Friday, September 8, 2017

The Closing Chapter

I have come to conclude that I either understand far less than I thought I did or perhaps that I don’t write very clearly.  Maybe it is some of each.

As many of you know, this blog is an exploration for me; a learning tool.  The writing makes me think; your feedback makes me think.  I often don’t know what I think until I work through the process.

I have been writing on the broad topic of left-libertarians, libertarian theory, and culture for perhaps three years.  I feel I have grown much via this process – I never really valued that the non-aggression principle needed something more to be a functional political philosophy before I began this journey.

I knew that the NAP didn’t answer every question in life before this journey, but I never really took the effort to articulate why.  This journey helped me discover such things.

I have learned that the NAP – as wonderful as it is, as the best political theory man can devise absent God – offers its own dangers and shortcomings; I wouldn’t even have known to say “absent God” before this journey began. 

I have learned not to expect that the NAP carry a bigger load than that for which it is designed.

I think about the conflicts that honest libertarian thinkers have in applying the principle in real life.  For example, how can the same political theory both support and deny abortion?  Yes, I know – libertarians who take one side or the other in this debate will say that the theory does NOT support the other side. 

But, there you have it: well-reasoned arguments that the non-aggression principle does not apply one moment before birth but does apply one moment after birth.  Maybe this is right.  Some theory.

How can a political theory of non-aggression justify shooting a child as punishment for stealing an apple?  I wrote at the time: if this is so then the NAP is dead to me.  But a very principled libertarian said it is so.  Of course, I believe he is wrong, even under the NAP.  But I am not infallible in my application of theory.  If he is right, is this the libertarian world in which you long to live?  Do you think such a world has a future?

Every political theory has seeds of potential abuse in it.  Liberalism, which offers many seeds for what has become libertarianism, is not exempt from this.  As wonderful as many people find liberalism to be, it cannot be ignored that the French, in 1789, put their interpretation of liberté, égalité, fraternité into practice.

We can say that communism in theory is Lenin and Stalin in practice.  Can we say that liberalism in France was somehow less destructive to human life?

“But bionic, pure liberalism has never been tried.”  When it comes to humans, nothing is pure.  In any case, on the most fertile soil, with the best liberal thinkers in the world, it was tried – starting in 1776.  The first generation could not wait to begin abusing it.  Americans quickly found themselves under a more tyrannical government than anything King George offered.

Could you find better humans with which to try this experiment?

And keep in mind, America’s best libertarian, Thomas Jefferson, was a supporter of the French version – of course, he didn’t like the violence (communists say the same about the Soviet Union)…but once a political theory is unleashed, we don’t always get to pick and choose which path it takes – toward the dark side or the light. 

And every political theory offers both sides – some more dark, some more light, but both sides present.

Some take such criticism as a damnation of liberalism.  It could also be taken as a word of caution.  There’s a thought.

Libertarianism sprung forth from liberalism, it is claimed.  Certainly the links are solid.  Yet, the most libertarian society I have found – the longest lasting – was based on law that was applied at least 1000 years before the reformation, and 1300 years before the liberalism of the 18th century. 

Depending on the region of Central Europe, it lasted up to 1000 years.  It wasn’t perfect peace, but let’s not get carried away with unrealistic expectations.

It was not pure libertarianism, but it wasn’t bad.  Relationships were based on contract; law was individualized; oaths were taken cementing commitments.  It also required a certain cultural soil on which to thrive, one based on family, land, and God.

Was it perfect?  Don’t bother me with this.  It was built on a basis of privatized law, decentralized society.  This is as libertarian as it’s going to get on this earth.

But most who call themselves libertarian today cannot accept any of these words: family, land, God.  Maybe they are right.  What do you think?

Once western European man said law comes from man’s reason and not from God – or custom for the atheists in the audience – well, all that was left was for the right man to make the law.  Of course, the right man rarely gets to make the law.

This is also the foundation for liberalism, which is the foundation for libertarianism.  I guess nothing is pure.

