The Death of Libertarianism

What is libertarianism?

Stephen Landsburg complains that Arizona law protecting religious people from being forced to enthusiastically support and endorse gay marriage is unlibertarian.

Bryan Caplan, a libertarian and theoretically an anarcho capitalist, wants the Mexican underclass moved here to live on welfare, crime, the production of anchor babies, and voting Democrat.

Esr recently used exterminationist rhetoric against “racists”. I doubt he knows what “racist” means, but those that put that exterminationist rhetoric into action will know that “racist” is simply a hostile word for white.

As the Overton Window moves ever leftwards, there is no more room for anti statism, and so libertarians, seeking to remain inside the Overton Window, have abandoned their anti statism, becoming just another variant of progressive, thus totalitarian statist.

If genuinely libertarian or anarcho capitalist, then have to abandon the Overton Window, whereupon anarcho capitalism becomes feudalism, and you are a reactionary.

(If we actually had anarcho capitalism, we would not have borders, but we would not have welfare either, and likely we would have the death penalty for most crimes typical of the underclass, and serfdom or slavery for vagrants and sturdy beggars. Let us introduce the death penalty for everything, abolish voting, at least for the poor and the stupid, and reintroduce serfdom or some similar way of getting people disinclined to work out of circulation, and then we can open the borders.)

Landsburg argues against allowing anyone to refuse to embrace Gay Marriage supposedly because he does not want to privilege the religious. I seem to recall that the first amendment privileges the religious and the owners of presses, so obviously that needs to go also – and in fact it already has.

Most “libertarians” have, as libertarianism comes close to being illegal, abandoned libertarianism. It is now an entirely dead doctrine.

Originally libertarianism was “classic liberalism”, an alliance between economists, and the religious left, the descendents of the puritans well on the way to becoming unitarians.

The economists assumed that slaves were homo economicus, economically rational man. Therefore, if the slaves were freed, they would be able to make the same deal with the former slave owners, doing the same work as before, only for better pay, and without whips or chains. Of course this did not eventuate. The great majority of the former slaves could not make the same deal, because they could not be trusted to do the same work, and so the former slaves were economically far worse off, and a lot of them died, making worse decisions for themselves than their former owners had made for them. The economists could have argued that the outcome was still better than slavery, but that is not the argument that they made, nor the outcome that they expected. Rather, they just ignored the discrepancy. Homo economicus is a reasonably good approximation for males of IQ 105 and above, particularly white males of IQ 105 and above, thus a reasonably accurate approximation for businessmen, for the people who make the economy tick, thus a reasonably good approximation for the economy. It is a poor approximation for most people, and a very poor approximation for most black people.

As the religious part of the alliance moved ever left, the economists split off, becoming libertarians. As the religious part continued to move ever leftwards, the Overton Window ceased to permit libertarians. And so, libertarians have ceased to be. If you used to be a libertarian, you can become a progressive, or a reactionary.

55 Responses to “The Death of Libertarianism”

  1. Remnant says:

    Yep. Hans Herman-Hoppe or Reason Magazine.

    • Zach says:

      Off topic:

      Almost named my next child remnant. Then the fuckers came out. Tried to tell me I was insane, and cruel. “The kid will be made fun of…” etc.

      Perhaps. Buy my brah will be super duper uber. The kind of awesome that makes devils cry, satan piss his pants, and Rome be embarrassed to exist side-by-side, with our family. Nuggas be crazy. Take that you devils… go possess someone else.

      I loved the name Xerxes as well. But that may be a bit much in today’s age.

  2. peppermint says:

    good, I never liked them. Like Moldbug said, the active ingredient is sugar. All I knew about libertarians in my early days is that they were intentionally obtuse about their racism. Redpills were impossible to hand out in those days; one had to come to the right on one’s own through careful observation and a keen sense of irony; then instead of directly handing out redpills one had to dog-whistle.

    Now that libertarianism is dead, the last question is, did they ever serve a purpose? Did they manage to slow the leftist movement even a little?

