Libertarianism for Zombies

‘Liberaltarian’ isn’t a word that’s been heard much recently. Whilst aesthetics is surely part of the explanation, there’s probably more to it than that. Most obviously, recent political developments in the United States have shown, beyond the slightest possibility of doubt, that modern ‘liberalism’ and the project of maximal state expansion are so completely indistinguishable that liberal-libertarian fusionism can only perform a comedy act. Garin K Hovannisian had already predicted this outcome down to its minute details before the 2008 Presidential Election. Ed Kilgore later conducted a complementary dismissal from the left. From Reason came the question “Is Liberaltarianism Dead? Or Was it Ever Alive in The First Place?” which sets us out on a zombie hunt.

Anybody here who has poked into this stuff, even just a little bit, is probably approaching shriek-point already: In the name of everything holy please just let it remain in its grave. It’s too late for that. Liberaltarianism has been freshly exhumed specially for Outside in readers, and the zombie serum injected through its left eye, directly into the amygdala. It might seem rather ghoulish, but let us harden ourselves — for science. This absurd shambling specimen will help us to refine an elegant formula, of both ideological and historical interest.

Brink Lindsey offered the authoritative account:

Today’s ideological turmoil, however, has created an opening for ideological renewal—specifically, liberalism’s renewal as a vital governing philosophy. A refashioned liberalism that incorporated key libertarian concerns and insights could make possible a truly progressive politics once again—not progressive in the sense of hewing to a particular set of preexisting left-wing commitments, but rather in the sense of attuning itself to the objective dynamics of U.S. social development. In other words, a politics that joins together under one banner the causes of both cultural and economic progress.

Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods. That idea still retains at least an intermittent plausibility—for example, in the case for school choice as providing a refuge for socially conservative families. But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends. Most obviously, many of the great libertarian breakthroughs of the era—the fall of Jim Crow, the end of censorship, the legalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce laws, the increased protection of the rights of the accused, the reopening of immigration—were championed by the political left.

Libertarian means and progressive ends. Could it imaginably be said more clearly? Liberty is legitimate if, and only if, it serves to promote the consolidation of the Cathedral (through chaotic multicultural criminality), which is then retrospectively interpreted as the intrinsic telos of freedom. Whatever does not subordinate itself to this agenda is to have its brains eaten, and be systematically recycled into progressive zombie flesh. This is a project for libertarian hipsters and Leviathan apparatchiks to undertake hand-in-hand — fusionally. The new age of the cannibal is come.

Neoreactionaries are libertarians mugged by reality (to adapt a pre-coined phrase). This piece of socio-cultural understanding appears to be generally accepted, and rightly so. If it needs defending, that will have to happen elsewhere, but I have yet to see it seriously contested.  Moldbug’s own intellectual pedigree suffices to establish the claim on a solid foundation, but it is, in any case, far from aberrant in this regard. The recognition that libertarian ideas — despite their philosophical elegance and economic attractiveness — are not historically or politically realistic, has been the catalytic insight driving the development and adoption of neoreactionary alternatives, shorn of certain mythical elements inherited by the progressive clade (substantial egalitarianism most prominently). This is an empirically robust, uncontroversial story, but it is not yet a formula. It’s time to take the next step.

zombie Long live last science!

Has there yet emerged a neoreactionary who was once a ‘liberaltarian’? This isn’t a question designed to embarrass anybody. I just think the answer is easily predictable. When neoreactionary intelligence perceives this shambling wreckage of all cognitive integrity, it recoils into itself in utter revulsion. Everything it abominated about the libertarian delusion stands before it, trickling pitifully. This is the perfect caricature of its abandoned errors: an oozing swippleous mass of unreflective universalism. It’s classical liberalism revived as an undead decay-plague. (If Karl wants to go after this thing with a shot-gun, I don’t see anyone holding him back.)

The view from the unlibertarianized left is illuminating:

… the conscience of a Lindseyan liberaltarian is pretty darn liberal – with some policy disputes on top. When Lindsey stands with conservatives it is mostly on somewhat accidental (but not therefore inconsiderable) policy grounds. He thinks liberals tend to adopt self-defeating policies. When Lindsey stands with liberals it is mostly on philosophical grounds. This point fits in with the one I made in this post, about different sorts of libertarians: basically liberal or basically feudal. If you are a feudal libertarian, you really shouldn’t have a problem with Jim Crow, in principle. If you are a liberal libertarian, you should. Conservative libertarians tend to be on the fence, feudalism/liberalism-wise. (This depends partly on a cheeky use of ‘feudal’ – see my post. But, then again, what was Edmund Burke? a guy who was torn between liberalism and feudalism. That’s not such a bad sketch of his personality-type.)

