Revolution, Reaction, and Radicalism

In his Menace of the Herd, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn writes:

In a struggle against a revolutionary idea it is only possible to use ideological elements which are a thousand times more radical, or adopt principles which represent a total reaction against them. (Every effort to fight a certain stage of a revolution with its elements of a previous stage would be thoroughly abortive.)

This strikes me as similar to my own demeanor and approach to the world in our time. First, the western world has been overcome by a Jacobin revolutionary spirit which seeks to overhaul not merely the “government structure,” but also culture, education, social harmonies, western norms, and so on. There really is a social revolution at play and it is the specter haunting the west. If this is true, we have three options: join it, remain apathetic, or react –somehow– against it. This puts us in an odd position, because to be reactionary is mostly associated with Fascism or Nazism; neither of these are of much interest or use or attraction to us, for dozens and dozens of reasons. (Historically, Nazism is probably more “revolutionary” and Fascism more reactionary– but in any case, those are the movements the Leftist world likes to associate with reaction against it’s own Progress.)

But of course, etymologically, to react against the left’s revolution, does not require one to be associated with the movements the European left has most feared and have brought them the most trouble. Thus, in a sense, we are reacting against the revolutionary impulse of the left and this calls for some sort of “reactionary liberty.” Thus, Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s call to adopt principles in reaction to the revolution.

This reaction must be characterized by a total radicalization of ideas, not some sort of lightweight, milquetoast appeal to the most important fundamentals of the contemporary narrative (diversity, democracy, egalitarianism). The meaning of radical is simple: taking principles to their logical conclusion intellectually. While it is often used to conjure images of “far-right” violent and oppressive “extremism,” to be radical merely means to think consistently and avoid given up ground to the prevailing narratives.

We should consider Mel Bradford’s “reactionary imperative,” summarized by Daniel Larison:

The failure to embrace what Mel Bradford called the “reactionary imperative,” the vital response when there is no longer anything of the old and desirable order to be conserved, leaves those who should be hostile to the revolutionary idea and its implications to resort to sterile collaboration with the assumptions and principles of that idea.

Kuehnelt-Leddihn then upholds the importance of being intellectually radical and principled in our reaction to the leftist revolution. In other words, radicalism without an element of reaction hands the revolutionary left a victory while reaction without radicalism leads to, well, authoritarianism or centralized social tension. In a way, I cannot think of anything more radical, and fundamentally important in our time than a consistent and constant anti-centralism: the best radicalism is dissent, nullification, and separation. It’s peaceful, productive, reactionary (the revolution, after all, is tremendously centralist in our time), and radical.

We mustn’t spend so much political capital trying to win back power at the Federal level; to heal things at the national level. That ship has sailed. It would be like throwing rocks at a tidal wave to hold back the socio-political tides. It would be like fighting “a certain stage of a revolution with its elements of a previous stage.”


Spring (Ravages of War) Issue, Back in Stock

Now that we have the summer issue off to the printer, we have been able to turn our attention to some housekeeping items (more on this later). In the meantime, while they were previously on severe back order, we now have a limited supply of Spring issues back in stock (with additional copies on the way). If you subscribed after the deadline for the Spring and anticipate the summer being your first issue, you can now purchase the Spring as a back issue item. Click here!


Reisman on Chernobyl, Long Before HBO

From George Reisman’s Capitalism treatise, he comments on Chernobyl’s disaster as a symptom of communism’s very nature:

The case of Chernobyl was a genuine disaster. But this fact is not an indictment of atomic power, still less of modern science and technology in general. It is an indictment only of the incompetence, and indifference to human life, inherent in communism. Under communism (socialism), there is no incentive to supply people with anything they need or want, including safety.

In addition, under communism (socialism), the ability of the government to prosecute wrongdoing in connection with the use of means of production is necessarily compromised by the very nature of the case, inasmuch as the state itself is the owner of the means of production and therefore is itself the party responsible for any misuse in connection with them. Indeed, any prosecution by the state would have to be a prosecution of its own officials, logically entailing the prosecution of its very highest officials.

This is because under the central planning that is an essential characteristic of socialism the highest officials have responsibility for every detail of economic activity. The implicit need to challenge the top leaders, of course, greatly diminishes the likelihood of such prosecutions. Thus under communism, as the result of the lack both of economic and legal incentives to provide safety, industrial accidents of all kinds are commonplace, including airplane and train crashes.

This is a good reason for rejecting communism, but certainly not a rational basis for rejecting atomic power and an industrial society.


