Thursday, February 4, 2010 121 Comments

From Mises to Carlyle: my sick journey to the dark side of the force

I often get requests for a one-word label. I generally go with royalist.

So here you are in the year 2010, reading royalist samizdat on the Internet. And here I am in that same year, writing it. Quelle strange! Especially for those of us with perfectly crisp memories of 1979.

Royalist is almost always the start of a conversation, not the end. It's a tabula rasa - it does not associate you with anyone else's propaganda. Hardly anyone else goes by "royalist" today (unlike "monarchist," which connotes a reverence for the present, ceremonial or "constitutional" institution - there are few ideologies more disproven than constitutional monarchism). And if anyone gives you any grief, you can just step up to neoroyalist.

Of course, any such label just means you've drunk the Kool-Aid here at UR. That's the whole point. But why broadcast it, eh? The libations will make their way in time. Frankly, turning people on to this kind of subversive material is like turning your literary friends on to acid in 1964. Is so-and-so hip? No? Oh, that's too bad. Make sure he gets a cup from the blue pitcher.

By 1974, of course, so-and-so is calling himself "Bhang Raj" and teaching yoga in Big Sur. So if royalism sounds exciting to you, it should. Especially if you don't remember 1964. Or 1984. Actually, Socrates also had a fine old time corrupting the youth of Athens, and what was he corrupting them with? Not what you think, pervert. In a word: hatefacts and crimethink. (Specifically, Socrates was spreading seditious lies about democracy.)

But let's face it: "royalist" is challenging. It's punk - punk in 1976. You can be for it or against it. You can't be indifferent. Well, as it happens, the punk future of 1976 did not come true. Which is probably for the better. But it indicates that one can be too punk.

Therefore, I have an alternative label. I am a Carlylean. I'm a Carlylean more or less the way a Marxist is a Marxist. My worship of Thomas Carlyle, the Victorian Jesus, is no adolescent passion - but the conscious choice of a mature adult. I will always be a Carlylean, just the way a Marxist will always be a Marxist. And it is not too late for you to join us yourself! It's a big tent, this cult of Carlyle. The only problem is that since Carlyle is dead, you can't sell your possessions and give them all to Carlyle. No - you'll have to think of some other worthy recipient.

But wait. Who the fuck is Carlyle?

Well, perhaps you saw that recent classic of the silver screen - Sherlock Holmes. As you may or may not know, ignorant Earthling, this was actually based on a book. In this book, some dead old white guy writes (1887):
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy, and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done.

My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.
To be fair, "he" is Sherlock Holmes himself. Holmes is entirely ignorant of Carlyle, however, only because he is entirely ignorant of both politics and literature. Since not one man in a thousand today knows anything of Carlyle, and that man is almost surely misinformed (please read Carlyle before you read about Carlyle), the slate is - once again - blank. Are you, too, entirely ignorant of both politics and literature? We can't all be Sherlock Holmes.

This Presbyterian Balrog was locked in the stacks for a century. Sergei and Larry, blissed-out on whatever blissful techno-hippie whim, scanned those stacks in bulk; and sprung his ass. If you are familiar with the Copernican Theory, yet ignorant of Carlyle, read him! You can! He lies naked at your feet - albeit in ancient, blurry scans, often with a picture of someone's finger on the page. (How appropriate it is to see Carlyle restored by intern slave labor.)

Now, I will admit that the Sage of Ecclefechan had his off days. He did live in the 19th century. He shaved with a straight razor, if he shaved at all. His crystal ball was a delicate analog instrument. Often, Carlyle understands the 20th century better than anyone in the 20th century. Sometimes, there is some kind of disturbance in the force, and he's just picking up Pluto. Carlyle is not to be taken without salt, tuning and calibration; and would want no less. But properly tuned and restored, he is Messiah enough for any grown man. Hey, man, we all need a Jesus.

Carlyle, one of the few 19th-century writers to predict the impending Siglo de Muerte, includes all the ideologies of the 20th. However you think government should be carried on, you'll find it in Carlyle. For instance, if you must have an introduction to Carlyle, try Edwin Mims in this 1918 edition of Past and Present. You will meet Carlyle, the royalist Progressive. There is also Carlyle, the royalist fascist. And I even discern - albeit with tender eye - Carlyle, the royalist libertarian. (For instance, "red tape" as a metonym for bureaucracy is a Carlyleism.)

Which brings us to the meat of today's episode. As it so happens, before I became a royalist or a Carlylean or whatever, I was a libertarian. Specifically, a Misesian. (And before that, I was an Instapundit reader. Teh Internets radicalized me. Now, lets dem radicalize u. Cast off the snares of the Jedi Council. Surrender to my Sith powers - and those of my Master! And pleez u cn send more moneys in teh mail.)

I don't think I've read everything Mises ever wrote, but I certainly have Theory and History, Omnipotent Government, and other less-trafficked Misesia, on my shelves. My gaps in Rothbard studies are more pronounced - for instance, I have never read the History of Economic Thought. Nonetheless, I have been through Mises and Rothbard more or less from ass to elbow, and my judgment on the two remains unchanged. Mises is a titan; Rothbard is a giant.

Carlyle is the greatest of all, however, because his vision is the broadest. The analytic power of Mises is much greater; when Mises and Carlyle disagree, Mises is usually right. Mises is almost never wrong. No one could possibly describe Carlyle as "almost never wrong." Carlyle is frequently wrong. His strokes are big. He excavates with a pick, not a dental drill. But there is really nothing in Mises' philosophy that is not in Carlyle; and the converse is not the case.

The problem with Mises as guru is that Misesian classical liberalism (or Rothbardian libertarianism) is like Newtonian physics. It is basically correct within its operating envelope. Under unusual conditions it breaks down, and a more general model is needed. The equation has another term, the ordinary value of which is zero. Without this term, the equation is wrong. Normally this is no problem; but if the term is not zero, the error becomes visible.

Just as Newtonian rules only make sense at low speeds, Misesian rules only make sense in a secure order. Mises himself once wished for a praxeology of war, which is fairly good evidence that he didn't have one. Carlyle was not a place he would have looked. Carlyle was taken - Carlyle, the statist, the royalist fascist and the royalist progressive, was the prophet of those (on both sides of the Atlantic) who had no place for Mises. To say the least!

Einstein once said: a theory should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. As a Carlylean libertarian, I would say: government should be as small as possible, but no smaller.

You'll notice, for instance, that, Mises is almost never normative. He will never tell you that the fashionable interventionist policies of his era are bad. He will tell you that they will not produce the results purportedly intended, or that they will have some other unadvertised effect. He will tell you, in other words, that the political reasoning behind them is bad. And as always, Mises will be right. But he does not prove that the policies are bad - just supported by bad reasons.

So, for instance, Mises will tell you that mercantilist policies such as high tariffs or exchange-rate manipulation do not just reward exporters, but also punish consumers. Mises will not, however, tell you whether such a policy is good or bad for a country containing both exporters and consumers. (Rothbard will. But Rothbard often goes too far.) By Misesian theory itself, there is no such index of economic good, no quantitative means by which one man's advantage can balance another's disadvantage.

Mises will tell you that policies such as these cannot be calculated. Mises is right: they cannot be calculated. As Carlyle says in his Chartism: government cannot be carried on by steam. Rather, its interventions (if intervene it must) can only be calculated by judgment.

In any responsible position, no formula or computer (given present technology) can replace human decisions, because no formula can exhibit wisdom or exercise judgment. These essentially human qualities are essential for any responsible position, but most of all in the most responsible position of all: sovereign command.

And all organizations, big or small, public or private, military or civilian, are managed best when managed by a single executive. Hence: royalism. However he or she is selected, the title of such an executive, in a sovereign capacity, is King - or, at least, anything else is a euphemism. And why trade in euphemisms? Whose dogs are we?

Mises, being a liberal, is operating whether he likes it or not in the Benthamite tradition. He does not tell you that central planning is impossible; he tells you that central planning by objective process, ie public policy in the modern American sense, is impossible. The alternative of human judgment is one that he does not consider - both because this alternative is ideologically repugnant to him, and because his own generation had an extremely bad experience with it. (Question: who sold the Continent on blood-and-soil ethnic nationalism? Answer: well, it certainly wasn't the bloody Tories. More below.)

So, for instance, a typical neo-Benthamite public-policy construction needs a measure of national utility, such as "GDP" (roughly, net business-to-consumer sales). Both Mises and Carlyle will tell you (a) that there is no conceivable quantification of national utility, and (b) this measure, or any other, is of no use whatsoever. A policy that decreases GDP may be good; one that increases it, evil.

To a Carlylean, any such policy of government-by-steam is a simple declaration of surrender to Satan, like leaving port 23 open on your e-commerce server. For instance, America has built an enormous debt by consuming beyond its income - thus maximizing GDP. Oops.

Good does not tolerate evil, but drives it out entirely. If you see a process inviting further evil, it may well be compromised itself. Chaos breeds more chaos; order must extirpate it entirely, or surrender to it. So again, Carlyle and Mises get the same results. If in very different ways.

When I went from Misesian to Carlylean, my vision of the ideal state did not change. I, and others like me, want to live and should be able to live in a liberal regime of spontaneous order, which is not planned from above but emerges through the natural, uncontrolled interaction of free human atoms. Hayek in particular, though no Mises, is eloquent here.

What my conversion to the cult of Carlyle has changed - completely - is my understanding of the means by which this free society must be achieved. If it exists, it must be preserved: by any means necessary (as Malcolm X used to put it). If it does not exist? Bueller? Bueller?

It is easy to see that libertarians have trouble with the means part, because they have never come anywhere close to succeeding. There is a reason for this.

Modern libertarianism is an invention of Rothbard's, consisting entirely of Rothbardianism either straight, diluted or adulterated. Like Wicca, it may continue the beliefs of an older movement (classical liberalism), but its social links with that generation are tenuous at best. Mises himself is one such exception; he is, obviously, a rarity.

For the most part, Rothbard created libertarianism by resurrecting a 19th-century political phenomenon, that of Manchester liberalism. Absent Mises himself, this incredible fossil of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Rothbard could have worked "just from the books" - as of course I do with Carlyle. Absent Mises, he probably would have.

Rothbard was always a practical fellow - or, at least, a pragmatic one. He knew his doctrines were right, and had earned the right to rule. So he tagged along on any coach he thought would get him there - from the Black Panthers to Pat Buchanan. In a similar spirit, he revived Manchester liberalism - the political rhetoric of Cobden and Bright.

History is yet young, of course, but none of these strategies strikes me as showing any real sign of working. (Lew Rockwell, Rothbard's organizational heir, has reversed course again and is back working the Left, along with HIV deniers, etc. Every scholar-dynasty finds its Commodus.)

Why hasn't libertarianism worked? One thing we notice about Manchester liberalism is that, in its time, this movement was a left-wing cause. In that era, the terms left and right were used, as they are now, to mean liberal and conservative; which axes had exactly the same social and cultural connotations they do now. Nonetheless, even though the policies of 19th-century Manchester liberalism are exactly the same as those of 20th-century Rothbardian libertarians, libertarianism in 2010 is normally identified as a right-wing movement. At least, by everyone except libertarians.

If Rothbardian libertarians understood this reversal of polarities, they would understand why their means is not, and cannot be, successful. As a democratic platform, Manchester liberalism is effective from the left, but not from the right. Most tactics (as James O'Keefe is finding out) that are effective from the left, are not effective from the right. There is no such thing as effective right-wing Alinskyism - at least, not in the United States in 2010. Again, we see a missing variable in the equation. Symmetry is not guaranteed.

The libertarian has a characteristic problem in explaining his tyranny-versus-freedom political axis. The problem is that most people, when they inspect history, do see a clear political axis. The axis they see, however, is not tyranny versus freedom, or even big versus little government. It is left versus right.

Moreover, it is not just most people who appear to see the left-right axis. It appears across the spectrum, even to rightists. Rightists may mistake other rightists for leftists, or even if sufficiently misguided present themselves as such. It makes no difference. Leftists do not mistake rightists for leftists - at least, not systematically. They just don't have that ant smell.

Right is right; left is left. The axis is real. Jonah Goldberg can call Hitler a leftist; Hitler, indeed, called Hitler a leftist, at least in the sense that he called his party a Socialist Workers' Party. But Hitler, while a very bad rightist, was a rightist. Not to mention a lying bastard. And anyone in the '30s with a dime's worth of brains on a dollar knew him as such. And this includes rightists with brains, leftists with brains, and centrists with brains.

You can change the definition of the word, of course. But the phenomenon remains recognizable. Being otherwise abstract and meaningless, the terms left and right are perfect. Why try to flip them over? No good reason, I fear.

I see this Hitler-was-a-liberal trope catching on all over the right. Of course, it is a leftist trope - in two senses. First, the tactic of tarring all political adversaries with some abstruse connection to fascism in general, and Hitler in particular, is of course a characteristic tactic of the Left. Second, the tactic of disseminating a palpable misreading of history, for political purposes - etc.

To a Carlylean, Satan is the Lord of Chaos and the Father of Lies. When you lie - intentionally or unintentionally - you sacrifice a kitten to Satan. Satan loves you for this! And, since he is not uninfluential on this earth, he does what he can for you. Which is sometimes quite a bit.

The Carlylean technique accepts only absolute veracity as the basis for any political strategy. The fact is: by sacrificing the occasional kitten or two, by twisting the truth a bit for the sake of this quarter's sales, libertarians and other rightists get nowhere. Their enemies are (a) in power today, and (b) operating an assembly-line rhinoceros abattoir for the sole benefit of His Satanic Majesty. Surely, sir, you had not thought to out-scoundrel such a bunch of scoundrels.

To a Misesian, the struggle of good and evil (so plainly displayed by history) is the struggle between tyranny and freedom. Evil is tyranny; good is freedom. As we have seen, there are problems with this perspective.

Its main problem, however, is that it must obscure the difference between left and right, which is clearly significant and qualitative. If the left-right axis does not exist, why does everyone see it? If it does exist, the up-down axis gets scraped right off by Occam's razor. With one axis, do we need two?

To a Carlylean, the main event is the struggle between left and right. Which is the struggle between good and evil. Which is the struggle between order and chaos. Evil is chaos; good is order. Evil is left; good is right. Evil is fiction; good is truth. Gentlemen, there is no other road! The facts, it's true, are stones between our teeth. Shall we chew these stones? If not now, when?

Note that if we find a way to make this theory work, we completely explain the Misesian perspective. Mises becomes, as promised, a subset of Carlyle. Freedom is good, because freedom is fundamentally orderly - ie, right-wing. Tyranny is evil, because tyranny is chaotic - ie, left-wing.

Tyranny is one form of chaos; freedom is one form of order. There are others of each, however. And order is always preferred to chaos. Thus, to a Carlylean, the fatal error of libertarianism is the confusion of anarchy and freedom. Not only are they not the same thing; they are opposite poles of the political spectrum. Freedom - spontaneous order - is the ultimate form of order. Anarchy is the ultimate form of disorder.

To a Carlylean, anarchy and tyranny are fundamentally and essentially allied and indivisible. And again: the apparent affinity between anarchy and freedom is wholly illusory. In fact: to maximize freedom, eradicate anarchy. To achieve spontaneous order: first, achieve ordinary, down-to-earth, nonspontaneous order. Then, wait a while. Then, start to relax.

Here is the Carlylean roadmap for the Misesian goal. Spontaneous order, also known as freedom, is the highest level of a political pyramid of needs. These needs are: peace, security, law, and freedom. To advance order, always work for the next step - without skipping steps. In a state of war, advance toward peace; in a state of insecurity, advance toward security; in a state of security, advance toward law; in a state of law, advance toward freedom.

The Newtonian envelope of libertarianism is the last of these stages. Once the state of lawful government is reached, that state can generally improve itself by minimizing its interventions and applying a policy of laissez-faire - advancing from enforced to spontaneous order. With the caveat, of course, that this policy not jeopardize the more important achievements of peace, security, and law.

When a state finds itself outside this Newtonian window, however, Mises and Rothbard are of no assistance whatsoever in helping it get back in. Worse: Rothbardian libertarianism can be a positive hindrance to the Carlylean roadmap.

Consider the first stage of restoring order: peace. In war, advance to peace. Now, in any war, while it may be quite difficult to identify the aggressor in a moral sense, it is generally easy to identify the aggressor in a military sense. This is the party taking the offensive - the party that would not consent to ending the war on the basis of uti possidetis, the status quo on the ground. In English: in any war, there is a party that would be happy to stop, and a party that wants more.

For a state "with the ball and moving it," peace is easy. It can be achieved by mere forbearance. For a state on the defensive, however, there are only two means to peace: surrender, or victory.

Surrender comes in two forms: unconditional, or incremental. If unconditional surrender is necessary, it should by all means be pursued. If incremental surrender is effective, it may be pursued, but it is generally not effective. A predator will come back for more, knowing that he can get it. Incremental surrender may be associated with effective deterrence, but this is rare.

Therefore, in many cases peace can be achieved only in the Roman way: by victory. As with all military objectives, victory is achieved by any means necessary. Including artillery. Clearly, if the enemy uses artillery and you don't, your chances of victory are greatly reduced.

