Monday, February 19, 2018

Twenty-first Century Conservatism

I can hear the howls in the audience already, given the title of this post….

Jordan Peterson gave a presentation entitled “12 principles for a 21st century conservatism.”  While I will not cover all twelve, there are several that dovetail nicely with topics discussed here and with my views of the cultural soil required if one wishes to develop and maintain a reasonably libertarian social order.

As I am taking his comments from a video and not a transcript, I have done my best to capture the words and the intent.

The fundamental assumptions of western civilization are valid.  He determines this with simple, rhetorical questions: Which countries do people want to move away from?  Which countries do people want to move to?

What does he mean by “valid”?  He does not describe it in this presentation, however given what he has said elsewhere is seems to me that “valid” is something like that which sustains and improves life.  In other words, people aren’t moving to the west (and avoiding places like Africa and much of Asia) because they hope that their lives will worsen.

Peaceful social being is preferable to isolation and to war; this demands some sacrifice of individual impulse and idiosyncrasy.  Yes, I know this isn’t the NAP.  But without “peaceful social being,” there is no chance that a society will approach and / or remain reasonably close to a libertarian society. It requires something of each individual within that society – something that I have described as agreeing to live in a manner that accords with the generally accepted culture and traditions.

The idea of egalitarianism is folly.  I don’t think I need expand on this for this audience; in any case, I am thinking to write something on this topic in the next several days.

Borders and limits on immigration are reasonable.  He makes an interesting argument about borders: we have borders around everything – our property, our relationships, and our time (I hadn’t thought of that).  Without borders, everything mashes into untenable chaos.  As to immigration, he really put it well (paraphrased):

A complex system cannot tolerate extensive transformation over too short a time.  Arms-open-to-everyone immigration policy is rubbish.  It should not be assumed that citizens of societies that have not evolved functional individual rights-predicated polities will hold values in keeping with such polities.

[And in his dripping, sarcastic tone] Don’t assume that when they immigrate that they will have their innate democratic longings flourish.

Respecting the value of the traditional nuclear family.  It looks like that structure worked quite well for the duration of mankind, maybe we should leave it alone.

Government should leave each of us alone as much as possible.  He offers an argument similar to Hayek’s “The Pretense of Knowledge” speech. 


None really.  I know it isn’t plumb-line libertarianism, but it does support what I believe to be necessary if one wants to ever see something approaching that plumb-line libertarianism come to fruition.  Which you would think, after all, is the objective.


  1. Since we are the “leaders” of this movement toward decentralizationism, the analogy of moving toward plumb-line communism holds. The leaders of that were content stopping for 70 years or so along totalatarian control before the ideal rule by the proletariat (if I remember that stuff correctly). Yes, I’d be happy with a relatively conservative, more decentralized society. Part-and-parcel of that would be no foreign warring.

    1. Agreed.

      I am no clinical psychologist, but I have to believe that when the government advocates and makes acceptable such total violence and destruction through war, this idea that violence and murder must be OK has to trickle down to the populace - and bear fruit in their individual actions.

      Hence, individuals accept "evil" as "good." It is a concept Peterson deals with regularly, but I have never heard him apply it to the warmongering of the state.

      Not that I have heard everything he has said.

  2. Conservatives and libertarians should stop fighting until marxism is completely demoralized. That'll never happen because pot is just that important, apparently.

    1. The libertarians who place pot high on their priority list are often the same libertarians who embrace the culture destroying behaviors championed by Cultural Marxists.

      In other words, that subset of libertarians will never stop fighting with conservatives.

    2. There is a lot of common ground on pot. It should be embraced by conservatives (both political and moral) as a Constitutional issue. It took a federal amendment to prohibit alcohol; it should take the same for federal prohibition of drugs. Libertarians and conservatives should agree with this as a move toward decentralization, which gives me an excuse to re-quote an excellent point: “Liberartianism in theory is decentralization in practice.”

