The Libertarian Dilemma

In years past I often described myself as a libertarian, accompanied by the now burned out expression of “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.” However, after some critical thought on libertarianism and the core philosophies beneath it, I have changed my mind, particularly within the last year or so. When reading this, please bear in mind that I am not attacking any individuals who would describe themselves as having libertarian-oriented beliefs, nor am I attacking individuals who would describe themselves as sticking to beliefs of any other political or philosophical persuasion. Much of this is an exercise, as I still hold many (albeit less) libertarian views.

A Fiscal Structure for Addressing Social Issues

Libertarianism is a system that is composed entirely of negative positions and doctrines. In this context, negative doctrines are those which do not promote doing, but instead advocate for avoiding behavior which would be detrimental to the proper functioning and execution of the system of which the doctrines comprise. In other words, negative doctrines, ideologies, systems, promote inaction as opposed to action that would aid in facilitating the end goal of the philosophy as a whole. Two good examples of negative doctrines in libertarianism include voluntarism (not forcing exchanges on others against their will – i.e. taxation), and the non-aggression principle (do not use coercion or violence on others unless in self defense).

My concerns with libertarianism have very little to do with fiscal proposals, as I mostly agree with economic conservatism; my concerns lie in the application of the aforementioned negative doctrines in relation to social issues. One of my largest concerns here is that these negative doctrines promote the idea of a moral standing where one is good enough, and as long as he abides by these negative doctrines, he is a morally good person. This is opposed to positive-oriented philosophies, which serve to help one to constantly attempt to be better than being good enough.

Within the libertarian framework of inaction regarding social issues, one should have no qualms with doing antisocial, immoral, and unnatural things, as long as he does not violate the liberty of others – this is not the way to produce and uphold a healthy and functional society. This is not to say that libertarians themselves are necessarily immoral or antisocial people, as many of them are quite the opposite. It is to say, however, that the libertarian structure itself does not discriminate between decent and indecent ways of life, and to follow and promote the social wing of libertarianism is to urge others to follow the doctrine of happiness.

One thing to note here: I do understand that for many, libertarianism is not the be-all-end-all to one’s entire philosophical worldview. Libertarianism can be an effective modifier when combined with other ideologies that do seek to explain and provide solutions to social and cultural issues, but quite often libertarianism is not accompanied by or blended with other viewpoints. As such, he who subscribes to libertarianism and little else is decidedly susceptible to nihilism, hedonism, and the orientation of one’s values such that the pursuit of pleasure is the primary goal of being.

The 1931 novel A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley provides an example of the negative doctrine taken to an absurd and dystopian extreme, where the pleasures of life become so universally acceptable that they are nearly no longer pleasurable. For example, A Brave New World shows us a society in which sexual promiscuity is rampant, so much so that it is nearly enforced, and any intention of procreation is completely removed from sexual intercourse. The novel also references the characters’ constant consumption of a happiness producing drug called soma, which is taken whenever a character experiences even the slightest bit of discomfort.

The Inevitability of the State

One of the most important pillars of libertarianism is the notion of a highly limited state government, however there seems to be a spectrum within libertarianism whereupon advocates sit regarding size and scope of government. On one end of the spectrum sit those who I would consider classical liberals (in an American context), and generally accept a larger government than other libertarians, but who still support the limiting of government to its basic functionality. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who I would consider anarcho-capitalists, and generally advocate for the abolition of government in its entirety. Anarcho-capitalists propose the replacement of essential government roles (i.e. police, firefighters, etc.) by privately owned organizations.

It seems the anarcho-capitalist form of libertarianism is not particularly viable, given the inevitability that not every person will necessarily adhere to the principles of the AnCap. However, the primary reason for its impossibility is the eternal presence of government. This may be a tragic notion to both libertarians and anarchists of all stripes, but systems of government will always arise in any society once such society becomes large enough. The State will always exist primarily because it is a highly effective way for those who fiercely desire power to be able to work their way into positions of authority. Acquiring power within a capitalist system requires work, strategy, and intelligent investment into one’s organization – not necessarily through charisma and bribery (though there are exceptions, especially in the system of faux capitalism in the U.S.). Yet, acquiring positions of authority in government is often reducible to charisma and bribery. That being said, not all people who are elected to government office have malicious intent, but most systems of government reward deceitfulness.

To add to the inevitability of the presence of government, there is also an inevitable growth of government.

