A review of Robert Grözinger, Why Libertarianism Needs Christianity to Succeed, Kindle eBook, April 7, 2020.
Dominion Theology: Salvation or Snare for Liberty?
Anthony G. Flood
This provocative essay derives from a talk given to the Libertarian Alliance in London late last summer. German economist and translator Robert Grözinger (Jesus, der Kapitalist: Das christliche Herz der Marktwirtschaft, Munich, 2012) argues that libertarianism, which traditionally prides itself on its alleged independence from philosophical frameworks, cannot succeed without one that gives meaning to liberty-seeking itself. Arguments for, say, the superiority of free to hampered markets don’t compensate libertarianism for its lack of an adequate framework of meaning or worldview. Libertarians should identify theirs and persuade others on its terms if they want libertarianism to be more than an intellectual hobby. For if libertarianism’s attitude toward ultimate-meaning frameworks remains as laissez-faire as its politics, its attractiveness will remain limited. Grözinger believes Christianity best meets that need. Continue reading
Liberty and Society – a Reply to Ben Lewis
By Duncan Whitmore
In a recent post on this blog, the present writer offered an explanation as to why the intellectual accomplishments of Austro-libertarians have been disproportionate to their relatively meagre success in effecting real world change. We concluded that the attempt to merely spread ideas of the justice of non-aggression and the truth of “Austrian” economics is, in spite of its importance, not enough. Libertarians must also learn how to mould these ideas so that they speak to people’s aspirations within the prevailing conditions in which they live.
In a short post on the blog of Bastion Magazine – a relatively new publication which shares similar intellectual and political priorities to those of Mises UK – Ben Lewis has chimed in with something similar, addressing what he calls “the inconsistency of libertarian consistency” – that while conservatives, according to him, concede that libertarianism is a more logically consistent philosophy, this feature does not necessarily make the latter a superior system of thought should it be also inconsistent with “the real life nature of man and society”. These sentiments are in the same vain as three of his earlier blog posts where he discusses voluntary social relations, social duties and his reasons for being a conservative.1
To be fair to Lewis, not every view examined in this essay is necessarily one that he has stated explicitly and it would be wrong to ascribe to him a belief in every matter that is subjected to criticism. However, in the interests of thoroughness, we will examine not only what Lewis has actually said but also that which could be reasonably interpreted or inferred from what he has said.
By ilana mercer
Qassim Soleimani, an Iranian major general, was assassinated by a U.S. drone air strike, at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). Soleimani was traveling with one Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Al-Muhandis was an Iraqi, born and bred. He was even elected to the Iraqi Parliament, in 2005, until the U.S. intervened. (Yes, we intervene in other nations’ elections.)
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was furious, denouncing “What happened [as] a political assassination.” Unanimously, Iraqi lawmakers “responded to the Soleimani assassination by passing a nonbinding resolution calling on the government to end foreign-troop presence in Iraq.”
Yes, it’s a complicated region. And America, sad to say, still doesn’t know Shia from Shinola.
The consensus in our country is that “Soleimani deserved to die.” That’s the party-line on Fox News—and beyond. It’s how assorted commentators on all networks prefaced their “positions” on the Jan. 3 killing of the Iranian general.
Even Tucker Carlson—the only mainstream hope for Old Right, anti-war, America-First columns like this one—framed the taking out of Soleimani as the killing of a bad guy by good guys:
“There are an awful lot of bad people in this world. We can’t kill them all, it’s not our job.”
However you finesse it, the premise of Tucker’s assertion is that the American government, and the smart set who live in symbiosis with it, gets to adjudicate who’s bad and who’s good in the world.
The debate is only ever over whether the U.S. government should or shouldn’t act on its divine rights as transnational judge, jury and executioner, never over what’s right and what’s wrong.
Stateside, the only inquiry permissible is a cost-benefit calculus. Will the assassination of Soleimani, a military official of a sovereign state, and an avid and effective slayer of Islamic State terrorists—pay strategic dividends for America in the long run?
This is crass pragmatism bereft of principle. It’s currently on display everywhere, even surfacing on BBC News, where a female analyst, an American, was deploying the childish “bad man” meme to outline America’s Disneyfied foreign policy.
This angels-and-demons production always starts with the prototypical evil dictator who was alleged to be messing with his noble people, until the avenging, angelic empire sent a drone to the rescue.
