civilisation, collectivism, communism, conservatism, feminism, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, human evolution, industrialisation, Libertarianism, liberty, morally-privileged authority, ontology, particularism, reaction, statism, the Left, the state, universalism, urbanisation
What is libertarianism? Can we even speak of a doctrine of liberty, a ‘liberty-ism’?
Is liberty a universal value? Can it be? Can it ever be?
As argued by Hoppe, is libertarianism just a euphemism for liberalism, adopted at a time when the liberal moniker has been corrupted by the Left? Or is libertarianism in fact something distinct, a radical reactionary outgrowth from the wayward and corrupted liberal trajectory?
To my mind, libertarianism – rather like conservatism – is a disposition, a habit, an attitude, a state of mind, not a fixed market-based dogma. I also think libertarianism is particularist, in that it has its home in England, which is not to say that non-English traditions lack a comparative understanding of liberty, but is to say that libertarianism is derived from an insular ontology that is socially and politically reactionary; prioritises individual freedom; minimises morally-privileged authority; puts the state (such as it is) at the service of the individual; and, holds to private institutions like the family as the basis of community and society.
I reject the idea of a universal human ethical, social and civic sensibility. In my view, liberty and freedom cannot be universal, and also cannot be considered meaningful unless examined ontically and socially. In other words, there is no free-floating, cultureless concept of liberty that could realistically work in practice on a global basis. All notions of freedom are ontological in the ultimate sense, however, I do not refer here to a mundane ‘ontology of need’, but rather to a more sophisticated ‘social and communal ontology’: to factors that are human-imposed, that transcend naive individual choice and are formed at the social and tribal level, and are ontological in nature and thus inhibit absolute agency and freedom of action in ‘human’ terms.
Certain implications follow that are uncomfortable for purist liberals who would have it that libertarianism is, in effect, a credo of a human specieal ontology or similar and somehow reflects universal human values, based either in some kind of a priori human grammar or which can be imposed as such.
Another, related, difficulty with genuine self-governing philosophies is that not everybody is suited to live ‘wild’. It is unclear whether this is simply due to human nature and therefore axiomatic (and inevitable) or a result of the imposition of civilisation (intensified by industrialisation and urbanisation). I’m conscious that herding people into cities and factories is going to introduce an evolutionary dynamic and that political and social movements such as feminism and statist social democracy may be a manifestation of novel human evolutionary influences. At the same time, one would have to ask how the relevant structural changes could have occurred in the first place unless a section of the population is always susceptible to them. I do regard ideologies to be a result of natural selection and different human ‘types’ can be assorted into different ideological types: for example, communism would tend to favour those with a highly collectivist mindset.