One more time….
A common culture – and a culture beyond merely the NAP – is necessary if we are ever to move closer to a libertarian society.
On Power: The Natural History of its Growth, Bertrand de Jouvenel.
Let’s see what de Jouvenel says about this.
Each man with a given position in a given society strays only in the most exceptional cases from a typical behavior. This regularity is produced by a code of beliefs and moralities which is deeply embedded in the nature of man in society.
A libertarian theorist – without the burden of taking account the human nature of humans – might describe living in a society that valued such “beliefs and moralities” as aggression; a libertarian theorist who considers the human nature of humans recognizes the value of such “beliefs and moralities” in providing governance absent the state.
Call it thick if you like. I do not; I recognize that libertarian theory does not provide every answer to every question faced in society. Thereafter – when considering application in the real world – we are left with choosing between relatively more voluntarily derived or relatively less voluntarily derived “rules.”
What is aggression? What is proper punishment? How is it determined when the age of minority ends and majority begins? What is property? The answers to these questions and more can vary widely and yet remain compatible with the non-aggression principle.
The ancients showed, by the importance which they attached to folkways, that they were well aware of this; if folkways were good, government was hardly necessary, and if they were bad, it was almost impossible.
Do you continue to wonder why the state works so hard to destroy “folkways”? Why does the state support massive immigration, unwed parenting, coopting of the church, coopting of every social function, abortion, and all varieties of “lifestyle choices”? Why does the state work so hard to destroy family?
In the same way, folkways and beliefs must be brought low, that Power may substitute for their influence its own authority and build its church on their ruins.
This is why the state works to destroy “folkways.” What is unfortunate is that too many so-called libertarians cheer on this destruction. Such libertarians do nothing but ensure more government.
So long as persons of every degree behave according to fixed rules which everybody knows, their actions under all circumstances can be predicted by their associates, and confidence reigns in human relationships.
“How un-libertarian” I hear the screams. I recall a discussion on punishment. Is increased violence likely to result from punishment deemed just by the local population or punishment deemed unjust? As libertarian theory does not (and cannot) give an objective answer to NAP-consistent and appropriate punishment for each and every violation, I will suggest that the answer to this question that will result in a community remaining peaceful is the punishment that is deemed just by that same community.
Conversely, a nonconformist behavior upsets all calculations, makes every precaution necessary, stirs up acts of reprisal for its own wrongful acts of aggression…
Must this be explained or defended. Look all around you; the examples are too numerous to list.
…and, if the evil grows, unleashes in the end hatred, distrust and violence.
And who will be called to do something about this hatred, distrust and violence? Again, we live in such a world and the answer is obvious.
The ancients had, therefore, good reason to keep the foreigner at a distance. His folkways were different, and it could not be known how he would act.
Mmmm…yeah. (Oh Angela, the real world example you have provided of calls for “more” from the state in the face of massive immigration.)
Under these conditions little government was needed, for education had done what was necessary to regulate action.
As long as the non-aggression principle is not violated, a wide variety of answers to social questions are possible. A society “educated” on which of these NAP-consistent answers is OK “around here” will be a society that can function well with little risk of calls for a monopolist of violence.
Such custom, if held strongly by the people, would serve to keep even the ruler in check:
…a monarch who was imprudent enough to order something which did not conform to custom would, in doing so, break his own authority and risk his life.
To which I say “HOORAY!” This is wholly consistent with law as it was found during the Germanic Middle Ages. The law was old and the law was good; the law was custom. Most importantly, this law was held strongly by all members of society, and this kept the king in check.
It was not only in medieval Europe. De Jouvenel offers examples of the Rejangs of Sumatra, the Malagasy of Madagascar, and the King of Ashanti. As was the case in Europe, I suspect none of these societies can be described as “libertarian,” yet the amount of “government” (in the worst sense of the term) was kept in check by accepted custom.
The value of the old and good law was that it kept “law” out of the hands of the king or, in our day, the legislature. It kept law in the hands of the people and their memory of custom. It was not always libertarian law (perfect isn’t an option when it comes to human interaction), but it was free from absolutist dictates.
This old and good law – whether from God, the gods, or some other source – was not a sphere available for man to take a part. The punishment was also not in man’s hands. Both the law and punishment came from custom. Only the administration was in the hand of the king.
We have destroyed this guillotine over the monarch’s neck by accepting this fallacy that “we the people” are in charge. To whom do we complain; over whom do we hold the blade?
As evidence of his views, de Jouvenel offers the European experience beginning with the “rationalists” of the modern age.
Can we fail to note the coincidence of the breakdown of beliefs from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries with the elevation of absolute monarchies during the same period? Is it not clear that they owed their elevation to this breakdown? Is not the conclusion this: that the great period of rationalism was also that of enlightened and free-thinking despots…?
…once man is declared “the measure of all things,” there is no longer a true, or a good, or a just, but only opinions of equal validity whose clash can be settled only by political or military force….
The law and punishment for violation must be rooted in something other than “man,” (with man defined as “we can decide whatever we think is the best law and punishment for today”). Man only has authority over administration.
For the rest, we would do well do consider custom.