Strangely, we’re still talking about Jim Crow — as if the entire meaning of American history is expressed through that. The target here is Barry Goldwater, but it makes no substantial difference if Ron Paul is substituted. The critical point, in both cases, is that a reluctance to countenance the expansion of the political sphere in pursuit of racial egalitarianism is interpreted as a moral scandal, for which an ostentatious sacrifice of liberty is the only permissible solution. Negligence is already ‘feudalism’. When this dam bursts — into ‘liberaltarian’ compromise — the micro-managerial state has already been granted everything  it will need to ask for. Stamping out feudalism makes you free. (It works like this.)

If it wasn’t for Hoppe, it would perhaps be understandable if the shuddering neoreactionary (N) were to suspect that libertarian thought (L0) tends — slowly but inevitably — to compost down towards this liberaltarian (L1) ‘walker’, in which all the degenerative forces of conformism and revolt have been compacted, as if by some ideological parody of providence. Is not our liberaltarian zombie the still-recognizable avatar of the old liberalism, resurrected hideously as the animated putrescence of the new? Yet we have Hoppe, and so we know that the directives of self-coordinating liberty need not take this path. There is, unmistakably, something other to libertarianism than what is seen in the figure of its zombified, liberaltarian ruin. Through a type of negative political theology, we can formulate it:

Lo – L1 = N

First, identify every specifically emphatic feature of liberaltarianism, then subtract it without residue from the old Austro-libertarian matrix, and what remains is the neoreactionary template — abstracted due to the provisional (negative) place-holders for yet undeveloped topics: presumed non-equality, non-universality, non-progress (in socio-cultural matters), and at least partial non-autonomy (of the economic agent from fragile structures of civility). Slaying the zombie does not, in itself, fill these gaps — but it holds open the gaps, and therefore the avenues of neoreactionary exploration.

As a rule of thumb: whatever Will Wilkinson is having, I’ll have the opposite. If the liberaltarian innovation is conceived as a vector, its exact negation sets the neoreactionary course. With this conclusion, science is served. We can return the corpse of a misconceived ‘progressive’ liberty to its grave, or rather, to the cyclopean mausoleum it has made for itself: the liberal super-state which protects freedom in detail, with unbounded attentiveness, until it has been obliterated entirely from the earth.

ADDED: Weeping isn’t an argument.

ADDED: Foseti provokes and hosts an interesting discussion on the genealogy of neoreaction, by remarking: “My favorite question to ask fellow reactionaries is how they got to neoreaction. What steps did they take in their ideological journey? My last stop was on the Old Right, but I got there from libertarianism.”

September 10, 2013admin 28 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction


28 Responses to this entry

  • Mark Warburton Says:

    “Has there yet emerged a neoreactionary who was once a ‘liberaltarian’? This isn’t a question designed to embarrass anybody.” Oh, but it has. Ha.


    Posted on September 10th, 2013 at 11:41 am Reply | Quote
  • Thos Ward Says:

    I’m thinking Gnon-equality, Gnon-universality etc. That is, the principle of equality (etc) as defined by Gnon, as opposed to Gnos(tic), would look quite different. Gnon-universality would look Darwinian, Gnon-equality is constrained, Gnon-progress is survival… Is Gnon the negation of Gnos?


    admin Reply:

    Utter Gnonsense?


    Thos Ward Reply:

    @Thos Ward

    hmmm. I can’t tell if you’re poking fun or agreeing! (a little of both?) Well, in any case, what I meant was that if the progressive narrative is essentially gnostic -and universality, equality, progress and autonomy are defined through that lens- then perhaps the negation of each is ultimately the negation of Gnosticism. I’m thinking the epoché of Gnon is just that – a tactical suspension in order to resist these anthropocentric assertions. Once you bracket them, they are open to be filled by principles of Gnon, thus gnon-equality (or better universality) is no longer an a human derived moral position but a natural (and equally distributed) indifference to such valuation.