But the libertarian artillery officer faces a serious moral dilemma. Does artillery violate the natural rights of the target? I would say: the entire purpose of artillery is to violate the natural rights of the target. Clearly, if you could get your hands on the people your artillery is pointed at, and subject them to a full and fair judicial trial for whatever their offenses may be, you would have no need at all for artillery. Since you have no means by which to achieve this, you subject them to a 120-mm shell instead. Hence violating their natural rights - with both blast and shrapnel. When they may have committed no offenses at all. Boom! Hey, man, that hurt.

This is war: inter arma silent leges. Or so the Romans believed. One can, of course, reverse this axiom - just as Einstein himself, on so many bumper stickers, reversed si vis pacem, para bellum. When reversing millennium-old proverbs, be sure to expect the reverse results. Perhaps they won't happen; in that case, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Similarly, once outright military conflict is ended, peace is established. But mere peace is a low state of order. In peace, the state must work toward security.

A state is secure if it maintains a monopoly of coercion. Security does not mean the absolute absence of crime, ie, private coercion; this is unachievable, because crime cannot be universally preempted. Security does mean the absolute absence of systematic or organized crime, as well as the absence of any other systematic resistance to state authority - from banditry to tax protest, terrorism to "civil disobedience."

And how does this resistance become "absent?" Well, of course, it does not do so on its own. Oh, no! Au contraire, mon frere! In certain rare instances, systematic crime can be legalized, and thus become orderly. Indeed, if the state's orders are physically unenforceable, it should reconsider them. It cannot outlaw the moon. Marijuana laws are perhaps a case of this - not due to the harmlessness of the drug, but the hardiness of the plant.

Otherwise, alas. Security is achieved when resistance is crushed. The use of artillery in this process should be unnecessary. If you need artillery, you are probably still working on the peace stage. On the other hand, the assumption that all security problems, in all cases, can be resolved by the use of rights-preserving judicial procedures, is entirely unwarranted.

Here we meet a good old friend, martial law - yet another traditional attribute of sovereignty recognized for millennia, yet strangely forgotten in the late 20th century. Martial law is no law at all, of course, but the arbitrary will of a military commander. It is really martial order. And there are countries in the world - quite a few, in fact - that need martial order, the way a camel that's just walked across Libya needs a glass of water.

Just like artillery, martial order is an essential step in the journey from military chaos to libertarian order. A state that can win its wars with artillery, but not enforce the result with martial law, is a state whose subjects can never feel secure. Have you ever lived in a fully secure society? It's an experience most of us can barely imagine.

But martial order is, by its nature, only temporary. As soon as it is achieved, it is time to move on to the next step: law. Once the state has suppressed all resistance to its will, it must render its own actions consistent and predictable. This result is produced by the institution of law.

Authorities differ on the merits of codified law, in the Continental style, and case law, in the Anglo-American style. While not a lawyer, or even a student of comparative law, I am inclined to be sympathetic to those who think of common law as simply a medieval abuse - a consequence of England's unfortunate failure to distill and codify its body of precedent. Clearly, justice in the common-law system is neither especially fast, nor especially cheap, nor especially fair. It may have other advantages, but these have not revealed themselves to me.

Once again, attempts to achieve law before security simply disrupt the task of achieving security. Once security is achieved, however, law provides the inestimable boon of safety from state actors, as well as independent bandits. If official actions are lawful, they are predictable. If they are predictable, a rational person can predict them, and thus avoid infringing them. Martial "law," by its very nature, can provide no such guarantee.

Finally, once the rule of law is achieved, the government can relax its sphincter, let down its hair, slouch a little, have a beer, and let people do what they want. It can replace enforced order with spontaneous order. It can minimize its intrusions and interventions - since it knows there is no danger that freedom will develop into disorder.

Thus applying libertarian principles of natural rights, outside the Newtonian envelope, moves a state not toward the libertarian goal of spontaneous order, but away from it - ie, toward chaos, defeat, and destruction. Because its enemies use artillery, and it doesn't. Its enemies do not bother with trials, and it does. Etc. Therefore it is weak, and cannot produce any order at all, spontaneous or otherwise.

Whereas to a libertarian, freedom is no more than the absence of tyranny. To achieve freedom, defeat tyranny - ie, any government that violates natural rights. You can see how this rule, while virtuous in some cases, in others becomes a spanner in the Carlylean works, because a Carlylean artillerist may violate quite a few natural rights on his way to order.

Thus, to a libertarian of particularly anarchist bent (for instance, a strict Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist), an illusory method for producing this genuine desideratum, spontaneous order, turns traitor and serves instead as a form of chaos. Thus libertarianism can be advertised to chaotic forces, and even attract some energy from them. Frankly, young male humans are instinctively attracted to anything which reeks of chaos. It's just a character flaw in the species.

True chaos knows its own, however. There is an anarchist bookstore a few blocks from my house. They don't carry Rothbard, or any other "anarcho-capitalist." They know the difference between left and right. The support base may blend at some low level, but this level is well below the liability line. More supporters is not always better.

There is actually a very easy means by which a Misesian can go past libertarianism. The means has a name: Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Professor Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed is still one of the best anti-democracy tracts I've read, and it was most certainly the first. Professor Hoppe is no Mises, perhaps even no Rothbard, but he is certainly the leading Rothbardian scholar of the post-Rothbard era.

To remain within the Newtonian envelope, Professor Hoppe executes a stylish double-axel of libertarian ketman:
Despite the comparatively favorable portrait presented of monarchy, I am not a monarchist and the following is not a defense of monarchy. Instead, the position taken toward monarchy is this: If one must have a state, defined as an agency that exercises a compulsory territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction) and of taxation, then it is economically and ethically advantageous to choose monarchy over democracy. But this leaves the question open whether or not a state is necessary, i.e., if there exists an alternative to both, monarchy and democracy. History again cannot provide an answer to this question.
History also cannot provide an answer to the question of whether there are any blue dragons on Neptune - only that none, so far, have been observed.

It can also tell us that our species has been operating on the basis of geographic monopolies of sovereignty for roughly the last 56 million years, ie, since the first tree-rat pissed on the first tree-branch. Perhaps we could hire some chimpanzees to experiment with multiple, overlapping protection agencies, and get back to us on that. Or we could hire the blue dragons from Neptune.

Again, we see anarchism - the pure toxin of chaos - popping up on the right. Why is that? Does it make the right more effective, or less effective? Is an anarchist right more, or less, likely to prevail, than a non-anarchist right? Will it do better, or worse, once in office?

Well, if we generalize to the history of the leftist right - that is, the right perverted to wield the weapons of the left - what we see is... well... Hitler. Left-flavored rightism is fascism. And easily recognizable as such. Fascism, in 2010, is not without enemies. So (a) it probably doesn't work, and (b) if it works, it produces... Hitler.

Now, a little anarchism does not make Professor Hoppe into Hitler. What it does, however, is to make him much less effective. It entirely dissuades him from leaving the envelope and exploring this strange Einsteinian area, royalism. Instead, he falls back on Rothbard's blue dragons from Neptune - competing protection agencies. We shall have neither democracy, nor anything else!

As a basically innocent person, thoroughly educated by our fine institutions of learning, having attained to hardcore, Misesian libertarianism I had attained a strangely Mohammed-esque position - halfway out of the official reality. Torso fully extruded from the great net of lies; hips still stuck.

I was ready to give up on the Jedi Council. I did not yet see the only alternative: a return to the old way of the Sith. In darkness, all roads are dark! Yet walk we must. Dark it is; and grows not lighter.

I did not see a contradiction between libertarianism and democracy. I saw libertarianism as the culmination of democracy. In my imaginary future, the obviously correct ideas of libertarianism would spread, by some process, to the minds of the masses; and, for some reason, remain there. And they would elect libertarian politicians, then and forever. Who would govern libertarianly, or whatever the proper adverb is.

I did not actually think these thoughts explicitly. Had I thought them explicitly, their aqueous character would have been apparent. I thought them implicitly, because I was a democratic libertarian. I had never reconsidered democracy. Once I reconsidered democracy, however, I could not help but notice the fundamental dependence of libertarianism on democracy. Without democracy, do we need libertarianism, per se? Would we even have thought of it?

Libertarianism is a formula for government. As we've seen, there are fundamental problems with the idea of any such formula. Mises quite successfully discredited nonlibertarian formulas for government, but he did not show that government by any formula is practical - including the libertarian formula.

Moreover, the entire proposition of government by formula appears motivated by a single goal: the need to design a system of government which can be enforced by democracy. Thus, libertarianism is both a method of government, and a means by which to impose that method. The method is: govern minimally (whatever precisely this may mean). The means is: convince the voting population of the need for minimal government, and ensure that they remain so convinced. Hm.

Another way to see the problem is to examine that shibboleth of libertarians - limited government. Now, the frustrated English teacher in me notes an interesting fact about this phrase: it is in the passive voice. Who shall limit the government? And how can we assure that they continue to do so? And if some other party does this limiting, who shall limit them? This is, of course, the old quis custodiet problem. To which Rothbard has no better solution than Juvenal.

Libertarians can be classified according to their wrong answers to this question. If you are a democratic libertarian, you believe that government should be limited by popular sovereignty. You also probably haven't looked out the window in the last 200 years. If you are a judicial libertarian, you believe that government should be limited by judicial sovereignty - ie, by a judiciary committed to Constitutional principles and the Anglo-American common law. And you haven't looked out the window in the last 75.

The essential problem with both democratic and judicial libertarianism is that, while we see both these phenomena succeed in history, we see them - once again - succeed only on the left. English and American history is a rich trove, as Rothbard can show you, of both popular resistance to state authority, and judicial resistance to state authority. However, this resistance succeeds only when in the process of undermining some higher order, royal or aristocratic. Once the People themselves are in the saddle, they no longer listen to complaints of this form.

In the democratic system today, to ask either the electorate or the judiciary for libertarian government is to ask an empowered body to relinquish powers it has. The People have powers X, Y and Z; they use these powers to vote government services A, B, and C; if you remove these services, you must remove the powers; if you remove the powers, you disempower.

Similarly, we live in the golden age of government by judge. Most significant executive decisions in the modern system of government land, one way in another, in the lap of a judge. This is the direct result of New Deal Legal-Realist jurisprudence. And you're asking the judiciary, itself, out of mere goodness of heart, to relinquish this fat leg of ham? You and what army?

Whereas when the likes of Coke contended with the likes of Charles I, judicially-limited government was a no-brainer. Alas, judges are men. If we had angels on this planet, we would long ago have consigned these duties to them.

Thus, again: libertarianism works for the left and fails for the right. Both sovereign electorate and sovereign judiciary are perfectly happy to restrict the powers of others, ie, the King. Convincing them to restrict their own powers is quite a different problem. When democracy is competing against the remnants of the ancien regime, it is a force for limited government. Once it defeats and disempowers these remnants, it is a synonym for socialism.

As a post-Misesian, I am a third class of libertarian: a royalist libertarian. Which is to say, a royalist. Going where Professor Hoppe fears to tread, I set myself to the problem of finding a good King. And getting him into office - and making sure he stays there. As a royalist, I take it for granted that a good King will pursue libertarian policies, if of course they are called for.

It took me some time to get to this point. My response to reading Hoppe, therefore, was to immediately go out and scour the libraries for other works against democracy - libertarian or not. Since I expected these works to violate my sense of common decency, I was prepared for the smell of sulfur. I found quite a few. There are indeed quite a few - though few post-1945. In general, the older the anti-democracy treatise, the better, although the High Victorians are a brilliant exception.

Thus I found Carlyle. Who smells of sulfur, indeed. He speaks what he sees in a sulfurous world. Which, as he predicted and as indeed came true, would get a lot more sulfurous. Once Carlyle shows you the Devil, you are not long unconscious of his presence!

Here is a simple Carlylean puzzle for Misesians. Answer the following questions:
(1) Do you live in a city? If not, why not?
(2) If so, can you safely walk anywhere in that city, at any time of day?
(3) If not, what authority is restricting your freedom?
Your answers will reveal that either (a) the planet you live in is not Earth as we know it, or (b) your natural rights are most directly and saliently threatened not by official forces, but unofficial forces. Ie: not by the police, but by criminals. Duh.

Note the enormous explosion in crime over the period of leftist ascendancy - as Carlylean theory would suspect, and as Carlyle himself in fact predicted. For example, if we go back to A Study in Scarlet, we see Holmes with an interesting complaint:
"There are no crimes and no criminals in these days," he said, querulously. "What is the use of having brains in our profession? I know well that I have it in me to make my name famous. No man lives or has ever lived who has brought the same amount of study and of natural talent to the detection of crime which I have done. And what is the result? There is no crime to detect, or at, most some bungling villany with a motive so transparent that even a Scotland Yard official can see through it."
Official statistics confirm that crime in England has increased roughly by a factor of 50 since Conan Doyle wrote. His Holmes stories, of course, were set in the real world of his present - indeed, their success depended on their close attention to detail.

So we see that an English government of the Victorian era - without DNA testing or closed-circuit TV - managed to largely abolish crime. We also see that the present-day government of England (and of other places governed in the same way) pretends to want to abolish crime - but to be unable to do so. Are we inclined to doubt this pretence? We are. Are we entitled to doubt it? We certainly are.

But if this pretence is indeed a pretence, if crime can indeed be abolished by enforcement, we accuse the present regime of something very serious. It becomes an accessory to this crime, which it could have abolished but chose not to. Furthermore, rather than admitting to this (somewhat) unprecedented abuse, it chose to deny the fact, and plead an obviously farcical incompetence. Certainly, when the SS removed police protection from the Jews of Riga, the SS made itself morally responsible for the subsequent pogrom by the Latvians of Riga. Even if all the Obersturmführers were on their lunch break, or whatever.

Therefore, the simplest way for a libertarian to support natural rights in his own society is to support a savage police crackdown on crime. For instance, by reimposing the standards and practices of the Victorian law-enforcement system, certainly both available and practical.

Inevitably some mistakes will be made; some innocent heads will be cracked. However, as a libertarian in America, exercising your libertarian rights, your goal is to minimize the number of natural-rights violations in America - whoever may be committing them, and in whatever uniform. Hence, you should generally support the police against criminals. The former violate natural rights only by accident and/or malfeasance, whereas the latter do so as a matter of regular procedure. In practice, it is not hard to know who is the cop, and who the criminal.

Unleash the blue wave! As Travis Bickle put it, someday a real rain will wash all the scum off these streets. That rain is on the way. Its name is President Brown. "You will croak, you little clown / When you mess with President Brown!" And after that rain, preventive-detention facilities will spring up like puffballs, as America's streets are scrubbed clean as diamonds and left as safe as the White House lawn.

This is, of course, one version of Rothbard - the Rothbard of the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, somewhat exaggerated but not absurdly so. There are various libertarian excuses as to why this natural elaboration of libertarian principles is inappropriate, I know. But I have never seen one worthy of remembering.

The details of this "blue-wave libertarianism" are not important. What's important is that the Rothbardian theory contradicts itself. Applying strictly Rothbardian methods - the sovereign should restrict itself to the task of minimizing natural-rights violations - we have reached a remarkably non-Rothbardian result. From the aprioristic praxeology of human action, we deduce Joe Arpaio. There may be nothing wrong with this answer - but it seems strange. At least, from a Misesian perspective.

When encountering this formula, right is right and left is wrong, first popularized by the great Austrian reactionary Kuehnelt-Leddihn (who, by the way, is a good read after Professor Hoppe; if nothing else, they host his books at LvMI, so they must approve), great care is necessary.

Yes. I do believe this: right is right and left is wrong. But only the pure article. Right, pure right, is right and left is wrong. As for any mixture of the two - only the Devil knows. The two great totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century are both mixtures of right and left, order and chaos - in which both strains are prominent. If it is possible to be more Satanic than mere anarchy alone, these mixtures proved it.

For instance, if right is right and left is wrong, must we side with the right in all the major political and military struggles of the 19th and 20th centuries? If so, we find ourselves siding with not only the Nazis, but also the Kaiser, the Sultan, and the Confederates. Which may be correct - but again, suggests an additional self-test is necessary.

The answer is that where we see atrocities of the right, we tend to see a right-wing system whose order is seriously contaminated with some fundamentally chaotic element. For example, out of many reactionary elements in the late Weimar Republic, the Nazis emerged triumphant. Why?

Because, National Socialism was best-adapted to succeeding in the democratic system of Weimar. For instance, because of its anti-Semitism (an unsophisticated, lower-class prejudice), it could offer up the scapegoat of "organized Jewry." It could set the majority, like dogs, on the minority. Fresh meat! The Tatkreis crowd, for instance, had no such bait to fling the mob. We have no idea what the national conservatives of Germany would have done after Weimar. Weimar could never have elected them, and they had no way of overthrowing it.

Furthermore, we again see the use of leftist tropes by a rightist movement. How did Hitler come by German nationalism? Where did this bug come from? Well, perhaps it came over the Alps from Italian nationalism. Or across the Danube from Hungarian nationalism. Or...

