Ian B on the Need to Leave the European Unon

Ian B

There is in my view one very simple reason for any libertarian to need to vote Out. Or maybe two. I’ll see how I go.

Liberty is an abstraction, but in practical terms fighting for liberty always means fighting some particular authoritarian cabal. It depends on place and time. In the USSR, a libertarian would be working to take down communism. In mediaeval Europe, he would be fighting perhaps the Church, perhaps a Monarchy. In 1930s/40s Germany he would be opposing Nazism. In this sense, libertarianism is always an oppositional movement, since if one has liberty, there is no need to be a libertarian. One would simply get on with life and enjoy one’s liberty.

So a Libertarian is always opposing some particular form of power, some particular group (or groups, plural) of powerful interests, some form of the State, not just “the State” in abstraction (a mistake many Libertarians I think make. We live in the real world, not an abstracted model of it on some other Platonic plane of essences).

In our place and time, the enemy is Progressives, which I have characterised as derived from an extremist post-Protestantism implementing a post-Marxist structural model. One of the most powerful methods of the Progressives is the use of “higher powers” to impose their will. International treaties, the UN, the EU, the Federal Government in the USA. And so on. The EU whether purposely designed to be or not is, along with the UN, perfectly modelled to fit into this, with its version of “democracy” as consultation with NGOs and other lobbyists, its private decision making and presentation of laws as fait accompli, its “regulatory” and “harmonisation” justifications and, perhaps most importantly, the implementation of government by “consensus” rather than by adversarial systems.

Bringing down the EU is not worthy because Westminster is in any way admirable, but because it will deal a body blow to the enemies of liberty of our time, the Progressives. If on the other hand the vote is “Remain”, they will be further strengthened. It is an essential step towards the goal of liberty.

And if that doesn’t convince you, simply imagine the smug gloaty faces on Cameron and Osborne if they’ve won on Friday Morning.



  • This is quite right. But don’t forget the “imposition from above” of laws and regulations is partly theatre. The UK civil service wants these regulations (and goldplates them), and uses the EU to justify the regulatory burden.

    • I agree. As I’ve said before, Progressivism is an Anglosphere-centred movement. Which is why the Progressives are so pro-EU as it enables them to extend their reach directly over the rest of Europe. The old socialists, by contrast, were anti-EU (or Common Market as it was then) in the main.

  • Progressivism is Comte [French] and Kant [[German] – they are the enemies who need defeating.

    • I don’t think it is. I think it’s Calvin and Hobbes.

      • I don’t know. Calvin & Hobbes were accurately warning us about the appalling referendum coverage 25 years ago….


  • What is the Progressives’ purpose and ultimate objective, if any?

    • The eradication from society of all Bad Things. Their definition of Bad Things can change over time, for instance the First Wave Progressives were trying to eradicate homosexuality whereas the Second Wave Progressives have decided it’s a Good Thing and thus are trying to eradicate opposition to it. The values are always in some degree of flux as internal factions can argue about what the consensus morality ought to be, as with the current falling out between Radical Feminists and other Progressives over transexuality.

      The ultimate goal one could probably characterise as a state of moral perfection.

      • A moral utopia? I’ll have to give this some further thought. I have a critique of the Puritan Thesis, which, in summary terms, is based on a rejection of philosophical idealism in favour of materialism [forgive me if I am using words/jargon incorrectly, I am not educated, so I beg your and other readers’ indulgence].

        The ‘Good Things’/’Bad Things’ dichotomy you use here seems unsatisfying to me. Could this not actually be ‘Immoral Things’, i.e. the Progressives think that certain things are morally wrong, and irrespective of whether something is good or bad for people, if it is decided that the Thing is Bad, then it should be shunned, shamed or proscribed. An example being smoking. Smoking could be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing, but the amplification of smoking as a ‘Bad Thing’ has a definite moral dimension to it. You are selfish if you smoke, etc. It’s anti-social. It’s now banned in public houses, I believe.

        Anyway, if you accept that this whole thing has a morality to it, that then leads to the question of what are the criteria for deciding that something is Moral or Immoral (or Good or Bad, if you prefer to stick with those reference points). Morality of course is distinct from ethics in that, while I would say there are absolutes in moral grammar, much of morality is subjectively-anchored and not based on literalist directives, whereas a society’s corpus of ethics will tend to be formalised. So maybe this ‘Progressivism’ is a way of coalescing a shared understanding of social and moral responsibility in the absence of institutionally-enforced morality. It’s a nascent post-religious (or post-Church) moral code that uses various societal levers, including (among other things) the legal system, as well as informal means. The Progressives can thus be seen as the inheritors of clerical moral enforcers and presumably stepped into the vacuum that the church left behind as it began its slow decline with the advent of industrialisation and the decline of traditional society.

