Friday, April 22, 2016

The Moral Foundations of the Modern Social Order

I have taken the title from a line in When Money Fails, by Gary North:

Wilhelm Röpke was not the most technically competent free market economist of our time, but he was the most accurate one. He was the one economist in the free market tradition who has forthrightly acknowledged that social theory is broader than economic theory. Economics is a subset of social theory, not the other way around. Röpke spent a great deal of time thinking about the moral foundations of the modern social order.

The issue being addressed is economic, the division of labor society:

This is not a technical issue; it is a moral issue. The division of labor did not increase in the West apart from the West's social and moral order.

North’s piece is focused on the moral and legal framework that makes the division of labor possible.  I intend to move in a slightly different direction. 

North cites Röpke; the subject work is Röpke’s International Economic Disintegration.  Röpke wrote the book in the late 1930s, published in 1942.  I will focus on Chapter V, beginning page 67 in the embedded PDF:

THE problem to be discussed here is deemed so important, that it should be used as the starting point of any causal analysis of the present disintegration of world economy worthy of the name.

In reading both North and Röpke, it seems to me the discussion could also be applied to the social order much more broadly defined.  Chapter V is entitled “THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EXTRA-ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK FOR THE WORKING OF THE ECONOMIC PROCESS.”  I will propose considering it in the following context:


As has been remarked earlier, no one will seriously dispute that this traditional spirit of economic science was, and still is, largely coloured by belief in not only the sociological autonomy, but also the sociologically regulating influence of the market economy.

Röpke suggests that a robust market economy cannot survive or thrive absent a framework that is found outside of pure economic science – a market economy cannot function in just any social environment.  One might consider: can the NAP properly function autonomously, without consideration of the broader social framework?

If the answer is yes, then anything goes – the libertines and the dreamers are right.  If the answer is no, one might decide to take Hoppe more seriously when considering the NAP.

Implicitly and explicitly, it was and still is held that a market economy based on competition and essentially unhampered by any agency outside the competitive market is an ordre naturel which, once freed from all impediments, is able to stand indefinitely on its own feet…

Thus the competitive market appeared to be a "philosopher's stone," which turned the base metal of callous business sentiments into the pure gold of common welfare and solidarity…

With government (as we know it today) out of the way, is it reasonable to expect that a libertarian order would blossom out of the remains – without any other changes or requirements?  Could the libertarian order stand “on its own feet”…“once freed from all impediments”? 

If yes, score one for the libertines and dreamers; if no, Hoppe gets a shout.

So far the competitive market economy was considered sociologically autonomous: it needed no special laws, no special state or special society, required neither a special morality nor any other irrational and extra-economic forces and sentiments.

Can a libertarian society survive and thrive under any conditions, without a “special society” or a “special morality” or any other “forces and sentiments” outside of the NAP?  If it can, the libertines and dreamers are correct.  If it cannot…well, you know.

Rarely or never was this belief stated so crudely, but surely few will to-day deny that the general tendency of the liberal philosophy ran—and in some quarters still runs—in this direction.

This is also the general tendency of those who believe a libertarian society can survive and thrive under any social or moral framework.  Maybe they are right, maybe not.

Far from consuming and being dependent on socio-political integration from outside the economic sphere, the competitive market economy produces it—or so runs the argument.

Does the NAP produce an orderly society, or are certain conditions within society necessary pre-conditions for the NAP?  As to economics, Röpke suggests that certain conditions are necessary pre-conditions:

If views like these were ever held at all, it has become obviously impossible to continue to hold them to-day. …we are forced emphatically to deny that this order is anything like an ordre naturel independent of the extra-economic framework of moral, political, legal and institutional conditions…

The world around us tells us that achieving a society grounded in the NAP is far more difficult and far more complicated than achieving a relatively sophisticated division-of-labor economy.  To open one’s eyes is to see this reality.  If extra-economic moral and institutional conditions are necessary for the proper functioning of the relatively simple division-of-labor economy, how much more true must it be for achieving a society that respects the non-aggression principle?

…it is highly doubtful…that economic integration can be sufficiently relied upon to produce automatically the degree of socio-political integration it requires.

The chicken or the egg?  Does this question apply also to consideration of the NAP in a broader social context?

Röpke offers his view:

…it would be a great mistake to think that that would make the market system an ethically neutral sphere. On the contrary, it is a highly sensitive artefact of occidental civilization, with all the latter's ingredients of Christian and pre-Christian morality and its secularized forms…

Before jumping on me or Röpke, note that he includes “its secularized forms.”


