Can Neoreaction Avoid Libertarian HIV?

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Patri Friedman, noted ex-polyamorist and Seasteading pitchman, has taken an interest in creating a ‘politically correct’ neoreaction.

Jim writes often about entryism — the corollary of Robert Conquest’s second law of politics as retold by John Derbyshire. Reproducing it here:

Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will
sooner or later become left-wing.

This has been evoked regularly on Twitter and elsewhere with reference to libertarians, who themselves have been infested by essentially left wing thinkers of various kinds. Part of this owes to the character and works of Murray Rothbard, who is libertarianism embodied in all of its aspects, good, bad, and ugly.

As retold by Stephan Kinsella, the word ‘libertarian’ dates only back to the 1950s and 60s, as Leonard Read and Rothbard tussled with each other for leadership of what remained of the classical liberal remnant after World War II.

The muddled nature of libertarianism today owes to the muddled nature of its beginnings in excerpt from an article by Dean Russell:

Here is a suggestion: Let those of us who love liberty trademark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word “libertarian.” Webster’s New International Dictionary defines a libertarian as “One who holds to the doctrine of free will; also, one who upholds the principles of liberty, esp. individual liberty of thought and action.”

Russell, with a boy’s innocence, attempts to unite liberals, conservatives, and classical liberals under the same umbrella. While he stated overt opposition to leftism, the simplistic formulation of the ideology left open the entrances to anyone who could figure out the clever rhetorical crannies into which leftism could sneak into.

Rothbard himself allied with the new left during the 1960s, establishing a journal called ‘Right and Left.’ This strategy ultimately failed, because the left is insane and evil:

“To put it bluntly, the convention was a disaster. As Rothbard feared, many of the SDS libertarians were infected with extreme left- ism. One of the left-wing libertarians denounced “all academic economists” and the wearing of neckties as great evils which the libertarian movement should focus on destroying.”

It’s for this reason that Hoppe hews to the later Rothbard, in advocating for explicit rightism, to the exclusion of the leftists. It’s because, by bitter experience, his teacher taught him that the original formulation of ‘libertarian’ was doomed to incoherence and neutralization by the left.

This is rather serious. John Payne recounts

“Former Barry Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess, who had been converted to anarcho-capitalism by “Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal” and conversations with Rothbard, but had drifted toward anarcho-socialism in the interceding year, sealed the conference’s fate when he spoke on Saturday night. Wearing Fidel Castro-style battle fatigues and a Wobblie pin adorning his hat, Hess roared out to the audience, “There is no neutral ground in a revolution. . . . You’re either on one side of the barricade or the other.” He proceeded to implore the crowd to join him in a scheduled anti-war march on Fort Dix the following day.”

Truly, there’s little that’s new in history.

Considering that libertarianism isn’t even a century old, and that it became subverted within its first two decades of existence, it’s sensible to avoid going down the same permissive & disorderly path that it did, to avoid suffering the same fate in the same manner.

The promiscuity of ‘libertarian’ as a term, and the promiscuous nature of many of its institutions, give it something a lot like Human Immunodeficiency Virus, but for an ideology. This is the case for all ideologies permissive to leftism, and to all ideologies that appeal to the leftist psychology, defined as it is by ressentiment, which popular followers of libertarianism are prone to (as criticized frequently by Hoppe).

The solution to this is to not hop onto any leftward social trend that appears merely because it’s both growing fast and dislikes the current government. Discriminating against people that would create a kinder, gentler, more politically-correct neoreaction doesn’t mean destroying them — just ensuring institutional separation and clarity of language.

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20 thoughts on “Can Neoreaction Avoid Libertarian HIV?

    • That’s easy to flip to mean excluding all rightists. Ideas aren’t, in themselves, defensible.

      It does help that many DE source texts violate academic speech codes. Keeps the material hazardous to handle.

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    • Thanks. I’d read this article earlier. I’d amend that to say that any group with an open entry policy (and solicitation for open entry) will become a meaningless and destructive herd given enough time. This is an entirely obvious point that we all understand when it’s applied to corporations and universities, but we moderns tend to fail to apply this to politics because of pro-democratic thinking.

  2. hi HD, thanks for this. idiosyncratically-liberarian/nearly-post-libertarian as I am, it of course caught my eye.

    genuine question (not apologizing for the bleeding heart/social justice libertarians, about whom I’m deeply ambivalent): I am wondering to what extent libertarianism is *actually* leftishly infected, and to what extent it’s just gotten subsumed in the language (assume with me that the usage of lefty language may, but does not necessarily, indicate the adoption of actual leftist goals/values, and may at times be merely strategic).