The Issue of Tolerance

The pure libertarian worldview allows for (and in many respects requires) tolerance of the actions of others, so long as those actions do not infringe upon one’s own rights, or violate the non-aggression principle. A common refrain one may hear from libertarians is something to the effect of “I want gay couples guarding their marijuana crops with rifles.” Phrases like these show the libertarian’s dedication to advocate for the rights of others to do as they please, and advocate for their own rights by proxy. Leaving the question of morality or social acceptability aside, excessive tolerance will inevitably lead to the decay and weakening of a social or political movement. Seeing as libertarians and anarchists are perhaps the most tolerant of all social or political movements, it is easy to understand why they have never been a force to be contended with on the national level, and are often disregarded completely in discussions about the political future.

For a movement to become a force to be contended with, it must have some degree of intolerance toward its opponents. Bear in mind that “intolerance” does not necessarily mean prejudice towards others regarding immutable characteristics as the connotation of the word often suggests. It is important that any group, or individual for that matter, retain some sort of intolerance if such a group or individual wishes to not become easily intimidated and in a perpetual state of apology. To try and shed the connotation from the concept of intolerance, I’ll provide some examples here from both the “left” and the “right” in the United States. Note that these examples are not indictments of either political alignment, and only serve to outline the concept.

Left Wing Intolerance:

Though many would consider the left wing the epitome of tolerance, they are quite intolerant when it suits their interests, and this has proved to be invaluably effective for their cause. More specifically, take the generic left wing’s advocacy for the approval and acceptance of the homosexual community, or perhaps its support for radical egalitarianism. Those who make disparaging comments about homosexuals or perhaps make stereotypical jokes about people of other races will be swiftly and severely punished. The left’s ability to deplatform, socially isolate, and pressure employers to terminate those who make such disparaging comments or jokes showcases the effectiveness of their intolerance. Again, I am not casting judgment on the morality of this intolerance, I am simply calling it as I see it. It is my understanding that many of those on the left who practice this intolerance do so because they will not tolerate those who are intolerant of their agenda.

Right Wing Intolerance:

Though the generic right wing was once (up until the early 2000s) highly effective in asserting their intolerance of dissent, they are now almost completely ineffective at doing so, most likely because of the highly liberal climate in the West. This is not to say that there is no intolerance within the right wing – it is to say that, in the court of public opinion, nobody cares what the right wing will and will not tolerate. Yet, there have been a few occasions of right wing intolerance that have been somewhat successful in recent years. For example, it’s easy to see that the National Rifle Association believes that there is a slippery slope regarding the regulation of firearms and firearm modifications/accessories. The NRA has been (mostly) successful at pushing back against the regulation of firearms, even regulations that seem very inconsequential and minor in nature. However, their intolerance of what they believe to be infringements on the constitutional rights of their members has been effective in swaying public opinion.

The Point

There are some ideas and behaviors which (taken at face value) seem harmless and innocuous, but when tolerated for long enough, they pick up steam and become aggressive to the point of infringing on one’s personal liberties. The most obvious and most relevant example of excessive tolerance leading to the infringement of liberties is the issue of internet censorship. There are a great deal of political figures on the internet – many of whom used platforms such as YouTube as their means of income – who have recently been banned from using these platforms because of their ideologies. The libertarian might contend that social media corporations are private entities, and have the right to censor and deplatform as they wish. The libertarian might also assert that if the banned user had used a given platform as their means of income and intend to continue to rely on internet activity as their means of income in the future, that they should “build their own” platform. Personally, I would usually be inclined to agree with the sentiment, but the circumstances regarding censorship are far different than they were in the past.

The user bases of platforms such as YouTube or Twitter, as well as the public at large (including libertarians for the reasons listed above), generally tolerated the banning and deplatforming of many internet figures. Some did decide to build their own platforms, and websites such as Gab.ai, BitChute, and Hatreon were created. But it did not take long before access to online payment processing through PayPal and Stripe (together having overwhelming dominance of the payment processing market) had been revoked. The market dominance of PayPal and Stripe (which frequently operate in lock-step, nearly cornering the payment processing market) is what is important here. Though it is obviously difficult, one can create an alternative platform where they can host content for themselves and others like them; however, to ask for one to create an alternative media platform as well as a payment processing system within a market where practically no competition to the dominant companies is able to go anywhere is an absolutely absurd proposition. Tolerating the deplatforming of any person who was (within their constitutional rights) operating on platforms which are now the de facto public square is the cause of a new wave of censorship that has now targeted libertarians themselves for banning and removal from these platforms.