It is difficult to imagine how the leading thinkers of former generations could have been more or less blind to this fundamental truth, which seems so obvious and even trivial to us to-day.

Are Röpke’s thoughts regarding the division-of-labor economy equally applicable to the libertarian political order and to some of the “leading [and not-so-leading] thinkers” of this school? 

I just wonder….


  1. Good write up.

    Wenzel is in the libertine/dreamer camp of believing that simply having the NAP would produce a society of liberty minded people that respect liberty, even if the constituent population were radical muslims, statists, leftists, and so on. I believe him to be incorrect, and I can demonstrate it by showing that different people have different ideas about what constitutes a violation of the NAP.

    For example, Robert Wenzel has radical ideas about IP that I have never heard anywhere else. Wenzel believes that the right to Intellectual Property Rights are perpetual and eternal - not just for Wenzel's lifetime, but forever. He also says that people not respecting these claimed IP rights are violating the NAP. Given that this view of IP is not held by ANYONE that I have ever heard of, how is it that the NAP is suddenly going to change what people think about IP and have it match what Wenzel thinks? It won't happen. We all know that.

    That's not even going into the fact the IP rights are a social construct. Also not going into asking in an anarcho-capitalist society who is expected to enforce the social construct of IP rights.

    What about slant drilling for oil. Walter Block claims that it is OK under anarcho-capitalism, and the slant driller has a property right under homesteading precedents. But in Texas slant drilling is considered so bad that it can get you shot. If people can't agree who owns what, how can the NAP be respected?

    In the anarcho-capitalist society that includes radical muslims blasphemy against Mohammed or Allah would be considered an NAP violation by the Muslims living there, even if it happened on private property. How is the NAP going to turn muslims into non-muslims?

    In a previous thread there was a person that was saying that anarcho-capitalist communities that formed for the purpose of excluding homosexuals and transexuals from their communities were violating the NAP. If we can't agree that freedom of association is not a violation of the NAP then how it is possible that 'the NAP', the meaning of which cannot be agreed upon by individual members of an anarcho-capitalist community, can lead to liberty? My answer is that it cannot.

    Moreover, the issue is settled and has been settled for quite some time. The onus is on these people making various claims for the NAP to offer proof of their assertions. At a minimum they should explain how exactly an anarcho-capitalist society wouldn't instantly be swallowed by a neighboring statist entity.

    1. Let's suppose an an-cap/common law society that sprung up.
      People would generally - in purchasing their Molinari-style security insurance - fund entities dedicated to preventing the restoration of the state mafia.
      The enforcement of religious ideals outside temples, for example, would require the whole monopoly uniform and court system we now have.
      I, for one, would pay good money to prevent the return of that.

    2. This is something that has been covered here many times before.

      Private defense agencies are just pseudo state entities. It is only called 'private' but as statist entities they fulfill a statist role in society. These 'private agencies' will engage in state formation, ending the ancap experiment. The problem of free riding guarantees it.

      Even if the private defense agencies could work (they couldn't but for arguments sake) they wouldn't mitigate the problems that I describe above. ISIS as a 'private defense agency' in an ancap society? Its a possibility, right? Your rights won't be worth a damn.

  2. "One might consider: can the NAP properly function autonomously, without consideration of the broader social framework?"

    And interestingly, both Hoppe and Roderick, suggest the same answer even though they hold different cultural outlooks...

    Yet another excellent piece of work BM. Kudos.

  3. Replies
    1. Nick

      Can you point me to something from Long where he offers his view on this, please?

    2. You might be interested in this BM if you haven't seen it:

    3. "Unhappy Conservative" supplied a great link, I listened to that debate when it first came out and Long's first 5 minute summary is pretty good.

      Here's is another I found as these debates were a bit more hot and I didn't have time to read more extensively:

      My favorite paragraph from the above link that relates to your work in this write up is:

      "But the NAP is also fairly abstract, and there are different ways of rendering it more concrete. A variety of moral considerations, some consequentialist, constrain the ways in which its generality can reasonably be specified. The contours of what counts as aggression are not infinitely malleable; but absent the contribution of further values (which, as David Gordon notes, can include convention) they are not infinitely specific either."

      In citing the above, I feel obligated to note that I culturally lean far more towards Hoppe than Long, but I can acknoledge that Long makes a reasonable and logically sound argument for "cultural norms" impacting the interpretation(and boundaries) of the NAP.