Tucker Carlson and the Neutered Libertarian

Bet that post title got your attention. Anyways, I’m quickly writing this note as I’m extremely busy this weekend, but I didn’t want to lose the thought. There’s a pretty big conservative conference going on right now and Tucker Carlson is one of the speakers. I like Carlson, despite disagreements here and there. I haven’t had a chance to listen to his full speech, so I cannot endorse it in full (hopefully I’ll have time eventually to watch more of it), but in the 90 seconds I did watch, he explains that government is not the biggest threat we (conservatives) face. In our time, big business (the private sector) more often than not is our greatest enemy; it most often is the thing that threatens the things we love. Most libertarians cannot agree with this because most libertarians necessarily see “threats” merely in terms of coercion.

But having a proper understanding of libertarianism’s role in society, and relegating it to its proper place, allows us to see that there are more threats in our world than just “coercion.” Most libertarians have no social theory because they do not understand the limited role of libertarianism as a legal theory. By expanding libertarianism’s role in society, they neuter their ability to recognize cultural threats by the concerted socially-leftist brigade that has taken control of the private world. Our way of life is under siege, not just by government in terms of the legal and economic, but also by the far-leftist worldview of the western world’s most powerful companies. The fact that most of these companies, and the culture that is receptive to their propaganda, is a result of statism is relevant, but also not the whole story.

There really is a culture war going on and, as Carlson explains, “big business hates your family.” He also makes an extremely important point that I want to focus on in the future: the left continues to change the meaning of our words; and without the words to express the concepts we hold dear, these concepts will be lost to society. This is something I imagine Ben Lewis would be able to expand upon in reflecting further on the thought of rhetorician Richard Weaver. In any case, if these concepts cannot be expressed with our corrupted language and therefore will be lost to society, is this not the making of a new dark age? Is that not what a dark age is? The most fundamental truth lost to civilization by way of our not being able to express it?

There’s more at stake here in the west than just loss of liberty from statism. Don’t be a neutered libertarian.


Kirk on Aristocracy and Social Order

From Prospects for Conservatives:

[Gabriel] Marcel defends the idea of a gentleman thus: “The word ‘gentleman’ has a positive and limited signification. It means one elevated above the mass of society by his birth, manners, attainments, character, and social condition. As no civilized society can exist without these social differences, nothing is gained by denying the use of the term.” Such an aristocracy, founded upon local associations, a sense of honor, prescriptive ideas, and natural talents, constitutes a true order, and it is the strongest barrier to the menace of the total state, the world oligarchy of the technocrats.


In Defense of…Herbert Hoover?

Herbert Hoover is a universally derided president, but libertarians seem to take a special glee in slamming him. Part of this is understandable, since the (incorrect) narrative is that laissez-faire capitalism, represented by Hoover, was at root of the stock market crash of 1929 and the non-response to the Great Depression that followed. Libertarians, quick to defend the market, are also quick to point out that Hoover was actually quite interventionist between 1929 and the end of his presidency and started programs that even Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advisors admitted were the template for some New Deal programs.

But, as this interview with Hoover scholar George Nash shows, there are good reasons for Americans in general, and libertarians in particular, to reassess Hoover, especially Hoover the ex-president. One reason is that while Hoover was certainly not the unrepentant capitalist of legend, nor was he cut from the same statist cloth as Roosevelt, even as president (as this campaign speech shows). Despite his interventions, Hoover was much more concerned about individual liberty and the decentralized traditions of American government than Roosevelt ever was.

Additionally, according to Nash, Hoover’s commitment to these principles only grew after the 1932 election, as he became not just an opponent of the New Deal, but its most prominent opponent within the Republican Party and the American right in general. Nash believes that Hoover provided principled, anti-Progressive leadership at a time when most high-profile Republicans, like Alf Landon and Wendell Wilkie, were inclined to adopt only slightly less radical versions of Roosevelt’s plans.

It is, of course, undeniable that Hoover had at one point been attracted to Progressivism, but Nash writes in Freedom Betrayed that, taken in a long view, Hoover’s political theory gradually progressed from a “Bull Moose Progressive” to a “man of the Right.” The fact that at least part of Hoover’s Progressive phase overlapped, to some degree, with his presidency makes ascertaining this later shift a bit more difficult. However, such a shift clearly happened, as it did with other figures that libertarians admire. John T. Flynn, a recognized member of the libertarian leaning Old Right and one of the most trenchant critics (along with Hoover) of Roosevelt’s foreign policy leading up to and during World War II, had once been a left-liberal who endorsed Roosevelt’s policies.