With the notable exception of (later) German and (sometimes) French nationalisms, all the nationalist movements in Europe are pet projects of the British (and American) liberal. (Yes, that same Manchester liberal - mostly, though not entirely.) Mazzini, Garibaldi, Kossuth, etc, etc, etc: all cheered by great crowds when they come to London. (Whereas General Hyaena is lucky to escape with his life.)

It is not obvious that ethnic nationalism makes any sense except in the context of democracy. Thus, we see the two as coinfections, like Kaposi's sarcoma and AIDS. The Nazis, fighting against democracy, pick up this Kaposi's sarcoma and use it as a weapon in the opposite direction. Once again, I would recommend very strongly against this trick. Not only were the results extraordinarily dire the one time it did (sort of) work, it's generally just a way to alert the immune system. Thus again, we see the practical advantage of absolute veracity.

But there is a still greater difference. When proselytizing toward a libertarian or any other red republican, a royalist has another easy question to start with. What is the difference between Frederick the Great and Hitler? Both, after all, exercised absolute personal authority over a country of Germans. Yet refugees fled from Hitler's Germany; to Frederick's Prussia. Was this predictable? If so, how?

Until you understand the difference between a king and a dictator, you will continue to confuse the timeless human institution of monarchy with these monstrous 20th-century abortions. In truth, the dictatorships of the 20th century were attempts to restore the vitality of the old regime. The bad ones were just bad attempts. Bad is bad; anything can be done badly, monarchy and democracy certainly both included.

Hitler himself was a huge Carlyle fan. But Hitler was also Hitler. If you don't understand the difference between Hitler and Frederick, it is not because you are ignorant of Hitler! The educated person of our time has a remarkably accurate picture of Nazi Germany. Of all the historical periods he understands, he understands the Third Reich best - usually, much better than his own present day. His view of the democratic regime, which survives, is shrouded in democratic euphemism; his view of the Nazi regime, which does not, is free from Nazi cant. And of the actual old regime, he knows nothing at all.

There are many differences between Hitler and Frederick, but perhaps the key one is stability. Frederick, while not intrinsically secure from his foreign enemies, was quite secure from any domestic opposition. No one was trying to kill him; no one could have accomplished anything by killing him. He was, in short, a monarch. A dead monarch is replaced, automatically, by another monarch - the identity of whom is already known. If the old monarch was assassinated, God forbid, the new monarch is generally not the assassin (or his employers).

Not so for a dictator! People were trying to kill Hitler all the time, and it's a Satanic miracle that none of them succeeded. If, say, Elser's bomb had worked, it would have changed the course of history. There was no Hitler 2.0, or vice-Hitler, or Son of Hitler, waiting in the wings. Hitler, for all his faults, was one of a kind. Thus, the incentive was considerable.

And thus, Hitler - unlike Frederick - has to devote considerable effort to shoring up his sovereignty, which is by no means secure. He has to scapegoat the Jews and fight the Communists, for instance; his sovereignty depends on his popularity, and he is popular because he fights these popular enemies. Otherwise, what's the point of Hitler?

Hitler is also noted for his "two in a box" management style, in which he gives multiple subordinates the same job and let them fight it out. This is generally not recommended at Harvard Business School. And so on. Thus, irrespective of his (dubious) sanity, Hitler has a rational motivation for tyranny. His regime is inherently violent, thus inherently chaotic.

The same, but far worse, is true for Hitler's great adversary - Stalin. One of the most amazing documents of the 20th century is the Webbs' essay Is Stalin a Dictator? The answer, of course, is no:
Sometimes it is asserted that, whereas the form may be otherwise, the fact is that, whilst the Communist Party controls the whole administration, the Party itself, and thus indirectly the whole state, is governed by the will of a single person, Josef Stalin.

First let it be noted that, unlike Mussolini, Hitler and other modern dictators, Stalin is not invested by law with any authority over his fellow-citizens, and not even over the members of the Party to which he belongs...
In other words, Stalin is not a dictator because (unlike Hitler) he is not legally a dictator. On paper, he is just what his title says he is: general secretary of the CPSU. A purely clerical position. As the title, of course, implies.

In real life, of course, Stalin was a dictator. Which made his position rather precarious! By the nominal collective, bottom-up, democratic structure of the Communist Party (completely absent, of course, in the Nazi Party), Stalin was a mere clerk. In the actual, unwritten reality, he was a Tsar.

Thus, the capacity of this system to revert from its informal Tsarism, to its formal "democratic centralism," was on every second of every day latent. Formally, officially, Stalinism is an ultra-democratic, left-wing, bottom-up form of government. Actually, unofficially, it is an ultra-despotic, right-wing, top-down form of government. The contradiction is quite great. Here is our chaos: black and white, sharing a single desk. Stalin has the power of the Tsars, but not the security of the Tsars.

No wonder Stalin killed so many old Communists. He had to. At least, once he started. He was riding the tiger. After Stalin died, Beria tried to take Stalin's place and hold this system together. A lot of bad things have been said about Beria and no doubt most of them are true, but no one to my knowledge has ever described him as a pussy.

So he lasted surprisingly long: almost four months. After that, of course, he was shot. The Soviet Union never had a true dictator again. It did not become a democracy, of course, but an oligarchy. Later general secretaries were strictly primus inter pares among the Politburo.

Thus we see the chaos implicit in tyranny. The tyrant is depraved, on account of he's deprived. Regardless of his personal mental stability, the instability of his regime compels him to tyrannize. Of course, if he's a paranoid sadist, this may compel him as well; and indeed, this tendency may aid him in getting the job. It certainly is not a qualification for monarchy.

Dictatorship, of course, can evolve into monarchy. Every historical monarchy has originated as, in some sense, a dictatorship. Caesar's is a good example. But if a dictatorship is to make this transition, if it is to achieve stability and permanence, it had better be designed to do so. 20th-century dictatorships were designed primarily to fit the needs of the processes that brought them to power. These were ugly processes, with no particular affection for stability and permanence. Hence, they bred tyrants. Only tyrants could harness the evil, chaotic power of these democracies gone wrong.

As a royalist, I favor absolute monarchy in the abstract sense: unconditional personal authority, subject to some responsibility mechanism. I am not an adherent of any particular dynasty, nor do I favor the hereditary principle as a method for royal selection; I prefer another political innovation of the Elizabethan era, the joint-stock company. I feel the State should be operated as a profitable corporation governed proportionally by its beneficiaries.

But given a binary choice between restoring the Stuarts, or sticking with the Anglo-American republican tradition, I would restore the Stuarts. At worst, an absolute President could even be elected by universal suffrage. Though, if you want a Hitler, this is how to get one.

I feel I have done a reasonable job of advertising Carlyle - or, at least, explaining Carlyle. But is my advertising true? And didn't I ask you to read Carlyle, before reading about Carlyle? If so, shall we not shit, or get off the pot?

So: enough abstractions of personal government. Let's look at a real example. And let's pick a Carlyle essay which is challenging, yet understandable. You've swallowed the theory. Now, the practice. If you can get this red pill down, you're cured. If not - well, you're probably normal. It's okay. Most people are.

Ill-informed leftist slurs to the contrary, General Pinochet is not exactly a popular, much-praised figure in libertarian circles. And not one libertarian in a thousand has even heard of his 19th-century counterpart - the subject of Carlyle's magnificent Dr. Francia (1843).

If you are interested in joining the weird cult of Carlyle, Dr. Francia is perhaps the best introduction. For one thing, it is one of the earliest works of Carlyle's later, politically incorrect period - which, if you are a busy person, is the only period you need to read. For another, you know even less about the real Dr. Francia than Carlyle did.

Carlyle - no dilettante belletrist, but one of his century's more diligent documentary historians - frankly confesses the utter inadequacy of his sources. It is unclear that they have improved. Paraguayan Studies is not one of the University's more popular majors. Please read Dr. Francia before you go Googling about for the actual Dr. Francia - it is not at all clear to me that Wikipedia's picture is any clearer than that of the aqueous Robertsons. With which it seems so synoptic. But could the Robertsons just be right? Who knows? Ah, the dark past.

And if you do read Dr. Francia, and are still shocked, there is only one cure. You are shocked because you are considering the matter in itself, on an absolute scale. You are not comparing it to the alternative. So why not have a look at the alternative?

Dear reader: I am proud to recommend the first must-see movie, or at least Internet video, of 2010. This is Shane Smith's Vice Guide to Liberia. "We here at Vice have been fascinated by Liberia for a long time..." Dr. Francia? Or General Butt Naked? Apples to apples, dear reader.

121 Comments:

Anonymous Anomalous said...

Can someone explain "Bueller? Bueller?" to me?

(First!)

February 4, 2010 at 2:46 AM  
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February 4, 2010 at 3:32 AM  
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February 4, 2010 at 4:22 AM  
Anonymous Johnny Abacus said...

Anomalous:

Video Clip

February 4, 2010 at 4:24 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

anon,

It's from the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". There is a seen in which the exaggeratedly boring school teacher, played by Ben Stein, takes attendance in an exaggeratedly slow and boring way. Bueller is the protagonist, who, of course is taking the Day Off.

February 4, 2010 at 4:33 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

Mancius, I still think you are a Universalist because your proscriptions assume uniformity amongst populations. Yeah, you call yourself a "Royalist," but that's only a difference in degree, or flavor, and not in kind, from someone who calls himself a Socialist. Instead of having a cadre of bureaucrats taxing some to pay off others, you'd have a cadre of ... bureaucrats running things as well.

A good political philosophy simply lets "birds of a feather" live amongst themselves and decide what form of government wiothin their sovereign boundaries works best for them.

Do both Switzerland and Somalia need "Royals" running them, or would one be better off as a custom-guided libertarian self-rule and the other ruled into orderliness by a strict religious doctrine?

February 4, 2010 at 5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you certainly write like Carlyle rather than Mises.

February 4, 2010 at 5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that most people, when they inspect history, do see a clear political axis. The axis they see, however, is not tyranny versus freedom, or even big versus little government. It is left versus right.

Most people "see" this because they have been indoctrinated by Leftists who have no interest in grouping Leftist tyranny and big government with Rightist tyranny and big government, even though this is an accurate and useful way to describe history. The Left insists on the "Left versus Right" axis because it allows them to sustain the false distinction between Leftist tyranny (good) and Rightist tyranny (bad).

Rightists may mistake other rightists for leftists, or even if sufficiently misguided present themselves as such. It makes no difference. Leftists do not mistake rightists for leftists - at least, not systematically. They just don't have that ant smell.

Those at the extreme of either end of the spectrum accuse those who are insufficiently extreme of treason. That is, extreme Rightists accuse less-extreme Rightists of being Leftists, and extreme Leftists accuse less-extreme Leftists of being Rightists.

Hitler, indeed, called Hitler a leftist, at least in the sense that he called his party a Socialist Workers' Party. But Hitler, while a very bad rightist, was a rightist. Not to mention a lying bastard.

This from the guy who insisted that we should take Mein Kampf as a truthful expression of Hitler's grand strategy, which Britain should have accepted as a reliable guide to Hitler's future plans and foreign policy! Why should we take Hitler's word for it that he had only limited goals in Europe, and never wanted war with England, but not take Hitler's word for it that he was a Leftist?

If the left-right axis does not exist, why does everyone see it?

Leftist indoctrination. It is yet another untrue idea that is useful to the Left, like global warming. (You might as well ask, "if global warming does not exist, why does 'everyone' see it?")

To a Carlylean, the main event is the struggle between left and right. Which is the struggle between good and evil. Which is the struggle between order and chaos. Evil is chaos; good is order. Evil is left; good is right. Evil is fiction; good is truth.

Um, the Left would agree with this completely - all you'd need to do is reverse the polarity (left = truth, goodness, justice, etc.)

Freedom is good, because freedom is fundamentally orderly - ie, right-wing. Tyranny is evil, because tyranny is chaotic - ie, left-wing.

The USSR was an evil, left-wing tyranny, and it was orderly.

Nazi Germany was an evil, right-wing tyranny, and it was orderly.

February 4, 2010 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they are predictable, a rational person can predict them, and thus avoid infringing them. Martial "law," by its very nature, can provide no such guarantee.

Generally, martial law is very simple and predictable - something you can write on a single sheet of paper and post on every corner. "Don't carry arms, don't loot or destroy property, and obey the curfew, or you will be shot."

The two great totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century are both mixtures of right and left

So, uh, Hitler is a Leftist after all, sorta.

The answer is that where we see atrocities of the right, we tend to see a right-wing system whose order is seriously contaminated with some fundamentally chaotic element.

So Nazism was fundamentally contaminated with Leftism. Why is Goldberg wrong, again?

The educated person of our time has a remarkably accurate picture of Nazi Germany.

You have previously argued that the educated view of Nazi foreign policy is totally wrong.

his view of the Nazi regime, which does not, is free from Nazi cant.

But it is infected with democratic cant.

If the old monarch was assassinated, God forbid, the new monarch is generally not the assassin (or his employers)

That was not always true in Imperial Russia.

Stalinism is an ultra-democratic, left-wing, bottom-up form of government. Actually, unofficially, it is an ultra-despotic, right-wing, top-down form of government.

Oy vey! Now we have Stalin as a Rightist, which is the classic infantile view of the Left.

Stalin has the power of the Tsars, but not the security of the Tsars.

Five of the fifteen Romanov Tsars were murdered. Some security...

At worst, an absolute President could even be elected by universal suffrage.

And in 2008 this would have given us King Barack. Yaaay!

February 4, 2010 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fwiw, this just came out on Carlyle:

http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Carlyle-the-wise-4387

February 4, 2010 at 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Erich Kofmel said...

Check out my blog, the "Anti-Democracy Agenda":

www.anti-democracy.com

and my book, "Anti-Democratic Thought" (Imprint Academic, 2008):

http://books.google.com/books?printsec=frontcover&id=KkMdJtaaeOYC

Cheers

February 4, 2010 at 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Liberty [is] not the daughter, but the mother of order." --Benjamin R. Tucker

February 4, 2010 at 7:58 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

"Liberty [is] not the daughter, but the mother of order." --Benjamin R. Tucker

Sure. Somalia has lots of liberty. Where is the order?

In reality, Culture is the mother of twin sisters Order and Liberty.

February 4, 2010 at 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What is the difference between Frederick the Great and Hitler?"

What they had in common was that they both embroiled their country in pointless military adventures that brought catastrophe to the nation and death to the average citizen (and yes, this was true for all that Prussia, more by luck than design, wound up on the winning side of the Seven Years War).

February 4, 2010 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

...in any war, there is a party that would be happy to stop, and a party that wants more.

The latter part is true, but not necessarily the former. There are times where both parties in a war are eager for more. WWI comes to mind.

February 4, 2010 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I think you're dead wrong about "order and chaos." Chaos is better described as reality. Order is the right-winger's attempt to reduce reality to that which he can understand and accept.

Chaos is evolution. Order is creationism. Chaos is Keynesian economics. Order is Austrian. Chaos is global climate change. Order is it's a hoax. Chaos is relationships and institutions evolve. Order is one man one woman just like Adam and Eve.

The left tries to accommodate the new reality of homosexuals being out of the closet and in real-life relationships. The right tries to force reality back to the 1950s. The left tries to accommodate the millions of immigrants, illegal and not. The right tries to... yes, you guessed it, change reality back to the old reality.

To me, right-wing thinking is for people who can't handle reality. They insist on a grossly simplified model of reality, and when reality rises up to bite them in the ass, they do everything they can to force reality to conform to their simplified model rather than updating their model.

Just look at religion. Right-wingers believe in fundamentalism -- always searching for the original, the model, not the beliefs which most conform to reality. Left-wingers believe in modifying and updating religion to reflect the changes in their understanding of reality.

It's the same thing in every field. Left-wing economics (in America) has changed several times over the course of the last century, adapting when they had gone too far to the left, and then adapting again after the crash. Right-wing economics has stayed constant, or even fundamentalized itself. It doesn't matter if there's a boom or a bust or globalization or the invention of the corporation, it's always the same economics, regardless of reality.

February 4, 2010 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Hugo said...

"Clearly, justice in the common-law system is neither especially fast, nor especially cheap, nor especially fair. It may have other advantages, but these have not revealed themselves to me."

One advantage is it tends to be relatively sane.

For example, instead of specifying a health-and-safety regulation in minute detail, which has costs for every business trying to comply with it, the lawmaker simply says "businesses shall take reasonable care and attention". The case law then decides what amount of care and attention is "reasonable".

In a sense, it allows juries to not only refuse to enforce bad laws, but to make the law.

You may regard this as a bad thing. But really it is just allowing spontaneous order to influence the law. The state can always override case law with a new law if it wants to.

February 4, 2010 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

Chaos is crapping in your pants and walking around with slosh in your drawers. Order is using a toilet and wiping.

Left winters insist that brown-yellow streaks down the back of their thighs are part and parcel of real-life biological process,

Right wingers try to force us back to times when we had to repress and channel this natural flow of things.

February 4, 2010 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Actually, assuming I can work out the bugs, firing the shell tends not to violate anyone's right.

You can look at this two ways.
One, to sign up with the military is to forfeit ownership of your life.
Two, to sign up with the military is to say, 'Hey, I'm willing to run around violating people's right!' which surrenders your own protection from same.

