Thursday, December 14, 2017

You’re so Full of What is Right, You Can’t See What is True*

A few days ago you wrote a brief comment that I chose not to post; I am sure you remember it.  At the time I considered not posting any more of your comments.  If you chose to make such a comment again – toward me or any member of this community – I will not be so forgiving.

This is an interesting community here.  As I only recall you a newcomer to the comments section, I will offer some background.  A reasonably wide variety of perspectives are found in the comments section – ranging from puritan libertarians (I have come to embrace the term “autistic” libertarians) to what is generally understood as alt-right (I use the term for convenience; it applies to those here, including libertarians, who value tradition and culture; call them conservative). 

I am sure that the autistic libertarians consider me conservative, while the extreme alt-right considers me libertarian.  I am pretty satisfied straddling this position – one who buys into the non-aggression principle as a political theory while valuing certain cultural mores and traditions. 

This is not to say that I do not value the NAP or understand the theory; I am 100% (not a typo) certain I can build an argument on the theory as well as anyone writing today.

Certainly this community reflects the topics on which I chose to write – much of which is centered on the idea of libertarians and culture, libertarians in a world populated by flawed humans.  That I allow such a wide-ranging dialogue has cost me with individuals on the extreme ends of the spectrum, but I have concluded that the price I have paid is worth what I have gained in exchange. 

I have disagreements with those on the far ends of each end of the spectrum – on both the extreme libertarian end and the extreme (non-libertarian) alt-right end; one because there is no value placed on groups, and the other because there is no value placed on individuals.

What I have found is interesting: from these two extreme groups with which I sometimes disagree, the rudest and least civil, the most evasive, the most obnoxious, the most sanctimonious, the most picayune, the most likely to ignore what was written and respond to whatever is made up, the ones who introduce the strawman arguments, come solely from the extreme libertarians. 

It is as if the ideology has become a religion to them, handed down from some god, infallible.  It struck me when, the other day, I read Walter Block describe the NAP as the one true faith; it really is an ignorant statement.  I see examples of its faithful here regularly.

Further, I find those on the alt-right end of the spectrum within this community as being quite well-versed in understanding the NAP; the extreme libertarians demonstrate approximately zero understanding of the reality of culture, tradition, and nation.  In other words, those on the alt-right in this community understand both sides of the argument; the autistic libertarians only understand their own.

You will note: I say nothing about agreeing or disagreeing, differing opinions, etc.  I don’t care if someone disagrees with me or any member of the community; I care about the dialogue, and that the dialogue is held by individuals who can contribute positively and productively.

Now, why do I bother with all of this – at least all of it past the part where I warn you that you are one uncivil comment away from being unwelcome here?  From your comment:

Nor do I believe that "European Jews" per se were bad for Palestinians.


Per se: by, of, for, or in itself; intrinsically.

Very little of the complexity in this world is “per se.”  However, even a superficial understanding of the role European Jews played in history when it relates to the treatment of Palestinians would make clear the connection, would make clear Matt’s point.  You seem too knowledgeable not to know this history.

I offer the following from Rothbard (and I won’t offer links, these are easy enough to find):

At bottom is the point which many of us had to learn painfully over the years: that there can be no genuine separation between formal political ideology and cultural views and attitudes.

…we must not fall into a nihilist trap.  While only individuals exist, individuals do not exist as isolated and hermetically sealed atoms. …all individuals grow up in a common culture and language.

The nation properly refers, not to the State, but to the entire web of culture, values, traditions, religion, and language in which the individuals of a society are raised.  It is almost embarrassingly banal to emphasize that point, but apparently many libertarians aggressively overlook the obvious.

“Embarrassingly banal”: such is Rothbard’s view of autistic libertarians. 

I agree.


  1. "I understood you to be asking about the entry of European Jews into Palestine; in turn, I raised the comparable case of immigration of European Christians into America... Yes, I know you asked me about Palestinians. I am not playing "gotcha" by comparing their plight with that of American Indians, but testing the consistency of your logic and ethics".

