Posts Tagged ‘Libertarians’

The Lost Cause

Why do some (awkward) libertarians sympathize with the Confederacy? Asks David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy. This is probably as reasonable as mainstream libertarianism is ever going to get on the lost cause, but it still manages to muddy an intrinsically pellucid point.

Even those libertarians who do adopt a Rothbardian/Chomskyite view of foreign policy, or who for any other reason beyond racism wish the Union would have let the Confederacy secede peacefully, are making a mistake in defending the Confederacy–the enemy of one’s enemy isn’t necessarily a friend. But I just wanted to point out that I think a significant amount of libertarian sympathy for the Confederacy in the circles where it exists is really a product of intense distaste for the U.S. government and its post-Civil War record [along with, as a commenter notes, a general sympathy for the right of secession] rather than a considered view of the Confederacy’s own record.

Setting aside the Chomsky distraction, there’s an almost painful struggle to be fair going on here — but then the brackets ruin everything. Secession is the key, irrespective of the course taken by the Union, because the Union itself only exists due to a successful war of secession. If the USA was legitimately born out of war of independence, then it was illegitimately perpetuated by the suppression of the subsequent war of independence which would have divided it. Placing the onus on libertarian confederates to explain themselves — or to have an explanation advanced on their behalf — gets the order of logical obligation completely upside down.

Of course, the Articles of Confederation preceded the American Constitution. Confederation was  not impudently demanded in the mid-19th century, but stripped away by an emergent central power in the late-18th century. In combination, these assaults on decentralized government have rendered American political history almost entirely opaque to itself. Confederation is the primordial expression of American independence.

Yet, from a practical point of view, none of this really matters, because America’s racial nightmare drowns everything out, binding dreams of redemption so intimately to concentrated power that freedom is reduced to ever-more-marginalized crimethink. Under these circumstances, the pretense of reason seems merely absurd.

July 21, 2013admin 12 Comments »
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The Reaper

Recent rumors of blog death in the reactosphere have been greatly exaggerated, but elsewhere — not so much. For sheer weirdness, it’s hard to beat the announcement of The Oil Drum‘s closure at The Daily Bell — an event of huge significance for the fate of the Peak Oil ‘promotion’, we were assured — and one almost immediately followed by the closure of … The Daily Bell. (Here‘s the farewell post, although I’m reluctant to link to a self-declared corpse.)

By simple analogy, can we assume this death is also overflowing with meaning? Has the DB’s signature brand of libertarian conspiracy theorizing been terminated for a reason?  If so, there aren’t any clues to be found in Anthony Wile’s quite bizarrely uninformative good-bye note.

I’m guessing my vague melancholy on the subject won’t find many echoes out here on the right fringe. “Another bunch of nutty libertarians go over the cliff, big deal” might not be a bad guess at the average response, if it didn’t so clearly underestimate the prevailing indifference (I don’t recall anybody else linking to them on anything). They were strong advocates of the “Internet Reformation”, ushering in a new epoch of liberty worldwide, as the scheming “global elite” were forced to take a “step back”, their “directed history” undone by electronic “truth-telling”.

I’m taking it that has all been swept off the table now, Peak Oil-style. It never did quite seem nasty enough to be real.

July 17, 2013admin 11 Comments »
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An Abstract Path to Freedom

At this thread (and in other places), commenter VXXC cites Durant’s Dark Counsel: “For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies. Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically.” He then remarks: “That’s fine with me, I’ll go with Freedom.” Outside in concurs without reservation.

Take this dark counsel as the thesis that a practically-significant ideological dimension can be constructed, within which freedom and egalitarianism are related as strictly reciprocal variables. Taking this dimension for orientation, two abstract models of demographic redistribution can be examined, in order to identify what it is that neoreactionaries want.

