any illusions I harbored about equality and diversity were quickly dispelled. Living alone, surrounded by foreigners strip-mining our economy, rent-seeking off our government, turning our cities into slums, degrading our political culture, and dissolving our national identity was a severely alienating experience and made me realize just how much I took white society and culture for granted.
One day, in the midst of the Great Meme War, a fellow listener of Christopher Cantwell’s podcast sent me three episodes of The Daily Shoah (#16, 17, and 18), claiming that they were something which all libertarians needed to hear. Instead of listening to The Tom Woods Show that day, I listened to The Daily Shoah. I immediately identified with The Death Panel (a group of goys who shared a similar intellectual journey to mine) and began catching up on old episodes. Fash the Nation (F) kept me from getting gaslit and made me seem like a genius to my friends and family when Trump won.
It did not take long for me to realize that I no longer identified as a libertarian; in fact, I had not for quite some time, though I had yet to accept it. It is not that I changed my mind and decided that libertarianism is wrong about everything – that the state cannot be oppressive and abusive, that socialism can run an economy, that war is not the sum of all evils, etc. On the contrary, I think that libertarianism is right about a great many things, and could remain a viable third-party movement if it reroutes from left-wing faggotry back to right-wing populism. I simply came to the conclusion that whatever its virtues, libertarianism had an incomplete view of human life and backwards priorities, was too limited in its possibilities, and last, but not least, was overrun by ideological blowhards, cynical politicos, and dimwitted figureheads.
On the one hand, “I did not leave libertarianism; libertarianism left me.” On the other hand, I chose to leave libertarianism. I would like to explain exactly what I mean.
There’s More to Life than Liberty
To the libertarian, individual liberty is all that matters: each and every question is answered according to whatever results in more liberty and less government, regardless of any other related issues or resulting effects. In other words, more liberty is always good and less government is always bad, period. Libertarians have essentially made a religion out of Patrick Henry’s stirring rhetoric of “give me liberty or give me death” (he may very well have chosen death if he had known that one day the likes of Austin Petersen would be quoting him). For all their emotion and idealism, however, libertarians have an intellectually stunted and morally deformed view of human life.
First, individual liberty does matter, and is immensely important to the pursuit of happiness, but it is not all that should matter to us. Our safety and security also matter (Calhoun noted that liberty could not even exist without safety/security), yet libertarianism cheers on the dark feral underclass and jeers at the embattled police. A stable, fair, and growing economy also matters, yet libertarianism dogmatically insists on adhering to the economic theory of free trade in spite of the fact that all of the preconditions on which it was premised no longer prevail. Our people and our culture also matter, yet libertarians scream “Nazi” at anyone who wants to preserve the ideas, institutions, and identity which we have inherited. Our environmental and historical heritage also matters, yet libertarianism is content to see a lake drained and paved over or an old building demolished in order to build a parking lot for a shopping mall. Our families and communities also matter, but libertarianism sneers at any such groupings as “collectivism” and preaches a “virtue of selfishness” which idolizes sex, money, and other mindless self-indulgences. “Individualism, at first, only saps the virtues of public life,” observed Alexis de Tocqueville, “but in the long run it attacks and destroys all others and is at length absorbed in downright selfishness.”
“Moral foundations theory” argues that human morality is founded on six different principles: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and liberty/oppression (along with related themes of divinity, community, hierarchy, tradition, and sin). According to research by NYU and USC social psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham, left-liberals are responsive only to the foundations of care/harm and fairness/cheating, right-conservatives are responsive to all six foundations, and libertarians are responsive only to liberty/oppression.
Thus, much like left-liberalism, libertarianism is based on an incomplete moral foundation:
It removes even the constraints of liberalism. It basically attracts sociopaths. Going back to Haidt, if you boil everything down to liberty/oppression and you’re a morally warped person, then it sounds exactly like what they believe in: “Everything revolves around my needs. The world doesn’t matter.” It’s really bad. You see that in the left-libertarian milieu. They’re totalitarians in their own mind.
Haidt…posits that for libertarians in particular, they have only one moral axis: liberty/oppression. As is, such a truncated morality leads to bizarre and, for me, offensive rejections of sometimes common sense social ideas and norms. (Bulbasaur)
Plato and Aristotle were both skeptical about the virtues of unlimited individual liberty, warning of a cycle in which an excess of liberty (licentiousness) in a democracy causes a reaction that would end in the absence of liberty (tyranny) and the return of an oligarchy. “The excess of liberty, whether in states or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery,” Plato argued in The Republic, “and so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty.” Plato and Aristotle believed not so much in individual liberty (“the liberty of the moderns”), but more in the self-government of the polity (“the liberty of the ancients”), which was why they viewed Spartan authoritarianism as a “golden mean” between Athenian egalitarianism and Persian totalitarianism.
