Friday, May 5, 2017

Liberté sans Fraternité?


Liberty: freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control; freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

Fraternity: a group of persons associated by or as if by ties of brotherhood; any group or class of persons having common purposes, interests, etc.

While fraternity is certainly possible without liberty, is liberty possible without fraternity?  Not merely a fraternity of NAP adherents – that’s an easy (and irrelevant) question; a fraternity “as if by ties of brotherhood.”  Common culture, common custom, common language, common religion.

It is a question ignored by many who call themselves “libertarian” and “hope” for a libertarian world.  Further, it is a question answered affirmatively by some such as these – liberty can be had in a land of any culture or no common culture.  Is this true?  Or is this claimed out of ignorance, or worse, out of preference for a leftist, socialist (even communist) world? 

Christopher Caldwell has written a review of a book by Christophe Guilluy: Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut (roughly: “The Twilight of the French Elite”).  The analysis and review are applicable to the situations behind the political realities of the west today; it is also applicable to the question of the possibility of liberty without fraternity – liberty without nation.

Caldwell describes the several books by Guilluy:

…they give the best ground-level look available at the economic, residential, and democratic consequences of globalization in France. They also give an explanation for the rise of the National Front that goes beyond the usual imputation of stupidity or bigotry to its voters.

Wow!  Someone employing a few brain cells when analyzing what is happening throughout the west in reaction to “globalization” (a term broadly and sloppily applied, as it is, instead, a reaction to unworkable and even enemy political institutions); the reaction is not due to “stupidity or bigotry.”

His analysis is applicable to several situations currently playing out in the west: Brexit; Alternative für Deutschland, AfD; Norbert Hofer, Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ; Geert Wilders, Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV; Marine Le Pen, Front national; Donald Trump, etc.


Beginning with globalization – it is not denied that this has brought economic benefits to many…

But it has also brought inequalities unseen for a century, demographic upheaval, and cultural disruption.

This isn’t a matter of economic calculation or GDP; people are far more than economic adding machines; people value much that cannot be quantified.  The question is one of liberty and fraternity – nation; people find value in the familiar, common, constant.  They find value – of a type not found on a balance sheet – in “nation.” 

Can liberty exist when fraternity – nation – is threatened or destroyed?

The author describes a France that is divided in two – not left and right, not even rich and poor, but in a manner very familiar to reasoned analysts regarding the recent US election: on the one hand, those who benefit from globalization as has been forced upon the west (to include the wealthy, immigrants, and various members of the “acceptables”); on the other, those who have been harmed by the same.

These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them.

It’s a place for millionaires, immigrants, tourists, and the young, with no room for the median Frenchman.

The native and multi-generational Frenchman who is married, the father of two, and a high school graduate – he need not apply.  The one constituency offered no protection; the one constituency against whom it is legal to discriminate: the native patriarch of a traditional family.

Guilluy doubts that anyplace exists in France’s new economy for working people as we’ve traditionally understood them.

One need not agree with the feeling of such people; one merely could accept that they feel a certain way due to being put out. They are put out due to government action; they will demand government action in return.

Doesn’t sound like freedom.

No Housing

Paris has driven out those who were once thought of as synonymous with the city.  There is no housing for them in Paris – much of the housing originally built for and occupied by the working class is now set aside for immigrants, even first and second generation.

It is now used primarily for billeting not native French workers, as once was the case, but immigrants and their descendants, millions of whom arrived from North Africa starting in the 1960s, with yet another wave of newcomers from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East arriving today.

Without local housing in the major centers, there is no easy access to jobs for this former city working class – jobs of the new economy.  And there are no similar employment opportunities for them outside of Paris or the few other major metropolitan centers.

This is further understood via the title of Guilluy’s second book, La France périphérique:

This is the key term in Guilluy’s sociological vocabulary, and much misunderstood in France, so it is worth clarifying: it is neither a synonym for the boondocks nor a measure of distance from the city center….Rather, the term measures distance from the functioning parts of the global economy.