All this to say that Hoover, who lived three decades after his tenure as president ended, deserves closer consideration for his contributions to the cause of liberty on both domestic and foreign policy issues. If nothing else, the claim that he was simply a more tentative Roosevelt seems to be false.


My Shocking Vindication: Tucker vs. Boaz

Right after I published my second part to the Left/Right article, I was reminded of Jeffrey Tucker’s 1997 review of David Boaz’s primer on libertarianism (so often an unfortunate entry point for those new to libertarianism). Having read it at least three years ago, I browsed it again and was stunned to find that Tucker had critiqued the book largely based on the same 5 points that I myself came up with in my trying to grasp the difference between left and right. I have added an additional section called “Tucker vs. the Left-Libertarian Model” in my article and I pull select quotes and tie them to my points.

Tucker’s full article is here.


Libertarianism: Political or Legal Theory?

The temptation here is to declare my conclusion outright: libertarianism is a legal theory, not a political theory. But perhaps I should exercise more restraint: there are two visions/versions of libertarianism and their dehomoginization will be a future theme of the Austro Libertarian website, as well, of course, of the magazine itself. In any case, I’ve for some time been dissatisfied with the idea that libertarianism is a political theory. I think that there is a political theory that can flow from libertarianism, or perhaps we can say that libertarianism speaks to political theory, but it has always seemed to me that libertarianism should be thought of primarily as a legal theory, which can subsequently make judgements about politics and the state. That is, libertarianism is chiefly a set of propositions about right (legal) and wrong (criminal) civil behavior. For instance, at the beginning of chapter 9 in Ethics of Liberty, Murray Rothbard states that “we may define anyone who aggresses against the person or other produced property of another as a criminal. A criminal is anyone who initiates violence against another man and his property.”

And indeed, in his characteristically precise explanation of what libertarianism is, Hans Hoppe doesn’t even mention the political first; he mentions the legal as the operating definition:

Libertarianism is a rational system of ethics (law). …libertarianism (Rothbardianism) is a systematic law code, derived by means of logical deduction….

From the principle of ownership come

rules concerning the transformation and the transfer (exchange) of originally appropriated resources are derived, and all of ethics (law), including the principles of punishment, is then reconstructed in terms of a theory of property rights: all human rights are property rights, and all human rights violations are property rights violations. The upshot of this libertarian theory of justice is well-known in these circles: the state, according to the most influential strand of libertarian theory, the Rothbardian one, is an outlaw organization, and the only social order that is just is a system of private property anarchy.

Here, we notice two things: one, libertarianism is a legal theory from which political theory can be judged (the concept of justice comes first, then we compare justice to the nature and activity of the state); and two, I was correct in my earlier statement that liberty flows from justice, not justice from liberty.


A festering nihilistic libertarianism

I wanted to have a this quotation of my recent article on Left and Right published over here as well, for future reference. Here it is:

With regard to libertarianism in our time, there is a developing crises at play wherein the individuals that make up what was once an exciting movement a mere seven years ago at the height of Ron Paul’s influence, are now so concerned about political theory narrowly speaking, that there is no attention being paid to broader cultural, sociological, historical, or epochal issues. The modern libertarian operates in an abstract silo and what weighs him down is not that he holds to libertarianism, but that he doesn’t know where it fits in the world; for his world is simply political theory alone– the authoritarian state is his only enemy– and he makes this mistake because he has fallen for the narrative of the modern zeitgeist: that all must be interpreted in terms of the political.

The crises, which this author predicts will only worsen, is a failure not of libertarianism as a theory, but of the libertarian as a person. He is the political theory version of a generation that has abandoned studying the world in exchange for shallow and disconnected ideas.

On this latter point, therefore, to say (as many contemporary libertarians do) that libertarians are connected to one another simply on the basis of their libertarian ideology is to abandon the importance of social criticism and to leave unresolved the problems created by the implementation of our modern political society. However, this presents a different and tremendously important problem, which is the basis for the coming crises in libertarianism: there is a rising impulse in the libertarian world to completely and consciously reject extra-libertarian social moods. This nihilistic libertarianism alters that old phrase of fascism to say: All within libertarianism, nothing outside libertarianism, nothing against libertarianism. By making libertarianism into a worldview, they not only distort its purpose as a political theory, but they also advocate for a certain social emptiness that libertarianism cannot, by the boundaries of its own subject matter, cannot fill.