As silly as it may sound, it was reading fiction which rekindled these long-suppressed moral foundations in my heart and mind. Up until a few years ago, I had read nothing but libertarian ideology for years – libertarian economics, libertarian politics, and libertarian history. Besides what I had been required to read in school, the last piece of fiction I had read was probably J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. After watching “Game of Thrones” on HBO, however, I decided to read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, followed afterwards by Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. To force myself to keep reading, I started a “book club” with my fiancé, where we read everything from sci-fi/fantasy, historical fiction, and classical literature (Putin paid me to say that I prefer the Russian greats). Such epic stories about human life – full of care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation – is the best antidote to the libertarianism’s one-dimensional morality of liberty/oppression.
Second, as the British statesman Daniel Hannan argues in Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, individual liberty is more of an export of the British Isles than it is a universal abstraction. “Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found,” quipped Edmund Burke. Liberty, at least in the modern sense, is our political inheritance from the English, beginning with the Magna Charta Libertatum in 1215 (when King John made peace with rebellious barons by agreeing to a bill of rights) and culminating with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (when the Parliament overthrew King James II and instituted a bill of rights). Everything that we consider “liberty,” from constitutional government (e.g. a government of laws rather than a government of men), civil liberties (e.g. freedom of speech, keeping/bearing arms, habeas corpus, etc.), and laissez-faire capitalism (e.g. light public burdens and tight public budgets), are all essentially English inventions.
With the European colonization of the New World, these English ideas and institutions soon crossed the Atlantic, where the pioneering spirit, abundant economic opportunity, and distance from the central government made the colonists even more individualistic and independent than their brethren in the mother country. As Alexandre de Tocqueville observed, “The American is the Englishman left to himself.” In a famous speech in the Parliament urging compromise with the Colonies, Edmund Burke gave three reasons why “a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole” of the British-Americans. The first was that British-Americans were “descendants of Englishmen” and thus were “not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles.” The second was that, particularly in the Northern Colonies, British-Americans were Protestants “of that kind which the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion.” The third was that, particularly in the Southern Colonies, slavery (by binding liberty to race and placing the opposite of liberty on stark display) made “the spirit of liberty still more high and haughty than those in the northward.” Liberty, therefore, is not the product of pure reason, but rather of a time, a place, and a people, and cannot exist without that original identity. Those left-liberals who scoff at the neo-conservatives’ delusion of “spreading freedom” by “invading the world” but who preach the gospel of “spreading freedom” by “inviting the world” are equally deluded. Liberty can no more be maintained by Afghan and Iraqi immigrants than it can be imposed upon Afghanistan and Iraq.
For whatever it is worth, scientific research shows that the United Kingdom and the United States are by far the two most individualistic countries on earth, with Europeans more individualistic than non-whites, the British more individualistic than other Europeans, and Americans more individualistic than the British. Indeed, the more genetically distinct a population is from the United Kingdom (America’s mother country), the less individualistic they tend to be. At the same time, most American immigration comes from two of the most collectivist regions in the world, Latin America and Asia. Libertarians who believe that identity is irrelevant to liberty – that is, that the ideas and institutions which grew only on the British Isles can be planted anywhere – will soon find that a majority-minority country comprised of non-white collectivists will be more like Star War’s Mos Eisley Cantina than Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise
Overdosing on the Non-Aggression Principle
There is nothing particularly original about the non-aggression principle, although libertarians act as if it is some gnostic truth comprehensible only to the ultra-initiated. It is not only common sense (your parents probably taught it to you before your first day of school), but also a distillation of the Western “natural law-natural rights” intellectual tradition, which originated with Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas and was politicized into the “rights of man” (and even “rights of woman”) during the Enlightenment.
Thomas Jefferson, the great American statesman and Virginian planter, was somewhat of a proto-libertarian in his day and age, and excellently summarized the non-aggression principle: “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him…”
The non-aggression principle is reasonable enough, yet libertarians, to be philosophically principled and ideologically pure, unnecessarily take it to extreme logical conclusions, forgetting, as the ancient Greeks advised, “Everything in moderation.” Indeed, in politics, taking each and every principle to its logical conclusion often leads to outcomes either absurd or atrocious. “Let experience be our guide,” the Pennsylvania Founder John Dickinson advised. “Reason may mislead us.”
