What Is Libertarianism?

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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.

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The Limitations of Jordan Peterson

Not that I necessarily agree with the whole thesis of psychopathy, which seems to me rather unscientific, but Peterson here fails to take account of socially-sanctioned psychopathy. Or rather, he is too ready to dismiss the possibility a priori.
A psychopath can be behaviourally normative and still act in a thoroughly psychopathic manner. If this short clip is anything to go by, Peterson also seems to be equating psychopathy with anti-social behaviour, but the two are not synonyms. The possibility of social framing seems to elude Peterson: i.e. either that a psychopath can actually behave according to normative standards because the system itself is psychopathic or the psychopath is working within an institutionally psychopathic organisation. Examples abound and I need not labour the point.  I assume the reader has eyes to see and ears to hear.
Maybe this is harsh of me, but Peterson comes across as somebody with quite a naive understanding of the world, you might even call his worldview ‘quaint’. That observation is not particular to Peterson however: increasingly, as I age, learn and read more, I become less impressed by these ‘expert’ talking heads; indeed, experts of all kinds look less impressive to me, and not just in the social sciences.

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We Need More Bigots, Not Free Speech

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The more I think about it, the less enamoured I am of “free speech”, which it seems to me is yet another liberal chimera that ignores or smooths over the ontological nature of freedom.

“Free speech” in the practical sense is not offensive speech – which is pure free speech – but instead is defined in a more formal sense as wherever the line of acceptable speech can be drawn within a given culture. Multi-racialism and imposed diversity help us define the line of “free speech” in this multi-culture: it’s whatever does not offend, and the exact position of the ‘offence’ needle on the barometer of acceptability is never constant, always changing. That is, unless you are part of a protected group, in which case you can offend.

Anything that transgresses the threshold of acceptable speech is deemed illegal and potentially prosecutable, per “Count Dankula”.
Looking at the matter with detachment, none of this can be considered a surprise. It is difficult to imagine even a libertarian society that could tolerate liberal freedom of the chimerical sort. Can examples be brought forth? It seems to me that any society in which individuals aspire to be free must reckon with a paradox: intolerance of outsiders as a condition of internal tolerance.

The uncomfortable truth, then, is that unintellectual bigotry is a prerequisite of freedom. The working class blue collar racist, the roughneck who believes in Zionist conspiracy theories, the boorish lower middle-class businessman who wants to stop immigration and keep women in the home, the Tory Magistrate who wants to bring back the birch and close the borders, etc., are freedom’s cutting edge, not because – as the conservative might argue – the maintenance of freedom depends on the advancement and successful sustaining of a chimeric Liberal Order, but rather because the Order itself cannot exist without the people who maintain the relevant values that define it. We are freedom and freedom is us. Freedom means nothing unless we are able to survive and reproduce ourselves. If outsiders are tolerated and welcomed, freedom within that society will be gradually eroded.

That is why non-reactionary liberal societies collapse. They refuse to be bigoted and thereby sow the seeds of their decline and eventual destruction. It’s also why calling for “free speech” abstractly is completely futile. If you want “free speech” in anything other than the pretentious liberal chimeric sense, then the first steps are to close the borders, deport all non-Europeans and return society to communal principles.

 

Rights vs. Liberties

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Rights vs. Liberties

Strictly speaking, I am not in favour of ‘rights’. The word ‘right’ began as a synonym for ‘law’ and denoted what nascent states could or could not do to interfere in the liberties of their subjects. Only liberties exist in the natural sense and the only debate is the extent to which our liberties (to speak freely, to perambulate around, to own and use guns, or whatever) should be restricted by ‘rights’.

Thus rights and liberties are opposites. When you speak of ‘gun rights’ or the ‘right to bear arms’, what you should really be talking about is the abolition of the state’s right (or moral privilege) to interfere with a liberty that we have always had.

The Third Rail

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The Third Rail

I created this site for my own purposes more than anything else.  I write a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, and across a range of subjects.  This is a space where I can set out my views and think through various issues, both things that are personal and things of wider relevancy.  I don’t expect anyone else to read my thoughts or comments, but if anyone is reading this, then thanks for stopping by.  I hope you find something here of interest.

You may wish to comment on my essays and other posts.  That would be very much appreciated, especially if you have something to teach me, and I will endeavour to reply – but please remember that this is a site for independent thought.  Thought-Police bores and PC drones are not wanted.  If you fall into those categories but are willing to set out your thoughts and ideas calmly and coherently, then you’re as welcome here as anyone. Otherwise, take your manufactured outrage somewhere else.

I don’t mind contrary views, especially if they challenge some of my own prejudices and assumptions.  Moral and intellectual growth involves an acceptance of criticism, but true debate involves not ‘winning’ or ‘losing’, but an exchange of ideas and a determination to reach an understanding.