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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Libertarianism vs. conservatism, again

This comment over at Nick Steves' Reactivity Place got me thinking again about the conservative-libertarian debate. The linked entry is actually concerned with the far more prominent conservative-progressive debate. But on our side of the conflict, there is a lot of internal division between 'conservatives' and 'libertarians.' Neither side really understands each other, and there is also a lot of argument over definitions. I don't consider neo- and, for lack of a better term, "mainstream" conservatives conservative at all, for example. And I think libertarians are mostly mental 12-year olds who don't want anybody telling them what to do.

I’m not a ‘conservative’ because frankly I don’t see much deserving or capable of being conserved in the public sphere or in the institutions, so ‘reactionary’ seems appropriate. Paleo-conservatives, traditionalists or however they label themselves should get familiar with libertarianism or more properly anarcho-capitalism, because that is where we are headed. There is no reforming the State at this point; this thing will just have to play itself out. So the better way forward to me seems to be in rolling back the 20th century Progressivist State which consolidated its power after World War Two.

In light of current conditions, I don’t really understand the hate for libertarianism, properly understood. Think about life under a government (or warlord) that does not much more than coordinate mutual defense and maintain property rights in exchange for the fees it extracts:
1. No immigrants, only owners, tenants and trespassers, who are shot by ranchers or die in the high desert.

2. No commie city councils issuing Pride parade permits. Deviants are driven out of town, not lionized and given police escorts.

3. Individuals, not taxpayers, pay for their own due process. Sociopaths live short, unhappy lives under bridges or in wilderness areas, assuming they manage to avoid being shot or lynched in flagrante delicto.

4. The welfare state ends, and with it the multi-billion dollar flow of transfer payments from the K-selected to the r-selected. Bums work or starve. Women select for husbandry and fatherhood instead of glibness and peacocking. Families stay intact and develop patronage networks.

5. Children are freed from the State’s public indoctrination system. Schooling ends at 16, if not 14, or 12. Teenaged men really do “man up,” and the disturbing neoteny exhibited by males often into their early 20′s begins to reverse.
I can generate a much longer list of toxic phenomena which would not exist but for the State. There is a current of thought, especially prominent among Catholic intellectuals, that if we can just get access to the levers of power we can right the ship. The Catholic hierarchy in particular are doubling down on ingratiating themselves with the modernist, democratic-managerial State, stuck in their dream of the Church back in its old role as advisor and counselor to the State.

Nobody seems to be thinking too hard about the apparently unthinkable, where the centralized State loses much of its funding and has to cede territory to competitors, and we all have to start things over from scratch.* An example on my mind a lot these days is the former nation-state of Syria, where 4 million Shia and Christians in the professional-entrepreneur classes thought things would just rock along forever with 20 million Sunni peasants. The Alawites and Christians, like the establishment-conservatives in the US, banked (are banking) on the central State always being there. The Kurds in Syria hedged their bets with their ethnic nation-state. Now that Syria's central State has collapsed, the Kurds have a national structure to fall back on. The Alawites and Christians do not, and now some Christians are so desperate they are trying to get Russian citizenship, in the apparent hope that the Russian army will intervene on their behalf.

* - Conservatives seem to think the Progressivist tsunami is really just a tide, and will recede naturally leaving the structures intact. Lifestyle-libertarians and other Marxists hope for Year Zero, in order to install a permanent, perpetually-leveling revolutionary regime.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Present day Iraq is a good example of "anarcho-capitalism" in the wake of the collapse of a state. Anyone who wishes that nightmare on anyone is deeply immoral.

lannes said...

Trying to be funny, but you just come across as silly.

David Sager said...

Anti, I'm surprised you aren't a regular over at the Outside In blog. Reactionary HQ.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Anarcho-capitalism is coming whether anybody wants it or not, because the State extracts resources from K-selected net tax payors and distributes them to r-selected net tax consumers. Immigration compounds the trend. This is not sustainable. I'm not sure what conservatives are trying to conserve at this point.

Just be thankful you live in a country with a median IQ of 100 instead of a country like Iraq, with a median IQ of 87, in addition to high incidence of cousin marriage and a religion designed for desert raiders.

