Anarcho-Mendacity

It used to be that conservatives held one piece of high ground in the long running intellectual civil war in the West, that began in the Enlightenment. Conservatives, for all their faults, maintained that the ruling elite of any society had a duty to safeguard the interests of the people. That was the check against social experimentation and the wholesale overturning of traditional institutions. The interests of the people demanded prudence and a deference to the people’s traditional ways of living.

Looking back at the intellectual battles in the West, since the Enlightenment, the one thing the sides were forced to agree upon was that the duty of the state, the ruling class and social reformers, was to safeguard the interest of the people. After all, what would be the point of establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat, if it immiserated the proletariat? It was not just a material argument either. Much the critique of communism from the Right was on aesthetic grounds. Communism was the triumph of the ugly and vulgar.

That’s probably why libertarianism was always on the sidelines, more of a commentary than a serious political philosophy. That is the correct way to view libertarianism. It was a set of running commentaries on the great works of political economy produced by socialists, communists and Marxists. Frédéric Bastiat does not make a lot of sense in isolation. His significance is only in contrast to 19th century industrial socialism and the reaction to it from the Right. Libertarianism is the peanut gallery of the Enlightenment.

It’s why, in the fullness of time, the story of the collapse of mainstream conservatism will include a chapter on the error of fusionism. By grafting onto the Right, libertarian arguments about economics and individual liberty, the Right invited a cancer that gnawed away at its legitimate claims to proper elitism and traditionalism. In other words, they forfeited the one piece of high ground they held. You see this in the debates over immigration. The so-called conservatives no longer have the tools to argue the issue.

This piece at Reason Magazine is a good way of understanding the problem. Nick Gillespie is not a serious person, but he is one of the leading voices of American libertarianism. He is embraced by the so-called conservatives a fellow traveler, even if they have minor quibbles. His response to the immigration debate is a dog’s breakfast of mendacity and incoherence. The most charitable way to view his article is that he has never bothered to examine the issue, so he is pulling this out of his ear.

Of course, this is mostly true. Libertarians have not spent a lot of time thinking about immigration and that’s because they long ago embraced the materialist view of humanity that animated left-wing ideologies since Marx. From the perspective of modern libertarians, people are just interchangeable meat sticks with no intrinsic value. The measure of a man is his economic utility. A factory worker from Bangladesh is no more or less useful than one from Bangor Maine. Whittaker Chambers was right about them.

It is when they are forced to address an issue like immigration that something else is revealed about libertarians. They are not honest. That which contradicts the faith is denounced or discarded, Gillespie’s first point is an example of this. It used to be a article of faith that the laws of supply and demand apply to everything, including labor. Therefore, the only reason business would want foreign labor is that it is cheaper. The reason they like illegal foreign labor is that it is even cheaper than legal foreign labor.

The innumeracy is one thing, but Gillespie is also conjuring a straw man. Yes, wages are one element, but no one makes that the focus of their brief against open borders. He also relies on two logical fallacies that gets a college sophomore flunked out of class. “Virtually all economists, regardless of ideology, agree that immigrants, both legal and illegal, have little to no effect on overall wages” is not an argument. It is a recitation of a spurious Progressive talking point that has shot down many times.

The mendacity is on full display when Gillespie addresses the rule of law. The very core of the libertarian critique of socialism is that it does not abide by the orderly administration of the law. Socialism is an ends justifies the means philosophy, so it cannot, by definition, respect the law. It is why flouting the law can never be tolerated. If a law is found to be unjust or improper, then there is an orderly way correct the error, a lawful way to address the natural mistakes that arise in any social organization.

Gillespie’s argument, with regards to illegal immigration is an embrace of anarchy. In this case, he thinks the immigration system is inefficient or incompetent, so that justifies the wholesale abrogation of the law. No reasonable person would argue the immigration system is logical or coherent. That’s the reason for this reform effort that is at the heart of the national populism. By cavalierly rejecting efforts to reform the law, embracing a form of deliberate chaos, Gillespie reveals libertarianism to be nothing more than anarchism.

