Ch.I | The Individual

Contra Libertarians, A Post-Liberal Critique

Ch.ICh.IICh.IIICh.IV

This piece will serve as a sweeping critique of Libertarianism, with a diverse mixture of viewpoints ー all the way from anarchists such as David Graeber to reactionaries such as Julius Evola. The key influence here is C.A. Bond, specifically his recent work, ‘Nemesis’. This piece can also be read as a critique of Liberalism more broadly after all, and consequently of Neoliberalism/Economic Liberalism, as Libertarianism is just Liberalism but harder, in a manner more historically inimical to Power than Neoliberalism. However, I wrote this specifically in response to Libertarians, and so hence the title of this piece. Mind you I was a Libertarian for many years, so this will in a sense also serve as an autopsy of a previous version of me.

The central premise of Libertarianism, the “non-aggression principle” (or NAP), which holds that one may do whatever one pleases with their own property so long as said person respects other people’s rights to do as they please with their own is simple yet rests upon many, many presuppositions, which themselves are not only loaded with other assumptions but also lead to various other places, which we shall endeavour to explore. To give a brief snapshot of what we are dealing withーHenry Olson, from the now-defunct site socialmatter.net provides some good insight;

Since the boundaries on what it means to encroach on someone else’s property rights are not always clear, the NAP was typically understood as a prohibition on the initiation of force. If, for instance, I put a statue of Mussolini in my front yard, it might “affect” my neighbors by driving down the resale values of their homes. But since I had not used force against their property and only used objects (statue and lawn) that I justly own, they would have no recourse against me. On the other hand, if they lobbied the town government to impose zoning restrictions that would prevent me from putting statutes in my yard, then they would be initiating force against my property and violate the NAP.

Some of the more abstract extensions of libertarian theory were certainly strange. Murray Rothbard deduced that the government could not force parents to feed their children1. Walter Block spun justifications for blackmail and littering2. Today, if you search the ultra-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute website for the term “Ebenezer Scrooge,” you will find at least a half dozen independent results on how Scrooge’s miserliness3 from A Christmas Carol was actually admirable.4

Weird but ok, let’s go deeper. The Libertarian tells us; You own yourself. This is the beginning of your being from which you freely contract with others. This is your domain, your autonomy which no one but yourself has the right to do with. This is the individual, of whom is the most fundamental unit of society. F.A. Hayek writes;

[The] basic contention is quite a different one; it is that there is no other way toward an understanding of social phenomena but through our understanding of individual actions directed toward other people and guided by their expected behavior.5

To begin with, “self-ownership” is Cartesian dualism. To “own” is a transitive verb, which requires a distinct object to have, body distinct from mindーCartesian dualism. Hayek is keenly aware of this fact in his text ‘Individualism and Economic Order’, and prescribes this effect of Descartes upon the individualism of Rousseau to deflect this accusation ー going as far as to assert that the French Cartesian individualism itself leads collectivism, unlike the British Liberalism which he, and the rest of the Libertarian project at large, inherits. While Hayek is correct in illustrating that the British tradition loses much of the baggage from Descartes, it never actually escapes the notion of self-ownership because the very British tradition from Locke, that Hayek inherits, posits that;

Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person; this nobody has any right to but himself.6

Man’s ‘person’ being his property establishes dualismーthe thinking ‘I’ distinct from the body. A marketised Cogito. St. Thomas objects;

Some, however, tried to maintain that the intellect is united to the body as its motor; and hence that the intellect and body form one thing so that the act of the intellect could be attributed to the whole. This is, however, absurd for many reasons.

First, because the intellect does not move the body except through the appetite, the movement of which presupposes the operation of the intellect. The reason therefore why Socrates understands is not because he is moved by his intellect, but rather, contrariwise, he is moved by his intellect because he understands.

Secondly, because since Socrates is an individual in a nature of one essence composed of matter and form, if the intellect be not the form, it follows that it must be outside the essence, and then the intellect is the whole Socrates as a motor to the thing moved. Whereas the act of intellect remains in the agent, and does not pass into something else, as does the action of heating. Therefore the action of understanding cannot be attributed to Socrates for the reason that he is moved by his intellect.

Thirdly, because the action of a motor is never attributed to the thing moved, except as to an instrument; as the action of a carpenter to a saw. Therefore if understanding is attributed to Socrates, as the action of what moves him, it follows that it is attributed to him as to an instrument. This is contrary to the teaching of the [Aristotle], who holds that understanding is not possible through a corporeal instrument (De Anima iii, 4).