Again, even Tucker, whose antiwar credentials in recent years have been impeccable, conceded that this Soleimani guy probably needed killing, which is the same thing Iraqis old enough to remember America’s destruction of Iraq, circa 2003, would say about President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Ms. Rice.
So, who’s right? Or, is blind patriotism predicated on accepting that it is up to the U.S. government and its ruling elites to determine who lives and who dies around the world?
“Soleimani deserved to die,” an atavistic bit of jingoism, made by Republicans and Democrats alike, on Fox News and on CNN—it holds true only if you believe that the U.S. government is the keeper of the flame of an immutably just, universal code of law, which it is deputized to uphold, wherever it takes-up residence.
Such a chauvinistic impulse is true only if you believe that the U.S. government’s might gives it the right to be universal judge, jury and executioner, deciding who may live and who must die the world over.
As to whether the U.S. government has a right to eliminate an Iranian state actor by declaring him a “terrorist”:
Like it or not, Soleimani was a uniformed official of a sovereign state. He was the equivalent of our Special Operations commander.
We Americans would not tolerate it were Iranians to designate America’s Special Operations commander, Gen. Richard D. Clarke, a terrorist.
Moreover, if Iranians took out America’s Special Ops commander somewhere in North America—which is analogous to the assassination of Soleimani—Americans would consider it an act of war by Iran.
Soleimani was the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ clandestine and regional operations arm, the Quds Force. Iranians look upon him as we Americans view the commanders of our clandestine Special Operations forces the world over.
With a distinction: Our Special Operations forces and their command encroach on the Iranian neighborhood much more so than Iranians and their special force command encroach on American territory, unless you consider the Middle East to be American turf.
To repeat: The crucial difference between Iran’s Quds Force and America’s Special Operations forces (SOF) is that the former is regional, the latter global.
As I write, America’s SOF, upwards of 8,300 commandos, are engaged in secret operations the world over. Unknown to all but a few Americans, “U.S. commandos deploy to 149 countries—about 75 percent of the nations on the planet,” reports investigative journalist Nick Turse. Expect that by the halfway mark of this year, “U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM), America’s most elite troops, will have already carried out missions in approximately 133 countries.”
“If Iran should not be allowed to interfere in neighboring countries,” pondered Sara, an Iranian mourner interviewed at Soleimani’s million-strong funeral, “why should Americans be allowed to come to our region all the way from the other side of the Earth?”
Correction: Soleimani patrolled only Iran’s very dangerous neighborhood. His mission was far more modest and nationalistic than that of the U.S. government, which bestrides the globe, arming and training foreign troops all over it.
Unlike America’s proxy militias, Iranian proxy militia operate in the region.
As to the “imminent danger” a single individual, Soleimani, was said to pose to “American lives”: Arrayed against the veracity of the intelligence to that effect are Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul. They characterized Wednesday’s intel briefing as positively “insulting”; “the worst briefing” they had received.
No wonder. The intelligence was produced and pushed by the same spooks who’ve been agitating against President Trump and all vestiges of his original “America First” plank.
These disgraced sources now insist that Soleimani was planning future, precision strikes—nefarious atrocities against U.S. soldiers—and, therefore, needed to be dispatched right away.
However, other more credible sources, including Rand Paul’s dad, allude to Soleimani’s involvement in a diplomatic mission which was underway between Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and would have cut out the U.S. as middleman.
Skepticism aside, when we accept U.S. state aggression based on iffy, prior-restraint arguments, then aggress we must ad absurdum. Consider: Between 1975 and 2015, Saudi Arabian Sunnis murdered 2369 Americans in the homeland, to Iran’s zero. When it comes to the lives of American civilians, at least in recent decades, the Saudis (Trump’s new BFFs), not the Iranians, have blood on their hands.
Based on the erroneous prior-restraint reasoning, and our putative, divine American rights as judge, jury and executioner—we could confine all Saudi-Arabian Sunnis to camps, for the purpose of “reeducation.” It’s what China is doing to its Muslim minority.
So as to survive the onslaught of the Sunni fundamentalist majority, the endangered Alawite minority in Syria has formed an alliance with Shia Iran, also a marginalized minority within the Ummah. The Shia-Alawite alliance has been good for Christians in Syria.
But Saudi Arabia doesn’t give a dried camel’s hump about Christians or American casualties. They have managed to skillfully enlist the West in a proxy Sunni-Shia religious war, also Riyadh’s ultimate aim.
Despite a campaign of “America First,” and much like the Bushes and Clintons before him, the president has decided to side with Sunni Islam while demonizing the Shia.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. Latest on YouTube: “How Democracy Made Us Dumb.
