Archives for category: Ideological currents

“The police are simply going to stop policing.”

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, on his Daily Wire show, often argues that the left’s concerted attacks upon policing over the past several years have led to the recent rise in murder rates in particular and crime rates generally. Partial defundings of police departments and policing programs, and misguided checks on policing, have directly contributed to the rises in crime, Shapiro says.

“As soon as you start loosening the restrictions with regard to criminal behavior,” Shapiro asserted on Tuesday, “you get an uptick in violence.”

True enough?

Well, what if assertions of racial injustice and police bias encourage black criminals to resist arrest?

Black Lives Matter rhetoric sure looks like a case for interpreting all searches, traffic stops, and warranted arrests as oppression. And since oppression is bad, resistance is good. Sure smacks of a dangerous excuse to resist arrest.

It is in situations where suspects resist arrest that most shootings by police occur. Then the results of resistance get pushed through the corporate media’s propaganda mill as yet more evidence of racist cops, decreasing respect for lawful standards and law enforcement, which in turn leads to

  • protests, which have led to
  • riots and
  • general mayhem and looting and
  • more robbery and, yes, murder.

These social forces are not utterly mysterious. Mr. Shapiro’s repeated focus on the simplest analysis (more police=less crime) may be regrettable, for the wider-angle view that the left’s “institutional racism” mantra could have deeper effects with broad consequences.

What we may be witnessing is a cycle of violence and misinterpretation: more crime along with more dangerous police-suspect encounters that feed mistaken impressions to bolster the initial charge of racism: rinse, wring, repeat.

twv

“Why does nobody seem to bother about viral immune escape?”

…sort of a follow-up to yesterday’s….

People should be aware that there is a vaccination specialist out there who (a) thinks the technology of the mRNA treatments “vaccines” is brilliant, but is also (b) extremely dangerous, epidemiologically, in that, when used as a mass prophylactic against the current pandemic, has a strong potential to produce a highly resistant strain of coronavirus that will infect the young and could lead to a civilizational and even species threat.

Now, I cannot “vouch” for the man. His name is Geert Vanden Bossche, PhD., and he sure seems on the up and up. But I am not an epidemiologist. Still, as I blogged the other day, I understand the concept of antifragility, and I have long suspected that over-use of some medical technology could end up producing a major plague. Scientists have been warning of this for years, and it has been spun out in numerous science fiction tales, many of which I’ve read with a sort of gallows-interest enthusiasm. And here we do have a viral science technician urging world governments to stop the vaccination campaign, for the health of our species, for humanity.

Specifically, Bossche warns that “this type of prophylactc vaccines are completely inappropriate, and even highly dangerous, when used in mass vaccinaton campaigns during a viral pandemic.

Vaccinologists, scientists and clinicians are blinded by the positive short-term effects in individual patents, but don’t seem to bother about the disastrous consequences for global health. Unless I am scientifically proven wrong, it is difcult to understand how current human interventons will prevent circulatng variants from turning into a wild monster.

Racing against the clock, I am completing my scientific manuscript, the publication of which is, unfortunately, likely to come too late given the ever increasing threat from rapidly spreading, highly infectious variants. This is why I decided to already post a summary of my fndings as well as my keynote speech at the recent Vaccine Summit in Ohio on LinkedIn. Last Monday, I provided internatonal health organizatons, including the WHO, with my analysis of the current pandemic as based on scientfcally informed insights in the immune biology of Covid-19. Given the level of emergency, I urged them to consider my concerns and to initate a debate on the detrimental consequences of further ‘viral immune escape.’

PDF provided by Geert Vanden Bossche; numerous typos corrected, above and in quotations below.

I have opposed the popular “wisdom” of how to deal with COVID from at least last April, when the nature of the lockdowns became clear in the wildly moved goalposts. Since then, most folks have stuck to what their bureaucrats and politicians and public scolds have told them, usually with less knowledge of the subject than I possess. It’s all cultic tribalism on all sides now.

But you should understand what you are getting jabbed with. Start with the CDC. Its website is not outright lying. But it is propaganda.