      This was a revelation to me as you've noted before in the context that I always assumed it was reasonable to assume that the NAP could also be broken down solely on objective levels. (which would be nice, but alas I now think unrealistic)

  4. Good one BM.

    A few points.

    It is not only a hypothetical libertarian society that needs certain preconditions in order to function, but any given society. The preconditions change with the particular but are always going to come back to the kinds of people you have living among you.

    To pull out a liberal cliche, government rests on the consent of the governed. Or if people refused to pay taxes there would likely be a collapse.

    For the dreamer's libertarian society you might re frame this as libertarian utopia rests on the general acceptance of the NAP.

    From there you ask what kinds of people are most likely to accept the NAP and what will they understand it to mean?

    I believe libertarianism would make more sense if it had in mind a specific population to where their ideas would apply. Otherwise you have to start from scratch with a legal order in search of a social order. Which is unlikely to ever pan out.

    For a change of pace let me attack the thin libertarians like Wenzel who aren't full bore Cultural Marxists.

    It is common among many libertarians to think that income inequality does not matter and while I understand the assumptions they are operating under they are wrong, if for no other reason than income inequality (as a subjective condition) leads to class resentment, which in turn can lead to class conflict or revolution. So even if you achieved the necessary preconditions to form such a society their are conditions necessary to keep it.

    1. If I may be so bold as to speak for Wenzel and other thin libertarians, income inequality does matter if it is occasioned by rigged markets, i.e., crony capitalism, licensing schemes, de jure monopolies, de jure duopolies, de jure oligopolies, the monopolization of the means of exchange and the like.

      For a true thin libertarian, inequality of income borne of merit is another thing altogether. I am still looking for an example of this leading to revolution.

    2. Were not the revolutions in France, Russia, and Germany not in part the result of class resentment and class conflict? Is it not true that Marxism appealed to the underclasses for this exact reason?

      It really doesn't matter if these disparities are legitimate or illegitimate by your understanding. The fact that wealth inequality is not an issue for libertarians demonstrates their narrowly conceived view of society.

      Envy and resentment are a part of human nature, failure to deal with them in social theory, beyond simply saying that if we had free markets there would be no cause to complain, strikes me as asinine (since make no mistake about it, people will complain).

      To tie this in with BM's article, the point is that libertarian theory is not enough to build a stable and functioning social order, and if libertarians are going to consciously ignore problems like class resentment then it may be that libertarianism is ultimately an anti-social philosophy as presently conceived.

    3. The revolutions in France, Germany, and Russia may have been lead by men who argued that class resentment and class conflict were the reasons for such revolutions. In reality, the revolutions were lead by men who thirsted for power and were prepared to engage in mass murder if it meant they could seize and retain power. The Lenins, the Stalins, the Marats et al demonstrate that it is power and the willingness to mass murder that cause those "revolutions".

      Let us not ignore history. Those revolutions were not caused by free and unfettered markets.

      The income inequality in France under the Louis (plural) and in Czarist Russia was occasioned by some of the rigged structures I mentioned above and more. The income inequality was not a product of the cream rising to the top.

      As for Germany, are you referring to the failed revolution of 1848 or the emergence of the Weimar Republic after WWI?

      Whether income inequality exists because of crony capitalism, licensing schemes and other de jure barriers to entry as well as other de jure impediments to free and unfettered markets or by virtue of merit, does matter and that distinction is also part of human nature.

    4. Peasants do not care about your economic theories on how wealth is legitimately acquired. Especially not third world peasants.

      If free-markets would lead to contentment then why do people argue for socialism? Why would unions prefer protectionism?

      "The income inequality was not a product of the cream rising to the top."

      Do you believe that the people who are able to make the most money are in fact the best people? Certainly they are the best at making money, but how about other more important values?

    5. Peasants may not care about my economic theories on how wealth is acquired or those of Rothbard or North or Hoppe or yourself. But they probably do not care about what Marx or Keynes or Krugman or Obama have to say on the subject as well.

      Nevertheless, you appear to be dismissing the proposition that some people do care about how wealth is acquired. It is a truth I find to be self-evident and if you are honest with yourself you will acknowledge the same. Does it make a difference to you? Do you have more admiration for the guy who made a fortunate making a good or providing a service upon a voluntary basis (not through a government contract or selling a good or service mandated by the state) than from a rent seeking crony capitalist?