There's only even the possibility of an issue with firing on civilians, and I'm fairly sure there's no military situation where firing on civilians is a necessary. (Well, insurrection, but insurrection != war.) Although, this could easily be simple ignorance. Oversimply: the civilians are not trying to kill you. Firing on them does not assist your security. Or, the civilians are trying to kill you, in which case they're not civil.

Basically, if your natural rights structure prevent you from waging war, you've failed at divining natural rights.

"Perhaps we could hire some chimpanzees to experiment with multiple, overlapping protection agencies, and get back to us on that. Or we could hire the blue dragons from Neptune."

Ridicule is not an argument.
Luckily for you I consider this issue important enough that I don't demand that my opponents do their own homework.

The beginning of the counter-argument is that right anarchism does not demand geographically overlapping protections agencies. It simply acknowledges that as a possibility. The point of right-anarchism is to provide a profit motive, so that the invisible hand is responsible for figuring out the best arrangement, stipulating only that all agencies must allow exit.

But still, I read this blog, as convincing the hand to respect the stipulation may be impossible.

"your natural rights are most directly and saliently threatened not by official forces, but unofficial forces. Ie: not by the police, but by criminals. Duh."

Criminals have never stopped me from going a place I wanted to go. My grand total loss from crime is ~$100, which occurred after I was knowingly lax about security. (I don't even count it a net utility loss.) My grand total loss from government? Uh...incalculably huge.

('Course, that's cuz I'm on the wealthy side. Yeah, if you have to live where the criminals are, you're gonna get jacked.)

My personal, non-financial loss is also almost entirely attributable to government, namely compulsory education.

There's also this whole business of certification.

If you want to make this case, you'll have to show that these things are due to bad government. 'Duh' is not an argument.

At the very least, I think we can agree that bad government is far more threatening than any possible epidemic of crime.

Moreover, Somalia. (Hat tip: somebody, I forget.)

Do you agree it's anarchist? I don't, quite, I'd call it a polyarchy. Nevertheless, they've achieved law and seem to be working on freedom, on your pyramid. Indeed their major threat right now is TNG, the transitional national government. According to Somalia, a people without a government is like a fish without a bicycle.

February 4, 2010 at 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, you read Hoppe on anti-democracy, then Kuehnelt-Leddihn. What next?

February 4, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

I feel compelled to point out the prejudice against GDP as well.

Certainly, GDP is not useful for any of the things it's used for, and indeed, welfare and GDP can part ways. This just shows that judgment can include measures of GDP.

GDP must be a measure of something, because it can be used to measure objectively.

"The relationship between government debt and real GDP growth is weak for debt/GDP ratios below a threshold of 90 percent of GDP. Above 90 percent, median growth rates fall by one percent, and average growth falls considerably more."

This means that if you could control the confounding factors, you could tell when debt exceeds 90% just by looking at GDP growth.

It's just stupid to think of GDP as an end in itself, akin to thinking of high (or low) thermometer readings as an end in themselves.

February 4, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

This from the guy who insisted that we should take Mein Kampf as a truthful expression of Hitler's grand strategy, which Britain should have accepted as a reliable guide to Hitler's future plans and foreign policy! Why should we take Hitler's word for it that he had only limited goals in Europe, and never wanted war with England, but not take Hitler's word for it that he was a Leftist?

The argument for taking Mein Kampf at it's face value is empirical. Once in power, he did exactly what he said he would in the book, in the order he said he would do it in. Imagine if Caesar wrote a book in 65 BC saying he wanted to make himself rich and popular by conquering Gaul, cross the Rubicon with his armies, gain the dictatorship and resign it as proof of his civic virtue, then use that reputation to become dictator for life. If the book also mentioned that deep down he thought of himself as an defender of the Senate, why would you assume he was lying about that when the rest of the book was honest? I mean, sure, those beliefs aren't exactly consistent, but that's no reason he couldn't have genuinely believed those things.

As for the identity question, Fascism has issues because had it been around before 1917, it would have been a far left ideology, an alternative interpretation of Marxism. Mussolini's fascism (or Huey Long's) was often explicitly leftist. However, history was galloping to the left, and Fascism always gained electoral clout by being virulently anti-communist, which got it stuck on the right. Comintern came out against it, and it's low-bow appeal made it easy for people like Orwell to hate it. By contrast, I don't think Hitler ever called himself a leftist and consistently allied himself with the nationalists and monarchists. As the most visible and most awful fascist, he became the poster boy. Post WWII, Cold War politics meant there wasn't a lot of space for a non-Marxist left, which meant that some, like Peron and Nehru increasingly emphasized the Socialist rather than the Nationalist, while likes of Salazar and Phibun(Thailand) did the opposite.

February 4, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Anonymous c23 said...

Jewish Atheist, the left created the new reality. It didn't just appear out of nowhere.

I'm too squeezed for time to dig up links, but google about how the American Psychology Association decided that that homosexuality. Or look at the Stonewall Riots. These things happened because people made them happen. In theory, people could make them happen the other way.

As for illegal immigration, it happened because the federal government stopped enforcing the law, and the courts consistently frustrate any attempt by a state or municipality to stop immigration (the business community has something to do with this too). Again, the actions of people, not some force of nature like the law of gravity.

Conservatives could have - and did - make the argument that nature had ordained their order , when they had an order. It was bullshit then too. The world is shaped by those who have the power to shape it.

February 4, 2010 at 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm fairly sure there's no military situation where firing on civilians is a necessary.

If the bad guys are using civilians as human shields, i.e. firing from a crowd of civilians or hiding a military facility under a civilian apartment building, then you are perfectly justified in opening up with the artillery and accepting the civilian casualties and collateral damage as a cost of doing business.

The argument for taking Mein Kampf at it's face value is empirical. Once in power, he did exactly what he said he would in the book, in the order he said he would do it in.

Bullshit. He did a lot of things he said he wouldn't do in the book; he didn't do things he said he would do; and he did things he didn't even talk about (e.g. invading Yugoslavia and Greece). As an actionable guide to future intent, the book is useless.

February 4, 2010 at 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Racist Drawf said...

How does Kim Jong-Il fit on this axis of dictators? Is he a shitbag because his right ro rule is under constant threat?

February 4, 2010 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous pwyll said...

WOW. The Vice Guide to Liberia is unbelievable. What an eye-opener.

February 4, 2010 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Jewish Atheist:

Chaos=Nature

Order=Civilization.

I hope you're happy in the wild. Do you have a knife?

February 4, 2010 at 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is preventing you from moving to Israel?

Get the hell out.

February 4, 2010 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

GMP:

There is some truth to that. But I would argue that civilization vs. nature is a conservative dichotomy, while liberals prefer civilization in harmony with nature. Not necessarily the harmony that the less-rational eco-leftists believe in, but the harmony that comes from working from reality as opposed to destroying reality and trying to replace it with your own.

The right strip-mines and removes mountaintops and basically destroys what was there in order to create the reality that exists in their heads. The left mines too, but they use less destructive means. Their short-term profits may be less, but their long-term effects are much better.

The right is malignant, the left symbiotic.

February 4, 2010 at 2:23 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

Since MM favors absolutism, rather than several political property rights, he should go back to the term "monarchist." "Royalist" is a far more general term that, in most of Western European history, included respect for the political property rights of many other entities besides the king, something that MM does not respect.

February 4, 2010 at 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

JA: If the right is malignant, strip-mining and removing mountaintops, while the left is symbiotic, living in harmony with nature - how do you explain Chernobyl? or the drying-up of the Caspian sea? The Soviet Union was the cynosure of leftism and the moral model for most of the American left for decades. It was completely heedless of environmental destruction within its own borders.

Successful efforts for the conservation of wild nature in the U.S. owe far more to Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, both upper-class Republicans, than they do to anyone on the left. Most left-wing environmentalists of recent years strike me as what T.R. identified as "nature fakers." George Orwell, a man of the left who was an unsparing critic of some of his colleagues, described them well as "that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking toward the smell of 'progress' like bluebottles to a dead cat."

February 4, 2010 at 3:01 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

MM implies that there is a distinction between martial law and law under an absolutist monarchy, but doesn't say what this distinction is. In fact there is no important distinction -- they are both based on the arbitrary will of a commander. MM by worshiping Carlyle's absolutism also worships his absolutist ancestors Hobbes, Bodin, and Tribonian. Tribonian's work was the codification of law under a long series of dictators who typically won their positions by civil war or murder. In this law the ultimate authority was indeed the commander-in-chief of the winning army. Roman law, and the absolutist theory based on it, is a codification of martial law that has been plaguing our political systems and theories since the code of Justinian's servant Tribonian was rediscovered and propagated by our universities in the middle ages, and then turned by Bodin and Hobbes into a political theory cryptic martial law that has befuddled minds right up to today's MM.

In MM this theory mainly takes the form of quixotically searching around our system to find its commander-of-all, i.e. its "sovereign". He has alternatively located our mythological commander-of-all in the U.S. Supreme Court, the press, the universities, and Michael Mann. Give it up already. There is no commander-in-chief of all, no locus of sovereignty, unless we are living under martial law or its Roman-derived equivalent, which quite thankfully we here in the U.S. at least are not.

February 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

I'm not sure that Nazism (as distinct from Fascism of the Italian, Spanish, and Austrian variety) was actually an ideology. An ideology should have an (internally) consistent vision of society and history.

But rather than being a concept of how to organize society, Nazism was more of an elaborate personality cult (even compared to the other Fascist states) designed for Hitler's own self-glorification; a modernized version of Roman emperor worship.

Yes, Hitler allied with the German aristocracy and Ancien Regime and this is why most historians place Hitler on the right. However, does anyone doubt Hitler would not have hesitated to liquidate the German upper class if it had been politically expedient for him to do so?

February 4, 2010 at 3:38 PM  
Anonymous steve burton said...

pwyll - the vice guide to liberia is, indeed, an eye-opener.

I wish I could agree that it was "unbelievable."

And I hope that MM will have more to say about this, in due course.

February 4, 2010 at 4:34 PM  
Anonymous The Unnamed said...

"The right strip-mines and removes mountaintops and basically destroys what was there in order to create the reality that exists in their heads. The left mines too, but they use less destructive means...
"The right is malignant, the left symbiotic."

Leftism is utterly destructive of Western cultures because it favors half-assed, self-serving understandings of equality and freedom. Both leftism and its corporate adjuncts strip-mine communities of native resistance and call the wasteland "peace."

February 4, 2010 at 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post summarized in one sentence:

"Bring back Royalism so I can be a court Jew and safe from White Nationalists and Negroes."

February 4, 2010 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger jsabotta said...

Chesterton on Carlyle:

The defence which Carlyle and all its thoughtful defenders have made for aristocracy was that a few persons could more rapidly and firmly decide public affairs in the interests of the people. But slavery is not even supposed to be a government for the good of the governed. It is a possession of the governed avowedly for the good of the governors. Aristocracy uses the strong for the service of the weak; slavery uses the weak for the service of the strong. It is no derogation to man as a spiritual being, as Carlyle firmly believed he was, that he should be ruled and guided for his own good like a child--for a child who is always ruled and guided we regard as the very type of spiritual existence. But it is a derogation and an absolute contradiction to that human spirituality in which Carlyle believed that a man should be owned like a tool for someone else's good, as if he had no personal destiny in the Cosmos. We draw attention to this particular error of Carlyle's because we think that it is a curious example of the waste and unclean places into which that remarkable animal, 'the whole hog,' more than once led him.

In this respect Carlyle has had unquestionably long and an unquestionably bad influence. The whole of that recent political ethic which conceives that if we only go far enough we may finish a thing for once and all, that being strong consists chiefly in being deliberately deaf and blind, owes a great deal of its complete sway to his example.

February 4, 2010 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

JA:

And the argument I would counter with is that there is no symbiosis possible.

At least not a satisfactory one.

That is, if you're being symbiotic with nature you behave in a more animalistic way (cf sex & violins). If you're building civilization you behave in a civilized way.

There's no inbetween that's not Stalin or Hitler.

February 4, 2010 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm fairly sure there's no military situation where firing on civilians is a necessary.

Israel's military situation right now pretty much demands it - but of course they're not going to do it.

What Israel needs to do is what they're always accused of doing, but in fact never do: kill shitloads of Palestinian "civilians" until the rest are tired of war and understand that acting as human shields for terrorists is going to get them killed. Every time a rocket is fired from Gaza, flatten three city blocks around the launch point with artillery. Kill hundreds of civilians for every Israeli who dies, etc. etc.

February 4, 2010 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I can only comment that both 'freedom' and 'anarchy' have the characteristic of uncenteredness; the latter because there is no functional center, the former because the center is everywhere.

Since man is a 'center at the periphery,' freedom, which is spontaneous order and the true state of free will, is the natural state of man.

Anarchy is a rejection of all order, and thus while casting off the burden of bad order, as a force it will progressively destroy all order, both good and bad.

The state which gave rise to feudalism was one of anarchy. For anarcho-capitalism, give us a few generations of it and you will be a century from the Danegeld.

Progressive indeed!

February 4, 2010 at 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Bock said...

Moldbug, here's your problem:

Why the obsession over crime and violence? Are you a senior citizen? Why security as such a high value? In the US you are much more likely to die in a car wreck than as a victim of a crime.

I live in the middle of a large city and walk freely at night. I realize I might be a victim of a crime, but the odds are greater I'll get in a car wreck.

Basically, you are a right winger because you are a pussy afraid of thugs. Maybe you should just move out of the Bay Area. Is it a coincidence that Mike Savage lives in SF?

South African may not be better off as a democracy, but the US is. You are not a Royalist; you are a Utopian.

No more Utopias!

February 4, 2010 at 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Marcus said...

Favorite quote:
When democracy is competing against the remnants of the ancien regime, it is a force for limited government. Once it defeats and disempowers these remnants, it is a synonym for socialism.

February 4, 2010 at 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

General Butt Naked ain't nothin special. General Mosquito and his nemesis, General Mosquito Spray, are a little more like it.

Anyway, how about this: instead of the whole Antiversity thing, form a corporation. Buy out about twenty blocks of Detroit to start with. I know average market value is like $10K a house, but in the absence of a market, the market value is irrelevant. I bet if you show up with like a $5K in cash, the inhabitants of any given building will sign the deed, grab their shit and go smoke that money toute suite-the Superdome there is on sale for $118K, I heard. Surround those blocks with 20 foot high T-barriers, Iraq FOB style. Rebuild half the houses from the ground up, demolish the other half, plant trees in their place or whatever. Then, start selling long-term leases to people (screened by IQ and background) and businesses. You can have your own security force (I bet if you wire the place with cameras, about two dozen guards will be all you need,) school, clinic/hospital, and of course a crack squad of reptilian lawyers on retainer. Make a deal with the city and state, which just filed bankruptcy, that you'll give them a lump sum per annum in exchange for no taxes, corporate or personal, being collected in your area, and no eminent domain fuckery. Of course, we'll have to bribe some of them. If Kwame Kilpatrick is at all representative of the average Detroit politician, that shouldn't pose a problem. And if any of them get too greedy, it can be pointed out that the city is full of people who can do terrible things for a moderate price. Sell stocks based on real estate value, which will be determined by rents, have a Board of Directors run things, with a Chairman in charge, acquire new blocks as the opportunity presents itself. If that's not awesome Neocolonialism, what is?

B.

February 4, 2010 at 11:10 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Bock:

I hear that a lot: you're wrong to worry about X, because car accidents are statistically Y times more likely to kill you than X. Thing is, car accidents are an unavoidable consequence of the automobile, which is an extremely useful and fun tool. Usually when I hear this argument, I'm not getting anything nearly as good as automobile travel in return for running the risk of X.

In this case, what do we get for running the risk of violent crime? I suppose it's a slightly lower chance of being wrongly convicted, but the real payoff is votes and political power accruing to people other than you and me. Why should we tolerate it?

You say it's utopian to expect lower crime. It's been done before; was the USA in 1900 a utopia? Why can't we do as good or better today? What did the people of the US gain in return for this increase? MM is right that with modern surveillance and forensics, a competent government should be able to manage a much lower crime rate at little cost in money or liberty.

February 4, 2010 at 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

B:

That sounds pretty good: wasn't it the plot of Robocop?

Seriously though, why would anyone want to live and work in a fort in Detroit? You'd be hated, boycotted, forced to defend your every action in court, and eventually expropriated. No thank you.

Real estate is all about location, and anything I can do in the Detroit Neocameralist Cession, I can do from rural North Dakota, for less money and less hassle. Now if you can get good residents and businesses to come on board, you might have something. Unfortunately, our best people are Brahmins, or swipples, or whatever you want to call them, and the wouldn't go near the thing.

February 4, 2010 at 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

I'd like to see Jewish Atheist talk about how wonderful chaos is and how horrible and unnatural order is after watching that vice travel guide to Liberia.

"When you first get there [one particular slum] the first thing you want to do is get the hell out. It's open sewers everywhere, shit, piss, garbage; everything mixed in and the stench is overpowering."

Ahh, the beauty of chaos. Contrast that to Hong Kong, Singapore or Dubai with all that filthy, unnatural order.

