Comments from two recent posts have me thinking….
From my post on the lack-of-real-discussion-or-presentation-about-Freedom Fest, from a thread begun by Michael Petrovich January 1, 2017 at 10:06 AM: there was some pushback about the number of speakers at this festival that are actually libertarian (I say the ratio of libertarians to something not-really-libertarian is rather small) – in other words, I shouldn’t make fun of this wanna-be Trekkie convention for finally admitting what they want to be: a Trekkie convention.
Also, from my post on the supposedly biggest winners and losers in the liberty movement for 2016, a comment from Unhappy Conservative (2.0) January 1, 2017 at 5:10 PM in which he challenges me on my view that I do not consider Alex Jones a libertarian.
It will go without saying that it is fundamental that one accepts the non-aggression principle; of course, I accept that application is difficult at times so we need not always agree on application. You will find that I can also find common ground with many who do not fully accept the NAP (frankly, I find many such people more agreeable than I find many libertarians); I just won’t call them “libertarian.”
The Base of the Pyramid: The “Deficiency” Needs
What do I view as the bare minimum requirement?
Identify the state as everywhere and always the enemy.
What do I mean by “the state”? An entity with a monopoly on defining law, establishing punishment, and responsibility for administration of these over a given geographic region; an entity with no limits on what it decides is or isn’t within their purview to control; in other words, virtually every “government” on earth today.
Now I know this excludes pretty much all of the mainstream libertarian organizations; I know this is too high a hurdle for most. I also know that I can found much common ground with individuals who do not feel the same way about the state as I do. But, hey…I can have non-libertarian compatriots, can’t I?
I recognize my basic requirement greatly limits my “libertarian” circle. While it is the base of my pyramid, I can accept that others accept a broader definition – call it minarchist or whatever. What I cannot accept as libertarian is acceptance, let alone silence, on each of the following:
- Foreign wars and overseas adventurism
- Central planning of money and credit
- Government involvement in education
The first one inherently is the precise opposite of all things libertarian; in wars will be found every violation of the non-aggression principle. The second and third enable the entire apparatus of the state to function as it does; remove one or the other, and the entire structure as it exists today will come crashing down.
I offered these in my response to the feedback questioning my criticism of the speakers and content in the lack-of-freedom-fest. I also offered that if I was wrong, and in fact the bulk of the conference was devoted to these topics (and advocating the end of each), I will eat my words.
I will walk a path with a minarchist who dives headlong into these three topics and tears these down. A great example of such an individual is Gary North: he writes against each of these topics. I can even walk a path with someone who attacks even one of these topics. Pat Buchanan is a great example on the topic of ending foreign wars and overseas adventurism.
I find each of these two gentlemen more libertarian than most of the speakers at a conference like only-the-acceptable-freedom-fest. It is difficult to imagine the possibility of true freedom while these three are still acceptable.
The (newest) top of the pyramid. Culture – and a culture of a certain type; the type would be described a traditional, conservative, patriarchal. Given that I (and likely many of my readers) live in a Western country, in my case a culture that builds on traditional western civilization Christian foundations. Perhaps because it has taken me longest to come to understand this, I am most lenient on this topic when it comes to others.
I know some would say this is the most fundamental requirement to achieve a libertarian society. I have a regular dialogue with an individual, the aforementioned Unhappy Conservative, who is moving me more and more to this view; in fact, he might say I have my pyramid exactly upside down. Maybe so. But I will take a society opposed to foreign wars with no other gains toward liberty and feel satisfied enough in my lifetime.
When I find someone engaged on this topic of culture, it tells me that they understand the importance of culture – and culture of a certain type – toward achieving and maintaining a libertarian society, or as close to a libertarian society as humans will ever achieve.
When I find a libertarian who pooh-poohs this, or who believes just because something can be done under the NAP that we must therefore celebrate the idea that it should be done…well, let’s just say some never get past NAP 101.
Along with knowing that the enemy is the state, along with advocating against war, central banking and public funding of education, an individual who understands the importance of culture gets the gold star…
…for whatever a gold star from bionic mosquito is worth!