This gets back to the original point. The legitimacy of any ruling class lies in its execution of its duty to its people. A monarch loses his crown, and maybe his head, when it becomes clear that he is serving a narrow interest over the general good. The current managerial class is losing its legitimacy as it becomes clear that it not longer sees itself as having a duty to the people. A stable society is one that embraces a bi-directional hierarchy of duties. There’s no place for selfish, materialistic creeds like libertarianism.

This is something the alt-right gets that no one bothers to notice. They often talk about this duty that a people have to one another and their posterity. It’s something that the Founders understood, which is why they wrote this in the preamble of the US Constitution. This is why so many of the alt-right started out in libertarianism. They learned all this stuff about the Founding and natural rights, then figured out that modern libertarians really don’t believe it. It was just a sales pitch to move product. That’s why we have an alt-right.

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Severian
2 years ago

The “economics” of libertarianism, communism, etc. have always fascinated me. They assume that man is nothing but an economic unit. Well, ok then: What is the *value* of that unit? The briefest glance at history shows that the value of an individual human life is zero. According to humans themselves, human life is the cheapest thing on earth. We throw it away for silly causes, blatantly false beliefs, and often simply because we’re bored. That’s why all these “philosophies” quickly turn into death cults — 0+0+0 = 0, so what’s the point? Better to end with a bang than a… Read more »

Thorsted
Thorsted
Reply to  thezman
2 years ago

The military analyst, Edward Luttwak has been a critique of globalism for nearly 25.years and in one of his books his says that “to the conservative the economy is for the society but for the liberal society is tool for the economy”. He wrote “The Endangered American Dream: How To Stop the United States from Being a Third World Country and How To Win the Geo-Economic Struggle for Industrial Supremacy”(1993) and “Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy”. I remember an interview he gave for in a danish leftist paper where he said in 1999 (google translate); “For 100… Read more »

abelard Lindsey
abelard Lindsey
Reply to  thezman
2 years ago

The problem with politics is that it is often used to justify rent-seeking parasitism as well as to restrict productive accomplishment on the part of private parties. I would have no problem with politics in economics if it were not for these two things. Engineers and entrepreneurs, not politicians and bureaucrats, create value. Those that create value must be allowed autonomy from those that do not.

Member
Reply to  abelard Lindsey
2 years ago

All you have done is simply restate the libertarian position that there should be no restrictions on anyone or any business as long as they don’t harm anyone. Any political choice will mean some sort of winner and loser from that choice. Protecting steel mills will mean higher steel prices for consumers. You haven’t addressed the problem that economic value cannot be the absolute arbiter of all decisions.

EMP
EMP
Reply to  Chris_Lutz
2 years ago

The non-aggression principle is first and foremost a moral axiom, not necessarily an utilitarian economic proposition.

Where is your refutation of the libertarian position as restated by you, above?

Rien
Reply to  EMP
2 years ago

NAP is indeed a moral axiom.

But it cannot be maintained in the real world. NAP breaks down in survival situations. (Also known as the lifeboat problem)

Evolution is a permanent lifeboat problem. Hence NAP cannot be applied to real world problems.

EMP
EMP
Reply to  Rien
2 years ago

Does not civilization break down in survival situations? The NAP is little more than a formalization of the fundamental cultural component which ultimately resulted in the Declaration of Independence, arguably western civilization’s greatest contribution to history. In other words, the NAP was/is the implicit rule by which justice is done. Libertarians in recent years have distilled the nature of justice in the western tradition and formalized it into the NAP. Don’t get me wrong, most libertarians–the big-L, open border types–are culturally suicidal and deserve to be ridiculed as the leftists they are. But there are many culturally conservative libertarians who… Read more »

Rien
Reply to  EMP
2 years ago

I should have written a little more. I make a difference between personal and cultural NAP.

On the personal leven NAP is a good guidance. But once we get to societies (cultures) then that culture is in a permanent lifeboat scenario. That is why I think that societies cannot implement the NAP.