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. The Right in these uSA fought against foreign wars and interventions, against Progressives' liberalization of the FedGov's Constitutional limitations. The Right fought against FDR's programs but, after WW2, a split on The Right occurred because of the "necessity" to counter Communism, resulting in the splitting of Right into Conservatives and Libertarians. The Cold War and folks like William F. Buckley caused the fight. It is irreconcilable.
      Yes, legalization pot issue is a problem with the left-libertarians. Allowing foreign wars and interventions are an issue with belt-libertarians.
      No wonder Dr. Ron Paul was/is fought by certain libertarians and Conservatives.
      Then, there is the Conservative split into neo and paleo.

    5. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't even drink coffee or tea. But I also believe that it's none of my business what other people put in their bodies, so long as I'm not involved in paying for the consequences.

      I have often been amused by people who freak out about Pot but don't bat an eye at martinis and beer.

      I believe it's detrimental for a culture to concern itself with this stuff (insofar as applying government violence to the issue is concerned) as the prohibition of such things inevitably leads to terrible violence, since there will always be a market for substances that alter mind and mood.

      The Pot folks are correct on this issue but they approach it incorrectly. They should, instead, focus more on the hypocrisy and violence of substance prohibition.

      This in no way challenges cultural prohibition of these substances. I often tell people who question me about my stance: "Drug use is wrong. Shooting people for drug use is worse".

  3. If you were in charge of an intelligence operation to undermine an enemy nation and you had the opportunity to promote one of two ideas to do so, which would you promote?

    1. Collectivism
    2. Radical individualism

    Answer and give reasons.

    1. I would pretend to promote the one that would make my boss happy. While pretending that, I would promote non-interventionism. After successfully completing my operation, I'd emigrate to that nation.

    2. Both are correct. Both approaches will lead to the same result. Stable societies do not exist at either end.

    3. Jeff LeVesque,

      Why not promote radical individualism? It fits with your worldview, doesn't it?

      Your propaganda could include unilateral disarmament, and dismantling of state organs. And from a libertarian perspective you would be helping them rather than hurting them, right?

      Better dead than collectivist.

    4. "Why not promote radical individualism?"

      Because it ignores the facts that we are social creatures, and that civilization is the result of cooperation.

      "It fits with your worldview, doesn't it?"

      No. My worldview is based on what I observe, what I have learned about history and what theories ring true to me.

      Radical individualism is not supported by any of these.

      "Your propaganda could include unilateral disarmament..."

      No. I would not want to emigrate to a defenseless country.

      Do you equate non-interventionism with being defenseless?

      "...and dismantling of state organs."

      Yes, but in a logical order that would minimize social unrest.

      "And from a libertarian perspective you would be helping them rather than hurting them, right?"

      Yes. Also from a Christian perspective. Or, any non-war mongering perspective.

  4. I like the NAP on basis of its consistency, i.e. logic.

    But I have always felt that something was off.

    After listening to (a lot of) Jordan Peterson and reading quite a lot of literature on society in general (starting with The Machiavellians) I think I may have identified what felt 'odd'.

    NAP and lifeboat scenario's don't jive well. In fact, they don't jive at all. Usually lifeboat scenario's are avoided by stating that these are rare and don't need to be covered by the NAP.

    However I think that the argument that societies are in a darwinian evolutionary battle with each other is valid.

    I.e. societies are in a permanent lifeboat scenario, and hence the NAP does not apply to them.

    I am curious to know what you think of this reasoning.

    1. Yes, the NAP is logically consistent. But it is important because it is about recognizing and respecting the dignity of every person, something without which no society can remain substantially peaceful for very long. That being said, there will always be those who look to violence to get what they want. A society built on respect is not easy to maintain, but it is what most people really want, and what many are willing to work for.

  5. I'd like to see a full printed exposition of the 12 principles (Haven't viewed the full video yet). But, you know what? Peterson's 21st century conservatism might be described as---wait for it---Alt-Right. I mean, it's not traditional "corporate" or "movement" conservatism, and it's certainly not libertarianism. Soooo....