A “Big League Politics” Interview about paleolibertarianism
BIG LEAGUE POLITICS: Being a preeminent paleolibertarian thinker today, how would you define paleolibertarianism and how does it differ from standard paleoconservatism?
ILANA MERCER: First, let’s define libertarianism. libertarianism is concerned with the ethics of the use of force. Nothing more. This, and this alone, is the ambit of libertarian law.
All libertarians must respect the non-aggression axiom. It means that libertarians don’t initiate aggression against non-aggressors, not even if it’s “for their own good,” as neoconservatives like to cast America’s recreational wars of choice. If someone claims to be a libertarian and also supports the proxy bombing of Yemen, or supported the war in Iraq; he is not a libertarian, plain and simple.
As to paleolibertarianism, in particular, and this is my take, so some will disagree. It’s how I’ve applied certain principles week-in, week-out, for almost two decades. In my definition, a paleolibertarian grasps that ordered liberty has a civilizational dimension, stripped of which the just-mentioned libertarian non-aggression principle, by which all decent people should live, will crumble. It won’t endure.
Ironically, paleoconservatives have no issue grasping the cultural and civilizational dimensions of ordered liberty—namely that the libertarian non-aggression principle is peculiar to the West and won’t survive once western civilization is no more. Which is why, for paleoconservatives, immigration restrictionism is a no-brainer.
By the way, the statement is not meant to be culturally chauvinistic. There are indigenous tribal people (say, in Brazil) who’re peaceful and pastoral. I mourn their culture’s near-extinction, as well. Where such extinction has been brought about by the West’s chauvinism—it must be condemned.
In any event, paleoconservatives would typically grasp that libertarian principles would not endure in certain cultures. Libertarians, on the other hand, have had a hard time linking civilizational issues with the libertarian axiom of non-aggression. What do I mean? Libertarians will chant, “Free markets, free minds, the free movement of people.” Let’s have ‘em all.
They don’t always explain how these principles are to endure once Western societies are overrun by individuals from cultures which don’t uphold these principles. (From the fact that our own societies are turning out liberty hating individuals—it doesn’t follow we should import more.)
On the other hand, paleoconservatives are far less focused on the state as an evil actor and often appear more concerned with culture wars: gay marriage, cannabis, pornography, abortion. The paleolibertarian rejects any attempts by the state to legislate around the issues of:
Abortion: Completely defund it is our position.
Gay marriage: Solemnize your marriage in private churches, please.
Drugs: Legalize them and stop the hemispheric Drug War.
Wage walls, not wars.
As a creedal paleolibertarian, I see the road to freedom, primarily, in beating back The State, so that individuals can regain freedom of association, dominion over property, the absolute right of self-defense; the right to hire, fire, and, generally, associate at will.
Foreign policy—specifically, no meddling in the affairs of other countries!—is the be all and end all of both paleoconservatism and paleolibertarianism. Don’t let any of the radio or TV personalities fool you. If he or she liked, justified or rationalized Bush’s Middle-Eastern wars or Trump’s dabbling in Niger—he or she is no paleolibertarian. (Tucker Carlson is a fabulous paleoconservative.)
Both variants are for small government and big society. Again, more so than the paleoconservative, the paleolibertarian is radical in his anti-state position, sometimes even advocating a stateless society.
BIG LEAGUE POLITICS: In what ways does your political thought differ from CATO institute libertarianism?
ILANA MERCER: CATO’s political thought is left-libertarianism. I call it “lite libertarianism.” Lite libertarians equate liberty with abstract, lofty ideas, which—against all evidence, historic and other—purport to work magically when applied to every individual in the world.
You can say that the crucial difference between lite libertarians and the Right kind is that, to the former, the idea of liberty is propositional–a value, an idea that’s untethered from the realities of history, hierarchy, biology, tradition, religion, culture, values.
Bluntly put, the principles of American freedoms were not developed by progressive, libertine ladies, marching in pussy dunce caps; by the suffragettes or the LGBTQ community and their program. Are those significant facts? You bet!
The garden variety libertarian, CATO and Reason types, see liberty as a shared, universal quest. They appear to think that inside every Afghani or Yemeni or Iraqi is a Jeffersonian waiting to break free.
In essence, this left-libertarianism is one that underplays, underestimates or just plain refuses to recognize what I just referred to as “liberty’s civilizational dimension.”