Fourthly, because, although the action of a part be attributed to the whole, as the action of the eye is attributed to a man; yet it is never attributed to another part, except perhaps indirectly; for we do not say that the hand sees because the eye sees. Therefore if the intellect and Socrates are united in the above manner, the action of the intellect cannot be attributed to Socrates. If, however, Socrates be a whole composed of a union of the intellect with whatever else belongs to Socrates, and still the intellect be united to those other things only as a motor, it follows that Socrates is not one absolutely, and consequently neither a being absolutely, for a thing is a being according as it is one.

There remains, therefore, no other explanation than that given by Aristotle—namely, that this particular man understands, because the intellectual principle is his form. Thus from the very operation of the intellect it is made clear that the intellectual principle is united to the body as its form.7

Unlike say a vehicle and its driver, the ‘you’ reading the words on the screen and sensing, understanding the words involves the body. And so it follows that your body is not separate from you; your body with its biological design is you. This is the Aristotelian view of hylemorphism (hyle, “matter”; morphe, “form”) that you are not only your soul, nor only your body, but you are of both body and soul. Your identity does not exist in one of the two particulars but in their unity. But then, the transitive verb of “owning” cannot take a distinct object without violating the law of identity. Therefore said dualism is nonsense and the formulation of “self-ownership” is rendered as such. Julius Evola elaborates that the unit of the “individual” isn’t even a worthy point of discourse as it is categorically substanceless;

For all practical purposes, the pure individual belongs to the inorganic rather than to the organic dimension. In reality, the law of progressive differentiation rules supreme. In virtue of this law, the lower degrees of reality are differentiated from the higher ones because in the lower degrees a whole can be broken down into many parts, all of which retain the same quality (as in the case of the parts of a noncrystallised mineral, or those parts of some plants and animals that reproduce themselves by parthenogenesis); in the higher degrees of reality this is no longer possible, as there is a higher organic unity in them that does not allow itself to be split without being compromised and without its parts entirely losing the quality, meaning, and function they had in it. Therefore the atomic, unrestricted (solutus), “free” individual is under the aegis of inorganic matter, and belongs, analogically, to the lowest degrees of reality.

An equality may exist on the plane of a mere social aggregate or of a primordial, almost animal-like promiscuity; moreover, it may be recognised wherever we consider not the individual but the overall dimension; not the person but the species; not the “form” but “matter” (in the Aristotelian sense of these two terms). I will not deny that there are in human beings some aspects under which they are approximately equal, and yet these aspects, in every normal and traditional view, represent not the “plus” but the “minus”; in other words, they correspond to the lowest degree of reality, and to that which is least interesting in every being. Again, these aspects fall into an order that is not yet that of “form,” or of personality, in the proper sense. To value these aspects and to emphasize them as those that truly matter is the same as regarding as paramount the bronze found in many statues, rather than seeing each one as the expression of distinct ideas, to which bronze (in our case, the generic human quality) has supplied the working matter.8

Your ousia means nothing without its relationship to eidos. The identity of a given individual is itself made intelligible by its participation in social identities. In this sense, the person (I will henceforth be contrasting the non-liberal conception of the individual with the Libertarian concept by calling the former, “the person” instead of “the individual”), in his  Geworfenheit, always has some kind of being-in-the-world which paints him with various social colours. Social identities, of which the individual is really posterior to. Hayek does contest that every individual has a social existence, but because his Liberal anthropological assumptions lead him to believe that we contract into social orders, which we shall explore as nonsense later, there can be for him one that exits it. But as we never entered into society from pre-society, we always have social eidos. Are truly always ‘thrown’ into the world. We are always of some colour. The individual that is pure ousia not only does not exist but has never has existed and will most likely never exist, which makes individualisation all the more corrosive as we shall explore.

Ludwig von Mises writes;

Imagine a state of affairs in which governments are devoted exclusively to the task of protecting the individual’s life, health, and property against violent and fraudulent aggression. In such a world the frontiers are drawn on the maps, but they do not hinder anybody from the pursuit of what he thinks will make him more prosperous.9

However, as C.A. Bond goes to great lengths exploring, the individualisation of society only has resulted from and results in further centralisation of authority. Fundamentally, human social orders are not dualisticーof the ruler and ruled, but rather of;

  • The Centre which occupies Power: Occupied by an institution (or a network of them) or perhaps something metaphysical; The ruling office, Monarch or God(s) etc.
  • The Subsidiary: seen as the appendages of the Centre; Nobility, Church etc.
  • The Periphery: Governed by the Subsidiaries.