    I think they would have been better off arguing paleoconservatism.

  3. Daniel Schmuhl says:

    Libertarianism is dead but we can scavange from the carcass; while running the risk of infection. Libertarianism has been a waste of resources on the right and a mostly false opposition.

    I wouldn’t want to see reaction become libertarianism plus a few hate facts. Some “reactionaries” I’ve seen are still far too libertarian and classically liberal.

    • Zach says:

      Would you elaborate?

      (2nd paragraph)

      See, I think the so-called reactionaries are far too smart for their own good. Getting lost in a cloud of legitimacy, and then dying shortly thereafter.

      It’s depressing actually. I’m on their team.

  4. handle says:

    When I converse with Libertarians about our respective preferences in terms of idealized visions for society, the kind of communities we want to live in, and what we would like the government to do and not do in order to achieve those preferences, they tend to line up ok. Not perfect, of course, but much closer than anybody else. We tend to differ with regards to the feasibility and wisdom of the ‘anarcho’ part with regards to law, order, and national security.

    My default presumption is that the differences usually arise from a little too much optimism and hopeful naivete on their part, which could be corrected by a small dose of realism regarding some ugly and unfortunate facts about human existence. All the Dark Enlightenment taboo truths and ‘Red Pills’.

    I may affiliate and self-identify with this DE/NRx idea community, but if I were to be more honest I tend to really be someone who mostly wants sane and mild ‘Libertarianism’, plus a little social conservatism, and even sacrificing some social cost for the sake of some extra liberty, but tempered by reality in a few extreme circumstances where the cost is too high and it matters the most. A prosperous and technologically-updated but politically stable idealized version of the 1950’s.

    The problem arises as you say when Libertarians are forced to make a choice between reality and ideology and choose ideology because it is the only way to remain respectable, in the eyes of the people who have achieved control over the determination of what is respectable.

    So, suddenly, I see articles and posts and publications with “A Libertarian Case for X” when each X is usually considered a non-Libertarian policy, and all the X’s combined turn out to be the entire progressive platform. Everything from ethnic preferences in affirmative action to redistribution to social justice – whatever. Anything that could enable ‘hatred’ like ‘freedom of association’ went out a long time ago.

    If every X is a piece of the ship of Theseus, and you replace all the pieces, is it still the ship of Theseus? If ‘Libertarianism’ can be twisted one inch at a time to accommodate every part of progressivism, like being stretched to fit a Procrustean bed, is it still ‘Libertarianism’?

    No. If you actually want to be actually Libertarian and not some pretense thereof, you have to leave the people who currently have control over the brand ‘Libertarian’, but who are warping its actual content and logic past recognition, far, far behind you.

    • Hurlock says:

      “If genuinely libertarian or anarcho capitalist, then have to abandon the Overton Window, whereupon anarcho capitalism becomes feudalism, and you are a neoreactionary.”

      This is pretty much what happened to me. Libertarianism of the Rothbardian kind nowadays is profoundly reactionary, as exemplified in the case of Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Of course, if any serious political ideology wants to remain a “serious” political ideology it must move left, or be marginalized by the Cathedral. As a libertarian you either sell your soul and move left (Bryan Caplan), or move out of the country (Hoppe, after the thought police caught him not being nice enough to gay people).
      You are either a progressive, or a Nazi. No middle ground.
      Nazi it is, then.

    • jim says:

      When I converse with Libertarians about our respective preferences in terms of idealized visions for society, the kind of communities we want to live in, and what we would like the government to do and not do in order to achieve those preferences, they tend to line up ok.

      OK: Imagine a discussion with Bryan Caplan. We agree open borders with democracy and welfare dismantled.

      Fine. OK, which measure first? Open borders first, or end democracy and welfare first?

      Bryan Caplan says open borders first. End democracy and welfare some time in the indefinite distant future.

      Oops, not fine.