That being said, the technology is not what most folks think it is. It does not work like a simple vaccine. And that difference could make a difference. How big? Very; extremely:

[I]t’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine how the consequences of the extensive and erroneous human intervention in this pandemic are not going to wipe out large parts of our human population.

This is End Times stuff, really. Which is why “smart people” will resist. They are easily embarrassed by end-of-the-world predictions, since most are by kooks, are heavily ideological, or quickly proven wrong.

But Bossche’s case is quite familiar to us. The concepts he is talking about are part of the general scientific approach of our age. He is not pushing Conspiracy Theory here (though that shouldn’t make us mindless, either). He is advancing a quite-familiar approach to the evolution of contagions. Standard neo-Darwinian science.

But he is obviously worried. He says there is no time to spare, yet worries even more because, in his words, “I have not received any feedback thus far. Experts and politicians have remained silent while obviously still eager to talk about relaxing infection prevention rules and ‘springtime freedom.’ My statements are based on nothing else but science. They shall only be contradicted by science.” Yet “the elite of scientists who are currently advising our world leaders prefer to stay silent.”

This reminds me of some tragedies that occur in tyrannical societies, where the experts fear to speak up, not unreasonably imagining reprisals. Examples abound in the Soviet Union, including the infamous cases of Lysenkoism and Chernobyl.

Though we are talking a possible end to our civilization, I do think proponents of mRNA vaccines can be funny. The especially funny ones fall into two categories, as I blogged yesterday:

  1. The same people who normally extol the FDA and its long, killer waiting periods and expensive regulatory hurdles now push a drug that Donald Trump moved heaven and earth to get around, while
  2. the people who dislike the FDA because of its huge and deadly regulatory burden now like this drug since it has been pushed through — while not recognizing that it is massively subsidized, distributed by an untrustworthy government, and has a demand built up by psy-op and coercive threats, explicit and implicit.

I do not plan on taking this experiment in genetic manipulation . . . though, if the doctor is right, I may be more susceptible to the killer strain it produces than its users.

It is possible we are witnessing the greatest crime against humanity in world history, in its early stages. And the reason? Because experts and politicians will not properly consider scientific evidence that contradicts their favorite policy proposals. And they resist this, despite the dangers, because the general political culture has moved away from free speech and vigorous debate to cultic tribalism. While I have been saying that these anti-free-speech tendencies of today’s hyper-partisanship could kill our civilization, I do not remember considering that they could do so in precisely this manner, and so quickly.

But what do I know? Just go along with the flow. We all gotta die sometime.

Do we really need to all go together when we go, though?

twv

“In the United States, there is no religious animosity,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, “because all religion is respected, and no sect is predominant.”

Religion in American life has changed since the 1830s, when the French nobleman and sociologist wrote Democracy in America. He was wrong, of course: there was indeed religious animosity in America. He didn’t see it. But it wasn’t as big an issue as a rational person might expect. Hence his statement.

Nowadays, religious animosity has come back big time, fed into a conflagration by the new social classes aligning themselves in partisan politics. 

So we should expect to see many attempts to make sense of the growing rift.

But you might not want to bother with Greg M. Epstein’s piece in the Boston Globe this weekend. For he might as well be from Mars, not France, he is so wide of the mark. 

A truly inclusive vision of America recognizes the nonreligious, too,” Epstein writes. The article’s blurb encapsulates where Epstein goes wrong: “Amid rising Christian nationalism, President Biden should reach out directly to the ‘nones.’”

“Nones” is the silly term of current jargon to describe people with scant religious beliefs and no religious affiliations. The problem in the blurb can be detected in the article: the reason we see rising “Christian nationalism” (which really freaks out Democrats) stems from the fact that Democrats are increasingly seen — quite accurately, I think — as anti-Christian globalists. 

Christian nationalism is a reaction. But it is not the only reaction against the godless globalists.

The anti-Christianity is quite evident in the united government under the Democrats. Indeed, it was formalized in the 116th Congress’s invocation “to the monotheistic god, Brahma,” a prayer that ended with “Amen and Awomen,” an old joke the supplicant apparently took seriously, signaling to those feminists who are also so deeply against men that they cannot abide having the phoneme “men” appear in an ancient word, “Amen” that has nothing to do with either men or women. This is rightly perceived as anti-Christian, even if the performer of the prayer calls himself a Methodist. 

