This post will only begin with Charlottesville; it will thereafter flow into other topics – I think all related, flowing through the same stream.
On the day of the events many stories were told, all parroting some version of the mainstream narrative: white supremacists and Nazis did it; everyone else there just wanted peace.
I decided at the time not to comment: most importantly, I was certain that whatever we heard in the mainstream was a lie, so why not let things settle a bit before opening my mouth; second, I guess I would consider myself more of a journalist than a reporter. There are so many people so much better than I am at putting together the facts, almost real time.
One sign of a politically developed conscious, in my view, is that one never believes the initial reports regarding events such as these. This would be, or should be, especially true for a libertarian…wouldn’t it? Skepticism of government and mainstream narratives has been proven prudent almost universally.
This didn’t stop the same-day reaction of one of the more well-known left-libertarian pundits. I didn’t know everything about the events (I still don’t), but I knew enough to know his story was nonsense.
We do know that the people taking the blame for the events were the only people who had a permit that day. We do know that they worked with the city to ensure proper security. We do know that others came to counter this group, with no permit to gather. We do know that there were people on both sides who were armed.
We do know that the police did not keep the two groups separate. We do know that the police stood down when the fighting began, and for an extended time thereafter.
We don’t know why this was handled by the city and the police as it was – contrary to what the organizers attempted to achieve.
This is about the part of this post where I am supposed to write: “of course, I am not a Nazi.” Of course.
Anyway, that’s enough about that.
Libertarians and Culture
I suspect that over the last two years I have written more about this (broadly defined) topic than any other, and more about it than anyone else has over the same period. For whatever that’s worth.
Doing so has taken me to many places: exploring the left, understanding better the split in the libertarian community, the value of culture (and certain types of culture) in reducing government, immigration and border controls, etc.
Doing so has been, and continues to be, one of my more intellectually satisfying pursuits at this blog. I have learned much both because I learn when I write and because I learn when I receive feedback to what I write.
Doing so has also been one of the more frustrating pursuits at this blog: too many points and questions raised are ignored – ignored by people who hold different views and who I know have read my comments.
Doing so has broadened the audience of this blog – not that I write for this reason. Some would describe many of the individuals who offer feedback here as “alt-right,” even fascist. As long as they remain respectful toward others in my community, I care not about this.
In any case, I find such terms kind of useless. I have concluded that “alt-right” means nothing more than taking exception to one or more of the planks of the progressive agenda. It isn’t more complicated than this.
For example: Mitch McConnell is right, but isn’t alt-right. He doesn’t take exception to the progressive agenda. Donald Trump is (or…was) alt-right; the positions he took during the campaign, almost every single one, was contrary to the progressive agenda.
Speaking of Interesting Feedback….
So, I recently had an interesting comment, offered by Unhappy Conservative (2.0) August 19, 2017 at 4:26 PM:
"Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live."
How do you feel when you read this? Would it make a difference who said it? What if I told you that it is based on the Biblical concept of struggle, the eternal struggle to enter the eternal Kingdom of God?
What if I told you it was a line from Lincoln’s first draft of the Gettysburg Address? That he modified it somewhat in the final version, but the basic idea remained?
What if it was George Washington, at Valley Forge when all seemed lost and desperate? When the soldiers were leaving, when the states were not providing funds?
What if it was Winston Churchill, as part of his famous “blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech?
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it.
What if it was Adolf Hitler? Do you feel differently about the line? Does your gut tighten up? If so, spend some time to ask yourself why. (It is, and I have.)
Once done, ask yourself why Stalin gets a pass and Hitler gets the blame. Ask yourself why the “acceptable” view is that National Socialism is bad but international socialism is good. Ask yourself how this idea is made manifest in much of the acceptable discourse.
Once again…this is about the part of this post where I am supposed to write: “of course, I am not a Nazi.”
Ask yourself why you are not wondering why I didn’t also write “of course, I am not a communist.” I don’t have to write this, because these were the good guys in Charlottesville (and elsewhere), that’s why.
Which Brings me to Libertarianism’s Alt-Right Problem…
Nick Gillespie has written about this at Reason: Is There Really an 'Insidious Libertarian-To-Alt-Right Pipeline'? To make a long story short, he answers “no.”
