Monday, December 30, 2019

An Open Letter to C. Jay Engel

C. Jay

I read with interest your recent piece, On Traditionalism and the Collapse of Libertarianism, which you describe as “The final stage of my journey to the traditionalist right and a reconstruction out of the technical definition of libertarianism.”

I have kept up with this series, and – as you know – you and I have quite similar sympathies on such issues and concerns.  However, now that you have completed this series, I have a few questions.  I have struggled through similar issues, perhaps still struggling; it is in this spirit that I ask questions – for the purpose of dialogue and exploration. 

1)      What do you intend with the phrase “coercively enforced”?  By whom, in what manner, on what conditions?
2)      Expand on your idea of “traditionalism”?  What does it look like?  What will guide it, keep it from going off the rails?  As you know, traditionalism can include chopping off hands for stealing or heads for apostacy.  (No, I know you are not advocating such things; but traditionalism can turn into moral laws and theocracy pretty easily.) 
3)      Expand on “chartered rights”?  Contrast these to natural rights as derived from natural law.  Compare methods of appeal, especially as to who – or what – is the final authority.
4)      I understand dumping the label libertarian, but what of the non-aggression principle?  Does it fit somewhere or somehow in your construct?  You seem to suggest as much in your addendum; please clarify.
5)      What is the practical application of your concept to today’s world?  I understand decentralization as libertarian theory put into practice and I can see the practical application of this.  Please expand on yours.

As an aside, there is a sense of Georgism in your view.  I know some people see this as only possible via a state – and even some of its advocates see the same.  I find a possibility of this model functioning in a fully private-property order.  In such an order, using coercion to enforce certain values and restrictions can be consistent with libertarian principles and private property.

I want to be clear: I do not see a future for or a possibility of libertarianism and the non-aggression principle thinly applied – certainly not if something approaching liberty is the objective.  I have written often that a libertarian community to those inside the community might not look libertarian to those outside.

C. Jay, I hope that you know that I am quite favorably disposed toward these views of yours.  I am merely looking for clarity now that you have offered to your audience this final stage of your journey.

Kind regards


  1. "It is not difficult to recognize that the conservative and libertarian views of society are perfectly compatible (congruent). To be sure, their methods are distinctly different. One is (or appears to be) empiristic, sociological, and descriptive, and the other rationalistic, philosophical, logical, and constructivist. This difference notwithstanding, both agree in one fundamental respect, however. Conservatives are convinced that the "natural" and "normal" is old and widespread (and thus can be discerned always and everywhere). Similarly, libertarians are convinced that the principles of justice are eternally and universally valid (and hence, must have been essentially known to mankind since its very beginnings). That is, the libertarian ethic is not new and revolutionary, but old and conservative."

    ~Hans-Hermann Hoppe

    1. This is what's interesting - and C. Jay notes this in the subject essay: what C. Jay is after is quite Hoppean, yet Hoppe (I believe) still considers himself to be a libertarian.

    2. I need to read this essay, but it triggered a web filter violation on my work computer. Must be dangerous...

      Hoppe still considers himself a libertarian, as far as I know, just not a thin one.

  2. Finally, rubber meets road! Let's figure this out! Still here, still reading, and still learning, Mr. M.

  3. All

    C. Jay has expanded on his thoughts, to include responses to the questions I have posed in this open letter:

  4. I'm with C. Jay. I need a break and some time to absorb this.

    I must admit that, in my rebel years, I held to the concept that I would live my life the way I wanted and everyone else could take a flying leap if they didn't like it. I slowly came to the understanding that people, both myself and others, were hurt by this attitude and have had to amend it. It still crops up from time to time, but is more easily controlled and corrected today.

    Perhaps this is what gaining wisdom is all about.

    Good work, Bionic, and thank you.