      Freer markets do lead to more contentment than less free markets. Surely, you do not doubt that as a general truism. For example, throughout the 20th century, were not more people content in the US than in either the USSR or China?

      How does one measure contentment? One measure might be the amount and variety of fresh produce available in supermarkets. Using that as a metric, people in the US were certainly more content than the people in the USSR or China during the 20th century.

      Of course, at no time during the 20th century was America ancap heaven. It wasn't. You mention unions. Their very existence create spectacular misallocations of wealth which in turn causes discontentment.

      The income tax is another example of a phenomenon that has cause spectacular misallocations of wealth. One such misallocation is the flow of money into the hands of accounting firms, CPAs, compliance departments, HR departments, life insurance companies and let's not forget the lawyers. That, I agree, leads to discontentment.

      Don't get me wrong, you do raise important points and its not as if I can simply brush away your questions about discontentment. Would you accept that some people express discontent in a manner that might actually be contradictory to other positions they hold? Cognitive dissonance is also part of the human condition. Take an exceptional public school teacher who vigorously supports her local union along with the NEA. Let's posit that she genuinely cares about education for all students. Obviously, extended to its logical ends, this attitude would necessarily require an end to tenure - and a collision course with her commitment to teachers' unions.

      Regarding France and Russia, they were monarchies that featured very little in the way of free and unfettered markets.

      No, I do not generally think that the people who are able to make the most money are, in fact, the best people. Some of those people may not actually be the best at making money if we are talking about rigged markets.

      I agree that making money is not the most important value.

    6. "you appear to be dismissing the proposition that some people do care about how wealth is acquired"

      I can see how I may have given that impression. I would not dismiss it and I think you and I would be more or less in agreement on the question.

      My point is that perception is more important than reality and only a small percentage of the population is even capable of understanding these arguments which is why the central banks have gotten away with bamboozling us for so long.

      I absolutely have more admiration for an honest businessman than a crony.

      Contentment is relative to human desire. Human desire is without end so discontent and envy are also without end. In fact these are questions that in my opinion need be addressed from a spiritual point of view. Within the context of raw materialism there is no solution, and you end up with Brave New World- the need to order society to arrange for maximum contentment usually achieved through chemicals and entertainment (the feelies).

      My point is that a just economic order does not mean a stable social order, and an unstable social order will jeopardize a just economic order.

      " Take an exceptional public school teacher who vigorously supports her local union along with the NEA. Let's posit that she genuinely cares about education for all students. Obviously, extended to its logical ends, this attitude would necessarily require an end to tenure - and a collision course with her commitment to teachers' unions."

      This is an interesting point and I can't say I disagree. If anything this speaks to my argument. People do not always know what is best, even for themselves. Mises used the phrase "rightly understood interests," which always made me lol.

      Another example in this vein would be loose credit. Ellen Brown would like to use central banking and fiat money to benefit the underclasses. We both know this is a terrible idea because you are going to create more monetary chaos and end up hurting the people you want to help. Bernie Sanders supporters also provide endless examples of this.

      Obviously this is the real domain of economics. Explaining in positive terms the results of any given policy so that we can understand who is helped and who is hurt.

      "Regarding France and Russia, they were monarchies that featured very little in the way of free and unfettered markets."

      True, but again my argument is that it was the discontentment and perceptions of the underclasses (as well as empty bellies) that were exploited by revolutionaries.

      I believe that part of the reason for the welfare-state under Bismarck was to mitigate class conflict and resentment in order to stave off socialist agitation.

      I generally support free markets but I think there should be limits. If you imagine a scenario where society A has pure free markets and society B has crony capitalism. What is to stop someone like George Soros getting rich in society B, taking his money over to society A and spending to advance his weird garbage in both locations?

      The international capitalists will rule and we will be at mercy of their sick desires.

    7. George Soros deserves to be a subject all by himself. People assume that capitalists are just out there to make a buck, and that is what they would do in an anarcho-capitalist society.

      What of George Soros, then? He may be partially motivated by profits, but he is now an old man on a mission to spend his wealth undermining western civilization. How is an anarcho-capitalist society going to prevent a landowner like Soros Bringing in millions of Muslim, people who are extremely easily offended and prone to strike out at why they perceive as offense.