Following the work of Bertrand De Jouvenel, Bond illustrates how this essentially centralised mode of human orders results in situations whereby, to increase its domain of authority, to centralise, the centre will raise the periphery against its subsidiaries often through appeals to the common good, or otherwise try to circumvent them. Both Marxists and Liberals have made the mistake of identifying subsidiaries with the centre as a cohesive ruling class, when in reality the development of money (as will be later explored), but for our immediate concerns, the “individual”, was a historical product of the centre in an antagonistic orientation towards its subsidiaries.

To illustrate;

The reader should bear in mind that to be a freeman in medieval England required that the person was under no feudal obligation to a local lord and was in the authority of the king alone. Here we have a clear example of the king empowering a section of society at the expense of the subsidiary centres of power, and the act being labelled a grant of freedom. To be free in this conception, therefore, meant to be free of local obligations only, and not of obligations to the king, and so not free simpliciter.10

[The modern individual] is instead a subject, and a subject-individual is premised on a disregard for his ability to maintain his individuality separate from the king’s or the government’s, enforcement of his rights as an individual.11

In short, we see that the efforts of Power strips away eidos, of the local influences of subsidiaries, in favour of ousia. You, having less dispersed identities and obligations, makes you a better footsoldier for the centralising state. Bond goes on to track the development of both centralising power and the development of “the individual” as Power levels the Catholic ChurchーDuke of Lancaster promoting John Wycliffe, Bohemian royalty promoting the Hussites, Elector of Saxony, Frederick III promoting Martin Luther and Michael of Cesena promoting William of Ockham ー the centre promoting the periphery against the subsidiaries. Each case we see that this is always within the gestalt of the individual being liberated from the tyranny of ecclesiastical power. This was a development in response to Plenitudo Potestatis, which is what made secular power more inimical to the Catholic Church, yet the process of levelling the Church ended up developing Divine Right as a justification for the rule of secular princes, of which then to be breached by the Papacy to regain strength. In response, the Papacy promoted the likes of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine who asserted the consensual nature of monarchy. First, Divine Law was to be discovered within an understanding of authority as natural and anagogically instantiated, then it was consecrated as the justification for an authority which was otherwise unnatural ー in Divine Right, and then man became “free” and subject to no one save God with Christian Voluntarism ー authority’s unnatural character taken to its end save the overturning of God’s own authority.

This process is also what proceeds the idea of there being a “consent of the governed” which shall be explored later on. But it suffices to say that the notion of the free individual as Libertarianism views it was a product of power, seeking to “emancipate” the periphery from immediate authority to expand its domain. You first didn’t need the Apostolic Church, nor the nobles in other contexts, then you didn’t need the king, then you were “free”. All the while, Power exploited the ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the atomised, increasingly dependent “individual”. This continued to produce the very grandfather of Liberalism and consequently of Libertarianism; John Locke, who saw promotion from the oligarchic Whigs;

The term ‘Whig Oligarchy’ is appropriate in at least two senses. In the first place, after the Tory dismissals of 1716 one-party monopoly of all central offices of government and Household and one-party control of the main institutions of county administration remained unbroken until the death of George II. At the height of Walpole’s power few appointments of state were made, however minor, that did not meet with his approval; the first criterion applied, whether filling Cabinet posts or the humblest clerkships, was loyalty. Tories were ruthlessly excluded from the reckoning on automatic suspicion of Jacobitism, unless, like Winnington, Henry Legge or the Fox brothers they had already plainly signalled their conversion to Whiggery from the old family creed.12

And in the Anglican Church’s support from the Whig Oligarchy, we see there that Walpole’s Lockean Liberalism comes to spread through the Church itself;

It was a more debilitating malaise in the age of Walpole and the Pelhams than at any time since the Reformation, and while one can sympathise with a state church forced to accommodate itself to a Whig Oligarchy determined to depress clerical pretensions as never before, the feeling remains that the clergy could have struggled harder to resist the muzzle. That said, there are important aspects of Church-State relations in this period which have frequently been misunderstood. It is clear that after 1720 there was a deliberate attempt to subject the Church to the Whig patronage machine.13

