Thursday, April 25, 2019

Universal Libertarians

Nick Gillespie (Reason) has written a piece advocating broadly along the lines of the title of this post.  The purpose is a movie review for something about Steve Bannon and all that he supposedly represents.  This aspect is irrelevant to me.  He closes with an interesting line:

Watching The Brink made me think that for all the other differences Reason has with the socialist magazine Jacobin, it may matter far more that we share a belief in open borders.

I have to admit, it stuns me that this is the second time in two weeks that I agree completely with an open-borders libertarian – it does matter far more what Reason holds in common with Jacobin than what they might disagree on. 

Let me explain.  I have long held a view along the following lines:

I don't think there is a meaningful "we" when it comes to libertarians. Where left and right libertarians overlap is minuscule relative to where (and, more importantly, on what issues) we diverge.

Those on the libertarian left hold to more of a "we" with Gramsci and Soros; those on the libertarian right hold to more of a "we" with Pat Buchanan and Walter Williams.

Gillespie seems to completely agree:

In the 21st century, libertarians are going to have make common cause with the globalists of all parties, with the people whose core value is the right of individuals to move freely around the planet.

Where Gillespie uses the term “libertarians” he is referring to what is – for simplicity’s sake – referred to as left-libertarian.  As an aside, I am having trouble finding where individuals have a “right” to move anywhere, let alone “around the planet.” 

According to Gillespie, left- libertarians “have to make common cause” with leftists of all stripes – the Jacobins of the world.

We need to show that there is no inherent tension between being a citizen of the world and a proud son or daughter of one’s country, region, and hometown.

This common cause could lead one of two ways – toward socialism as the Jacobins desire, or toward liberty as Gillespie desires.  I don’t think it needs to be said that Marxists of all stripes also see a world where we are all citizens of the world – whether we like it or not.

Gillespie argues against what he sees as Bannon’s vision:

Bannon’s vision is of a world of distinct nations and cultures that might be defined by any number of factors, including race and ethnicity, but also a common history, religious values, or shared geography.

For people who value such things as “distinct nations and cultures” (what a bland world if there were not “distinct nations and cultures”) and given what we see playing out on the Western stage, it seems to me that there is an “inherent tension between being a citizen of the world and a proud son or daughter of one’s country, region, and hometown.”

The communist Antonio Gramsci saw that this idea of being proud of “one’s country, region, and hometown” would stand in the way of bringing communism to the west.  His view was that the culture of the various regions must be destroyed, and after this nothing would stand in the way of utopia.  Gramsci, obviously, saw this as a communist utopia.

Of course, Gillespie might know more than Gramsci.  Maybe such a path will usher in a libertarian utopia.  I suspect Gramsci – along with every other socialist / communist thinker who has spent serious time on this topic – has it right.

Governance will be provided by a common culture and tradition or it will be provided by force – one way or another, governance will be provided.  Gramsci knew this; Gillespie…not so much.


What I took away from the movie was less about whether Bannon might personally be able to scale Trumpism up to the international level and more about the realization that nationalism vs. globalism is the fundamental political cleavage in the 21st century.

It took a movie for Gillespie to come to this realization?  Many of us figured this out before the last election.  This should shed some light on how deep a thinker Gillespie is. 

Gramsci came to this realization about a century before it even happened.  Who do you believe has a better grasp on human nature and the consequences of teaming with Jacobins?  Gramsci or Gillespie?


  1. "the realization that nationalism vs. globalism is the fundamental political cleavage"


    Actually the deeper schism is imho between logos and pathos...

  2. There is an old fable called the Cat and the Mouse. It goes like this.

    A Cat had made acquaintance with a Mouse and had spoken so much of the great love and friendship she felt for the Mouse that, at last, the Mouse consented to live in the same house with her and set up housekeeping.

    The Cat said "We must provide for the winter or else we shall suffer hunger" so together, they purchased a little pot of fat and set it aside in an old church attic against lean times. However, the Cat had a great longing to taste the fat so one day she said to the Mouse that her cousin had a kitten and wanted her to be godmother to it. However, the story was false - immediately upon leaving their home, the Cat went to the church and licked the top off the fat. When she came back, the Mouse asked the name of the new kitten and the Cat said "Top Off". "What an odd name" said the Mouse, to which the Cat replied "No stranger than Breadthief, as your godson is called".

    Well, you can guess the rest of the story. The Cat has two more godchildren, one named "Half Done" and "Clean Gone". The Mouse is very thoughtful about these names but holds her peace. Finally, the day comes when there was nothing left to eat so they went to the church to recover their pot of fat. When the Mouse sees it empty, she realizes that the names of the godchildren were what remained of the fat at those times. The Cat threatens to eat her if she says any more but the Mouse can't stop herself in time and is eaten in her turn by the Cat. The story concludes that "that is the way of the world".