Epstein only sees the pandering to religion, of course. “The Biden presidency has already involved several prayerful events,” he writes. “Some of the most prominent such occasions have essentially ignored our existence,” he laments, thus providing his nones-such bona fides — he is a “humanist chaplain at Harvard.” 

But this concern basically boils down to a Do the Right Thing-style complaint about the lack of “brothers on the wall.” 

“Calls for ‘unity’ framed largely around religion not only erase nearly one-third of the country but ultimately denigrate us by suggesting traditional faith is necessary to cope with the nation’s problems.” He does not consider a more likely rationale: that what Biden & Co. are doing is over-compensating.

Instead of seeing religion as a way to sucker in inattentive marginal voters who may be marginally religious, and get them to pass over all the anti-Christianity and blasphemy of the current tribe of Democrats, Epstein pushes forward his ridiculous, low-level partisanship. “This is a loss for all of us, because in the wake of the Trump presidency, the notion of true inclusiveness — and President Biden’s obvious passion for it, albeit imperfectly executed at times — are among the most compelling aspects of this new administration.”

But what Epstein cannot see is that Biden is trying to include people who find Epstein’s crowd repellent

Perhaps it helps being a libertarian while also being a philosophically inclined “none” — for we who are both have seen the tensions between religious and anti-religious zealots and thus can appraise the rift with some objectivity. The relentless obnoxiousness of many libertarian atheists and pagans has led many religious libertarians to linger in the inhospitable waters of the Republican Party for longer than they otherwise would. Indeed, the “relentless obnoxiousness” led to the once-upon-a-time “paleolibertarian” turn of the late 1980s and early 1990s, not a small thing in the libertarian movement. One point that Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell were making in their paleo turn was, in essence, “can’t you non-believers be less offensive and not scare off traditionalist recruits?” Not a wholly misguided gripe. For many nones are indeed quite indecorous, often blasphemous.

Epstein downplays the action/reaction nature of the current, major-party version of this divide, merely feeding the “action” part. “My two decades of work representing the nonreligious in interfaith work have convinced me that we so-called ‘nonbelievers’ share core common values with progressive and moderate people of faith.” Well, yeah. But he does not acknowledge that there are “nones” who reject his brand of globalism, and would rather ally ourselves with anti-socialists and limited government people. Yes, we exist, too. 

But let us be frank: Epstein does indeed seek to exclude us. Completely. 

“I have been moved as Biden repeatedly stressed that his faith impelled him to build the most unifying presidency in US history,” he writes, “promising to restore the ‘soul of America’ by coalescing diverse faith voters, social justice activists, racial and ethnic groups, and LGBTQ, disabled, and young people. Still, you can’t restore an inclusive spirit, while excluding — or ignoring — large groups under your big tent.” 

It is hard not to roll one’s eyes. Progressives are not “for inclusion” — they are as exclusionary as any other group, if not more so. They seek to exclude, after all, those outside Epstein’s big tent, including many nonbelievers. 

For some of us nonbelievers also disbelieve in the Gospel of Inclusion, in no small part for reasons of logic: you cannot include everybody. It’s the wrong emphasis, because there is no universal principle there. Law and government, upon further reflection, must be about the terms for inclusion/exclusion and definitely not inclusion über alles. 

Since no group can include everyone, there’s no reason why the particular interests of a group of rural Baptists must align and work in lockstep with a coterie of cosmopolitan pagan lesbians. But these poles-apart groups can coexist if the number of public goods they are required to share is made as low as possible. Baptists may take care of Baptists, but still respect pagan lesbians’ rights to independence, while those goddess-worshiping homosexuals can form their communities and mutual aid societies and also allow Baptists to live in peace, respecting only the limited rights to freedom of the Baptists.

But the Democrats’ have embraced a chimera, where all groups must contribute to the well-being, robustly defined, of all other groups, leaving scant room for independent action. Baptists must not only defend pagans’ and LGBTQ nonbelievers’ rights, they must pay for those groups’ abortions and sex changes and, insult to injury, allow the heathens into their communities. That is integral to the Democrats’ “inclusionism”: forced inclusion. 

