Saturday, September 24, 2016

Freedom for All?

Indulge me….

Salvation is being saved or protected from harm or being saved or delivered from some dire situation.  In religion, salvation is stated as the saving of the soul from sin and its consequences.

The [Calvinist–Arminian] debate centers around soteriology, or the study of salvation, and includes disputes about total depravity, predestination, and atonement.

Christians influenced by Jacobus Arminius, such as Methodists, believe that while God is all-knowing and always knows what choices each person will make, he still gives them the ability to choose (or not choose) everything, regardless of whether there are any internal or external factors contributing to that choice.

Arminius argued that depraved, sinful man can choose his own eternal salvation.

Calvinist Protestants embrace the idea of predestination, namely, that God chose who would be saved and who would be not saved prior to the creation.

Calvin argued that depraved, sinful man cannot choose much of anything when it comes to eternal salvation.

So where is bionic headed?

Freedom is for Everyone

Just as Arminians believe about salvation…

So it has been suggested at this site, and often suggested by libertarians generally.  It is laughed at by others – even by advocates of libertarian theory.

Are some cultures, as opposed to others, predisposed (or pre-destined if you will) for being accepting of a generally libertarian society?  Are some cultures more conducive toward peaceful cooperation than others?  Or are all – no matter culture, background, upbringing, lifestyle – equally constitutionally fit toward freedom and liberty, all in equal portions?

My Point

I was challenged several months ago on this topic.  Are all cultures equally predisposed toward liberty?  Is a libertarian society possible absent first realizing proper cultural soil?  If not, what implications can be drawn from this?  This was in the context of immigration – why let in people who have no clue and no desire to move toward freedom?  How will this advance the possibility of realizing a libertarian society?

The struggle for me has come from my focus on the individual:

[Methodological Individualism] amounts to the claim that social phenomena must be explained by showing how they result from individual actions, which in turn must be explained through reference to the intentional states that motivate the individual actors. It involves, in other words, a commitment to the primacy of what Talcott Parsons would later call “the action frame of reference” (Parsons 1937: 43–51) in social-scientific explanation. It is also sometimes described as the claim that explanations of “macro” social phenomena must be supplied with “micro” foundations, ones that specify an action-theoretic mechanism (Alexander, 1987).

I have slowly been moving away from not really even thinking about the issue (libertarianism can sprout in any soil vs. the right soil – culture – is a necessary pre-condition), toward concluding the latter.  This week may have finally solidified my intellectual move.

The implications inherent in my moving toward this view are significant, and some quite difficult for me to fully embrace.  Not least of all is one very personal implication….

I was once strongly challenged (you might say rebuked) for my assertion that labelling people in groups is the first step toward genocide, a topic not too distant from my heart.  “You are being politically correct!!!!!” came the call.  After years of chewing on this, I have slowly come to understand the meaning of this rebuke.

In any case…culture perhaps determines the possibility of achieving a libertarian society; some cultures are more conducive toward achieving such an end than others. 

It struck me how this position is philosophically consistent with my view about salvation.  Not that this matters much….

Now I am rambling.  Enough said.


  1. Have you read Short History of Man by Hoppe yet?

    1. No, but some other work from Hoppe that has influenced my thinking on this topic.

  2. It is a tough subject to wrestle and a life long pursuit. I fall in the mild Calvinistic camp.
    Are you now alt-right? Welcome.

    1. Not a simple question to answer, as a) I have experienced no "aha" moment, but am working through several things along a philosophical and intellectual path, and b) being human, one label (or category) doesn't really fit.

  3. I came to read up on the subject following Hoppe linking to Wade's, Murray's, and Lynn's research in his various books.

  4. "The implications inherent in my moving toward this view are significant, and some quite difficult for me to fully embrace. Not least of all is one very personal implication…."

    I actually typed a few paragraphs in response to this write up last night, but decided to "save" it and think about it before posting. (I do that now and then)

    In retrospect this morning, I'd really like to understand the personal implications for you, if you feel like sharing.

    What I typed was more of an argument that the NAP is a logical argument that can be interpreted culturally and as such the logic itself should transcend "culture" even though culture has a definitive impact on the application of the NAP itself.