However within societies people should adhere to the NAP and only officials may deviate from NAP in so far their function requires it. But at the personal level, they too should adhere to the NAP.

Duke of Deploraville
Duke of Deploraville
Reply to  EMP
2 years ago

I suppose there are people who imagine themselves to be libertarians who are immigration restrictionists, just as there are self-anointed conservatives who are for open borders. In the second case, the conservatives imagine that immigration invasion exemplifies some abstract principle that conservatives are supposed to believe in, like support for capitalism or the “proposition nation” (if you say you believe in American values, why then you’re an American, regardless of any legalistic quibbling). The “culturally conservative” libertarian may claim he believes in absolute freedom “as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.” He convinces himself that the cultural harm caused… Read more »

EMP
EMP
Reply to  Duke of Deploraville
2 years ago

@Duke I posted this quote below but it’s apropos here: “While much of contemporary libertarianism can be characterized, then, as theory and theorists without psychology and sociology, much or even most of the Alt-Right can be described, in contrast, as psychology and sociology without theory.” -Hans Hermann Hoppe There is a lot of psychological remote-viewing in your response and seemingly no understanding of libertarian theory, which goes something like this: Private property is paramount. One may not immigrate uninvited to another’s property without aggressing against the property owner(s). Common law refers to it as trespassing, a crime which most certainly… Read more »

Duke of Deploraville
Duke of Deploraville
Reply to  EMP
2 years ago

EMP, You wrote, “But there are many culturally conservative libertarians who recognize the limits of the NAP and the value of common culture without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as you apparently have done.” I’m not sure who “you” refers to or what baby is being thrown out with the bathwater. Anyway, if culturally conservative libertarians oppose population replacement on property rights grounds, then we’re on the same side. It seems like a weak position, though. If 20 illegals occupy a house along with eight pickup trucks and five pit bulls but manage to pay the rent (subsidized… Read more »

EMP
EMP
Reply to  Duke of Deploraville
2 years ago

@Duke I was replying to Rien in regards to the non-aggression principle, it being the baby in the metaphor. As a culturally conservative libertarian, I oppose population replacement because the replacements are unlikely to value private property and the non-aggression principle as I do, as most so-called conservatives do, even if they can’t explicate their position in philosophical terms. Regarding your example of illegals, trucks, pit bulls and taxes, if rent is being paid with government handouts then theft has taken place. If, however, rent is being paid without gov’t subsidies and the immigrants were invited to the property and… Read more »

Duke of Deploraville
Duke of Deploraville
Reply to  EMP
2 years ago

Thanks, EMP, for the explanation. Also, I neglected to mention that I appreciated the wit in your line, “There is a lot of psychological remote-viewing in your response.”

Whatever our respective reasons, I am glad to join with you in standing against the immigration invasion.

Severian
Reply to  EMP
2 years ago

Hobbes covered this, way back in the 1650s.

Abelard Lindsey
Abelard Lindsey
Reply to  Chris_Lutz
2 years ago

I stand by what I say. I will say that given what I have read over the years, that the only substantial issue that differentiates alt-right from libertarianism is that of immigration policy. Most libertarians are open borders. I am not. Thus, I am essentially alt-right as well as libertarian. The efficacy of any human organization is based exclusively on its human capital, Everyone knows this. We also know that human capital, as defined by executive function and cognitive ability, various by ethnicity. This is the unspoken 800 lbs. elephant in the room that can never be acknowledged due to… Read more »

Dirtnapninja
Dirtnapninja
Reply to  Severian
2 years ago

Not only do they see us all as interchangeable Biological production and consumption units (BPCU), but they apply trade theory to us as well. Its cheaper to outsource the manufacture of the BPCUs to low cost jurisdictions like mexico and india and then import them than it would be to make the needed changes to the domestic manufacturing and supply system. Sure, domestic BPCUs are notably higher quality and come with a much lower rate of defects, but the sheer savings to industry from importing BPCUs more than makes up for it.