That coercion is one-sided, though: no gays and pagans are made to follow and accept the rites of Baptists. And this breeds reaction against the Democrats’ “inclusionism.”

Epstein is, apparently, ignorant of all that. Or merely blinded to it. The idea that a free society can incorporate diversity by reducing the purview of government is lost on him.

Understandable, though, since it is usually lost on conservatives too, so reactionary and unimaginative are they. Hence their pet “nationalist” projects, where the idea is to jigger with culture to support a robust nation-state. 

This is why some of us nones prefer liberty to nationalism as well as liberty over socialism, “inclusionism” and “globalism.”

In this article, Epstein is reviewing a book by Ryan Burge, a Baptist preacher and professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University, who, Epstein tells us, “has recently gained a following among atheists like me.” Burge’s book is titled The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going, and it may actually be good, for all I know — but going by Epstein’s review, I doubt it.

For Epstein concludes quoting the author: “‘Think about the rise of the nones,’ Burge writes, waxing homiletic, ‘the same way as globalization. In both cases, the same cold, hard fact is true: We cannot stop it.’” But “globalization” is one of those words like “multiculturalism” that does not mean what its users think it means. 

“Globalization” could be a good term for increasing freedom of movement and trade. But in Democrats’ hands (and in the hands of socialists and socialist-adjacents) it’s a synonym for political internationalism, a “globalism” that means subsidization of Third World immigration into First World countries, domination of regional institutions by multinational corporations, and ever-increasing calls for world state governance, starting with forcing separate states to adopt identical laws and regulatory schemes. 

Similarly, many people think “multiculturalism” is merely respect for a diversity of cultures. No. That’s not how Democrats use the term in the context of their policies. Multiculturalism is the attempt to use increasing numbers of cultural interest groups to feed at the trough of the State, effectively ramping up wealth transfer schemes to socialist levels. 

Epstein thinks his Democrats should acknowledge The Nones formally, thereby pushing (though he doesn’t say it, of course) forced inclusion. But in so doing they must exclude those Nones and religious believers who think what they are doing is inherently unstable and deeply immoral. Smarter schemers than he know this, and they are in power, trying to fool Americans into thinking that the current crop of pseudo-inclusionists are more traditionally religious than they are. 

I suspect this will all end badly. But to understand why, do not consult this particular Harvard “chaplain.” He doesn’t believe in God, but he really, really does “believe” in The State. Perhaps to his credit, he’s not smart enough to be deceitful about it. He thinks that were people honest, we could all get along as “we” ramp up technocracy to the extreme that our elites really, really yearn for. He is wrong. Success for this forced inclusion can only be a form of totalitarianism the likes of which past madmen have only imagined.

In his piece, Epstein paraphrases a Voltaire quip, the one about common sense not being so common. He should have quoted a different Voltaire witticism: “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” Epstein does not believe in any god. But he feels that itch. So he supports a final revolution to usher in the Super State of his dreams, perhaps not realizing how this Leviathan must wind up serving as a god far more jealous and enraged than YHWH. His politics follow closely from this desire for a deity. It is painful to read such naivety.

Bakunin riffed on Voltaire by saying that “if God did exist, it would be necessary to destroy him.” I’ve always been a bit iffy about that, but if Epstein’s god arises, killing it would be necessary indeed. And we can be assured: Epstein will rise to defend to his death his right to impose It upon us all.

twv

Anthony Comegna returns to my podcast for his third outing. The video will go up soon, but the podcast is ready on multiple podcatchers and at SoundCloud (LocoFoco.net):

To connect with Dr. Comegna, try Twitter, where he is known as Dr LocoFoco.

Why is capitalism not liberalism?

…as answered on Quora….

Which capitalism? Which liberalism?