    Anyway, before posting I thought it better to understand the implications you've surmised if you're willing to do so...
    (for example, I surmised some time ago that if a more libertarian society rises up somewhere else I'd plan to move there if I can make it happen reasonably...but in the mean time I argue for the NAP-is that something along the lines of the personal implications you suggest?)

    1. Nick

      The answer to your question is found in the paragraph immediately following the one you cite:

      “I was once strongly challenged (you might say rebuked) for my assertion that labelling people in groups is the first step toward genocide, a topic not too distant from my heart. “You are being politically correct!!!!!” came the call. After years of chewing on this, I have slowly come to understand the meaning of this rebuke.”

      In the 20th century…Japanese in America; Jews in Central Europe; Ukrainians under Stalin; Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians under the Ottomans…and many others…all have something in common: nationalities persecuted (some toward extermination) by their own government – solely (or primarily) because of the victims’ nationality.

      I leave out other atrocities for my point here – for instance Chinese under Mao – as Mao didn’t kill Chinese by the millions because they were different, the “other.”

      I focus on the 20th century for my point here because it is recent enough where survivors and descendants of those who were killed or otherwise affected know personally the tragedy.

      I belong to one such group. There are very personal implications…to me. I will struggle with this and through this, perhaps for the rest of my intellectual life.

    2. Thank you for the clarification- sometimes I am a bit slow.

      Restating what I think you mean, you are in essence suggesting that some cultures are not redeemable(from a libertarian standpoint), primarily based on this sentence:

      "It struck me how this position is philosophically consistent with my view about salvation."

      So I'm assuming you fall in the "predestination" camp, and are simply transferring that philosophy to a libertarian consideration of culture.

      I'm going to delicately argue that "faith", while having the benefit at times of being logical...does not require "logic" and in fact "faith" is very different from logic- and on that basis to cross use the same philosophy across religion and societal structure might be a fallacy to start...(I submit this very respectfully, making no judgement on those with or without faith)

      Now, being very un-PC for a moment...the capacity of different "nationalities" or "races" to absorb "logic"- well, that is a fascinating topic to me that is fraught with the potential for hurt feelings/anger and host of other nasty things if not handled properly.

      I remember when I was around my mid 20's and to my delight/curiosity I found a new copy of "The Bell Curve" at a local discount store(this was after the media hellstorm) for $1. I snatched it up to see what all the angst was about and my family was horrified....

      Anyway, my larger point is that you might feel that arguing for the NAP is pointless when it comes to certain cultures...which is a bit fatalistic. I certainly understand any frustration you might feel over the whole topic give the personal nature of the challenge. (and the fact we probably won't see any substantially libertarian society in our lifetimes)

    3. Nick

      I am generalizing and paraphrasing greatly, mostly because I am fuzzy and struggling through. So no nit picking!

      To tie it to my most immediate point: I have never wanted to think in terms other than “individuals act” and “individual culpability” or “individual guilt” because of my experiences in my background; fortunately, this also fits very neatly within the concept of the NAP. This is one data point.

      I was / libertarians generally were challenged here at this site on this topic: our clinging to methodological individualism will stand in the way of any possibility of achieving a libertarian political order (or words to this effect). This is a second data point.

      Put the two together (somehow, don’t ask me how), and you get Hoppe: if certain groups support ideas that run counter to – or pose a risk to run counter to – the NAP (as well stated by gpond, respect for property and contract), run them out. Even if, individually, they pose little or no risk, if they (and their ideas) are allowed to take root, any hope of a libertarian social order is lost.

      Ever since I looked deeply into the topic, I have fully accepted the “culture” part of Hoppe; I am coming to the view that he might be right on the “run them out” part. And this runs right into the “personal history” stuff for me.

      As to predestination, faith and culture….I offer two thoughts: first, I used the comparison to paint a picture, to try to explain the concept; not to draw an exact parallel.

      Second, when it comes to this vision of achieving a libertarian society – I don’t mean the “logic” of the theory, but the possibility of realizing the dream – are we not discussing achieving heaven on earth?

      Which takes more “faith”? My view on salvation or this?

      “Anyway, my larger point is that you might feel that arguing for the NAP is pointless when it comes to certain cultures...which is a bit fatalistic.”

