Consider this question
Open your eyes
Examine your own reflection
What are you willing to die for?
- Illumination Theory, Dream Theater
For a New Libertarian: a talk by Jeff Deist given jointly to students at Mises University and participants at the Corax 2017 conference:
In closing, I’ll mention an email exchange I had recently with the blogger Bionic Mosquito. If you’re not reading Bionic Mosquito, you should be!
OK, that’s all of the important stuff; you can stop here if you want.
Now that we have that out of the way…The above was from Jeff’s conclusion; what was he after?
…libertarians have a bad tendency to fall into utopianism, into portraying liberty as something new age and evolved. In this sense they can sound a lot like progressives: liberty will work when human finally shed their stubborn old ideas about family and tribe, become purely rational freethinkers (always the opposite), reject the mythology of religion and faith, and give up their outdated ethnic or nationalist or cultural alliances for the new hyper-individualist creed. We need people to drop their old-fashioned sexual hangups and bourgeois values, except for materialism.
Libertarians of this stripe – and admittedly, there are many – sound like Cultural Marxists; as I prefer to put it, Cultural Gramsci-ists. Antonio Gramsci was a Marxist thinker and philosopher. He concluded that the west would not be won over to communism via an uprising of the working class; what was necessary was to destroy the culture.
Gramsci was the Frankfurt School before there was a Frankfurt School.
Libertarians of the left embrace Gramsci – some by name (I’m not lying), the rest in spirit. They are joined in their quest to destroy traditional western culture by the likes of George Soros and most western governments and institutions.
Who do you think has a better handle on where this culture-destroying road leads – your government or the likes of Kevin Carson and Reason Magazine? (Or are they all on the same team?)
Returning to Deist:
…while libertarians enthusiastically embrace markets, they have for decades made the disastrous mistake of appearing hostile to family, to religion, to tradition, to culture, and to civic or social institution — in other words, hostile to civil society itself.
Which is bizarre if we think about it. Civil society provides the very mechanisms we need to organize society without the state.
Many years ago, well before bionic was even a twinkle in my eye and well before I was able to maturely consider anything associated with this idea of libertarians and culture, I tried explaining libertarian theory to my father. He asked, very directly: “What are you? A communist?” I thought he was crazy, but I have come to learn that he understood this stuff far better than I did.
Something or someone will govern. Those who believe otherwise understand nothing of human nature and human reality. Communists and libertarians such as these hold a common view – a view proven to not only fail in practice but one that has demonstrably been the deadliest ever foisted on man: there need be no hierarchy; a new man will emerge, requiring no authority above himself.
Something or someone will govern. And never in human history has the entirety of governance been made manifest solely in markets. Honest trade has never been the sole governing function, the sole means by which civil society is ordered.
Of two things I am certain: first, man will always embrace religion – gods or God, something bigger, greater, and more profound than himself. As I have all of recorded history on my side, evident in every culture anywhere in the world, I will entertain as reasonable no contrary positions to this.
Second, for as long as man will continue to populate this world, he will first be born into a family; he will have a father and mother. And into this family he will find himself in his first governance structure. I have all of recorded history (and biology) on my side of this one as well, so save your disagreements.
Absent some dystopian, test-tube nightmare – a category within which I can place the ideas of many left-libertarians and Cultural Gramsci-ists – children will be born and raised thus.
In order to function in this world, individuals will join. Many stay connected to family for a lifetime – to pretend this isn’t true is to ignore reality. As infants grow and mature, they might choose to leave family and form another – literally or figuratively. They join social and civic groups; they form other bonds, institutions, organizations. Individuals choose to belong.
It scarcely needs to be said that family has always been the first line of defense against the state, and the most important source of primary loyalty — or divided loyalty, from the perspective of politicians. Our connection with ancestors, and our concern for progeny, forms a story in which the state is not the main character.
No, Jeff…sadly, it needs to be said. Left-libertarians might ask themselves: why does the state spend so much energy to destroy the family? Is it because the state holds the same objective as these left-libertarians: the state is also looking to end the state?
I am willing to bet not; and I am willing to bet that the state – in full concert with Antonio Gramsci – knows better than the shallow-thinking (or merely dishonest) left-libertarians where this road leads.
Religion forms another important line of defense against the state. In fact the whole history of man cannot be understood without understanding the role of religion. Even today healthy percentages of people in the West believe in God, regardless of their actual religious observance. And believing in a deity by itself challenges the state’s omniscience and status. Again, religion stands as a potential rival for the individual’s allegiance….
Law from a source outside of and higher than any man living today – feel free to call it God, feel free to call it custom and tradition. Beginning with the Renaissance, we have moved to a place where some men are above the law – the enlightened thinkers have authority over all of us because they are the law.
Individuals choose to belong. It is to these that they choose: family, civic organizations, religion. Something will govern. It can be through these voluntary (or at least reasonably voluntary) means, or it can be through coercion: government, as we know it today. I prefer the cultural means; to choose otherwise means you choose government coercion.
Because governance cannot be avoided in human relationships.
I assure you I’m neither interested in nor judgmental toward your personal beliefs or lifestyle preferences — and neither was Murray Rothbard. And of course libertarianism per se has nothing to say about how one lives.
I would hope this need not be said, yet it obviously must.
But it remains true that civil society should be celebrated by libertarians at every turn. To believe otherwise is to ignore what humans actually want and actually do, which is create communities.
To believe otherwise is to hope for the creation of a new man – something every utopian political philosophy calls for; something that has always resulted in death and destruction.
There is a word for people who believe in nothing: not government, family, God, society, morality, or civilization. And that word is nihilist, not libertarian.
I suggest Jeff is only slightly exaggerating: they believe in something, in markets – just not private property…which, I know, is impossible…but, there you have it. So, maybe Jeff isn’t exaggerating.
In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance.
Try to convince a large portion of your neighbors that these don’t matter; you will quickly learn the meaning of the term irrelevance, as you will find yourself irrelevant.
I asked [bionic mosquito] the same hypothetical question I have for you: what would you fight for? The answer to this question tells us a lot about what libertarians ought to care about.
By this I mean what would you physically fight for, where doing so could mean serious injury or death. Or arrest and imprisonment, or the loss of your home, your money, and your possessions.
How many of you reading this blog will fight (physically fight) for the non-aggression principle? How many are fighting against 40% or greater tax rates, tens of thousands of new rules and regulations every year, privacy violations of every imaginable (and unimaginable) type?
I suggest that the answer is zero. Because, for the small handful who have fought this fight, they are in prison or dead…in neither case reading this blog.
On the other hand, how many will fight for your family, your home, maybe even religion – all offering governance structures outside of the state? I suspect some number more – much more – than zero. Your neighbors will understand this without hesitation.
So…why work to destroy this? Why aren’t these embraced as a key foundation for moving toward a libertarian world?
Consider this question
Look deep inside
Deliver a true confession
What are you willing to live for?
Isn’t it the same question?
So, what of this Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire, this Paradox of Black Light?
Libertarianism is a very individualistic political philosophy; to the extent we can move toward it, it can only be made a reality in this world by accepting that man is a social (and not merely material) being.
And this social construct has been developed and nurtured over hundreds of generations; it is foolish to think man will allow it to drastically change anytime soon…
…at least not without a fight.