What came to be known as “capitalism” grew out of mercantilism and the freeing up of such systems in part by liberals — “classical liberals” — who sought to limit government interference in the workings of markets. Arguing for a generally ‘laissez faire’ approach, and persuaded by economic reasoning that most of the goals and methods of mercantilists achieved socially negative results — often the opposite of the promised results of the traditional advocates of private-public partnerships — these liberals helped spur the astounding economic advances of the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

But almost no country has ever sported pure laissez faire — such a policy seems austere to folks in government, whose power is limited under such a policy — and Actually Existing Capitalism has always been to some degree mercantilist, filled with goofy and exploitative favoritism, transfer payments, deceptive and slippery regulations, tragedies of the commons, vast public work projects, and persistent rent-seeking manias. Self-proclaimed liberals fought this for many decades of the 19th century, but the popularity of socialist ideas infected the class of people who called themselves liberals, and this class of people reverted to a kind of neo-mercantilism, dubbed ‘progressivism’ in America and ‘social democracy’ in Europe, often pushing to dirigisme — sometimes called fascism and other times called national socialism and often pitched with eulogistic, sloganeering brand names, like The New Freedom and The New Deal.

It is time to take back the term ‘liberalism’ from the advocates of some jury-rigged ‘third way’ between laissez faire and state socialism. But we may have to stick with alternatives, like ‘libertarianism’ or Benedetto Croce’s ‘liberism.’

It would be easy to argue that ‘capitalism’ has almost always been used as a pejorative, and should be dropped like a scorched spud. Worse yet, naming a system of private property, free production, free trade, free labor, and free banking by only one of the three traditional factors of production — ‘capital’ (instead of by land and labor as well) — makes capitalism unsuitable for those who wish for any sort of precision. But we are probably stuck with it, too. In my nitpickier moments I sometimes talk up The Catallaxy — the emergent order of all voluntary exchanges (Richard Whately defined economics as ‘catallactics,’ or the Science of Exchanges, nearly two centuries ago, and F.A. Hayek coined the above term for the liberal system sometime in the 1960s or 70s) — but that isn’t going to fly.

When someone says they are for or against ‘capitalism,’ we must ask for clarification. When folks call themselves a ‘liberal’ but are only liberal in spending other people’s money, laugh in their faces.

Today’s critics of capitalism must not be allowed to get away with their most characteristic legerdemain, pretending that every problem in our mixed economy is caused only by the ‘free market’ aspect of the system, and not the government part. And conservative defenders of capitalism have got to stop calling the current system ‘free enterprise.’ Wake up and throw out the coffee grounds.

In my opinion, liberals are those who advocate laissez faire capitalism. They oppose the neo-mercantilists of all varieties, and socialists even stronger.

So, back to the question. Why is capitalism not liberalism? Capitalism is an economic order; liberalism is an ideology.

Alas, we are almost always stuck with the tedious job of disambiguating both terms.

twv, October 24, 2019

It is largely an artifact of World War II, our age’s relentless demonization of fascism. The fascists lost; “we” won.

I have long been in the inconvenient position of itching to demonize fascism as a political and economic system while also sweeping under the Demon rubric the forces that did the grand work of defeating the Nazis, Italian fascists, and Japanese imperialists. For the nation-states and ersatz empires of the Allies shared more in common with their enemies than with the polity for which I advocate. They are all cultists of the omnipotent state. Though I readily admit, by happy accident I was born an American, where the omnipotence of the federal government was contained, traditionally, by some constitutional procedural niceties . . . legal limitations on governmental scope. American fascism was a thing, but fascistic elements of the Progressives’ beloved central government were even more important. And those American limits on state potency have eroded over time.

Nevertheless, it is today’s social justice, intersectionalist “pseudo-progressives” (to use the Misesian pejorative form) who are most likely to use “fascist” as the ultimate term of abuse. They have World War II behind them, and the modern Democratic Party beside them, to make their terminology stick. But their abuse of history and language remains an issue. For more on this problem, consult David Ramsay Steele and The Mystery of Fascism. It is an essay in a book. Look it up. Last year Lee Waaks and I talked with Mr. Steele about it on the LocoFoco Netcast:

But there is no end to the discussion, apparently. See a recent post to Liberty at Large on Quora:

Fascism and anti-fascism, in popular debate, are usually just political tribalism. Fascists were worshipers in the Cult of the Omnipotent State who made much of their differences with Socialists. Progressives in the Progressive Era preferred fascism, generally, to socialism; since World War II they preferred socialism to fascism. But what any of them “really mean” when they say “fascism” (bad) or “socialism” (good) is open to dispute. For, like always with political people, between fantasy and compromise lies a vast tract of spongey territory with no sure footing.