It is a virtual, as much as physical, periphery.  Yet, it is not merely a question of ensuring internet access for all:

When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions. They have been replaced by immigrants.

The private housing is too expensive (with prices bid up by the winners of globalization), and the public housing – housing that they and their parents paid for – is no longer available to them.

…even if French people were willing to do the work that gets offered in these prosperous urban centers, there’d be no way for them to do it, because there is no longer any place for them to live. As a new bourgeoisie has taken over the private housing stock, poor foreigners have taken over the public—which thus serves the metropolitan rich as a kind of taxpayer-subsidized servants’ quarters.

The immigrants live “in the arena,” in proximity to the work – the work offered via the new economy.

So why not just move in to the public housing?

A public-housing development is a community, yes, and one can wish that it be more diverse. But it is also an economic resource that, more and more, is getting fought over tribally.

Because not every “tribe” believes in the diversity preached by the (white) elite.  I should rephrase – the “other tribes” are happy that the (white) elite believe in diversity.  The “other tribes” do not hold a similar belief, and are better off for it.

Who has “freedom” in this environment?

The Issue

While inequality is inherent in humans, what if “diversity” exaggerates and adds tension? 

It’s a controversial premise—that inequality and racial diversity are linked as part of the same (American-type) system and that they progress or decline together.

Read this again carefully: what if the “controversial premise” was true, that racial diversity and inequality go hand in hand?  When put this way, the premise is not so controversial.  And when put this way, is it understandable that racial diversity leads many (both racial minority and expendable deplorable) to call on the government to do something about it?  Is this freedom?

Though this premise has been confirmed in much of the West for half a century, the assertion will shock many Americans, conditioned to place “inequality” (bad) and “diversity” (good) at opposite poles of a Manichean moral order.

Are you one of those “shocked” Americans?  Typically white, reasonably well-off, and never been at the “minority” end of “racial diversity”?  You should get out more often.  And maybe stop telling others how to feel about it.

Guilluy has written much about how little contact the abstract doctrines of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” make with this morally complex world.

Because it is never as simple as chanting “NAP, NAP, NAP.”  Humans are…human.

Citing Guilluy:

Unlike our parents in the 1960s, we live in a multicultural society, a society in which “the other” doesn’t become “somebody like yourself.”

Immigration works reasonably well when “the other” starts out life pretty close to “somebody like yourself.”  This was certainly true for the US for much of the period until the mid-1960s.  If “the other” is not “somebody like yourself” – and especially if they have no interest to be – well, witness Paris.

And when “the other” doesn’t become “somebody like yourself,” you constantly need to ask yourself how many of the other there are—whether in your neighborhood or your apartment building. Because nobody wants to be a minority.

Try being a minority for a while; there are few times in history and few places in the world where this has been a great experience.  The no longer working class of France understands this – they are treated as a minority in their own country.  The elite will come to understand this as they will soon enough also be in the minority – and being “elite” has never protected the minority.

Seventy percent of Frenchmen tell pollsters that “too many foreigners” live in France.  A democracy is supposed to take action according to such sentiments; this hasn’t happened in France.  Perhaps it is due to the demographics of those polled: Senior executives favor further immigration, mid-level managers and clerical workers disagree.

This has broken down traditional political constituencies:

Largely because of cultural questions, the authors warned, the working class no longer voted for the Left. The consultants suggested a replacement coalition of ethnic minorities, people with advanced degrees (usually prospering in new-economy jobs), women, youths, and non-Catholics—a French version of the Obama bloc.

And a direct read of the recent presidential election results in the United States.

The culture industry now sits in territory that is 100 percent occupied by the beneficiaries of globalization.

These senior executives and other winners in the new economy, labeled “Bobos” (“bourgeois” and “Bohemian”) hold themselves in high esteem:

These nouveaux riches differed from their predecessors in being more predatory and less troubled by conscience. They chased the working-class population from neighborhoods it had spent years building up—and then expected the country to thank them.

And label as “deplorable” those who don’t thank them.

The Delusion

Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them.