    Sounds like gnon-sense to me!


    admin Reply:

    I’m trying to disguise my morbidly-intense fascination beneath a patina of glib irony.

    If this is going to turn into an elaborated text somewhere, I’ll pre-commit right here to linking to it.

    Posted on September 10th, 2013 at 11:56 am Reply | Quote
  • Manjusri Says:

    “Has there yet emerged a neoreactionary who was once a ‘liberaltarian’? This isn’t a question designed to embarrass anybody.”

    Right here. I was of the Will Wilkinson camp (perhaps Will Wilkinson/Andrew Sullivan might be more accurate) until sometime around the election of Obama. Not terribly embarassed by that- to my midwestern mind, it made sense (in Wilkinson’s defense, he’s from Iowa. Young, politically-interested midwesterners are always trying to square circles. Blame it on being from blue towns in the middle of red states.)


    Posted on September 10th, 2013 at 12:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    This is turning into some kind of confessional orgy …


    fotrkd Reply:

    It’s the roots talking. Nice use of ‘swippleous’ btw.


    admin Reply:

    “Nice use of ‘swippleous’ btw” — ventriloquized by VXXC at that moment.


    Posted on September 10th, 2013 at 12:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • Manjusri Says:

    Though, really, it’s mainly because of what we’re taught in American civics classes:

    Liberal = socially left and economically left
    Conservative = socially right and economically right
    Libertarian = socially left and economically right
    Populist = socially right and economically left

    This trope – that a libertarian is someone who agrees with Democrats on “social” issues and Republicans on “economic” issues – is where the polls that show that 20% of Americans identify themselves as libertarian come from. This is the default position of your typical New York banker or San Francisco software engineer; that and pretty much every college contrarian.

    Of course, the more one explores Austrian – and now, Neoreactionary – thought, the more one sees that this entire matrix is screwed up beyond any hope of usefulness or insight into what’s really going on, as is the division of “social” and “economic” issues, as is the division of liberal vs conservative positions (isn’t PC a “liberal social position”? Is “free trade” liberal or conservative?)…

    … as I’ve pointed out before, if you rely entirely upon orthodox positions, it looks like the US has spent most of the last forty years sliding to the “right”- but when you really begin to look, something very, very different crops up.


    admin Reply:

    A continuous rightwards drift that culminates in the Obama Administration? It would be entertaining to see someone trying to hold that narrative together.


    Manjusri Reply:

    Actually it’s really easy. Obama, rather than being a true “socialist”, sold out to the banks and escalated our warfare state, essentially leading just like the ultra-right-wing George W. Bush.

    Or, at least, that’s how everyone I know on the “left” sees it.


    nydwracu Reply:

    And they’re completely right. Leftism was cannibalized by progressivism just as libertarianism was. Would any member of the old left go around kicking West Virginia? Hell no; quite a few of them were from there.

    Contra K-L, progressivism is a thoroughly different thing than Communism. The Anglo-Soviet split is very, very real.

    The last place one still under the spell of K-L would expect to see eugenics programs is East Germany, and yet…

    Posted on September 10th, 2013 at 12:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jack Crassus Says:

    The standard bearers of liberaltarianism are the Bleeding Heart Libertarians, which might be considered an attempt at a fusion between cultural marxism and libertarianism.


    admin Reply:

    You’re right, which means that they’re still around (however absurd that may seem).

    With the BHLs, among others, Rawls is the problem. Anybody who takes his (radically egalitarian) thought-experiment seriously is lost to the cause of liberty.


    Posted on September 10th, 2013 at 7:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Teh-Teh-Teh Says:

    I was liberaltarian once, but this was 2006-2008 or so.

    Of course, this was one step on my path from democratic socialist(alas, more in the tumblr side of things rather than macho socialism) to liberal to pro-gun, pro-war, anti-abortion liberal/neocon, generic social democrat then liberlatarian 2007-8 since then a consistent but slow righrwards move. Discovering moldbug in 2009 made it happen at light speed.

    Blame growing up in a blue state in a pretty SWPL background for starting off that far left.

    Liberaltarianism, or it’s worse form of left-wing anti-statism/occupy wall streetism is something that’s seductive to people from blue states who are annoyed at the cathedral’s excesses but are too steeped to notice the flaws of the system.