      One other thing - anarcho-capitalism is increasingly looking like feudalism to my mind. Here is an example - imagine a group of 'anarcho-capitalists' living in a certain geographical location. There is no public property or roads. Let's say that they live on the land of George Soros. Soros says that they people that live on the land are free to leave at any time, but the land is ringed by land owned by another landowner. Let's call him Haim Saban. Saban isn't giving permission for anyone to pass through his land, and forcing the matter is an NAP violation. However living on Soros' lands means that you have to play by his rules, his rents, and his rate of pay.

      Anyone his a properly working CPU in his head can understand why this can't work.

    8. Matt

      Your CPU maybe hasn't properly understood this:

    9. Tell it to Roddis, a commenter on your site, that brings up this matter (except that he approves) every other post or so.

    10. Matt,

      I believe Bob Roddis' position is more nuanced than you are portraying here.

      Maybe he will weigh in on it and clarify.

    11. Matt

      This conversation is with you, not Bob.

      Now, it is fair enough - there are those who believe that the NAP alone is sufficient for peace - that nothing more than this is necessary. To that end, I better understand your point and perhaps I could have better worded a response.

      To be clear: I do not expect the NAP / libertarianism / anarcho-capitalism to bring peace on earth for eternity or to miraculously solve every conflict.

      I introduce other, necessary concepts - necessary if one wants to achieve and maintain something approaching a libertarian society.

      On this, I believe we agree.

      As to Roddis, I agree with Anon - I don't recall that Roddis relies merely on the NAP but also other societally-driven influences.

      Perhaps he will chime in to clarify if he believes it is worth doing so.

    12. As this matter involves a third party that may not even be aware that this is being discussed I will make this my last reply.

      Bob Roddis has written of, and endorsed, sanctions for bad or anti-social behaviors. All I am saying is that could very easy cut both ways, and in fact there could even be major incentives to screw people over in the way that I described above in my previous post. Roddis speaks of a total blockade to prevent anti-social behaviors in the context of Wenzel's PPS. If one is honest it must be conceeded that the total blockade could occur to completely innocent people too.

      Since anarcho-capitalism is impossible I am just LARPing when I write this, but it is still worth it if the scales are removed from the eyes of a reader.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Yes, I'm afraid it would be a very special situation that would allow AnCap to blossom. It could, of course. But as you rightly stress, not just any 'society' with their various world views, or if you prefer their various ideologies, could pull it off.

  7. Ridin' the range once more
    Totin' my old 44
    Where you sleep out every night
    And the only law is right
    Back in the saddle again...

    The old West was a great example of a society with a "code" but very few (if any) laws. And it worked. OK, there were a few "codes", but they didn't intersect.

    The cliche' is that the internet is like that, and it's pretty much true.
    I've actually had flamers apologize to me for bad language.

  8. Anon proof

    In your and hoppe theory a voluntary community seems to be libertarian. Every kind of rule it adopts if it is voluntary is libertarian. Consider a city, two millions people, for you if that city is a voluntary community, maybe in the form of a spa, it can have any kind of rule and it remain however a free market. It can ban homo, but also black, or white, it can prohibite alcolics, guns, junk foods, french cuisine or anything else, it can adopt the sharia as his rule, ant steel you will call this community a free market.

    Naturally to control in this way two millions people you will have a great police state. Every one is a diffrent individual, between two millions of individuals you will have not omogeneity, but difference. The more you wish for abolish those differences the less you will live in a free market. A free market requires decentralization, liberty at a near individual level, and prosper on differences between people. A family, a business, have not a free market order inside them, and that is ok. But as libertarian, free market fans, and anarchocapitalist, we want a free market order for the ensamble of family and business. The market need that every unit remain free to choose as it want. People must be free to choose their business, their works, their houses, their food, their partners, to make their plans, and so on.. If a community decide for a central decision what, for example, members have to eat, that will not be a free market. The same is for the idea to ban homo. You are out of a free market. And I assure you that this is not libertinism.

    1. Continued decentralization is the desire. Increasing choice of types of communities is the objective.

      Hoping that humans will become something other than what they have been in all of recorded history is a pipe-dream. This you have in common with communist theory - the belief in the possibility of creating a new man.

      Have it your way: it is not libertinism. It is Marx's theory put into practice. Hell on earth.

      You are then "out of a free market." And I have much more evidence in history on my side than do you.

    2. " If a community decide for a central decision what, for example, members have to eat, that will not be a free market."

      Rules are unlibertarian.

      Anon would have us believe that he is concerned with whether or not there is a free market. He is not. What Anon is doing is demonstrating leftist entryism. He is defining libertarianism in a way that is suitable to his liking.