I still believe that the non-aggression principle is the best political theory devised by man; I believe that private contract and decentralization is this theory put into practice.  I believe it comes with its own dangers; I believe something more is required; as with all political theories, I believe some caution is in order.

The Closing Chapter

I had written a long reply to my previous post regarding hating the state, basically all in reply to your comments.  Your comments helped to shape my view.  I intended the first post as an ice-breaker, one that I knew would give me a wide variety of feedback and therefore give me the opportunity to better crystalize my thoughts. 

I am not going to post it.  I am not going to write on this general topic of libertarians and culture for at least some time – I don’t want to say ever, because the topic interests me too much.

Because I have come to conclude that I either understand far less than I thought I did or perhaps that I don’t write very clearly.  Maybe it is some of each.

I am going to focus on my books – I have a shelf full of books that I want to read and write about.  These posts are the least read posts at this blog, but traffic was never my objective.

I will comment on empire and war – in the end, if the NAP means anything, it means an end to these.  Yet, there are many prominent libertarians who feel otherwise even on this.  So I guess this will be a problem, too.

Of course, we are told that libertarianism is universal.  Well…universal political philosophies can be implemented in no other manner. 

Go figure.


  1. This post reaches levels of intellectual honestly previously thought impossible.

    Sad to see my favorite subject get shelved but I look forward to seeing what books you will be covering. This blog has become something like a comfy old sofa for me.

    BM, your blog is a sofa. How does that make you feel? ;)

  2. Well, I hope you keep writing on left-libertarians, libertarian theory, and culture. I'm a longtime libertarian with longtime culturally conservative leanings. I find the subject endlessly fascinating.

  3. Without a commonly accepted set of expectations (cultural norms) in interpersonal interactions, many a faux pas could be construed as NAP violations. A never ending search for redress.

    Left libertarians are tone deaf with regard to all the assumptions when interacting with other human beings. Assumptions required, otherwise each interaction would necessitate an endless communication of definitions to establish a modicum of common understanding, to successfully carry through an exchange.

    Well done BM.

  4. Dear Bionic: I don't know who really said it first, but always have remembered "beware of isms". No matter who it was who issued that warning, I think he or she was and is still right.

  5. Bionic, I've followed your journey with fascination, and I've learned so much by doing so. We share so much in outlook, but I could never express my beliefs as eloquently as you do. I too have explored the NAP pathway only to look up at one point and realize it's CULTURE stupid! Too bad that valuing Western Civilization is now deemed racist. This is how it ends.
    I'm glad you're continuing to blog. Your book discussions are incredible!
    So, Thanks, B.M.!!!

  6. I always thought of myself as a Libertarian Christian, but there were things that bothered me, like abortion. I also noticed how Libertarians would read their views into events (like everybody else). For example, they tended to follow the conservative narrative following Katrina (White people found stuff but Blacks were looting, etc).
    I finally changed when I thought of how, at the end of the sermon each Sunday, we would all stand & affirm our faith in the words of the Nicene creed (Episcopal, Rite II). I thought of the line, "He will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom shall have no end."
    And I said, "Oh, well, that's it then! I'm a Monarchist". Of course that's THE King. I don't miss the Hapsburgs or Romanovs much, and our current crop of monarchs seems to support the Lizard People theory.
    As far as "isms" go, remember that these are abstractions that exist only between people's ears. Each ism is different for each person, so we have endless arguments about whose abstraction is better, since our over-academic society treats abstractions as much more real & important than actual people, things, or events.

  7. Bionic, goolag does not allow site search of your blog. in case you did not notice yet.

    1. "test site:"

      works for me..

  8. BM, a lot of what you have written on culture has given me some needed focus to issues I have been thinking about for quite a while. UC has too, for that mater.

    I have to say I find it entertaining how many of us struggle to answer what is after all a pretty simple question. The answer itself is subjective, maybe too subjective to put into words that others can relate to.

    I hope you are not overly discouraged by this. We are all individuals, a herd of cats as the saying goes. If we didn't surprise and confuse you with our responses occasionally, I imagine blogging would become pretty boring.

  9. do not get disheartened.

    The average person can not follow the long chains of reasoning.

