The Dark Enlightenment critique of Libertarianism

The problem with libertarianism is that it really only works if libertarian rules are generally enforced, accepted, and felt to be right, only works if other people practice libertarianism. What, then, do you do with the large majority of mankind that are disinclined to live by these rules, or incapable of living by these rules?

Consider Xenophon slaughtering, looting, and burning his way across Asia. Consider the various piratical adventurers that founded what became the British empire. Raffles killed a lot of people, was apt to murder competing merchants, destroy cities, shake down rajas for gold and land, and so on and so forth. Yet one cannot help forming a compelling impression that Xenophon, Raffles, Clive, and most of the rest of those piratical cutthroats and slave raiders were upright, honest, virtuous, and decent men.

We are always in a state of anarchy, in the sense that the government’s ability to be obeyed rests largely on bluff and social pressure, in the sense that any place you rely on police to keep you safe, is a very dangerous place, in the sense that we have a lot less government than we pretend we do.

Since we are never entirely out of a state of nature, always in anarchy to some considerable extent, libertarianism only works in a community of well behaved people.

Anarcho capitalism is anarchy where most people adhere to natural law as described by Locke, peaceful orderly anarchy. But Hobbesian anarchy, Hobbes’ state of war is, if not as universal as Hobbes argued, common enough to be normal. Xenophon, Raffles, and the rest, were upright men dealing with a world that is with great regularity in a condition of Hobbesian anarchy, where highly unlibertarian policies and programs, grossly negative sum policies, unambiguously damaging policies, are frequently just and necessary.  Raffles had to murder competing merchants and shake down Rajas to get his ever flowing chest of gold, with which to fund armies to ravish cities.  He needed to ravish cities in order to ensure that he and his fellow merchants could safely and freely engage in business.


11 Responses to “The Dark Enlightenment critique of Libertarianism”

  1. (I’m still a bit frustrated about this post. I’m working pretty hard to bring libertarianism and the D.E. together. Better to understand and improve than dismiss libertarianism. It is the only significant innovation in politics since the the common law, and arguably since athenian arguments for freedom.

    • jim says:

      Reading on the doings of Xenophon and the founders of the British empire, looks like anarcho capitalism in a world where most people are out of law with each other, hence anarcho piratism. Governments were apt to behave to Raffles and Xenophon as governments are apt to behave, and they simply did not take it.

      When unchallenged, Raffles acted like a mild and benign ruler, like a quite libertarian government. When a government among other governments, a governments without well defined geographic boundaries, thus a pirate among other pirates, his solutions, reasonably enough, tended to fire and blood.

  2. (Just saw this post)

    LIBERTARIAN != ROTHBARDIAN ANARCHO CAPITALIST. Classical liberals are also ‘libertarians’. Rothbardians via the Mises institute adopted the tactics of the marxists, but this time, using the internet – so they’re ‘everywhere’. Anarcho capitalism was structured like the marxist IDEOLOGY. It is a MORAL, not scientific argument.

    The anarcho capitalist program DID give us:
    a) the incentives of a bureaucracy are worse than the incentives of a monarchy.
    b) the critique that democracy was simply a slow road to communism,
    c) propertarian ethics that make all moral codes commensurable and
    d) the use of competing insurance companies to replace monopoly bureaucracy.
    e) the sufficiency of the common law, and the necessity for it.
    f) the state as the cause of ‘evil corporations’.
    g) the required prohibition on law-making, and the constraint of government to contract negotiation between groups.

    What it did not give us is:
    a) means of investments in commons (government)
    b) means of preventing free riding, fraud by omission, theft via externality, privatization of gains and socialization of losses.
    c) a means of accommodating the collectivism of women in their effort to restore the sex economy in favor of the productive economy (but that’s too long a discussion.)

    Thankfully others have given us:
    a) lottocratic representation
    b) direct democracy

    And hopefully I’m trying to fix that. I think I have. But I’m not sure.

  3. […] Since we are never entirely out of a state of nature, always in anarchy to some considerable extent,… […]

  4. SMERSH says:

    Part of the dark enlightenment involves learning about neurotypicals and how they think. Now that is an ugly truth, almost as bad as learning that Roissy was right about women.

    Once you become enlightened about neurotypicals it becomes apparent that libertarianism is a completely ridiculous form of government.

    • Shenpen says:

      Interesting idea. My model is this. There is a culture war, which is like a soccer match. The libertarian Aspie wants to be the referee: he cares not so much which one wins, but how: he wants both to kick the ball and not each other, i.e. for example fight the culture war with boycotts but not bans. He hopes that obeying the rules makes the idea outcome evolve automatically, like with a genetic algorythm or by evolution. The players, the neurotypical progessives and the reactionaries, the neurotypicals, have some respect for the rules, but ultimately they care much more about winning, not about how. They don’t want to evolve an outcome – they know what outcome they want and want to make it happen, directly. Do you agree with this?

      • jim says:

        Libertarians propose to play by rules that no one else is inclined to play by, and, being out of power, are too polite to mention that no one ever plays by the rules.

  5. Jehu says:

    Libertarianism would work as an overall system in a world populated solely by male geeks with IQs over 115 that are all at least mildly Aspie. The closer your nation is to that the more libertarian (in the sense of letting people alone, low-church libertarianism) it can be in practice.
    Unfortunately the bulk of libertarians are so afraid of being called racists that they work to provide top cover for the election of a new people that are nothing like the above.

    • Shenpen says:

      Yes, this is why China / Korea / Japan who have high IQ and respect geeks and introverts and generally lack a “jock” culture are libertarian… wait, they aren’t.

      “Natural born libertarians” (those who did not get it from books) were very masculine, blue collar American, Scottish, Swiss, Roman farmers. Those who were the opposite of geeks – those who considered tilling the earth and the occasional eye-gouging match more fun than reading books.

      “Natural born libertarianism” is based on the highly masculine attitude to respect each others authority over their own domain, largely because when they don’t, these people are easily provoked and that leads to bloody fights. It’s not some kind of idealistic cult of tolerance, more like the attitude of reducing violence by territoriality – like alpha dogs do.

  6. Steve Johnson says:

    I think it’s much simpler – democratic libertarian government isn’t an equilibrium state.

    No one with any ability to preserve a libertarian state has an incentive to do so.

  7. Jack Crassus says:

    Any pleasant society that wishes to survive must have two systems of rule – a softer one for those within, and a harsher one for those without. This is the error of liberal Europe that invites new waves of Muslim immigration before the previous wave has been assimilated into the values of the host culture.

    This is also the error of libertarianism, Moldbug talks about it in “Why I am not a libertarian”. Moldbug lays out a simple two-class taxonomy of property – 1) primary property held by the right of the sword and 2) secondary property, held at the sufferance of a primary property holder. A libertarian is a person that believes in the justice of the system of secondary property devised under English common law, while at the same time believing in the illegitimacy of the claim primary property holder.

    The libertarian dream world is one in which an ideal Lockean system of property enforces itself, or is enforceable in the face of coordinated foreign attackers through voluntary means alone. Pure fantasy.

    Libertarian ideals may well inform good government, but they are incomplete on their own.

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