By applying the non-aggression principle to every interaction, including/especially anything involving the state, libertarians deduce that the state is, in Murray Rothbard’s famous phrase, “a gang of thieves writ large,” and to be governed is, in Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s famous rant, to be subject to every indignity and injustice under the pretext of the public good and under the penalty of death. Each state, no matter how beneficent, is just another Third Reich, the Soviet Union, or People’s Republic, with each politician just another Hitler, Stalin, or Mao. The police and the military are thugs hiding behind costumes and badges. Taxation is legalized theft and/or extortion. Fiat currency is legalized counterfeiting. Licensing is a violation of the freedoms of association and contract. Zoning and fire codes are an invasion of private property. Disarmament is the first step to genocide. Driving under the influence or having sex with a minor is a victimless crime. Libertarians stress, only half-ironically, that they never literally signed a social contract. Libertarianism twists a healthy suspicion of power and politicians into anti-government and anti-social paranoia. In other words, “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”
Only a libertarian could see a public library or park, which anyone can enjoy for free, as symbols of oppression. “But it’s not free! Someone else was taxed for it!” Indeed, and the benefits far outweigh the costs. If taxes get too heavy, then they can be lightened. If taxes then get too light, they can be raised again. Good governance is a constant balancing act, not transcendence.
The other day, I was watching a documentary about “Big Food” with my fiancé. While explaining how “Big Food” shuts down any attempt at regulation, a string of pundits and politicians denouncing the “tyranny” any sort of regulation and defending advertising to children in the name of “free speech” was shown. There is such a thing as tyranny, and it is terrible; comparing the removal of junk food from school lunches to tyranny cheapens the horror of real tyranny. There is such a thing as the right of free speech, and it is wonderful; comparing junk-food advertising to susceptible children cheapens the beauty of real free speech. “Tyranny” and “free speech” become junk food when the non-aggression principle is taken to extremes.
For what it is worth, Jefferson’s full letter goes quite a bit deeper than the non-aggression principle:
Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him; every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him; and, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third. When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions, and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right.
Natural rights, then, are also counterbalanced by natural duties. The duty of the state is to keep the peace and the duty of the individual is to be a productive member of society. The state is not inherently illegitimate, but only illegitimate when it is not doing its duty. When Jefferson endorsed “revolution,” he did not mean a Jacobin- or Bolshevik-style destruction and reconstruction of a society and culture according to some ideology, but literally “revolving back” to first principles and original intentions.
Even Ludwig von Mises, another proto-libertarian, disavowed anarchism and acknowledged the legitimacy of the state:
With human nature as it is, the state is a necessary and indispensable institution. The state is, if properly administered, the foundation of society, of human cooperation and civilization. It is the most beneficial and most useful instrument in the endeavors of man to promote human happiness and welfare.
Liberalism differs radically from anarchism. It has nothing in common with the absurd illusions of the anarchists. We must emphasize this point because etatists sometimes try to discover a similarity. Liberalism is not so foolish as to aim at the abolition of the state. Liberals fully recognize that no social cooperation and no civilization could exist without some amount of compulsion and coercion. It is the task of government to protect the social system against the attacks of those who plan actions detrimental to its maintenance and operation.
The Stupidity of Ideology
Up until Ron Paul’s last stand in 2012, I subscribed to a systematic libertarian ideology which held that anything in violation of the non-aggression principle was wrongful, including/especially anything involving the state. I went so far down this rabbit-hole that I began fantasizing about an armed revolution against the U.S. government. When (((Adam Kokesh))) marched on Washington and brandished a shotgun outside the White House, he seemed like no less than the reincarnation of Samuel Adams. I interpreted all news, developed all my opinions, and began to define my very identity according this ideology. In many respects, it can be difficult to tell the difference between an ideology and a cult.
By prescribing exactly how to think and what to think about anything and everything, ideology stifles critical thought and free inquiry, thereby reducing the beautifully complex human mind to a programmatic computer. Of course, this is true of all ideologies, not just libertarian ideology. Libertarians pride themselves on their reason and logic, yet they are utterly unable to free their minds and think creatively (“take the Red Pill”) or account for information that clashes with their prejudices (“glitches in the Matrix”). Libertarians are not free-thinkers, but rather are clinging to one “big idea” as a substitute for thinking for themselves.