    1. Peterson places high value on the individual - not radical value, but high value. This doesn't fit well with the alt-right view unless Peterson is only referring to white individuals...which he is not.

    2. BM, the alt-right is not just for white people. It is decentralizing in that it promotes people groups, nations, to be what they are and be left to advance their own best interest and preserve their culture.
      Alt-right, in the West is pro-Western, in Japan it is pro-Japanese, in Israel it is pro-Israel, etc.
      You could say the alt-right are, in some part, Paleo-conservatives with an attitude.

    3. Jamie's correct. The Alt-Right is not a "white nationalist" movement. It respects the rights of all groups to develop and live as they choose, from La Raza to black nationalists to Zionists to Islamists, all in their own lands. The presstitute media labels the Alt-Right "white nationalist" in order to smear them as "racist". But the real crime is that the Alt-Right doesn't hate white people and doesn't advocate hating them. Their great sin is the same as those criminals who have publicly said "it's okay to be white".

    4. I guess it is fair to say that I sometimes have difficulty seeing through the fog....

    5. White Nationalism is compatible with the Alt Right however. Some WN are on the alt right, many are not.

      Traditionally White Nationalism has been conservatism + racism, or even libertarianism + racism.

    6. Disagree, Matt. "Racism" is hatred of an entire race *because* of their race. Alt-Righters don't hate any race, and in fact recognize that different races, just like different cultures, have various different strengths and weaknesses, and various different desirable and undesirable characteristics. It's called---wait for it---"diversity". (Just like individual people, come to think of it.)

    7. "Peterson's 21st century conservatism might be described as---wait for it---Alt-Right."

      The waiting came to an end quite a while ago. Peterson was accused of being alt-right immediately following his appearance on the world stage. He, in no uncertain terms, disavows him self from, and condemns the alt-right.

    8. Peterson may disavow and condemn the Alt-Right because he's accepted the MSM presstitute lies regarding the definition of the movement. Or, he may have engaged in some protective virtue-signaling toward the left. Either way, his opinions about the Alt-Right are irrelevant: If his tenets are Alt-Right, they are Alt-Right, regardless. If he wishes to disavow the Alt-Right, maybe he should stop arguing in favor of Alt-Right values. :o)

    9. This definition of the alt-right has also been a struggle for me, as I have noted earlier in this discussion. But I don't know that the blame can all be labeled on the press or whatever.

      The label is a new one, both adherents and enemies able to turn it into whatever they want.

      Someone recently posted here this list by vox day:

      It seems comprehensive. Perhaps it is the best list out there. But, can it be said that all who carry the label "alt-right" adhere to the list? I don't know, but I doubt it. There may be other "alt-right" voices with different lists.

      If one takes the list as THE list for defining the alt-right, it strikes me that Peterson would agree with most of the items, might disagree with a few, and spend a lot of time on understanding definitions of terms used within the list to ensure all people in the dialogue held the same definition in mind.

      Yes, he has disavowed the label. But, like all labels, I guess it depends on how the term is defined.

    10. In defining the Alt-Right, we start with what it's not, i.e. it's not mainstream "corporate conservatism" and it's not libertarianism. Vox Day's list incorporated both. After that, it's what DOES the Alt-Right believe in, and Day's list is pretty good, although not comprehensive and with some points being arguable. John Derbyshire---who had a long run at National Review before he was fired for being insufficiently submissive to the left (same as Steve Sailer, Pat Buchanan, and others at NR)---grappled with Vox Day's 16 Points at:

      And found he pretty much agreed with 10 of them, had minor quibbles with 5 of them, and had a major quibble with one of them. He did not outright disagree with any of them. Nor did he say any of them are entirely wrong or false. FYI.

    11. Redd,

      Which of Peterson's tenents, move him from the conservative camp, into the alt-right?

    12. Redd,

      I am using "racism" the way the media uses it, or a school or university uses it. I think most of the people that are labeled "racist" are not by the dictionary definition. I think a lot of the people that label THEMSELVES "racist" are not racists by the dictionary definition.

