Friday, April 15, 2016

The Constitutional Makeup of Libertarianism

Bionic, do you believe that Libertarianism is constitutionally right wing (Hoppe), left wing (Anthony Gregory), or neither (Block)?

I have read a good amount of Hoppe and Block, not enough of Gregory.  However, for the left I will answer based on what I have read and considered from several other left-libertarians.

Libertarian theory is thin – in your terms, “neither.”  It is the non-aggression principle (NAP) – do not initiate aggression.  It is nothing more than this.  On this, I am certain Block agrees; I am almost as sure that Hoppe agrees (some are screaming at me now for writing this about Hoppe; I say “patience”).  From the left-libertarians I have read, I would say it is a mixed bag – some seem to want libertarian theory to be much more than this.

Within this “thin” theory, there is room for all types – stretching from traditional (family, religious, etc.) to as far out as one wants to tread (alternative lifestyles, drugs of any type, prostitution, etc.) – as long as one does not violate the NAP.  This does not mean, in my opinion, that any theoretically acceptable choice is also conducive for moving toward and sustaining a libertarian political reality.

And this is where Hoppe comes in.  Hoppe has it right, I very much believe, when it comes to considering the conditions under-which libertarianism can develop, survive and thrive.  I do not read him as trying to expand the meaning of libertarianism; I read him as describing the environment necessary for libertarianism to survive and thrive.

I have written much about this (as you know), but summarize here: there will be governance of some sort; the traditional family and kinship models have served this function from the beginning of recorded history; these models also offer the most decentralized examples of governance in recorded history.  Therefore one might consider that cultures that value traditional family and kinship are more conducive to developing and sustaining a libertarian political order by avoiding the necessity or desire to introduce artificial, centralizing, governance institutions.

Left-libertarians I have read (Sheldon Richman, Jeff Tucker, and Kevin Carson, among others) hold to views that include (and I do not attribute all of the following to each of them or any of them – just that I have read these from many who describe themselves or otherwise write as “left-libertarian”): we should be happy for gay marriage, we must serve any customer who walks in our store, there should be no hierarchical institutions of any type, libertarianism should be something more than the NAP, etc. 

In other words: a combination of leftist, communist, and anarchist (in the bad sense of the term) views to go along with faulty libertarian logic.  Many of these views cannot be considered libertarian in any sense, although this is not true for all of these views.

While it is true that thin libertarianism does not speak against gay marriage (as one of dozens of examples), it does not follow that such a condition is therefore conducive to furthering libertarianism.  I do not intend to dive into this further now – I have written enough about my view of the necessity of traditional family structures as a defense against calls for (or even the need for) governance by centralizing institutions.

There are common philosophical roots, however, for all parties: left, thin, and right.  I will not go into detail here.  If you are interested, here is an extensive post on this topic – mostly examining the roots of Kevin Carson’s left-libertarianism, but also finding in his views roots also common to Rothbard.  To make a long story short, they both find reason to lean on Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker.  If I recall correctly, I believe this is where Rothbard’s “anarcho” portion of anarcho-capitalism came from – these common roots.

Carson also leans on others who are common to communism.  Here is a further post examining the commonality between his views and communism (in the form of Antonio Gramsci).  To make a long story short, both want to destroy culture in order to usher in their version of heaven on earth.  For this reason, it seems to me that cultural Gramsci-ism is a more accurate term than cultural Marxism (as their approaches to usher in a communist world were quite different, to my understanding; I don’t believe Marx addressed culture – at least not as a priority as did Gramsci).

What is libertarianism, constitutionally: left, thin, or right?  The theory is thin, but…. To make a long story short, I don’t know if libertarianism can mature beyond its current state – move toward understanding and accepting that a) application in this world requires considering the humanness of humans, and b) there will always be some form of governance (which, I guess, is a subset of a)). 

The dialogue may never move past this – it may be an unavoidable consequence of holding to a beautifully simple political philosophy – one so beautiful because it has non-aggression at its core; something to be found in every major religion on earth.  The dialogue might not move past this because there are those who want to bury the name.  This seems to be the case for institutions affiliated with the beltway.

There need not be conflict even in this – in a libertarian world of ten-thousand communities, each community is free to determine its own conditions for entering and remaining; a libertarian world will certainly have many communities with very non-libertarian conditions – discrimination and exclusion being a natural outcome of respect for private property. 