      Imagine you converse with Stephen Landsburg. Stephen Landsburg does not want anyone forced to enthusiastically endorse homosexuality. He wants them to spontaneously and sincerely endorse homosexuality.

      OK. But, in the here and now, that is not a policy option, so given a choice between exempting the religious from being forced to enthusiastically endorse homosexuality, and forcing everyone to enthusiastically endorse homosexuality, what does Stephen Landsburg choose?

      So, suddenly, I see articles and posts and publications with “A Libertarian Case for X” when each X is usually considered a non-Libertarian policy, and all the X’s combined turn out to be the entire progressive platform. Everything from ethnic preferences in affirmative action to redistribution to social justice – whatever. Anything that could enable ‘hatred’ like ‘freedom of association’ went out a long time ago.

      Exactly so.

      • Zach says:

        Well said.

      • Handle says:

        Most ordinary Libertarians are not like Bryan Caplan or Stephen Landsburg and do not share their opinions (yet). The same goes for ordinary anythings vs. the elite Academics and public intellectuals who think they are prominent exponents of some movement and are actively trying to alter the opinions of the other members of that community while remaining respectable in their professional circles.

        The ‘progressivization’ of elite Libertarians has been going on for some time and is only now accelerating to a truly alarming degree. There are lots of reasons for this – but at its heart the phenomenon has a few key inputs. The elite billionaires that support Libertarian efforts also want the brand, ‘Libertarianism’ to focus on those initiatives that will most benefit elite billionaires. The elements of the Cathedral will also publish and promote the status of Libertarians when and if they espouse ideas that will most benefit the progressive agenda.

        Elite Libertarians, knowing this, will figure out the battle-space – the terrain of which has been shaped by these forces – and rank the difficulty of various objectives, and attempt to efficiently allocate their time and energy to those missions with the greatest chance of short-term success.

        They also know the easiest way to win the hearts of progressives is to ally with them in harsh, self-righteous, polemic and dogmatic criticism of the right as evil racists, while always using a higher standard of rigor, playing it very safe and extremely polite, professional, and walking on egg-shells when they criticize a progressive initiative. Or just avoiding it – before the Landsburg types accepted anti-discrimination coercion, the Libertarians that were troubled by these ‘human-rights’ laws nevertheless tended to keep their mouths firmly shut about them.

        And by this selection process, ‘Libertarianism’ – at least the version promulgated by the elite managers of the ‘brand’ – gradually becomes captured by Progressivism except, perhaps, in those few instances when the interests of the billionaires actually do contradict the interests of the progressives.

        My prediction is that, in time, their differences with regard to billionairism will be the only way to tell the difference between Libertarianism, Inc. and Progressivism, Inc.

        • jim says:

          Theoretically, libertarians are against regulation, therefore against Sarbannes Oxley. The best argument against regulation in general, and Sarbannes Oxley in particular, is Jon Corzine, the man of many hats, regulator and regulated “I don’t know what happened to the missing billions of my customer’s money”

          I just don’t hear any mainstream libertarians pointing out that regulation is massively corrupt and dysfunctional.

        • reakcionar says:

          They also know the easiest way to win the hearts of progressives is to ally with them in harsh, self-righteous, polemic and dogmatic criticism of the right as evil racists, while always using a higher standard of rigor, playing it very safe and extremely polite, professional, and walking on egg-shells when they criticize a progressive initiative.

          Brilliant This is the best description of mainstream libertarianism I’ve seen so far.

          A few months ago I met with a certain lefty-libertarian activist, who tried avoiding my awkward questions. So I asked him in a very direct way: does the ministry of health have the right to discriminate against gays when it comes to donating blood? He said, loud and clear: NO. That’s modern libertarianism for you – rape us, beat us, let our kids die of AIDS, just please, please do not call us racists or homophobes!

          • Andre says:

            “does the ministry of health have the right to discriminate against gays when it comes to donating blood?”

            Wait, is donated blood not tested for disease?