Antifa are not “the real fascists”


After Andy Ngo was violently attacked, many on the right and even the center used this moment to declare that it was foolish to think that antifa (“Anti Fascist”) was some peaceful and pro-liberation group, that instead they were the true fascists because of the way they carried out their methods violently and without remorse. But this is historically ignorant and borrows the mainstream framework of western development. Specifically, that framework is that the last 250 years or so are characterized by liberation and progress, that the overall trend has been toward increased egalitarianism, democracy, “power to the people,” and therefore liberty. It is true in many ways that the last several centuries have been characterized by the former three, but these have little to do with liberty properly understood.

In any case, I talked about this in my reflection on the possibility of progress. As various revolutions have presented themselves to the world and became a key aspect of the overall intellectual current, it came to be that revolution was associated with progress. The French and Russian revolutions, perhaps misguided or misapplied, nevertheless were in the right direction because they favored people and “change” over the non-democratic social structures. And attempts to react to such revolutions were associated with backwardness, Reactionary impulse, and oppression. Thus, when the Marxist-Leninist spirit swept Europe, Eurasia, and even South America, any attempt to double down in opposition was seen as conservative and reactionary. Fascists and those who hold this same reactionary response to violent communists typically are the ones responding to revolutionary marxism.

In our case, Antifa are much more similar to the violent left-revolutionaries who sought a social upheaval which they set in terms of either economics (classical marxism) or cultural struggle (Gramsci-style cultural Marxism– Gramsci was, of course, an original “anti-fascist” who was held by the Fascist government in Italy.). Thus, saying that Antifa are the real fascists mischaracterizes the dynamic and does not take into account the socially-disrupting nature of violent revolution against the standing order of things. The reason why the “antifa as fascist” narrative plays right into the hands of the overarching narrative of the western world is because if people think of antifa as fascist, there is no paradox with the belief that revolution and disruption are inherently progress and social betterment. The modern and mainstream conservative movement has swallowed the progressivist overarching narrative and therefore see the wrong connection. But it makes little sense to think of antifa as rising in response to some other, revolutionary force in America. Is the so-called alt-right analogous to the marxist-leninist agitators while the antifa group rising in response to this? What absurdities.

But if antifa is, in reality, a communistic revolutionary force then we should realize again and again that revolutions are so often detriments to freedom, not their moment of birth. Erik Kuehnelt-Leddihn and others have even pointed out that, with respect to purpose, method, and comparison of other historical revolutions, the War for Independence was not even a revolution, properly speaking. But that’s beside the point.

And realizing that antifa is not fascist, but instead the predecessor of reaction, suggests there is more social strife to come. The more violent communists and left-anarchists (in the traditional, mainstream sense) push their endeavors, the more likely an actually fascistic movement will develop in reaction. In other words all this bloviation of fear and tremble in the media, in the streets, in the western world as a whole, about “fascism” and Neo-nazis…” these are goading and flaming what could indeed turn out to be actual violent reaction to groups like antifa.

The far and violent left doesn’t even realize that it is sowing the seeds for something far worse. Perhaps a communist-fascist struggle might once again wake from its slumber.

And while on the anti-fascist subject, I should express my excitement for Paul Gottfried’s forthcoming Anti-fascist history book, which will do well to complement his Fascism one.


Is Rightism Doomed to Failure?

I continue to slog through Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s Leftism Revisted and came to the following:

One must bear in mind that only leftists produce movements, whereas, at best, the right can “organize” in a relatively hierarchic fashion. It has been well said by Spangler that the concept of the “party” in itself is leftish. Yet if movements and parties have no affinities for a genuinely rightist outlook, we must come to the conclusion that the principles of the right within the parliamentary-democratic framework can only prevail after a catastrophic collapse of leftism. The right cannot normally win by its own virtue, its truth, its values because it will never fascinate the masses. It will attract extraordinary and superior people but hardly ever the average man.

A few notes of reflection, of course.

If only leftism can produce movements, are C.Jay and Bionic Mosquito correct that the idea of a libertarian movement is basically a waste of time? If the political world creates an “illusion that libertarianism plays a fundamental role in society,” and if a politicized world is inherently leftist, does it make sense to oppose leftism by operating within the very framework that leftism relies on?

Secondly, is there any hope for those of us who uphold the idea of a moral, objective, and property based order– or must we be forced to wait for the catastrophe of the left and then let society build naturally from there? The west has been centralized under the meta-global vision of the American Ideology, so what hope is there in operating under this framework to achieve the opposite of what it has accomplished?