I sometimes find one fantasy worse than another depending on where the action is on the spongey marshland. I try not to be distracted by each will-o’-the-wisp conjured up out of swamp gas.

But hey: it is hard, since usually there is more gas than light. And we need the light.

twv

N.B. This afternoon I chatted with Anthony Comegna again, for an upcoming podcast. But I should mention two recent episodes of his podcast, Ideas in Progress, are about actual America fascism, with historian Katy Hull. Highly recommended!

This is quite a piece of … rhetoric:

Dear Powell’s community,

At Powell’s, a lot of our inventory is hand-selected, and hand-promoted. And a lot of our inventory is not. Unmasked by Andy Ngo came to us via one of our long-term and respected publishers, Hachette Book Group. We list the majority of their catalogue on Powells.com automatically, as do many other independent and larger retailers. We have a similar arrangement with other publishers.

Since Sunday, Powell’s has received hundreds of emails, calls, and social media comments calling for us to remove Unmasked from Powells.com. Due to protests outside our Burnside location, we have chosen to close our store, including curbside pickup, to keep our employees and customers safe. We are monitoring the situation daily and we will reopen when it is safe to do so. Our other locations and website remain open. 

As many of you may be following these events, I want to offer additional context about our decision to allow this book to remain online.

Since the first published texts there have been calls to disown different printed work, and at Powell’s we have a long history of experiencing these calls, and the threats they bring with them, firsthand. Until recently the threats were from those who objected that we carried books written by authors we respected or subjects we supported. The threats were real but we could feel virtuous — we were bringing the written word to the light of day. We could feel proud of our choices, even when the choices created conflict.

Our current fight does not feel virtuous.  It feels ugly and sickening to give any air to writing that could cause such deep pain to members of our community. But we have always sold books that many of us would reject.  We have fought for decades, at Powell’s, for the right of a book to stand on its own. Doing so is one of our core values as booksellers.

In our history we have sold many copies of books we find objectionable. We do that in spite of all the reasons not to, because we believe that making the published word available is an important and crucial step in shedding light on the dark corners of the public discourse. It is actually a leap of faith into the vortex of the power of the written word and our fellow citizens to make sense of it.

That leap of faith is inextricably woven into our existence as Powell’s: faith in our customers is what first propelled us from a small corner store into who we are today.  We recognize that not every reader has good intentions, or will arrive at a writer’s intended destination, but we do believe that faith must extend to our community of readers. That offering the printed word in all its beauty and gore, must ultimately move us forward. As my father says, if your principles are only your principles sometimes, they’re not principles at all.

Emily Powell, of Powell’s Bookstore, the world’s greatest independent bookstore, implies that she does not respect Andy Ngo and his reporting on antifa riots in Portland, Oregon.

Since Mr. Ngo is the only person in Portland I have cause to believe is heroic, by a sort of moral algebra Ms. Powell looks rather bad, I think, and “members” of her “community” are implicated in her half-poltroonish statement.

But remember: Ms. Powell is a liberal — not daring to call progressives knavish, but still standing against progressives’ worst demands. We need more liberals like this. Sure. But we can hardly admire them.

A courageous person would not have engaged in the back-handed slight of Mr. Ngo.

twv

The Left has captured the Democratic Party . . . and leftist resentment at having even to answer challenges is fueling their mad lust to engage in full-on mob- and state-based attacks against all major competing ideas, personalities and platforms.

And libertarians who yammer on about how awful Trump is, and how he should, in January 2021, be impeached, place themselves on the side of these new totalitarians. Sure Trump was what he was: no savior. But he was also wasn’t what he wasn’t: an Antichrist. But what the Democrats now yearn for is an Antichrist, their own false savior in The State. And they are gearing up to stamp and contract-trace every citizen they can.

twv

What do libertarians think about the statement, ‘Individualism is a stupid idea because humans are social animals’?

…as answered on Quora….

