Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Asking for Trouble

Part Two of Storey’s book is entitled “Socio-Biology.”  Mmmm…socio-biology in a book about the uniqueness of Western Law…what could go wrong?

This may sound mean-spirited, but my concern with the data is not to denigrate others so much as to better understand my own civilization’s place.

Good luck with that, Richard.  Of course, I guess I won’t get off scot-free either.  And before any of you highlanders get up in arms about my use of this phrase, it has nothing to do with Scotland, scotch, Scots, or any other derivative of the land of peat and bogs…I actually have many friends who are Scotch: Johnnie Walker and his brothers Blackie and Red…oh wait, that last part was probably a mistake.

Not to say peat and bogs are exclusive to Scotland, or that I have any negative feelings about any other part of the world with peat and bogs…and I don’t just drink Scotch Whisky; Irish, Japanese, Kentucky…I am very multi-cultural on this matter…and not that I have something against lowlanders or anything…man…this is going to be a tough post to get through.

There really is no way to ease into this.  What do you do with chapter titles like “In Search of Non-White Philosophers” and “Why There Are no Successful Black Nations…Yet!”?

Philosophy: One can search Africa, Asia, and China for philosophers and one might find a few; but all of these regions combined could not fill a one semester course for a serious student of philosophy.  One really can’t count Augustine.  Even though he was from Africa, he had an upper-class father (white) and a mother who was a Berber.

If you want a course on mysticism and primitive religions, the world is your oyster.

Of course, nothing against clams or any other member of the mussel family.

Nigerian professor Chigozie Obioma has written an article entitled “There Are No Successful Black Nations.” 

“As long as we continue to ignore our own self-assessment…we will remain the undignified race.”

Black elites and activists across the world have adopted a culture of verbal tyranny in which they shut down any effort to reason or criticize us or black-majority nations by labeling such attempts as “racism” or “hate speech.”

Not a concern of mine after this post, but who knows?

Nigeria, the most populous black nation on Earth, is on the brink of collapse. … A culture of incompetence, endemic corruption, dignified ineptitude, and, chief among all, destructive selfishness and greed has played a major role in its unravelling.  The same, sadly, can be said for most other African nations.

Look, I didn’t say it and Storey didn’t say it.

Storey asks why libertarianism is unique to the west.  This, of course, is undeniable – just as classical liberalism is unique to the west and just as the 1000 years of decentralized liberty is unique to the west.  Why?

It isn’t competition, science, property rights or consumerism that made the west; it was a cultural tradition that offered the foundation for these achievements.  One cannot parrot the achievements without owning the foundation.

What follows is a discussion of IQs (higher in East Asia, lower in Africa, in-between – but closer to higher) in Europeans); an ethos of libertarian aristocracies (consider the Middle Ages); a rational desire to systematize all enterprises; the ability to defer gratification.  These – in the combination as presented – have provided the soil in which libertarianism would grow in the west and only in the west.

Immigrating non-westerners will not result in their adopting these western traits; it will instead dilute these traits in society:

Professor Haidt has predicted that an increasingly ‘diverse’ society will so reduce trust as to make it unsustainable and dangerous:

“It’s the most intractable world we can inhabit, and it’s the one that will lead to the ugliest outcome.”

Look, I didn’t say it and Storey didn’t say it.


Here is a quote from Noel Ignatiev of Harvard University: “The goal of abolishing the white race is on its face so desirable that some may find it hard to believe that it could incur any opposition other than from committed white supremacists.”

Noel is Jewish.  He can say this about whites.  Actually, anyone can say this about whites.  And whites are supposed to help this project along – and many are eagerly complying.

It’s a white thing.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Libertarianism and Natural Law

The first part of Storey’s book is entitled Natural Law.  He finds in natural law the roots of libertarian law, the non-aggression principle.  Libertarianism is nothing more or nothing less than this – the non-aggression principle.  Many – both in and out of the so-called libertarian community – confuse the issue, adding various open borders and egalitarian social norms; others confuse the issue by insisting that the non-aggression principle is for all – universal.  It is none of these things.

Libertarian law has its roots in the Indo-Europeans from whom all European civilizations are descended.  It is a law that came from these roots and only these roots; it is a law to be found in no other civilization or tradition – certainly not in any meaningfully sustained way or outside of a small handful of philosophers.