Re: anon and the RoboCop plan

That shows exactly how strongly anything resembling neocamerialism will be resisted. It doesn't even exist and progressives make propaganda to discredit it.

The same director turned Starship Troopers from a novel that talked about the virtues of a strictly limited franchise (it resulted in a far more libertarian society than we have today) into a movie that opposed the society depicted in the book. Again, propaganda against a non-existent regime. Progressives really have the radar set on high gain for any potentially effective anti-progressive agenda.

February 5, 2010 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous PeterW said...

Brilliant. For a wider audience, drop the tendentious "left is evil, right is good" redefinition, and emphasize your theme of monarchy being the only way to sustainable libertarianism.

But how exactly is your monarch supposed to be accountable, save by Mandate of Heaven?

February 5, 2010 at 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

But how exactly is your monarch supposed to be accountable, save by Mandate of Heaven?

MM's design has a sovereign responsible to a board of directors. A traditional monarch is responsible to the rest of the family. Unlike in a dictatorship, the successor to a monarch is both known in advance and is from the same family. This is a huge constraint on monarch misbehavior. The monarch is more secure, there are fewer potential successors, and the value of the crown is passed on to a family member.

I suspect that the stability and effectiveness of monarchy in Europe is at least partially the result of there being so many competing royal families in a small area and not entirely the result of the superior government structure. Royal families grew in power due to being better at governing than competing potential royal families. By 1800 only the best of the governing families were left as monarchs.

Monarchy might look much worse if a new monarch had to be selected. There is no process known to pick competent sovereigns.

February 5, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Bock, I don't think MM's concern about crime is primarily motivated by fear of personal violence. If you've followed his blog for any length of time you will note that he believes the criminal underclass (the "Dalits")are used by the intelligenstia (the "Brahmins") as an instrument for political extortion. The activities of ACORN and the Black Panthers with their clubs at a Philadelphia election precinct, etc., are examples.

Nick (and anyone else who might be interested in such things) - MM has distinguished between "codified law in the Continental style, and case law, in the Anglo-American style," and expresses sympathy for the view that "common law [is] simply a mediaeval abuse - a consequence of England's unfortunate failure to distil and codify its body of precedent." This seems to me to be a vast oversimplification of the differences between ancient Roman law, the customary Roman law as it developed throughout most of Continental Europe (and Scotland!) in the middle ages and early modern period, and codified law as we find it in France under Bonaparte or in Imperial Germany under the Hohenzollerns. It also neglects the point that in most U.S. states, criminal codes have replaced the common law relative to crime, that Federal regulations are codified, etc.

I'd like to know whether MM really admires the Code Napoleon, or the Imperial German Zivilprozessordnung - or whether his preference is for the blend of local customary law and the residues of ancient Roman law that actually prevailed in most of Europe during the golden age of absolute monarchy. There is little remaining of this now but Scots law and the Roman-Dutch law that still obtains in South Africa. The two were quite similar, and Scots lawyers quite frequently studied law in Holland; for example, Lord Monboddo at Groningen, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik at Leyden.

The law most familiar to Carlyle would have been Scots law. On the point of "red tape" - I did not know Carlyle was the originator of the figurative use of the words, but note that anyone who has ever been in a English barrister's or Scots advocate's chambers may remember that the briefs sent them by solicitors are customarily rolled up and tied with cloth tape, "red" by long usage, but actually pink. Some other Scots legal documents are also delivered in this manner, including patents of arms from Lyon court.

February 5, 2010 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Further to the discussion of Roman as opposed to common law - much of the difference has nothing to do with the law being codified, but is rather procedural. Thus a criminal prosecution in 49 of the 50 American states is procedurally conducted in a manner consistent with Anglo-American common law, even though it be under a state's criminal code and not under the common law. Also, some substantive aspects of Roman law have entered into the law of some states, such as community property (as opposed to dower and curtesy); typically in states like California and Texas that were once Spanish possessions. Does MM find fault with the procedural or with the substantive aspects of common law?

Steve Johnson remarks that "monarchy might look much worse if a new monarch had to be selected." Venice had elective doges for 1000 years, and fared no worse during that time than hereditary monarchies. The papacy is a sort of elective monarchy, and had temporal sovereignty from the end of the Roman empire in the West until the time of Pio Nono. There were some bad popes, but the institution has been quite resilient in spite of them.

February 5, 2010 at 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mencius,
if you want people to read old books, you should go books.google one better: record the books aloud in a vivid style. Those that are off-copyright, that is.

I still might do some of that myself, or not. I did google some voice-modulating/disguising software, some that's cheap and I think some that's freeware. I didn't attempt to install it since my OS is messed up at the moment. Anyone who wants to see this stuff will easily find it on the first page when googling.

Anyone know where I can upload mp3s to -- other than LibriVox, if I don't feeling jumping through their hoops.

February 5, 2010 at 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lawful Neutral:

>You'd be hated, boycotted, forced to defend your every action in court, and eventually expropriated.

Only by a strong government. However, since local government is anything but strong, how hard would it be to convince them to not just leave the entity alone but to speak out enthusiastically for it?

>Real estate is all about location, and anything I can do in the Detroit Neocameralist Cession, I can do from rural North Dakota, for less money and less hassle.

All the geographical advantages of Detroit that caused GM and Ford to build there instead of, say, Fargo, still apply. A large percentage of the people you'd have to attract to begin with would be state, county and municipal employees and contractors who would be attracted by the idea of not having to commute in. Keep in mind also that Detroit is just ahead of the curve, and thus is a stand-in for most of urban America in 20 years if current trends continue. But if you want a warmer climate for the project, New Orleans would do just as well.

>Now if you can get good residents and businesses to come on board, you might have something.

That's the whole point. The entity would just be a people farm. How do we get them to come on board? Low rents and taxes, a crime-free environment, good schools and health care-that's all I've been able to come up with so far.

>Unfortunately, our best people are Brahmins, or swipples, or whatever you want to call them, and the wouldn't go near the thing.

Since we're actually trying to attract producers of value instead of lawyers and women's studies majors, we'd have a lot more Vayshiyas and Shudras than Brahmin. There are plenty of those still in the Midwest. Basically, this whole deal would kind of be like the state of Utah, but minus the religion.

Steve:

>Progressives really have the radar set on high gain for any potentially effective anti-progressive agenda.

Detroit is flyover country, and if we could subvert the local government and community organizers to speak out for our cause, I don't know how far our progressive opponents would get.

B.

February 5, 2010 at 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

Michael S:

Venice had elective doges for 1000 years, and fared no worse during that time than hereditary monarchies.

I don't think this contradicts my point. From the wikipedia article on Venetian Doges:

The doge's prerogatives were not defined with precision, and though the position was entrusted to members of the inner circle of powerful Venetian families, after several doges had associated a son with themselves in the ducal office, this tendency towards a hereditary monarchy was checked by a law which decreed that no doge had the right to associate any member of his family with himself in his office, or to name his successor. After 1172 the election of the doge was finally entrusted to a committee of forty, who were chosen by four men selected from the Great Council, which was itself nominated annually by twelve persons. After a deadlocked tie at the election of 1229, the number of electors was increased from forty to forty-one.

The hard part looks to have been done in advance. There is competition to become one of the forty most prominent families. That competition is likely to select for traits that would make someone a competent sovereign. Who are the forty most prominent families today? I don't think that you could deny that the Bushes, the Clintons and the Kennedys would be among them. What process selected them? Certainly not one that was selecting for traits that would make a good sovereign. On the other hand, I have no doubts that the representative of any of these families would make a better King or Queen than president.

The papacy is a sort of elective monarchy, and had temporal sovereignty from the end of the Roman empire in the West until the time of Pio Nono. There were some bad popes, but the institution has been quite resilient in spite of them.

To become pope you've got to become a cardinal first. Again, a time tested filter mechanism that works well for finding people who are good at exercising sovereign authority.

I don't think this is an unsolvable problem but I don't know of any non-corrupted selection mechanisms that operate today.

February 5, 2010 at 1:38 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

The same director turned Starship Troopers from a novel that talked about the virtues of a strictly limited franchise (it resulted in a far more libertarian society than we have today) into a movie that opposed the society depicted in the book. Again, propaganda against a non-existent regime.

There was political propaganda in Starship Troopers?

I (and presumably 99.99% of everyone who has ever watched that movie) was too distracted by the topless Space Trooper babes to notice any political message. And are you certain Verhoeven is anti-Fascist? He makes not so subtle use of the ever pleasing Nazi-esque uniform aesthetic in the film (but of course, so do all other movie directors because the black/grey leather Wehrmacht/SS uniforms are so much more stylish than the bland WWII Soviet uniforms and the even worse Anglo-American uniforms)

MM's design has a sovereign responsible to a board of directors. A traditional monarch is responsible to the rest of the family.

Yeah, yeah, we all know that about the "board of directors". But what happens when the "sovereign" uses Russian hackers - a la Climategate - to get control of the crypto-lock laser weapons and then proceeds to "retire" the board members who were supposed to be checking his authority?

It would appear that Moldbug's Sovcorp blueprint still has the same design flaw as anarcho-Capitalism: if you replace a government with a collective of CEOs, at some point one CEO gets control of a military, wipes out the other CEOs, and then he becomes dictator.

Further to the discussion of Roman as opposed to common law - much of the difference has nothing to do with the law being codified, but is rather procedural.

Out of curiosity, did the Roman Empire mostly just copy the old Roman Republic era laws during and after the reign of Augustus, or did the Emperors make any fundamental changes to their legal code prior to Rome's adoption of Christianity?

February 5, 2010 at 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Hey, man, we all need a Jesus.

You have got one already.

Put away that keyboard, read some Chesterton. Calm down and go change some diapers. That febrile agitation is not good for you.

February 5, 2010 at 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Pals said...

I’m going to post a more thorough reply when I have some time, but for now I just want to point out that there is a far easier way of understand Moldbug, without having to indulge his endless ramblings: he’s a Nazi. More specifically, Moldbug is a Jew who somehow arrived at Nazism, realized that Nazism wouldn’t be nice to him and so has reinvented it as a new ideology that does everything Nazism does, but does not kill Jews.

You’ll notice that all his discussions of Hitler and Nazism are nonsensical, incomplete and make no intelligent arguments. The only arguments he ever mentions against Hitler are that he killed Jews, and that he was “Hitler”.

I, of course, am not a Nazi, and I despise Nazism and Hitler. And now I realize I have the same exact problems with Mencius because he is no different from Hitler at all. His only hang-up is the Jew-murder, and the decades of democratic indoctrination against Hitler that make him think that “Hitler” is itself a good enough argument against Hitler.

Some of you may remember that while arguing with some professor from the Cathedral Mencius once wrote that the only people he cannot debate honestly are Nazis. I can now understand why. He agrees with Nazis on everything, but cannot confront the unbearable conclusion that his crazy ideas, at the hands of western white societies, would necessitate his own murder or expulsion. I would suggest that once your own ideology begins to necessitate your own murder, then you might want to reconsider the whole thing rather than finding a small workaround.

Nazism is a demented criminal ideology. Mencius has been basically believing it and peddling it, and getting away with this because his being Jewish makes it unthinkable for any of his readers to suspect his Nazism.

February 5, 2010 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Pals,

You're still off, but that's because you're an anarchist. That's okay--I wish all men were angels too.

B--

NOLA is not cheap & has a very entrenched political class. Wouldn't be possible there. Hell, Haiti would be easier.

February 5, 2010 at 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Bock said...

Moldbug, here's your problem:

You can't reverse entropy.

You want a reboot? Stick a bomb up the world's asshole. Otherwise you are just a dreamer.

February 5, 2010 at 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Bock said...

Moldbug, here's your problem:

Why wouldn't a for profit kingdom consolodate power by taking over a weaker kingdom? For a history buff, you seem to be ignoring a lot of the lessons of history on this question.

February 5, 2010 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Bock:

You can work against it.

If you don't it overtakes you.

If you do it overtakes you much less quickly. Ragnarok and all that.

To point two:

Yes, most of us are waiting to see how he gets out of that one.

February 5, 2010 at 7:16 PM  
Anonymous pwyll said...

Bock / G.M. Palmer: what if the country being "taken over" were Liberia? wouldn't that be a net improvement? It certainly seems like a profitable action; the country doing the takeover could realize big gains by improving on the currently wasteful/disfunctional sitution of the country's people and resources. Win-win.

February 5, 2010 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

His Beria example is rather poor. Beria was not in the same position as Stalin, Kruschev actually held the post of General Secretary. Beria was relying on the fact that his ally, Malenkov, was prime minister. Malenkov sided with Kruschev and ordered Beria's arrest. It's really people below the top of the Communist heirarchy who had to worry. Communist leaders tended to die in their sleep. Ceauşescu is a rather rare exception. Compare the United States: Kennedy was successfully assassinated and Reagan was non-fatally wounded. Truman was lucky to get away unscathed, but some of his security was killed by Puerto Rican nationalists. Two separate women pulled guns on Gerald Ford. Even FDR survived an assassination attempt (though it might have been directed at Mayor Anton Cermak, who was actually killed). The period before the creation of the USSR can't be used as comparison, but the fact that three presidents from back then were assassinated says something for the lack of security under democracy. Even then Presidents serve fairly short terms, so they should have shorter time horizons than Soviet dictators. Yet they seem to have consistently outperformed them (at least as far as the average citizen is concerned). Furthermore, focusing on the purges of party members is a mistake. The real mass killings where directed at the peasantry. We only hear more about the Great Terror & Cultural Revolution (or Tiananmen Square) rather than the forced collectivationz for Great Leap Forward and Five Year Plans because of who the victims are. Elite intellectuals write lots of books to get audiences to feel sympathy for the plight of their kind. Trotsky certainly didn't give a shit about massacres of little people (he's responsible for Kronstadt, after all), but he became a saintly figure for his denunciation of Soviet tyrranny against "left deviationists".

I don't live in a city because hell is other people, and city people are apt to be hipsters. The real question is why does MM live in San Francisco? It's the Left Pole of progressivism in America: for it's inhabitants, every other location is to their right. If the nice weather can really outweigh the lousy progressive governance, such governance must not be so bad. As for crime, in the U.S it has continued the downward trend started under Clinton despite fears of a recession + Obama double whammy. In Los Angeles, which has perhaps been the major metropolis most impacted by our lax immigration policy and once notorious as the birthplace of "gangsta rap", crime is down to where it was when Leave It to Beaver was on the air. I'm less familiar with England, but I believe it has also had declining crime for some years now. At any rate, since the U.S is in a rather different boat, why does it make sense to blame democracy rather than something particular to England? A commenter below mentions the U.S in 1900: official crime rates may have been seriously understated that far back due to the difficulty of collecting data in certain regions. I find the argument in that link plausible because it gives a simple explanation for the sharp rise a few years into the 20th century: crime was already that high, the statistics were just getting more accurate. This is similar to Alan Reynold's explanation of the rise in income inequality after the 1987 tax reform.

February 5, 2010 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Moving onto other quibbles, Socrates was said to have been executed for his religious rather than political beliefs. Plato also said the Spartan system was superior to democracy, but didn't have to drink hemlock. Also, Socrates really was a pederast, though Mencius is correct to note that he wasn't on trial for that.

Sherlock Holmes was not actually that realistic a portrayal of crime. As Steve Sailer has noted, Arthur Conan Doyle learned what the producers of Law & Order later found out for themselves: readers don't want to hear about crimes in criminal neighborhoods, they want upper-class characters. Furthermore, taking Holmes at his word, he is complaining that the crimes that occur are easy to solve. Steve Sailer has also been noticing that recently: criminals tend to be stupid and their motivations are simpler than mystery readers desire.

Regarding anarchy, to cite Sailer again Haiti is quite safe. Another reader has done my usual job for me of pointing out how well Somalia has done under anarchy compared to it's lousy performance with a government. Anarcho-capitalists (a label I don't embrace for Randall Holcombe's reasons) have been asked to provide an actual example of their polycentric theories at work, and medieval Iceland is the common response. Anarchy doesn't seem that bad of a system to live under, though its rarity indicates barriers to creating & maintaining it.

February 5, 2010 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Mencius argues that if you have not risen up to a high level on his Maslowesque pyramid, it is a terrible mistake for the government to relax. Yet he acknowledges that prohibition is too hard to enforce (controlled systematically by organized crime, no less!) and so legalization makes sense. Yet this is just such an example of the government letting up in the face of disorder and lawlessness. Similarly, the leftist Howard Zinn's recommendation in "VietNam: The Logic of Withdrawal" really was an accurate way to obtain peace. The U.S did not have to endure Viet Cong suicide bombers after we turned tail and retreated. In that case the radical left was right and most people on the right were wrong. I would use that as a contradiction to his earlier "..and left is wrong" statement, but he was already on record as disagreeing with it when quoting Kuehnelt-Leddihn before.

If you think Joe Arpaio is an example of exemplary law enforcement rather than a thug in uniform (though he does admittedly uphold immigration law) or you don't think police violate what might be called "natural rights" as a matter of regular procedure with negligible consequences for the offenders, you have't been reading enough Balko and RadGeek. Most people involved in the drug trade do not regularly coerce anyone (though there are violence specialists within that category who do, primarily against other criminals), they deliver a product to consumers that the government happens to have prohibited.