I understand that the above example of internet censorship is somewhat long-winded and complicated, however, I personally find it preferable to taking the heat over explaining an example like the baking of wedding cakes for homosexual marriages, or the legal requirement to refer to people by using their “preferred pronouns.”

In summation, I don’t believe that libertarianism is something that is deeply flawed, nor do I think that it is a system of political and social thinking that is without value or merit. But there is a reason why the peak success of libertarianism and ideas like it took place long ago during a time of exploration, pioneering, and occasional lawlessness. In a low density population the idea is quite good, yet with the way things are now, it is increasingly obvious that not everyone can be convinced of free market principles and the value of the individual through simple logical explanation, and those people who cannot be convinced will inevitably band together into a collective and utilize the power of the state in one way or another to infringe upon your liberties.

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Statism & Ethics

It’s commonly hypothesized that each of us live our own lives in the pursuit of prosperity, happiness, and comfort. Most of us are striving for such pursuits while attempting to walk in accordance to our own virtue, value, and faith; straying from this idealized path as little as possible. For the sake of compression, and to avoid a repetitive nature, I will henceforth summarize these ideals – virtues, values, faith – under the umbrella of ethics.

Your ethics, whether we see it or not, are vastly different from mine. There is surely some minor deviation between the two of us that (if built upon) would rapidly and dramatically divide our worldview – depending on the subject.

I have dubbed this explication “Statism: & Ethics”, and having established a rough definition of ethics, I’ll get to the point. Here, I’m talking about highly similar, but nevertheless competing ideals. Since ethics are the very foundation of everything we do, I’ll boil (these competing ideals) down into an example.

Let’s say that I value personal liberty, as well as providing help for those in need. Now, let’s say that you also value personal liberty, as well as providing help for those in need. Does this mean we share the same ethics? No, because the degree to which each of us hold individual ideals are almost always different; and our conceptualization of these individual ideals differ as well. We are constantly seeing this in action in contemporary society, and much more so as social media evolves. So, I’m going to be specific here, but I will not use names. I don’t want to have a fight about this, I’d just like to lay some groundwork.

So You and I both hold personal liberties and help for those in need in quite a high regard. However, Candidate A comes along and offers help to those in need in the form of Naturalization, increased welfare spending, or expansion of state-funded school curriculum. Candidate A has now caused a divide between you and I, however slight it may be. Hypothetically – I cannot support Candidate A solely because they are advocating for increased taxation, which after a certain point encroaches upon my personal liberties. I may also believe that such an encroachment sets a dangerous precedent for government control. Hypothetically – You support Candidate A because you believe that they have not encroached on your personal liberties, and you believe this taxation could do wonderful things to help those in need. You may also believe that the inherent purpose of government is to work towards the greater good, and that perhaps I am fear-mongering. However, I don’t want to talk about who is “right” and who is “wrong”; it all comes down to what you know, what you think you know, what you think you know is right, or good, etc. Though it has been laid out like so, fundamentally, this is not about Liberal or Conservative, nor is it about Democrat or Republican. Unfortunately, America currently chooses between two parties, and your candidate is bound to support things which you do not support.

There are no universal ethical systems from which every human derives a purpose. So I will describe what I believe to be the three most fundamental ethical principles in order to maintain functionality.

 The Non-Aggression Principle 

While the Non-Aggression Principle is believed by many to belong exclusively to Anarcho-Capitalists, I find it to be a great point of reference for both action and inaction. The Non-Aggression Principle is none other than the Non-Initiation of force – this being any action or inaction which asserts aggression. So, in short: I cannot attack you for no reason.

Voluntarism

Voluntarism is any action in which two consenting parties, whether they are individuals, groups, businesses, or States, are engaged or have engaged in. Voluntarism strictly adheres to the Non-Aggression Principle. So, in short: We cannot trade if you do not want to trade.

Compliance With Contractual Agreements

Binding contracts are an extremely important part of present-day society, even though we may not know it. Yet often these agreements are broken. If you’re a parent, and you’ve let your twelve-year-old child watch a PG-13 movie, you’ve broken a contract with both the society and The Motion Picture Association of America (or MPAA). Contractual agreements are typically enforced as to not break the law, break ethical principles, or become an accomplice to breaking the law or ethical principles. Compliance with contractual agreements also strictly adheres to both the Non-Aggression Principle and Voluntarism. So, in short: I can’t let you jump out of this airplane if you haven’t signed this contract.

