Yesterday, I saw a poll on Twitter by well-known libertarian Dave Smith:
Jeff Deist is the President of the Mises Institute, which represents the most respectable and serious libertarian intellectual tradition alive today. The Tweet that Dave Smith referred to in his poll is this one:
A few people commented on this thread, including the very cringe Styxhexenhammer666, and the very based Peter R. Quiñones.
The basic problem I see with the poll is that my answer would be that the 20th century was a liberal disaster, but this is not an option. It is not an option because the standard libertarian point of view is that all of the destructive elements of the 20th century, ranging from the World Wars to the end on the gold standard, are not the result of liberalism, but “illiberalism.”
Libertarians see their ideology as the true liberalism, and refuse to cede the word to leftists. An understandable goal, but it is a distinction without a difference. It is liberalism that destroyed the world. The distinction between progressivism and liberalism is not real. Progressivism is a result of liberalism, just as socialism, communism, and yes, even fascism, is a result of liberalism. Liberalism ultimately leads to totalitarianism because it lays the groundwork for totalitarianism to emerge.
The libertarian view is that the state subsidizes and promotes bads, and were it not for the state, goods would have a better chance at outcompeting the bads. Humans who choose to cooperate will be able to act more efficiently than humans who choose to use force, and therefore, liberalism would ultimately produce a more well-ordered world, because violence causes chaos, and violence would be reduced in a world where cooperation tended to outcompete the use of force.
But liberalism is not an orderly phenomenon. Liberalism is a disintegrating (re: dis-integrating) phenomenon of individualism. The integrated structure of the ancien regime was undone by revolutionary war after revolutionary war, from Napoleon to the Internationalists we have now, and this has not been done in a direction away from liberalism, but precisely in line with it. The individuation of society broke the old order, and in place of it, a more voluntary society did not emerge, but one in which the forces of chaos cooperated not for more order, but more chaos.
Cooperation in the use force is also efficient. Libertarians find themselves trapped by the inability to act first in the use of force. For libertarians, force is only justified in response to force. Why allow your enemies to have a first mover advantage in the domain of force? The right is always “reacting” to the left. Libertarians will always be stepped on so long as they do not use power. Power is the ability to use force unchallenged. It is the very “monopoly on force” that libertarians resent so much that must be seized in order to bring about a libertarian order.
Human beings are creatures of power. When power structures are subjected to the entropic forces of liberalism, another competing group of power elites will exploit the weakened structure and take power for themselves. When this new elite’s ideology is not based on an integrated structure, but on individual interest, their actions will naturally prioritize the self-interest of the new elite far more than those who previously ruled with a certain sense of duty to the nation.
It doesn’t matter that, by definition, liberalism is about cooperation and not coercion – when the ideas of complete freedom from power, except by voluntary individual choice, were put into practice, the result was the creation of a regime so interested in the self, that the selves of power came to rule over all of the other selves. It is a rare type of ruling elite who would truly recommit themselves to supporting an integrated structure over their own personal interest. This type of ruling elite could be a libertarian elite – libertarianism is achievable, but only through power, which means a monopoly on force and the use of that force where necessary to preserve the libertarian structure. It is not that libertarianism is unachievable, it is that it by definition precludes the means by which libertarianism could come about.
We need not pretend that the integrated structures of the ancien regime were any more perfect that the anarchist society that libertarians want to bring about. Libertarians do not claim that anarchism would be perfectly libertarian or eternal, only that it is the best possible model for liberty. I remain unconvinced of this, based on human nature, as I have summarized from elite theory. The philosopher Hans-Herman Hoppe, surely one of the greatest living minds today, correctly writes in his book, Democracy: The God That Failed, that monarchy, as a system of government, provided a greater degree of liberty to humans than does democracy; however, Hoppe is not a promoter of monarchy. He merely identifies it as superior to democracy, for the purposes of liberty, but still regards anarchism as the ideal form. I take this a step further. I do not believe that anarchism is an ideal vessel for libertarianism; rather, the most sustainable libertarian order would be some form of monarchism. Call it neocameralism, if you like. Anarchism in its pure form might be more libertarian in a brief window of existence, but in the long run, power is necessary to resist power.
Libertarians often point to the not-so-wild American west as an example of anarchism working in practice. True, until a much stronger power, The American Government (the power many western settlers were fleeing in the first place), came in and asserted control. The west was powerless to resist. In order to uphold any type of regime, is necessary to focus enough power to deter external competitors and relentlessly suppress internal subversive elements, just as the regime does today. Hoppe again writes on this topic in his book, calling for the physical removal of any elements of society that would seek to degenerate a libertarian social order. Again, I take this further. Hoppe believes that this should only happen in societies where people have voluntarily agreed to be libertarians. I believe that all Americans ought to be forced to live in line with the original American myth, whether they like it or not.
Voluntarism does not hold an elite class and a society together. Myth is the binding element – a perversion of the American myth, this “equality” that we are relentlessly attacked with now, is what binds the ruling elite today. Libertarians would prefer that American sovereignty be dissolved all the way down to the individual level. If individuals wished to band together and form new societies, be they libertarian, fascist, communist, or anything at all, then they should be free to do so. I see no reason to allow a single communist to voluntarily cooperate with other communists anywhere in America. Again, why allow your enemies to build advantage right in front of you? Communism as an idea, no matter where it is, is a threat to human liberty. America is a nation, an incredibly degenerated nation, but a nation nonetheless. Whoever rules America has all the license they need to force Americans to do anything they want, as we live through now in the biomedical security state. Californians ought not be given a choice as to whether or not they would like to enjoy the fruits of American liberty. Quoting Michael Anton from Right Flight:
Put simply, California wants to rule Texas but Texas doesn’t want to rule California, and especially doesn’t want to be ruled by California.
Ruled by California it will be, until Texas decides in turn that it wants to rule California. It must not do so in a resigned fashion, but with all the vigor of anyone who has ever wanted to rule over anyone else. It must want this to preserve its own way of life, which provides all the motivation needed for this feeling.
Libertarians must adopt the same point of view towards The United States of America as a whole, and become a party of power, like all political parties, or else they will remain impotent. They must adopt the reality that, actually, liberalism is the problem. Libertarians can get almost everything they want, if they are only willing adapt to the reality of power, and seek to rule a libertarian government. Is that an oxymoron? Is that illiberal? It doesn’t matter – sovereignty is the ability to decide the exception. Sovereignty cannot contradict itself. Sovereignty will never be eliminated, and only he who truly wants to rule over others will rule over them instead of be ruled by them.