Notice how similar are left-libertarians to neoconservatives in the tendencies just described.
INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY. Lite libertarians also tend to blame governments, principally, less so the individual, for barbarism in certain parts of the world. Your regular libertarian’s attitude to personal wrongdoing often runs to what I’ve characterized as a form of social determinism: “The state made me do it.”
In other words, if for the sins of man the left is inclined to blame society; a lot of libertarians fall into the same methodological error when they implicate the State. The conservatively minded paleolibertarian will recognize humanity’s innate, biblical capacity for evil.
Both factions (left-libertarians and neoconservatives) are short on punishment, individual responsibility and agency, all preconditions for ordered liberty.
RACISM. And this is vitally important: A lot of establishment libertarians have joined the neoconservative and neoliberal establishments in the habit of sniffing out racists. Sniffing out racists is an absolute no-no for any and all self-respecting libertarians.
True libertarians don’t, or should not, prosecute thought crimes or persecute thought “criminals.” Period.
BIG LEAGUE POLITICS: Which conservative thinkers resonate most with your beliefs?
ILANA MERCER: John Roanoke, John Calhoun, Edmond Burke, Russell Kirk, Frank Chodorov, Felix Morley, James Burnham (once a leftist), Paul Gottfried, Clyde Wilson, Samuel P. Huntington.
The conventional definition of a ‘state’, as provided by Prof. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, is ‘an agency…that exercises a territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making. That is, it is the ultimate arbiter in every case of conflict, including conflicts involving itself, and it allows no appeal above and beyond itself.’1 Europe, however, developed remarkably different systems of law and advanced stateless civilisations, as I have written about in detail elsewhere. Nevertheless, a growing number of Western nationalists have begun to idealise the more oriental, statist elements of the Roman Empire, as influenced by the Etruscan patricians, mistakenly perceiving statism to be the traditional European system of law and order. Consequently, they perceive modernism, especially the modern state, as a welcome reinvigoration of this supposed Western political tradition.
In this article, I will argue that sovereign, patriarchal institutions are necessary to sustain decentralised juridical orders; more specifically, the European tradition of having a plurality of such interacting institutions was what prevented the rise of states and allowed the development of famously European liberties, from the ancient Indo-Europeans to Latin Christendom. The emphasis on the patriarchal element of jurisdictions is important to understand how to optimise human liberty.
For example, let us cast our minds to Robinson Crusoe on his island – a favourite hypothetical of Rothbard; alone on his island, Crusoe possesses free will and is also free in the sense that most libertarians would understand the word – that is, no potential interloper is present to create a conflict over the scarce resources on the island and Crusoe’s negative, assumed rights to these remain unviolated. Now, let us assume Crusoe finds a woman on the island, and she becomes his wife and the mother of their children. Would we object to Crusoe acting as the ultimate decision maker of this family unit? The vast majority of us would not. Most Christians among us believe it is perfectly natural and right for the father to be the ‘head of the family’; the strict Rothbardians essentially agree on similar grounds, i.e. that the young children haven’t yet reached an age of reason. But, let us add a crucial variable to this situation.
Let us suppose that Crusoe has dominated a sort of Amazonian tribe of women on the island. Crusoe has also developed a superstition regarding the island’s active but quiet volcano, even worshipping it as some deity. Crusoe sacrifices all his male offspring into the volcano’s fiery mouth, as well as the more mouthy of his wives. Do we agree with this situation? The strict Rothbardians would perhaps only object (in terms of law) if any of the women disagreed with this arrangement. Imagine, if you will, one of the Rothbardians washing up on the island, yet all of the women agree with and were even the ones who converted Crusoe to this volcanic religion; they are perfectly satisfied with the sacrifice of their male infants, which they believe has not only quelled the volcanic eruptions, but it also blessed the island with their special prophet, Crusoe. What objections would the Rothbardian raise?