Recall the stunned look on the faces of the news anchors on the night of the US election, as the possibility, then the probability, then the reality of a Trump victory played out.

The immigrants with whom the creatives share the city are dazzlingly different, exotic, even frightening, but on the central question of our time—whether the global economic system is working or failing—they see eye to eye.

The system works for the immigrant and the elite.  I will also add: it works for the basket of acceptables.

This estrangement is why electoral results around the world last year—from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump—proved so difficult to anticipate.

Yes, because they live in their self-satisfied bubbles.

The real divide is no longer between the “Right” and the “Left” but between the metropoles and the peripheries. The traditional parties thrive in the former. The National Front (FN) is the party of the outside.

Just as in the US: the traditional democrats and republicans join together with the former; Trump (and in some ways Sanders) voters represent the latter.

French elites have convinced themselves that their social supremacy rests not on their economic might but on their common decency. Doing so allows them to “present the losers of globalization as embittered people who have problems with diversity,” says Guilluy.

The deplorables.

The banding together of establishment parties to defend the system against anti-system parties is happening all over the world.

Hence McCain prefers Clinton over Trump.

Forced Culture Change

The result, in terms of policy, is a number of what Guilluy calls “top-down social movements.” He doesn’t specify them, but they would surely include the Hollande government’s legalization of gay marriage, which in 2013 and 2014 brought millions of protesters opposing the measure onto the streets of Paris—the largest demonstrations in the country since World War II.

Or men are women and women are men – by law.  This is the “tolerance” we are expected to show; the tolerance we “owe” our fellow man…woman…oh, whatever.

This applies to all aspects of cultural change: immigration driven by voluntary means can bring wonderful benefits to all involved, to include an evolving culture.  There is nothing close to this in today’s world – more so the opposite; immigration is subsidized, coerced, driven by state action.  This is the “open borders” we are lectured to embrace.

Culture change by force; subsidized by the victims.  Nothing libertarian here.


Is liberty possible without fraternity – without some common, national bond?  Clearly, as we see played out throughout the west, the answer is no – as traditional national bonds are broken, society fragments and calls for ever-greater government action are made.

Destroying culture was the strategy of the communist Gramsci; he was far more prescient than was Marx (for whom Cultural Marxism is wrongly named).  It is clear that Gramsci’s strategy is being implemented throughout the west.  Why destroy a competing, relatively voluntary, governance structure?  Why destroy the one culture that gave birth to the ideas of freedom and liberty, the culture that dates back almost two thousand years in Europe?  To ask the question is to answer it.

So, what to make of libertarians who avoid these questions – or worse, deny the connection?  Is this out of ignorance, or worse, out of a preference for a leftist, socialist (even communist) world? 

I guess the answer to this question is irrelevant – either way, libertarians such as these are destructive toward achieving and maintaining liberty. 

What would one call an enemy of liberty?  I suggest, they are not libertarians.


I cannot help but think of Camp of the Saints, by Jean Raspail – coincidentally (or not), a Frenchman writing about massive immigration into France.

…and now, stretching over that empty sea, aground some fifty yards out, the incredible fleet from the other side of the globe, the rusty, creaking fleet that the old professor had been eyeing since morning. The stench had faded away at last, the terrible stench of latrines, that had heralded the fleet’s arrival, like thunder before a storm. The old man took his eye from the spyglass, moved back from the tripod. The amazing invasion had loomed up so close that it already seemed to be swarming over the hill and into his house.


  1. Hmmm.

    The equality (in duty, responsibility, and liberty, not on outcome), the 3rd leg in the French slogan, achievable only in the brotherhood.

    The elite's version of equality is equality within the categories, where their category is superior. Inequality of categories exist and the lesser categories must exist for the benefit of the elite.

    The question is, in which brotherhood we want to live in. There is no such thing as no-brotherhood societies.

    The closest to a man being its own island is a hermit living in a secluded land or a castaway. They soon go insane.