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Oh, there’s a blood test for the unknown next plague that’s spreading right now in the sodomite community?

    • Lesser Bull says:

      This is exactly what happened to many Christian denominations. “The Christian Case for X” kept getting repeated until there wasn’t anything left but the ship of Theseus.

      This is a real insight. You should expand on it.

  5. Zach says:

    A progressive or a nazi (iow reactionary)?

    Pity that is seems to be that way.

    • Markpower says:

      I now refer to all non-libertarian or NRx as communists, and the US and Europe are communist entities. Either/or can work both ways.

  6. Jim’s blog subtitle, “Liberty in an unfree world” makes a nice background to this post. The late Harry Browne published How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World in 1973, and I was captivated by it as a 1970s teenager; it was my “Bible” and I made many life decisions based on its principles. The book promoted hyperindividualism, consequentialist ethics, and emphasized the futility of collective and political action. In brief: Do what you want, get away with it, and don’t try to change others, or the world.

    Twenty years later, Browne became Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States.

    I hung with the LP for 10 years until I became a GOPer in 1990. It actually took until 2012 for me to realize (again) that (the old) Browne was partially right; only disengagement and Exit would preserve anything worthwhile left in the half-rotten body politic of Europa and America. So I became a declared “Neoreactionary.”

    Libertarians in the olden times did have one redeeming feature, in that they threw really great parties. That is, perhaps, their lasting contribution.

    RIP

  7. If we actually had anarcho-capitalism, ‘immigrants’ would vanish as a legal category. Everybody would be owners, tenants or trespassers. There would be more borders under anarcho-capitalism, not less.

    • Zach says:

      Yeah. Basically.

    • Andre says:

      Question. If there is no public zone, what do you do with a trespasser on your property? Blast them into outer space?

      • jim says:

        Blast them, not necessarily into outer space.

        I have a private road, shared ownership with one other person who is always absent, and two non owners who have rights to use the road. If someone is on the road and it seems odd, I ask him what he is doing. If he has not got a good answer, he leaves.

        If no public zone, all roads private, but some roads, anyone who makes a payment can use, and some roads, anyone with reasonable cause can use – for example I see a lot of shopping centers served by private roads owned by the shopping center.

        Suppose in anarcho capitalist society, the shopping center asks a bum to leave – but the bum cannot leave because nowhere else will take him either. Then the bum is in mighty big trouble. Will probably wind up being shipped some place he very much does not want go.

  8. Zach says:

    This “scene” has to get real.

    Progressive or Nazi? Pick one. That is how you will be labeled. Ugly. Pathetic. True. Culture biased. Accept it. Seriously. Do not waste your fucking time… it is true now, will be in the future. Period. Swallow, fap, and move on. Time is short.

    Deal with it.

    Better to be hopeless than a liar.

  9. Nathan says:

    Don’t be so callow. Lots of libertarians loudly agree with you on most of the issues that matter to you; see http://libertarianrealist.blogspot.com/ for an excellent example. In fact, many of the seminal thinkers in the field of human biodiversity were libertarian – Charles Murray wrote an excellent book on _What it means to be a libertarian_. Indeed, Murray is a man who managed to remain a public figure and say what he really thinks without caring a whit for this Overton Window you’re so concerned with.

  10. Koanic says:

    * Proposal for a formalist-like society

    Property rules. State as a joint-stock corporation.

    You can always buy shares, in a fixed price, in physically delivered gold.

    1 kg gold = 1 share, or something.

    Share owners can vote on everything, cryptographically secure.

    Shares can be bequeathed in wills.

    Shares can only be held by resident, native-born citizens.

    Such a state could theoretically be started at a very small scale, using cryptographic shared secrets and geo-caching of gold, with spot checks by other members. And then grow until it commanded a territory.

    What do you think of this idea, Jim? It’s sort of a mix of your ideas and Moldbug’s. I imagine it would effect many of your proposed social solutions rather quickly, such as serfdom for the lower classes, racial purity, etc.