Thus it was that the Church that took Tillotson for its model, and for which Locke became almost a second Bible, came to insist in its practice as well as in its preaching on rationality and restraint, on a basic decency and seemliness. 14

To counter the Tories and Sir Robert Filmer, as well as the other more conservative Anglican vestiges of Britian, it is quite the irony that the proliferation of Locke’s ideas was not at all due to winning in the “free marketplace of ideas”, a notion we shall tackle in further depth later on, but rather their proliferation not only makes perfect sense but was historically so a product of oligarchic Whig centralisation.

At this point, the idea presents itself that in any situation where we see the success of individualising or equalising accounts of society, we will also see the fingerprints of conflict between various centres.15

If we accept that this individual is a product of the Jouvenelian dynamic then, by this act, philosophy in its modern form assumes, and thus by default demands, a political order of centralisation.16

Curiously, the negative rights scheme of Libertarianism also presents itself as a potentially extreme expansion of Power. Adam Katz writes regarding this paradoxical nature of rights17;

If there are to be rights, they must be enforced, by some agency large enough to enforce them without hindrance. The state, naturally. The more rights we discover, acknowledge, and demand enforcement of, the more powerful and unhindered the state must be. If we are talking about “international human rights,” we must therefore be speaking of a state, or states, capable of exercising imperial control over other states: to compel other states to enforce the rights in question, and to remove their governments if they can’t or won’t.

Libertarians would like to tell us that ‘negative rights’ exist in the absence of authority. Yet human orders have never been as such for there to be pre-society, one of pure unobstructed “rights”. 

If rights need to be defended, they need to be defended against someone. When we posit a right, or advocate for one, then, we are imagining a state willing and ready to act against specific people assumed to be potential violators of that right.

The Libertarian responds that; property rights are defended by the property holder. Yet in a social order with no central order intervening, there is nothing stopping someone with more coercive capital from violating your NAP.  The NAP is a pure Stirnerian spook. And that rests upon the absurd assumption that there can be a social order with no centre. Katz continues;

I have not forgotten that the first calls for rights were for rights against the state. There is something paradoxical in the first consistent articulation of rights that exist separate from and prior to the state, that of Hobbes: the most basic right, that of life, and therefore of self-defense, so that one has the right to defend one’s life even against the state (so, the prisoner on death row being taken to execution has no obligation to go peacefully), leads to the first argument for a state to which nothing is forbidden, except perhaps disregard for its own survival, which really just means the right to self-defense of the sovereign himself. If the individual is to surrender all rights (except self-defense in the last, hopeless, resort) in order to have his most fundamental right defended more effectively by the sovereign, he must accept a sovereign that is capable of doing anything, anytime, to anyone.

Ok sure, says the Libertarian, but what about those who aren’t NAP purist anarcho-capitalists? What’s so inherently flawed with the concept of a state enforcing a bare-minimum set of rules?

Hobbes was at least consistent enough to realize that you cannot have rights against the state. The “laborist” argument for rights introduced by Locke initiated the tradition of positing rights against the state, limiting its powers. This is the argument that has, of course, been institutionalized and venerated in the United States, and we still see significant vestiges of this argument among American conservatives, and more than vestiges when it comes to the defense of gun rights. So, it might appear as if this original, “classical liberal” understanding of rights has been distorted by later victimary rights claims: this distinction is what the argument over “equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcomes” and “negative vs. positive rights” comes down to. But it’s not really the case that advocates of these rights stood outside of any entanglements with the state, and just wanted to be left alone to add their labor to various pieces of nature surrounding them. 

They wanted the state (first of all a liberalising monarchy) to be deployed against the Church, aristocracy and other privileged groups, such as corporations chartered by the state, independent towns, banks, and guilds. It’s easy for us to overlook this, since the most formidable of those entities either no longer exist (or exist in a thoroughly neutered form), and few today could muster any historical sympathy for them. But that just means that we identify with the state that swept them into the dustbin of history, or broke and trained them. The history of the United States, meanwhile, the first modern society with neither a monarchy or aristocracy, has been the history of different groups trying to influence the state so as to defend their rights against some other, “privileged” group. Meanwhile, defending rights of free speech and bearing arms generally involve trying to bring the state into your quarrel with some local public authority, and whichever groups support it. So, even the most “natural” of rights involve using the state against one’s enemies.