    This describes a "gotcha" scenario to a tee. If that isn't gotcha, then gotcha may well not exist as a concept. As I said - we know the state of the American Indian and their dispossession. I can categorically say that it was bad for the American Indians (and beneficial to the whites).

    I could just have easily asked about the American Indians. That said it is very easy to divert and dismiss the American Indian situation because it happened so long ago, the Indians didn't really have borders, and so on. That's why I speak of a modern, comparable example that is difficult to dismiss. Palestine.

    "You may be thinking of our correspondence elsewhere, when I discussed the recent case of a man shot by North Korean border guards as he attempted to emigrate to South Korea. But with respect to the "open borders" debate, direction makes no difference, does it?"

    Absolutely it does make a difference. You have a right to leave, but there is no right to enter. If I visit your house, I can leave by the front door, and expect that you would not prevent that. I cannot leave though your backyard and enter your neighbor's property.

    South Korea welcomes defectors, so there is no problem with what the escaping soldier did. My question to you was does a foreign, non-Korean person have a right to enter North Korea without permission? If so, why? And if they are told that they may not enter North Korea or are otherwise prevented from entering, what exact "aggression" has been committed? Surely aggression can only be assumed if the non-Korean person somehow had an innate right to be in North Korea. I see no such innate right. Perhaps you can explain it to me.

    "Contrary to your suggestion, I do not believe that Palestine during the period in question ever had open borders, or even control of its borders"

    Palestine was under the control of the British mandate. The borders were opened for exclusively Jewish immigration against the will of the Palestinian populace who did not want Jewish immigration. It doesn't matter whether the borders were otherwise controlled because under your formulation, national populations must not be allowed to determine the composition of immigrants, or whether or not immigrants must be accepted at all. What you are saying effectively is that the desires of the local population are irrelevant, that they must accept any and all immigrants, and if somehow they still object then they have a pathological fear of the other ("I suspect that the reason many of them cannot let go of their government border guards is that they fear an influx of brown-skinned people).

  2. "Nor do I believe that "European Jews" per se were bad for Palestinians. Certainly some of the Zionists within Palestine, whether native or immigrant, caused a tremendous amount of suffering by seeking to establish through violence a Jewish state within Palestine, but their actions are just another argument against aggression, whether within a state or at its boundaries".

    The local Jewish population never had the numbers to make a difference. All of the immigrants that went to Palestine were Zionists, and the plan was to go there and dispossess the Palestinians.

    How should the Palestinians have answered this "aggression" had they actually been in control of their own borders? Should they have just permitted the European Jews to migrate to Palestine, even knowing what the Zionist project meant for the Palestinians? Should they have treated Jewish terrorist attacks and militant activities as ordinary crimes for the police to deal with? Should the Palestinians behaved as atomized individuals while the Jewish immigrants acted in tribal concert?

    Or could this whole problem have been avoided if the European Jews had never been permitted to migrate to Israel? Certainly if the Palestinians had control of their own borders, that would never have been allowed. As it turns out, the British government was under Jewish influence, and surprise, the British government facilitated the migration of European Jews to Palestine.

    "I cannot speak for Mr. Hornberger, but seriously doubt he has ever expressed the Utopian view that open borders ensure "prosperity and peace." I know that I hold no such illusions. The most that can be said with certainty is that open borders ensure the state will not breach the peace at its boundaries, and that the prospects for prosperity improve to the extent destructive violence is avoided."

    If open borders can't bring peace and prosperity, and open borders can actually cause wholesale destruction and dispossession, as in the case of the Palestinians, then what is the point in making it a core nonnegotiable principle? Is preventing butthurt by people not permitted to enter the national boundaries of a nation of people that don't want them there really worth it?

    1. I am probably not the person you are expecting a reply from. However, I wanted to know if you also have a blog?

    2. Only my moribund blog. I hadn't posted there in years though, so I allowed the hosting to lapse. I still have the source so I will put it back up again around the end of the year.

      Its mostly about Asian politics, though. Back in the day it was quite famous.