      It would be no different than if I told people that I was a communist and that real communism means agreeing with me on race issues.

      In some ways that is how politics works, people pick the words they want to use and retool their meaning, but for Anon to act as though his priority is free markets is dishonest, what Anon wants is no restrictions. Which is in fact political libertinism.

    3. Anon proof.

      Unhappy for you, for your logic, every single Law that l ibertarians usually despise can be recreated in a voluntary community and that community is ancap. It can ban guns, it can require to put everything in common, it can refuse technology, it can have the sharia as Law.. and you will call that free market, libertarianism, anarchocaptalism. I think that is foolish. A free market requires that every actors can act as he see fit. If a community adopts central regulation it choose to not embrace free market. Is so simple.. you are no anarchist, you don't believe in spontaneus order, you only want to dismantle the present order and maybe you are a volountaryst. I'm positive on voluntary community, but I don't believe that a community not based on individual liberty is an ancap one. I think that thin libertarianism is more and not less than right and left libertarianism. I think that right and left libertarianism are lino. Also if I recognize that they are near liberttarianism, believing that only anarchicaoitalism is coherent, i think that left and right libertarians are up to limit market and freedom. Sorry. I must be free to not work for a gay people and to not sell my cakes to them, but also I must be free to work for them. If you condider a city, milions of people, family, business and apply your logic you will not have anything around liberty, but something more like an orwellian society. Becouse if you made a contract you have to force respect of it. And if the contract of your privatopia is one that concern personal, intimal, aspects of Life, dectating right and wrong about sex, love, relations, cohabitations and many many others, as you and hoppe wants, you will need a big brother. That is your thirsty for freedom.

    4. Big brother is not absolutely necessary, since rules can be enforced through other mechanisms such as shunning. But other than that, this is correct. What is the problem?

      The mistake is to think that the world will ever be a completely an-cap one. That will never happen. The best we can expect from humanity is to have different voluntary communities (either physical or panarchic) each with different kinds of rules that the members agree with. When we have that, there is room for an-cap communities, which is all we need. Why is it our business what non an-cap communities choose for rules?

    5. Anon proof

      I like the myob and your comments. But I have to say one thing with no ill intent.. I don't give a damn for the non ancap community. "Good luck and go with your stupid idea ad long ad you left me leave in peace" to them. But Hoppe, bm, and other right libertarians are not saying that they wish a no-ancap community. They are selling themselves as ancap. In the same way of left libertarians. I wish they make coming out and state to be no ancap, and to don't believe that an ancap community can live. I say this, also if I admire Hoppe and bionic mosquito. I read them constantly, from many years. I admire them. And I absolutly wish them good luck. But at the same time I think they are Lino. Sorry. Ps to be called a marxist is ridicoulus. Marx believe in state. I want to abolish state. Marx believe in central planning I believe in individual freedom. Marx was enemy of anarchy and spontaneus order, I'm anarchist and believe in spontaneus order under private property rights. Marx believe in common property I believe only in private property. Marx was for egalitarianism I believe that every man is different and that all kind of inequality is no problem if there is no violation of the nap. And so on..

    6. I don't claim to be an anarcho-capitalist. I value the anarcho-capitalist critique of the modern state. They are right about a lot, but they do not have a positive program beyond "muh defensive agencies." I am a Nationalist who supports pluralism or panarchy, and a minimal state. However, my position is definitely anarchist with respect to the modern democratic state in the West. The idea of opposing all possible States strikes me as messianic.

  9. Concepts like the common law and inherent rights to the property your labor enables you to acquire are, in my experience, uniquely perplexing to Middle Easterners and Orientals. The idea of judges "finding" the law as opposed to just applying what's been handed down by the polis is just alien to them.

    Libertarians are steeped in the notion that their ideals are universal. The truth seems to be that libertarianism is a product of a fairly discrete group of Anglo-Celts, whose nuclear family structure and individualist ethos makes this sort of philosophy a natural fit. There is probably a reason the Mises Institute is whiter than Augusta National, not that you can get many libertarians to come within 10 feet of this observation.

    In my opinion, a libertarian society would have to be ringed with barbed wire and defended by armed men to keep out all the people who can out-breed, out-thug and out-vote you and steal your stuff.