        This is where I come to my central critique of the Puritan Thesis.

        Although I find the notion of Progressives as atheistic/agnostic moral codifiers quite compelling, I think what really underpins the Moral/Immoral (or Good/Bad) dichotomies is self-interest and the Puritan Thesis does not seem to account for this. One way of summing up the critique would be to say that the Puritan Thesis is observationally correct but analytically wrong (or lacking). This might not matter at all if all you are concerned about is identifying who runs things, who influences things, and generally why, but this means – I would argue – that we then do not inquire into what the real motivations are. The ‘Moral’ (or ‘Good’) Things are Moral/Good Things because they are thought to be that way (we cannot otherwise interrogate the Progressives’ motives anyway), but even if we accept this, that does not tell us why these things are thought to be Moral/Good.

        In short, I don’t accept that people think that things are Moral/Good because they think they are moral/good. They may indeed think they are moral/good, but that does not explain the position taken.

        • I wish you wouldn’t insist on your lack of education. A university degree is useful for getting jobs and a bit of status in the world at large, but no more proves education than a forged passport makes someone a British citizen. You write decent prose. You have read and considered Marx. You are mistaken in your embrace of national socialism. But you are hardly uneducated.

          • My understanding of national socialism is idiosyncratic. I regard myself as an ‘English national-socialist’. I am not a doctrinal fascist, and I am not a statist. I would not support the institution of an authoritarian state, though I do think that some authoritarian measures will be necessary to defend and preserve Britain and Europe in the racial/genetic sense.

            I don’t accept that the Third Reich was a totalitarian state, nor that Hitler was a dictator. I think these are widely-held misconceptions, which to an extent goes to Ian B’s case. In my view, libertarians should have supported the Third Reich, and I believe that had Nazi Germany prevailed, Britain, Germany and the rest of Europe would be freer countries today.

            That said, I am not trying to start an argument about Nazi-ism or national-socialism (whatever the words mean) or the record of Hitler or Nazi Germany. These comments are in the context of a discussion on Progressives.

            The NSDAP were not Progressives within the category defined by Ian B. They were reactionaries, but within a modernist framework, and their long-term aim and vision was a modern, free Germany.

        • I would recommend you follow Sargon of Akkad on Youtube, for some of his expository videos on the so-called progressives. There is certainly a religiosity to the way they organise, including the various ritual chants they engage in.

          • I have a great deal more respect for people who have the courage to use their real names.

            • I believe he does, but it is immaterial whether he uses it or not. The point is that he provides a lot of evidence about the claims people make regarding the SJWs.

              With the policing of social media going into overdrive, what’s the gain from doing so, anyway?

  • I’m going to ignore the deep sounding philosophical stuff, and instead respond directly to Ian’s essay.

    Ian is right that in current politics, at any one time and place, there is a particular statist power structure (or, perhaps, more than one) that liberty lovers must oppose. However, I think he overlooks the importance of opposing the state in theory as well as in practice. If this is not done, then liberty lovers are likely to fall into the same trap that the French revolutionaries did – even if they do manage to successfully oppose one manifestation of the state, what they replace it with can then all too easily slide into statism itself. In my view, you need both theory and practice in order to work effectively towards a liberty that has any chance of lasting.

    As to the particular enemy we face here and now, I don’t think of them as progressives. Certainly, those that want to force the economy back down to pre Industrial Revolution conditions aren’t progressives! To me, they are merely opportunist statists. They have managed to get their grubby hands on the controls of the political system, and are running it to suit themselves.

    And, as so often happens to those that acquire power without accountability, they slide into moral and ethical decay. What Ian sees as puritanism, I am coming to think of as simply callousness. When they persecute smokers, for example, or bomb innocent Syrians, I think it may be for much the same reason as a certain type of small boy likes to pull the legs off insects; because they can get away with it.

    All this said, I could not agree more strongly with Ian’s last two paragraphs!