So the Libertarian is stuck in recursivity. Libertarianism identifies negative rights, of which aren’t to be infringed upon and are prior to the social orderーonly made intelligible through the state of nature argument of which’s intellectual vacuity we shall explore in full later. But it suffices to say that if “rights” can only exist through their enforcement, are only really exercised as tools for centralisation they have historically operated as so, the paradox of the NAP would on the contrary to Libertarianism, require a very managerial, bureaucratic, bloated central authority. Coming back to the idea of the individual of pure ousia, Adam Katz goes even further18 to say that the creation of the individual, as its creation was a historical artefact for the purposes of levelling social orders, is consequently extremely antisocial ー anti-eidosーpsychopathically so;

To see yourself as an “individual” is to see yourself as a center of attention, with as many qualifications (titles, formal associations, histories) as possible obscured—the more stripped of qualifications, the more individualised. Liberalism projects the denuded individual back to the founding of society, but that individual is obviously a result of liberalism. In other words, liberalism’s self-legitimating misconception doesn’t detract from the reality of such an individual—but it has to change our assessment of its meaning. Individuals can be removed from their supporting and defining institutional dependencies, which means that the individual is defined against those institutions and dependencies. (Eric Gans sees this self-definition as the project of romanticism.) To be an individual is to be in a perpetual state of mutiny against whatever form of order most directly threatens to define one. Don’t look at me as a “_____,” the individual demands, look at me as… the other of “_____.” Individualism is a kind of negative gnostic theology.

The individual is a perpetual revolt of the ousia against the eidos.

David Graeber’s discussion in Debt: the First 5,000 Years emphasizes the violence intrinsic to this abstraction of individuals from their dependencies. Humanism posits the “human” as the highest value, and what makes anything a “value” is its commensurability and exchangeability with other values—and against what can human value be defined other than against other humans? Gans sees the romantic production of the individual as a means of enabling humans to participate in the market—the creation of an “anti-social” self-representation is a way of achieving value within society (Gans calls this the “constitutive hypocrisy of romanticism”). But in that case it is humans, rather than things, that are circulating on the market. We may not readily see or feel the violence of this competitive self-valuing, habituated as we are to it, but it becomes easier if we imagine removing the (also unnoticed) limits upon individualisation that must still exist. What if we were actually to define ourselves constantly, indiscriminately, against every social dependency—friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.? Such behavior would be psychopathic. Moreover, defining yourself against dependencies don’t leave those dependencies unaffected—rather, it has a deeply corrosive effect. Our mutinies always target specific dependencies, and are aimed at extracting specific concessions—hence, they are best described as hostage taking. Not the market itself, but the “market economy,” is a system of hostage exchange, of more and less direct kinds. It is promoted by those with the most to gain by sowing discord and disorder.

And what’s even worse, as Mark Fisher illustrates, is that the Cartesian dualism that sets ousia against the dependencies of eidos allows for capitalism, the very hostage-taking process, to blame you for your mental illness and then exploit this condition it creates;

It is telling, in this context of rising rates of mental illness, that… The current ruling ontology denies any possibility of a social causation of mental illness. The chemico-biologisation of mental illness is of course strictly commensurate with its de-politicisation. Considering mental illness as a chemico-biological problem has enormous benefits for capitalism. First, it reinforces Capital’s drive towards atomistic individualisation (you are sick because of your brain chemistry). Second, it provides an enormously lucrative market in which multinational pharmaceutical companies can peddle their pharmaceuticals (we can cure you with our SSRIs). It goes without saying that all mental illnesses are neurologically instantiated. But this says nothing about their causation. If it is true, for instance, that depression is constituted by low serotonin levels, what still needs to be explained is why particular individuals have low levels of serotonin. This requires a social and political explanation; and the task of re-politicising mental health is an urgent one if the left wants to challenge capitalist realism. It does not seem fanciful to  see parallels between the rising incidence of mental distress and new patterns of assessing worker’s performance.19