There is a uniqueness in the Western law, “making the law the king of kings.”  The social norm that was necessary to ensure this position for the law was the norm to be left alone in life and property.

…the king could not violate the private property rights of another free man for fear of retribution from other powerful lords on the one hand, and the loss of honour, glory and respect from one’s kinsmen on the other.

It was this law that was studied and refined in the west.  Storey cites Augustine, who identifies evil as that which corrupts the measure, form or order that belongs to nature.  It seems a sentiment that has its thread connected to the natural law as developed by Aristotle and Aquinas.  The study of this Western tradition has been decimated, lost; Story finds that this loss is no accident, with a view that has prevailed in the universities in the 1960s and 1970s.

Libertarians might consider the consequences of evil that corrupts nature’s order; if ignoring some portion of natural law results in such evil, does liberty stand any chance of success? 

This natural law has its roots in the Indo-European environment of ancient Greece, with the desire to live for one’s own sake ushering in the emergence of individualism.  The Romans confused this natural law, with a mix of private and public law: private law defending property, and public law encroaching it.  This continued to the point where the citizens preferred life under the barbarians as opposed to imperial rule.

Citing the early fifth century priest, Salvian: Rome collapsed in the west because it denied the first premise of good government – justice to the people.  The wish of the people, once captured by the barbarians, was to never again return under imperial rule; the barbarians were the liberators.  The root cause of this wish was the loss of natural law.

The Christianity of Northern Europe worked to clean up the mess made by the Romans: law by custom, conforming to nature.  Excommunication worked to both discipline the king and to allow the people to consider the king invalid.  Where the emperor attempted to select the pope, Pope Gregory VII established the College of Cardinals as the only legitimate means of selection – keeping very separate the Church and king.

This self-determination for the Church was mirrored in other institutions: universities, guilds, free-cities, etc.  No authority had complete political, religious or intellectual authority.  This mosaic of institutional authorities made room for individuals to find freedom.  The Renaissance unleashed the forces that would eventually destroy this balance.

The roots were in Christianity and the Greek tradition of the environment in which it was nurtured.  Jerusalem was a Greek city; Paul was educated in the Greek tradition; Christ is identified as the logos, the Word, the ordering principle of the universe.  It was in this tradition where the individualism that libertarians claim was to be found; absent this tradition, we get the individualism of social justice and Cultural Marxism.

Storey reminds us that Lady Justice – depicted often as a solitary figure – has a sister: Prudence.  Justice without prudence is truly blind, lacking any guidance toward any rationally observable order.  One could consider that the non-aggression principle – with the characteristics of purely objective justice – is incomplete without prudence if one wants the fruits of natural law made possible by the two sisters working in concert: jurisprudence.

Libertarianism without the natural law as its foundation is lost.  Justice requires that the natural order is maintained and defended; this is prudent.  It is for this reason that libertarians such as Hoppe and Deist speak of community; this common grounding in a natural law tradition is necessary if one is to enjoy the fruits of libertarianism.


Can this Western natural law tradition of liberty survive a community that does not uphold Western natural law?  To ask the question is to answer it.  Yet it is on this point that libertarians – and also the wider community – split.  One can find the split in reactions to pretty much anything Hoppe writes and in reaction to Deist’s blood and soil comments. 

Yet we might as well throw out the libertarian project without recognizing this tradition. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Not-So-Universal Libertarianism

I first came across Storey through a piece he wrote regarding his conversation with Frank van Dun.  To summarize: Storey viewed the medieval Church as the biggest hindrance to liberty and the promoter of centralized statism; van Dun set him straight.  Just how straight we will find in this book.

Storey has offered an introduction and outline to this work, through a piece published at the Mises site:

The study of Western Civilization has been all but eradicated. This was no accident but, rather, an aggressive policy of leftist academe which has used exclusionary tactics to dominate and pervert the culture and purpose of our universities since the 1960s and 70s. But, for us students, driven underground, Western history is the greatest treasure trove of almost every faculty. Not least of these is natural law.

I will cover the book over a series of several posts, beginning with this introduction.  The book is written in four parts: Natural Law, Socio-Biology, Politics, and Family.  You can imagine that one or more of these parts might touch on politically incorrect topics.

There are brief recommendations from individuals that will be well-known to readers here:

Gerard Casey: “Readers…won’t like [this] book – they will either love it or hate it!”