As long as the number of options is in the thousands (city-states, homeowners associations), everyone should be able to find a place that they can call home.  This is why I always favor secession and decentralization – it can only increase the number of choices.

In any case, the dialogue certainly won’t move past its current state unless someone writes it.  In this, Hoppe (and Rockwell and others) has done tremendous work.

Should the name “libertarianism” be changed to reflect something more focused on property and perhaps even to include a cultural aspect?  I think not.  Every term that comes close to depicting anything associated with liberty, freedom, classical liberalism, etc., has been diluted and changed.  It is easier to defend an existing brand than to create a new one out of whole cloth – a new one that will only be diluted and co-opted as well.

In the meantime, there is much common ground: on the most important issue, military interventionism and the over-reach of the police state, many of the left, thin, and right are very much on the same page.  It is one reason I spend much time in this sandbox.


  1. Very clear write up BM. I embarrassed that I made a spelling error but it is sort of funny when you consider spell check does not contain "libertarianism" (wonder why...).

    Rothbard from Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty-

    " For the libertarian, the main task of the present epoch is to cast off his needless and debilitating pessimism, to set his sights on long-run victory and to set about the road to its attainment. To do this, he must, perhaps first of all, drastically realign his mistaken view of the ideological spectrum; he must discover who his friends and natural allies are, and above all perhaps, who his enemies are."

    Rothbard understood the importance of friend and enemy distinctions in politics.

    "military interventionism and the over-reach of the police state, many of the left, thin, and right are very much on the same page"

    While there may appear to be agreement on these issues the sort of society envisioned by the two poles is radically different. I don't think you can make peace with leftists for any long term political struggle. Rothbard figured that out about the New Left. Better to treat your enemy as an enemy than pretend you are friends.

    Thick libertarianism is completely essential if libertarians want to achieve any long term success. This is the domain of metapolitics, or setting the stage for future politics, and it is done through culture.

    So who are the natural allies of the libertarians? It is the people supportive of the necessary metapolitical conditions for libertarianism (not necessarily in favor of libertarianism itself). What are these conditions? In my opinion they are right-wing anti-degeneracy, pro-traditionalist views.

    The upcoming right-wing American political movement is going to be America First 2.0, and this is where libertarians need to be. They need to support Nationalism in Europe, and isolationism in the U.S. Justin Raimondo is by far the best libertarian on these issues.

    What needs to be accomplished is breaking the cultural hegemony of the left (Gramsci). This is done by giving no ground to left on cultural issues.

    "it seems to me that cultural Gramsci-ism is a more accurate term than cultural Marxism (as their approaches to usher in a communist world were quite different, to my understanding; I don’t believe Marx addressed culture – at least not as a priority as did Gramsci). "

    While it is true that Gramsci wrote alot about culture, the culture Marxism of the Frankfurt School is far more influential. Gramsci argued for cultural hegemony, while the Frankfurt School created it.

    The left, (really the right from a status quo-revolutionary paradigm), is based on cultural marxism. This is why as Rothbard said,"the embrace of left-anarchy is the embrace of death."

    Crush Cultural Marxism. Go right young Libertarian.

    1. Unhappy, don't be embarrassed. I am never sure if I should clean these up before any case, I go over what I write several times before I post; after I publish something (or worse, when it is published elsewhere, like LRC) I always find something embarrassing.... It just goes with writing, I guess.

      As to the rest of your comments, much to consider - and I will.

    2. Thanks man. For future reference please go ahead and fix my spelling errors if you put it up on the main article.

    3. A dissenting view: libertarians should seek to win over converts from both Left and Right, rather than ally with one or the other group exclusively. We understand that both Right and Left are flawed. I think we can reach both of them, but with different tactics.

      Many on the Left seem to be motivated by a dream, a beautiful vision of the future which we know cannot be. They think our vision is ugly and refuse to accept it. But it's not ugly at all. The Left are primed to think positively of personal freedom, peace, and prosperity for the common man, which of course are all part of libertarian vision as well.

      Those on the Right, I think, would respond positively to our emphasis on justice, private property, political liberty and personal responsibility.

      Igor Karbinovskiy

    4. Igor,

      I believe you are misunderstanding my position. I don't think that its libertarians who need to "win over converts from both Left and Right," but the Right that needs to win over people from Libertarianism and the Left.

      Of course I don't mean what has passed for the Right in the U.S or Europe, but the New Right. The nationalist identitarian right.