I really wish I had time to write a longer response to this post. Alas, work gets in the way. For now, suffice it to say that I am coming around to this way o' thinkin'.
It is a journey I am taking at the same time as you and perhaps some others.Delete
I have mentioned before (but not for some time), this blog is as much a documentation of my journey as it is anything else. Where I am today is quite different than where I was when this blog began; my general views are similar, but so much more developed and (I hope) mature.
For this, I have the feedbackers to thank as much as anything or anyone.
1. Regarding the term “The State”. Since around 1974, I’ve been thinking that perhaps we need a new word for it to use for public consumption. We do not oppose “governance” and most people think of merely of “governance” when we say “state” or “government”. All we oppose is:ReplyDelete
An entity with a monopoly on defining law, establishing punishment, and responsibility for administration of these over a given geographic region; an entity with no limits on what it decides is or isn’t within their purview to control.
Our use of the terms "state" and "government" suggest a situation gripped by total chaos and anarchy to average people who still cannot seem to grasp the simple fact that inflation is not a mysterious force of nature.
2. Regarding “culture”, it seems to me that if a group of people will abide by the NAP, you have perhaps reached 65% to 70% of a state of “cultural perfection” because there is no murder, theft, assault, rape or pillage with private property and no lying with contracts. Culturally conservative people can simply ban folks they do not like from their streets, sidewalks, neighborhoods, schools etc… The same goes for people concerned about ethnic and “racial” issues. People who might not be exactly “socially conservative” are still going to have a make a living the old fashioned way, by pleasing other people in voluntary exchanges and they are going to have to leave socially conservative people alone. They are not going to live on welfare or make a living in a black market. I fail to see how the NAP in practice would promote a libertine society. I can see no reason why this type of an appeal cannot be made now to American evangelicals, for example. This has been my vision since around 1974, but libertarians either run from it or blank-out when I bring up the subject. Southern Christians refused to vote for Ron Paul in 2012 because he represented a “socially permissive” society which is preposterous in fact but reasonable based upon how libertarianism is presented.
3. I consider it a total failure of libertarians that after over 40 years, most people still do not understand that inflation is a purposeful government program of money dilution wherein the first recipients of the new money are stealing purchasing power from the rest of society.
Regarding your 2nd point, the way I understand BM's discussions on this, I believe the idea behind the importance in culture, and possibly the reason he alluded that Unhappy Conservative may see the order differently, is that a society who accepts the NAP must by necessity have already accepted a "culture that builds on traditional western civilization Christian foundations". I have a nuanced view of the specifics of this culture, i.e., I wouldn't use the phrase "christian foundations". But i get it. And i agree, its a case of the chicken and the egg, the NAP and a culture that is capable of sustaining it and/or bringing it about in the first place.Delete
Bob, on point 3, perhaps a failure of Austrian Economics? But this comes to my marrying of central banking and government involvement in education: there are trillions of dollars and one hundred years of brainwashing behind maintaining the lie of inflation and wise-man management of money and credit.Delete
Patrick, I use the term "western civilization Christian foundations" because of where I live. I do not exclude two other possibilities / realities:Delete
1) Not everyone who generally accepts western cultural traditions needs to self-identify as Christian or come from non-western backgrounds; there are certainly atheists, Muslims, Coptics, etc., who accept and happily live within such traditions. I know many; I suspect we all do.
2) that some version of libertarianism could also develop in a non-western, non-Christian based society. I am only scratching the surface of the connection of Christian tradition and libertarianism; I dare not make a statement of other religions and regions - things I understand far less.