      Maybe so. Do you have a plan to reach them? Education? To take the place of “free stuff” and a “no personal responsibility” lifestyle? Or is extreme segregation – using force if necessary – the *necessary pre-condition* to achieving some semblance of a libertarian community?

      The issue – and a recurring topic of conversation here – is how to achieve and maintain such a society. Is it possible to achieve and maintain such a society given the significant transformation that has overtaken society – and perhaps more pronounced in some cultures within that society than others?

      As long as such pockets of obviously unreached and unreachable (and I do not use this term lightly, kind of like God does the choosing of the saved, not man – not a “light” conclusion) individuals exist, from where comes hope? Solely education?

      Talk about faith!

      Yet, it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed; so we carry on with our duty. Anyway, I am happy with incremental change: let’s just fix that “war” and “empire” thing. This is enough for one lifetime!

    4. "So no nit picking!"

      I never mean to "nit pick", only explore. I appreciate your ability to reason and I think you're better at it than me.


      "Maybe so. Do you have a plan to reach them? Education? To take the place of “free stuff” and a “no personal responsibility” lifestyle? Or is extreme segregation – using force if necessary – the *necessary pre-condition* to achieving some semblance of a libertarian community?"

      Well, like you I struggle in this area. But one thing is apparent to me: the notion of using force to segregate a population is contrary to libertarian philosophy.

      I offer that it probably is not necessary to attain the goal of a libertarian society.

      You only need to find a way to purchase land from a sovereign in a manner that makes the purchaser completely free of encumbrances. Sure, I'm making it overly simple/easy...but it's a possibility.(think of an HOA on a larger scale, like the Louisiana Purchase or Alaska)

      There are corporations that have the cash to possibly do this today! Why couldn't an "investment group" of like minded people eventually undertake the task? (there's already talk of seasteading by large corps)

      "Solely education?"

      It's really hard to know what the future holds for us...think about people living just 100 years ago- could they ever have predicted the technology and relative affluence we live in today? Doubtful in my mind...which is why I have hope(or faith :) ) in the possibility of a libertarian society.

      I believe as man becomes more prosperous and scarcity in terms of "Maslow's heirarchy" drops in the general population that the opportunities to convince our fellow man of the benefits of the NAP increases.

      It's certainly a complex set of circumstances(and there's not one route) that would bring about a more libertarian society but purely anecdotally every time I start with a basic explanation of the NAP to someone, I can't remember even once hearing someone say, "Nah, I believe in initiating aggression."

      I'm sure there's some sociopath's out there that do, but I think them a statistical anomaly.

    5. One more quick thought:

      "are we not discussing achieving heaven on earth?"

      I would say "no" based on one primary difference between the garden of eden and our current world:


      It's what defines our existence today as opposed to the state of the garden of eden.(under which there was no scarcity)

      I've offered this thought once before on another prominent libertarian website and the moderator ran with it once or twice...I think it's a good analogy, especially from an agnostic. :)

      I don't know if someone before me has pointed it out in such a way.(economic scarcity)

    6. “…the notion of using force to segregate a population is contrary to libertarian philosophy.”

      That’s the rub, isn’t it.


      As this will always be, we return to cultures that – no matter how much prosperity the world around them achieves, and that they also partake of – show little improvement in the respect of property rights and contract.

      “It's really hard to know what the future holds for us…”

      To end on a positive note, I agree; hence I keep doing my thing.

  5. When I hear the word 'culture' as it is being used by bionic I think of things like common customs and practices and the ideas (or ideologies) that support those customs and practices.

    Then there is The Bell Curve, which if I am not mistaken is really about racial differences.

    So it occurs to me that when reading about 'culture' in this context that what we think of as culture may depend upon where one is coming from. Coming from where I'm coming from I assume bm means generally the customs and practices and supporting ideas. Do we need to define terms?

    If my understanding is correct, I agree with bionic that there are certain core ideas, customs and practices, that are necessary to allow for successful libertarian 'society'. Two among these are a respect for property and a general agreement that contracts should be honored.

    One thing about property rights is that they do not enforce themselves. Unless the society generally supports property rights, I will never be safe with my property.

