A few weeks ago I decided I probably wouldn’t raise this point anymore – that libertarianism and communism have more in common than many libertarians would care to admit; in fact, subtract private property (which, I admit, is a meaningful subtraction), and you might not be able to tell the two apart in a line-up. I decided that making this philosophical connection was much too complicated for something as simple as one of my blog posts (albeit, one of my more significantly researched blog posts).
So…why did my resolve on this matter evaporate so quickly? It is due to a post by Brian Doherty, who is excited about his twice-in-a-lifetime “evidence” of Ron Paul’s bigotry. I won’t get into defending Ron Paul about his supposed bigotry; Dave Smith has done a very good job of this. In any case, one has to have nothing other than an agenda to attack Ron Paul for such an issue.
You know, I also resolved several months ago to no longer poke at other libertarians. I have been really good about this, but…as you can see…I am also breaking this resolution. For this, I have nothing to blame other than my respect for Dr. Paul. So I blame Dr. Paul for causing me to hold him in such high respect such that my spine wouldn’t hold.
But, on to Doherty’s post. There is really only one comment worth touching on:
…raising a stink about these supposed depredations of "cultural Marxism" is in most contexts anti-liberty.
I really could leave it here, “Exhibit A” to my assertion of these kissing philosophical cousins. But I won’t. (NB: If you think Reason.com is not representative of mainstream libertarian opinion in the US, you haven’t checked the Alexa ranking.)
As I said, I won’t leave it here. I would like to take the opportunity to demonstrate that libertarians such as these are either idiots when it comes to political philosophy or they are communists. Either way, they are doing the work of the communists.
So, first for the idiots: any idiot can do the first step in an analysis, the first-order ramification of any action. This applies whether to economics, political philosophy, or any other subject more complicated than two plus two equals four. One need not have an IQ above “idiot” to be qualified to perform such an analysis.
So, for example, it is a very simplistic analysis to say “X has nothing to do with violating the non-aggression principle; therefore being against X ‘is in most contexts anti-liberty.’”
See how easy that is? With an IQ of idiot, you too could be an editor for Reason.com. One could say it is quite technically correct – some very high profile and intellectual libertarians don’t go any farther than this. After all, “culture” is not “property” under any definition offered by any well-recognized libertarian theorist.
Now, for the communists:
While firmly committed to global Communism, [Gramsci] knew that that violence would fail to win the West. American workers (proletariat) would never declare war on their middle class neighbors as long as they shared common Christian values. So the Italian communist -- a contemporary of Lenin -- wrote an alternative plan for a silent revolution. The main weapons would be deception, manipulation and infiltration. Hiding their Marxist ideology, the new Communist warriors would seek positions of influence in seminaries, government, communities, and the media.
Gramsci himself rejected Christianity and all its transcendent claims. Nevertheless, he knew Christian culture existed.... For that was the force binding all the classes... into a single, homogeneous culture. It was a specifically Christian culture, in which individual men and women understood that the most important things about human life transcended the material conditions in which they lived out their mortal lives.
I can’t really add anything to this; it is futile to do so for the idiots who can’t see past the first ramification of their position, and unnecessary for those who can.
Not my conclusion, I will ask you for yours:
Who do you think is a more capable political philosopher, idiots who cannot see more than the first ramification of their advocated position or Antonio Gramsci? Who do you believe has better thought through the idea that destruction of all voluntary and competing governance institutions will leave the State – and only the State – left to govern? Who? The idiot libertarians, or the communist Gramsci?
In other words, once culture (and, specifically, Christian culture) is destroyed, whose vision of the future will stand victorious: the libertarian vision or the communist vision?
So, let’s return to Doherty’s statement:
…raising a stink about these supposed depredations of "cultural Marxism" is in most contexts anti-liberty.
Demonstrating – much better than I ever could – the relationship of libertarianism and communism.
“Hey, bionic…you glossed over that ‘except for private property’ part.”
So, let’s agree with Doherty – opposing cultural Marxism is anti-liberty. How long do you expect to keep your already-tenuous hold on property if you go along with this liberty-enhancing idea?
Are you sure that “private property” is the most important factor when considering a free society?
Incredible points. Sound arguments. Keep up the amazing work.ReplyDelete
I agree. Very exciting to follow your work.Delete
Thank you for this post. As a long-time libertarian, I'm learning to appreciate these discussions pointing out that the NAP and property aren't sufficient for gaining and maintaining liberty. I cancelled my subscription to Reason magazine in the 1989 after it dawned on me that it had gone over to the dark side (I was one of its original subscribers). Peg in OregonReplyDelete
Peg, I subscribed from the early 80's to late 80's. I noticed through this time a steady downgrading of focus and subject matter (later titles included the championing of polygamy, things like this).Delete
I still have them all; a year or two ago, something prompted me to look to see when Rothbard was no longer a contributing editor. I am guessing his departure and the change in focus of the magazine have something to do with each other.