"we do not reject governance" Governance involves those in power hiring thugs with guns to stick them to my head and force me to do what those in power deem 'right'.That has nothing to do with liberty; in fact it is the opposite.Delete
Anonymous...spend some time reading first. This is not what is meant by governance.Delete
More people are understanding better about inflation, which they now understand as money printing. Ron Paul also forced liberty into the Internet conversation. His historical record in Congress exposed the looting for what it is, too.Delete
@bionic mosquito: I searched your site for what you mean by governance and found nothing. In general usage the word 'governance' is used to include almost all of human behavior among groups. Such a wide 'definition' will allow any individual to use the word to mean exactly what they want it to mean when used. If you have a meaning that you mean when you use the word I will use your definition on your blog. Until then, I stand by my definition.Delete
As I regularly write that I categorically accept the NAP, and I categorically reject the state as it is currently understood and with its current power and authority, the one definition you chose to use most certainly cannot be the definition I use - whatever my usage might imply.
In any functioning society there will be governance: markets provide governance, family provides governance, social relationship provides governance, generally accepted cultural norms provide governance, the church provides governance.
Of course, the state tries to destroy each of these in order to ensure that we are forced to rely on the state for governance.
I do not advocate for state governance. I advocate for voluntary - or if not completely voluntary, at least privately provided (e.g. family, church, social) governance. Some call my advocacy of this "thick." I call it life in a world occupied by humans.
A good question to ask is whether we are against "the state" or just "this particular state". This particular state is one that starts wars on false pretenses. It misuses our money. It discriminates against the majority of its citizens in favor of those citizens it chooses as "protected classes". It imports new citizens from foreign countries against the will of its original citizens.ReplyDelete
What of a state that did the opposite of those things? A state that did not start wars, but strictly operated in self defense (they exist). A state that had a tax rate that it could not exceed? A state that looked out for the interests of its population, rather than trying to minoritize the original population?
The point is that this particular state is particularly loathsome. I would say that most of the libertarians that say that they "hate the state" actually hate this particular state, and with good reason.
Can you identify such a state in this world? You might get close with Switzerland, until you add the requirement "A state that had a tax rate that it could not exceed?"
Making law, defining punishment, and carrying out administration: holding the levers to all three makes for too tempting a target for the mischievous.
All governments are evil and destructive. You cannot begin to be free until you free your mind of the idea that government is necessary.Believe it or not, your neighbors do not desire to kick in your door, rape and murder your children, slit your throat and steal all of your stuff.Delete
"I would say that most of the libertarians that say that they "hate the state" actually hate this particular state, and with good reason."Delete
It is very difficult to hate a pure abstraction (have you ever met anyone with a hatred for triangles?). We only learn to do so when it becomes associated it with something bad in the world of things.
Unlike many libertarians I do believe there is such a thing as the common good (of the nation/volk) and a State should be in service of it. It is nothing more than a tool. If it does not serve this purpose, it should be destroyed.
Of course I understand why libertarians are cynical about the common good since it has been used cynically by the State to advance the interests of its owners.
IMO, this is a baby and bathwater situation.
When I was taking development economics classes in college I always got some lulz from people trying to explain that Africa would be on the level of the first world if they only had _____ (insert the ideological proscriptions of a liberal capitalist or a central planner). Their egalitarian worldview simply does not allow speaking the truth which is that the mean IQ in Sub-Saharan Africa is 70 and that is going to limit the level of complexity that they can sustain. Throw in the (biological) negro proclivity to violence and high time preference, wa-la- Afrika.
When you ask for examples of a Just State in the world you have to take into account the needs of the specific people ("Hows your wife?" "Compared to what?"). African countries need to be governed a certain way (really there shouldn't be "countries" at all in that part of the world), that is befitting their people. Unrealistic expectations are going to lead to disaster (or the inverse which would be holding a people back which we have in the West).
I think Duterte is doing great things for his people in the Philippines, but that doesn't mean what is appropriate for the Philippines is appropriate for the Anglosphere. Same with Gaddafi, he was great for Libya. Its not hard to come up with examples of that sort.
Just as different people call for different forms of State so do different Historical Necessities. When you are under existential threat from communists it makes sense to have an aggressive State to physically remove them before they can take over and genocide you.
Also, the reason that so many States are of the same character is that they are all owned by the same people. If all the present Western States were destroyed (as they deserve) we would see a lot more "diversity" in the forms taken by States around the world.
I would like to flip your question to Matt around on you.
