Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Nature of Libertarianism and Its Future

Chad Thrustington comments at the post The Immigration Question From a Libertarian Perspective:
I do think that we will continue to see less interest in non-political libertarian theory and more interest in the broad alt-right (which draws heavily from paleoconservative / paleolibertarian ideas) in the coming years, because NPLT doesn't seem to have an answer for the situation where 51% of people want nothing to do with a PPS (in reality the number seems to be closer to 99%). Rockwell, Woods, Molyneux, and many other prominent thinkers all seem to be moving in that direction in various ways. 
I don't understand what non-political libertarianism is. I  side with Murray Rothbard on this when he said during a speech in Chicago in 1979:
The fact is that libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory...
As for an "answer for the situation," the only answer is to advance freedom. It really is silly to think you can advance freedom by limiting it even more.

Further, libertarianism is not about the number of followers. It is about advancing truth. If we were back to Murray Rothbard's living room that would be fine with me if that was the only place truth was being advanced. It has nothing to do with crowds. If you want to be a crowd follower libertarianism is not the place for you.

Here is Rothbard in a 1966 commentary titled Why Be Libertarian and written for the journal Left & Right:
Why be libertarian anyway? By this we mean: what's the point in the whole thing? Why engage in a deep and lifelong commitment to the principle and goal of individual liberty? For such a commitment in our largely unfree world, means inevitably a radical disagreement with, an alienation from, the status quo, an alienation which equally inevitably imposes many sacrifices in money and prestige. When life is short and the moment of victory far in the future, why go through all this?...
It is our view that a flourishing libertarian movement, a lifelong dedication to liberty, can only be grounded in a passion for justice....A true passion for justice...must be radical---in short, it must at least wish to attain its goals radically and instantaneously.
And while I understand Rothbard's view here, my driving reason for advancing liberty is a bit different.

I thirst for truth and love the intellectual battle. The more in number I have to battle the less bored I am. If even the percentage of the general public who believed in liberty climbed to 30%, my cause would be something different. I am not a person who prefers the path well tread. I would perhaps be attempting to advance a unique take in medicine or in baseball theory. It's the battle for me.

I like the way Rothbard ended his 1966 essay, with a mention and quote from the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. It's a real intellectual battle quote:
Upon being reporached for habitual severity and heat of his language, Garrison retorted:"I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice about me to melt." It is this spirit that must mark the man truly dedicated to the cause of liberty.


  1. Thank you for the thoughtful, well-reasoned response to my comment. And it was very interesting to get a glimpse of what drives the mind and thinking of RW. :)

  2. "Further, libertarianism is not about the number of followers. It is about advancing truth."

    This reminds me of something similar that anarchist Ben Stone aka Bad Quaker said a few years ago in regards to celebertarians. He (along with Michael Dean of Freedom Feens) in his own words dismisses liberty leaders such Kokesh, Rainmondo, Rockwell, Larkin Rose along with Cantwell and Molyneux (back when they were libertarians). He views them as those who just want the celebrity of being a known face over taking real action.

  3. Yeah, but why can't you quote from the 1990s onward Rothbard, Wenzel? You have to go back 4 decades to find Rothbard supporting your position, before he realized that the whole diversity thing isn't working out.

    1. Right on Matt !
      90s stuff is verboten.

      This is a “Nations by Consent: Decomposing the Nation State.” free zone.
      It just gets ignored by many Libertarians.

    2. Bizarre appeal to authority. If Rothbard is right in the 60s and not right in the 90s, why quote him from the 90s? If his thinking evolved and took a bad direction, that doesn't make his statements from the 60s less right.

      Re: Nations by Consent, there's nothing in there that goes against what Wenzel is saying here, indeed, there's some things that support it! Think of this in context of the wall:

      "Is the boundary of the typical nation-state really as just or as beyond cavil
      as your or my house, estate, or factory?
      It seems to me that not only the classical liberal or the libertarian, but
      anyone of good sense who thinks about this problem, must answer a
      resounding "No."It is absurd to designate every nation-state, with its self proclaimed
      boundary as it exists at any one time, as somehow right and
      sacrosanct, each with its "territorial integrity" to remain as spotless and
      unbreached as your or my bodily person or private property. Invariably,
      of course, these boundaries have been acquired by force and violence,
      or by interstate agreement above and beyond the heads of the inhabitants
      on the spot, and invariably these boundaries shift a great deal over time
      in ways that make proclamations of "territorial integrity" truly ludicrous. "

      -Rothbard Nations by Consent

  4. Too often people forget that libertarianism is simply a theory about when force (actual or threatened) is justifiable. It says nothing about other matters, which is left to local customs, religion, associations, marketplaces, etc. Thus libertarianism is a minimum, but not a comprehensive, behavioral code.