Which brings us, of course, to secession. That’s the most logical method of preventing the furtherance of the implementation of a leftist social framework. But is it possible if our ideals “will never fascinate the masses?” We often talk in the Ron Paulian strategy of spreading the ideas. But the only ideas that spread and stick are leftist visions of cultural progressivism, even if these are sometimes dressed up in libertarian rhetoric by the mainstream libertarian.

Is there light up ahead? And if so, must darkness come first? The implications of Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s paragraph suggest this.


We need better, not more, libertarians

The type of libertarians, or libertarian fellow travelers such as paleo-leaning conservatives, who read content on this site are aware of, and enthusiastically agree with, the general position that the Libertarian Party is basically an embarrassment writ large. And thus, we so often think of ourselves as advocates of lower-case libertarians rather than upper case, political Libertarians. For those around us who question our political leanings, we may first state our allegiance to libertarianism but quickly and sternly clarify that this does not indicate our party affiliation.

It is not simply that the LP is deeply involved in political machinations (therefore wasting time and resources), nor is it that the party’s leadership is brutally obnoxious in its gleeful embrace of every socio-cultural trend, nor is it even that they are unprincipled or impure. There seems to be something else at a grander and more sweeping level that bothers us about many of these folks.

But this distinction between the Libertarian Party as a political organization and the libertarianism as a political theory is divide that is perhaps related to another debate regarding the broadness of libertarianism; that is, does political theory speak to cultural and social issues or does political theory strictly refer to the problems relating to the use of coercive action in interpersonal relations? The broad interpretation has taken up the label of “thick libertarianism” and the latter as “thin libertarianism.”

It is obvious to most of the readers of this site, as well as those who prefer Mises Institute and Tom Woods over Reason Magazine and Nick Sarwark, that libertarianism as a “thick” philosophy has done damage to the cause. And thus we fiercely defend the thinness of libertarianism by emphatically stating that “libertarianism does not, per libertarianism, demand us to be libertines!” We have the freedom, we argue, to embrace traditional values, prefer certain norms, and engage in the religion of our fathers.

It is, however, a mistake to take the thinness of libertarianism and lean on it as the basis of social analysis. This is the mistake that C.Jay first pinpointed in this well-received article; specifically, that because of the political nature of modern society, the great temptation is to summarize solutions and analysis only in terms of the political. Thus, those who consider libertarianism as a holistic way of interpreting the world around them bastardize libertarianism. But there is an opposite mistake that can tempt the thin libertarians: to completely ignore social analysis, cultural criticism, and, especially, great sweeping narratives of the history of man.

Thus we have the general criticism of the non-libertarian conservatives who chastise libertarians for being completely ambivalent to sweeping social changes, for putting so much of their focus and energy entirely on the promises of the free market and yet who ignore and express disinterest in civilization independent of the particular market mechanisms. It is easy for us thin libertarians to mock the cultural progressivism of the thick libertarians, but we must remember as well that thin libertarianism, if we are serious about it being thin, needs to be combined with something outside libertarianism. The answer therefore is not to broaden libertarianism’s scope, but rather to look beyond libertarianism for those things that are relevant to our social problems.

So often, non-libertarian conservatives criticize libertarianism because it “is not enough.” Libertarianism, they say, fails because it does not take into account other social concerns such as family units, social organizations, social institutions, common values. Their mistake is in expecting more of libertarianism than they ought. Libertarianism doesn’t need to speak to these things so long as libertarians recognize that being rightly emphatic that libertarianism is thin constitutes a burden to look beyond libertarianism and into other forms of analysis, criticism, and interpretation. Libertarianism cannot be blamed for failing to address concerns outside its own boundaries. But – and here is such a needed point for our time!– most libertarians ought to be blamed for failing to address concerns outside libertarianism!

To bring this train of thought back around to the earlier mention of the Libertarian Party and those libertarians who embrace the Progressivist social spirit of our age, my proposal is this: what bugs us about them is not merely their thick libertarianism nor their unprincipled proclivities. Rather, what bugs us, deep down, is that we actually do have extra-libertarian inclinations that have been suppressed, and therefore unrecognized, by our fascination with political society.

Libertarianism as a political reference point is coming undone and there are problems festering within its culture that stem not from libertarianism but are mirroring culture as a whole. So many of us recognize and opine that “the problem is not libertarianism, but the libertarians.” And this is exactly right; we must be honest in accepting that outside of minority (usually castigated) circles of libertarians, the libertarians are generally in poor social shape. They are good at sharing the same articles in the same social media circles and bouncing the same memes to the same echo chambers and making fun of the same statists every day. Yes, they are free to do this. But what of the future of Western Man?

