The long awaited Paul Bonneau reply has arrived. It is not a reply to either of the two questions raised in the post in which he promised a reply; it is a reply to my post “Why Culture Matters.” In any case, I will address certain points.
Bionic Mosquito has written a thoughtful piece on the border/immigration issue. The money quote? “So what does culture have to do with maintaining a libertarian order? This, to me, is quite simple: the less conflict, the less chance that some self-proclaimed and self-pitying disadvantaged group will look to a savior to deliver them from their perceived suffering.”
I’m not sure I buy this. It does seem true to some extent that a society of like-thinking people will have less conflict…
For me this is certain, and self-evident. Bonneau at least grants that it is “true to some extent.” No big disagreement here, but I take exception to what comes next:
…however, a leavening of other culture does add its own form of good to society--for example, the questioning of authority, and reducing mindless conformism.
This is not any different in practical application than what I wrote in the subject post. From that post:
Culture doesn’t like revolutionary change. Culture evolves slowly and gradually – this has been true throughout history and such change is a very natural human condition. It is the unnatural human condition that brings this topic to the fore; the unnatural human condition brings revolutionary change, not evolutionary change.
What do I mean by the “natural human condition” in this context? Culture evolving via market forces, via introduction of the new via voluntary interactions and voluntary acceptance. Day-to-day these are imperceptible changes, noticeable only when looking back over a period of years or even decades. This is how a culture evolves naturally.
What do I mean by the “unnatural human condition”? Much of the world today.
War, for example, is tremendously culture-destroying. Of course, the Great War marked a significant turning point in Western culture. War – certainly on such a scale – is only possible via the presence of the state and state control over much of societal activity.
In the subject post, when describing cultural change, I used some variant of the term “evolve” four times; eight more times in the comments. Isn’t this the same “leavening of other culture” that Bonneau chides me for in his very opening paragraphs?
Returning to Bonneau:
Add to this the fact that almost any modern larger society will have large segments of distinctly different cultures…
This is clear. Yet – and I offer this only as an observation – many of those individuals who make up these “distinctly different cultures” find ways to both assimilate within the majority culture, peacefully influence the majority culture, and maintain aspects of their own culture. I should know.
…just as Panarchy posits…
What is panarchy? From a different column by Bonneau:
The crucial advantage of Panarchy is that it converts aggressive violence into defense.
Most people on the Internet tend to “stick with their own kind”; for example, liberals read only sites like Daily Kos. However, when they venture out and run into those of different persuasions, you always see a battle of competing arguments, and the participants are quite earnest about it. There is a reason for this.
Isn’t this what I said about commonality of culture reducing conflict? Come on, Paul.
The advantage of Panarchy, again, is that it converts aggressive violence into defense. That is, anyone who argues from a position of Panarchy cannot be taken as someone trying to grab that cudgel of power. There is no latent threat behind the argument, especially when an advocate of Panarchy states (and should state if he has any sense) that liberals should get what liberals want, conservative should get what they want, and so forth. How can anyone be threatened by the statement, that they should get what they want?
“…liberals should get what liberals want, conservative should get what they want, and so forth.” Thanks, Paul. This very sensible statement will come in handy in a short time.
Returning to Bonneau’s subject post:
A “Panarchic” society will contain both smaller monocultural towns, and larger multicultural cities. There’s no getting around the fact that real tolerance will be a primary element of the larger society. It will be aided by the lack of imposition inherent in Panarchy.
I agree, but keep in mind – humans will always be human, no matter the inherent characteristics of panarchy. Evolutionary cultural change is accepted by many; my post clearly distinguished this from “revolutionary” cultural change.
I wonder what the panarchic response would be for the “smaller monocultural towns” whose inhabitants choose to remain monocultural? I know the answer, and so does Bonneau (although he tries hard to ignore it). I will come back to this later.
There’s another problem with Bionic’s view, here. He worries that a “disadvantaged group” will look to a savior--that the state will be brought in to “help” these people in its usual fashion. But we have to look at two scenarios to parse this out.
Yes, let’s look:
In the first scenario, we are in the present. The state is ubiquitous. It needs little excuse to stick its nose into various things anyway…
This is true enough, yet it isn’t so simple. If it was this easy, why was 911 beneficial? Why was Pearl Harbor beneficial? Why was “Remember the Maine” so effective? Why are calls for more state intervention always increased after some perceived conflict? I could list dozens of similar examples (and I suspect so could Paul).
Why does the state spend countless trillions in propagandizing and brainwashing the masses? The answer is simple: the state needs the support of the people to do what it does.
In the second scenario, we have transitioned to Panarchy.
What do I care? Why is this “a problem with Bionic’s view”? My posts have been about the situation in this world. I didn’t write about some future world: I know the answer in a libertarian world, and given what I read from Bonneau about panarchy he and I would come to the same conclusions (although he doesn’t seem to recognize this).
Yet another problem with his argument is that it depends on government coercion. Libertarians do now have to make such compromises, (e.g. the use of roads), but they should be avoided where possible.
I agree that we all make compromises in this world, but the forced immigration that was the subject of my post also depends on government coercion. It must be acceptable for Bonneau to compromise with this coercion, but that doesn’t make his compromise any better than mine.
I don’t find his rationale for closed borders very convincing.
This is where I would start my profanities, except then I would have to delete my own post.
Paul Bonneau – find one single instance where I have argued for closed borders. One, anywhere.
Framing the question as “open” vs. “closed” or “managed” does not really help, either.
Nonsense. Bonneau’s “panarchy” inherently implies the possibility of “open” and “closed” and “managed” borders. Don’t believe me? Ask Paul:
In a Panarchic world, some polities will accept immigrants (who sign onto those polities) and others won’t.
And, as a reminder of Bonneau’s earlier statement: “…liberals should get what liberals want, conservative should get what they want, and so forth.”
That is about as good a definition of managed borders that one could write. This is completely consistent with what I have written, and completely inconsistent with what Bonneau has written.
No one is advocating that immigrants can run willy-nilly over the landscape.
No one? Again, nonsense – Paul apparently doesn’t get around much on the internet and to various left-libertarian (and other libertarian) sites.
I’m not much of a fan of “managed” borders.
Paul, that may be your position – but you aren’t arguing it from either libertarian or panarchic theory; it is your own value scale coming into play – a purely subjective statement. This statement is wholly inconsistent with panarchy. Who are you to say what another society should decide? Do you want to start a war with them?
The problems that arise from immigration (and there can be some) are largely state-created. Get rid of the state, or at least confine it in polities, and the problems will go away, and the immigration will be self-regulating (just as it was in the 19th Century).
Really, Paul. Do you want to discuss theory, or do you want to discuss application in this world? No matter the differing positions on application in this world that different libertarians take, I suspect there is close to 100% agreement with your statement in theory.
Bonneau’s post is wholly confusing – where we agree, he finds reason to say we disagree. He offers that panarchic communities can manage (or even close) their borders, yet he disagrees about allowing for managed (or closed) borders.
Worse, he regularly misstates my positions or otherwise attacks positions which I have not taken. There is a word for that.