The greatest obstacle to the spread of the philosophy of freedom described in Against the State is the ideology of the left. The left wants to destroy the traditional institutions of civil society, especially the family. It wants to wipe out all differences between people and make us “equal” slaves of the all-powerful state.
This is the opening quote in Lew Rockwell’s book, Against the Left: A Rothbardian Libertarianism. In just short of 150 pages, Rockwell delivers a thorough critique of the damage done by the left to the cause of liberty due to the left’s purposeful destruction of intermediating institutions that provided space for liberty to flourish.
Rockwell covers the assault on the family, immigration, and left-libertarianism, among other topics. I will review each of these over the course of a couple of posts, but first I will begin with the preface by Hans-Hermann Hoppe:
Every person, including identical twins, is unique, different from and unequal to all other persons.
It is this reality that the left fights, a “relentless revolt against human nature,” according to Hoppe; therefore, it is a fight that the left will ultimately lose – albeit after taking many of us down with them.
Hoppe offers a historical perspective – how we came to this. All ideological movements – to include the classical liberals – have slowly (or rapidly) drifted to the left. Incomes would be equalized, then opportunity. Unfortunately for the left, the workers of the (developed) western world didn’t unite. Even worse, the blue-collar base that they counted on slowly declined in proportion to the population.
Hoppe makes an interesting connection here – an insight, at least to me: to make up for the decline in the blue-collar base, the left greatly expanded the “tax-funded ‘public sector’ workers, i.e. of State-dependents, and in particular of workers in the so-called ‘social services’ industry.” Further, they would take over the entire system of public education – from universities down to elementary schools.
They would not only make peace with the imperial state, they would utilize empire to bring their leftist ideology to the world – a welfare state at home and imperialism abroad. This combination would make for a healthy environment for free immigration, with all of its negative consequences for liberty (not for the liberty of the immigrants, of course, but the liberty of those previously in the polity).
Through such a policy, “increasing social fragmentation would result.”
…affiliations to one’s own nation, ethnicity, religion, town, community, or family, would be systematically weakened…
Thus leaving only the state to bind society.
Rockwell in his introduction identifies the thinness of libertarianism: “If we get rid of the State – and that is a big if – we have accomplished our goal as libertarians.”
There is no libertarian goal to mold people to some ideology; it does not view the family as an enemy – in fact, it finds in the family the foundation for a decent society. “Unfortunately, a number of so-called libertarians ignore these essential points.”
Left-libertarians want to combine libertarianism with some version of egalitarianism – ignoring the reality identified by Hoppe: every person is unique. Therefore, not every person will conform to your definition of liberty.
Rockwell, through this book, confronts some of the main issues in this ideological battle, closing with a chapter directly confronting the “left-libertarian imposters who want to take libertarianism away from us.”
Through an additional post or two, I will offer some further highlights from the book. In the meantime, I return to a thought from the opening quote:
The left wants to destroy the traditional institutions of civil society, especially the family.
Rockwell’s book is entitled “Against the Left,” hence against the destruction of such institutions. In fact, such institutions are necessary if one is after liberty. Such institutions do not fit neatly via application of the thinnest of thin libertarianism (which, after all, offers comment only on the appropriate use of violence), yet it is precisely such institutions that make liberty possible; it is precisely such institutions that answer many of the questions left unanswerable via a strict application of the non-aggression principle.
We find defense of such institutions in the writing of Rothbard and Hoppe, for example. Further such defense will be offered here by Rockwell.