There are many definitions of “individualism” — what Alexis de Tocqueville meant by it is radically different from what Wordsworth Donisthorpe meant by it. I have written about Tocqueville’s word choice elsewhere. Here I will discuss something very much like Donisthorpe’s usage in Individualism: A System of Politics (1889), H. L. Mencken’s in Men versus The Man (1911) and F. A. Hayek’s in Individualism and Economic Order (1948).

This libertarian judges the queried statement [“individualism is a stupid idea because humans are social animals”] to be silly and unlearned.

Why?

Because individualism is a doctrine of sociality.

Individualists make the fairly obvious point that it is only by protecting individual personsalong with their justly acquired property that robust sociality can evolve. Individualists look upon our social natures as best maturing when as many relations are voluntary as possible, and when people are judged according to the same standard applied up and down the institutional, class, and tribal order. Persons are not to be given special license because of some specific social connection, but, instead, defended according to basic rights that all may have so long as they reciprocate.

Individualism is a doctrine of free association and voluntary community.

Sure, we are social animals. But from this it does not follow that a “socialism” that coerces compliance and corrals people into groups and regulates them by means of “the public ownership of the means of production” is in any way an expression of humane sociability. This sort of collectivism is a deeply anti-social doctrine. And if you doubt, study the mores of Soviet subjects, or read Orwell’s 1984 — no great society there, no triumph of “social man.”

It is individualism that defends our social natures from the con artistry of any number of collectivisms. To buy the idea that individualism (understood as a rule-of-law standard based on a division of responsibility) is corrosive (by its very name?) of society is to misunderstand society itself. And perhaps to have a very, very low opinion of humanity.

Folks who hold to this notion are easily taken in by simplistic word association. This individualist sees the queried statement as a typical example of ideological trickery, as sophistry, as base rhetoric, as ugly propaganda. It is the kind of thing unscrupulous people say to fool the distracted, the inattentive and the not very bright.

Don’t be conned.

twv

The rains came to my valley, this week, and left a freshet.

Do libertarians think that progressives are good people with policy differences or immoral people who express their immorality through their politics?

… as answered on Quora….

Both.

That is, some libertarians believe that progressives are merely misinformed and misguided; others believe that progressives have a deep evil streak; and some hold to both positions at the same time.

How is that latter possible? Well, a bad idea can be adopted for good reasons, but then the idea’s own entelechy guides its holder into evil. (Ideology is an awful lot like a Ring of Power, and power corrupts.) One may start out just wanting to help the poor and downtrodden, but then, later on, come to revel in hurting those who disagree with you, even those who contribute a lot to society, merely because they are successful while remaining uninterested in one’s own projects.

What can begin in compassion often progresses into envy, resentment and deep, abiding hatred.

I believe this happens to a lot of people, all across the political spectrum.

With progressives it can happen like this: one enthusiastically supports a policy, say, the minimum wage. Then one encounters reasoning and evidence that indicates the policy does not do what its proponents say they want, that is, to help “the poor” and low-skilled workers generally. Most progressives I have met immediately reject the idea that their favored policy prescription can have negative effects, and, especially, that it can have net negative effects. Not only do they not research the challenge to their policy in an honest way, but, instead, grasp at straws, looking for excuses for their “side,” and even press on to engage in cultic social control methods (scorn, shunning, and worse) to attack their chosen policy’s critics.

At this point they embrace evil, for they stick to a policy regardless of its effects. Evil can be defined, here, as causing harm with malign intent.

And yes, their intent to their ideological opponents can become quite combative, and astoundingly malign (just consider the bike-lock-in-a-sock ethician), and the heedlessness with which they marshal to “help” the alleged beneficiaries of their chosen policy becomes gross negligence. They lose sight of the end because what they come to really like is the chosen means. At this point in their ideological development, they no longer “care” about the poor and downtrodden at all. They just like to wield power.

Yes, politics can be an ugly business.

And no one knows this better than libertarians. Which is why we wish to limit the scope of the state and the politics that seeks to control it.

It is a trap that catches good people and turns them into bad people.

twv

Another random image to spruce up the page: me with two iPads in front of the TV!