The following is Rothbard’s most controversial belief – an absolute and consistent, if hyper-individualistic, position regarding the duties of a parent to their child from the perspective of negative rights:
‘It must therefore be illegal and a violation of the child’s rights for a parent to aggress against his person by mutilating, torturing, murdering him, etc. On the other hand, the very concept of “rights” is a “negative” one, demarcating the areas of a person’s action that no man may properly interfere with. No man can therefore have a “right” to compel someone to do a positive act, for in that case the compulsion violates the right of person or property of the individual being coerced. On the other hand, the very concept of “rights” is a “negative” one, demarcating the areas of a person’s action that no man may properly interfere with. No man can therefore have a “right” to compel someone to do a positive act, for in that case the compulsion violates the right of person or property of the individual being coerced… [T]his means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.’2
So, the Rothbardian might suggest that Crusoe simply leave the babies at the side of the volcano instead, where they can die slowly, whether he personally finds this abhorrent or not. I highly doubt they or Rothbard himself would ever suggest such a thing, but he might come away from this experience with a greater respect for the cultural power of a shared belief, especially a metaphysical belief. Had the Rothbardian been a Christian, he might likewise recognise he has no legitimated authority per se on this island, but at least he would certainly have a missionary duty to attempt to convert Crusoe and the women, and end this diabolical cycle of murder. You might think this is a ridiculous hypothetical, but this struggle against the brutal paterfamilias was a stark reality in medieval Europe.
We say that all have free will, but what of those beliefs which totally deny this? What about total moral relativism? What about the shattering of justice into a spectrum of definitions, so that actual injustices to the natural order of the human world can simply be termed ‘social justice’? It should be clear to anyone who has engaged Western leftism of late, let alone anyone who has studied history, that there is and always will be a market for injustice. The legalistically Rothbardian, that is, hyper-individualistic among us would probably have had little success in ending the ancient, assumed rights of family heads – you choose your private court and I’ll choose mine. But, Christendom brought a plurality of natural law-oriented jurisdictions – practically speaking, competing patriarchies which didn’t threaten the liberty of the father, but rather refined it and allowed greater liberty for women and children.
Prof. Anthony Esolen describes what he calls the baptism of the paterfamilias by the monastics:
‘One of the great unheralded events in history occurred in the early sixth century, when a monk named Benedict of Nursia was asked to write a rule governing life in the monastery at Monte Cassino. Benedict aimed to provide a Roman orderliness and moderation, unlike the spiritual athleticism of the East, with its daring flights of physical deprivation and marathon prayer… Saint Benedict’s genius was Roman; his instincts favored the stable and conservative.’3
The monasteries produced highly disciplined men who gave up their lives to work wholly towards the ideal, preserving and developing Christian civilisation, not just by clearing the forests and swamps and harnessing natural forces with brilliant machines, but by bringing an alphabet, the continuation of classical wisdom and reason, and the preservation of aesthetic beauty. These men were led by an abbot (from abba – father), inspired by the highly patriarchal culture of ancient Rome. Monasteries became centres of learning as well as economic and technological hubs. Later, guilds, universities, entire cities etc. would follow a similar pattern and would result in sovereign patriarchal institutions – the sort of environment in which jurisdictions could compete to provide sustainable order and liberty.
Esolen is right to describe this as a baptism of Roman patriarchy, as Roman law was built from the individual household up, with the father as head of each household and considered, along with the eldest son, to be a proper citizen. Indeed, as Prof. Larry Siedentop notes, ‘Citizens were originally simply the patres, something surviving in Roman usage when senators were called the “fathers” of the city.’4 Naturally, there emerged in the cities large, aristocratic, patrician families. So, this informed Roman public law, of course, with the senators being the ‘godfather’ figure to large bodies of junior branches of families and even more clients. Just as in ancient Greece, people belonged to the city and its gods, with the free patriarchs having ‘freedom’ in the sense of sharing the positive exercise of coercive government. Now, it’s important to understand that these people were thoroughly religious and not the extreme secularists modernists on the right romantically imagine them to be, so the system was not lightly challenged by underclasses. Just as with Crusoe on his island, a spiritual change would have to occur to so change Europeans’ understanding of individual freedom as we know and love it.
As Siedentop explains, the ‘old aristocracy’ of ancient Rome and the concept of kingship were always understood as a religious role; the undermining of this, i.e. ‘what moved the younger sons, clients and plebs was a desire to share in the privileges of the citizen class – to cut a figure comparable to that of a class which had hitherto combined the gravitas of priests, the pride of rulers, and the glory of warriors.’ As such, Siedentop identifies the preference of the underclasses for tyranny as simply a way of smashing the old order and maybe getting a better deal;5 the echoes of this can be seen in the Monarchic, French and Bolshevik Revolutions. But, as libertarians, we agree that greater centralised statism is not desirable, regardless of how we arrive at that conclusion.