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July 16, 2013admin 35 Comments »
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Suicidal Libertarianism (Part D’oh)

When it comes to the libertarian suicide race, Bryan Caplan leaves Don Boudreaux in the dust. Caplan takes the Non-Aggression Principle and runs with it, all the way into a maximum-velocity self-directed death cult. (Self-directed, solely in the ideological sense, of course.) Given the considerable merits of this book, in particular, it’s a sad thing to see.

American libertarianism has always been vulnerable to neo-puritan spiritual extravagance. Caplan systematically pushes this tendency to its limit, divorcing its arguments from any realistic estimation of consequences, and transforming it into a form of deontological moral fanaticism, in which self-defense, retaliation, and boundaries are strictly prohibited. He envisages a world of games in which only unilateral altruism is permissible to the libertarian player. It would be fun to go a few rounds of prisoner’s dilemma with him.

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July 7, 2013admin 37 Comments »
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Hayek and Pinochet

Despite the left slant, this examination of Hayek’s involvement with the Chilean Pinochet regime is calm and informative enough to be worth reading (via).  Its relevance to numerous recent discussions on the extreme right is clear.

Given everything we know about Hayek—his horror of creeping socialism, his sense of the civilizational challenge it posed; his belief that great men impose their will upon society (“The conservative peasant, as much as anybody else, owes his way of life to a different type of person, to men who were innovators in their time and who by their innovations forced a new manner of living on people belonging to an earlier state of culture”); his notion of elite legislators (“If the majority were asked their opinion of all the changes involved in progress, they would probably want to prevent many of its necessary conditions and consequences and thus ultimately stop progress itself. I have yet to learn of an instance when the deliberate vote of the majority (as distinguished from the decision of some governing elite) has decided on such sacrifices in the interest of a better future”); and his sense of political theory and politics as an epic confrontation between the real and the yet-to-be-realized—perhaps the Pinochet question needs to be reframed. The issue is not “How could he have done what he did?” but “How could he not?”

(I agree with Corey Robin that the ‘Schmittian’ element in Hayek’s thinking remains an unresolved theoretical problem, but his concrete judgments — as detailed here — strike me as consistently sound.)

June 28, 2013admin 7 Comments »
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Suicidal Libertarianism

Confession No.1: I generally like Don Boudreaux’s writing a lot.

Confession No.2: I think this is simply insane. By that I mean: I simply don’t get it, at all.

Boudreaux begins by explaining the concerns of a “few friends whose opinions I hold in the highest regard” that “immigrants will use their growing political power to vote for government policies that are more interventionist and less respectful of individual freedoms.” Hard to imagine, I know. Especially if one ignores insignificant examples such as — ummm — the state of fricking California.

It then gets weirder. We learn that “concern over the likely voting patterns of immigrants is nothing new.  Past fears seem, from the perspective of 2013, to have been unjustified.” I’m about to poison my nervous-system with my own sarcasm at this point, so instead I’ll simply ask, as politely as possible: What would count as evidence of America moving in a direction that was “more interventionist and less respectful of individual freedoms”? Would it look anything at all like what we’ve seen — in highly-accelerated mode — since the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act?

Then comes the overt celebration of libertarian suicidalism:

But let’s assume for the moment that today’s immigrants – those immigrants recently arrived and those who would arrive under a more liberalized immigration regime – are indeed as likely as my concerned friends fear to vote overwhelmingly to move American economic policy in a much more dirigiste direction.  Such a move would, I emphatically and unconditionally agree, be very bad. Very. Bad. Indeed.

I still support open immigration. I cannot bring myself to abandon support of my foundational principles just because following those principles might prove fatal.

The thing is, they did prove fatal. That’s why the neoreaction exists.

June 25, 2013admin 33 Comments »
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Right on the Money (#1)

Of all the reasons to read Kant, the most important is to understand Mises, and thus the template for a functional world (however unobtainable). Austrian economics, as formulated in Human Action, consists exclusively of systematically assembled synthetic a priori propositions. Insofar as action is in fact directed by practical reason, the conclusions of organized praxeology cannot be wrong.