      You also seem to have missed my main argument regarding Libertarians and the Left. Appealing to leftists on their terms means giving ground to the ruling ideological superstructure of Cultural Marxism, Totalitarian Humanism, and Individualist Hedonism.

      Libertarians frequently make the mistake of thinking that they are going to persuade enough people that their philosophy is correct and that is how they will win the future. This is suicidal, and makes me think libertarians don't actually want to take back their countries. Demographic trends are not in our favor.

      If you guys want to hang on to your libertarian doctrines that is all well and good(I too value private property), but we need to work together against the left. Crush the left.

  2. "Should the name “libertarianism” be changed to reflect something more focused on property and perhaps even to include a cultural aspect? I think not. Every term that comes close to depicting anything associated with liberty, freedom, classical liberalism, etc., has been diluted and changed. It is easier to defend an existing brand than to create a new one out of whole cloth – a new one that will only be diluted and co-opted as well."

    I am not sure if the words freedom and liberty were diluted just interpreted in a more radical way, specifically in a degenerate and anti-social way. Essentially it is the libertinism of Marquis de Sade. No gods no master, no higher order or hierarchy of values. Liberty cannot be the highest value because it is means and not an end. This sort of language caters to the left and has its roots in the French Revolution.

    In order to achieve a society with minimal external governance you need internal governance. People need to be able to restrain their desires and not behave like animals.

    In fact, in an Aristotelean sense the only way for a man to be free is to behave how he should behave. Modernity makes freedom a very dangerous word to throw around because it leads to total moral chaos.

    Libertarians are trying to wrestle with modernity by using enlightenment philosophy and it shouldn't be surprising that they don't get anywhere since it was enlightenment philosophy that led to modernity in the first place. There needs to be a metaphysical justification behind society to avoid slipping into nihilism and relativism.

    For a good lecture series on the philosophical dimensions of modernity see:

    Roderick discusses two very important figures from the Frankfurt School, Marcuse and Habermas, as well as my personal favorite 20th century philosopher Heidegger. He shows very clearly the philosophical context that allowed for the Frankfurt School to flourish.

    We have to attack the roots of our problems which are found in enlightenment philosophy (liberalism included) and modernity. Of course I don't think we can turn the clock back to pre-modern times but we have to move past it in the vein of Heidegger and Nietzsche.

  3. Anonimous gay friendly

    Who believe that gay marriage is a good thing, dosen't believe this because of a negative view of traditional family or eterosexuality. They see in gay marriage an example of freedom to associate, freedom to choose sexual partners, freedom to be themselves, freedom of expression, etc.. To make a long story short individual freedom. This not imply anything more: not that gay are superiors to not gay, not that eterosexuality is wrong in someway, not that traditional family is not good, not that traditional family and etrosexuality are enemy to freedom.. To be gay, to have gay relations, to have stable gay relations, to share life with someone of the same sex, is not in any way an aggression to eterosexuality, to traditional family, ad in fact is not an aggression on anyone or anything. From the fact that A is gay and have a gay stable relation of love with someone with whom share his life, B is not touched in his beeing etero, and having an etero stable relation with someone Who love and with whom share his life. Eterosexuality is the norm and will forever be. This idiotic war between etero and gay is nonsense. To support traditional family there is no need to adverse gay people and gay marriage. The problem is state marriage. I oppose state marriage for everyone, also fo gay people, but i'm no so blind to not see that gay state marriage is recent and smaller problem comparse to etero state marriage and that the first derive from the second in the sense that is an extension of the same convinction that human relations, family, sexuality, etc..m.. must be managed by states. An other problem is with Hoppe, not because he is fan of eterosexual traditional family, but of his contempt for gay. He seems to hate gay, he wage war against them, this is what show trough his writing. He paint them as scum, as enemy of civilization, as dangerous is for liberty, as garbage and he is always in search of a way to say that gay and libertarianism are opponents. His intollerance blind him. And that is in an example of how also a very right and conservative mentality can be a threat to freedom.

  4. Anon Poof,

    BM's article only briefly mentioned homosexuality and yet you made that the focus of your diatribe. You prove the point that homosexuals and their enablers are unable to just mind their own business and freely associate with each other privately. Instead they need to be included in social institutions and their behavior normalized, as if sexual deviancy and hedonism are somehow equal to traditional families and sex between husband and wife.