Jeez I'm such an infant in this crowd! I wasn't even aware of libertarianism until about 5 years ago, and here you guys are casually conversing about Reason mag in the 80s.Delete
I have much to catch up on and much to learn. Thanks for the discussion!
Just checked the original article, and the line immediately below the one you quoted is more revealing to me.ReplyDelete
>> "Both legally and culturally, American and western culture absolutely have treated women and homosexuals unfairly and unjustly, both in law and in common cultural practice." <<
I get so tired of these i****s. Just because they say so, it must be so. It is the same in the book "The Blank Slate" that I am reading. The exact same nonsense. Now the book does have its plusses, but I find it harder and harder to finish it. Way too much proselytizing. Even the venerable Jordon Peterson falls victim to this. (his latest interview on the Joe Rogan cast is horrible).
In fact I did a post on exactly that podcast for a similar reason: the left's yelling about inequality and poor people must mean that they (the left) are su much more compassionate than the right... right?
On that note, it did occur to me that the left is fracturing and splitting in a more traditional progressive part and the hardline communists. That seems to be the direction JP and Steven Pinker (and Joe Rogan, and Doherty) want to take: soft core communism and let the experts lead our way.
I really have a hard time believing that their "enlightenment 2.0" will be any more successful than the first. No, scrap that. I don't believe it.
Yesterday on some sports talk show, a former NBA player tells a current WNBA player, "I am personally offended by the low salaries the players receive in the WNBA."Delete
To which I thought, "she could always get another job if she doesn't like it."
Of course, if one really wants to feed the ego, he could always virtue-signal in his Tesla.
... Or, he could donate part of his outrageously high salary to offset the difference ...Delete
It's worth noting that it is factually incorrect that American and western culture discriminated against homosexuals, according to a brief filed by ten noted historians in the SCOTUS case Texas vs. Lawrence. The historians, who favored the overturn of the Texas anti-sodomy law, argued that traditionally there had not been anti-homosexual discrimination until into the twentieth century, and make a good case for their position.Delete
Charles, it seems to me (and I could be wrong) that western society tolerated (in the best sense of the word) such behaviors quite well until the time that such behaviors were shoved in society's face( so to speak).Delete
In other words, "don't ask, don't tell" was pretty much how we lived, until it became "even if you don't ask, I am going to shove it down your throat."
I don't know if that's true or not. Perhaps. The part about toleration seems to be what the historians said. And for my part, I never much cared about homosexuality until it included forcing people to bake cakes. OTOH, in the past private homosexual behavior was criminalized.Delete
My point is that when Doherty and similar pseudo-libertarians join the radical left in condemning America and Western Civilization for treating homosexuals and women badly, they are factually wrong. They also attack the most important historical developments in liberating people from oppression.
Rothbard explained that there are three groups, each with competing interests: The crony capitalists and the proletariat are engaged in a ceaseless struggle to seize political power to use as a weapon against the other. The third group, the consumer, wants to eliminate political power altogether, in favor of open, free markets.ReplyDelete
Now when the modern factory system first arose the common people had little interest in leaving their rural farms for urban factory work. Crony capitalists used the legal system to strip the common people of their private tracts of farmland known as the commons. Depriving them of their property rights and livelihood would force them into the factories. This infringement of property rights by use of the legal system is known as the 'Inclosure Acts'. These are the circumstance which gave rise to communism: The proletariat's response to the crony capitalist's Inclosure Acts was to say fine, you want to use the law to strip us of our common land. We will use the law to strip you of your factories.
The libertarian's point is that it is the very existence of political power which incites ceaseless conflict. For the libertarian, all political power is dangerous, something to be completely dismantled and dispensed with in favor of the purely consumer controlled society.
Political Marxism is the unpleasant residue, if you like,
of the fact that political power has changed hands. Its former victims have become its latest victimizers. That is the meaning of the gay wedding cake spectacle. The libertarian point is merely that under libertarian society, none of these so called civil rights struggles would have ever emerged because political power would never have been available for use by one group to subjugate another.
After all, “culture” is not “property” under any definition offered by any well-recognized libertarian theorist.ReplyDelete
I think this is the problem in a nutshell. That the culture that you & the grandparents pass on to the kids is not property, even though you consider it very precious, as do virtually all traditional cultures planet wide, because you can't buy or sell it for money. Therefor, destroying said culture cannot be a crime, since it has no value.
But of course you can. That's what popular mass media culture has done over the years, so that now your culture is the songs, programs, & issues you grew up with. This was all sold to you. But it's yours now, right? Well that was the case before the new DRM laws made copyright infringement a crime & stole our culture, all the way back to 75 - 100 years ago. It was ours, but was stolen by act of Congress.