    Left-Libertarians must be quite naive if they believe that the outcome of an allegiance with any sort of totalitarian group is going to be any different than the moral of this story.

  3. "libertarians are going to have make common cause with the globalists of all parties, with the people whose core value is the right of individuals to move freely around the planet.."

    It's rather interesting that those who claim to oppose the State and those who want the entire world governed by a single State happen to hold the same "core value."

    The only way this value is achievable is with a one-world government that eliminates all borders and owns all the property so there is no conflict between a person's "right to travel" and another person's property rights.

  4. "The communist Antonio Gramsci saw that this idea of being proud of “one’s country, region, and hometown” would stand in the way of bringing communism to the west. His view was that the culture of the various regions must be destroyed, and after this nothing would stand in the way of utopia. Gramsci, obviously, saw this as a communist utopia."

    Nick Gillespie's account of Gramsci's views here is seriously misleading, re: nationalism vs. globalism. Gramsci wrote in the 1920s Fascist Italy, where Catholicism was the main cultural influence, along with post WWI nationalism. He wrote nothing about "open borders" and was a supporter of Stalin (who believed communism must first be implemented in one country) not Trotsky (who advocated universal global communist revolution immediately).
    Gillespie reads far too much into Gramsci's opposition to cultural influences, which to him were Italian and religious. His views were rooted in his experience in Italy and there is no evidence he was a One Worlder. As Catholicism in Italy was very anti socialist and anti Communist, and a major political factor (no separation of church and state there) Gramsci was not advocating open borders or Soros style globalism. No more than Lenin or Stalin was. To identify Gramsci in any way with modern "left libertarianism" from the US is a major error.
    He was a Leninist who like them, wanted to smash bourgeois culture and start a new communist one. But actual Communists never wanted to abolish national borders or citizenship. Instead they built walls and border death strips.

    1. The connection between Gramsci and this position of Gillespie is mine, not his. The connection is very specific: Gramsci saw that workers in the west would NOT unite - economically these workers were too well-off.

      He saw that the way to bring communism to the west was through destroying the culture. This is the connection that I make.

  5. With an IQ of idiot, you too could be an editor for
    Bionic Mosquito

  6. "We need to show that there is no inherent tension between being a citizen of the world and a proud son or daughter of one’s country, region, and hometown."

    This nutbar doesn't seem to understand demographics.

    If millions of people from Pakistan move to your hometown, it is no longer your hometown. It is their hometown. They will define its culture, its history, its trajectory into the future. Lest you think this is merely theoretical, ask a resident of Saint-Denis or Luton how much they recognize their 'home town'.

    The group with highest reproductive output wins this game, and with right or left libertarians being vastly outgunned in this respect, it's a recipe for turning every place on earth into a mix of Africa, India and the Middle East.

    He's also unaware that people from those regions are tribal, not individualistic. They come from honor cultures where the rule of law and deference to adjudication is not exactly the same as it is in the west. I guess he thinks that magically all of these tribal people will turn into left libertarians.


  7. I'm not sure this comment is on point but found it pretty funny. Recall Robert Wenzel's belief that a private property owner had the right to shoot a child dead for stealing an apple? Wenzel is also a complete open borders libertarian. I was in a bad mood one day and submitted a short snarky comment about these topics on his blog.

    A commenter {me} at the post, A Comment on Strategies and Tactics Toward Advancing Liberty, has left this cute comment:

    "In a PPS, if a pregnant immigrant mom and her toddlers wandered off and stole some apples to eat from a private farm, the property owner could shoot them in the head on the spot. Or chop them up for the garbage disposal on live TV. Or turn them into sex slaves for life. Meanwhile, until that glorious day arrives, all 7 billion people in the world can set up makeshift plastic tents on the government street where my little driveway ends. A public relations dream for libertarians."

    It should be noted that this commenter is generally sound in his comments here at Target Liberty, but a fear of immigrants has apparently been triggered by Donald Trump.

    For all Wenzel knows, I might support the idea of importing 500 million Sub-Saharan Africans this year alone while being concerned that 7 billion is a tad too many. But it sure is easy to emotionally trigger "no borders" libertarians.

    1. I honestly don't understand how "Wenzel" still gets such a wide berth from all manner of legitimate, principled, non-weirdo libertarians, Walter Block notwithstanding.