Walter Block: “I take my hat off to this author for his fearlessness and bravery.”

Frank van Dun: “[Storey] makes a compelling case for a conscientious libertarianism, rooted in the basic idea of the Western philosophical and Christian tradition…Storey effectively destroys the caricature of libertarianism as “globalist market fundamentalism” that became prominent in the Cold War era.”

Western civilization promoted, market fundamentalism demoted.  Something for everyone to hate!

Storey describes his own journey in his “libertarian beliefs regarding law/politics and their exclusively Western character and point of origin.”  Richard Duchesne and Frank van Dun are identified as his greatest influences.  Through these individuals, Storey discovered the value of the Middle Ages and Christendom to our Western tradition and law.

Moreover, [van Dun] was crucial in teaching me the nemesis of this order – modernism, specifically in the form of hyper- or Lutheran individualism.

Storey looks not only to historical causes of the decline of Western civilization, but even to more recent events like mass immigration from countries whose individuals do not hold to the same natural law tradition.  Such immigration is no accident:

Rather, these are deliberate acts, motivated by leftist ideologies which are dead set against the principles of natural law and justice and the hierarchical natural order – everything I have come to love about my dying civilization.


Like I said, there will be something in this book for almost everyone to hate.  Everyone on the left will hate it – including left-libertarians; everyone who views libertarianism primarily through an economic lens will hate it.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Going Old School

C. Jay Engel is introducing a new magazine, focused on Austrian Economics and libertarian ideas: Austro Libertarian, A Magazine for Liberty.

The Austro Libertarian Magazine is a physical print, quarterly published, premium magazine that seeks to promote, explain, and defend the tenants of Austrian Economics, Libertarianism, and cultural restraint in a world fascinated by the State and other Progressivist themes.

Like I said, going old school, both in format and also in cultural tradition.  The magazine is also available in digital format, of course.  Engel sees in his sights the work being done by the socialist publication Jacobin Magazine and considers that there is nothing similar in the tradition of Austrian Economics and Libertarianism.

Engel has made available online an essay from the inaugural issue.  This is done in conjunction with an interview at The Tom Woods Show by the author of the essay, Ben Lewis.  The title of the essay is Just Don't Call it Fusionism: Frank Meyer’s Defense of Freedom and Virtue. (PDF)  Again, going old school – to write of virtue in this age…. I will now focus on the essay, as I found it most worthwhile.

To the casual observer, Frank Meyer is well known as a fusionist – attempting to combine traditional conservatism and libertarianism.  It was a label he rejected:

…he disavowed the fusionist label, saying that he was not attempting to fuse two disparate elements together, but was simply attempting to show that “although they are sometimes presented as mutually incompatible, [they] can in reality be united within a single broad conservative political theory, since they have their roots in a common tradition and are arrayed against a common enemy.”

Meyer found an emphasis of freedom and virtue in the ancient Greeks and in the Old Testament, with both societies also separating earthly power from heavenly power.  The recognition of the dignity of each individual was found through the Incarnation of Christ.

One cannot separate these: the tradition that found the individual was also a tradition that emphasized the development of virtue.  Both are an anathema to the modern left, hence conservatism and libertarianism can – even must – walk together.

Meyer does perhaps his most meaningful work in examining the relationship of the individual to various societal institutions.  For instance, the family:

“The family as an institution,” he wrote, “cannot guarantee the raising of the young in the paths of virtue...only individual persons, acting through the form of the family, can do so.”

Yes, only individuals act; however they act through institutions.  It is the institutions that offer the forums for action.  Hence, placing family above the individuals that make it up is an inversion; yet the individual loses his ability to act without institutions.

Meyer was clear that virtue could not be brought on by the state – to teach and uphold virtue was not a political function.  Conservatives are right when they focus on virtue and virtuous behavior; they are wrong, however, in calling for the state to be the means toward this end.

Meyer also disagreed with libertarians who discounted the importance of virtue. 

These “libertines,” he thought, threatened civilization by removing all social restraints on individual behavior.  …“The first victim of the mobs let loose by the weakening of civilizational restraint will be, as it has always been, freedom – for anyone, anywhere.”

Virtue and freedom are inseparable.  The loss of one will result in the loss of the other; one is not possible without the other.  What Meyer wrote of decades ago is only more significant today.  As Lewis offers:

The decline of freedom and virtue that alarmed Meyer 60 years ago is now at such an advanced stage that one wonders whether either can be salvaged. What Meyer attempted to show was that to save one, we must rescue the other.