There is a lot more to the intellectual property problem, but I think that what we see w/ the Libertarians & Commies is one that says that "the people" should own nothing, vs the other who say that "the people" should own everything. Neither of these ideas is sane.
Now once the Libertarians have decided that the culture is not property that people have a right to, those people & institutions which maintain culture, cultural norms, religion, history, etc. as something that belongs to "everyone" are oppressors, because they would bind individuals to this collective idea.
And Gramsci wins.
If this is not enough, I suggest looking up
Liber 77 vel Oz, Being on the Rights of Man,
published during WWI by the British black magician Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast, granpappy of modern Satanism. See also "spirit cooking".
The book is not NAP by any means, but look at how much of it sounds very uncomfortably Libertarian. Sounds pretty Left, too.
"one that says that "the people" should own nothing, vs the other who say that "the people" should own everything. Neither of these ideas is sane."
I agree but neither of those ideas represents libertarianism.
The true libertarian holds three positions on ownership: 1.) each individual owns himself, 2.) each individual owns those external physical resources he has acquired through original appropriation or consensual exchange with a prior owner, and 3.) any non-consensual use, abuse, or destruction of the property of another is aggression and a violation of the property owner's rights, and to the extent of the non-consensual use, abuse, or destruction, the aggressor has deprived himself of his own rights.
1.) is the negation of slavery.
2.) is the affirmation of justly acquired private property.
3.) is the definition of justice and the negation of the state.
Sounds fairly sane to me. What is insane to me is not 1-3 above, but rather granting a monopoly provider of 'law and order' sole discretion over the boundaries and ownership of property and expecting it hold to any semblance of liberty or good custom.
Phil, if you have not seen this before, you might find this of interest.Delete
Phil: "That the culture ... because you can't buy or sell it for money."Delete
In fact you can monetize culture. It is done all the time. One could go as far as saying that 'globalization' is a type of monetization of culture.
I have given an example in the past of a big retailer moving into a small closed community. The big retailer will undercut prices and draw money out of the local economy. Weakening the local culture in the process. In effect monetizing the existing local culture until its gone and only opioid addicts are left.
Gave up on conservatism decades ago for libertarianism. Now giving up libertarianism for Donald Trump (aka "populist nationalism"). You can't win if you won't fight your enemy, and libertarians can't even *recognize* their Gramscian enemy, much less fight it.ReplyDelete
Not all of us can't recognize our true enemies. Those of us in the Hoppean and Rothbardian tradition tend to be cognizant of the cultural foundations of liberty and the need to foster and protect them.Delete
Well then! In that case, you know that "the NAP is not enough", and in fact can be damaging to the cultural foundations of liberty? Yes?Delete
NAP is not enough, I agree, but it is certainly the strongest foundation for the promotion of good culture.Delete
That some people may use their libertarian freedom like Dorian Gray is not a good argument for the conclusion that it "in fact can be damaging to the cultural foundations of liberty," since the only alternative is basically the democratic populist state which invariably works to infantilize the population in order to make them docile and dependent.
Above, I meant the strongest 'political' foundation. Christianity is obviously a much stronger foundation for the promotion of good culture.Delete
The only good Communist is a dead Communist. Period.ReplyDelete
I think Patton said that, and if he didn't he would have.
"The idiot libertarians, or the communist Gramsci? " - BMReplyDelete
Certainly Gramsci of course. I agree that libertarians of the cultural left are very close to communists, and they're not exactly bulwarks of private property rights either. Most likely they're just communists working to infiltrate libertarianism in order to shift the goal posts of liberty once again towards the bearing of state power.
"raising a stink about these supposed depredations of "cultural Marxism" is in most contexts anti-liberty" - Doherty
I'm not sure what "in most contexts" means, but it sounds like a typical leftist intellectual 'fudge factor' which causes the logical part of the brain to 'checkout' and to be overridden by the emotional. Being against something in a peaceful manner is not anti-liberty; it is the very expression of liberty. Ron Paul was not arguing to use to the state or violence in general to crack down on advocates of cultural Marxism; he was using the social means (peaceful communication) to denounce bad culture appealing to the right of dissociation in those he was addressing.
Doherty's claim has precisely zero libertarian merit. He was speaking purely from his culturally leftist predisposition. It is true that libertarianism (per se) has nothing to say against cultural Marxism, but it certainly has nothing to say in favor of it either.
Paul in denouncing cultural Marxism and Doherty in denouncing Paul were each utilizing their cultural and pragmatic sides rather than their principled ones. Doherty thinks that socially denouncing degeneracy leads to less liberty in the future, and Paul thinks that it is necessary to denounce degeneracy if we want liberty in the future. It should be fairly obvious to anyone here who is correct in their cultural evaluation.