    As to Hoppe, how do you know he is motivated by "hate"? Could it maybe be that he correctly understands that their is nothing positive to be gained from embracing homosexuality? In Hoppe's terms civilization requires low time-preference behavior and gays tend to have very high time preference. They are inclined towards promiscuity and party lifestyles, and they do not have children. Therefore we can expect them to be less interested in preserving the social order and capital for future generations. Keynes is perfect example of the sort of policy that is created by homosexuals.

    I will say that I agree somewhat with James O'Meara's thesis that homosexuals can play a positive role as outsider artists. There have been plenty of these throughout history, however John Waters is not one of them. He is a garbage human being and smut peddler who still thinks gays are a persecuted minority.

    "And that is in an example of how also a very right and conservative mentality can be a threat to freedom."

    Like the freedom of men to go in girls bathrooms? Like the freedom of homosexuals to prey upon young boys? The freedom to spread aids?

    Why don't we just agree on the freedom of communities and businesses to exclude these people, and the homos can go make their own communities.

    1. Another anonimous

      We can always agree the freedom to exclude for everyone. But hoppe tell us that we must exlude gay. This at a community level. We must not therefore let people Free to have phisical sexual spiritual and love relation as they desire. I don't think that hoppe is referring to a Free market or to ancap. Not every volountary community is ipso facto ancap. A community that abolish individual freedom in sex love relations is unlibertarian. You can do what you want in your home shop Church business but in a community of millions as a city you can't seriously think to control people relations and personal lifes so much and try to sell this as libertarian order. It will be more like talebanian order.

    2. Hoppe doesn't demand that you do anything. He just predict that the kinds of degenerates that demand men have access to female change rooms are not liberty minded people. I agree with Hoppe. You disagree with Hoppe. Then lets agree apart. Far apart.

      Perhaps Wenzel's Private Property Society is more to your liking. It allows sexual molestation of children, has no criminal penalties for that as long as it happens on private property.

    3. that comment is proof that your are a dangerous sad mad man.

    4. Another anonimous

      @Matthew.. WTF have molestation of children anything to do with liberty in love and sex relation between human? Hoppe demand ban for homosexual. To be homo doesn't imply to molest children. And a homosexual is not a "degenrate". Is simply a person who love people of his same gender. A little part, in every time, in every society, of us is homosexual. So? Who care? Let gay free as any other man and woman.

      To molest children is something horrible that sometimes man - homo or etero - do. Is a crime and must be punished obviously. But to be gay doesn't imply to be a molester.

      Justin Raimondo, leading libertarian, scholar and friend with Rothbard, is gay. And so? is he a degenerate? a molester? No! He is a moral person, who from many many years fight for libertarianism. He build Antiwar! In a libertarian order I want Raimondo more than you. You can go with your kind of intolerants, and I will go with people like Raimondo.

      You, and Hoppe - that for you is clearly a star - are example of a right type of LINO. You are not a liberty minded people to.

      And for the bathroom.. in a libertarian order there isn't a state that make a law on bathroom. You can go in a toilet if the owner let you go. And this is the end. The entire male/female toilet problem is nothing. The man who demand the right to go in a female toilet, enforced by the state, is a mad man. The problem is not not with his sexuality, but with his statalism. But the man who demand a specific prohibition to go in a toilet, enforced by the state, is mad too. Respect for private property must be the only law. If a bar or a shop wants to try mixed toilets, or any other "toilet regulation", yust let it do as it want. Is private property: if you don't like go elsewhere.

      Many years before any request of state gay marriage, there was etero state marriage. Is etero state marriage that open the way for gay state marriage, becouse to have an etero state marriage is to ratify that state regulate human love/sex relations. You have to fight etero that are 99% not gay, if you are really an enemy of the state. But you are only one who complain about gay and bathroom.

    5. Lol. Nothing about your comment Anon makes me think you are are interested in communities of any kind. What you are describing is fundamentally anti-social. Even some homosexuals understand the dangers posed to traditional society by normalizing degenerate sexual practices.

      Unfortunately your attitude is typical of a a lot of libertarians. Which makes it seem like an infantile ideology. You just don't want any restrictions on your gratification. It is no different than women obsessed with abortion, it is fundamentally reducible to the rejection of personal responsibility and temperance.

      If libertarians want to be ambassadors of a society with minimal external government they should actively distance themselves from libertines like Anon. However, it may be that Anon's libertinism has more curb appeal than BM's libertarianism (no offense BM, I am sure you can tell which I prefer).

    6. I believe this conversation has run its course. Libertarian theory and private property fully allow for discrimination by the property owner. The rest of this conversation is turning ugly and I don't want it here.