Can you identify a geographical area, of any size, whose CURRENT population could sustain a stateless order?
"Can you identify a geographical area, of any size, whose CURRENT population could sustain a stateless order?"Delete
A homeowners association, a large hotel or resort property, Disneyland.
BM, I hesitate to answer about the taxes because I was really only saying that the peaceful states exist. That said, Hong Kong has had a long term tax rate of 15%. I don't know whether that can be considered a state as it has been under the thumb of other states for a long time.Delete
Matt, there are reasonable examples: Switzerland, Hong Kong, Lichtenstein. It is worth considering what makes them different than the states under-which 98% of the world's populations live.Delete
In this examination, one might conclude that there is a difference of "government" and "state."
One might also conclude that smaller, decentralized political bodies offer a better chance of protecting liberties than do larger political entities. Knowing your neighbors might have a chilling effect on the man in charge and the decisions he makes (or the power he attempts to usurp).
UC, any comment on Foldvary?Delete
I stil think that you are now reevaluating something that you have critized in the past, and walking on the some path of many so called left libertarian. You are making the same point of Tucker in his famous article against libertarian brutalism. Exactly the same. He fully recognized that someone can be a libertarian and what he labeled as a brutalist, but he argue is not with brutalism that liberty will advance. It is the same point stated by Rothbard and hoppe:
“Libertarianism is logically consistent with almost any attitude toward culture, society, religion, or moral principle. In strict logic, libertarian political doctrine can be severed from all other considerations; logically one can be – and indeed most libertarians in fact are: hedonists, libertines, immoralists, militant enemies of religion in general and Christianity in particular – and still be consistent adherents of libertarian politics. In fact, in strict logic, one can be a consistent devotee of property rights politically and be a moocher, a scamster, and a petty crook and racketeer in practice, as all too many libertarians turn out to be. Strictly logically, one can do these things, but psychologically, sociologically, and in practice, it simply doesn’t work that way.”
I think that left and right libertarians agree on the fact that culture matters. What is different is of course the type of culture that they think will better serve liberty. Is not true that the culture that people as Tucker or Richman see good for liberty imply smoking weed or listening rock, or make orgies, and live ad a libertine. Maybe they think that you must be free also to do that if you want, but their point is entirely an other one. The culture elements that they see will favour liberty are openmindness, tolerance, kindness, respect. And I think that they are right. And they are also right where they say that racism, bigotism, intolerance, xenophobia, misoginism, omophobia are the opposite, and are not like to be good for liberty. I will say yes, in theory, you can be a racist, you can hate black, gay, jews, all-non white, and whoever you want, you can think that woman are inferiours being and so on and stilo be a libertarian, but in the real world things don't go in that way mostly. And i think that a better strategy is to try to convince every kind of different people that libertarianism is the right thing, is good, and good for them. So i agree that culture matter, but i disagree on the kind of culture you and the other right libertarians are proposing. I think first culture value needed is love for individual liberty, and than yes tolerance and openmidness, and mutual respect. For religious people and not religious people, for black and white, for man and women, for ethero and gay, for the traditional family but also for the one who choose to live a more libertine life. And when you say traditional, conservative, patriarchal I'm not convinced. Not that I have nothing against traditions, or that I want matriarchy, but I honestly know that those words are often associated with, or sinonimous to, bigotism, misoginism, racism, omophobia, xenophobia, etc.. and I see that in fact people as Hoppe argue often that gay are like trash, and people as mattheve reece argue that woman are inferiours being, and that is good if mentally hill people or depressed people, kill themselves so that their genes will not go on. While Lew Rockwell happy relunch them. And how racist is becoming Christoper Cantwell? If those are the conservative, traditionalist, libertarians I prefer Tucker and Richman. At least they are decent human being. That is not to say that Hoppe, Reece, Cantwell have nothing good to say. They are all great libertarians, but apart from that, I don't like them at all, I think that they are culturally awful.