I still don't agree that libertarianism is anywhere close to communism politically, however, I won't disagree with you that many (perhaps even most) so-called libertarians today are very nearly communists. I think there is a logical explanation for this. Since libertarianism can handle, philosophically, the entire spectrum of cultural predispositions, it should be no surprise that both left and right attitudes are present within it. Also, since libertarianism is very far from the current political status quo, it is only fitting that libertarianism attracts mostly extremists and social outcasts of both the left and right. Left wingers, however, are more at peace with being social outcasts and extremists, so they tend to be over-represented within the libertarian movement. This is my assessment of why there are such extreme expressions of the cultural poles (left and right) within libertarianism and why, if anything, it skews leftward.
1. Libertarianism is against all forms of political power.Delete
2. Communism is (according to Lenin's definition) unlimited political power.
3. It therefore follows that to be truly libertarian one must be absolutely anti communist, does it not ?
ATL, and interesting analysis regarding why many libertarians seem almost the same as communists. Thank you for this.Delete
I still hold the view that there is much in the roots of the two philosophies that makes them kissing cousins, but your points are not without merit.
ATL, I meant to add...this is the second time in the last few days (or couple of weeks, I lose track of time) that a libertarian has downplayed the role of (or reality of) cultural Marxism, as either a strawman or whatever.Delete
The first was Matt McCaffrey in a comment at the Mises site when Calton wrote on this same subject.
I wonder what it is that prompts them to defend cultural Marxism? Is it their egalitarianism that urges them to defend even the undefendable? Or is it something more sinister: a recognized substantial attack on the true leading edge of the battle against liberty?
ATM, I think that it's nothing so complicated or esoteric. The truth, IMHO, is that they feel like they are part of something bigger and grander than themselves and, once they're established, they'll be the ones pulling the strings.Delete
Of course, they turn a blind eye towards the history of such regimes and how the powerful in the party tend to kill all perceived threats. Most of them wouldn't last 10 years under such a regime.
I think the situation is more complex than that, though I agree with you that there are many 'fronts' on which these two disciplines are polar extremes.
Both communists and libertarians have an anarchist or stateless end goal, but they have polar opposite means of achieving this end. The communist plan is to empower the state to eradicate private property, which will purportedly destroy the class structure of society, thereby ending the need for the state. Once this happens, the state is supposed to dissolve itself, since there's no longer any need for it, and allow the unfurling of communist Utopia. Of course in reality what happens is you end up with a socialist totalitarian state in which all political power is wrapped up in one individual, and this guy tends not to be all that interested in dissolving his power.
The difference is that libertarians have a realistic goal to achieve statelessness, whereas the communists, if their desire for statelessness is to be perceived as genuine, do not.
Also another major difference lies in the anticipated nature and structure of society in the absence of the state, but that's a whole other discussion, but again, it is a 'polar' situation.
Unfortunately for us libertarians who care about traditional values, however, culture is not one of these polar fronts between communism and libertarianism. Often, as Bionic points out, they are kissing cousins in this regard.
True, unfortunately. Which is why I gave up on libertarianism in favor of...populist nationalism?Delete
Populist nationalism isn't a very precise description of your political views. Nations can be defined by a multitude of social variables and what's "popular" can really be anything. Populist nationalism can be synonymous with state socialism. It's an apt description for both the Nazis and the Commies..
To prove (to myself) that I can do very short answers to very important questions:
Are you sure that “private property” is the most important factor when considering a free society?
Humility: The ability to learn from anything.ReplyDelete
Some of the things discussed here today put me in remembrance of the TOS Star Trek episode "The Savage Curtain". In brief summary, an apparently molten planet has life. Kirk and Spock are forced to demonstrate to the inhabitants the difference between the philosophies of good and evil via combat. After the battle, the following exchange between Kirk and one of the planet's inhabitants ensue:
ROCK: You are the survivors - the others have run off. It would seem that evil retreats when forcibly confronted. However, you have failed to demonstrate to me any other difference between your philosophies. Your good and your evil use the same methods - achieve the same results. Do you have an explanation?
KIRK: You established the methods and the goals.
ROCK: For you to use as you chose.
KIRK: What did you offer the others if they won?
ROCK: What they wanted most ... Power.
KIRK: You offered me ... the lives of my crew.
ROCK: I perceive. You have won their lives ...
I have always found this interchange revealing and, perhaps, it is applicable to our little problem. Often times, the only difference between good (liberty) and evil (Collectivism) is motive.
"Are you sure that “private property” is the most important factor when considering a free society?"ReplyDelete
If the first and primary definition of "private property" is our own bodies, then Yes, it is the most important aspect of freedom, imho.
...and then, what? Or does your theory stop here.Delete
Bionic, If you wish;Delete
Added; Our personal property, such as our goods or self defense armament, is the second pillar of property.
Our real property, such as our homes and lands, are the third pillar of what I believe a libertarian considers property.
This triad of "property rights" is the libertarian bedrock which the Non Aggression Principle surrounds with it's equality of One Principle For All.
No, Tahn. How are you going to turn this ideal into reality? How are you going to defend it if you ever achieve it? How are you going to ensure it is sustained?Delete
My questions are rhetorical, as I know you and I are rather far apart on this.
Bionic, they may be rhetorical questions but they are still valuable. How indeed?Delete
First, spreading the correct concept so that everyone can see the benefits.
I'm pretty sure it is going to take some strong and determined people to accomplish this or at least set it up. It should be a self generating system once implemented.
Property always comes down to this, whether its your body, your belongings or your home. It is yours if the community acknowledges your right to it and you can protect it.
"First, spreading the correct concept so that everyone can see the benefits."Delete
As I said, you and I are rather far apart on this.
Tahn, Thomas Jefferson and I agree on one thing - that, to survive, any liberty-based culture must incorporate elements of education to show "everyone the benefits" and, I might add, head off fallacies that inevitably arise from people's natural tendencies towards leisure. I, however, do not share Tahn's apparent optimism that everyone, or even most people in our current culture, would immediately embrace libertarianism. Viable Libertarianism requires work in the forms of thinking and action and most people are not inclined in those directions.Delete
Perhaps the Old Testament can demonstrate the sort of effort required to change a culture. At the time, Israel was emerging from a slave culture, which needed a great deal of modification. Moses, therefore, gave commandments to the people to keep them constantly in remembrance of the bitterness of bondage and their duties to God to prevent them from romanticizing their captivity. But, even with all the routine and ritual imposed on that people, they still constantly sank into bondage and, at the end, wanted "a king to judge us like all the nations" (1 Sam 8:5). The time of the Judges (at least 410 years) can be considered a very libertarian time since "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Judges 21:25.
The point is, the challenge to create a lasting Libertarian culture is, at best, a daunting endeavor but, in my opinion, a worthy one.
" At the time, Israel was emerging from a slave culture, which needed a great deal of modification."Delete
Interesting analogy, and maybe a lesson: forty years in the desert for what is normally a few days' walk.
On the desire for a king:
"The time of the Judges (at least 410 years) can be considered a very libertarian"
I agree. Here is a wonderful summary of this period by Lord Acton in his essay, "The History of Freedom in Antiquity":
"The government of the Israelites was a Federation, held together by no political authority, but by the unity of race and faith, and founded, not on physical force, but on a voluntary covenant. The principle of self-government was carried out not only in each tribe, but in every group of at least 120 families; and there was neither privilege of rank, nor inequality before the law. Monarchy was so alien to the primitive spirit of the community that it was resisted by Samuel in that momentous protestation and warning which all the kingdoms of Asia and many of the kingdoms of Europe have unceasingly confirmed. The throne was erected on a compact; and the King was deprived of the right of legislation among a people that recognized no lawgiver but God, whose highest aim in politics was to restore the original purity of the constitution, and to make its government conform to the ideal type that was hallowed by the sanctions of heaven. The inspired men who rose up in unfailing succession to prophesy against the usurper and the tyrant, constantly proclaimed that the laws, which were divine, were paramount over sinful rulers, and appealed from the established authorities, from the king, the priests, and the princes of the people, to the healing forces that slept in the uncorrupted conscience of the masses. Thus the example of the Hebrew nation laid down the parallel lines on which all freedom has been won—the doctrine of national tradition, and the doctrine of the higher law; the principle that a constitution grows from a root, by process of development and not of essential change; and the principle that all political authorities must be tested and reformed according to a code which was not made by man."
One similarity that I see to some libertarians and communists is the framing of all questions into material ones. How else can one devalue things like culture, morality, intellectual property, etc. unless everything is seen through the lens of physical stuff.ReplyDelete
I appreciate BM how you bring to light issues like this and the community that has coalesced around your blog.
Thank you, RMB.Delete
It seems Gramsci changed that focus for the communists - he was on to something. Perhaps he showed the way for libertarians? To achieve the political objective, one must focus on the culture?
I think so. Things like art, law, political systems and economic systems are preceded by culture. Because those things are what people either create or enjoy doing/being a part of. So as you have stated before, it comes down to what kind of people are we dealing with and how convinced they are that they are the right kind of people.Delete
More specifically Gramsci and other cultural Marxists attacked culture in order to make people feel isolated and dissatisfied. Content, confident people aren't susceptible to revolution. The things they have done are to continually break us up into gradually smaller groups and pit those groups against one another. In that process people feel alone and in need of community. Once those social associations are disposed of and only then will people be ready to identify with the State as community. Because there won't be anything else left or at least anything else powerful enough to help them.
“…only then will people be ready to identify with the State as community.”Delete
A nuance / clarification that I picked in Nisbet’s book: as atomization progresses, people identify with the State or institutions created / allowed by the State. So we see churches and other charities that exist under 501 (c) 3 protection, professional sports leagues that are formed under special laws and protections regarding monopoly / cartel, etc. These are a couple of obvious examples, but there are few areas in life not formally organized, regulated, even allowed to exist absent the blessing of the State…and this is accepted a “normal” by an atomized society.
We frame not all questions in terms of the material, but only those which correspond to material answers. For instance, we frame the entire material political order in the context of material property rights.
The material questions: what law should be enforced by humans on Earth and how should it be enforced?
The material answer: a law the recognizes self ownership and external property in a consensual manner.
I will say that it might be (and is likely) necessary to have a strong and widely held belief in an immaterial order beyond and above the material one to attain and maintain the consensual material order libertarians desire. Bionic and others (Rothbard, Lord Acton, etc.) have certainly made a good case that Christianity played just such a role in the European Middle Ages.
Where I disagree with non-libertarians who also cherish the immaterial, is when they presume that the immaterial should be enforced by the material.
Interesting point about State blessed institutions.Delete
I am most interested in thinking through how the church should be differently instituted to be outside of State certification. I am in a small church that I am sure exists under 501(c)3. Is that in itself a cop out? Is there another way to exist as a church in a more defiant role? My main thoughts on this in the past was that we won't church our message or our work regardless of what the State says. If they want to crack down on our beliefs then we will face that and suffer but we won't change. Anything else I should be thinking about?
RMB, it might be worth looking into Chuck Baldwin, as I believe he operates his church outside of a 501(c)3. I am guessing he has even written about why this is important to him.Delete
I believe being such an organization comes with some strings about what can and can't be advocated.
BM, I will look into that. I know 501(c)3's can't advocate for political candidates or preach an overt political message.Delete
ATL, I agree with what you say. But one point of clarification, what about ideas? Do you own your own ideas (including songs anything that proceeds from the mind but isn't necessarily documented or material)? I have read some that would say no because they are immaterial. That seems wrong to me but I am listening.Delete
This is something I struggled with too, but in accordance with what I consider correct libertarian theory, only physical resources can lawfully be defended physically. This underlying reciprocal nature of libertarianism cannot be violated without toppling the whole theory.
A few things:
1.) Ideas can be thought of as owned so long as they are defended socially and not physically. I plagiarized your book, and now, having been discovered, my reputation as an author is 'destroyed' in the eyes of the public (my potential consumers) unless and until I restitute you the money I made from selling your ideas and publicly apologize both to you and the community.
2.) Private law societies can require monetary damages for theft of ideas among its members, with probation or expulsion from the group's legal protection as a consequence of determined nonpayment for violations.
3.) Entrepreneurs can introduce ideas into society in such a way that they front load their income derived from them. An author may require a certain pledge amount before he will release a new book.
I think these three methods of social and political control are sufficient in regulating the realm of ideas in accord with the NAP.
"This underlying reciprocal nature of libertarianism cannot be violated without toppling the whole theory."Delete
To which many would say, "yeah, that's the problem."
It is a theory created by man; surely man is free to find some ways to make it more functional (you know, like punching that guy in the nose for insulting your wife!).
And yes, I see how this can topple the whole theory...where do you then draw the line?
"It is a theory created by man"Delete
I would say it is more a theory discovered rather than created, but I see your point.
I think the line can be drawn where we've discussed in the past: have the NAP in the books as law, but under dire circumstances one may usurp the NAP and be exonerated by the community (or a reputable free-market judge) if they deem his actions were truly in service to the common good.
What I meant by "toppling the whole theory" is that you get something that is not pure libertarianism, not that a society built on imperfect libertarian theory would crumble.
Besides having a law so rigid that it is positively brittle is a good thing. At least then it is easy (well, easier) to recognize when the law is broken. Maleable law is law that can be bent and shaped, or otherwise created, as authorities see fit, meanwhile not one man in a million can tell when the authorities have broken the law in the course of lining their pockets with tax payer money.
"I would say it is more a theory discovered...."Delete
Then let's just say that the discovery remains incomplete! Maybe we just need to complete the "discovery."
This is exactly what I believe to be true - on both counts. There is so much more to life than nonaggression. And perhaps this 'more to life' is the most important aspect of maintaining a nonaggressive community. But I still maintain that the NAP is a very important and necessary goal. Its deficiency lies not in itself (its competency in addressing the political problem of aggression is unrivaled), but in the fact that it does not offer humanity a full blueprint of how to live.
Abiding the NAP is like taking the test of human life and getting a D. Congratulations, you didn't fail. In order to get As, Bs, and Cs you need something more to motivate you other than the negation of failure. We all need something to aspire to, not just something to avoid. To be clear, in this analogy the As, Bs, and Cs also abide by the NAP, they just also live healthy fulfilling and virtuous lives, achieving beatitude or eudaimonia.
Where and when has the NAP's unrivaled competency in addressing the political problem of aggression been demonstrated?
Its unrivaled competency was demonstrated empirically, if imperfectly, through the natural law which reigned above kings during the Christian Middle Ages, and it can be demonstrated logically through a praxeological analysis starting from the irrefutable axiom of action (concerning in particular argumentative action) and a few observed truths of human nature.
You disagree. I know, and around and around we go. The funny thing is, I am apt to agree with you on pretty much everything except your attack on the validity of the NAP. I don't see where holding both the NAP and the Christian Middle Ages in high regard falls into contradiction.
It appears to me that you hold the following contentions that explain your distaste for the NAP: 1) the NAP was designed as a complete blueprint for human society, and it fails in this regard, 2) because the NAP says nothing explicitly about culture, a society which adopts the NAP will necessarily have bad culture, either because they started out that way or were powerless to prevent their initial good culture's erosion through the proliferation of sin, and 3) the European Middle Ages didn't even know about the NAP, so the NAP had nothing to do with the cultural and political success of this period.
If the above is a straw man I have set up, then I apologize, but here are my replies to these positions which I think you hold.
1. The NAP was never meant to be a stand alone plan for building a society. It was only ever supposed to be a fundamental principle which describes when violence in society is just to allow for a society to fully blossom in the absence of organized aggression. It isn't a complete moral code; it's just the base of one.
2. The NAP leaves plenty of ways in which culture can be defended without resorting to violence. The Church in the European Middle Ages often employed means fully consistent with the NAP when it used its moral authority with the masses of people as leverage to keep ambitious kings in check. I contend that only a society which recognizes a law above mankind, whether of nature or of God (or both), that reflects the underlying mutually reciprocal nature of justice within human relations would institute a stateless order in compliance with the NAP, and this society would have to be culturally rich to accomplish this.
3.) The NAP is a modern recognition of the underlying natural law of human interaction which is timeless, universal, and immutable. The Church held that this law was revealed by God through religion, but that it was also discernible through reason. The Church was not the sole reason for this period's success, as Bionic has discussed. A lot of it had to do with the Germanic sense of honor, reciprocity and unanimity. The NAP is simply a modern resurgence of this recognition of a natural law discoverable by reason hundreds of years after it was buried by the rise of the modern state and positivist legislative law.
"The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history; it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. the rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies" - Catechism of the Catholic Church 1958
ATL, it might take a "A," or at least a "B" to achieve and maintain liberty, of course. And isn't liberty the goal, not merely strict adherence to the NAP? (And I am not suggesting that you disagree with this, perhaps I am just adding my version of color to your statement.)Delete
Your 1:45 is a truly fantastic response, it's close to self standing as well. Kudos.
The really interesting question is: what is the distribution of As, Bs, and Cs that we need compared with the rest of the population to get our communities and states back on the track toward liberty?
Liberty is the goal, but isn't liberty simply the widespread communal acceptance of the NAP?
Percentage? No idea. I think the answer will come down to decentralization and a cultural shift. The first is ongoing as we sit here today; the second, I suggest prayer, a lot of prayer.Delete
It seems to me that the NAP is a means that, unanchored, can lead to many ends - some not so good for liberty. Like the libertine; bad for liberty. Like abortion; bad for liberty.
Stuff like that.
I read an interesting essay by Frank van Dun in the ode to Hoppe book. He addresses specifically this issue via an example of neighbors using their private property rights to keep one neighbor in what amounts to a prison. Maybe I will write something on this.
Texas Libertarian said: "What is insane to me is...granting a monopoly provider of 'law and order' sole discretion over the boundaries and ownership of property and expecting it hold to any semblance of liberty or good custom." Tut, tut, TL: "Straw Man Argument". The blessings of good government referred to by the Founding Fathers does not include "sole discretion over the boundaries and ownership of property". John Locke didn't support that, and neither did the Founding Fathers. Your position---no offense intended; it is a commonly stated libertarian position---is one of several reasons that I've given up on libertarianism. (Oh okay, since everyone is wondering, another reason is the libertarian position that "the non-aggression principle is enough" to found and sustain a civilization and society; no it's not).ReplyDelete
"good government referred to by the Founding Fathers does not include "sole discretion over the boundaries and ownership of property"."
Whether or not they referred to it in this manner, this is what we have ended up with thanks to the government they designed. The state decides as against the individual how much of his property is to be taxed, how his property is to be taxed, how he is to use his property, who he is to let onto his property, how he is to trade his property, whether his property claim is valid, and whether he should remain the property owner.
Don't believe me? You still believe you own your property? Just quit paying your taxes and see who really owns your property when the IRS comes to seize your assets.