Arguing that the 20th century dictatorships were just poor executions of a good idea is like saying the same thing of communism. Dictatorships have a terrible record compared to democracy, which is why people are understandably reluctance to exchange the latter for the former.

In his debate with Robin Hanson, Mencius says that back in the old days of Usenet he was an annoying fanatical libertarian. This seems to clash with his claim to have been a good liberal shocked when reading his first Republican blog, seguing then from neoconservatism to libertarianism.

Mises' hesitation to make normative pronouncements has nothing to do with Caryle's point about "government by steam". Mises believes that economics can only tell people how to get what they want, and assuming they want something economics can tell them whether a policy will get them that. He actually has a lot in common with Robin Hanson in that respect.

He does not tell you that central planning is impossible; he tells you that central planning by objective process, ie public policy in the modern American sense, is impossible
A rather bizarre claim from someone who has read Mises. Mises argued that under capitalism actors engage in economic calculation, without real markets there cannot be such calculations. No "human judgement" can save socialism from his critique. I'm not an Austrian and I don't think Mises actually proved what he claimed. Rather, socialism is just shitty and no central planner (even with human judgement) can make all the correct decisions to avoid said shittiness save by abandoning central planning.

February 5, 2010 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

America has built an enormous debt by consuming beyond its income - thus maximizing GDP
In terms of government debt relative to GDP, we're pikers compared to Greece. If we're talking trade deficits, we've pretty much always had that outside of severe recessions.

along with HIV deniers
And creationists, and AGW deniers.

There is no such thing as effective right-wing Alinskyism
Barack Obama was confronted with just such an obstacle (organized by Alinsky disciples) when he was a community organizer. He "failed upwards" and forsook Alinsky for Harvard Law. In 2010 there were the Town Hall protestors, and whaddayaknow health care "reform" is derailed. The anti-bussing folks also (eventually) succeeded in stopping liberalism, and liberals today admit bussing was a mistake. For a examples of top-down right-wing obstruction, see the Heller and Citizens United decisions.

When you lie - intentionally or unintentionally - you sacrifice a kitten to Satan.
Then you've sacrificed a great deal of kittens yourself here on UR. Fortunately, there is no such thing as Satan and you are just talking nonsense. I think Orwell had it right when it comes to political writing: we should strive to write as little and clearly as possible. Metaphors are particularly apt to obscure things.

If the left-right axis does not exist, why does everyone see it?
If God and optical illusions do not exist, why do people see them?

If it does exist, the up-down axis gets scraped right off by Occam's razor. With one axis, do we need two?
If the up-down axis exists, why do we need left-right? You are privileging a hypothesis.

Rather than simply say order=good and chaos=evil I would instead suggest that the edge of chaos is what we seek.

If incremental surrender is effective, it may be pursued, but it is generally not effective.
And you call yourself a royalist. The wars of kings did not abound with unconditional surrenders. Unconditional surrenders are unfortunate features of wars of men and ideology, bereft of realpolitik, even if they are often better than continuing the fight. Chessmasters see that they are defeated and throw in the towel all the time, even though the loss of pieces costs nothing to them. In the real world the losses of war are real, and a wise ruler will negotiate a peace rather than needlessly losing more. A Napoleon or Hitler cannot survive defeat, the Roman/Byzantine empire did it all the time.

Does artillery violate the natural rights of the target?
Depends on your view of just war theory.

It's an experience most of us can barely imagine.
I've always felt fully secure. Others attest likewise.

February 5, 2010 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I am inclined to be sympathetic to those who think of common law as simply a medieval abuse
Do you have any reason for thinking this? Can you point to any evidence indicating that Continental law works better? Even a cherry-picked example of exemplary Continental law in action?

but he is certainly the leading Rothbardian scholar of the post-Rothbard era
If Rothbard were alive today, I'm quite confident he would say it's actually Walter Block. Hell, Hoppe might tell you the same.

You've casually thrown around the term "retarded" before. Indicting anarcho-capitalism on the basis of Hitler, who is about as far as you can get from it without having the nickname "Stalin", takes the retarded cake.

Mises quite successfully discredited nonlibertarian formulas for government, but he did not show that government by any formula is practical - including the libertarian formula.
Mises wrote about economic policies rather than the structure of government (Hayek got more into that aspect). His arguments against non-libertarian policies serve as proofs (assuming they are valid) by contradiction that libertarian policy is optimal.

Moreover, the entire proposition of government by formula appears motivated by a single goal: the need to design a system of government which can be enforced by democracy
That doesn't make a goddman lick of sense. Democracy means doing what voters say and voters don't have to and probably won't abide by any formula. Putting a formula above the will of the people is in essence UNdemocratic.

The means is: convince the voting population of the need for minimal government
Bullshit, Hayek and the Chicago students of freedom advised Pinochet. Mises advises the Austro-fascists after they banned all political opposition. The anarcho-capitalists don't think there should be any voting population at all.

Another way to see the problem is to examine that shibboleth of libertarians - limited government
Again, that does not apply to anarcho-capitalists like Rothbard. So of course at the end of the paragraph you complain about Rothbard, who would have agreed with just that point!

This is the direct result of New Deal Legal-Realist jurisprudence
The pro-New Deal judges (and a number of their Progressive forebears) actually preached judicial restraint, leaving things to the legislature. It was the conservatives who used the power of the bench to block the New Deal legislature and executive! And your "alas, judges are men" point is quite in the spirit of legal realism.

For instance, by reimposing the standards and practices of the Victorian law-enforcement system, certainly both available and practical.
Bobbies sans firearms, perhaps? Personally, I'd prefer pre-Peel "thief-taker" policing, as described in Bruce Benson's "Enterprise of Law". Mencius would probably not think so highly of Peel's principle "The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force", combined with the previous principle on the necessity of public co-operation.

February 5, 2010 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

It is not obvious that ethnic nationalism makes any sense except in the context of democracy
Except that it's found in undemocratic dictatorships everywhere. Even monarchies have had to appeal to it.

Yet refugees fled from Hitler's Germany; to Frederick's Prussia
Your wikipedia article links to this one on Frederick: "This article is about the Elector of Brandenburg. For the King of Prussia, see Frederick William I of Prussia." That Frederick was born three years after the Huguenots fled. Frederick the Great is Frederick II, his son, and lucky not to have lost his kingdom (though lucky to have been allied with the Vampire of the Continent). So many Fredericks, it understandable you got confused.

The educated person of our time has a remarkably accurate picture of Nazi Germany
No, they tend to think of Nazi Germany in terms of its fight with their own countries, which will only be representative if they happen to be Russian. Also, everyone remembers the Holocaust, which occurred (bear with me, deniers) in the last dying years in response to setbacks, just like the Armenian genocide.

There was no Hitler 2.0, or vice-Hitler, or Son of Hitler, waiting in the wings
Goring wasn't much better. The Spanish falangist leaders were killed during the Civil War, it's questionable how much of a difference that made.

and fight the Communists
You say that like it's a bad thing.

And not one libertarian in a thousand has even heard of his 19th-century counterpart - the subject of Carlyle's magnificent Dr. Francia
They have if they read the New Republic on Hugo Chavez.

I thank the Anonymous commenter for the New Criterion link. Now get a handle! Carlyle comes off looking a lot better in that article, but since he hated the Victorian era, why does Mencius hold it up as his golden age?

Tucker didn't say that about liberty, Proudhon did. And Somalia had more order under anarchy than its neighbors.


Jewish Atheist:
You don't know what you're talking about when it comes to economics. Real-bills doctrine is not Austrian economics is not monetarism is not Real Business Cycle theory is not Public Choice. Keynesianism has been the doctrine of most left-wing economists since Keynes. The mainstream "hydraulic" version is often accused of simplifying things by the more leftist Post-Keynesians, but also by Austrians. The Post-Keynesian G. L. S. Shackle had a lot in common with the Austrian Ludwig Lachmann.


Michael S:
No, I'm pretty sure he's talking about actual crime. The political impact of gangbangers in America is negligible. ACORN is a different category, do they "violate natural rights"?


Pals:
I agree on the weirdness of his discussion of Hitler/Nazism. He often sounds like he's saying good things about the Third Reich, then backs away. Actual Nazis tend to be rather narrow & obsessive though. His wider ranging historical interest led me to consider him as a Straussian proponent of Islam.

February 5, 2010 at 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And are you certain Verhoeven is anti-Fascist? He makes not so subtle use of the ever pleasing Nazi-esque uniform aesthetic in the film

Are you sure you're a Jew if you're not smart enough to understand irony?

Moldbug, here's your problem:

You can't reverse entropy.


Of course you can. Otherwise civilization would never have been built in the first place.

Why wouldn't a for profit kingdom consolodate power by taking over a weaker kingdom?

Any kingdom worth taking over won't be weak, it will be strong enough that the effort to conquer it won't justify the cost of doing so. A weak kingdom that can easily be conquered won't be worth conquering. You would never see a for-profit kingdom spend trillions of dollars to occupy, pacify, and rebuild a shitty Third World country full of violent, crazy savages. Only democracies are stupid enough to want to do that.

what if the country being "taken over" were Liberia? wouldn't that be a net improvement? It certainly seems like a profitable action; the country doing the takeover could realize big gains by improving on the currently wasteful/disfunctional sitution of the country's people and resources. Win-win.

Excellent case in point. I can imagine nothing less profitable than taking over Liberia, which is a shithole with nothing in it other than a violent, primitive human population. Show me the business case for taking over Liberia: how much does it cost to conquer, pacify, and administer it, and when does the takeover show a profit? What's the return on investment and how long before the stockholders see a Liberia dividend?

Liberia, like almost every other country in Africa, is a country that any sensible for-profit kingdom wouldn't want to own.

February 5, 2010 at 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@TGGP

Similarly, the leftist Howard Zinn's recommendation in "VietNam: The Logic of Withdrawal" really was an accurate way to obtain peace. The U.S did not have to endure Viet Cong suicide bombers after we turned tail and retreated. In that case the radical left was right and most people on the right were wrong.

The Left was wrong on Vietnam because victory was both possible and desirable.

In any war, "peace" is always available if you surrender. This does not mean that surrender is the correct option.

The anti-bussing folks also (eventually) succeeded in stopping liberalism, and liberals today admit bussing was a mistake.

They didn't stop liberalism, they made it change tactics. You don't have to bus black kids to white neighborhoods any more, because thanks to Section 8 and other "affordable housing" the black kids already live in the white neighborhood. Section 8 is much worse than busing from a non-liberal perspective; now the blacks aren't just around during school hours, they're around 24/7.

everyone remembers the Holocaust, which occurred (bear with me, deniers) in the last dying years in response to setbacks,

No it didn't. They set it in train in January 1942, when they fully expected to win.

I agree on the weirdness of his discussion of Hitler/Nazism.

From what I can tell, your views on Hitler's objectives and strategies is pretty similar to that of MM.

February 5, 2010 at 9:48 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

@ tggp

the Holocaust, which occurred (bear with me, deniers) in the last dying years in response to setbacks, just like the Armenian genocide.

It had been planned at least since the beginning of 1942, when the war was still going well for the Germans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wannsee_Conference

Goring wasn't much better. The Spanish falangist leaders were killed during the Civil War, it's questionable how much of a difference that made.

Goering was much better. He never wanted war, and if Hitler had died there simply would not have been a war if Goering had taken power.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=19460313&id=QgMNAAAAIBAJ&sjid=v2kDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2326,3342185

That means no Holocaust.

I don't know too much about the Falangists, but I do know that Franco wisely avoided WWII. I don't see what's so bad about Franco.

February 6, 2010 at 3:24 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

I don't see what's so bad about Franco.

None of the other Fascist states in Italy, Spain, and Austria wanted to provoke a war with France and Britain.

Nor were any of the other Fascist regimes anti-semitic or anti-Slav. Poland had a right wing government that would have been happy to ally with Germany against Russia. Many Jews supported the austro-Fascists prior to 1938 and Italian Fascism had a disproportionate number of Sephardic Jewish party members.

In 1935, Mussolini was willing to consider allying with Britain and France against Hitler.

Nazism should really either be classified as a distinct political movement from the other forms of Fascism or simply be categorized as a Sui generis cult of personality rather than an actual political ideology with an internally consistent vision of society.

February 6, 2010 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Bock said...

Anonymous, you said:
Any kingdom worth taking over won't be weak, it will be strong enough that the effort to conquer it won't justify the cost of doing so. A weak kingdom that can easily be conquered won't be worth conquering. You would never see a for-profit kingdom spend trillions of dollars to occupy, pacify, and rebuild a shitty Third World country full of violent, crazy savages. Only democracies are stupid enough to want to do that.

Why are you choosing such a bad example? What if simple cost/benefit analysis shows it makes sense to take over another kingdom for its oil fields, worthwhile slaves and pretty women (kill the rest)? As a shareholder, I'd vote for that.

Moldbug presents us an imaginary world in which uncertainty has been eliminated. I agree that if both sides were sure of the outcome before a battle started they wouldn't fight it. But this world of 100% certainty is a pipe dream. Has MM been listening to too much John Lennon on the side?

February 6, 2010 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Only democracies are stupid enough to want to do that.

You don't need a Western democracy to take over a third world country anymore. Corporations have both the money and ability to run a poor nation as well as Cromer ran Egypt.

Secondly, it is far from clear that there would be no profit incentive for a corporation to take over a poor nation.

For illustration, De Beers is the defacto government and civil administration of Botswana; and Botswana is one the few livable areas of Africa (granted that's not much of a hurdle to jump, but still...).

The reason De Beers is willing to run Botswana is because the native "government" allows De Beers to have access to their diamonds.

The sizable problems of her human population notwithstanding, Africa is so natural resource rich that I could easily envision, say, British Petroleum teaming up with BlackWater Worldwide to invade Nigeria in order for BP to seize control of Nigerian hydrocarbon reserves. And I would bet the executives at BP would do a better job of running their new territory than the UN or State Department presently could.

All Western corporations need is a green light from Western governments to go in and set up a corporate civil service.

February 6, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Arkham said...

Nazism should really either be classified as a distinct political movement from the other forms of Fascism or simply be categorized as a Sui generis cult of personality rather than an actual political ideology with an internally consistent vision of society.

How was Nazism less of a political ideology with an internally consistent vision of society compared to Italian or Spanish fascism?

I know you have a "dog in this fight" but you really don't need to come up with any more reasons to disparage the Nazis.

February 6, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

How was Nazism less of a political ideology with an internally consistent vision of society compared to Italian or Spanish fascism?

Because I don't think Hitler ultimately cared about the well being of the society he ruled over and the Ancien Regime he allied with. Nazism and Germany IMO were simply vehicle's for Hitler's own personal deification on earth and an expression of his inherent tyrannical nature. The ideological component of Nazism was probably just an after thought at most for Hitler.

That's why I wrote Nazism bears more resemblance to Roman emperor worship than a modern ideology (what ideology did Caligula have except being pro-Caligula?)

February 6, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Bock said...

Moldbug seems to believe some equilibrium point will be reached in which peace reigns. It seems much more likely the outcome would be constant warfare, with shareholders voting coldly in favor. After all, I don't have to live in a kingdom to be a shareholder of it, do I?

Do we picture this as a world in which moral condemnation doesn't exist -- or at least has no international power? If so, the motive for war becomes ever more powerful, because now slaves fall into the category of natural resources.

February 6, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MM has scribes a fairly insightful article here, but Hoppe has already made 99.9% of the argument.

Dr Francia, p 552:

"After all, brevity is the soul of wit."

Ah, if only Carlyle and MM would follow Shakespeare's advice and not just quote it, perhaps more would read their scribblings.

MM can praise Carlyle to his dying day, but exceeding few will ever read him. Carlyle is too verbose and, therefore, too boring for the e-mail and Twitter generations.

February 6, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Undiscovered Jew: Changes took place in the Roman law beginning with the reign of Hadrian. It has been the custom for each magistrate under the republic and in the early empire to publish his edict, which was a sort of statement of what he planned to do during his term. Hadrian promulgated the "perpetual edict" which standardized the functions of all subordinate magistrates. As subsequently amended by Hadrian's successors, this perpetual edict led to the codified version of Roman law under Justinian.

For an unvarnished look at Justinian's reign, see the "Anecdota" of Procopius. This work reveals him to have been a legal positivist of depressingly modern type, under whom the law was basically what he said it was, which might change from time to time as convenient. It is to be noted that according to Aristotle's politics, what distinguishes monarchy from tyranny (and aristocracy from oligarchy, polity from democracy) is that in the former, government proceeds according to law, and in the latter, it proceeds arbitrarily.

TGGP - ACORN may be a bad example of what MM means by the use of the criminal underclass as an instrument of political extortion. It is, however, clear to me that what he finds objectionable is the way in which the criminal underclass engages in "Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers" with the approval and connivance of the intelligentsia, in the process achieving policy changes that are the common aim of both.

February 6, 2010 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Arkham said...

TUJ,

You're begging the question.