    1. I think the thing that shocked me most when I read/acquired the book was that the controversial notion that IQ has some race correlation was at best a sidenote in a book that was filled with statistical data outside of that metric.

      Wiki has a decent summary of the book:

      "Intelligence exists and is accurately measurable across racial, language, and national boundaries.
      Intelligence is one of, if not the most, important factors correlated to economic, social, and overall success in the United States, and its importance is increasing.

      Intelligence is largely (40% to 80%) heritable.

      No one has so far been able to manipulate IQ to a significant degree through changes in environmental factors—except for child adoption—and in the light of these failures, future successful manipulations are unlikely.

      The United States has been in denial of these facts. A better public understanding of the nature of intelligence and its social correlates is necessary to guide future policy decisions."

      So while the book is completely statist in its approach, & I don't have the resources to question the statistical information- it is none the less interesting in its approach to the topic of "IQ".

      Whether the conclusions drawn are accurate is yet another matter as well.

    2. ONe other note, in citing Wiki I notice this specific quote from the book(it's been 20 years since I've read it, so I didn't recall this):

      "It is difficult to imagine the United States preserving its heritage of individualism, equal rights before the law, free people running their own lives, once it is accepted that a significant part of the population must be made permanent wards of the states."

      That is a very relevant statement for the subject matter BM undertook above. It highlight both culture and IQ(logic acceptance?) and it's impact on society.

    3. Gpond

      Of course, property rights and contract are a must – and a necessary component of the culture of a libertarian society. But there is the “why.” Why are property rights so completely disdained in some cultures? Is it wrong to generalize in this manner, to lump some people in such groups? If it is acceptable to consider such a question, all I can say is that the roots of disdain for property rights run deep, and to change it….well, I have no idea.

      But as I ended with Nick, I end here: all we can do is what we can do, so we carry on with our duty.

  6. Gary North had pointed out that on the eve of the American Revolution, the American Colonies were the freest place on earth followed by England. Perhaps the Colonists were also the freest people ever on earth - except, of course, for black slaves and indentured whites. If so, why? Was it culture, IQ or environment which made it so? People living in wide open spaces seem to be more tolerant of liberty than those packed tight in cities. Perhaps it's because the colonists were largely English speaking Protestants with a sprinkling of Dutch settlers. They had a common language, race, religion and customs which made it easier for them to get along with each other and not be suspicious of the alien other. It's probably safe to assume that most people want liberty and property rights for themselves but not necessarily for others unless those others are very much like themselves and not perceived to be an alien threat.

    What can account for the steady degradation of liberty in that near libertarian United States during the ensuing decades? Was it the immigration of Catholic Germans, Irish, Italians, Hispanics and Slavs - who were also Orthodox? Today we tend to regard these immigrants as just as American as the original English settlers. But perhaps their otherness was really a cultural irritant and they were more willing to tolerate statism, which they had originally fled from, than were the original settlers. Perhaps the slide down that slippery slope toward authoritarianism, where we find ourselves today, began more than 150 years ago when the cultural others landed on America's shores.

  7. BM,

    Can't believe I missed this one. I won't go through and respond to everyone since its less likely people will check an older post. Instead I will just respond to you.

    You are aware of my views. I am not really a libertarian, but I understand the libertarian perspective and do share some common ground on a few key points. As of now you are the only libertarian I consistently read, partly because I wanted to see where you would go next. In this I have not been disappointed.

    I tried posting this a week or so ago but something went wrong. This is "Dark Enlightenment" by Nick Land:

    Rather than summarizing it in detail I would just encourage you to read it and it will become immediately apparent why its relevant to our discussions. I do not agree with Land on everything. Land has way too much praise for Moldbug and uncritically accepts the retarded Calvinist hypothesis instead of addressing the Jewish elephant in the room. Criticisms aside, its a worthwhile read for libertarians who are starting to ask these kinds of questions and going where the answers take them.

    Also, you said:

    "that labelling people in groups is the first step toward genocide"

    Telling people a their own group doesn't exist is the first step towards genocide in the 21st century. PC is just a weapon in a war of extermination being conducted by Jews against ethnic Europeans.

    God Bless.