Pimpkin's Nephew
Pimpkin's Nephew
Reply to  Dirtnapninja
2 years ago

This is a great insight. My only quibble is that our rulers and their sponsors are mainly interested in the parasitic subset – the BCUs. From the standpoint of Westinghouse or ADM, or Proctor & Gamble (all of whom are well-represented in DC), selling a light bulb or a loaf of bread or a tube of toothpaste results in cash money: We legacy Americans aren’t buying enough of this stuff, and the costs of production in the American regulatory system probably means that the excess can’t be sold profitably abroad. Classical Marxist theory predicted colonialism as the last gasp of… Read more »

Tdurden
Tdurden
2 years ago

So this is all the fault of what amounts to on average less than 1% of the voting public. But I guess it’s easier to poke fun at the clown who wears a leather jacket year round like Fonzi instead of pointing out that most of what passes itself off as “conservative” in DeeDee and pretending to be for strong borders is really just waiting for the right bribe to get their vote on a convoluted amnesty. Kinda like trey gowdy selling out on gun control over the weekend now that he’s shopping for a sweet lobbying gig.

Member
Reply to  Tdurden
2 years ago

Did you read what he wrote? He simply stated that by accepting libertarian arguments, conservatives lost one of their key advantages. That isn’t the fault of libertarians. It’s the fault of conservatives for accepting the libertarian argument of people being solely economic animals.

Any philosophy that deconstructs humanity into one category, economic, sexual, moral, or political, is bound to fail.

Cloudbuster
Member
2 years ago

They learned all this stuff about the Founding and natural rights, then figured out that modern libertarians really don’t believe it. It was just a sales pitch to move product. That’s why we have an alt-right. Yup. Made that exact journey. I still refer to myself sometimes as a “Nationalist Libertarian.” In that I think that within a nation, it’s good to strive for as much freedom, self-determination and protection of natural rights as possible. Yet I also believe that the sort of population that’s required to do that is a very special one that is not found widely throughout… Read more »

Kodos
Kodos
2 years ago

Somewhere Mike Enoch was talking about the libertarian to alt-right drift. He said: look at how much of the libertarian movement is white males. Lurking behind all the the other talk is the idea that white people should be able to go live where they want, form their own clubs, etc. (For the record, libertarians often say that it would be “foolish” to exclude good people just because of skin color, since your competitors will scoop them up. But foolish or not, they would still say it should be legally possible.) With the clear rise of anti-white rhetoric from maybe… Read more »

DLS
DLS
Reply to  Kodos
2 years ago

Exactly. We might as well move to Mexico and get it over with.

BestGuest
BestGuest
Reply to  Kodos
2 years ago

It’s not just “Civic Nationalism,” it’s “Proposition Nationalism.” Look at all the countries throughout history that have (or attempted) to adopt the US Constitution as the basis for their own governments and civic institutions. How’d that work out for them? People are conditioned to reject even the most obvious truths if that truth is unpleasant and upsets the narrative.

Thorsted
Thorsted
Reply to  Kodos
2 years ago

“Libertarian open-borders discourse is a suicide pact for a market economy.” Wrong, it is a suicide part for everything. The state with rule of law, democracy because trust and association is gone. The english prof in anthropology and history at cambridge, Alan Macfarlane has written about the victorian lawyer and historian, Frederic Maitland about the roots for english commen law, institutions, individualism and civil society-and the basis is trust and association for it all to work. Sargon is an anti-intellectual;http://www.alanmacfarlane.com/TEXTS/Maitland_final.pdf

Jim
Jim
Reply to  Kodos
2 years ago

Libertarians don’t value the great cost of the commons. It’s what makes them unserious, or social commentaries as Z wrote.

A libertarian country would become a leftist totalitarian shithole in 2 generations or less.

As for Nick Gillespie and Reason, starting out as meat stick blank slaters, and parasites, their movement left was always predictable.

If you scratch a libertarian, chances are these days you will find a cultural Marxist.