      John Derbyshire isn't alt right and hasn't had much influence on the alt right. Rather Derbyshire is a "racist" classical liberal. Buchanan is a populist, but also not alt right. Steve Sailer has influenced the alt right quite a bit. You could call him alt right although I don't know that he would accept the label.

      I don't object to most of Vox Day's list although I don't appreciate him trying to define the alt right conservatism + racism. To be clear, the problem in this is the conservatism, not the "racism".

    13. Jeff, stand by; I'm not ignoring you: Since you asked for an explanation on why Peterson and his ideas are alt-right vs. conservative I've been forced into watching the entire two-hour speech whilst taking notes. Will report back shortly! :o)

    14. While you're all waiting breathlessly for my report on why Prof. Peterson is Alt-Right, despite his denials to the contrary, here's a good article on why traditional conservatism is harmful, useless, and ultimately dead:

      Since the Alt-Right IS willing to confront the Left on their own terms, and given how useful conservatism has been to the ruling-classes, it's easy to see why the elites and their media presstitutes are frantic to smear the Alt-Right at the outset, before it can organize and gain traction. But traction it WILL get, because conservatism is useless (see above) and libertarianism is a toothless non-starter that aliies itself with the Left as often as it opposes them.

    15. Redd,

      I've been doing a bit of reading, trying to figure out if there is any consensus on an alt-right definition.

      The article you shared most recently, while accurate, was nothing more than a statement that the GOP and right wing media are not truly conservative (GOP) and unwilling to engage the left in any way other that talking (right wing media). It details some of their errors which dovetail nicely with BM's Friday post "The Trees".

      I think it's pretty obvious that the alt-right is not a homogeneous group. I'd like to hear what some who identify as alt-right think about this article:

      I'd also like to propose that someone can not be drafted into the service of a political movement against their will (even if they share a high percentage of values, and especially if they take serious issue with even one.)

    16. Redd and Jeff LeVesque,

      Jordan Peterson is not alt right, and not because he disavows the alt right label.

      I haven't looked much into Peterson but from what I can see he is a classical liberal that refuses to call male to female transgenders "she".

    17. Hi Matt,

      I'm not sure, but to me it seems that this man is rejecting identity politics both left and right. It is in that context that he describes himself as a "classical liberal" or even a "libertarian".

      Listen to this for instance:
      Jordan Peterson on identity politics and the evolutionary basis for xenophobia

  6. "In politics, everything revolves around the positioning of right, left, and center. You’re either rightwing, leftwing, or a centrist. Politicians and non-politicians alike employ all three terms as if there’s a consensus on the parameters for those designations. Even if this were true, who gets to determine what’s right, left, and center, and how are those determinations made? Over time, the parameters shift (always further to the left), so how is someone on the right to know he’s now a centrist or a centrist to know he’s now on the left?....

    'questions because there is no standard for these terms. The terms are completely arbitrary, defined at any given time by finite man and his fickle ethics rather than by Yahweh1 and His immutable morals....

    "Isaiah 33:22 and James 4:12 declare that Yahweh is the exclusive legislator. There are no others, period! Anyone who claims the title of legislator (particularly when his “laws”—whether commandments, statutes, or judgments—are inconsonant with Yahweh’s) is a usurper and is perpetuating the sin begun by Adam and Eve. The same is true for any one of us who would modify Yahweh’s triune law....

    "Yahweh is the only lawgiver because as Creator He’s the only one with the authority to determine what is good and evil. His morals as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments determine what is right and left. Anything left of His right(eousness) is left, liberal, and ungodly...."

    For more, see blog article "Right, Left, and Center: Who Gets to Decide?" at

  7. The point that the general flow of people is away from these countries and towards western societies is revealing. As I have stated in another post; as a rule, people move away from the more oppressive societies and towards societies with less oppression.