If culture matters, then culture must be imposed for liberty to exist.I rather believe that liberty depend on free persons who are ok with their neighbors being free.Delete
As a racist-sexist-homophobic-antisemite I am deeply offended by your poor spelling and grammar. I would say that its understandable if English isn't your first language, or if you are dictating this to your Guatemalan maid, but my intense hatred of foreigners clouds my judgment and cuts me off from feelings of empathy.Delete
Anonproof yes I'm from Italy and my english is bad.. i'm sorry for this..Delete
Does the culture precede or follow the political environment?ReplyDelete
“That which is not free is not responsible, and that which is not responsible is not moral. In other words, freedom is the condition of morality.” - Thomas Davidson
one suggestion on the 3rd point, which would work as "the body" of the pyramid. "3. Government involvement in the family, especially concerning education"ReplyDelete
Excellent discussion, I've been coming across this sort of topic sort of by accident, but not really. This constant blather of sjw's and how pervasive a small minority of people's views is becoming lead me to looking into it. Which leads you to the Frankfurt school, or as more commonly called cultural Marxism. Then I read a post like this with joy, because a lot of the stuff you read about Social Justice is either a) reckless statism or b) tends to have some racial undercurrent and I find it repulsive.ReplyDelete
I hope you keep writing on this subject as I find myself perhaps not as nuanced as yourself BM along a similar path to where a more realistic idea of liberty can be achieved. Anti war, Anti State, Pro Market, Rockwell is a genius no?
Rockwell is a genius, yes. And every time I learn something more, I appreciate how much more of a genius he is.Delete
Dear Bionic Mosquito, I am a fan and read your essays off and on all the time. We are fellow nap libertarian travelers. So let me ask, did Orwell or anyone come up with a word that describes the shock, the stunned moment of realization when something of the world you THOUGHT was a straight forward intuitive, but found to your sudden surprise that the answer was COUNTER intuitive? Like the stunned shock one must have had long ago after realizing that the sun did not revolve around the earth, but rather the earth traveled around the sun. Or the shock of a first year liberal econ student when he realizes that at the margin, raising min wage adds to unemployment. Anyway, as a fellow nap libertarian fellow traveler, evolutionist, atheist, .....What ever that word is, I have been so stunned. The book that did it is called THE GLOBAL BRAIN by Harold Bloom. Its perhaps ten years old now, but I strongly suspect that much like Darwin's 'Origin of the Species', its powerful theory will grow stronger each passing day. Its lonely out here... so please find the time to read and write about it... Treg Loyden (on facebook "Political Zoo")ReplyDelete
I think there is a great danger in portraying libertarianism as a solution to problems or the philosophy that will make us all richer ad happier. It is merely the opportunity to find solutions to problems, because freedom allows experimentation and thus discovery. But freedom does not guarantee success, neither of individuals nor of societies. An individual who uses his freedom to drink booze, smoke pot, and inject opiates all day is highly likely to fair poorly in health and wealth. An entire society made up of such individuals will be a poor and nasty place to live versus a society run by a benevolent dictator who enforces temperance and productive endeavors.ReplyDelete
Does that mean freedom fails and dictatorships are preferable? Obviously not. Freedom, combined with right choices, will allow for the discovery and delivery of wealth and well-being better than any other condition...almost always, but not guaranteed. The critical element to wealth and happiness in an entire society is the predominance of appropriate cultural mores in a freedom context.
Kojak is a lucky boy to have such a wise father!Delete
"he might say I have my pyramid exactly upside down"ReplyDelete
I lol'd. I also lol'd at this.
"I shouldn’t make fun of this wanna-be Trekkie convention for finally admitting what they want to be: a Trekkie convention."
The libertarian-trekkie connection is deep. Star Trek is the ultimate liberal Mythos. End of History? Check. Blended humanity? Check. Xenophilia? Check. White Mans Burden? Check. Liberal Imperium? Check. Intervening while spouting platitudes about non-intervention? Check.