  3. >[BM disagrees with far-right] because there is no value placed on individuals.

    Strictly speaking this is true. An individual is a unit of account. If you changed the number from 1 to 0 what would happen?

    Nothing, it just ceases to be. A person on the other hand is worth something, especially the superior the type of person. This is because a person, a man, is defined by what he comes from- his nature, what he belongs to, and his station. If he was to perish the *whole* would be worse off. His Nation would no longer have him as a part. He would no longer be able to actualize his potential as a part of the whole.

    Man has no worth as a unit, he has worth in his contribution and belonging to something beyond himself.

    Quality > Quantity

    1. I think your taking Bionic out of context a bit. An individual is only a 'unit of account' if that is how you wish to see him. The individual, to me, is the foundation of society, because a group is only a collection of individuals who share common interests.

      The more freedom a man has to live the more he is able to add value to his life and the lives of those around him. The more freedom a man has to leave the more his belonging to something outside himself becomes meaningful.

      The libertarian political tradition is the best we have to offer as flawed human beings seeking moral and material progress. Libertarians, however, do themselves a huge disservice when they focus solely on this and do not consider or appreciate the value of culture and tradition outside the realm of the just use of violence in society. Bionic's term 'autistic libertarian' is very apt.

      Political conservatives and others who often advocate violation of the NAP in order to protect the interests of their preferred group fall into the opposite trap. They do themselves a huge disservice when they do not fully appreciate the value of individuals. Often their goals as a group (such as the proliferation of moral virtue) are thwarted by the aggressive limitations imposed or the license bestowed upon individuals.

      "If you changed the number from 1 to 0 what would happen?"

      There is much more to life than seeing the world in ones and zeroes my friend.

    2. ATL, I first heard the term "autistic libertarian" from the individual to whom you have replied, UC. Just as it has struck you, it did also for me - even more so as I went further into this dialogue of culture and tradition and the mantra came ever stronger: "the answer to everything is the NAP, NAP, NAP."

      UC will agree that he and I see things a little differently when it comes to individuals, groups, etc. He knows that there are places he will go (certainly in dialogue, maybe physically) that I would never consider.

    3. It sounds like something UC would say. I enjoy reading his criticisms of libertarianism, because I feel he often has something meaningful to say, something that challenges my conception or defense of freedom in a realistic way.

      Having said that, I certainly don't think white ethno-statism is the cure all solution, and I believe that UC does. After all, many white people are to blame for the current bloated mess of the state and society. In other words, I recognize plenty of white people as my enemy.

      White males in particular have done a lot for civilization and humanity and this cannot be denied, but not all white males are created equal and not all wish to be my ally.

    4. >I think your taking Bionic out of context a bit. An individual is only a 'unit of account' if that is how you wish to see him.

      I am being deliberately pedantic with respect to terminology in order to draw out a more philosophical point about the difference in our worldviews. There is obviously a colloquial meaning to individual that is synonymous with person/man but there is also a philosophical trajectory to how the word came about and the worldview it signifies.

      It quite literally means “something that can’t be divided further”- a quantitative concept. Liberalism is by and large the philosophy that places the man-unit as the highest end. This is why it is both egalitarian and universal- mans supposed value comes from simply existing. I believe treating man this way debases him.

      The contrary, call it the Traditional view, is as I explained above. The potential of the person is best actualized in a broader political/spiritual context in which the rights and station of man correspond to his actual worth as a part of a higher Order.

      Ultimately I see the liberal/modern view of man to be far more crudely “collectivist” than the Traditional one. “Society” is just a collection of man-atoms with no higher function and the best “society” is one in which the man-atoms can maximize the satisfaction of their wants.

      >The more freedom a man has the more he is able to add value

      I agree with this completely but I think we mean different things by freedom. Freedom to my mind is the ability to maximize your true potential. It is not a virtue to say “well I could have been a pornographer.” Nothing is gained from the “freedom” to become a pornographer. Man’s true potential is maximized by his place in a higher order that gives him the place he most deserves.