I have laid out the basic foundation above to say this:

The State is constantly initiating acts of aggression 

You might be thinking “of course they do,” and you’d be right, but it really really goes much deeper than what can only be taken at face value. I’m not going to blow anybody’s mind with this, but I would like to connect it in reference to my essay on the Charlottesville incident. No matter how much you value being “yourself,” or being “an Individual,” The State is in a constant state of gradual Collectivization. I get that we’re not the same, and I understand that many will disagree with me about the use of tax money or perhaps my ethical framework. However, I would like to make these things known, and will most likely be writing another post about Free-Market Capitalism to help explain further.

Imagine that you’ve come across a mugger in a dark alleyway. You think to yourself: “What am I doing? Why did I walk down here tonight? This is all a coincidence!”. The mugger holds you at gunpoint and tells you: “Give me your wallet, or I’ll shoot you and take it myself.” Well, he’s violated the Non-Aggression Principle, but if you’re like most people, no matter how much money you have in your wallet – you’ll give it to him. What is the worst that can come of this? You lose four-hundred dollars, your identification is taken away, he’s got your credit card too. There’s a chance that he can steal your identity to buy loads of stuff, but get to the right person on time and you’ll be just fine.

This example doesn’t take imagination. When was the last time you went shopping? Did you need gasoline to get there? Where did you come from? What was there? When have you last looked at your paycheck, and how much did they take? What happens if you don’t pay? Say you go to jail for not paying taxes. Do you really have to go? Is it mandatory? What happens if you refuse? Say the police show up when you refuse to pay your taxes. What happens if you still don’t want to go? What happens when you run away? If you do get away, how much more information about you could they possibly have? State control is nothing more than the initiation of force at gunpoint.

I’m not advocating anything other than understanding, nor am I bashing any ideology. If you prefer more State power, more taxes, and the continued aggression of The State, I understand. This only means we have different ethical standards.

An Essay on Charlottesville

Note

Since the event in question – UTR – took place, I have radically changed my mind about the contents of the article below. After learning of the political prisoners abused, de-personed, and imprisoned by the Virginian governance and forced compliance by law enforcement (such as R.A.M. and the Proud Boys) my mind has drastically changed on this subject – however I will leave this article as it was as a sort of time capsule.


Since Saturday the 12th, it has been greatly discouraging to see many of my friends openly engaging in discussions with one another about issues regarding American politics and race relations – yet denying me a word on the subject. So, I’m going to try and explain exactly what the hell is happening as succinctly and as logically as I can. I suspect that we have the same opinion.

Why am I doing this?

As a person who is typically very open with strangers and friends alike, I often voice my opinion on any and all American political matters. As many of you know, I tend to lean somewhat “to the right” on issues regarding society, ethics, history, and economics. It has been made apparent to me – through the unwavering disregard for political dialogue, and perhaps a fear that my friends will wish to disavow me from their circles – that some would believe that I am a Neo-Nazi, Fascist, Eugenicist, White Supremacist, or any other ideologue who would force his opinions on others. All of these charges are false.

The Charlottesville Problem:

What happened in Charlottesville is no more than a product and representation of the categorization and collectivism that has festered within the lowest rungs of American society since the Second World War. The vast majority of us interact with hundreds if not thousands of other people on a day-to-day, momentary basis. Everything one sees, everything one hears, every tool that has been given to us to supposedly formulate our own opinions has been greatly compromised. The simplest thing to do, and what most of us are guilty of, is steadily and enduringly following narratives. Hold on, I hope I am as clear as can be in reinforcing this fact – I have never, nor have I ever had the resolution to follow my own narrative, to create my own agenda, or to cut out the influence of others entirely. You and I have an established relationship here, and I want you to know that I haven’t, for one second, believed you to be beneath me, or above me. These things are for you to decide. Your position in society is where you, yourself, end up compared to where you envision. I say all of this because it seems there is no longer an emphasis on The Individual.

The way I see things, we now have the competing ideologies:

Collectivism and Individualism.

Collectivism in Society:

A society which puts an emphasis on the Collective, and only the Collective, will fail. Every (institutionalized) Collectivist society on planet earth has failed, and every society that continues to follow this agenda in the future will fail. Collectivist ideologies have resulted in the fall of the Roman Empire, the collapse of the U.S.S.R., the destruction of the Third Reich, the slow sink of the Scandinavian economy, and ultimately – the deaths of hundreds of millions.