Far from being a plea to internet libertarians to “get your hands dirty,” grab a picket sign, go vote, donate to a political cause, hand out flyers, start a march, or “get involved” with a protest… the solution here is to stop aiming toward libertarianism as a profession, as an identity. Perhaps it would be better for liberty, precisely because it would be better for society, for people to just focus on self (and family) improvement. Perhaps, and don’t panic at this, perhaps it would be better for liberty if we took a year off from libertarianism and started living better lives.

Libertarianism itself has been perfected; I mean, there will always be areas of further development and improvement and we shouldn’t let the doctrine sit in a trash heap, ignored. But as far as political theories go, libertarianism is the most advanced and precise body of propositions produced in the history of political thought. It’s “good enough.” What we need is better libertarians. More generally, what we need is better people. Society is made up of— what do Misesians always say?— individuals! Society reflects the quality of the individuals, not the quality of the most truthful doctrine, which is most often mostly ignored.


I Only Have a Hammer

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

– Abraham Maslow

C.Jay Engel has a very interesting and thought provoking piece on the topic of libertarianism and liberty, entitled “Libertarianism’s Place In Society.” I say thought provoking, because even though the general topic is one that I have worked through often, his approach is quite different and provides fascinating – and troubling – food for thought.

With his opening sentence, Engel points to what he sees as the issue:

The thesis here is that libertarianism as a political theory only carries the veneer of importance and centrality due to the strength and power of the democratic, administrative, state in our time.

Engel is after the “why.” Why is it that so many libertarians see libertarianism and only libertarianism (sola libertatem?) as the cure for what ails us, so to speak?

Where in the past one might have said, with some truth, that politics is downstream from culture, today we have culture downstream from the state – with the state not only consuming all relationships but even guiding these relationships; with the state not following the cultural lead of the people but taking a leading role in shaping the culture that it wishes the people to adopt.

Since the state is everywhere we look, and libertarianism has a set of particular ethical critiques against the state, it seems to follow that libertarianism plays such an important place in our lives.

The state is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

This creates the illusion that libertarianism plays a fundamental role in society.

Because the state plays the fundamental role, libertarianism must be fundamental. In other words, many libertarians see the solution to the issue of the state in the terms that the state presents.

Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.

– Abraham Kaplan

The state makes the rules of the game and many libertarians believe that this is, therefore, the field on which they must play if they are to find liberty:

But it should be made clear that the only reason libertarianism as such seems to play such a fundamental role in the self-identity and life-meaning of so many in libertarian circles is due to the politicalization of society.

Engel has succinctly put into words the role that libertarianism can play in a society that is not totally politicized:

Under a free society that is not created by or bound up in the existence of the state, libertarianism plays much more the role of a legal theory, not a political theory.

This strikes me as not inconsistent with my idea that liberty will be found in a society grounded in natural law and Christian ethics, with libertarianism playing a role of determining when violence (e.g. self-defense, physical punishment, etc.) is appropriate.

Engel notes that men are not connected to each other based on this idea of “libertarianism.” Libertarianism only binds libertarians together if we “presume the state’s politicized world!”

He then comes to the point of what can be labeled (for simplicity) the left and right of society and how this relates to libertarians and libertarianism:

In this case, those of us who are beginning to pay particular attention to the rapid and concerning leftist social revolution likely have more in common with each other, outside the bounds of libertarianism as a legal theory. And as the left-libertarians and mainstream libertarians in general either praise these developments as at the culmination of the “libertarian spirit” or at least just watch it all with neutral expressions and ambivalent reaction, they likely have more in common, generally speaking, with the progressive left.

Libertarians are connected to each other in their (varying levels of) anti-statism. But this only means that libertarians see the problem only one way, through one lens, and with only one tool available to deal with it – and it is the state that has defined the way, the lens, and the tool that many libertarians choose to use.

Men form society not on the basis of a unifying legal theory, but the legal theory is adopted post-society. Libertarianism is a helpful tool in the development of peaceful civilization; it is neither the spring nor the engine from which society comes.

A common culture and tradition must come first, one that offers decentralization from the statism of today. Good law follows good people, it is incapable of creating good people.


If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land

And I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out a warning
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

– Peter, Paul, and Mary

So maybe we could try it another way?