So long as libertarians’ political opinions are ideologically pure, they are happy – even as the world around them goes to Hell. After all, they are deracinated, atomized individuals; what do they care about anyone or anything else? “They owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man,” Alexis de Tocqueville observed of the modern, individualistic man. “They acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands.” Yet as members of a nation, tied to the past, present, and future, we should be willing to go to Hell if it means that our people can go to Heaven. “A man almost always knows his forefathers and respects them; he thinks he already sees his remote descendants and he loves them,” de Tocqueville further observed of the pre-modern, feudal man. “He willingly imposes duties on himself towards the former and the latter, and he will frequently sacrifice his personal gratifications to those who went before and to those who will come after him.”
Furthermore, political ideologies turn our political priorities upside-down. The role of the state is not to follow a prescriptive party program or experiment with fantastical theories and ideas, but to protect the lives and liberties of its people and promote their happiness and welfare. “The good in the sphere of politics is justice,” Aristotle wrote in Politics, responding to oligarchs demanding more privileges and democrats demanding more rights, “and justice consists in what tends to promote the common interest.” According to Aristotle, “the good life,” not any particular political ideology, “is the end of the city-state.” As Cicero put it in The Laws, “Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law.” The U.S. Constitution is not an ideological manifesto enshrining sacred principles into law, but a compact dividing various governmental powers between Washington D.C. and the States:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Of course, principles are still vitally important to good governance, but we should be guided, not ruled, by them. For my own part, my guiding principles are as follows:
“That government is best which governs least.”
“Who guards the guards themselves?”
“To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.”
“If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.”
“Peace is a virgin who dare not show her face without Strength, her father, for protection.”
“Complete equality of rights for all nations; the right of all nations to self-determination…”
“The most precious possession you have in the whole world is your own people.”
Imagine the seemingly endless partisan wars that could be ended with an ideological armistice. Take the renewed debate over healthcare, for instance. In Italy, a private- and public-sector healthcare option exist side by side, thus allowing Italians to weigh the costs and benefits of each option and decide for themselves. If not for the massive free-rider problem in the United States (the result of the Third-Worldization of American demographics since “immigration reform” in 1965), Italy’s system could easily be imported to the United States. Indeed, such a system would violate libertarian ideology (which demands that the government get out of healthcare altogether), but the general welfare and common good of society should always come before the purity of an ideology. It would be a good compromise which allowed Americans to enjoy the benefits of each system (private quality/efficiency and public accessibility/affordability) while avoiding the costs (private expensiveness and public slowness). It would certainly be preferable to ObamaCare (which merely makes the current corporate-dominated system worse) or RyanCare (which makes ObamaCare better in some ways but worse in other ways). These are the sort of common-sense solutions which ideology strictly forbids.
During the (((Russian Revolution))), the (((Bolsheviks))) encountered failure after failure of (((Marxist-Leninist ideology))), but kept pressing on anyway. Under Communism, the collectivization of the means of production was supposed to lead to a prosperous and egalitarian utopia, but instead the economy collapsed, the people starved, and the state killed to stay in power. Under Communism, the peasantry and proletariat were supposed to unite against the bourgeoisie, clergy, and royalists, but most peasants and proletarians resisted the state and the military and secret police had to do all the fighting and killing. Under Communism, the state was supposed to wither away, along with all organized violence against people, but the state became bigger, stronger, and more violent than it ever was under the Tsar.
Libertarians are, in a way, in a similar position as the Bolsheviks, although without ever having achieved power anywhere: they are clinging to an increasingly discredited ideology which narrows their intellectual horizons and puts theories and ideas before society.
In other words, libertarianism is the Marxism of the Right:
You may shake your head and come back with the rather cliched claim that libertarianism is the political expression of individualism, capitalism, and freedom, while Marxism is the intellectual grandfather of tyranny, socialism, and collectivism. What gives? Are not these two ideologies in direct opposition to each other. Sure they are: in theory they are bitterly opposed, but that is why there is so much crossover.
Marxism and libertarianism are essentially perverted mirror images of each other. Both are uncompromising, totalitarian, utopian, and reject the status quo as morally intolerable according to their own esoteric philosophical constructs. These qualities are more likely to be attractive to a certain type of person than any particular point of dogma. Both ideologies promote what are essentially unfalsifiable narratives and back them up with rhetorical techniques that guarantee a “win” in any political debate. (Mike Enoch)
At the height of my libertarian faggotry, an Egyptian thot who was stealing my Nordic seed mistook me for a Marxist-Leninist. At the time, I laughed off her error – “silly statist!” – but now I see that she was actually on to something.