You're implicitly assuming that Nazism is Hitler in trying to show that Nazism is basically Hitler.

February 6, 2010 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

Derek Hastings has laid out what Nazism meant before Hitler took it over: "Catholicism & The Roots of Nazism".

Nazism started out as a movement of political, antiSemitic, and independent Catholics - like the Ghibellines, or Bourbon France. They called Papist Catholics "ultramontaines", hinting the latter were sellouts to the Italians over the Alps. Anton Drexler led this antiultramontanist party until autumn 1921. (Hitler up to this point was in doctrinal agreement with Drexler.)

By 1923 Hitler completed the transformation of the NSDAP into an incoherent alliance between the Catholic old guard and Protestant reactionaries, culminating in the Beer Hall Putsch. As you know this did not work; it just alienated the Catholics.

With the NSDAP dead as a system, all that was left of it were the Hitler loyalists.

From this overview, we find that there are two sets labelled "Nazism" - the pre 1921 set without Hitler, and the post 1931 set with Hitler. The pre 1921 set elected Hitler and failed. The post 1931 set under its new rules succeeded.

We don't care here about reactionary movements which fail. We care about the movements which succeed. Therefore in this context we are looking at the 1930s "Nazism".

And by 1931 the NSDAP meant Mein Kampf and Hitler.

Arkham: Is TUJ still begging the question if his assumption happens to be right?

February 6, 2010 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Michael Anissimov said...

Hey, want to kick it sometime? Email me your email.

February 6, 2010 at 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are you choosing such a bad example?

Because it is a real-world example. Right now, today, we are spending trillions of dollars to occupy, pacify, and rebuild two shitty Third World countries full of violent, crazy savages.

What if simple cost/benefit analysis shows it makes sense to take over another kingdom for its oil fields, worthwhile slaves and pretty women (kill the rest)?

Cost-benefit analysis will always show that it is more sensible to cut a deal with the rulers of the other kingdom to provide you with oil at a reasonable price. If you want Iraq's oil, Saddam will be more than happy to sell it to you, and as a cost-benefit oriented for-profit kingdom, you simply don't care about anything else Saddam does so long as he keeps the oil coming.

You don't need a Western democracy to take over a third world country anymore. Corporations have both the money and ability to run a poor nation as well as Cromer ran Egypt.

Since there is no actual example of this happening, the claim that corporations can do this is unproven and unprovable.

More to the point, corporations do not want to run poor nations. "Running a nation" is an unnecessary cost. Better to let a native tyrant assume those costs and risks, and buy whatever you need from him.

De Beers is the defacto government and civil administration of Botswana... The reason De Beers is willing to run Botswana is because the native "government" allows De Beers to have access to their diamonds.

I don't know anything about this, but I will take your word for it that this is true. Assuming it is true, De Beers is assuming a great many administrative costs that they don't need to assume. They'd be better off letting the natives run the place and providing sufficient order for diamond mining to be possible.

I could easily envision, say, British Petroleum teaming up with BlackWater Worldwide to invade Nigeria in order for BP to seize control of Nigerian hydrocarbon reserves.

This makes for a fine Left-wing dystopian fantasy, but it would never happen in the real world - and that would be true even if national governments who could stop it (i.e. the USA) stood aside and let it happen. In no case is BP better off from a profit-loss standpoint if they do this rather than let the Nigerians run the place and buy oil from the native regime.

I would bet the executives at BP would do a better job of running their new territory than the UN or State Department presently could.

Undoubtedly, but BP doesn't want to. Ain't worth it.

February 6, 2010 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Bock said...

Cost-benefit analysis will always show that it is more sensible to cut a deal with the rulers of the other kingdom to provide you with oil at a reasonable price.

So the conquering of foreign lands has never been financially beneficial to the conqueror? You are out on quite a long limb here.

Quit restricting your thoughts to bad examples.

February 6, 2010 at 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Arkham said...

TUJ argues that Nazism was "less of a political ideology with an internally consistent vision of society compared to Italian or Spanish fascism" by claiming that Hitler didn't care about German society, that Nazism is Hitler, and therefore Nazism is less internally consistent (bc/ it didn't "care" about "society"?).

First of all, TUJ is implying that an "internally consistent vision of society" necessarily involves conserving the various classes, groups, institutions, etc., of society. So, for example, Spanish fascism was more "internally consistent" because they kept the fag clerics around in their privileged positions and didn't purge them. But there's no reason why a completely revolutionary ideology that removes or purges old elements of society can't be as internally consistent, or more so, than a conservative one, which insofar as it's conservative probably doesn't need to be considered an ideology at all in the first place. This is how TUJ suggests that Hitler "didn't care" about society (which as a psychological matter is impossible to determine and there's no evidence that Hitler cared any less than Mussolini or Franco). TUJ defines caring about society as conserving society. But there's no reason why conservatism necessarily equals caring about a society, especially if one, like Hitler, believes that conservatism would involve conserving or keeping those elements of society that one believes not to properly be a part of that society in the first place.

Purging Catholicism from a temporary alliance doesn't reduce Nazism simply and completely to Hitler and empty it out of any ideological content. Nationalism, socialism, materialism, etc., had all been assimilated into the ideology by then. Even what would appear to be Hitler's most whim driven actions, his aggressive wars for military conquest, were tied to a very explicit and internally consistent ideology of materialism.

February 6, 2010 at 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Eqos said...

Notice how no one is discussing Carlyle, let alone actually going off and reading him...

February 6, 2010 at 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Peter A. Taylor said...

PA said...

> In reality, Culture is the mother of twin sisters Order and Liberty.

Yes. What is the *culture* that informs the men with guns who enforce sovereignty? If democracy doesn't produce people with a culture appropriate for good government, I don't see why any other system should produce a ruling class with a culture appropriate for good government. All you get is a different set of conflicts of interest.

February 6, 2010 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the conquering of foreign lands has never been financially beneficial to the conqueror? You are out on quite a long limb here.

Certainly not in the modern era.

Some faction or clique or ruling caste in the conqueror may benefit, but the conqueror as a whole never does. If these states had been run as for-profit corporations, which had to show a profit in a quarterly report, one doubts they would have embarked on such adventures. Is your for-profit state going to be run by a feudal nobility obsessed with honor and glory, or something?

Quit restricting your thoughts to bad examples.

Why don't you give me a "good example" then? When did a foreign conquest financially benefit the conqueror?

The chances are excellent that whatever "profit" was obtained in a supposedly "profitable" war could have been obtained without war.

February 6, 2010 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Bock said...

Why don't you give me a "good example" then? When did a foreign conquest financially benefit the conqueror?

Here's a modern example. If the US had allowed Iraq to take over Kuwait in the 90's, Iraq would have benefited financially.

February 6, 2010 at 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the US had allowed Iraq to take over Kuwait in the 90's, Iraq would have benefited financially.

That's a big "if" there, chief! The fact is that Iraq did not get away with it, and this is an example of a war that was highly UNprofitable for the aggressor.

We should also note that one reason Iraq invaded Kuwait was because it had amassed huge debts from its stupid, unprovoked, and utterly unprofitable attack on Iran.

Iraq as a whole, and Saddam himself, would have been far better off in every respect if Iraq had attacked neither Iran nor Kuwait.

There is no reason to think that unprovoked aggression would not generate forceful counteraction even in a world composed entirely of for-profit states.

February 7, 2010 at 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Surly said...

JA said: "Chaos is evolution. Order is creationism. Chaos is Keynesian economics. Order is Austrian. Chaos is global climate change. Order is it's a hoax. Chaos is relationships and institutions evolve. Order is one man one woman just like Adam and Eve.
***


It's the same thing in every field. Left-wing economics (in America) has changed several times over the course of the last century, adapting when they had gone too far to the left, and then adapting again after the crash. Right-wing economics has stayed constant, or even fundamentalized itself. It doesn't matter if there's a boom or a bust or globalization or the invention of the corporation, it's always the same economics, regardless of reality."

Essentially all of what you said is such rubbish, but to assert that leftists have an understanding (as discerned through application) of evolution as opposed to progressivist, ascendant, god-inspired synthesis is way over the top even for you. The same goes for your fantasy about economic thought. Dude, you ain't supposed to be that dumb!

February 7, 2010 at 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Surly said...

Culture, of course, must inform whatever government is preferred for order to adhere.

February 7, 2010 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Doesn't the profitability of conquest have a lot to do with the general opinion of it, combined with who feels the need to listen to that opinion? In the age of democracy, any action which can be made to be widely unpopular (war is a cinch) becomes inordinately expensive.

Granted, we're not full democracies, but that would probably either make it worse, or much better. In theory we're insulated (because of representation) from the responsibilities of our defense; if we were not it seems like it would be a different ballgame, and wars might be regarded as less costly.

By the way, wasn't war less costly when the world was less secure and opponents less distant, and technology less complex? If you basically need an army all the time, you're already paying for it; you may as well get some benefit for it (plunder.)

February 7, 2010 at 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wasn't war less costly when the world was less secure and opponents less distant, and technology less complex?

Back in those days, war against the "close" enemies was expensive and indecisive. War against more distant enemies - beating up the natives and colonizing them - was less costly, and in some cases, actually profitable.

February 7, 2010 at 10:28 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

First of all, TUJ is implying that an "internally consistent vision of society" necessarily involves conserving the various classes, groups, institutions, etc., of society.

No, I said in order for any ideology - left or right - to be worthy of being classified as an ideology it must have an internally consistent vision of society.

This covers both conservative and leftist ideologies which want to either preserve or overthrow existing institutions.

The reason I doubt Nazism deserves to be classified as a conservative ideology (obviously it cannot be classified as leftist, Jonah Goldberg nothwithstanding) is because I don't believe Hitler ultimately was motivated by a desire to preserve his nations institutions like every other conservative was in the 1930s.

Rather, I think Nazism was simply an aesthetically elaborate vehicle for Hitler's own glorification and used as a tool to satisfy his megalomaniac fantasies of total war; regardless of whether any conservative institution in Germany approved of his policies.

That was why I said Nazism deserves to be classified as a violent cult of personality a la Roman emperor worship (what "ideology" did Nero and Caligula have?) rather than a conservative ideology.

Granted, there is no way I can definitively prove this scientifically (which is why I qualified my statement by suggesting Nazism could also arguably be classified as Sui generis) but I don't think it is unreasonable to believe Hitler was driven purely by his tyrannical ego rather than a well considered blueprint for governance (for example, his economic and even racial theories were an incoherent mishmash).

February 8, 2010 at 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in order for any ideology - left or right - to be worthy of being classified as an ideology it must have an internally consistent vision of society.

Nazism wasn't conservative, but it did have an internally consistent vision of society.

If ideology is "a set of aims and ideas that directs one's goals, expectations, and actions", then the Nazis had an ideology. Their aims and ideas were stupid and self-destructive, but they had them nonetheless.

How "internally consistent" was Soviet Communism? Maoism? Does anything meet your definition of an ideology?

February 8, 2010 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Razib has an old long post on Germans & liberalism I hadn't read before today that may be of relevance. It touches on Frederick the Great.
http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/000419.html

This does not mean that surrender is the correct option.
Vietnam went the route of China (though initially they were on opposite sides), so it seems to have worked out well enough. Just a pity that the war was needlessly dragged out.

Regarding Section 8, I don't know how prevalent it is. The proportion of black students in majority white schools has decreased to a level lower than in any year since 1968.

Mencius and I are both continentalists (as opposed to globalists). Cartoon supervillains try to take over the world, Hitler was a real person who is better compared to Napoleon than Brain. Still quite bad, but I'm no fan of Frederick the Great either. I don't quite buy into Mencius' framing of Germany as being a rebel against the British World Order provoked into fighting, but there is a shade of truth to that counter-narrative. We have other disagreements about Hitler's regime though. Mencius refers to it favorably as a contrast to the USSR, orderly and prosperous. I don't think Hitler provided effective governance, and his "vampire economy" was unsustainably built on theft. I see similarity with Stalin's Russia, although Stalin seems to have been creating new order in Russia to prepare for war, while Hitler wanted to fight a war for a new order. The most important difference between them was that Nazism is quite explicitly nationalist while (even post-Trotsky) the USSR was internationalist. As John T. Flynn (and Wolfgang Schivelbusch) did, one can also find similarities between Hitler's Germany and the New Deal. I don't regard that as reflecting well on either. And speaking of Hitler vs Stalin, here Mencius claims that Stalin was so bad because of the mixture of Left and Right. Murray Rothbard in his New Left period might have agreed, but most people would consider Stalinism to be among the most extreme versions of leftism. But pure essences can almost never be attained, which is why Mencius' obsession with them is so irrelevant. We don't know whether a "pure" left/right regime would be good, bad or indifferent because such a thing has never existed. And if Mencius believes that extreme-right regimes with a tinge of leftism are among the most dangerous, the rational thing for him to do would be to push for centrism and avoid extremes.

The documentation for the Wannsee conference only refers to deportations, and indeed during that time period there was mostly deportations to the east. The mass deaths occurred in the last years of the war. Also note that the Wikipedia article gives defeat in the Battle of Moscow as motivation for the conference. More serious defeats came later.

Guess I was wrong about Goering.

"What's so bad about Franco?" is reportedly the first political statement made by the young Murray Rothbard.


The Undiscovered Jew:
I believe the Polish regime was considered anti-semitic (as well as anti other minorities, which was a claim Germany initially held against them and the Czechs), but not violently so. The Romanian Iron Guard was like that, violent enough that the Romanian government had to quash them a few times (somewhat like the Austrian Nazis under Austro-Fascism, or the KPD under the SPD in the "November Revolution"). The German army even helped the Romanian government win a civil war against them.

February 8, 2010 at 4:09 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

How "internally consistent" was Soviet Communism? Maoism? Does anything meet your definition of an ideology?

Communism had a philosophical and logical foundation that was very consistent with the other major revolutionary Socialist ideologies of its time (e.g., the Anarcho-Socialist ideologies of Mikhail Bakunin and Pyotr Kropotkin, the French Mutualism of Prodhoun, Nihilism, and many others).

The genesis of all these socialist ideologies was 18th and 19th century European class war tensions directed against the European Ancien Regime.

Nazism however, existed purely to serve Hitler's megalomania and ambitions rather than respond to any macro-political trends as ideologies such as Communism, Jeffersonian democracy, and other ideologies did.

Look at it like this way, Communism could exist without Stalin and Mao but Nazism could not exist without Hitler.

So I stand by my statement that Nazism was a Roman emperor style cult of personality rather than an ideology (regardless of what other Nazi party members believed they were participating in).

February 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

I believe the Polish regime was considered anti-semitic (as well as anti other minorities, which was a claim Germany initially held against them and the Czechs), but not violently so.

So even Hitler felt he had to (at least publicly) justify invading Czechoslovakia and the conservative, military junta ruled, Poland on the grounds of "liberating the oppressed"?

February 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

Rudolph Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, says

Yes. In the summer of 1941 1 was summoned to Berlin to Reichsfáhrer SS Himmler to receive personal orders. He told me something to the effect--I do not remember the exact words--that the Fáffrer had given the order for a final solution of the Jewish question. We, the SS, must carry out that order. If it is not carried out now then the Jews will later on destroy the German people.

And here's Hitler himself in early 1939, before the war started, threatening the Jews:
Today I want to be a prophet again. If international finance Jewry within Europe and abroad should succeed once more in plunging the peoples into a world war, then the consequence will be not the Bolshevization of the world and therewith a victory of Jewry, but on the contrary, the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe

(man, he got that one backwards!)

I could go on, but this already feels like a tiresome debate with a Holocaust denier (not that TGGP is a Holocaust denier, it just feels like one of those threads). There's no absolutely undeniable smoking gun that Hitler had been planning the destruction of the Jews all along, which is why Holocaust deniers can say what they say with a straight face, but to me the propensity of evidence along with Hitler's personality points in that direction.

It's true that the mass murders mostly took place late in the war, but I have an alternative explanation for this than TGGP's theory that they were a response to setbacks: they didn't get around to it until most of Jewry was in their grasp, which happens to be months before their loss in Moscow and a year or so before they bogged down at Stalingrad. Big bureaucracies move slowly. OTOH, setbacks and impending loss at the end of the war lit a fire under their asses to hurry up and do it while they still could.

TUJ,
Hitler's role in Nazism was more like that of Marx (or Marx + Lenin) than Stalin. Without Hitler there would be have been no Nazism, but without Marx there would have been no Communism - which does not make Communism a personality cult. My hunch is that Nazism would have been sustainable in post-Hitler Nazi Germany - maybe not for 1000 years, but I doubt it would have fallen apart like Franco's Spain. But we'll never know the answer to that one for sure either.

Nazism was pretty much Darwinism + Nationalism + anti-Semitism + militarism + a bit of socialism. They really weren't much different than the people at majorityrights.com, who get along fine without Hitler, except they were more brutal and militaristic (and the difference there is probably only the old Nazis could get away with being brutal and militaristic while the MR types wouldn't).

February 8, 2010 at 5:55 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

but without Marx there would have been no Communism - which does not make Communism a personality cult.

Maybe, but not necessarily.