Anonymous said...

On the bright side, VICE thinks Assad may be providing financial support for European nationalists:

http://www.vice.com/read/are-greek-neo-nazis-fighting-for-assad-in-syria1

Gyan said...

"I believe in the pre-State institutions of Church, Family and the Market"

Church or the Church?

Does "Church" pre-date Roman Empire? Greek city-states?

I believe that the State, the Family and the Individual are three irreducible levels or entities of human social organization. If State IS reducible then libertarianism /liberalism follows.

The error of liberalism is the denial of the political nature of man whereby the mankind is organized into particular self-ruling morally authoritative communities we call nations or tribes.

The political nature leads to the definition of citizen and thus a separation of citizens (i.e. neighbors) and non-citizens (strangers).

The liberalism seeks to erase this distinction.
1) By forcing all to be co-citizens. That is, force the strangers to become neighbors and this leads to the formation of world-state.
2) The libertarian seeks to make strangers of all of people. That is, there is no expectation of a common loyalty or a shared moral universe.

The modern conservative flounders between these two denials.

Gyan said...

Let me add that the progressive liberal denies Particularity
while the libertarian denies the moral authoritativeness.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Gyan - 'Nation' is also older than the State, hence I read people describing themselves as 'libertarian nationalists.' Anglo-Celts who crossed an ocean to carve out a country from the frontier are going to form a very different State than, say, Germans with a long history on a crowded continent.

As you point out, humans are pack animals who perforce, must decide who is in and out of the pack. For thousands of years, the most elegant, accepted criterion was common ancestry. Nation was an organic division, Empire was an inorganic, violent construct. At some point, the ethnic criterion was rejected as not just wrong but immoral.

I'm not sure how, why or when this shift in thinking happened. I like to ask liberals where they think their cherished 'diversity' comes from.

Bob Wallace said...

I describe myself as a Libertarian Nationalist. I despise democracy and would gladly live under a constitutional monarchy.

If you want to see what the end result of democracy, take a look at a picture of Michelle Obama.

Gyan said...

Anti-Gnostic,
"Common ancestry"?
How would one ever know whether he shares some ancestry with another person or not?
How much ancestry a person knows of himself? And of his neighbors? and of his not-close neighbors?

So, nations are not defined by and not reducible to common ancestry. The phrase "the most elegant, accepted criterion" hints that nationality has a criterion that could conceivably be something else.

Chesterton calls "nation" a mystical thing. A nation is an object of love and loyalty, This loyalty defines a nation. The co-nationals are persons that share your love for the nation.
The "nation" comes with a way of life, a shared moral sense etc. Since, we are not dealing with abstractions but with real things, a particular nation has a particular history. The ethnic factor comes here. It is a part of the national identity, but nowise the nationhood is reducible to ethnicity.

Let me rephrase a previous remark:
"I believe that the City (polis), the Family and the Individual are three irreducible levels or entities of human social organization."

One can replace the City by the Nation, but with the understanding that the City or the Nation can not be separated from the shared moral sense, the mores, the Way of a particular people, their laws, written or unwritten.

The term "Libertarian Nationalist" is an oxymoron. I wonder what Bob Wallace thinks of the shared moral sense, the shared mores and the Way that defines the nation?
Since the libertarian is defined by his opposition to and his denial of the shared Way, (the requirement of Worship in common that Dostoevsky says is the trouble of mankind), his denial of the moral authority of the Nation makes his self-identification as a Nationalist rather inconsistent. In what sense is he a Nationalist?

Gyan said...

"Nation" vs "State"

I suggest that the State is just the nation under its authoritative aspect.
That is, a nation is defined by its Way. Thus, American Way, the Russian Way, the Hindu Way. And the nations seek to realize their Way.
The State is the action of a nation that is seeking to realize its Way.

This is putting it very abstractly.
Concretely, one thing that an individual can not do, and only a State can do is to realize justice.
Suppose some one steals from you. Now you can trace the thief, even get your stuff back from him, but one thing you can not do on your own is to "punish" him. The punishment is reserved for the organized community i.e. the State.
The State is nothing else but the community organized to realize justice.
The Govt is something else. It is an agent of the State.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

So what is the criteria for membership in good standing in the State, i.e., citizenship? For millennia, it was who your parents were. Thus, the Jews have Israel, the Japanese have Japan, the Turks have Turkey, etc. Propositional nationhood is a modern experiment that does not seem to be turning out so well.