    As far as egalitarianism is concerned, I do believe in treating everyone the same - perhaps not the same as members of my family, but, in general, treat people with kindness - also, I think equality of opportunity is also something to strive for, although I think that ethnic quotas are an example of a twisting of equal opportunity. The place where egalitarianism really goes south is when equality of outcome is expected or forced.

    I believe the importance of self-discipline in a libertarian society is self-evident.

    I would also agree that family is the basic building block of society. I don't believe any studies have shown that people raised in alternative family structures turn out better adjusted, i.e.: less violent and resentful, than people raised in more traditional environments.

    Generally speaking, I must agree with every point that Bionic has posted here from Mr. Peterson.

  8. In regards to "respecting the value of the traditional nuclear family" and "government should leave each of us alone as much as possible," see distinguished conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet's trenchant criticism of the libertarianism of his day (as he saw it):

    "Libertarians on the other hand appear to see social and moral authority and despotic political power as elements of a single spectrum, as an unbroken continuity. If, their
    argument goes, we are to be spared Leviathan we must challenge any and all forms of authority, including those which are inseparable from the social bond. Libertarians seem to me to give less and less recognition to the very substantial difference between the coercions of, say, family, school, and local community and those of the centralized bureaucratic state. For me it is a generalization proved countless times in history that the onset of ever more extreme political-military power has for its necessary prelude the erosion and collapse of the authorities within the social bond which serve to give the individual a sense of identity and security, whose very diversity and lack of unconditional power prevents any escape-proof monopoly, and which in the aggregate are the indispensable bulwarks against the invasion of centralized political power-which of course is unconditional. But I do not often find among libertarians these days any clear recognition of the point I have just made." - Robert Nisbet, 'Conservatives and Libertarians: Uneasy Cousins'

    I think this still largely applies to many egal-libertarians who's adolescent credo is basically 'respect no authority.'

    1. I believe this description fits C4SS and Kevin Carson. To be differentiated from libertarians who do not go this far regarding voluntary hierarchy systems, but say "anything goes" (within the NAP), ignoring anything of tradition and custom.

  9. BM, I think you'll find this topic familiar.

    What is important to understand is that the Islamists and their followers work covertly in a society for decades to deceive the people and reach the top. Iran's was a meticulously planned takeover that no one saw coming. The Islamists' willingness to be patient to complete their control of the society cannot be underestimated.

    Despite openly reading about all this, many will still think it is impossible for something like this to happen in their country. What they fail to understand is that Iran is an example of exactly how successful this meticulous grab for power can be.

    Seeing these shrewd and calculating strategies, Islamists in other countries including the West are pursuing the same techniques on the path to seizing power. It is a quiet, subtle process, until the moment you wake up with no rights, a culture of fear, and no promise that you will live in freedom or even to see the next day.

  10. Here is another doozy.

    ‘Thank you, Mama Merkel’: Syrian refugee lives with 2 wives, 6 kids on benefits in Germany

    The authorities weren’t even flustered by the fact that the Syrian married his second wife, Lina, when she was just 13 years old, below Germany’s age of consent. His first wife, Betool, was 14 at the time of the marriage.

    Ahmad also has a third wife in Syria, but he told Spiegel journalists jokingly that the house needed to be bigger for her to come as well. As for the man’s plans for the future, he’s aiming for four wives and ten children.

    1. Yes, but if enough people like Ahmad come into Germany, it will soon be the first libertopia on earth.

      You really don't get it, do you Jaime.


  11. I have not followed Bionic's blog for very long (outside of, that is) so I don't know if this is an ongoing problem here but several people seem to be equating race with culture. My 2 cents is that it is never race - the problem is always culture and the way many people inside that culture leverage race to put pressure on people who wish to live differently.

    One example of this is the labeling of some black people as "Uncle Toms", simply because they wish to live in a productive, rather than a parasitical manner.

