Two World Systems

By Neil Lock

This is the third part of a six-part re-formulation of my philosophical ideas. Today, I’ll give an overview of my updated framework, which I am calling “Honest Common Sense 2.0.”

My title alludes to Galileo’s famous work, the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Now, he compared his heliocentric model of the universe to the prevailing geocentric model. But I shall instead compare my bottom-up model of humanity and human interactions with the top-down model, that prevails among the political classes, their hangers-on, and other enemies of humanity today. This top-down model I call Downerism, and its practitioners I dub Downers – short for “top-downers.”

Further, I’ll introduce and discuss three common-sense ethical and political principles, which I have built in to the foundations of my system. I call them: ethical equality, voluntary society, and common-sense justice. You may be surprised at how radical these simple, common-sense ideas turn out to be, when contrasted with today’s received wisdom!

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Finding the State’s Achilles’ Heel

Finding the State’s Achilles’ Heel

By Duncan Whitmore

One of the consequences of the state’s insidious corruption of truth and knowledge – and, thus, a stumbling block in our efforts to make sense of the world – is the failure to identify relevant causes.

Causation is a difficult subject in both the natural and social sciences. For any one event there are thousands of preceding events that could be labelled as possible causes. Take, for instance, the falling of an apple from a tree so that it hits the ground. This would not have occurred without the ripening of the apple, the onset of summer, the watering of the tree, the planting of the tree, nor without the fertility of the soil. Technically, the creation of the universe is a cause of absolutely everything that has ever happened. But which of these, if we wish to understand the event, should be regarded as the relevant cause, the one from which we could truly deduce the existence of a relationship of cause and effect? Such difficulty can be compounded when there are multiple relevant causes, as is often the case with transportation accidents such as plane and train crashes – an unthinkable, but lethal combination of circumstances that unite to produce a catastrophic effect.

For humans, our understanding of cause and effect is praxeological, i.e. is intimately connected to our role as actors. Whenever we investigate causation, our primary interest is in what we would want to do in order to divert the course of history towards either bringing about or preventing a given event, and how such actions would affect the satisfaction of all of our ends with available means. As such, the identity of a relevant cause is heavily tied to the costs and benefits of a given action.

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The Rhythms of History

By Neil Lock

This is the second – and longest! – part of a six-part re-formulation of my philosophical ideas. In the first part, I discussed the ideas of six thinkers who have significantly influenced me. In chronological order, these thinkers were or are: Aristotle, John Locke, Franz Oppenheimer, Ayn Rand, Jason Alexander and Frank van Dun.

In this essay, I’ll put our situation today into historical context, and try to draw out some of the rhythms of history. Further, I’ll introduce some of the thinkers and doers of the past, both on our side and on our enemies’, who have orchestrated these rhythms.

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Six Thinkers

by Neil Lock

Back in 2014, I wrote and self-published a short book called “Honest Common Sense.” In it, I sought to explicate “a brief, radical Philosophy, starting from first principles and aimed at non-academic people.” I diagnosed what I saw as the root of the problems we good people face today: “that we are in a war of the political means versus the economic, the dishonest versus the honest, the state versus Civilization.” And I made some suggestions as to how we might set ourselves to win that war.

But as a friendly thinker, who calls himself Jason Alexander, has told us: “Ideas that are alive, grow and change.” And my ideas are certainly no exception to that rule. Ten months ago, I determined to re-visit my philosophical thinking, and to put it in context with the ideas of others from whom I have drawn material; including Jason Alexander himself. The task has been long and hard. So much so, that this essay introduces a set of no less than six. And all six are long; representing, as they do, the product of ten whole months of hard mental labour.

But I have found the work worthwhile; for in the process, I have found several new insights. New to me, at least. And I’ve gained a clearer grasp of some areas I had thought I already understood. The major new and clarified ideas are all in the areas of ethics and politics; and particularly around the dividing line between them. Happily, these are good areas for thinking people to be looking into in the current, parlous state of human civilization. I hope that these ideas may, perhaps, help to suggest some fresh possibilities for how we humans might go about re-claiming our rights and freedoms, and bringing to the enemies of humanity the justice they deserve.

One observation before I begin. We are living in a strange time, in which virtually the entire intellectual class in Western countries has become corrupted. The reason is not far to seek. Academics and other intellectuals are, with only a few exceptions (and most of those are in their 70s or older), all bought and paid for by the state. So, we cannot expect today’s professional thinkers to do anything to help human civilization or human freedom; for they cannot, or will not, go against their paymasters. That means that amateurs like me have to step up to the plate.

Six parts

In this, the first essay of the set, I’ll review some of the ideas of six thinkers who have influenced me. In chronological order of their births: Aristotle, John Locke, Franz Oppenheimer, Ayn Rand, Jason Alexander and Frank van Dun. In the second part, I’ll seek to put our situation today into historical context, and to draw out some rhythms of human history. I shall be making particular use of the ideas of Jason Alexander in that exercise.

