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.”


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.


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.


It’s sad that Tulsi has to capitulate on LGBT

One of the problems with the modern zeitgeist, the prevailing social mood that affects even those who are consciously anti-left, is that it makes it difficult to think about things objectively and clearly. Take Democrat candidate Tulsi Gabbard, for instance. As predicted, given her Ron Paulian interpretation of foreign policy and international goings-on as they relate to the US military, her “problematic” history with comments related to LGBT issues was brought up in an accusatory manner. Now, if you are a progressive who hones in on this issue as some transcendently important issue of our age, these remarks will forever prevent you from forgiving her and lending political support. If you are a progressive with more nuance, you will say: well, we all make mistakes, and at least she now realizes how she hurt people.

For non-leftists I see on my Facebook and elsewhere, I generally see this mood: of course they are going to hone in on controversial and hateful comments from decades ago to smear her for not toeing the line on cultural phenomena!

But I suppose I am even perplexed by this. Were these things even hateful? Why is mere disagreement or lack of approval of a certain activity hateful? Sure, her conservative father was against the homosexual political movement, as was she. Isn’t this, you know, what you would expect from a social conservative? In fact, even for non-conservatives 50 years ago, homosexuality (not even to mention transsexualism) was considered unnatural and, well, literally “queer.”

It’s only “controversial” to the extent that the media, a key player in the crafting of the zeitgeist, has defined these positions as controversial. Isn’t it funny how what is considered “controversial” is merely just an arbitrary warning that you are reaching the edges of approved opinion?

Honolulu’s Civil Beat has a rundown of her “problematic” past:

“Gabbard” is a loaded name in Hawaii politics, synonymous with steadfast socially conservative views.


State Sen. Mike Gabbard has led the charge against same-sex marriage in the state for two decades. His 30-year-old City Council member daughter, Tulsi, long shared his stances against abortion rights and in favor of a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to being between one man and one woman.

I’m not even sure what the issue is. Her father was against the definition of marriage being extended to included same-sex relationships. But watch this. They call this oppressive toward gays. And since believers in freedom are against oppression, it necessarily follows that to be in favor of a traditional definition of marriage is to be oppressive. It’s all a rhetorical parlor trick. But it’s effective: are you for oppression of a certain class of citizens or anti-Gabbard? 

So to protect her political career, she has to capitulate on an issue that the zeitgeist has shifted on, even if her older position was historically and naturally the reasonable one.

There’s no “right to marry.” That’s a political creation. Therefore, if for joint-tax filing purposes, the government wants to draw a line somewhere, it’s no breach of anyone’s rights to draw it at one man, one woman (even if you have no problem with homosexuality for moral or biological or social reasons). No one’s rights are violated. Of course, since we are against the taxation aspect, why not just lower everyone’s taxes substantially so the benefits of less taxation hit everyone the same? That’s better than a loophole, as well as a separate issue. Taking the issue of marriage to the political square is the source of tension, strife, and propaganda. Privatize marriage, and we will once again be able to talk about marriage and sexual norms in historically normal ways, rather than walking on political eggshells.


Does the left even want to “rebuild it?”

Ben concludes a recent post with the following:

But if Scruton is correct – and given the prevailing attitudes on the left, there’s no reason to believe he’s not – grievance mongers are not interested in what makes for a healthy society. They are, in fact, bent on the destruction of society, and much too confident in their ability to rebuild it.

This reminded me of something I read some months ago in Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s sweeping overview of Leftism and its history; namely, that the New Left, as distinct from the Classic Left (not to be confused with the Classical Liberals), is unique in that “it has produced neither a coherent ideology nor a concrete utopia. It offers criticism but no real answers.” Indeed, Kuehnelt-Leddihn continues to observe that this New Left “has not developed a constructive program, a blueprint, a utopia all its own.” Moreover, “classic leftism likes to destroy, but only in order to replace memories of the past with a vision of the future.” Karl Marx, for instance, need a dictatorship of the proletariate, which would likely have its moments of terror and pain, but nevertheless would give birth to a communism society in which all lived with one another in harmony. However, perhaps more eerie than the troublesome leftism of ages past, the New Left “delights in disorder and chaos.” Destruction of the present order– not merely the governments, but the entire social stratum– is sort of a goal in itself.

This is what makes resentment in our time so dangerous and dark– it aims at nothing, it is never satisfied, there is no end to its eternal and constant loathing. It does not yearn for a better world but instead seeks to make social tension and strife a sustaining characteristic of the everyday. Deep down, many of us wonder about the end game; we operate on this idea that someday, soon, the left will have total control and the revolution will be over. But we must remember: the revolution is constant and ever-present; upheaval is the new normal, there is no end game for the grievance mongers.