  8. As you have said many times, BM, the NAP is not sufficient to define libertarian principles; it may be a good foundation to build libertarian philosophy upon, but it certainly does not get us to where we need to be if we are to achieve the mutual goal of a peaceful, harmonious social organization. I think that the schism between left and right libertarians is the NAP vs. property rights. Balancing chaos and order, creativity and uniformity, and the philosophical left and right is a complex, never-ending burden. Complex social problems often exhibit glaring contradictions which force us to philosophically choose a default position to make a coherent decision as to how to act (or refrain from acting). I, of right-mind, prefer to error on the side of property rights and order. Those of the left-mind prefer to error on the side of the NAP and chaos. These positions can not be reconciled as they are diametrically opposed. Without the will to defend property rights, the desire for lasting peace is a pipe-dream.

    1. Mark, I think it is deeper than property rights, albeit I have seen this as one manifestation. Call it Christianity, call it a natural moral order, call it natural law, call it respect for hierarchy, call it metaphysical truth - the divide is to be found here, and I think these are all related.

  9. BM,

    What Gramsci wrote about were NOT "Gramsci's ideas."

    Gramsci was a provincial, regional, non-entity.

    The only reason that Gramsci is talked about today is that he wrote down what he learned from Willi Muenzenberg about the United Front/Popular Front, manipulation of "Innocents", covert influence, and cultural warfare while he was in prison. Gramsci's notes were discovered and published, after his death.

    Willi Muenzenberg is who you should study and focus on. It was Muenzenberg who conceived of, planned, and implemented the United/popular Front strategy and tactics, targeting enemy/American culture. Gramsci was a fly on the wall at the Comintern, as Muenzenberg planned, spoke about, and ran covert operations.

    See the attendees and speakers at the 4th Comintern Congress:

    For details on Muenzenberg's operations effects on the USA, see my book:

    Keep up the good work!



  10. Will left-libertarians openly support the globalist agenda now? Why not? They already agree with them on the issue of immigration, anti-discrimination, and cultural annihilation.

    This is just another example of the left's complete domination of the political discussion for the past 200 years or so. Nationalism was originally a left wing phenomenon bound up with the idea of ethnically homogeneous republican democracies replacing the diverse array of peoples living under federated monarchies in the 18th and 19th centuries. In their quest for universal equality, they've since moved on from this position into the globalist cosmopolitan camp. Whereas before they championed ethnic homogeneity, they now champion ethnic diversity. They'll pretty much champion anything so long as this results in them getting more power and influence. In the present situation, those of us who oppose them are nearly forced into some sort of ethnic nationalist position.

    I think nationalism is great so long as we don't get confused about the difference between it and the state. I like the idea of many nations living in neighboring regions or even intermixed wherein individuals are governed by their own separate national laws (and some basic international laws) but all consider themselves part of the same country and feel patriotic enough to defend each other's nations with force.

    Many autonomous nations (governed in a variety of ways) within one stateless country. This is the sort of political situation - where one can say of another, "he is of a different nation, but he is my countrymen" - in which I think liberty will be able to fend off its main threats (foreign and domestic) in order to survive and thrive.

  11. "Those on the libertarian left hold to more of a "we" with Gramsci and Soros; those on the libertarian right hold to more of a "we" with Pat Buchanan and Walter Williams."

    Those on the libertarian right are more likely to be at least sympathetic toward Christianity, and those on the libertarian left are probably more likely to be sympathetic toward the Satanic Temple, a satanist organization founded in 2013.

    Not convinced? Here are the tenets of the Satanic Temple:

    1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.

    2.The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.

    3. One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone.

    4. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.

    5. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.

    6. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.

    7. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

    Sounds significantly libertarian doesn't it? It turns out this Satanic Temple is all about egalitarian or non-discriminatory political agendas and (of course) abortion rights. I'm sure they're big fans of open borders as well. What's not to love for the left-libertarian? Why not worship the original revolutionary who rebelled against the most supreme and dictatorial authority in history?

    I think we're fast approaching a time when actual and open Satanism may be as socially acceptable as Christianity or even more so. Left-libertarians would probably either not care about this development, or they'd regard it as a good thing. This seems like a pretty significant difference between the two libertarian camps.

  12. For the love of God, there is no such thing as a "left libertarian" and people who use that term do great damage to the libertarian cause. Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, Kurt Loder and the rest of the Koch-funded gang at reason are progressives and have never been anything else. Why is that so hard?

    1. Jonathan, since most of the best known libertarians hold to such leftist views and also label themselves as libertarian, what would you have me do? They are doing damage to the libertarian cause - with or without my help.

  13. I started writing about Libertarians joining with socialists but it was getting lengthy, trying to show its non congruence.
    May I recommend the book "Breaking Faith: The Sandinista Revolution and Its Impact on Freedom and the Christian Faith in Nicaragua" to understand what happens when an unorganized (or poorly organized) joins forces with another group which, by definition, are experts at organizing and acting as a group.
    Libertarians will find themselves to be first meal meat by their socialist "team mates."