    Let's take a successful page from the socialists who change the terminology and sometimes even the meaning of well-established words to alter an argument in their favor. When we speak of cultures, let's not say that a culture is Black, Muslim, Latino, White, etc. Let's, instead, identify the most prominent trait, whether desirable or undesirable, and use that as a label - that will undermine our enemies' arguments and permit us to more fully center our discussions on the issues.

    1. I can add nothing at this time, I'm afraid to your call for an alternative labeling regime, but as for race vs culture: dead right. It is a big deal. The left will always conflate the two to smear honest "culture warriors" like me. Ironically, I'm the exact OPPOSITE of racist, as you are.

    2. Hi WB,

      Perhaps the heart of the matter is "nationhood" as we on the other side of the Atlantic divide understand it (or should I say understood it?). Over here, belonging to a nation implicitly means belonging to a certain ethnic group. But the latter isn't, or shouldn't be, that relevant for it is far too generic. For instance, belonging as I do to the Dutch nation means that I'm white, yes. But Germans are also white. We don't belong to the German nation and don't care to. Same goes for the French nation. They are white, yes, but who cares? They're different in outlook and customs which is fine. Vive la difference!"

      Even within a tiny little nation like the Dutch one, we only occasionally feel as one when we compare ourselves to foreign nations. But internally we feel more attached to our different provinces/regions all with recognizably different dialects and customs. Cultural decentralization, so to speak ;)

      Now the situation is perhaps somewhat different in what has been called a "proposition nation," like the US. Race might be more of an issue there, because it isn't an implicit given, like with the Dutch nation. Has the US "nation" ever been one in the sense that the Dutch, French, German, English have been? Doubt it. Not today, that's for sure.

      The difference might be that the tendency to identify nationhood with race is understandably greater in the US. Having said that, this unfortunate tendency is also spreading in European nations, primarily because of the orchestrated mass influx of a foreign and openly hostile cult(ure).

      Kind regs from Amsterdam,

    3. I enjoyed this post Richard. Being married to a Swiss, and knowing how dialects in Switzerland may vary from village to village, what you say rings true. Thank you. Regards from Peggy in Oregon.

    4. Hi Peggy,

      You're welcome. Here's a lovely example of a vibrant local community in Switzerland. They threw out a Dutch vegan activist for being too annoying.

      That's the way it should be!

      Of course now we're afraid that she might decide to come back to us in Woodenshoesland ;)

  12. I was listening to ThaddeusRussell go on about the nuclear family the other day (something he opposes as an assumed good) and the commentary was suggesting that the nuclear family is a product of capitalism, and prior to it, families were extended and close, but not "nuclear". It begs the question of what is the widely accepted definition, but he was clearly saying it implies father, mother, and children. The old world family of aunts uncles grandparents cousins etc., all in the same locale was outside his definition.

    I'm hadn't heard this before, and it doesn't seem to be your use.

    1. It is not clear to me what you are asking. The definition of a nuclear family is clear, I believe: two parents (most would say married; most would say male and female) and their children. An extended family would include aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc.

  13. They were suggesting the nuclear family as you describe it is a product of laissez passer capitalism in the modern era. The idea was that pre-modern families were extended and local, because no one ever really left home. So he does not consider premodern family to be the nuclear family.

    I'm curious if you accept that argument and if so how does it affect your above statement stressing the importance of the nuclear family for all time.

    The next part of the question would be, or are you just protecting the idea of two parents, male and female, against the encroaching norm of single parent or same sex parent upbringing of children?

    1. Patrick, historically the family has been the most decentralized institution of governance; historically this has been a (male) father and a (female) mother, along with their children.

      If this unit also includes grandparents, cousins, whatever, I am indifferent - it is their business.

      That there would also be single parents or same-sex parents is certain; that this type of family would provide defense against ever-expanding centralizing government is less certain - in fact I would say highly unlikely.

    2. I agree. I wonder how to argue with the likes of Russell about the nuclear family that he has such a problem with. It is unclear to me how he views it through time. I have appreciation for his outlook, but he is definitely closer to a left-libertarian than myself. I'm curious if there's more to this nuclear family question, I guess.