Choice and Consent are Overrated
Whenever libertarians are asked about ethics, they typically answer, “Whatever consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their homes is none of my business.” This is a tempting ethical code because it disguises a cheap, easy “live and let live” agnosticism as a high-minded principle. Yet sometimes what consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their homes may not cause direct physical harm to another, but indirect social harm to everyone else.
Consider the case of marijuana, the issue closest to Gary Johnson’s heart. While smoking marijuana may not directly harm anyone else, the harm that smoking does to the user ultimately harms society as a whole: increased social and economic failure (aka being a loser who cannot maintain employment or relationships), a weakened immune system and hormone production (aka being sickly and sterile), and neuropsychological decline (aka being stupid and slow). Why should any society tolerate a substance which creates such a dysfunctional underclass, even if the consumption of it is a free choice?
The “socially liberal” aspect of libertarianism tends to produce the same things liberalism produces – fatherless children, drug and alcohol addicts, rootless and detribalized people with no cultural standards, unhealthy lifestyles of all kinds, and hordes of unproductive, violent, and needy immigrants – all of which call for bigger and more expensive government paid for by the few remaining functional taxpayers. This, of course, drastically undercuts the “fiscally conservative” aspect of libertarianism. (Libertarian Nationalist)
Of course, libertarians will object that “society” has no right to dictate “morality” to “individuals,” and will probably add that “society” is just a code word for “state.” This is how intellectually bankrupt libertarianism has become: it cannot even recognize what a society is, why individuals form them, and what the role of the state should be. Edmund Burke understood, as did America’s Founding Fathers, that without morality, liberty would quickly degrade into licentiousness:
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites – in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity – in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption – in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.
This “live and let live” agnosticism does not just make excuses for degenerate behavior, but barbaric behavior as well. For example, the courts, acting as Jacobin- and Bolshevik-style revolutionary tribunals, have cast aside justice and the law in order to decree abortion a human right. For what it is worth, scientific research has thoroughly validated the natural-law belief that life begins at conception (that is, that when male and female gametes unite to form a zygote, a genetically distinct human organism is conceived, albeit at an early stage of development), yet out of a superstitious reverence for “a woman’s right to choose,” poisoning or dismembering an unborn baby, or even partially delivering it and vacuuming out its brains, is protected by law.
To sanitize the savagery, abortion is described in clean, clinical euphemisms (“termination” of a “fetus”) and defended in terms of female empowerment (“my body, my choice”). “Live and let live” ends in mass-infanticide that would make Moloch and Baal blush.
An ethical code should promote a positive vision for human life, not indulge humanity’s baser instincts. An ethical code should not defend degeneracy or barbarity in the name of “human rights,” but promote a healthy and happy society – what Aristotle called eudaimonia, i.e. “human flourishing.” An ethical code should not be agnostic about “right” and “wrong,” but promote human virtue (arete, i.e. “excellence” in human qualities) and inspire the people to become “great-souled” by living virtuously.
The Free Market is not a Philosopher’s Stone
Laissez-faire capitalism brings prosperity and progress and socialism brings slavery and suffering. By now, even most leftists concede this point, which is why they have dropped the traditional Marxist “class war” in favor of a “culture war.” Libertarians believe, however, that because the free market is the most efficient economic system, that is therefore the best economic system (as well as social and cultural system) and can never be fettered in any way.
What does efficiency even mean? The free market is best at maximizing production and minimizing costs, i.e. making the most stuff for the cheapest price. The free market is also best at allocating resources and innovating new products, i.e. keeping the economy running smoothly and coming up with cool new stuff. This is what efficiency means, yet there is more to human life than efficiency. Indeed, Austrian economists themselves even have a “subjective theory of value,” although they tend to apply it only to the prices of goods. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe notes, however, “What constitutes ‘wealth’ and ‘welfare’ is subjective.”
A story involving the greatest of all Austrian economists illustrates the myopia of mere efficiency. In 1947, Ludwig von Mises (the champion of the free market) and Wilhelm Ropke (the champion of the social market) met at Ropke’s home in Geneva, Switzerland. To cope with shortages during World War II, Geneva allotted each citizen a small plot outside the city for gardening their own vegetables. These gardens became so popular among the people that they were maintained after the war. “A very inefficient way of producing foodstuffs,” scoffed Mises at the sight of the gardens. “Perhaps so,” retorted Ropke, “but a very efficient way of producing human happiness.”
The free market is indisputably a powerful engine driving mankind’s material welfare forward, but it is not a philosopher’s stone capable of solving any and every problem. For instance, no less a free-market economist than F.A. Hayek endorsed “a certain minimum income for everyone…a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself.”