    Hard to say precisely. The Mises Institute is not that leftish. Cato/GMU/etc. have always been leftish. Ron Paul shifted left on immigration from one campaign to the next. Rand Paul is more left-wing than his father. Unlike Ron, Rand has his own political organization. Rothbard and later Rockwell used Paul Sr. as a sockpuppet. Accordingly, Cato is far more friendly to Paul Sr. than they were to Paul Jr. Paul Sr. is even unwilling to condemn the minimum wage (http://www.dailypaul.com/311653/rand-paul-declines-to-condemn-federal-minimum-wage). This is, of course, a matter of practical electoral politics.

    Note that the header on Daily Paul is ‘PEACE / GOLD / LOVE’ — just tryin’ to get that gold-standard-lovin’-hippie vibe flowing.

    The libertarian party is left on social issues (which means that it has an incoherent policy on other issues, because they can’t actually build up social capital, momentum, and political coherence by being permissive on family structure). Objectivists have a similar problem, but are their own special group with an independent social network. Mainline libertarians are as left as people like Glenn Beck and other Republican operatives attempting to rebrand the party.

    this has been on my mind because recently Anissimov said I didn’t sound leftish and I asked myself in all seriously in what respect I still am. the only single thing I could come up with is that I care about poor people (as if only leftists care about poor people at all, right?) it was evidence of just how strongly moral of a connotation the left has secured, but not evidence per se that a person is still a leftist, if s/he still cares about poor people.

    If you care about poor people, go volunteer on the weekends or after work. Care for poor people rather than caring about them. Many ‘poor people’ today, though, are just poor because of (complicated socio-political reasons that you’re probably familiar with). Beyond caring for the poor in a symbolic way, the best way to improve their lot is to fight the left, in the same way that annihilating the Communist Party in the Soviet Union did much to improve the lots of many of the countries under Soviet occupation. The next best way is to form a hierarchical society that provides the poor with a productive and stable place within society, which the West did well for a long time.

    What’s left is caring aboutthe poor while promoting policies that destroy them by making them ‘equal.’

    libertarian language has undoubtedly taken a lefty turn, with the social-justice-through-freedom message rising rapidly. but I think it obfuscates the more fundamental difference between the libertarians who sometimes get smeared as paleocons and the actual BHLers. the former may make the mistake of thinking libertarianism is a movement, but they believe in libertarian social justice mostly as an interesting side effect or a marketing tactic; they will bite the bullet on thought experiments pitting liberty against social justics/fairness of opportunity/equality of outcomes.

    There was a conscious decision within some circles to adopt a left rhetorical stance to attract young people without actually trying to change the substance. Unfortunately, many of those people are actually just SJWs for real, or will abandon their Youtube-video-inculcated ideology for another one that helps them signal better.

    Libertarianism is a rearguard action attempting to save the enlightenment from itself. It appeals to reason over tradition, even to people incapable or disinterested in reason.

    the actual BHLers are libertarians in name only/in policy only – prepared to give up commitments to freedom if they’d “work” in securing social justice, except they typically happen not to. their libertarianism is “thick,” capturing the feminism and anti-racism stuff. they are real leftists. the “thin” conception libertarians realize this, despite having occasionally appealed to welfare-increasing features of libertarian policy to bolster support, and are pushing back in a big way.

    Most libertarians are unwilling to sacrifice their egalitarian views on human nature, while still maintaining non-egalitarian ideological views. What they want to do is talk about capitalism without actually considering the social structure necessary to maintain private property, and the public mores critical to defending it against its enemies.

    Anti-racism/feminism/international egalitarianism rely on these fairy tale conceptions of magic socities that have never existed and never will exist, because, as… *flips to dog-ear in book*… Hoppe writes, “…private property means discrimination… Moreover, You and I, private property owners, may enter and put our property into a restrictive (or protective) covenant. We and others may, if we both deem it beneficial, impose limitations on the future use that each of us is permitted to make with our property.”

    By advocating for an ideology before advocating for a cultural pattern that could actually support it, they ensure what they get — a machine that goes nowhere, but generates a lot of chatter, because it’s primarily about maintaining a group fantasy.

    The Rothbard-Rockwell political method of attempting to sell a substance in the candy shell of the leftist form has backfired. The form is the substance of leftism.

    Like Moldbug writes, outside its operating envelope of civilization, rational appeal is irrational.

    So, you have the spectacle of the nerd making complex appeals to their leftist opponents about the unstable nature of fractional reserve banking coordinated by central banks which are in turn managed by international central banks to a mob who’s ready to kill you and take all your stuff. King Mob don’t care about your foot notes.