I will surprise you: I agree with almost all that he has written. I agree with so much of it that I normally wouldn’t even comment on this piece. But his piece draws out an important issue for libertarians – I am coming to conclude it is the important issue. It is the issue that divides left vs right libertarians, just as it is the issue that divides left and right generally.
I don’t mean left and right as the mainstream uses the terms; I mean left and right as in anyone who objects to any portion of the progressive agenda is considered (alt) “right.” Everyone else – e.g. the Mitch McConnells of the world – is truly “left.”
So, where am I headed? What is the issue that divides libertarians? Gillespie writes:
…the libertarian project stands for…cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, individualism vs. group identity, and libertarianism or autonomy versus authoritarianism…
Everything that the alt-right is against, according to Gillespie.
The problem is this: libertarianism does not stand for any of these things. Libertarianism stands against the initiation of aggression against property and person. That’s all. But to state this clearly destroys the definition offered by Gillespie (hint: respect for private property is very discriminatory). I offer:
Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism: I have addressed this in the past. In case you don’t want to click the link, here is the definition of cosmopolitan: “Free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments; at home all over the world.” Nothing in the NAP requires this nonsense.
Individualism versus group identity: What? A libertarian is precluded from identifying with a group? Harvard graduates, Patriots fans, the International Shuffleboard Society, the Gay Pride Club? I am not allowed to identify with any of these? (Hint: these are all allowed; there is only one group to which a “libertarian” is not allowed to identify; left-libertarians just usually don’t want to state it so plainly.)
Autonomy versus authoritarianism: I will give him this one, as long as one is autonomously free to identify with a group – and, also, autonomously free to discriminate against a group when it comes to one’s own property. I assure you, virtually no left-libertarian truly believes this.
…foundational libertarian beliefs in "free trade and free migration"….
Free trade: no problem here. Two property owners decide to trade property; perfectly compatible with the non-aggression principle.
Free migration: fail. When one places private property at the heart of libertarian theory (as must be the case), this doesn’t flow from the theory. Everyone has a right to exit, no one has a right to enter; one is free to emigrate, one is not free to immigrate.
Border controls versus open borders: I contend that libertarian theory offers no answer on this topic in a world of state borders. See here and here for two of my countless posts on this point. Further, as left-libertarians believe libertarianism is universal, I have asked for an answer to this question regarding open borders. Still no takers. Gillespie won’t answer it either.
Gillespie puts the blame of this libertarian / alt-right confusion squarely on Ron Paul and his presidential runs in 2008 & 2012, with roots in “the Hans-Hermann Hoppe bloc of libertarianism.”
Gillespie says you will know when one is from the alt-right and not a libertarian, as…
…alt-righters need to be called out wherever we find them espousing their anti-modern, tribalistic, anti-individualistic, and anti-freedom agenda.
This is wrong. A libertarian is free to be “anti-modern” and “tribalistic” (I will give him the other two, or at least one-and-a-half of the two).
In other words: the confusions that Gillespie points out are based on things that have nothing to do with the non-aggression principle; it is Gillespie that is confused. Read Gillespie’s various definitions and distinctions again, if this isn’t clear to you.
So What’s the Point?
The issue is culture. This is what Gillespie doesn’t like about “the Hans-Hermann Hoppe bloc of libertarianism.” Culture matters. I know this because of many things; I know this because of the goals of people who want to destroy culture.
The progressive agenda is a culture destroying agenda. Libertarians on the left approve of virtually every plank of this agenda. Libertarians on the right disapprove of virtually every plank of this agenda.
The progressive agenda as it is today is the Frankfurt School put into action; this comes from Antonio Gramsci, with roots stretching back to the Enlightenment and even the Renaissance.
I will offer: Gramsci and the Frankfurt School advanced their ideas on culture in order to make the west malleable to communism; Gillespie and the left-libertarians advance these same ideas on culture in order to bring on liberty. Similar means, different ends. Hard to square that circle.
Destroy a culture and you will end up with tyranny. Don’t get mad at me for saying it. Take it up with someone far more qualified on this topic – more qualified than I am and more qualified than any left-libertarian.
No strawmen, please: I wrote not a single word against an evolving culture or for closed borders. Ever.
Communists and left-libertarians. Their ends might be different, but their means are the same: drastically change the culture. Only one side of this will win their desired ends. I say it is the communists. And this is where libertarians – as defined by Gillespie – will lead us.