Take pollution, for instance. Left unfettered, the market pollutes the environment, which harms humans as well as plants and animals. There is nothing wrong with environmental regulations which, if well-designed and properly administered, lower pollution. We have just as much of an interest in environmental protection as we do in industrial capitalism. Or take poverty. Left unfettered, the market puts many to work, but also leaves some out of work. There is nothing wrong with welfare programs which, if well-designed and properly administered, provide a social safety net. We have just as much of an interest in caring for the poor as we do in small government. What about trade? Left unfettered, the market redistributes capital from higher-wage countries to lower-wage countries, and labor from lower-wage countries to higher-wage countries. This has the effect of gutting the economy and displacing labor in higher-wage countries, which is exactly what is happening in the United States today. There is nothing wrong with walling off the outflow of capital and the inflow of labor. We have just as much of an interest in protecting our economy and labor as we do in free trade. In every case, it is preferable to weigh competing interests and come to a fair compromise than be inflexibly ideological. According to the father of conservatism, Edmund Burke, “All government – indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act – is founded on compromise and barter.”
To be honest, while Scandinavian-style “democratic socialism” clashes with my Anglo-American predisposition to individualism and independence, and is certainly not the utopia that senile (((Bernie Sanders))) imagines, the Scandinavians are some of the happiest people in the world. Such a system, however, requires a homogeneous, healthy, high-functioning, and high-trust society, as well as a below-replacement birthrate (because there is little to no net job growth) and closed borders (because immigration breaks up the four H’s above).
Libertarians also insist that traditional “public goods,” such as the policing, firefighting, or even roads be privatized. Their ideas can make for interesting thought experiments, and ambitious entrepreneurs are certainly willing to experiment as far as legally permissible, but they are totally irrelevant to the pressing issues of the day. Of course, most libertarians have no idea how such public goods would actually be provided without the state. All they understand is that taxing people to pay for public goods violates the non-aggression principle, so therefore there must be a better way.
The free market is a means which we should use to make our lives better, not an end in and of itself. As the grand old Patrick Buchanan has reminded us again and again, “The country comes before the economy and the economy exists for the people.”
Putting Blaming America First
Anti-interventionism is the belief that countries should engage in peaceful and commercial relations with one another, but not form alliances, and that wars should only ever be fought in self-defense, not for “king and country” or to “make the world safe for democracy.” The premier anti-interventionist of our time, Ron Paul, defined anti-interventionism as “A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship.” Anti-interventionism was the unanimous policy of America’s Founding Fathers, who diligently maintained neutrality in the endless series of European wars. “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all,” George Washington advised in his farewell address. “Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.”
Libertarians often point out that military interventions have often had unfortunate unintended consequences. American entry into World War I, for instance, prolonged a war that was on the verge of ending, resulting in the collapse of liberal democracy in Russia and the rise of Communism, the vengeful Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Nazism in Germany, and World War II itself. Indeed, there have been unintended consequences to interventions, and these should be understood so that future misguided interventions may be avoided. Libertarians, however, out of an intense hatred for their own government and alienation from their own nation, try to paint every problem in the world as stemming from some American intervention, oftentimes rewriting history to the point of absurdity.
At the same time, libertarians refuse to concede that there can be any positive outcomes to military intervention. To use the earlier example of American entry into WWI, while it may have led to Communism, Nazism, and WWII, it also led to the defeat of the Central Powers, without which nothing would have stopped Turkey from completing the Armenian genocide. I, for one, am glad that the genocide of Transcaucasian Christians by Turkish Muslims was stopped, even if stopping it did violate non-interventionist principles. Similarly, military intervention in defense of Alexander Kerensky’s government in Russia and Chiang Kai-shek’s government in China would have been better than doing nothing as revolutionaries seized total power and ultimately did more damage to world peace than any military intervention. Instead of saving Russia and China from Communism, President Roosevelt surrendered Central Europe to Comrade Stalin (over the protests of General Patton) and President Truman surrendered North Korea to Chairman Mao (over the protests of General MacArthur). As George Washington also advised in his farewell address, “We may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.”
Currently, we have the worst of all worlds: the U.S. government is not anti-interventionist and cannot ever choose the right side in any of its many interventions. In the past century, the government has not fought a single war in the national or even global interest (much less in self-defense), instead always coming up with the dumbest reasons to intervene somewhere and coming down on the side of the worst factions there. American foreign policy, particularly in our lifetime, has grown increasingly counter-productive and self-destructive, and only now with President Trump in office is there a chance of stopping it from spiraling completely out of control.