TomA
TomA
2 years ago

Big “L” libertarianism is a label representing a mosh pit of contradictory positions that, like most macro-political institutions, has become bastardized by modern social, moral, and ethical decay. It is an abstract ideology that has little import in the real world. That said, when it was strictly about individual prescription (e.g. free thought, self reliance etc.) it was a useful construct of personal wisdom. The real battle today is not between decrepit macro-institutions, but the systemic degeneration of the species. The rot at the top exists because of the rot at the bottom.

Toddy+Cat
Toddy+Cat
Reply to  TomA
2 years ago

Yes, modern libertarianism as practiced over at “Reason” mag is somewhat like Dialectical Materialism, Nazi “Rassenkunde”, or phrenology – it contains isolated nuggets of truth, and their proponents can make some insightful points, but the overall theoretical framework is false. Libertarianism really jumped the shark when its followers caved on freedom of association. According to guys like Gillespie, you should have the freedom to shoot smack, sell your kids into indentured servitude, trade in human organs, deal reefer to high school kids out of the back of your car, open up a rendering plant in your suburban neighborhood, as long… Read more »

TomA
TomA
Reply to  Toddy+Cat
2 years ago

Everything you say is accurate, but it misses my point. Throwing rocks at failed institutions may be cathartic for the soul, but it ignores the root problem. We are becoming a nation of hive-minded dependents that can no longer think rationally. If the Libertarians evaporate tomorrow, we still have the epidemic of idiocy to deal with.

Herr Niemand
Herr Niemand
2 years ago

…this will not end well. ®

Tax Slave
Tax Slave
2 years ago

Excellent post! The libertarians I’ve encountered I always considered a strange combination of Jefferson quoting solar panel powered navel gazing airheads.

el_baboso
Member
2 years ago

We may all be meat sticks, but some of us are cheddar filled, jalapeño-flavored meat sticks! (Apologies to Winston Churchill.)

abelard Lindsey
abelard Lindsey
2 years ago

I consider the alt-right’s emphasis on ethno-nationalism and the critique of immigration to be a proxy for the variance of human capital across different races. Naturally, as a performance and achievement oriented society, naturally we want the best human capital for our society. Thus, immigration reform or restrictions are justified.

D&D Dave in the bubble
D&D Dave in the bubble
2 years ago

Just read Gillespie’s rag and its just the same whitewash that liberals throw out to defend open borders mayhem or a stooge from the Chamber of Commerce throws out so they can keep that flow of cheap labor coming in.

I love how Gillespie also uses the media trick of intermingling illegal and legal immigrants together as if they are one in the same. The debate is to fix illegal immigration, not legal immigration! Make my head want to explode as these dimwits cannot seem to fathom the difference between legal and illegal.

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  D&D Dave in the bubble
2 years ago

No difference because meat sticks.

EMP
EMP
2 years ago

“While much of contemporary libertarianism can be characterized, then, as theory and theorists without psychology and sociology, much or even most of the Alt-Right can be described, in contrast, as psychology and sociology without theory.”

-Hans Hermann Hoppe
https://misesuk.org/2017/10/20/libertarianism-and-the-alt-right-hoppe-speech-2017/

If you’re unfamiliar, by theory he means ubiquitous private property and the non-aggression principle; anarchism indeed, in the literal sense, but best understood as polyarchy or political decentralizationism.

Bionic Mosquito’s blog is the bleeding edge of libertarian/conservative “fusionism”. You’ll find a great, great deal in common with him.

http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/

CompSci
CompSci
2 years ago

Spot on Z-man. I was a card carrying Libertarian for 20+ years, but the illegal immigration problem in the USA and the Libertarian position on such finally woke me up.

Recusant
Recusant
2 years ago

Joseph de Maistre was right all along. Conservatives who disparage him are not worthy of the name.

james+wilson
james+wilson
Reply to  Recusant
2 years ago

Conservatives are not worthy of the handle of right wing, in fact, their fear of being tied to that association is proof of their cowardice. Conservatives are the brakemen of a runaway train.