    Posted on September 10th, 2013 at 7:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • 3.6 White Right | Radish Says:

    […] ‘Libertarianism for Zombies’ […]

    Posted on September 11th, 2013 at 12:53 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    “dynamics of U.S. social development.”

    I’m a citizen of the US. Please do not develop us any further. Never mind [shudder] dynamically.

    I know you must, so we’ll do what we must.

    Since it’s Shriving Night at Xeno Revival Tent [no offense to undead-Americans] I’m a conservative who got tired of serial failure.


    Posted on September 11th, 2013 at 1:12 am Reply | Quote
  • anonymous Says:

    I’m somewhat “liberaltarian”. I’m libertarian, in the sense that I’m reflexively sympathetic toward the idea of having a political system where the state tends not to interfere in either the economy or people’s personal lives. I’m liberal, in the sense that I think externalities and other forms of market failure do exist and can be negative, and I would probably favor greater state intervention than the average libertarian due to this.

    I’m reactionary, in that I don’t believe in human equality or democracy, and am somewhat of a social darwinist, in that I see the use of power as that which establishes “legitimacy”.


    admin Reply:

    Trying to follow your weaving path through that political buffet meal is making my head spin,


    Posted on September 11th, 2013 at 3:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • C. Y. Chen Says:

    Unfortunately relevant.

    Her awful website (“Sex and the State” lmao) has some more brilliant insights.


    admin Reply:

    “Maybe I’m doing heroin, or having sex with lots of dudes. What right then does anyone have to coerce me by threatening to criticize, ridicule, shame or ostracize me?” — the progressive ‘logic’ is impeccable. In fact, what right do people have to neglect her freedom by failing to stage angry protest marches on her behalf?


    peppermint Reply:

    haha, if shaming is unjustifiable coersion, how about shaming racists and getting them fired?

    It’s not just their dirty laundry from when they seized power they should be concerned about. Shaming racists is how they keep everyone quiet about race and ensure that everyone thinks that they’re the only person who has doubts about egalitarian dogma.

    If they lose that, they lose everything, quickly.

    I get the sense that today’s proggies feel invincible and have no idea what they are doing. Maybe all the thoughtful people already left.


    peppermint Reply:

    oh, and regarding them losing the word racist, see the recent story about someone draping a banner saying “anti-racist is a code word for anti-White” over an overpass, and the NAACP guy they quoted said that he’s “anti-racial”.

    Thus replacing a moral judgement that everyone has pounded into their heads since birth through shaming, with a laughably false scientific statement.

    Seriously, how can the NAACP give up on the word ‘racist’? Something tells me there would have been a different response 30 years ago. Once again: feeling invincible and having no idea what they are doing.


    Posted on September 12th, 2013 at 12:57 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ nydwracu — Being accused of liberaltarianism can’t be a problem you have to deal with often. I think your class-war argument works well, except for the fact that the class you’re defending has about as much chance of coming out on top as the Apache.


    nydwracu Reply:

    Which class? Frontines, or?

    If the hypothesis of the march toward left singularity is accurate, it’s a valuable tactic to reappropriate the end-goal: “Ha ha! Your leftism is not actually so left at all, you crypto-neoliberal! Here’s what the left *really* looks like!” And then the punchline is that it’s little different from reaction, plus presumably some speculative economics that’ll likely go over the head of the listener and isn’t very important once the basic anti-liberal thesis of both Carlyle and the Marxists, that total atomization is not at all a desirable end-goal, is grasped, and they start going to church, lol.

    And the other anti-liberal thesis, that ‘bourgeois nationalism’ (i.e. a thede-state) is maybe not so un-left after all, and mass immigration fuels both worker exploitation (which is why the left opposed it until they got bought out, as Alain de Benoist pointed out) and further atomization (read Putnam! solidarity is impossible when civil society is nonexistent! after all, doesn’t the ruling class like to divide and conquer?) and perhaps it’s time to turn off the Brechtian tap.


    Posted on September 12th, 2013 at 1:25 am Reply | Quote
  • Randoms | Foseti Says:

    […] – Nick Land: […]

    Posted on September 16th, 2013 at 7:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • Defining Post-Libertarianism | Fanghorn Forest Says:

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