Today, libertarians are outraged that President Trump is militarily intervening in Syria to defeat the Islamic State. Anti-interventionism in this case, however, is simply out of the question. The Islamic State is a veritable Frankenstein’s monster of the American destruction of Iraq, Libya, and nearly Syria (each of which required an authoritarian like Hussein, Gaddafi, and Assad to keep the peace between the sectarians), and thus the U.S. has a moral obligation, like Doctor Frankenstein, to kill its creation. Libertarians cannot invoke anti-interventionism in order to avoid responsibility for the consequences of past interventions.
Anti-interventionism is a wise policy, but it should be one of many guiding principles, not an ideological dictate. In the realm of statecraft, where the stakes can be as high as peace and prosperity versus war and want, realism must counterbalance idealism. “The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers,” argued American diplomat Hans Morgenthau in Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. “The popular mind, unaware of the fine distinctions of the statesman’s thinking, reasons more often than not in the simple moralistic and legalistic terms of absolute good and absolute evil.”
Ruling in Hell (LARPing) rather than Serving in Heaven (Working within the System)
Libertarians love to quote Thomas Jefferson’s endorsement of revolution and rebellion, but they are loathe to quote his recommendation of pragmatic politics: “What is practicable must often control what is pure theory,” and “The question is not what we wish, but what is practicable.”
Libertarianism’s answer to each and every political question is to abolish and/or privatize it. To libertarians, striking such radical poses may seem exciting and make them feel better than everyone else, but to those who actually want to make progress on an issue or solve a problem, this sort of posturing is tedious and intolerable. While the libertarian is grinning smugly and stupidly, everyone else is groaning and rolling their eyes.
By glibly taking radical positions which have no practical value whatsoever, or just reflexively opposing whatever the state does, libertarians manage to avoid ever actually engaging in an argument while also congratulating themselves on winning every argument. When it comes to the arguments they have with imaginary statist adversaries, libertarians are undefeated. Ironically, by taking such useless positions “on principle,” libertarians actually make a mockery of the principles which they claim to be preserving and miss opportunities to use whatever political influence they do have for good.
Murray Rothbard himself became exasperated with this sort of “blind, unintelligent sectarianism” among libertarians (which he also identified among Marxists) and urged them to give it up and “become relevant.” Rothbard argued that the sectarian “isolates himself from all problems of the real world, and, in further irony, keeps himself from having any impact toward the ultimate goal he cherishes.” Rothbard’s explanation of why sectarians “have no impact whatsoever on American life” was devastating:
This is a comfortable position to take because it doesn’t really alienate the partisans of either side. Both sides in any war will write this man off as a hopelessly “idealistic” and out-of-it sectarian, a man who is even rather lovable because he simply parrots his “pure” position without informing himself or taking sides on whatever war is raging in the world. In short, both sides will tolerate the sectarian precisely because he is irrelevant, and because his irrelevancy guarantees that he makes no impact on the course of events or on public opinion about these events.
According to Rothbard, “Libertarians must come to realize that parroting ultimate principles is not enough for coping with the real world.” The complacency and stupidity of such sectarians – who are convinced that sharing “taxation is theft” and “if it pleases the crown” memes on social media does more good than voting – was what first compelled me to consider alternatives to libertarianism.
Rothbard understood these sectarian-libertarians better than they understood themselves. Although they fashion themselves as full of principle and integrity, the truth is that they are either moral and mental midgets (afraid of giving offense and getting into an argument) or pretentious posers and contrarians (addicted to purity-signaling amongst themselves and scoffing at the unenlightened). That is why, on each and every issue, libertarians avoid engaging with the actual terms of the debate:
Q: “Are you for or against building a wall on our southern border and deporting illegal aliens?”
Left-liberal: “Against. Diversity is our strength and America has always been a nation of immigrants. White America has also always been bigoted and deserves to die. A wall will be expensive and ineffective, anyway.”
Right-conservative: “For. Illegal immigration is causing serious cultural, economic, and even criminal problems in many parts of the country. White America is America; without a white majority, this country will not be America anymore. What is the government supposed to do if not defend its national borders?”
Libertarian: “Actually, the very concept of national borders is racist and statist. Why is the government sending its thugs to guard an arbitrary line on a map? Besides, the United States stole most of that territory from Mexico, anyway. If you want to reduce illegal immigration, though, what you should do instead of just building a wall and deporting illegal aliens is welfare and entitlement reform. That’s much easier, right? Open borders and a welfare state are incompatible.”