    1. What part of American governance of the last several decades would you consider to be not insane?

    2. They are insane in the sense that they expect a result that will not be forthcoming; it is more like extremely flawed [some times] analysis and conclusions.
      American governance is an outside force attempting to force virtue.
      Insanity, going mad -- what I am talking about is that loss in mind faculties.
      Search: long term effect of isolation
      Search; solitary confinement

  2. Didn’t you make the same point awhile back in terms of common culture.

    1. A few dozen times, perhaps. Each time I feel I am learning something and / or reinforcing something.

  3. It does seem that the phenomenon outlined in this article, and the several others preceding it, more closely describes what is going on (and what is at stake) in these latter days.

    I continue to struggle, Mr. M., with wanting to take every "one" as an individual...while being constantly sucker-punched by the reality of the many collectives.

    1. I struggle with the same thing; I don't think it will ever change to become anything but a struggle for me.

  4. BM, if you're not an "open borders libertarian," does that mean you advocate the state having a positive role in border control?

    1. So if you believe that the state should not be controlling who can or cannot move around, nor where, and presumably you also agree that private landowners should be their own border control, with respect to land that is not privately controlled how do you differ from an "open borders libertarian"?

    2. Why must I choose between these two options: either open borders or a police state?

    3. You shouldn't have to make that choice. Hence I'm interested to know what you propose regarding land that is not privately controlled.

    4. Ragnar Danneskjöld has the right answer.

      Until it is returned to me, I would prefer that those who now posses it take proper care of it. Just as I would if a thief stole my car.

      This doesn't mean that I support the thief (or the police state or current immigration control methods) - it just means I want my property returned to me in good condition.

    5. Assuming there are many with that view, how can the state reconcile your interests with respect to that property with conflicting interests of others who feel similarly aggrieved?

      And if you want the state to take care of this property, won't you have to support it continuing to confiscate income from the population, including you, to pay for its "care operations"?

    6. Given that all cross border immigration into the US occurs in fewer "states" than the original 13 colonies, and it has been a lot time since the federal government has controlled it, in reality, perhaps it is time for the border and coastal states to do as Arizona has been forced to do, secure their borders. If the federales want to secure the border of Arizona, they'll have to get the Border Guard to stay within their 25 mile jurisdiction thereof instead of harassing anglos all along I-8 and I-10 as they have been doing for well over a decade. Since they have been using hispanic Border Patrol agents to do it, and they have been waving hispanics through their checkpoints without even a word, it would be good start to treat them like the domestic enemies that they appear to be.

    7. NAPster

      Your question presupposes a libertarian answer exists regarding this topic. My earlier answers to your earlier questions should make clear that I do not believe this to be the case.

    8. Since illegal immigrants are trespassing, they are violating the property rights of those lawfully occupying the property. As such, anyone knowing firsthand about the commission of a crime is in position to arrest the criminal.

    9. I wasn't looking for a libertarian answer. I have been pondering your comments above (and some of your comments historically) that seem to indicate you believe there is something un-libertarian about advocating for "open borders" For example:

      "There is nothing close to this in today’s world – more so the opposite; immigration is subsidized, coerced, driven by state action. This is the “open borders” we are lectured to embrace.

      Culture change by force; subsidized by the victims. Nothing libertarian here."

      Couldn't one aspect of being an "open borders" libertarian simply be that you deny the legitimacy of any state action when it comes to admitting individuals to, or prohibiting them from entering, state-controlled property? That this is a principled objection to state action per se, even though the immediate consequences -- free movement into state-controlled property -- may not be favorable?

      At least some of those who are not "open borders" libertarians are, at a minimum, advocating for the state to act in accordance with their preferred policy. However, proposing that the state have such a role, and accepting that it will need to tax (and possibly use eminent domain) to carry out that role, could also be described as un-libertarian.

    10. Aside from the fact that the vast majority of the land that the federal government "owns" by controlling it is done in violation of Article 1 Section 8 Paragraph 17 of the Constitution, the illegals wouldn't be entering state-controlled property if the Constituion were enforced.