    1. Bingo.(+1 m8)

      I make these points frequently on here. Libertarians need to get out of the abstract and universal and into the particular and specific. Libertarianism is a philosophy that arose in a specific context and it was an extension of Anglo tradition (as Sean Gabb argues).

      "There is probably a reason the Mises Institute is whiter than Augusta National, not that you can get many libertarians to come within 10 feet of this observation."

      Definitely. I wonder why it is they don't want to talk about that, what do you think Anti-Gnostic?

    2. Just another argument for panarchy. Yes, defense cannot ever be ignored in this world we live in.

    3. Perry,

      You are correct. I was just trying to keep it simple. There were no doubt other influences from Europe. It is part of a long Western tradition that manifests differently in different contexts.

      Though, if you were to ask where the right to bear arms comes in America, it is our Anglo-heritage.

  10. Austrian economic theory [or "modern, subjectivist economic theory", as Mises once called it], is founded on the assumption of a little something called " methodological individualism"; the proposition that each person is unique, with a unique life experience, and unique tastes and values, and that furthermore, that the individuals tastes and values etc. are constantly subject to change via their future unique life experiences.

    Therefor, for myself at least, it seems logical that in the real world, each persons morality [or code to live by] must also be entirely unique [and just as subjective] - that is, no two individuals can share the exact same morality and associated values, no more than they can share the exact same tastes in music, art, literature, clothes, investment preferences, or anything else.

    So debates about what is ideally moral/immoral per a market, or monetary, or political system [ or any other system]appear to me to be ultimately, entirely subjective [anyway] and therefor pretty much useless for dealing with living in the world as is. [i.e. full of unique individuals with unique moralities/value systems]

    All I know is that in the real world, I, a unique individual, must always be dealing with other persons who , like myself, have their own unique morality/value systems [which they view as being perfectly moral by their own standards]; some of whom I would prefer _not_ to deal with, given my [admittedly] subjective, interpretation of their own morality. :-)

    Therefor, no different from you, or me [or anyone else] , in the real world, North's, Ropke's, Hoppe's, Rothbard's etc. moralities/values are entirely unique, and, in the end can only apply to _themselves_ [even though I might believe that I agree with parts of those unique value systems as I subjectively reviewed/considered them all ].

    My [immoral]regards, onebornfree

    1. Meaningless nihilism. It's hard to believe that you are not trolling us at this point.

    2. Matt

      This is what OBF has been doing for as long as I have "known" him - at least 5-6 years, I believe.

  11. I think this is where there is a real potential bridge between "right" and "left". It also resonates with Hayek's insight that if we try, as socialists do, to apply the rules of the local order (family/friends/community) to the extended one (market order), we destroy it - but the same is also true vice versa.

    It's logical that culture and ethics arose before any sophisticated market order, and had to achieve a certain level of self sufficiency before the more complex latter could be built on top of it.

    I think the "value system"/"value free science" split needs to be traversed somehow. The split is still important to identify simple sloppy thinking, but I believe there must be a way to be systematic and empirical about how the adoption of certain ethical stances affects our level of health, happiness and level of suffering - at least to be able to review the results within oneself and thereby judge for oneself. Ethics as a phenomenological science, and thereby enabling the ethical system on offer out there already to be recommendations to be tested, rather than dead knowledge to be swallowed or ignored only.

  12. Anon proof

    @bm you are only telling me that free market and ancap are impossible. May be the case. I hope you are wrong.

    1. See my thoughts on this topic here:

  13. Anon proof


    c. Homosexuality
    Consider the following statement from Hoppe (2001) where he calls for homosexuals and others to be banned from polite society:

    (HHH)Naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society.
    Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting
    lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They—the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism—will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.

    (WB)Say what you will in support of this statement—it is stark, it is well
    written, it is radical, it gives a well deserved intellectual kick to the teeth
    to some groups who richly deserve it—it is still exceedingly difficult to
    reconcile it with libertarianism.

  14. There are really two questions here, NAP within a society and NAP between societies. The first does require certain sociological preconditions, the latter almost none (note the fact that territorial-based societies can and do co-exist today despite huge sociological differences). There are also technological preconditions such as the widespread use of transportation and communication technology and of modern arms. However not all societies need adhere to NAP within their society, and initially, relatively few will.

    I think one of the preconditions for a society based on NAP will be MYOB:

  15. Civilization has moral antecedents. Culture is etymologically related to cult. The West is best because it sprang from the Cult of Christ.

    Even unbelievers have come around to grasping this undeniable truth. Christianity desacralized the State: