Saturday, July 21, 2018

Open Secrets

The things that we’re concealing
Will never let us grow
-        Open Secrets, Rush

As you know, I am reading Gerard Casey’s Freedom's Progress?: A History of Political Thought.  I have read enough to know that I will be challenged.  Challenged?  How?

Closed for my protection —
Open to your scorn
Between these two directions
My heart is sometimes torn

When I began this blog, my political philosophy was about as dogmatically libertarian and individualistic as could be.  No one can be judged but the individual; no one can act other than as an individual…. I could defend the undefendable with the best of them.

I remember conversations from long ago: thinking about people in groups is the first step toward genocide; valuing any political unit beyond the individual was a path to hell.  “No it isn’t; you are just being politically correct.”   I don’t think so.  “Well, you may not think so, but you are.”  Or how about this: “there is no racism.”  Well, I know of the results of racism – or whatever you want to call this idea of deciding people’s fate by putting them in groups.  “Yes, but not in this country.” 

When our weary world was young
The struggle of the ancients first began
The gods of Love and Reason
Sought alone to rule the fate of Man

-        Cygnus X-1 Book Two: Hemispheres, Rush

One day I was challenged to take on Hoppe in the same way I took on the left-libertarians.  Well…you know where this road has led: it takes a little “thick” to make libertarianism work; if everything is “the individual,” then what we get is the state.  Not that I have fully reconciled this with what I still believe to be the danger of considering people in groups – there is a danger.

Well I guess
We all have these feelings
We can’t leave unreconciled

The Church?  If I described my denominational make-up, most of you would wonder how I didn’t end up in the funny farm…or maybe you would finally have the confession you need to conclude that which you already suspect: the funny farm is where I belong.  This post is probably convincing you of the same.

There is much that I have read so far from Casey’s book that buttresses my views – my views as you have come to know these via this blog.  But, I will also be challenged by Casey.  Challenged about individualism; challenged about the Middle Ages; challenged about the Church; challenged about things I am yet to read.  I am not saying all of my views will change.  I am just saying I will be challenged.

I think it may be possible, through Casey’s work, to reconcile and clarify many things about my thinking about the entire road from the Middle Ages through the Reformation, Renaissance, Enlightenment Classical Liberalism, and Libertarianism.  In other words, reconcile my views about “group” (both the good and bad side) with the value I place on the individual; reconcile the fact that I find both liberty and domination (libertarianism and communism) as a result of the Enlightenment.

I will push back.  I just don’t know that I will win.  Let me say this differently: I will win if I approach Casey with a reasonable amount of openness, because if I do this…then I will win – whether my views change or not.  I will lose if I stick to my views regardless of Casey’s presentation.

Now…I expect I will give as much as I will take…maybe.  In one page, Casey demonstrates that he understands more about whatever he is writing about than I demonstrate in any 20 blog posts.  Let’s just say I am attempting to punch above my weight class.


We can walk our road together
If our goals are all the same
We can run alone and free
If we pursue a different aim

Let’s see how I do.  Again, I am not saying that Casey will win on every argument.  What I am saying is that it is incumbent on me to argue fairly and honestly. 

I know many of you will hold me accountable – from both sides: the more “libertarian” of you on the one side, and the more “conservative” of you on the other.  I hope none of you have to hold me more accountable than I hold myself.

Let the truth of Love be lighted
Let the love of truth shine clear
Armed with sense and liberty
With the Heart and Mind united
In a single perfect sphere

Postscript: Whichever one of you convinced me to buy this book, I don’t like you very much right now!


  1. I did a little research on Casey and was amazed to find his reference to Foucault regarding the problem [ or the 'problematization' ] of the self. Starting with Augustine the confession emerges as a technique of dealing with the problem of the self. 'The more we discover the truth about ourselves the more we have to renounce ourselves - the more we want to renounce ourselves'. The question is, is this problematic and problematized self equivalent with the libertarians starting point of the individual ? This is the crux of the matter. Did medieval philosophers working on behalf of the political class take the Christian concept of the problematized self, its need to be confessed - and rework it as the 'individual', the better to control and dominate what were regarded as subjects of political authority ? Did such newly minted individuals in turn use their newly conferred status of individualism, devised as a tool of domination by the political class, and re-purpose it as a new basis for freedom by way of individual rights ? Are magna carta and habeus corpus later expressions of this repurposed individualism ? Foucault points out that psychiatry took the concept of the individual and redeveloped it such that sexuality became the ultimate expression of individuality, of ones 'true' identity. This in turn provoked the whole sexual liberation phenomenon culminating in the absurd ornate taxonomy of lgbtq cis trans gender fluidity. Is liberatarianism guilty of 'reifying' an individuality invented as a tool of power by the political class ? Was Walter Block led astray by this maneuver on the part of psychiatry when he wrote Defending the Undefendable ? Or in fact has libertarianism successfully expropriated the doctrine of individuality and rightly pressed it into service as the ultimate expression of freedom and the free society ?

  2. I look forward to your individual struggle with this!

  3. The title reminds me of Pilgrim's Progress bt Bunuan. Is that just coincidence?

  4. There might be something about the history and philosophy departments at University College Dublin that attracts remarkable professors like Gerard Casey. When I was doing some research awhile back on another author with a great mind and encyclopedic knowledge, Malachi Martin, I became aware that his brother, Conor Martin, was professor of medieval history at UCD and also appears to have chronicled a great deal of Irish history. I read the book, How the Irish Saved Civilization years ago (not written by Conor), and when you become aware of these fantastic Irish minds in more recent generations, it is seems plausible that they might have been up to the task.

  5. Bionic: "maybe you would finally have the confession you need to conclude that which you already suspect: the funny farm is where I belong. This post is probably convincing you of the same"

    "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men"
    ------Old Couplet, best known as a quote from the movie 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'


  6. "Whichever one of you convinced me to buy this book, I don’t like you very much right now!"

    "Did I do that?" - Steve Urkel

    1. ATL, I am doing my best to no longer name names in the libertarian community, but, of course, if you want to "out" yourself, that's on you!

    2. Ha! I'm honored that I was able to play a part in encouraging you to take on this project! And though it may end up benefiting humanity as a whole, I confess I did it for selfish reasons: I can't afford the book right now and having you read it is the next best thing to reading it myself.

    3. Dear ATL, Thank you for the above comment. I looked at the price and thought, oh no! Then I got a "sample" chapter in the e-version and decided I want to continue reading. So first I will try my local library and if that's a no go, I'll try an inter-library loan. At least then I can read it for a nominal rental fee and decide later if I want to spring for my own copy so I can mark in it. I really enjoyed the sample bit. Peg

  7. "I know many of you will hold me accountable – from both sides: the more “libertarian” of you on the one side, and the more “conservative” of you on the other. "

    Only cause' we love ya!