      >those who advocate violating NAP to protect their preferred group do themselves a disservice by not appreciating the value of individuals

      If you admit you can protect your people by violating the NAP what of value here is lost? Seems like a very obvious choice (especially when, like me, you don’t even recognize the NAP to begin with). What is owed to this abstract individual? Here is that egalitarianism again.

      >More to life than ones and zeros
      Exactly my point.

      If you are interested in where I am coming from you can read Julius Evola.,_Individualism_and_the_%22Immortal_Principle%22_of_Equality.html

    5. >I certainly don't think white ethno-statism is the cure all solution, and I believe that UC does. After all, many white people are to blame for the current bloated mess of the state and society. In other words, I recognize plenty of white people as my enemy.

      Race is a necessary but insufficient condition for the ideal state. Other requirements would be a vital culture, a true aristocracy, and a basis in non-human principles (the sacred).

  4. “Yes, I recall, and stand by it--not as a general appraisal of your character, but rather of the inconsistent sincerity of your argumentation.”

    Bullsh!t. You made a very general statement, beginning with “You.”

    Not something I wrote, not a comment on which we either disagreed or perhaps just did not understand each due to the less-than-robust-dialogue-enabling comments section of a blog.


  5. "Man has no worth as a unit, he has worth in his contribution and belonging to something beyond himself."

    A nice doctrine when it is applied to one's self, but applied to others and taken to extremes it has some frightening ramifications.

    1. Jeff,

      It’s essentially the view of the ancients found in classical civilization. It may seem strange or dangerous to moderns but in the current year the doctrine of the individual has advanced to the point where both adults and children are being given hormone treatments and having their genitals mutilated. Every day it seems a new letter is added to the sodomite soup (LGBTPQHSHD). Don’t even get me started on human rights imperialism (sad gas baby picture time to send bomb Syria and kill its leader!).

      The Organic State allows for people to achieve their greatest potential where as the Liberal State debases the human personality and renders him an “individual,” which in turn makes the social fabric weak and vulnerable to predation from on high.

      Socrates wanted to be remembered as a man who fought at Delium, not as an “individual.” Self-sacrifice and heroism are the highest virtues of a civilization.

    2. I don't think the "doctrine of the individual" is what we have now. Here's my theory:

      We have a massive collectivist nanny state that encourages adults to remain as though they were children for much (if not all) of their lives.

      It has robbed them of their history and tradition through Marxist public education, and in so doing, it has robbed them of any connection with their cultural roots. Since they have no connection with their historical culture, they continually try fill this hole with a creation of their own, but their efforts are invariably bent through the prism of the indoctrination they received at the hands of the state. The result is the 'sodomite soup' you mentioned, as well as feminists and Muslims finding common cause, safe spaces, hysterical intolerance toward reasonably intolerant people, and all manner of other societal confusions.

      This cultural anarchy creates chaos, and thus it prevents meaningful opposition to the state from organizing against it. The American Leviathan is much smarter than its Red cousin to the East. Unified cultures are dangerous to the state, therefore it is best when your subjects are divided among themselves.

    3. UC,

      I'm mostly in agreement with ATL. I sure wouldn't call the current trend a doctrine of the individual. Still, I find the man has no worth as a unit doctrine pretty compelling. Even from a straight libertarian perspective it rings true. Very few would survive on their own in a libertarian world with nothing of value to trade.

  6. This comment section is riveting.

  7. Off topic, but since the opening of this blog entry cites Rush lyrics, I wanted to celebrate with any like minded folks here at BM the fact that the Moody Blues are finally going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Now, back to regular programming......

  8. I am hoping that someone will tell me how it is within the NAP that a person comes across the boarder of my country and then gets free services like education, healthcare, etc?

    What the open boarders folks don't say is that the aggression against the locals has already taken place when the government of a country promises to give or just gives a person from outside the country some benefit at the expense of those in the country.

