Libertarian Island

Though I have lately found myself making common cause with libertarians on a wide variety of issues (we both agree that the current government does too much of what it shouldn’t), I am not myself a libertarian. Part of the reason why I’m not can be found in something I’ve noticed in my personal interactions with libertarians.

If you took me and every serious libertarian (or even outright anarchist) I have ever met, and stranded us on a desert island with instructions to live strictly according to libertarian/anarchist/anarcho-capitalist principles, I have no doubt whatsoever that it would go perfectly fine. I am sure that I would have no cause to fear for my safety, I am sure that if I worked and contributed that I would eat and be comfortable, and I am sure that mutually-respectful relations and robust commerce would be the order of the day. This is because every such person I have ever met is exactly the sort of person with the discipline, initiative, self-reliance, and level of personal responsibility necessary to be able to handle living by such principles.

The trouble would come as soon as anybody else, who was not ardently committed to those principles, arrived on the island.

The limit that libertarianism faces is that (much like democracy) it could only ever have any chance of working if practiced by a certain specific sort of people, and that will never be more than a relatively-small subset of the general population. Thus, Libertarian Island would work – but only so long as residency was strictly limited to those who thoroughly understood its founding concepts, were completely committed to living by them, and were prepared to suffer the downsides and consequences of them.

The problem with people who advocate libertarianism on a large scale is that they suffer from what Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, termed the “I Am The World” fallacy – the mistaken belief that everyone is pretty much like you are, and that given the same set of circumstances, everyone would make pretty much the same decisions that you would. Libertarians tend to be bright, motivated, entrepreneurial self-starters. Like Muslims and Marxists, they believe that if everyone in the world just had the advantages of their ways of thinking explained to them carefully and thoroughly enough, they couldn’t help but want to live according to them.

But this just isn’t the case. Most people can’t handle, and deep down don’t even really want freedom. Take, as just one example, our welfare class, who have been granted a certain kind of freedom – freedom from the necessity to work for their daily bread. Given this freedom, the exceptional would use it to its fullest: they would spend their days reading or writing, hiking or going to museums, volunteering at soup kitchens, tinkering with inventions, or perhaps learning HTML or Japanese or American Sign Language. Instead, the vast majority of the welfare class sits on their asses all day watching Judge Judy and stuffing their faces with the kind of fat and sugar-laden junk food that has made the top health problems of the American poor not hunger or malnutrition but obesity and diabetes. They don’t have the self-discipline to handle the freedom they have, and without the structure and, yes, the external controls they need, they have atrophied in a way destructive to both themselves and the society around them.

And this is just one example. There are more.

Libertarianism may work as an elitist thought experiment by people who yearn to be granted the amount of freedom that they have personally demonstrated that they can handle. There’s nothing wrong with that – “elitist” certainly isn’t a dirty word so far as I am concerned. But as a blueprint for the foundation of a large-scale society, it’s a clunker – yet another project of Enlightenment philosophers doomed to crash upon the rocks of debased, yet inescapable, human nature.

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Inbound From The Fringes

Noted in stories, columns, and blogs related to the recent events in Egypt – in comments sections, in the dark and obscure corners of the internet, on the fringes (But how much that we face in modern life was at the fringes not so very long ago?) there have been a great many remarks made along the lines of: “If only our military had the guts to do what Egypt’s just did!”.

I’ve long said that any country that worships its military as much as America does is almost certain to end up ruled by it. Perhaps with some pretenses and external trappings of democracy (Note that even Augustus didn’t dare to formally disband the Roman Senate; he simply made it an irrelevant rubber stamp), but with the military as the real power.

I am a monarchist, and not by nature an advocate of military dictatorship (though certainly it is far better than democracy), so I am of mixed feelings about all of this. Make no mistake, however, this sentiment is moving off the fringes – more quickly than most would believe.

QFT: Kunstler Nails Modernity

I’m convinced that James Howard Kunstler is far more conservative than he thinks he is. How could he not be, with sentiments like this? It’s from a long (and quite interesting) article on architecture, but this section explains the way that Modernity sees the world with startling clarity:

“This racket was in turn supported by the ideological politics of the day, namely the struggles of females, racial identity groups, and homosexuals against the age-old domination of hetero Caucasian males. It hopped on the express bus of the Post-structuralism fad, which described all human endeavor in terms of “power relations” and all reality as “constructed” – meaning, if you wanted to change who was in charge of things, you could simply employ rhetoric to manipulate reality according to your needs. Under such a thought regime, reality was a fungible and chimerical commodity. The stresses of such obvious relativism might not be salubrious for the collective mental health of a culture, but it hugely benefited ambitious narcissist intellectuals who could claim that reality was whatever they said it was.”

The leftist branch of Modernity may have found ways to politically steamroll its mostly-ineffectual opposition (democracy being an inherently leftist system, in the long term they basically couldn’t fail within it), but when reality strikes back, their project of denying nature – human and otherwise – will be over. Reality doesn’t care if you call it nasty names on MSNBC, deny it tenure at Wellesley, or make a snarky Hollywood movie that depicts it as a fool or a villain. And it will always win in the end.

Oops, We Did Cultural Marxism Again!

Today in the news: Costa Rica “accidentally” legalizes gay “marriage”.