    11. There are un-libertarian aspects on both sides of this issue. So instead of advocating for open borders that will destroy culture and increase the role of the state, why not advocate for libertarian solutions that also enhance the possibility of liberty in the future?

      For example: being a citizen comes with privileges not available to the immigrant; go back to air travel as it was pre-911; stop all internal checkpoints; allow immigration only by private invitation from a citizen-sponsor – a job offer, and a place to live; hold the citizen-sponsor responsible for any financial support if necessary, such that the immigrant is not a burden to taxpayers; hold the citizen-sponsor liable for any breeches in behavior or conduct; respect the private property owner’s right to discriminate.

      All very libertarian; all designed to ensure the foundation of common culture that is beneficial toward keeping state-action tame.

      So why not advocate for these?

    12. I will also add: just because the state controls the property does not mean it is unowned - this aspect of my earlier response should not be neglected.

    13. If one is to take a deontological as opposed to a consequentialist position, shouldn't a libertarian just concern himself with advocating for policies that move us towards greater respect for private property rights? If so, how can we reconcile that with worrying about what might happen if we reject the state's legitimacy in every sphere, including border control?

      If one is to argue from a consequentialist position, aren't you making some very broad generalizations when you talk about "common culture"? It sounds a lot like the objectionable "common good" or "public interest" that statists are so fond of using to justify state action in other areas. In a country of over 300 million people, couldn't "culture" (or simply a desire to associate) be more local, down to the private property owner's household? What if a household of culture A wants to bring in others from that culture (or from culture X), and a household of culture B wants to bring in others from that culture (or from culture Y)? Who is to say that one is allowable and one is not? In addition to being an illegitimate entity, the state is a very blunt instrument, imposing a one-size-fits-all policy.

      The citizen/non-citizen distinction is purely a fiction of the state, so why should a libertarian buy into that concept? Many of your wish-list items are pro-private property rights, but then you leap to "common culture." What if the citizen-sponsors are my two households mentioned above?

    14. I offer my reply here:

      It was getting lengthy, and I wanted to address several aspects of your comment. So I started with a new post.

      If you care to continue the dialogue, we can do so there.

    15. BM, thank you for the civil back and forward in this comments section. I have enjoyed it, and have a much better appreciation for the divergence in views on this topic.

    16. Is it something I said?

      It never fails - just as we are getting to the root of the issues, those with a different view who decide to engage on this topic just cut off the conversation. And, even worse, it is often after I write my most extensive reply.

      What am I to think? Perhaps I am too harsh or direct.

    17. It was probably something that you said that brought them to the realization they they are not really libertarians, nor are they interested in giving up their statism. I have been accused by many of being too harsh or direct. I don't worry about it because I started out as a part of the libertarian minority and I doubt that I'll ever open a closed mind that wants to stay closed. I just refer them to the Advocates for Self-Government's World's Smallest Political Quiz and let them figure out where they are on the Diamond Chart instead of trying to convince them.

  5. Your definition of liberty, freedom from arbitrary control, is equivalent to freedom. Why use a different term? With such a definition, you appear to have committed the cardinal sin (according to you) of suggesting something which has "never existed in the history of the world," namely freedom *with* nation. Where is your example of when this has ever happened? So, the question should be a different one: Is freedom possible with nation? But I don't think that's really what you want to ask, because you are not really interested in freedom.

    In point of fact, the notion of liberty Hobbes, Locke, Smith, et al had in mind (and probably what you have in mind too without admitting it) is something totally different. Liberty, according to Hobbes is the collection of freedoms you have after *giving up* some freedoms in order to get along in society, i.e., after agreeing to a social contract. All societies have liberty, as this scam line of reasoning goes, and no society has complete freedom, else it's a "war of all against all." The North Koreans have liberty as do the Chinese and the Americans, it's just a question of which liberties, i.e., how much liberty. There is no freedom there (according to your stated, though presumably feigned, definition).