    Some men can think deeper and more refined thoughts than others. There are men who unfortunately cannot grasp a process of inference in long chains of deductive reasoning.

    there are people out there who read more than 5000 books.
    I am not one of them.


  10. I respect the decision you have made. I don't like it personally, but it is (obviously) not up to me. For what it is worth, thank you for taking the high dive deep into Libertarianism and Culture over the past three years. I have grown and have learned much from it. And I know that I am not alone in feeling that way. And please take note that there is a third way. It doesn't have to be strictly that you understand far less than you thought you did or that you don’t write very clearly. Remember..."For now we see in a mirror dimly..."

  11. site:
    is not working for a while

  12. Does a 50-year-old man have a "right" to bugger a nine-year-old boy? Does the boy's father have a "right" to throttle the buggerer for violating the "right" of his son to be free from buggery? Do left-libertarians really believe their noble-sounding abstractions can answer the conundrum posed by Fred Reed in the passage below?

    “Why not pedophilia? There exists (with a website) an outfit called NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association, whose members believe they are entitled to engage in anal intercourse with your nine-year-old son. They aren't kidding, and they begin to get support from advanced minds in academia.

    “Here too a society that cannot simply say ‘no’ finds itself at the mercy of logic-choppers. Proponents of pedophilia might (and do) argue that it is natural, that our repugnance for it is merely a cultural artifact, a product of repressive patriarchal Christianity. The ancient Greeks engaged in it. Our designation of 15 or 18 as the age of consent is purely arbitrary; a boy of nine is human, has civil rights, and can choose. Anyway, pedophilia is harmful only because we teach our children that it is shameful, instead of teaching them that it is a natural celebration of life and love. Those who have tried it know it to be warm and loving, etc.”

  13. This is my last comment on the subject as well, unless Bi-Mosq brings it up. Bionic knows that I'm mostly here for his history posts which I use to indoctrinate my children (bwahaha, twisting mustache).

    I don't see (or can't envision) libertarianism as a politically viable system. It is a philosophy that could affect politics, which uses the NAP as the basis for the theories. If gov-guns are used, it's not a viable libertarian solution to something, imo. As for the "scholars", they exist to post their thoughts on every known aspect of life. One can pick any subject and find their apologist. ["I begin by taking. I shall find scholars later to demonstrate my perfect right." - Frederick the Great, (1712-1786) King of Prussia]

    The aforementioned nasty stuff that may happen under the libertarian theory can be found in just about any system (exponentially nasty sometimes). Pedophelia? Already happening big time. Shooting others because they can? Already happening. Yadda yadda, etc. ad nauseam.

    Ah, but find a helpful, non-government solution to a problem? From a business invention, to a large group uniting to lower their medical costs, all the way to an anarcho-syndicalist commune with a weekly rotating executive officer whose decisions are ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority - in the case of purely internal affairs - but by a two thirds majority in the case of more... That's a plus in my book.

    So NAP libertarianism is my happy place - even if those solutions are few and far between. Also, the tandem philosophy of Austrian Economics has stood the test of time. I've found that to be very helpful over the years.

  14. BM,I enjoyed your insughtful post on culture and libertarianism. I recently discovered your blog thanks to Jeff Deist @ MisesU. I have been in the libertarian circle for about 2 years now. It all started with the death of my 16 year old cousin who was gunned down due to gang activity. I was in search for truth being a 22 year old man at the time I wondered why have certain black American cultures degraded. I searched for a answer it brought me to a political philosophy libertarianism and capitalism as my economic thought. I got involved with my local Chicago chapter, but soon saw that I was surrounded by left libertarians. I say all this to say thank you. You have been a inspiration. I have found Christ again in my life and my wife and I finally understand it is culture that matters. I definitely see the west home to a once highly moral and ethical people is degrading. I hope to bring about change by being that example for generations to follow. Keep up the great work.

  15. Pick up a copy of Fools Errand by Scott Horton yet? Highly recommend you add it to your pile.....

  16. Please read and do a review on "A Spontaneous Order: The Capitalist Case For A Stateless Society" :)