The ideological foundation of Communism, dialectical materialism, was developed separately by the socialist theoretician, Joseph Dietzgen, whose ideas were later adopted by Marx and Engels.

If Marx and Engels had never been born it is quite possible that some other revolutionaries (such as Kropotkin) would have incorporated dialectical materialism into their own ideology.

As I said, there were many violent socialist movements running loose in 19th century Europe aside from Marx.

For example, one major reason Marx's ideas were preferred at the Internationale was because Marx's most powerful competitor on the left, the Anarcho-Socialist Mikhail Bakunin, was considered more extreme than Marx by the other members of the Internationale.

Essentially, even sans Marx there would have been plenty of alternative socialist movements more or less similar to Communism to fill the ideological vacuum.

Hitler, by contrast, is arguably more analogous to Mohamed.

February 8, 2010 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous coldequation said...

I think the comparison of Hitler to Mohammed is apt, but Islam is more than a personality cult. It's lasted for 14 centuries after the death of its founder, and it comes with a complete system for running your life and your society. Nazism was like a sketch version of the same thing.

I'm not sure what the point of all this is, but when I think of a personality cult I think of something like Sarah Palin's followers or those of Kim Il Jong. If either of them die, it's probably all over for their system (though Kim's son might be able to keep it up).

February 8, 2010 at 6:52 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

I think the comparison of Hitler to Mohammed is apt, but Islam is more than a personality cult.

Nazism never got the chance to morph beyond Hitler because, obviously, they lost the war.

Because they lost, there is no way to know for sure if a victorious Nazism would have developed a religious/supernatural aspect; though it should be noted that Hitler's possible successor Heinrich Himmler thought about incorporating the Norse god mythologies and occultism into Nazism. Interestingly, Hitler while he was in power never gave serious consideration to Nordic mysticism.

February 8, 2010 at 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Arkham said...

I never suggested that Nazism was a conservative ideology or that Hitler sought to preserve his nation's institutions. I merely said that Nazism was an internally consistent ideology, which it was. It really doesn't take much to have an internally consistent ideology, because truth content isn't really relevant. You can have a perfectly internally consistent ideology that isn't true at all.

February 8, 2010 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Communism had a philosophical and logical foundation that was very consistent with the other major revolutionary Socialist ideologies of its time

That is external consistency. It was not, however, fully consistent within itself.

Nazism however, existed purely to serve Hitler's megalomania and ambitions rather than respond to any macro-political trends as ideologies such as Communism, Jeffersonian democracy, and other ideologies did.

Nazism definitely responded to a macro-political trend.

Communism could exist without Stalin and Mao but Nazism could not exist without Hitler.

Stalinism and Maoism were both Roman emperor style cults of personality as much as Nazism was.

If Marx and Engels had never been born it is quite possible that some other revolutionaries (such as Kropotkin) would have incorporated dialectical materialism into their own ideology.

If Hitler had never been born, it is quite possible someone else would have incorporated "blame the Jews and kill them" into their own ideology. Hitler didn't exactly invent that idea.

February 8, 2010 at 8:18 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

That is external consistency. It was not, however, fully consistent within itself.

Communism was internally consistent and comparable to the other revolutionary left ideologies of its age.

Communism's problem was that it wasn't consistent with reality, not that it wasn't consistent within itself.

Nazism definitely responded to a macro-political trend.

Yes, Nazism was going to save Europe from International Jewish communists by exterminating and enslaving 100 million Slavs (20% of the entire population of Europe) in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus. That's some brilliant response to International Jewry.

Stalinism and Maoism were both Roman emperor style cults of personality as much as Nazism was.

That's my point. I said Communism would have existed without Stalin and Mao under some other rulers while Nazism could not exist without Hitler.

If Hitler had never been born, it is quite possible someone else would have incorporated "blame the Jews and kill them" into their own ideology. Hitler didn't exactly invent that idea.

Wrong. Nobody else on the political scene at the time was planning mass extermination of millions of Jews but Hitler. Furthermore, no previous killings of European Jews had ever been committed on remotely such a scale.

However, there were plenty of other revolutionary socialist movements other than Marxism (such as Anarchism) that would have been happy to bring revolution to Europe.

February 8, 2010 at 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Nazism was going to save Europe from International Jewish communists by exterminating and enslaving 100 million Slavs (20% of the entire population of Europe) in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus. That's some brilliant response to International Jewry.

Your completely understandable intense personal aversion and hatred towards Hitler and Nazism makes you incapable of approaching this impartially.

You're setting up a straw man here by reducing Nazism simply to exterminating and enslaving Jews and Slavs.

A part of the means employed by Nazism is irrelevant to the question of whether or not Nazism responded to trends. And how "brilliant" or successful this part of the means used is even less relevant. Setting aside how "correct" these means were for the moment, had the Nazis won then arguably they would have "saved Europe." But this really depends on how we define, measure, assess "Europe." There are obviously differences in opinion here.

That's my point. I said Communism would have existed without Stalin and Mao under some other rulers while Nazism could not exist without Hitler.

This is just stupid. You're begging the question again by assuming that Hitler = Nazism. Racialist/nationalist socialism, to put it simply, can exist without Hitler.

Wrong. Nobody else on the political scene at the time was planning mass extermination of millions of Jews but Hitler. Furthermore, no previous killings of European Jews had ever been committed on remotely such a scale.

How to deal with the "Jewish question" was an issue for various ideologues, politicians, leaders, etc. Hitler's "solution" was just one answer to the problem. There were others (i.e. Zionism). He "campaigned" on dealing with the Jewish question, or perhaps more accurately, on restoring and expanding German national power which (he argued) was impeded by Jewry. Scale is largely a technological consideration.

As a half-Jew you seem to have inherited the zeal for verbal disputation and sophistry, but none of the logical ability.

February 8, 2010 at 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Communism was internally consistent

Rubbish.

Yes, Nazism was going to save Europe from International Jewish communists by exterminating and enslaving 100 million Slavs (20% of the entire population of Europe) in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus. That's some brilliant response to International Jewry.

LMAO! You scoff at Nazism for wanting to kill 100 million people, but Communism actually did kill 100 million people. That's some brilliant response to the oppression of the proletariat or whatever fucking "macro-political trend" Communism claims to address.

Communism would have existed without Stalin and Mao under some other rulers

Nazism might have been less of a crazy death cult if Hitler wasn't running it; Communism as practiced might have been less of a crazy death cult if Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Castro, etc etc, weren't running it. But so what. The problem is not the individual. ANY individual trying to implement a stupid idea like Nazism or Communism will do much the same thing.

Nobody else on the political scene at the time was planning mass extermination of millions of Jews but Hitler.

Which hardly proves nobody else could have had that idea.

no previous killings of European Jews had ever been committed on remotely such a scale.

Nobody had ever killed people on the scale Stalin and Mao did, either.

February 9, 2010 at 12:24 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

assuming that Hitler = Nazism.

Why shouldn't I assume that? Nazism existed to fulfill Hitler's dreams of total war and absolute power for his own sake, not as an ideology to serve Germany. Do you disagree?

Racialist/nationalist socialism, to put it simply, can exist without Hitler.

I don't think he was a nationalist because he just used the German people for his own glorification.

That's some brilliant response to the oppression of the proletariat or whatever fucking "macro-political trend" Communism claims to address.

You don't understand what I wrote.

All I said was that Communism, along with many other revolutionary socialist ideologies, was an ideology generated by 19th century class war tensions (class war tensions being a macro-political trend).

Nazism was not an ideology. It was simply a personality cult to serve Hitler's megalomaniac fantasies with no larger societal purpose other than to ultimately serve Hitler, period.

I never claimed personality cults and ideologies cannot be equally deadly.

February 9, 2010 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I agree that communism was a more developed philosophy than fascism/nazism. The latter is more romanticist and hostile to intellectuals and rationalism. Mussolini was a former socialist intellectual, and so he did explicate some fascist theory, but in execution (at least before the Italian Social Republic) it wasn't quite so extreme. Mussolini and Franco both had coalition governments, and Franco himself was never actually a fascist but a monarchist (which is why he later permitted Opus Dei technocrats to create the Spanish Miracle). Nazism is more of a sui generis reaction to Versailles combined with a personality cult. Stalin is different from Hitler in that he succeeded Lenin. Lenin himself intellectually drew from Marx/Engels and also had Trotsky (arguably as ruthless as Stalin) as a right-hand man and military leader. Stalin was more a minor figure in the early days (which is why Trotsky dismissed the threat he posed) who managed to maneuver his way to power after the revolution was cemented. Nazism is more readily identified with Hitler because the party was really insignificant before he joined and it was explicitly dedicated to the Fuhrerprinzip under him.

I argued that if not for Marx some other socialist ideology would have filled his vacuum here.

So even Hitler felt he had to (at least publicly) justify invading Czechoslovakia and the conservative, military junta ruled, Poland on the grounds of "liberating the oppressed"?
Yes. Germany took on the role of big brother for German minorities, just as Russia had for Slavs in the run-up to the first World War. Germany also received support from other minorities who got their own countries when Czechoslovakia was dismantled into a rump state.


c23:
I actually like the idea of a bureaucratic explanation. But I don't understand why they have to have all the Jews in their grasp before they start mass-murdering them. There had already been some incidents where they had simply been executed right when they got off the train, but it wasn't general policy. My understanding is that what happened in the camps stayed in the camps (a possible reason why the death camps were generally located in Poland, while the ones in Germany generally housed long-term political prisoners), so I don't think they feared frightening their victims before one fell swoop.

February 9, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

It would be interesting to see some numbers on how many they had interned around the Battle of Moscow vs how many were left. Among the Jews they feared/hated the most were the Bolshevik elite, and as the Russian government was still operating and functional enough to defeat them I'd imagine they were well short of their goal there. They killed a lot of Jews as reprisals against partisan warfare in the east (although I'm not actually sure if they were overrepresented among partisans), but that has little to do with the bureaucratic story. Most French Jews survived the war, with the French government more interested in deporting foreign Jews. And the Italian government was rather lax on the issue as well. It was really eastern europe between Germany and Russia that got it in the pants.

Thanks for the pointer to Dietzgen, who I'd never heard of before. Since I don't think ideas matter much, I doubt the addition of "dialectical materialism" mattered much to socialism.

Regarding Mohammed: Razib once mentioned (can't find the link) that the difference between Lenin and Jesus is that the latter is immortal. They even tried embalming Lenin, but people stopped believing in him while Orthodox Christianity bounced back. Another difference particular to Muhammad: the Arabs were not a significant political/military force before him, whereas the Germans had been before Hitler.


Anonymous anti-semite:
Your link has more about Jews being inherently disgusting to the senses than a "macro-political trend".

I think exterminating most of the Slavs and colonizing their land was just a bonus on top of smashing the Jews rather than necessary. It was important for making Germany a "great" nation like England, France, the United States and so on but not something that would benefit "Europe".

February 9, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your link has more about Jews being inherently disgusting to the senses than a "macro-political trend".

Wrong. Ewige Jude argues that Jews are responsible for cultural relativism, anarchism and socialism, sexual depravity and pornography, the decline of Western music, science, art, and commerce, and world war.

Oh, and by the way, moron, it is not "anti-semitic" to argue that Nazism responded to what it perceived as a macro-political trend (Jewish influence). I didn't say I agreed with what Ewige Jude said! For that matter, I don't agree with what Marx says about macro-political trends, either.

I think exterminating most of the Slavs and colonizing their land was just a bonus on top of smashing the Jews rather than necessary.

Wrong. Colonizing the East was fundamental to Nazism. Colonizing Russia is mentioned repeatedly and at great length in Mein Kampf; exterminating the Jews as a future goal is not mentioned at all.

February 9, 2010 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

You're right, I was too quick in libeling you. I don't tend to give Anonymous much benefit of the doubt.

I said "more" rather than "all", though even the latter might be defensible. To say that Jews are inclined toward anarchism says nothing about a macro-political trend toward anarchism. There wasn't really one as the anarchists never managed to take control of any country.

I agreed that the Slavocaust was vital to the Nazi plan. I just don't think it had anything to do with benefiting Europe as a whole (unlike defeating Bolshevism) as opposed to Germany in particular, which was how The Undiscovered Jew framed it.

February 10, 2010 at 6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agreed that the Slavocaust was vital to the Nazi plan. I just don't think it had anything to do with benefiting Europe as a whole (unlike defeating Bolshevism) as opposed to Germany in particular, which was how The Undiscovered Jew framed it.

Not seeing where he said that, but it goes without saying that Hitler would have argued that Europe, and Germany, would benefit greatly if the Slavs and Jews were eliminated and replaced by Aryans.

February 10, 2010 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Anonymous - a good point. Perhaps it is the 'nearness' of everywhere which has drained the profit out of war! Not such a bad thing, but an interesting thought that it is distance - of course expressed by how fast you can get places (and not how many miles they are away) that might be the prime mover of the cost of warfare.

Of course, I think a lot of what we consider the 'cost' and 'benefit' of war is relative; if few people's children are soldiers it will seem costly to move them to that vocation. And if we are accustomed to work which is even less risky compared to warfighting than it has ever been - I'm sure it compounds itself.

Also, I don't think an ideology has to be consistent... read some Johnson about this kind of thing. Men are inconsistent - probably because they are growing. An ideology is never static; therefore it has inconsistencies which will either destroy it or be 'unwrinkled' as it grows. But then new ones get introduced as it becomes more and more totalizing...

Godel had a few words to say about the completeness and consistency of systems.

It is fascinating that we cannot separate a muscular right-wing movement from the Nazis and Hitler. Then again, I see on the right side an inability to see any kind of social program as anything short of outright communism. It is the necrotic state of the intellectual life of our age.

Rome acted differently after Carthage, as did the United States after Nazi Germany.

February 10, 2010 at 11:59 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Thanks for the pointer to Dietzgen, who I'd never heard of before. Since I don't think ideas matter much, I doubt the addition of "dialectical materialism" mattered much to socialism.

No problem.

I substantially agree with you that intellectuals and philosophers are not capable of creating societal trends. For the most part they just jump aboard a train that is already leaving the station.

I wrote in my guest blogpost here and here and herethat feminist ideology and hedonism had very little to do with Western fertility.

Rather, I argued that low European fertility was caused by the Industrial Revolution creating new job niches for Western women to fill, not feminist intellectuals.

They even tried embalming Lenin, but people stopped believing in him while Orthodox Christianity bounced back.

Well, Lenin's political party was militantly atheistic, so it was kind of hard for the USSR to create a religion around him.

February 10, 2010 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

UJ - The industrial revolution some, but you can't discount the intellectual movement of those eras - liberation, lack of restraint, etc. Free sex means less commitment. I think it can be argued that this movement would have fallen flat without the advances of the industrial revolution, but to reduce all things to economics is kind of dunderheaded! Each part - economics, religion, politics, kinship, science, philosophy - all plays a role in shaping society. Not any person except a powerful and charismatic leader can wield influence in all of these sectors - and when it is held it is often held clumsily. MM thinks we need someone who has both the charisma and real worthiness - a King Alfred, a Vladimir the Enlightener, and so forth. Someone who is part saint and part despot - 'philosopher king' was the word they used when philosophy meant more than just gainsaying things you don't fancy.

February 10, 2010 at 4:08 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

The industrial revolution some, but you can't discount the intellectual movement of those eras - liberation, lack of restraint, etc. Free sex means less commitment.

There were certainly many reasons for the sexual revolution aside from the Industrial Revolution e.g., the pill, contraception, new treatments for STDs, and on.

But intellectuals/philosophers were the least important reason for the sexual revolution. I'm pretty sure people were going to engage in sexual debauchery no matter what "academics" like Alfred Kinsey said.

As far as fertility goes, American and French fertility rates fell almost below replacement in the mid-1920's, both before the Depression and decades before the 1960's revolution.

February 10, 2010 at 4:36 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

I'll add that people enjoy blaming academics for problems - rather than macro-historical events - because attacking academia prefered by political ideologues.

Politicos gain much more emotional satisfaction by beating up politically biased "intellectuals" in Ivory towers rather than a non-ideological driver of history such as the pill.

February 10, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because "ideologues" enjoy beating up on biased academics, does not mean that academics are not biased.

February 10, 2010 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger kurt9 said...

I think the Chicoms are evolving towards the kind of political system our host favors here. They have a system that is essentially royalist in nature, but offers as much personal and economic freedom as we have in the West.

Singapore also has similar system. I think our host would like Singapore quite well (which is actually a very nice place).

February 23, 2010 at 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Historian said...

There was no Hitler 2.0, or vice-Hitler, or Son of Hitler, waiting in the wings. Hitler, for all his faults, was one of a kind. Thus, the incentive was considerable.

Except for the deputy fuhrer, Goering, and the other major leaders of the Nazi party.

Frederick, while not intrinsically secure from his foreign enemies, was quite secure from any domestic opposition. No one was trying to kill him; no one could have accomplished anything by killing him.

Which ignores the rich history of peasant revolts, republicanism, jacobinism,the french revolution, and the October Revolution. Frederic the Great's stability was a peculiarity of his time and not a feature of his system of replacement.

June 4, 2010 at 11:32 PM  

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