    As stated before, the real question is not "Is the NAP enough?" The question is "Are you interested in living in a society which is not founded on aggression?" If not, what is the required foundation for, and how does one build, a different society with a different foundation? It is my opinion that one central component of such a foundation must be individual property ownership---an idea you reject. As long as you start with individuals owned by other humans (rulers, patriarchs, society, or whatever) then your goose is cooked concerning freedom---fugetaboutit. You've got to figure out how to legitimately own something. Then you have a basis to objectively identify aggression and justify retaliation. Without a distinction between aggression and retaliation, you're just lost analyzing the silly antics of various slaves and masters---who are all really slaves in the real war of all against all.

    1. "It is my opinion that one central component of such a foundation must be individual property ownership---an idea you reject."

      What? Where did that come from?

    2. There are several ideas involved in the quoted comment. Most of what is there should be clear from the surrounding context. I will attempt to offer clarification on a couple points.

      My assertion is that under current conditions, (1) there is no reasonable and well-know/agreed upon definition of justifiably owned property, (2) the result is that most individuals have been completely dispossessed of both themselves and all other real/physical property, (3) the exercise of property ownership that does take place is essentially equivalent to slavery---the rulers own all other individuals (especially the productive ones) and all that which those individuals use and produce, i.e., you have the same situation which the king made explicit, and finally (4) that ownership is not justified, i.e., it is as illegitimate for the current rulers as it was for the king.

      Thus, "no property" is at the heart of the problem faced by anyone who wants to be free. One needs to take it upon one's self to determine what it means to own property and do what is necessary to do that.

      Many libertarians think the definition of property is settled. BM is one such person, hence my assertion the he rejects the suggestion of property ownership. He says he "knows what is his," which of course is no real answer and leads to absurd assertions like you'll find in his most recent blurb where he claims to "own" state controlled property. (

      At least Hoppe, Rand, Rothbard, Mises and others had the insight to recognize that a definition of property is required, i.e., a foundation for what constitutes property. Jeffrey Tucker (just to quote someone who is a bit better known than I) who recently pointed out in a not so well publicized lecture that all the stuff they wrote constituted absolutely nothing on the subject. In any case, Tucker is correct. I doubt he's going to get to his desired notion of property using the approach of "emergent norm" which he has inherited from Rothbard et al, but nevertheless, he is correct that there is no foundation---and that is a BIG problem.

      As a final comment, you can have a look at Hoppe's definition/foundation for property.

      It is interesting that he backs up each of his characteristics simply by saying that any alternative is absurd. This, of course, comes from Hoppe's bogus argumentation BS, so he can just say any nonsense and then cap of his nonsense with the assertion that to disagree with him is a contradiction. (It's really pretty funny for a guy who otherwise seems pretty sensible.) In any case, Hoppe's foundation for property is clearly nonsense which will be obvious if you think about it a little bit, as Tucker also points out.

      BM and I have had this discussion before, so I hope I've explained "where it comes from." In any case, I think I've clarified what I can.

    3. No, I still have no real idea where you're going. I can't even begin to concern myself with the claim that BM rejects individual property ownership as a foundation for society now that you've thrown out the most prominent libertarian theories on property.

      "Argumentation BS"?

      This whole paragraph is where my attention is. I don't see how we could ever discuss broader topics until I understand you here. Could you link to Tucker's argument against Hoppe's argumentation ethics and also realize I'm not going to reread Hoppe's lecture. I've heard it, and I'd be willing to engage discussion on pointed arguments, not the whole document.

      But really I'm just responding to say I tried to follow you. I'd still be interested to see where your thoughts come from and go. But I'm not here to argue.

  6. Ayn Rand and Robert Ringer, for example, have denigrated the idea of White people considering themselves as part of a group, an extended family.
    "Individualism" is the cry.
    Yet Mr Ringer who condemned that in his book on "Freedom" is a devoted member of his ethnic group, the same group of Ayn Rand.

    This review of a Professor's book explains it all very well.

    I doubt many libertarians have any idea of what has been transpiring over the decades.

    1. I didn't know that Robert Ringer was a Russian immigrant.

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