    1. To the contrary they say it loud and clear. They oppose all coerced wealth transfer. Their argument is that if you don't want immigrants to benefit from socialist giveaway programs in your country your strategy should be to force an end to such giveaways. It should not be to create ANOTHER socialist program such as centrally planned immigration control, to try to mitigate the ills wrought by the first socialist program. In fact the creation of follow on socialist programs to deal with the mess created by the original ones is precisely how a country comes to be SATURATED in socialism.

    2. It’s extreme context denial. What you named is but one of many examples of the same problem.

      The fact is painfully simple: in America there is a specific political system and it is not based on the NAP. No political system ever has been. To apply the NAP to it is like playing chess and saying “king me.”

      Honestly the NAP is nothing more than an intellectual game. It’s proponents are by and large unconcerned with political realities-or more sinister: they are in favor of certain present political realities and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of earnest libertarians.

    3. Ancap,

      >want an end to the welfare-state
      >want to import the entire population of Mexico and Latin America

      PICK ONE

  9. "To the contrary they say it loud and clear. They oppose all coerced wealth transfer"

    I disagree. Jacob Hornberger said "if they have to pay higher taxes, so be it". That seems to be the general attitude, because zero consideration is given.

    By the way, Ancap. Are you a very sheltered person? Have you been to a third world country? Do you speak any foreign, non-European languages? Because if you did you would understand that life in the West itself is a subsidy, paid for by our ancestors. Many countries do not even have a sewer system (although in "the West" the ancient Romans had sewers thousands of years ago), and streets flood when it rains. Ending the welfare state will not prevent the immigrants from imposing costs on the host population.

  10. A libertarian turns up at a border. "Let me in!", he yells. A person behind the fence tells the libertarian "go away. You are not wanted here".
    "what kind of property is this? Is this state or private?", the libertarian asks. "None of your business. Now leave", replies the the man behind the fence.

    Then the libertarian pulls out his gun and shoots the person on the other side. "I have determined that this was state property, and thus terra nullius", he says to himself. "Now that I have killed this man I have mixed my labor with the land. This land now belongs to me"

    Question: how is it that libertarians assert the right to decide the disposition of property owned by others, including state property?

    1. "Now that I have killed this man I have mixed my labor with the land. This land now belongs to me"

      Once again, Matt, you got me to bust out laughing. You owe me a Jameson and soda.

      “Question: how is it that libertarians assert the right to decide the disposition of property owned by others, including state property?”

      Libertarians (and I include myself in this) will say that “state property” is made up of stolen goods. Therefore one is not violating the NAP if one relieves the state of these goods.

      But this is where the puritan (autistic) libertarian argument for open borders and the right to immigrate onto state controlled property comes off of the rails. To whom do these stolen goods legitimately belong? Ayn Rand gave the proper answer, through Ragnar Danneskjöld. Ragnar would relieve the state of these stolen goods (land, etc.) and return this to whom? Someone from another country? Hahahahahaha. That’s funny.

      No. Ragnar Danneskjöld returned the property in proportion to the amount of tax previously paid by the people who paid the tax. The only legitimate claim is by those who paid the taxes that the state confiscated to secure the stolen goods (land, etc.). So if a foreigner retrieved these stolen goods from the possession of the state, this does not make the foreigner the legitimate owner – the goods still belong to the one who paid the tax.

      Now, if that foreigner wants to shoot the state agent at the border, that’s his business – there are libertarians who would say that this is not a violation of the NAP. But this does not make the stolen goods legitimately his. The goods still belong to those who paid the tax.

      My point is not about “open borders.” My point is nothing more than: you cannot derive open borders from the NAP.

    2. "Now, if that foreigner wants to shoot the state agent at the border, that’s his business – there are libertarians who would say that this is not a violation of the NAP. But this does not make the stolen goods legitimately his. The goods still belong to those who paid the tax".

      I am starting to think that these people claiming to be anarcho capitalists are actually communist wreckers. By saying that state property is actually unowned, they also cast the same doubts on private property owners.

      Who is to say that any property in the United States was originally acquired in a "voluntary property transaction"? Aren't the American Indians the original owners, and isn't there considerable doubt that their property was legitimately transferred? Exactly the same claims made to deligitimize state property can be made for private property.