Member
2 years ago

I was done with libertarians in 2012 when they all lined up behind a massive expansion of state power and tax collection…because they wanted to smoke weed. (Colorado) You know, “For the children”. Now we have drug cartels moving operations to Colorado because it’s perfectly legal for them to do so, and it’s cheaper and more efficient for them to export it to the rest of the country. Yay! Less crime! Oh. Thanks Libertarians! The best part is that the schools here are still crap, and local districts are still passing bond issues left and right to pay for all… Read more »

Matrix
Matrix
Reply to  hokkoda
2 years ago

Did some hiking last summer in Colorado and was talking to a long-term wild life photographer around Breck. Said he was pulling up roots and heading for Mormon country thinking they might keep drugs at bay. He was saying the gang violence and drug trade was getting out of hand and was afraid to drive on the roads due to impaired driving. He was having a hard time to getting steady help because everyone was stoned.

Also talking to some teachers there, anecdotally they were saying senior test scores were dropping too. John Denver lives on!

bad guest
bad guest
Reply to  hokkoda
2 years ago

Governments always pull that crap with sin taxes. They said the same thing when they passed the state lottery legislation here in Florida. For The Children! Education!

But of course they just pissed away the revenue from gambling on something else, and now the schools are as underfunded as they were before the lottery.

It’s never about anything except creating a revenue stream that the pols can work their proboscis into and suck off somehow.

Old Codger
Old Codger
Reply to  hokkoda
2 years ago

Uh…I live in Colorado and don’t see much of what you claim is happening. If the Cartels have set up shop here, its because Colorado is “Sanctuary State” as proclaimed by our HowdyDoody Governor and that nasty little proggy /black mayor of Denver!

Toddy Cat
Toddy Cat
Reply to  Old Codger
2 years ago

I have no idea about the state of Colorado, but there’s no doubt that libertarians sold out their alleged “principles” for weed, surprising absolutely no one who has ever known one. To say that libertarians are not, in general, serious people, is an understatement…

Teapartydoc
Member
2 years ago

A polity starts with a people, not an idea. That’s where all these systems go wrong.

Drake
Drake
2 years ago

You are correct Nick Gillespie is not a serious or particularly intelligent person.

Libertarians are not of a single mind on the topic of immigration. Serious ones know that open borders and the welfare state is an impossible combination.

Look at the comments in Gillespie’s idiotic article – even the regular readers of Reason are on to his bullshit and called him out point by point.

Old Codger
Old Codger
2 years ago

“The most charitable way to view his article is that he has never bothered to examine the issue, so he [Gillespie] is pulling this out of his ear.”

Actually, I was thinking it came from an orafice much lower down on his anatomy! Something about the smell……

joey+junger
joey+junger
2 years ago

I’m not the most wonkish guy in the world, but how can guys like Gillespie keep a straight face and mention cost at one juncture and then not factor in all the other ancillary costs of immigration? Say Xavier comes from El Salvador and is willing to work 18 hours a day six days a week, for five dollars an hour, versus Bocephus from Macon, Georgia, who will only work ten hours a day for eight dollars an hour, six days a week. Xavier, after busting his ass (lets be charitable and say he does the work of two Bocephuses),… Read more »

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  joey+junger
2 years ago

Many of the trauma surgeries done in hospitals all over the country are done on illegals that get shot or stabbed in drug deals or from accidents where they were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They are also quick to sue the doctors who save them. You pay the bill one way or another.

Get them the hell out of here.

Abelard Lindsey
Abelard Lindsey
2 years ago

The liberal-left is a cancer and the alt-right can be thought of as a rather aggressive chemo-therapy intended to treat that cancer.

McNuke™
McNuke™
2 years ago

This is because current, mainstream Libertarianism is just a “lite” brand of cancerous Market Liberalism. The vast majority of the problems within libertarian circles comes from doped-up morons and out-and-out liberals that want to live in some weird hedonist 60’s fever dream (but with low taxes) with libertarianism as the justification and not a moral axiom. The idea of (true) Libertarianism as viewing humans as nothing more than “meatsticks” is entirely false anyway and originates from this perversion of identity. Perhaps the greatest amount of criticism of such neo-classical economics comes from the Austrian School. Humans in the Libertarianism sense… Read more »