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  4. I’m a libertarian interested in Neoreaction, perhaps a Reactionary Libertarian. Not sure. I suppose that’s because I’ve been a reader and admirer of the Alternative/New Right movement since 2009 as well. I love most of the Dark Enlightenment. I discovered Moldbug rather late (just last October) but consumed the majority of his political and historical blog posts by the end of December and was blown away, it seems, as many other dark angels were, who are now part of the Dark Enlightenment Movement. I’ve been somewhat engaged with the recent trend on DEM or Alt-Right blogs to disassociate themselves from libertarians, and I think the trend is rather unfortunate. I went to war with one commentator, whom I’ll just call “Stormfront,” at Radix Journal under the Jan. 20th article “The New Libertarian Hegemony.” I then made a number of comments on Aimless Gromar’s Neoreaction blog under a couple of posts he recently made about the value of freedom and libertarianism. I was grateful to see that he actually made thoughtful and articulate replies to my critiques. I guess I’ll make a couple critiques here at Quick Reaction, too.
    1) Could you please provide a link to the article in which Hoppe criticizes libertarians for harboring too much resentment? That’s an extraordinarily intriguing topic to me. Nietzsche was right about the strain of resentment that runs from Judeo-Christianity straight to Democracy and Socialism (or contemporary Progressivism). Moldbug made a similar argument, even using Richard Dawkins’ own work on the evolution of memes, no less, to provide a Nietzschean genealogy of Progressive morals: turns out Progressives are just secular Puritans–religious fanatics–pure and simple.
    2) However, isn’t libertarianism, and the Alternative Right/DEM, justified in said resentment? Times have changed, and as Rachel Haywire has written, it’s now us who are the proletarians. Were Soviet citizens wrong to be resentful against the Soviet Empire and its ruling class? When we hope and pray for the destruction of the American Empire, Democracy and the Cathedral to build something new from the ashes, something higher, better, yet perhaps more local and decentralized, is this not an expression of our resentment? And if it is, so what? What are you dudes in the DE, anyhow? Mice? Men? Or Ubermensch Sith Overloards? Wield the Dark Side of the force! I can feel your anger. Embrace your hatred. It makes you grow stronger!
    3) It’s true that libertarianism is not entirely “rightwing,” but it’s certainly not Progressive. Even those cosmopolitan libs, who got some of the DEM shaking scared at the possibility of an infestation, still hold the NAP as the philosophical fountainhead to their philosophical belief systems, which always entails: A) property rights; and thus B) freedom of difference, discrimination and (dis)association: and therefore C) tolerance of various lifestyles, traditions, thoughts, words and behaviors that would otherwise be sentenced to hell or prison or both forever by our Cathedral overlords. Thus, according to the Cathedral, we Libs are just a different shade of the same Evil. The Alt-Right/DEM might consider making a Rebel Alliance with us rather than attempting to convince themselves repeatedly that we libertarians are actually, deep inside our hearts, part of the Cathedral.
    4) Libertarianism has expressed itself through a wide variety of cultural and historical contexts, yes, some better than others. So has the “Right”. (Unless you believe, as do Rachel Maddow and other smug cunts at MSNBC, that Sparta = Western Civilization = Christianity = Middle Ages = Monarchy = Racist Slave Owning Founding Fathers = Confederacy = Hitler = Barry Goldwater = Ron Paul = “Extreme Rightwing extremist extremism” = Neoreaction = Hitler, again, and which means that all these things are simply the same manifestation of one thing: Evil.) Ideologies, culture, history, art and ideas are more complicated and yet simultaneously more fluid than that. Alain De Benoist is a badass for many reasons, one them being because he’s very critical of the entire “left-right” paradigm, as are most libertarians. I think that’s a good thing. Richard Spencer, who has been courageous in his leadership of the American Alt-Right, nonetheless recently said at the last NPI conference he thought there was something “eternal” about the “left-right” spectrum. I’d say that’s metaphysical nonsense at best and retarded bullshit at worst. And it’s unfortunate that Neoreaction and the DEM are seemingly embracing this “left-right” metaphysics as enthusiastically as Rachel Maddow does.
    5) Patri Friedman, with whatever PC faults he may have, said six of the most amazing words I ever heard before when I saw him speak at the Students for Liberty Conference in 2009, words that changed my worldview forever. He opened his speech thus: “Let’s face it, the Constitution failed.” In other words, as his speech continued, Democracy, the entire American experiment, Progressive Modernity itself has failed. I discovered Alternative Right.com, where the author of Quick Reaction has been published, a few short days after drinking beers with Patri that night. Trust me, bra. Libertarians are NOT part of the Cathedral, nor do we want to be. We Libertarians and Neoreactionaries need to use our Dark Forces and red light sabers in an alliance for Evil against the Cathedral, however we can, while maintaining an open intellectual dialogue between both camps regarding various philosophical, cultural or political differences and opportunities for understanding or overcoming those differences. I would say the same thing to any cosmo libertarian who dismissed Neoreaction or the DEM as “neo-fascist” or “racist”. An excellent new column popped up today at Taki’s Mag called “Overreaction to Neoreaction.” Obviously, it’s about the recent hysteria brewing in the Cathedral over the rise of the DEM. But could it be possible that Neoreaction, just like the Cathedral, is overreacting to the threat of a Libertarian “infection”? Hmmm…Well, in any case, if the author took the time to read this verbose response to his work, at the perilous risk of catching the deadly, contagious libertarian HIV, thank you for doing so. And please continue writing!