In short, the disordered nature of capitalism creates the schizoprenitisation it uses to excuse itself for exploiting for the conditions of which you are now inculcated in. This is made possible due to a fundamental memetic virus, which Libertarianism holds at its very essence in its understanding of the “individual”, that has spread through the ages from the Rationalist project, principally from Descartes in the West, promoted for centralisation purposes, and has created a psychopathic ethos within which we are now confined within. Yet this individual at the centre of our inquiry, in its corrosive and futile attempts at emancipation from itself, ends up creating the very opportunities for itself to be further predated upon. The new managerial examinations of the worker only accelerate his schizophrenitisation as he is forced to wade neck-deep in the sign-exchange marination of the ever examining hypermarket;

At the deepest level, another kind of work is at issue here, the work of acculturation, of confrontation, of examination, of the social code, and of the verdict: people go there to find and to select objects – responses to all the questions they may ask themselves; or, rather, they themselves come in response to the functional and directed question that the objects constitute. The objects are no longer commodities: they are no longer even signs whose meaning and message one could decipher and appropriate for oneself, they are tests, they are the ones that interrogate us, and we are summoned to answer them, and the answer is included in the question. Thus all the messages in the media function in a similar fashion: neither information nor communication, but referendum, perpetual test, circular response, verification of the code.20

This subordination of the increasingly denuded individual to perpetually interrogative object relations isn’t even the only issue that will keep him up at night and chip away at his psyche, but that of his employability in face of the Dire Problem21;

Dire Problem is that there is a line of productive competence beneath which a human being is a liability, not an asset, to the society including him. This calculation is made in terms of the marginal human—does California gain or lose by adding one person just like this person? For millions, the answer is surely the latter.

Worse, with the steady advance of technology, this line rises. That is: the demand for low-skilled human labor shrinks. Abstract economics provides no guarantee whatsoever that the marginal able-bodied man with an IQ of 80 can feed himself by his own labors. If you doubt this line, simply lower it until you doubt it no more. At least logically, there is a biological continuum between humans and chimpanzees, and the latter are surely liabilities.

Why does this matter? It matters because either (a) a man can feed himself, or (b) he dies horribly of starvation, or (c) someone else feeds him. If (a), he is an asset. If (c), he is a liability—to someone. If (b), he makes a horrible mess and fuss while dying, and is thus in that sense a liability. Moreover, the presence of the poor becomes extremely unpleasant well before the starvation point.

The house divided does not fall immediately but becomes a field within which all are collateral to the competitive levelling of the field. The centralisation process itself deludes the person into thinking that they are being emancipated, consequently dividing the self which becomes a frenzied flesh-puppet for further centralisation.

 

~ • ~

 

[Notes]

[1] The way Rothbard manages to justify such a thing is in invalidating legislature as “coercive” and thus evil, which we shall explore as erroneous later on. 

Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)

Rothbard, Murray Newton. The Ethics of Liberty. New York: New York Univ. Press, 2002, 100. 

He then assumes that humans would spontaneously form, in a marketised manner, in modes such that neglect would be reduced. This is quite unabashedly the enshrining of an order that takes the market hostage-taking process Graeber and Katz explore to its extreme.

[2] From Walter Block;

What, exactly, is blackmail? Blackmail is the offer of trade. It is the offer to trade something, usually silence, for some other good, usually money. If the offer of the trade is accepted, the blackmailer then maintains his silence and the blackmailee pays the agreed-upon price. If the blackmail offer is rejected, the blackmailer may exercise his rights of free speech and publicize the secret. There is nothing amiss here. All that is happening is that an offer to maintain silence is being made. If the offer is rejected, the blackmailer does no more than exercise his right of free speech.

Block, Walter. Defending the Undefendable: the Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylender, and Other Scapegoats in the Rogue’s Gallery of American Society. Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2018, 41.

[3] At the time of writing this piece, there are 9 current entries concerning Scrooge from the Mises Institute website:

https://mises.org/library/scrooge-defended

https://mises.org/library/defense-scrooge

https://mises.org/wire/more-scrooge

https://mises.org/wire/christmas-lets-celebrate-different-scrooge-scrooge-mcduck

https://mises.org/wire/was-scrooge-victim-christmas-carol

https://mises.org/library/correcting-scrooges-economics

https://mises.org/wire/ebenezer-scrooge-humanitarian

https://mises.org/wire/defence-ebenezer-scrooge

https://mises.org/wire/ebenezer-scrooges-tiresome-crusade-against-consumerism

[4] Olson, Henry. “The Death And Tragic Rebirth Of Libertarianism.” Social Matter, September 25, 2018. https://archive.is/qr7BL#selection-603.0-603.46.