Left-winger and right-winger: “Uh…”
For years, I advocated the sectarian-libertarian line on everything, going so far as actual anarchy, yet I was never taken seriously by anyone – patronized at best, pitied at worst. No “statist” ever saw me or any of my beliefs as a threat. No left-liberal ever opened up to the free market because I was open to gay marriage. No right-conservative ever opened up to gay marriage because I was open to the free market. In my own mind, making radical demands for liberty or death made me dangerous, but in reality I could not have been more harmless. Remembering the sort of simple- and narrow-minded statements I made to my friends and family makes me cringe.
During the standoff between the FBI and the Bundys, I was shocked to see most libertarians sneering at the Bundys. Was this not the Lexington and Concord of the Second American Revolution about which we have been fantasizing, I asked? Libertarians answered that they refused to support the Bundys because they did patriotic things like wave American flags (“a worthless piece of cloth and the symbol of their enemies”) and praise the Constitution (“a worthless piece of paper which has failed to limit government in any way”). Floored by their hatefulness and pettiness, I invoked Thomas Jefferson, arguing that even though “the spirit of resistance to government” will “often be exercised when wrong,” it is “so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.” In response, I was sneered at as a “statist” who worshipped “muh cloth” and “muh paper.”
After weeks of making “Brokeback Mountain” jokes about the besieged cowboys, libertarians began immediately wailing about “Waco” and “Ruby Ridge” when Lavoy Finicum was shot and killed by the feds. First, when it was popular to hate the Bundys, cowardly libertarians devised their own elaborate reasons for joining the mob (about which none of the leftists calling for the head of any white man who defies a black-run government cared or were even aware). Then, when the situation changed and it suddenly became popular to condemn police brutality, cowardly libertarians convinced themselves of all the opposite reasons to join the new mob. Libertarians care more about signaling their ideological purity to one another and indulging their own vanity than they do making a positive difference in the world.
Why I’m Not A Libertarian Anymore
Make no mistake, libertarianism was once a vigorous movement which energized and inspired millions of bright young men to challenge the status quo:
Libertarianism has always been an ideology for white males. It is an intellectual forum in which they can engage in philosophical argument, repartee, camaraderie, and non-violent competition for status. It should be celebrated and preserved as a masculine, Western-oriented political movement standing against the tide of progressivism, Marxism, feminism, and egalitarianism, not allowing itself to be co-opted or handicapped by these poisonous ideologies. (Mike Enoch)
Libertarianism was also once consciously rooted in the Western philosophical tradition and proud of its heritage:
Liberty, the rule of law, respect for the commons, society over tribe, and monogamy are cultural values. They are values that all American patriots hold dear, not because they’ve been empirically proven or rationally derived, but because they are the context in which we have been raised, the morals woven into the story of our nation, and the principles guiding our interactions since childhood. These values are ethnic values, evolving from the Rights of Englishmen and other ideals in an arc stretching back to before the fall of Rome. (Hateful Heretic)
Libertarianism also brought some valuable truths to light and made a lasting impact on public awareness, particularly on economics and foreign policy:
The libertarian critique is very valuable, except when it veers off into insanity for the sake of foolish “consistency.”
The problem with libertarians is that they’ve taken a useful method of critique and elevated it first to the status of an ideology, and then to that of a virtual religion. (Libertarian Nationalist)
Libertarianism’s glory days faded fast, however, and whatever “libertarian moment” the media was twittering about several years ago has passed:
Ron Paul encapsulated the closest thing the modern libertarian movement had to an ideal that could not be reduced to pleasure – to the alimentary canal. Without him at the helm this lack of higher values has been made evident.
Post-Paul libertarianism is largely about pot, sex, and other mindless indulgences. Libertarian justifications for this behavior are every bit as petulant and self-centered as the progressive. It makes absolute sense their earlier “revolution” was aimed towards the American Right: besides some posturing on intervention and economics, libertarians are largely in agreement with modern liberalism’s social agenda – which is an agenda that does not give much of a damn about society. (Bulbasaur)
After Ron Paul’s quixotic protest-campaign failed to catch fire among the public, most intelligent libertarians gave up and went far-left or far-right. Libertarianism is now nothing more than enablement for degenerates and perverts, rhetorical and dialectical weapons for subversives, and a status symbol for obnoxious prigs. To be honest, however, even in its prime, libertarianism was an incomplete ideology unwilling and unable to balance liberty with everything else that matters in human life. That is why I no longer am a libertarian.