Needless to say, the Meyer as described here is one with which I can wholeheartedly agree.  His thoughts on the purpose and necessity of both institutions and virtue toward finding and maintaining freedom are exactly spot on.

The conclusion offered by Lewis – that we are now 60 years further away from a virtuous society than when Meyer wrote – is, of course, correct; the rate of decline seems, at times, to be accelerating.  As I have said before, it is time for Christian leaders to start acting Christian.  The work must start here.

There is much more in the essay: a thorough description of the dialogue between Meyer and Russell Kirk, a dialogue that seemed characterized by violent agreement; the dialogue between Meyer and Robert Nisbet, also characterized similarly – although perhaps not as conclusively; the dialogue between Meyer and Murray Rothbard, perhaps not in disagreement at all but just trying to work out the ideas.

I highly recommend the essay (PDF).  Also, check out the interview of Lewis by Tom Woods.  Finally, consider subscribing to the magazine.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Anorexic Libertarianism

Anorexia…is a psychological and potentially life-threatening…disorder.

One of my earliest endeavors at this blog was to work through libertarianism – the thinnest of thin libertarianism.  My approach was simple: take the non-aggression principle and deduce.  I honed my understanding by working through dozens of posts and essays by many libertarians, trying to understand if or how well the thinking conformed to the non-aggression principle.

Much of the writing that I analyzed veered to the left – various social causes having nothing to do with the NAP.  Having gone after many of these, I was challenged: “why don’t you take on Hoppe with the same gusto that you employ against left-libertarians?”

Well, I did.  And I found that Hoppe was correct.  But Hoppe wasn’t redefining the non-aggression principle – he wasn’t making it “thick”; instead, he offered that cultural boundaries were important if one is to maintain a libertarian society.  This understanding sent me on my path to consider libertarians and culture, tradition, and custom.

Around this same time I came across a discussion of libertarian punishment theory applied: the aggrieved property owner is free to decide the punishment for any transgression of his property.  Anything short of this and you are a thick libertarian.

What about shooting a child for picking an apple?  Yup, if that’s what the owner wants, then that is the libertarian answer.  Private property is inviolate, more valuable than life in all circumstances.

Well, that didn’t sit well with me.  I thought…there is no way such a society will remain free.  If punishment (along with dozens of other daily actions) does not conform to something approaching generally acceptable cultural norms, something like the opposite of liberty will be the result.

Now, in hindsight, I suspect one could conclude this punishment theory from the NAP –the aggrieved property owner decides.  Property is inviolate, and value is subjective.  Who but the farmer can say what the value is of his apple?  Well, you all know where this journey has led me: if liberty is the objective, then what must be added to libertarianism, to the non-aggression principle?

Any ideology taken to an extreme will result in totalitarianism.  Now, that isn’t such a stretch to accept for ideologies such as communism, socialism, etc.  But is it also true of libertarianism?  Taken to an extreme, perhaps the farmer does have the right to shoot the child for picking an apple; the aggrieved property owner can inflict any punishment on the offender – no matter how trivial the offense.

It might be the thinnest of thin libertarianism – an ideology taken to an extreme – but it sure won’t result in liberty.  It will result in pretty much the opposite. 

All well enough for punishment.  What about defense?  A child (yes, I purposely use children in these examples to drive home the point) takes a candy bar and walks out of the store.  The shopkeeper chases the child and shoots him in the back.  “Whew!”  That punk didn’t steal this one dollar candy bar.”

He defended his property, sure enough.  It could be argued that his action fully conformed to the non-aggression principle.  But what of liberty?  What happens down that road?  Any punishment that the aggrieved decides?  Any defense of property for even the most trivial transgression?  Yes, it might be thin libertarianism applied, but is it liberty-inducing behavior?  If you think so, there are many neighborhoods in places like Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore for you to find your liberty.  They live by such rules there.

What about the issue of encirclement, another issue that brings up some conflict between property and life?  And, dare I say, abortion?  Even for those who view it as a strict property rights issue – the mother owns the property of the womb – is killing the unborn child just punishment (or defense) for this supposed transgression of trespass?


We have purified libertarian theory based solely on the non-aggression principle enough already.  Let’s work on finding liberty.