[5] Hayek, Friedrich A. von. Individualism and Economic Order. London: Routledge, 2016, 6.

[6] Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government ; and, A Letter Concerning Toleration. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. Ch.V, §. 27, 12.

[7] Aquinas, Thomas, and Timothy MacDermott. Summa Theologiæ: A Concise Translation. Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1989. Prima Pars, Q:76:1, 114.

[8] Evola, Julius, Guido Stucco, and Michael Moynihan. Men among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. Inner Traditions International, 2002, 135.

[9] Mises, Ludwig Von, and Bettina Bien. Greaves. Human Action. a Treatise on Economics. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007, 685.

[10]  Bond, C. A. Nemesis: The Jouvenelian vs. the Liberal Model of Human Orders. Imperium Press, 2019, 15.

[11] ibid., 12.

[12] Holmes, Geoffrey, and Daniel Szechi. Age of Oligarchy: Pre-Industrial Britain 1722-1783. London: Routledge, 2016, 27.

[13] ibid., 103.

[14] ibid., 114.

[15] Bond, Nemesis, 47.

[16] ibid., 60.

[17] Katz, Adam. “Power and Paradox.” Anthropoetics 23, no. 2 (2018). http://anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap2302/2302katz/

[18] Katz, Adam. “Sovereign as Onomastician-in-Chief.” GABlog (blog), July 13, 2017. http://gablog.cdh.ucla.edu/2017/07/sovereign-as-onomastician-in-chief/

[19] Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Zero Books, 2010, 38-39

[20] Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018, 75.

[21] The horrifying reality then is that it is more economically efficient to just eliminate the swathes of the labour force that, in being made redundant by techno-capital, are now economic drains on the system;

That is, as machine intelligence increases, economic demand for human intelligence at every level goes to zero. Oops!

As both a good Carlylean and a good Misesian, the King condemns economism—the theory that any economic indicator can measure human happiness. His goal is a fulfilled and dignified society, not maximum production of widgets. Is it better that teenagers get work experience during the summer, or that gas costs five cents a gallon less? The question is not a function of any mathematical formula. It is a question of judgment and taste. All that free-market economics will tell you is that, if you prohibit self service, there will be more jobs for gas-station attendants, and gas will cost more. It cannot tell you whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Moldbug, Mencius. “The Dire Problem and the Virtual Option.” Unqualified Reservations (blog), November 12, 2009. https://www.unqualified-reservations.org/2009/11/dire-problem-and-virtual-option/.

Albeit, as we have explored and shall continue to explore, Mises is still operating upon quite disastrous premises, and so he too needs surgical removal from Moldbug’s scheme for a healthy social order.

 

4 thoughts on “Ch.I | The Individual

  1. Arrus,

    You cite Adam Katz saying “To see yourself as an “individual” is to see yourself as a center of attention, with as many qualifications (titles, formal associations, histories) as possible obscured—the more stripped of qualifications, the more individualised.” However, it appears that our modern day is obsessed with qualifications, titles, associations, and histories. Meritocracy – the obsession with creating hierarchies of merit – is all about judging people by their qualifications and their history of interacting with institutions. Does Katz’s statement need to be qualified?

    1. Yo Mister Geocon I’ve decided that because of your very sincere and extended engagements with the Contra-lolberts series that it would be more appropriate to just make a new post to fully address everything you’ve said, allowing me to also update the series. Apologies again for the late reply!

  2. As a left libertarian of sorts on the social conservative side I do agree with your exposition of liberalism but id say it is even more appropriate to attribute it to high modernism. James Scott describes how high modernists attempt to do away with pre existing institutions in order to create a new society out of a blueprint, completely divorcing their ideals from context.

    Of course your position on non dualistic power structure and skepticism of spontaneous order are areas we have to disagree on. It is perfectly possible to have a dualistic power structure(ruler and ruled) and still hold that the elite class is more intricate and not a monolith and that they have conflicts of interests as well. Domhoff and Mills go into this well I believe. As for spontaneous order and what I dub the First Principle of Reaction(sovereignty must always be conserved) I delve into those in my critique of neo cameralism here https://austromutualist.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/nrx-formula-of-madness-neo-cameralism/

    1. Awesome thanks man ill take a look into your writing and I’ll add my response to the follow up post I’ve got in the works.

Leave a Reply to arrus kacchi Cancel reply