  • [quote]”As to the particular enemy we face here and now, I don’t think of them as progressives. Certainly, those that want to force the economy back down to pre Industrial Revolution conditions aren’t progressives! To me, they are merely opportunist statists. They have managed to get their grubby hands on the controls of the political system, and are running it to suit themselves.”[unquote]

    In fairness, I think the term ‘Progressives’ is being used here in the upper ‘P’ sense, in that it is a reference to a specific movement and class of people. I don’t think anybody (other than the Progressives themselves) sees them as real progressives. I agree with you that this is about self-interest rather than any genuine commitment to moral idealism, though the Progressives probably do feel morally righteous and will be in self-denial about their own motives.

    Personally I don’t think there can be a ‘moral politics’, as such. I think the problem with Rawlsian rationalisations of ‘justice’ is that they are based on an assumption of equable capacity among human groups (racial and intra-racial). Once that assumption is exposed as flawed, the Rawlsian ‘Original Position’, which is the root of all liberal/social contractarian thought, collapses and Progressivism is exposed for what it is: just another self-interested social movement based on the elemental social dynamics of sex, class and race.

    • If we’re talking about capital P progressives, then I agree with your first paragraph.

      From what I know of the ‘original position’ thought experiment, Rawls designed it not to make any assumptions about differing capacities of different individuals, or otherwise. That’s why the individuals in it were placed behind a ‘veil of ignorance.’

      But don’t worry; the “Progressive” interpretation of that thought experiment fails anyway. Even if you accept a ‘maximin’ strategy (i.e. maximize value in the event of the worst possible outcome) and thus accept that you should want an egalitarian system, this doesn’t mean that you should want the “Progressive” model, of a powerful state that can enforce economic egalitarianism. Instead, you should be looking for a politically egalitarian system. That is, one in which there is no political subjection of one to another; i.e., no state. The logical outcome of Rawls’ thought experiment, it seems to me, is actually that anarchism is best!

      • Neil,

        I would take the view that you can’t have political equality without economic equality – one goes hand-in-hand with the other. In that regard, the Marxists are right and the ‘liberals’ are wrong. A voting body is going to be influenced in different directions by who has economic power and who doesn’t.

        Thus, the liberal position (whether from Rawls or Adam Smith or whoever) falls away quickly because in reality a position of political equality is entirely bogus under conditions of economic fascism (i.e. capitalism, or least, capitalism in its present form). Ergo, the bourgeois democracy we have at the moment – including the referendum we have just “won” – is largely a false front. We didn’t really “win” that referendum, “they” did. What we can say is that it is a step in the right direction.

        In my view, political equality is the wrong aim in the first place. What we should aim for is liberty. This includes liberation from states and statism, and also (as I would have it) liberation from markets and capitalism. The end result might be a default situation of political and economic equality. In that regard, you could say I am still a ‘socialist’. I do think the best societies are those that are broadly equal. Equality propels human endeavour, and I think equality is a ‘white’ idea. Non-white societies tend to be the ones that rely most on hierarchy and significant inequalities. The huge wealth gaps we have at the moment are not symptomatic of European thought, I would argue.

        But it should be obvious that this equality can only be achieved and sustained among people who are broadly of similar capability in the first place.

        I acknowledge there is a difficulty in achieving this aim in that people do not perform equally and do not have equal capabilities. The left-wing socialists/neo-Marxists tried to resolve the problem through coerced equalisation. Everybody would be treated equally and economic rewards would be comparable across the population. Many of the revolutionaries who established these societies had good intentions. They wanted their soviet (USSR and Comitern), Maoist (PRK China) or market socialist (Yugoslavia) systems to be transitions to a global form of socialism, in which the state would wither away and we would all be equal. It’s a nice vision. The problem is that these transitional societies had to exist within a global capitalist system, thus the ‘socialist’ societies were in fact capitalist – state capitalist, to be precise – and the commissars became capitalists themselves.

        You can’t coerce people into equality. Nature has already taken care of this question and Nature provides us with an answer and with a mechanism for political organisation. We are already ‘assorted’ into racial groups that seem to manifest differing capabilities and which are following different evolutionary trajectories. I don’t think it is any coincidence that the strongest welfare systems and social democracies of the 20th. century emerged in societies that, until the 1950s, were still relatively homogeneous – i.e. the UK, Germany, the Scandanavian countries. Socialism and social democracy are white propositions. What we deride now as ‘left-wing’ or ‘SJW’ ideas are in nothing more than the ordinary situations of white societies. It’s what white people do when they are left alone. The problem is that these types of societies also make us vulnerable to alien outsiders and this is what we see now.

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