      So maybe your private property also belongs to an immigrant. You certainly can't prove that you own it legitimately. Any "proof" that you may offer comes from the state.

    3. "I am starting to think that these people claiming to be anarcho capitalists are actually communist wreckers."

      The two are far more closely tied than either side would care to admit.

      I first came across this view when, after describing the NAP to my dad (oh, too many years ago) he responded, "What! are you a communist?" I thought he was mad, but...maybe not.

      Next: reading a wonderful novel of the Spanish Civil War. It was the communists and the anarchists fighting side by side.

      Finally was when I encountered Kevin Carson:

      Both communists and an-caps are against hierarchy and authority: the anarcho-capitalists only against the state, the communists against everyone.

      But, to many people and in many ways, this distinction is almost trivial.

    4. BM,

      Sorry for the late response. I decided to take the holidays off of political discussion online.

      To say that communism and anarcho-capitalism are closely tied is a bit absurd. I could say the same of modern conservatism, and I'd be correct to a much larger degree.

      In the Spanish civil war, you did not have anarcho-capitalists, you had left wing anarchists, who are very closely related to communists. These anarchists supposedly hate the state, but they hate religion, money, private property and other bourgeois norms like marriage, heterosexuality, and the traditional family a little more. Therefore they tend to accept a state in order to rid society of these latter values.

      It is also not fair to say that an-caps are against authority or hierarchy. We are only against unjust or non-consensual authority and hierarchy. Since we are in the extreme minority, and our ultimate goals may be unrealizable in our lifetimes, we are generally okay with advocating for the lesser of evils concerning which unjust authority or hierarchy we'll accept for the time being.

      To say that this distinction is trivial would be like saying the difference between rape and sex is trivial. Most people recognize that the difference between rape and sex is consent, but admittedly not many recognize this distinction in governance and authority.

      One thing I can say about anarcho-capitalists is that we do not care if the majority agrees with us. We are interested in the truth and in a principled, prosperous, peaceful and sustainable way of life. We are interested in winning the future, not the current political popularity contest.

    5. ATL

      I did not merely state that they are closely tied, I said “The two are far more closely tied than either side would care to admit.”

      I stand by this. The philosophical roots are rather intertwined, to where both anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-communists point to many of the same guiding lights - and these not even a century old. I am willing to admit this; many care not to admit this.

      That's all I said.

  11. @Matt

    Politically contrived borders are merely the residue of battle. The only really just border is the border arising out of the voluntary property transaction. That is all.

    1. So the legitimacy of any property is determined by the subjective and arbitrary thought processes of the libertarian. The property wasn't taken from the libertarian. From where do you establish the ownership of the property and assign it to the libertarian?


    2. Hernando de Soto explains that most of the land in America was first titled by pioneers independent of any political authority / government. 'Tomahawk rights', 'corn rights', and 'cabin rights' spontaneously arose at the frontier, were ad hoc titling conventions serving to reduce and prevent conflicts over property ownership. This is the very essence of 'natural law'. A small set of rules best serving to prevent and resolve conflict tend to be 'spontaneously' synthesized and adopted when people are far from and free from political / government authority. In this way natural law is like language. No one individual authors a law just as no one word is authored by a particular individual. It is in that sense that the process is spontaneous rather than deliberative or 'positivist' i.e. legislated. Natural law and language have no author. They exist outside authority. What happens is that political rulers later takeover a natural law system transforming it from a system acting to forestall conflict into a strategy of domination.
      Political borders are just such positivist law deployed by states and enforced by a states armed agents. They do not naturally arise as a mechanism to prevent and resolve conflict. Unlike private property rights which naturally arise and prevent and resolve conflict, politically deployed borders ceaseless incite conflict, are consubstantial with conflict, are unstable, tentative. They represent temporary lulls in the battle, temporary truce lines before the next round of armed conflict is initiated by rival political actors.

    3. Ancap,

      How does a foreigner claim lands and other state properties paid for by my taxes and those of my family?