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
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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 »

Dirtnapninja
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Dirtnapninja

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
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Pimpkin's Nephew

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
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Tdurden

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

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.

Member

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
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Kodos

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
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DLS

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

BestGuest
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BestGuest

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
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Thorsted

“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
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Jim

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
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TomA

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
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Toddy+Cat

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
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TomA

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
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Herr Niemand

…this will not end well. ®

Tax Slave
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Tax Slave

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

Member

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

abelard Lindsey
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abelard Lindsey

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
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D&D Dave in the bubble

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.

Member

No difference because meat sticks.

EMP
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EMP

“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
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CompSci

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
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Recusant

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

james+wilson
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james+wilson

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

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
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Matrix

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
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bad guest

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
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Old Codger

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
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Toddy Cat

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…

Member

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

Drake
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Drake

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
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Old Codger

“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
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joey+junger

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 »

Member

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
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Abelard Lindsey

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™
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McNuke™

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 »