Which looks worse for democracy, I wonder: The idea that these lawmakers actually voted for and passed a bill not knowing that it completely upended the basic social unit of their society and invalidated thousands of years of human tradition, or the idea that they did know it, passed the law in complete contravenance of the promises they made to their people (but very much in line with the will of the Frankfurt School Cultural Marxist elites), and then came up with an the most ridiculous and insulting of lies to excuse why they did it?

Either way, can any thinking person any longer believe that they will get good and decent governance out of democracy? That democratic governance will seriously impede the cultural and economic elites from getting everything they want in the end?

EDIT: A story from today’s news (July 9th) makes me lean towards the viewpoint that yes, politicians in democracies really are just so doltish and careless that they routinely pass laws that contain astoundingly stupid, repressive, immoral, or unworkable provisions without carefully examining, or even simply reading, them. It seems that the elected government of Florida just accidentally banned all cell phones and laptop computers in their state. Truly, governance at its finest.

On Using Government Roads

In the wake of a declaration like the one I have just delivered, a retort of the snide kind favored by leftists is likely to be thrown my way – one that goes along the lines of: “Well, do you use government roads?”. This implies that I am a hypocrite for using the services of a government that I have declared to have no legitimate authority over me.

My response: Of course I use government roads. I have to. They’re a monopoly. That’s the very definition of a monopoly – when one organization controls a vital good or service such that if you’d like to lead any semblance of a normal life, you’re going to use their services whether you like it or not. So yes, I use government roads; as opposed to what – never leaving my house? Using the services of a monopoly because I have no other choice hardly makes me a hypocrite. As David Hume, usually beloved of atheo-leftists, noted, just because a shanghaied sailor doesn’t jump off the side of the ship into the ocean and drown, that doesn’t signal consent to his condition.

The same principle applies to my use of many of the services of the government in areas in which it is a monopoly or virtually so. It applies even to some corporations which in the era of “Too Big To Fail” have been allowed to become either complete or effective monopolies in their field. I don’t like Google, for example, but I use them because for many services that I need in order to live a normal life in the digital age, they are the only option available to me.

None of this makes me a hypocrite, any more than it makes Hume’s sailor a willing employee.

On This Day…

I hereby provide to the United States Government written notice that I am withdrawing my consent to be governed by their organization.

For its increasing lack of constitutionality – “interpreting” parts of the founding contract of the Republic into things they were never meant to say, while ignoring the clear meanings they do have, and simply disregarding outright sections of that document that they find inconvenient; for its establishment of classes of people who are above (corrupt financiers and bankers) and beneath (the illegal alien underclass) the law, while continuing to press the full weight of its increasingly-oppressive laws against the common people; for its hypocrisy in maintaining laws on its books (such as its immigration laws) that it selectively enforces and that some people are openly encouraged to break; for its lack of vision in allowing the industrial core of the nation’s economy to be hollowed out, shipped wholesale to foreign lands under the banner of “free trade”; for the disastrous effects of the loss of decent, dignified blue-collar jobs – which government has allowed to be lost both to outsourcing and to the flood of illegal alien scabs – on the middle class; for its creation of laws (the tax code being a good example) so complex that no average citizen has a chance of reading and understanding them, and systems of government (its tremendously powerful and essentially unaccountable bureaucratic arm being a good example) so complex that no average citizen has chance of successfully navigating them in order to affect changes in policy; for its incessant warmongering in foreign lands; for its wasting of billions of dollars of the people’s money on the unneeded products of the military-industrial complex; for its ever-widening, ever more-powerful police/surveillace state; for its recklessness in amassing an unpayable debt of trillions of dollars; for its incompetence in conducting a “war on poverty” the that has served to create vast ghettoes, horrifying in their violence and poverty, in which millions have ended up helpless, unemployable, broken in spirit, and shackled to the state as their only means of survival; for its attacks on religiosity, on freedom of association, and on free commerce; for its consecration of perversion and elevation of it to the same status as the most solemn and sacred of human unions; for its pure evil in allowing the murder of fifty million of its own children – for all these reasons and more left unsaid, I withdraw my consent to be governed by the organization headquartered in Washington, DC.

Does this declaration mean that I will cease to pay the taxes demanded of me, or to consciously break others of this government’s laws? No. But I will obey their laws only because I am forced to, and only to the degree that I am forced to. I recognize its force, not its authority or legitimacy. If this government ever had these latter two qualities, it has long since lost them.

This government does everything it shouldn’t, and nothing it should. It is unfit to govern me, and I have come to the inescapable conclusion I am better off on my own.

You Are The 15%

Was there ever, in all of human history, a people who deserved tyranny and oppression more than Americans (and indeed all westerners) of the early 21st century? If so, I cannot imagine who they might be.

But you don’t deserve it, you say? Perhaps not. In an earlier column, I noted that I am one of the 15% of people who does not deserve the government I have. 15% may be a small percentage, but it is still a large number of people. It is they – it is you, dear reader – for whom and to whom I write. This column is explicitly elitist – it is in no way meant for the 85%, who would’t understand it such that it would be utterly lost on them, and who anyway desperately do deserve what they’re slowly but surely getting.

But if you are the 15%, then I write for you. If for no other reason than to let you know that, in an insane time, you are not alone.