It is pointless to ask an Austrian Economist whether he ‘believes’ a rise in the minimum wage will increase unemployment (above the level it would otherwise be). The praxeological construction of economic law is indifferent to empirical regularity, as to anything less certain than rational necessity. Does one ‘believe’ that 2 + 2 = 4? No, one knows it, because the irreducible values of the signs compel the conclusion, and are inextricable from it. There could be no value ‘2’ unless its doubling equaled ‘4’, or any meaning to ‘wage’ unless its doubling reduced demand for labor. Empirically sensitive Austrianism isn’t Austrian at all.

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May 22, 2013admin 57 Comments »
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Quote notes (#1)

Doug Casey interviewed at The Daily Bell:

Things have seemed to have gotten better in the world over the last few years since they’ve had massive quantitative easing – which is to say currency printing. Sure, if you create trillions of dollars of currency units it makes people feel richer than they really are and it encourages them to continue living above their means. It just guarantees an even worse depression. What’s coming up is going to be the biggest thing in modern history. It’s not just going to be financial and economic. It’s going to be a political, social, and military earthquake, as well.


The 19th century was the most peaceful and prosperous time in the world’s history. And the rate of growth was far higher, and sounder, than it is today, as well. That was largely because the state was a relatively minor influence in society. Inflation didn’t exist because gold was money – gold was the international currency – taxes were extremely low, regulations were low. The answer is to go back to something that actually worked, which was the economic system we used in the 19th century. It wasn’t laissez-faire capitalism, but it was far closer to it than what we have today, which is to say nothing but variations of socialism and fascism.

May 19, 2013admin 50 Comments »
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In the end, it’s all comes down to harsh realism.

Socialists imagine there are no wolves, so democracy is easy.

Conservatives imagine democracy as a way for wolves to apologize.

Libertarians imagine democracy as two wolves and a sheep deciding on the main course for dinner.

Neoreactionaries see democracy as two sheep and a wolf deciding on the merits of mandatory vegetarianism.

ADDED: Survivingbabel anticipates (6 months ago, no link available):
Democracy is closer to two sheep and a wolf voting on what’s for dinner. The sheep unite in collective action to fight off the wolf. The wolf, stripped of its natural power, must graze alongside the sheep. Eventually it dies from malnutrition, and the sheep, having lost their natural predator, soon overpopulate and overgraze their land. Then they die too, usually replaced by another species entirely.

May 14, 2013admin 64 Comments »
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Libertarian insight

In case there’s anyone out there who hasn’t yet seen this quote from Andrew Zalotocky (at Samizdata, or Instapundit):

If you want to introduce someone to libertarian thinking, encourage them to try this experiment. Spend a few days reading nothing but technology news. Then spend a few days reading nothing but political news. For the first few days they’ll see an exciting world of innovation and creativity where everything is getting better all the time. In the second period they’ll see a miserable world of cynicism and treachery where everything is falling apart. Then ask them to explain the difference.

An introduction to libertarian thinking? Discuss.

ADDED: And it’s not only libertarians who are sounding like neoreactionaries — here‘s Jonah Goldberg on the (utterly fascinating) ‘Ferguson Affair’:

What I find interesting about the Ferguson controversy is how disconnected it is from the past. Even academics I respect reacted to Ferguson’s comments as if they bordered on unimaginable, unheard-of madness. I understand that we live in a moment where any negative comment connected to homosexuality is not only wrong but “gay bashing.” But Ferguson was trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago. Now, because of a combination of indifference to intellectual history and politically correct piety he must don the dunce cap. Good to know.

Goldberg’s whole post is excellent, but he misses one very significant case of Cathedralist persecution attending this argument (that homosexuality can be expected to shorten time horizons): Hoppe.

WRM goes full Cathedral on the issue. (Because he’s smart, and intermittently honest, I sometimes forget he’s the enemy.)

May 5, 2013admin 32 Comments »
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