So this pyramid is essentially a model for libertarian ideological purity, no? (plz no one sperg out on the term purity)
I got a little confused reading this because I was trying to figure out if it was a needs pyramid for society or for ideology. It seems apparent now that its the later but I had to reread it a few times. The reason for the confusion is that the purpose of political ideology is to affect the organization of society. So the two are never wholly separate. If you are a libertarian you are going to take it as a given that libertarian ideology would be good for society and you are also going to be concerned about clarifying exactly what that means (i.e who is and is not a libertarian) FOR THE PURPOSE of affecting society.
So with that said, its true that what you put at the top of your pyramid would be at the bottom of mine and there wouldn't really be much on top of it. So I guess it would be a trapezoid? It would be a trapezoid with the word Blood written on it.
Civilization is transmitted through blood. Volkways are blood. The Spirit moves through blood. Nothing is more essential.
A passage from Tom Wolfe's novel Back to Blood comes to mind.
"A phrase pops into his head from out of nowhere. “Everybody . . . all of them . . . it’s back to blood! Religion is dying . . . but everybody still has to believe in something. It would be intolerable—you couldn’t stand it—to finally have to say to yourself, ‘Why keep pretending? I’m nothing but a random atom in a supercollider known as the universe.’ But believing in by definition means blindly, irrationally, doesn’t it. So, my people, that leaves only our blood, the bloodlines that course through our very bodies, to unite us. ‘La Raza!’ as the Puerto Ricans cry out. ‘The Race!’ cries the whole world. All people, all people everywhere, have but one last thing on their minds—Back to blood!” All people, everywhere, you have no choice but—Back to blood!"
And this Johnny Cash song, because, why not?
Lyrics (I actually think Nick Lowe wrote this for him but I am not going to bother to look it up):
From the hands it came down
From the side it came down
From the feet it came down
And ran to the ground
Between heaven and hell
A teardrop fell
In the deep crimson dew
The tree of life grew
And the blood gave life
To the branches of the tree
And the blood was the price
That set captives free
And the numbers that came
Through the fire and the flood
Clung to the tree
And were redeemed by the blood
From the tree streamed a light
That started the fight
'Round the tree grew a vine
On whose fruit I could dine
My old friend Lucifer came
Fought to keep me in chains
But I saw through the tricks
From his hands it came down
From his side it came down
From his feet it came down
And ran to the ground
And a small inner voice
Said "You do have a choice"
The vine engrafted me
And I clung to the tree
"I got a little confused reading this because I was trying to figure out if it was a needs pyramid for society or for ideology."Delete
The post is nothing more than clarification of my view of what it means when someone says "I am..." or "so-and-so" "...is a libertarian."
A bit mixed up as this proclamation always requires parsing regarding: is it theory or application? A tough thing to keep straight, sometimes.
Anonproof, the one with bad english..ReplyDelete
First.. I like your blog, your thinking and your writing.
Second.. If libertarianism is decentralization, than at some time you will be in trouble. There will be a moment (we all hope) when decentralization will be gone far, and reached the level of communities made by few families, or by few hundreds of people, when you will find that, yes, your community is kind of homogeneous, but the other communities, that admit the things and the people you've banned, are few steps from yours. And economically you are now far more dependent from outsiders. If you don't believe in the possibility of a society where everyone can do everything* until he doesn't violate the nap, than, at some point, you will have to say that decentralization is enough, and begin to argue against more of it. If racism, omophobia, bigotry, misogyny, etc.. are connected to aggressive behavior towards others people, they will still be a problem in a decentralized world, and a threat for liberty.
*I'm speaking of human law, for sure there are everywhere other sources of limits, as the laws of nature, and the laws of economy, and the need for the consensus of others in a society build on voluntary relations..
Thank you for the kind comment.Delete
"And economically you are now far more dependent from outsiders."
This problem of trading with outsiders without the outsiders living inside is already solved. It is of no concern to me.
Therefore I see no trouble with continued decentralization.
"...at some point, you will have to say that decentralization is enough, and begin to argue against more of it."
From your lips to God's ears - I hope I (or my great-great-grandchildren) live to have this problem.
I say decentralization to the family level - family defined narrowly or broadly will be the choice of those living in it, I suspect. I already argue against decentralization further than this.