In the third part, I’ll give a broad outline of my updated philosophical framework, which I’m provisionally labelling “Honest Common Sense 2.0.” I’ll also compare and contrast my approach with the philosophy of our enemies; the political classes and their hangers-on, that collectively I label the “Downers.”

In the fourth and fifth parts, I’ll describe my system in more detail. And I’ll sketch out a possible future system of minimal government. I call it “just governance,” and I describe its remit as: “to enable people to live together in an environment of peace and tranquillity, common-sense justice, and maximum rights and freedom for every individual.” Finally, in the sixth part, I’ll offer some thoughts on how we might seek to move from where we are today towards a better world.

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A Stateless Solution for Catholic Critiques of the Free Market

In the following interview, I was joined by Prof. William T. Cavanaugh. Perhaps most famous for his work on the Myth of Religious Violence, Cavanaugh believes that modernity, with its liberalism and secular statism, is not only a system of religion but is also consuming us. Yes, we are being consumed by consumerism; our disposable society reflects on us.

Cavanaugh discusses his understanding of the false corporations of modernity which consume us and compares this with the personalistic corporation of Christendom — both consume us, but the manner in which are consume and are consumed by the body of Christ, is one of mutual love and unity, solidarity even. (This is nothing new, of course — Catholic distributists have been criticising laissez-faire market practices since the 1800s, at least.)

How then, might Christian communities and the era of Christendom now celebrated by Hans Hermann-Hoppe, be retained in a “post-Christian” West? I challenge Cavanaugh to present his market-oriented solution:

Liberty and Truth – Why Statists should Bear the Burden of Proof

Liberty and Truth – Why Statists should Bear the Burden of Proof

By Duncan Whitmore

During the admittedly few years in which I have been writing on Austro-libertarian topics, one matter on which I have not put pen to paper is the justification for liberty as a fundamental political principle. I have spent much time pointing out the effects and implications of liberty (and of alternative orders) on a wide range of issues from free trade to sound money, from law to culture, and from immigration to the NHS; for many readers, these will, I hope, be persuasive. But what is the one, big reason that elevates liberty head and shoulders above all forms of statism and socialism as the just cause towards which we should strive? Which argument would blow out of the water any attempt to establish tyranny and despotism? Why have I never attempted anything of this magnitude?

One reason for this apparent omission is that I am yet to think of something that I could say on the topic that has not been said elsewhere, and better. Rather than wasting the reader’s time by repeating what has been written before, I prefer to confine my own writing to matters on which I feel as though I am making at least some kind of new contribution, however small.

To be frank, though, the overriding reason derives from an intuitive sense of repulsion triggered by interfering do-gooders and busybodies: that is, if I am getting on with my life peacefully and quietly, my instinctive reaction to the appearance of some prying meddler is that he should mind his own business. Moreover, I do not see this as a one sided obligation: I am quite willing to return the favour by minding my own business when it comes to the affairs of other people. In fact, I couldn’t care less about what other people are doing with their own lives so long as it isn’t bothering me. Such an instinctive “live and let live” attitude is, no doubt, the initial impetus that drives most libertarians towards the philosophy of liberty.

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How to Fight for Liberty, Part Four – Radicalism

How to Fight for Liberty, Part Four – Radicalism

By Duncan Whitmore

In the previous instalments of this continuing series on how to fight for liberty, we have been emphasising the fact that our political strategy needs to focus on motivating people away from sustaining social structures which rely on physical enforcement (such as the state) and towards those which are generated instead by voluntary co-operation.

Based upon what we learnt in Part Three, the essence of this task is captured in a quotation attributed to G K Chesterton:

We do not need good laws to restrain bad men. We need good men to restrain bad laws.

In Part One, we drew a distinction between libertarian theory on the one hand and libertarian political action on the other. We determined that the province of libertarian theory is to define and justify liberty. For instance, a private property order defines a polity in which liberty is the overriding principle of justice; the non-aggression principle determines which acts do and do not infringe upon liberty; and “free market capitalism” defines the economic condition of liberty. However, neither repeating these definitions nor delineating the institutions that could form a free society – the latter of which we explored in Part Three – is enough to make them a reality. For this, the purpose of libertarian political action is to achieve this critical aspect of motivation.

Applying this distinction to Chesterton’s words, we might say that the purpose of libertarian theory is to determine good laws; the purpose of libertarian political action, on the other hand, is to encourage good men. By this, we do not mean the creation of some kind of idealised, libertarian “new man” as the equal opposite of the socialist “new man” envisaged by the kinds of statist philosophy we discussed in Part Two. Rather, it simply means that liberty, and the sustenance of just laws, is ultimately dependent upon the fervour of the people to preserve their freedom.

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