The individual can vote against the wishes of the state, but one vote means little in the face of a sea of millions, all educated and entertained by the state's pet academics and corporate media elite.
Also you don't have to abandon the NAP to realize there is much more to life than non-aggression. That should be obvious and is to most reasonable libertarians. The NAP is just the lowest of the low bars of ethics we all should be able to get over, especially those presuming to lead us.
TL said: "good government referred to by the Founding Fathers" does not include "sole discretion over the boundaries and ownership of property"." Agree, and so do the Founding Fathers.Delete
TL said, "this is what we have ended up with thanks to the government they designed. The state decides as against the individual how much of his property is to be taxed, how his property is to be taxed, how he is to use his property, who he is to let onto his property, how he is to trade his property, whether his property claim is valid, and whether he should remain the property owner." All true also; agree, and so do the Founding Fathers. (In their defense, they did their best at the time with the knowledge they had. Today we could design a better Constitution, e.g. get rid of the commerce clause, delete the first clause of the 2nd Amendment, impose term limits, and somehow devise a way to prevent human scum from gaining and using political power to enrich themselves and their cronies.)
TL said, "Don't believe me? You still believe you own your property?" I DO believe you, we agree, as do the Founding Fathers.
TL said, "one vote means little in the face of a sea of millions, all educated and entertained by the state's pet academics and corporate media elite." Agree, and so do the Founding Fathers, who didn't intend for fools, criminals, idiots and other such types to be able to vote.
TL said, "The NAP is just the lowest of the low bars of ethics we all should be able to get over...." Uh oh. No it's not. The NAP appears to require open borders, for one thing (thus ensuring civilizational suicide). It also means that two adults can copulate on their property in full of school children acr the street from an elementary school playground. And then engage in bestiality with their pet iguana. And then perform consensual murder and cannibalism.
The NAP is not enough.
"The NAP is not enough."
Cheers to that, and you may even be putting it mildly. Could be that ultimately, the NAP will turn out to be Libertarianism's red herring. While libertopia's legalists are debating the finer details of the relation between intellectual property and the NAP, and other libertarians keep our focus on the national state, NGO's and other non-state open society power grabbers are ushering in a new "Order out of Chaos".
"The NAP is not enough."Delete
I never said it was. I said it is simply the low bar of morality.
The Founding Fathers did not set up a monolithic state. The monolithic is an invention of libertarians. The state is a collection of individuals with differing interests operating under a set of rules that they follow sometimes and bend when they can and it suits them. Libertarians pretend the state is a single mind, with purposes and decisions of its own. It is no such thing, that's a fiction.Delete
The Founding Fathers set up the American system to have divided government, three competing federal branches with different interests that would would try to keep each other in check, plus state governments that would also have differing interests and try to keep feds in check, plus the armed people, the militia, as ultimate check.
The Founding Fathers did *not* think it a perfect system -- they didn't believe in utopia, unlike so many modern and post-modern libertarians. They just did the best they could and hoped subsequent generations would have the sense to preserve and improve it.
Sag: "Could be that ultimately, the NAP will turn out to be Libertarianism's red herring."Delete
I do not believe so. Libertarians 'problem' is that they cannot see past the individual. But at the individual level, the NAP seems a fine principle. I -for one- don't see a problem in it (at the individual level).
One of the problems with NAP is the lifeboat scenario's. And individuals rarely -if ever- get in this type of scenario's. As such the NAP is a fine principle for individuals.
Society however is in a permanent state of one or more life-boat scenario's, and as such cannot adhere to the NAP. (It is in fact only the scientific and technical progress that keeps societies from being at each others throats all the time)
Did my post last Monday night (in your July 1 offering) regarding Doherty's Reason op-ed spur you to read it and pen your insightful commentary on the kinship of libertarians and communists?
If you read any of the comments, you saw my invocation of Gramsci.
BTW, I am apt to be rankled by those libertarians, like Doherty and other Reason scribes, who attack Ron Paul.
Yes, Mike this was part of it. But what moved me finally to write this posy was seeing the video defense of Ron Paul. I decided I should weigh in.Delete
Very perceptive post. A critic of some of my own writing directed me to your blog.ReplyDelete
I'm sure we disagree on many things, but your analysis of what I've been calling the "post-modernist libertarians" (PMLs your Gramsci-ist libertarians) is on target and enlightening. If I understand you correctly, like the cultural Marxists, the PMLs think it necessary to overturn all social relations in order to build their utopia.
I'm aghast at the things spouted by Reason, Cato, et al. that now pass for "libertarianism."
" If I understand you correctly, like the cultural Marxists, the PMLs think it necessary to overturn all social relations in order to build their utopia."Delete
For some, "overturn" is correct. For others, it is enough to cheer on the destruction of traditional hierarchical orders - in other words, a bit more passive.