    • Andre says:

      If you think the idea makes good business sense, go and be an entrepreneur. You wouldn’t be the first person to rise to become chief executive officer of a newly formed state.

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  12. ErisGuy says:

    Libertarians begin by talking (and it’s only talk) about limiting government and ends by legislating their morality and compelling obedience. Libertarianism easily elides into fascism and a morals police because the need for hierarchy, conformity, and obedience is greater than the desire not only for one’s own freedom, but the desire to allow others to be free.

  13. […] Libertarians ain’t so bad. Related: The power of liberty. Related: The death of libertarianism. […]

  14. Daniel says:

    Jim, I’m an Arizona Libertarian. I understand what you’re saying. We are not, however, all Progressives. I’m a bit disappointed (to say the least) in the libertarians who have abandoned the principles of private property and personal liberty (no matter what they entail) in defense of Cultural Marxist dogma, Progressive Orthodoxy, etc., to look pretty in the eyes of the Cathedral. Here’s an article I recently wrote as the “phoenix libertarian examiner”:http://www.examiner.com/article/az-republic-bares-fascist-fangs-at-libertarians

    Are you in the Valley area? If you would like to grab a beer or something sometime, please contact me via email. And keep up the good work!

    • jim says:

      Thanks for the offer. I used to be in the valley area, and some of my family still is, but these days I seldom visit America for very long

  15. Dire Badger says:

    Telling points, especially since the same thing is happening to the MRA. You have the ever-leftward leaning ‘M(h)RA’ who have consciously divorced themselves from the MRA by renaming, and then the ‘hardcore’ MRA’s that have gone even further down the path to dark enlightenment and started embracing neoreactionaryism. (it took a lot to cram that into an ‘ism’)

    I guess that makes me a nazi. I am drifting ever rightward.

  16. Andre says:

    The problem with “libertarians” is that they are “civilization socialists”. What I mean by that is, they think civilization “just happens”, that there is not a cost to sustaining a market economy. They are utopians who do not understand that war and peace are essentialy two sides of the same coin. Look how fast they shy away from any suggestion that violence is required to create and sustain their desired civilization and how desperately they cling to the idea that they can just run away from conflict.

    • Thrasymachus says:

      I was thinking about writing something called “Capitalism is Socialism” on just this topic. In short rich people take it for granted police and soldiers will protect them, and not just kill them and take their stuff.

      • Andre says:

        Do not misunderstand me. Free market capitalism is the best possible economic system and as far as I am concerned, the only moral type of economic social organization. It is however, built on a foundation and sustained by forces which libertarians simply cannot accept. And obviously money acts as a “shield” through which the political elites (both the major and the minor) feign legitimacy (I have money, therefore I must have earned it and you owe me service and respect).

        • Andre says:

          “It is however, built on a foundation and sustained by forces which libertarians simply cannot accept.”

          Which is to say, libertarians treat law and order the same way socialists treat bread and butter. All it takes is for you to command them to appear, and they magically do.

      • jim says:

        Note that during “Occupy” occupation was prevented by heavily outnumbered rentacops, while police were mysteriously busy somewhere far away.

        Rentacops, to judge by you tube videos, are uniformly brave, loyal to their salt, and immensely respectful of private property. You just don’t get you tube videos of cowardly or vicious rentacops, the way you get you tube videos of cowardly vicious cops.

        I recall one you tube video, taken from surveillance cameras. Three armed black hoods, dressed in black hoodies to advertise that they were bad and menacing, barged in waving guns around. One elderly rentacop, a white man dressed in white to reassure customers that he was the good guy, immediately started shooting at them, without hesitation or thought. They reacted like rabbits that had inadvertently woken a wolf, and fled. He wounded one, the other two got out the door. And the moment they were across the property line he instinctively and reflexively stopped shooting. Customers seemed equally terrified of everyone with a gun, but he seemed to have absolutely not the slightest sign of fear.

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