Ian B on the Paradigm that Never Shifts


Ian B

I have argued that this is because nobody has really analysed properly what is going on. There remains a persistent belief in the power of “reason”, and the implication that one can in some way sit down in a reasonable way and using reason win an argument. The problem (or at least, a problem) with this is that our enemy are not the least interested in such a debate, let alone what “reason” may dictate.

The first step is to understand that we live in a society in which all that matters is the moral high ground. If you have that, you win. If you do not have it, you lose. They have it. We do not. This is because we prize doing the right thing rather than the rational thing. If you were in a lifeboat and could stay alive by devouring a baby, that would be the rational thing, but morally repulsive, and the latter is how you would be judged. To argue otherwise is to side with the devourer of infants, and in a society of high morals, you simply do not do that. And we are a society of high morals, probably the most moral society in our history. Amazingly, most on “the right” persist- in this moralist society- to insist that the enemy are amoralists, or immoralists, one or the other.

It is immoral to seek profit over social good. It is immoral to dispute immigration. It is immoral to think badly of homosexuals. It is immoral to do unhealthy-unwellbeingness things. It is immoral to not seek the greatest public safety. It is immoral to smoke, to drink (or at least, enough to feel the effects), to objectify women, to question the NHS or the BBC, to seek lower taxation, to criticise a Muslim (but not, paradoxically, a “Zionist”) and most immoral indeed to be adjudged to be on the “far right”. This is a moral struggle, not an intellectual one. It’s not about what is rationally right, but what is most moral. It’s whether you would starve in virtue or consume an innocent baby.

Libertarianism- grounded as it was effectively in economics- was a powerful argument against socialism and Marxism. Against the towering moralism of Progressivism, it is virtually neuter. We need to look at things a whole different way around. The fight is on against the Proggies (now having acquired the useful epithet “SJWs”) and it’s time Libertarianism moved into the centre of that fight. We need to offer a new understanding of society, a new understanding of history, a new narrative a new discourse, and free cakes. We can’t just keep quoting Murray Rothbard and hope one day somebody will listen.

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4 comments

  • I made this comment in reply to Ian on the other thread, then discovered that his comment had been promoted to the front page. So I’ll repeat it here.

    Ian, you’re right that our enemies are not amenable to reason. That’s because they have no respect for truth. There’s no point even trying to talk to them. That’s why the work of all those liberty scholars over the decades has come to nothing. We need to think outside that particular box.

    I’m not so sure about the moral-high-ground bit, though. I’m one of those who makes a distinction between ethics (right and wrong) and morality (customs of a particular society). Our enemies have no ethics; if they do know the difference between right and wrong, they don’t care about it. But yes, they do have a morality. At the base of that morality, I think, is the idea that whatever the state does is OK. And so, whatever they do is OK. And whatever anyone who opposes the state does (whether right or wrong) is not OK. That’s why there are so many things our enemies consider to be “immoral.” Except when done by themselves and their cronies, of course.

    But I agree with you about the need for new understandings, discourses and narratives. Believe me, I’m trying as hard as I can!

    As to free cakes or biscuits, mine’s a plain chocolate digestive…

  • Yes, you need Ayn Rand:

  • Pristine liberalism has no enemies as to cut the wastage of taxation is in the interests of all. But Murray Rothbard is not the clearest advocate of liberty.

    Ethics are rather unpopular. Many habitually and unwittingly tend to ironically moralise against moralising. But arguing itself has never been popular as it is considered to be unfriendly.

  • Good piece. I think we disagree fundamentally on the causes of rhetorical moralism, though our views about the results and consequences probably conflate to a large extent.

    I do not believe progressivism has anything to do with the moral high ground, or even a belief in it (though there is no doubt that the beliefs of the Left have moral force, and many ‘progressives’ naively do believe themselves to be highly moral and ethical in the stances they take). I think what we are seeing being played out is quite prosaic: traditional conflict between competing interests in society. Each group will tend to dress their arguments morally and ethically. Libertarians often use moral-sounding arguments, professing to believe in things such as liberty, freedom and property rights, which can sometimes be expressed in moralistic language. White Nationalists often resort to moralising. Most of us rhetoricise when we enter arguments, which is done I think to persuade others by appealing to our sense of shame. We don’t want to appear ‘immoral’, by whatever standards predominate, so we go along with whatever is accepted as the ‘moral’ position.

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