So, we need to briefly digress to see where the European paterfamilias emerged from, in order to understand why Christendom and its plurality of jurisdictions was able to bring a level of peace to all of Europe – succeeding where pagan Roman Empire had failed. The ancient Europeans had their household gods – departed and glorified ancestors – who were invoked for assistance through the household fire, making the hearth the centre of the physical home, the abstract family unit and the spiritual elements which sacramentally unified the whole. The father was at once priest and ultimate decision-maker for the family; the eldest son would take on the continual maintenance of the family fire and invoking the idols around the heart – the basis for primogeniture in royal and other lineages, as well as gathering pictures of family around the mantelpiece of the fireplace, usually at the centre of the Western home. For women, marriage into the family meant taking not just the name but the religion also.
With the establishment of Latin Christendom, however, came a system which respected the father as head of the family, the masters, chairmen, principals, presidents, lords, kings etc., right up to the authority of the emperor. This was not simply a hierarchy, but horizontal, even parallel authorities had become sovereign and there was the cultural court of appeal of the Church’s canon law available at any level and to all. Indeed, the new belief that all had a life to live before God and were loved by Him anathematised brutality towards infants, who were now baptized into the Church, and women too could choose whom they married and had their own vows, as well as patriarchal authorities to keep a brutal husband in check.
Under such a system of patriarchal authorities, the expectations that men naturally impose on each other – ‘breaking each other’s balls’ when unnecessary weakness and irresponsibility was displayed – was palpable; thus, the traditional doctrine of subsidiriaty developed organically and would later become clarified Catholic social teaching, placing decision-making at its most local, immediate level. It is this subsidiarity, this undertaking and grasping of responsibility by men, down to the individual man, which enables countries like Switzerland and Liechtenstein to become so greatly admired by libertarians as sustainable, successful models for preserving decentralised authorities.
The individualistic, laissez-faire bourgeoisie so admired by most libertarians, however, is typically a culture of passing off responsibility when it becomes ‘cost-effective’ to do so, e.g. paying taxes is easier than fully undertaking everything required for me to defend my and even my neighbours’ properties, regardless of what effect this has on the masculinity of my community. Libertarians must re-evaluate the importance of cultural factors, such as patriarchal authorities, which sociologist, Steven Goldberg, brilliantly identified as inevitable in human groups decades ago, remaining unrefuted. We can conclude by declaring that competing patriarchies create greater freedom as the dominating aspects of masculinity, at any scale, are tempered by the protective. Also, as I have argued elsewhere, the importance of religion is fundamental to providing a shared definition of justice and, as a market and respect for injustice is ubiquitous, this demands to be considered in libertarian thought. I think my concerns were best brought home by the words of Mises Institute president, Jeff Deist:
‘what would you fight for? The answer to this question tells us a lot about what libertarians ought to care about. By this I mean what would you physically fight for, where doing so could mean serious injury or death. Or arrest and imprisonment, or the loss of your home, your money, and your possessions. I’m sure all of us would fight for our physical persons if we were attacked, or for our families if they were attacked. We might fight for close friends too. And perhaps even our neighbors. In fact we might like to think we would physically defend a total stranger in some circumstances, for example an old woman being attacked and robbed. And we probably would fight for our towns and communities if they were physically invaded by an outside force, even though we don’t personally know all of the people in our towns and communities. How about an abstraction, like fighting for “your country” or freedom or your religion? This is where things get more tenuous. Many people have and will fight for such abstractions. But if you ask soldiers they’ll tell you that in the heat of battle they’re really fighting for their mates, to protect the men in their units–and to fulfill a personal sense of duty. In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance.’6
1 Hoppe, H. H. (2006) ‘The Idea of a Private Law Society’ – https://mises.org/library/idea-private-law-society (30/09/2018)
2 Rothbard, M. (2015 ed.) The Ethics of Liberty, NYU Press, p.100
3 Esolen, A. (2008) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization, Regnery Publishing Inc., pp.121
4 Siedentop, L. (2014) Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, Allen Lane, p.27
5 Ibid., p.31
Getting Libertarianism Right
The Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, 2018
Introduction by Sean Gabb
(first posted here)
The writings collected in this book are mostly addresses given in Bodrum to the Property and Freedom Society, of which Professor Hoppe is both Founder and President. I was fortunate to hear them read out to the gathering, and I am deeply honoured to have been asked to provide an Introduction to the published versions.
I will divide my Introduction into three sections. First, I will give a brief overview of Hoppe’s early life and intellectual development. Second, I will write at greater length about the academic work that has placed him at the head of the international libertarian movement. Third, I will discuss the main theme or themes that emerge from the present collection. Continue reading