Anonymous said...

If genetic similarity has any pull on the heart strings (and the scientific evidence backs up folk wisdom, birds of a feather...), then libertarians are de facto nationalists. Without forced association bonding incompatible people together and social welfare weakening the mutual dependence bonds of civil society, segregation along ethnic lines would naturally occur.

Gyan said...

St Paul was a Roman citizen, presumably not through ancestry.

And are not American Jews Americans?
And are descendants of African slaves not American?
What about 19C Europeans
immigrants?

Gyan said...

Propositional nationhood relies on belief. You are American if you believe in what Americans believe.

I have proposed loyalty and love as the criterion-- you are American if you love America. And America is no proposition but a concrete entity.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

At their mitzvahs, American Jews still congratulate their children on admission to the "nation of Israel." American blacks remain, well, very black after 400 years in this country, similar to the indigenous-Iberian divide in Central and South America.

Propositional nationhood can work, and work a long time as with the Roman Empire. But the fate of all empires appears to be eventual dissolution into the constituent nations.

I think we are beginning a great sorting-out that will to some extent cut across racial groups and sub-groups. K-selected and r-selected societies are ultimately incompatible. The former separates from the latter, or the latter swamps the former.

Anonymous said...

The existence of dual passports undermines the concept of national identity based on ideology solely. Facts speak louder than words.

Rev. Right said...

"Propositional nationhood can work, and work a long time as with the Roman Empire. But the fate of all empires appears to be eventual dissolution into the constituent nations."

Propositional nationhood can work when everyone is on board with the same proposition.

'Progressivism' labors to make sure no such thing is possible.

This is what will make anarcho-capitalism inevitable.

Gyan said...

How much common ancestry an English laborer has with an English lord?

Consider also the Hindus-- the Hindu nation consists of thousands of non-intermarrying castes. Thus, the Hindus as a nation, lack common ancestry yet all castes believe themselves to be parts of the Hindu nation.

The concepts the "Nation" and the "City" are qualitative and not quantitative. The case of American Jews particularly shows the superiority of the City compared to the Nation.

The City is a hierarchical thing, consisting of sub-Cities. Thus, it avoids the flatness of modern totalitarianism, where you have interchangeable "citizens" and over them just the "Nation". The City recognizes the existence of minorities having well-defined characteristics and autonomous life of their own.

You may think it a lot of empty verbiage but you need to consider the actual historical nations and not just the modern totalitarian entities that have been deformed by liberal hysteria of Equality.

Liberalism is a denial of the political nature of man and thus in liberal times, one can expect deformation in the actual States.

Gyan said...

Each man carries a vision of the Good and all politics is a struggle to realize one's vision.

Now, individual vision is largely formed by one's City (aka the Way of a particular nation). But the national vision is itself formed by the struggles between individual visions. Thus, the nation, the city, the state, perpetuates itself.

The Way of a particular nation is an instantiation of the Law, the natural law that applies to all men.
But this general law is instantiated or implemented differently in different nations. As CS Lewis remarks, people see God through national lens and some lens are better at seeing God, and some are bad and make for horrible nations and cultures.

Bob Wallace said...

"The term "Libertarian Nationalist" is an oxymoron."

No, it's not, unless you don't understand the difference between a right-wing libertarian and a left-wing pseudo-libertarian.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I don't think your ideas are verbiage. Nationhood is in fact complex and fluid. Wanderers from the Levant like Hadji Ali could make their way to America and never look back. There were Jews in the old Confederacy who settled in the rural South, outmarried, and their descendants are Baptist.

But as Rev. Right said, everybody's got to be on board with the proposition, and the obvious starting point in real life is the people who look and act like you.

Boreal said...

Yeah I see the parallel between then low-iq, savage Iraqi's and White Americans. Lolz.

Homogeneous Libertarianism is the ideal society for intelligent and capable W's.