    • 1) It’s in the print edition of ‘Democracy: TGTF’ on page 207-213.

      2) Anger is justified. Ressentiment isn’t precisely the same thing as resentment. The trouble is that the people most competent at arousing dissent are the worst people at actually creating the organizations that can do something productive about it. Taking the victim pose also attracts the wrong sorts of people who are looking for cheap grace, attention, or something else that’s missing from their lives.

      3) “It’s now us who are the proletarians”

      I’m not. I couldn’t be proletarian if I wanted to, but I can give a good impression of one if I put a lot of effort into it.

      Rachel has an entertaining style, but this was poor word choice.

      “When we hope and pray for the destruction of the American Empire”

      If wishes were horses…

      There’s a difference between wishing/hoping/praying and doing it.

      “What are you dudes in the DE, anyhow? Mice? Men? Or Ubermensch Sith Overloards? Wield the Dark Side of the force! I can feel your anger. Embrace your hatred.”

      Detachment makes it easier to use anger for long term ends, rather than burning it out all the time on random targets.

      3( “The Alt-Right/DEM might consider making a Rebel Alliance with us rather than attempting to convince themselves repeatedly that we libertarians are actually, deep inside our hearts, part of the Cathedral.”

      Don’t need warm, motivated bodies at the moment, but check back later. Raw numbers cost more to manage than can be properly harnessed. Assembling a huge crowd is only useful if you’re trying to win an election. Getting anything serious done requires small organizations with a leadership that’s tightly coordinated with the rank and file.

      Raw numbers are useful for certain purposes, but neither DE nor NrX is structured to make use of them at the moment. I don’t have authority or ability to stop any libertarian from doing what he likes at present.

      A formal organization that attempts to synthesize all of this would fall prey to what happened to Rothbard’s amalgamation of new left and new right, however, so I don’t have an interest in working on that.

      4( “it’s unfortunate that Neoreaction and the DEM are seemingly embracing this “left-right” metaphysics as enthusiastically as Rachel Maddow does.”

      I respect Richard Spencer, so I won’t call his view on this ‘bullshit,’ because he may have a point. I take the terminology to more refer to the philosophical line of the French revolution, because that’s when it entered modern usage.

      To the extent that ‘left’ refers to the tendency to destroy the great European institutions that emerged after the fall of the Roman empire, it’s a useful term to use. It’s also somewhat useful to describe the level of passionate intensity that a particular operative or group dedicates towards dismantling those institutions.

      Libertarians are schizoid on this pattern with the partial exception of Hoppe, because they often take a studied neutrality on the ‘destroy all evolved institutions,’ are sometimes in favor of destroying some, and in favor of restoring others, but often in the spirit of the enlightenment or a materialist parody of tradition that tends to strike people with an IQ < 130 as being strange.

      I barely know who Rachel Maddow is other than that she's a short-haired lesbian who works for MSNBC, so I can't comment on her views.

      5) "Libertarians are NOT part of the Cathedral, nor do we want to be."

      That's not my concern. The concern is that libertarianism is a poor model that's overly permissive. If the Constitution has failed, libertarianism has failed to achieve its goals. I suggest reading the passage that I quoted at the top of this comment.

      "at the perilous risk of catching the deadly, contagious libertarian HIV, thank you for doing so. And please continue writing!"

      You're welcome, and of course.

  5. I don’t understand what a Leftist Libertarian would look like, other than they want pot legalized. It doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. Is it the idea that big government can be used to ensure individual liberties? We all used how well that has worked out.

  6. Pingback: A Gentle Introduction to Neoreaction (for Libertarians) | The Ümlaut

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