There’s No Difference Between a Kind Capitalism and a Greedy Capitalism

I’m responding specifically to sentiments I’ve seen expressed in the conservative world as of recent. I’ve noticed there’s been a large injection lately of attempts to piously criticize a sort of “greedy” or “profit-oriented” capitalism. All of this is nonsense on stilts, built on the foundation of what Mises called the “Anti-capitalist mentality.” It is cautious toward pure and unfettered capitalism because it does not understand capitalism.

Capitalism is a social arrangement in which the means of production are privately owned; where the employment of said means is done according to the will of the consumers, as communicated via the price mechanism. Whether this employment of scarce capital is due to the capitalist being “kind” (and therefore doing as the consumer wants) or “greedy” (and therefore, in order greedily acquire a profit, doing as the consumer wants), it makes no difference. Perhaps we would want a man to be kind, and not greedy, but this has nothing to do with the existence of capitalism.

Man has an incalculable number of motivations for acting as he does, and no man, by praxeological definition, acts contrary to his own interests. In this sense, man is entirely self-interested. Indeed, this is ingrained with us. But self-interest expresses itself in a capitalist system by enabling man to gain what he desires only if he first contributes to the gain of his fellow man. This is what economists have referred to as a “coincidence of wants.” A kind man does not automatically provide for his fellow man better than the greedy man. In fact, often “kind men” offer to run governments, and therein undermine the progress of the market by intervening and preventing the market from doing as it otherwise would.

In any case, the benefits of Capitalism don’t care whether a man is greedy or kind. Or whether a man is lustful or compassionate. Capitalism is the arrangement wherein each man acts according to his own mental state and results in a growth in prosperity and a betterment of the masses. As Mises writes:

Capitalism is essentially a system of mass production for the satisfaction of the needs of the masses. It pours a horn of plenty upon the common man. It has raised the average standard of living to a height never dreamed of in earlier ages. It has made accessible to millions of people enjoyments which a few gen- erations ago were only within the reach of a small élite.

Economic interventionism against greed, regulation which aims to “protect” consumers,  regresses this glorious trend and not only puts back on the path to serfdom, but it also hampers the opportunity that the masses and the impoverished would have had to participate in the rising standards of living. It is a roadblock, a detriment, to the common man.


Is Transgenderism Breeding a New Kind of Domestic Terrorist?

Folks, we’ve a problem. After Playboy published an accusation of a budding pipeline between the Christian homeschool movement and domestic terrorism (what used to be called crime, but DT is better for hysteria purposes), there was another shooting:

The two students accused of opening fire at the STEM School in a Denver-area suburb, killing one classmate and injuring eight others May 7, were charged with murder and multiple counts of attempted murder Wednesday.

The suspects, Devon Erickson, 18, and Maya McKinney, a 16-year-old transgender student who goes by the name Alec, were formally charged in court with more than a dozen counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, theft, arson, and possession of weapons on school grounds.

Regarding Erickson:

The social media posts by a suspect in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in Colorado included opposition to “Christians who hate gays,” criticism of President Trump, and support for the left-wing Occupy Democrats.

Hmm. I don’t frequent legacy porn sites like Playboy, so I have not seen an equally hysteric headline about these trends, but nevertheless, I’m venturing out onto a branch to suppose the hysteria is all in one direction.

Obviously, of course, to prevent people from missing my point, the title of this here post was a reference to the PB article. Everything’s about pushing a narrative, not about honest commentary. But you knew that.

As an aside, I did notice that the first link regarding the STEM shooting announced that Colorado has it as an illegality for sub-21 year olds to possess a gun. So I’m not sure how it is conceivably possible that a mentally unstable murderer got his/her/whatever’s hands on it. Puzzles galore.


The Rulers in a Propertarian Society

If a ruler is one who has the legal claim to setting the “rules” of a given jurisdiction, then logically the property owner is a ruler over all that he owns.  And further, if the ideal libertarian society can be described as a “Propertarian” society, that is, a society made up only of privately-owned property as opposed to “public” property, then it is essentially ruled by proper owners creating their rules and voluntary interacting with each other.  The number of rulers in this society is not zero, in fact, it is hundreds or thousands or however big the society is! Ironically then, it is democracy and every other State structure which limits the number of rulers.

The point here is that there most certainly are rules in a capitalistic and strict property-rights order.  The anarcho-capitalists should always remember this. It’s just that there is no state-originated rules. Thats the difference.

Recently, I read a similar statement by Mises Canada’s Editor in Chief James E. Miller, who wrote:

The issue is not necessarily the functionality of a hypothetical anarcho-capitalist society, but of definition. The etymology of anarchy is simple: the ancient Greek meaning is simply “without rulers.” Are so-called “rulers” necessary for capitalism? Yes and no, depending on one’s general understanding.

Private property itself needs rulers – that is the owners of the property themselves. The same goes for hierarchy. If a rentier owns land that people agree to live on, there is a clear distinction between who’s in charge.

Glad to see this agreement.