It is absolutely crucial to note that I am not talking about this whole notion of “left vs. right”. That notion is absurd. Ideologies exist on both X and Y axes. The X axis is most often considered to be the degree to which an ideology is socially Liberal, and the Y axis the degree to which an ideology favors State power, economic control, and Authoritarianism.

Why This Matters in Regard to Charlottesville:

Let’s try to (roughly) define a few things.

The “Alt-Right” – A crude and hateful ideology which favors Americans with a European ancestry above all else. This is Collectivism.

The New Left (AntiFa, and associated movements) – A crude and hateful ideology which assumes that the other is the reason for differences between ethnic backgrounds, economic status, and over/under-representation in the workforce. This is Collectivism.

The Belligerents and Their Backgrounds:

Competing Collectivist ideologies have existed throughout human existence. Humans, after all, are a Tribal species, and a scapegoat is absolutely crucial in upholding a Collectivist viewpoint. Having someone to blame for your problems and creating a victim narrative that suits the Collective is what keeps the Collective afloat. Early in human history, other tribes, races, or even Gods were blamed. The scapegoat, however, flows with the Zeitgeist. Without blaming Jews and “subhumans”, would Hitler have been able to maintain his “racially pure” society? Without the Aristocracy, bourgeoisie, or the middle-class to blame for the poverty of the proletariat, would Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks have been able to successfully revolt? No and no; both of these organizations were reactionary. Once one can convince any categorical population that they share a common “enemy”, such a population will use violence as a means to punish such an enemy. The Collective does not exist without a common enemy.

You may not agree with me, but I find that the “Alt-Right” and “AntiFa” are quite easy to compare in this regard. Sure, there are plenty of differences, just as there were between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, but they follow the exact same guidelines. Here is the essential difference between National Socialist Germany and The Soviet Union: Nazi Germany used race as a means of separation, and The Soviet Union used economic class as a means of separation. They’re no different! Both of these ideologies were, by their very design, constructed to separate and categorize the population to the point in which debate, reason, and Individualism are nearly impossible. Once the populous can no longer tolerate the other, violence becomes the only option.

The Alt-Right is entirely convinced that there is “an anti-white climate” in The West, which doesn’t make a morsel of sense considering that the philosophy of The West is based entirely on Individualism. While I do believe that our universities, our biased information, and media outlets often foster cultural Marxism, you cannot defeat cultural Marxism by using cultural Marxism. The Alt-Right is nothing but a shadow of “AntiFa”. Nothing institutional has changed in regards to racism recently, so if the Alt-Right would like to combat this ridiculous notion of “anti-white climate”, they should go have children and raise them like a halfway decent person. Lastly, the idea that National Socialism could function in any way in the United States, or would be welcomed by anybody except for the couple thousand of White Nationalists is laughable.

On the other hand, we have “AntiFa” which has declared that its focus is to fight Fascism and state-sponsored racism. To assume that present-day America is Fascist, or to assume that there is somehow institutionalized racism is completely and utterly absurd. America has been at the forefront of social liberties since its founding. For those who believe that there is institutionalized racism or bigotry, I urge you to search for as long as humanly possible for any law, code, or current Supreme Court ruling in which one race is not allowed the liberties of another. This also goes for the Alt-Right – you are not being discriminated against. Regardless of how you feel about it, whether you want it to be true, or not, in America we have equality before the law. I won’t go into detail about how the U.S. is not Fascist because I don’t need to; a Fascist America is so ridiculous it’s incomprehensible.

All of that being said, I see an enormous problem. How do the members of these groups turn around? Can they?

The Only Way to Fix This:

As Americans, we must emphasize a return to Individualism. We must step back from the ledge of State enforced ideologies. We must treat each other as Individuals, and not the other. We must let people speak, even if their ideas are repugnant. We must allow ideas to rise and die without interference. We must always be vigilant of National Socialism, of Fascism, of Communism, of Socialism, all of which aim to squelch human rights, but we can not use violence as a means to an end; you will not achieve that end. I am just as offended by the Hammer and Sickle as I am the Swastika, but if some degenerate wants to wear a shirt, wave a flag, or flail a sign, let them do it – better yet, make sure others are aware of what the symbol means, why it is wrong, and respect the other person’s right to make a fool of themselves in public. Once you take away their right to speak, you have set an extremely dangerous precedent, and your constitutional rights might be next; so if someone is wrong, for God’s sake, let them speak! Once we stop talking, we start killing. We need to question all beliefs, and not be blinded by preference. People’s minds can be changed.

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

– Mark Twain