The Not-So-Current Year: 2018 In Review

Though the specific demarcation of the passage from one year into another is a rather arbitrary social construct, it does provide a useful annual period for self-examination and remembrance. Now that 2018 has entered the history books, let us take a look back at a year’s worth of essays and review the not-so-current year.

We begin, of course, with last year’s article of the same kind. Some articles in this list are sequels to articles in that list. Aside from that, we may move on.

Benjamin Welton and I began 2018 by addressing some leftover matters from the end of 2017. He explored the quick decline of Nepal from monarchy to democracy to communism in less than a generation, while I responded to a thoroughly misguided attack by Bill Wirtz on Hans-Hermann Hoppe and other right-libertarians.

The left’s warfare on language and the dangerous potential thereof is important to understand. I began exploring this phenomenon by examining common shortcomings among leftist popular authors, looking for the origins of their follies, and showing how these factors can cause a civil war if left unaddressed. In a follow-up essay, I contemplated how the innovation of language becomes stunted and weaponized in political struggles, as well as what may be done to counter such tendencies.

Book reviews have long been a part of my intellectual output, and 2018 was no different. I read and reviewed less books than in 2017, which included Robert Taylor’s Reactionary Liberty, Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus, Surjit S. Bhalla’s The New Wealth of Nations, James Ledbetter’s One Nation Under Gold, and Insula Qui’s Anarcho-Monarchism.

I began a new series called “Agreeing With Statists For The Wrong Reasons”, in which I consider how government policies which seem terrible at face value can be exploited to achieve liberty and/or undermine statist goals. This was loosely inspired by Morrakiu’s series “Agreeing With Liberals For The Wrong Reasons”, in which he showed how progressives unwittingly help the alt-right. The subjects covered in this series in 2018 included cryptocurrency bans, conscription, anti-discrimination laws, minimum wage, and impeaching Donald Trump. More episodes will come next year.

Insula Qui presented a grand project called “On Libertarianism and Statecraft” to lead into her book Anarcho-Monarchism. The introduction discusses other schools of thought and makes the case for why a libertarian theory of statecraft is necessary. Part I explains the folly of political activism. Part II explores the implications of property rights in a libertarian social order. Part III deals with the differences between states and governments, as well as the basics of private defense. Part IV explains the necessity of governance, what form it might take, and who will govern. Part V considers the effect that trust levels in society may have on the form of a libertarian social order. Part VI explores the relationship between authority and liberty. Part VII uses social contract theory to expand libertarian philosophy. Part VIII considers the nature of the natural elite. Part IX explores the role of trust in society. Part X examines the role of time preference in forming a libertarian social order. Part XI considers the role of externalities that go beyond strictly material concerns. Part XII explains how greed is frequently overrated by libertarians. The series may or may not have more entries.

In 2017, I argued that the United States debt ceiling should be eliminated. However, the debt ceiling is only part of the problem. Another part is the practice known as a government shutdown, and I argued that this practice should also be ended.

On March 9, right-wing activists Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone were detained and deported while attempting to enter the United Kingdom to give speeches and interview other rightist personalities. A similar fate also befell Lauren Southern on March 12. I wrote a list of observations about these events.

Following the Parkland shooting, a student movement to restrict access to firearms became prominent. I deconstructed this effort to show how it is orchestrated by the political establishment using tactics common to other such movements.

My glossary of social justice warrior terminology is the most popular article ever posted at Zeroth Position. After two years of continued craziness from radical leftists, I decided to revise and expand it to create a second edition. This is likely to need continual updating, and two years is a proper amount of time between editions, so look for the third edition in 2020.

I began an article series called “The Color Theory of Conflict”, in which I attempted to provide a grand unified theory of conflict. Part I defines the various colors and defends those definitions against likely objections. This was unfortunately put on the back burner, but more parts will come next year.

In human discourse, logical fallacies are quite common. But when opposition to these fallacies goes too far, further fallacies and sub-optimal behaviors can result. I examined the most common examples of this behavior in an effort to counter such second-order problems.

Sometimes, the lens of examination is best turned inward to correct one’s own missteps. Such was the case for an article I wrote in 2017 about the concept of degeneracy, so I published a revision in which I considered the possibility that civilization can be degenerate.

Welton returned with a case that American intervention in Syria is not only not right; it is not even wrong.

My poetic side suddenly came out in May, resulting in song lyrics critical of elected politicians in general. It resurfaced in September with song lyrics about Bitcoin, in November with an anti-election song, and in December with a Bitcoin Christmas song.

Libertarians have mixed views about capital punishment, but no one else seems to have considered the value of forming communal bonds by working together to execute the worst offenders. I did this at great length through the lens of ritual magick. Later, I used the problem of pedophilia among Catholic clergy to consider the limits of capital punishment, and found that there is a strong case for executing child molesters.

Welton offered an excellent history of the rise and fall of the Boy Scouts, along with the characteristics that a replacement organization should have in order to prevent a similar leftist takeover.

Doxxing has long been a problem in political circles, but it became worse in 2018. I reasoned through the limits of its acceptable use, then proposed a comprehensive solution for reining it in to those limits.

Since the beginning of recorded history, a teleological element has been present in historical narratives. I argued against this practice, promoting instead an agnostic historiography.

An incident on cable news over Trump’s immigration policies provided an opportunity for examining useful tactics for making leftists look more unhinged than usual. I showed how Corey Lewandowski’s treatment of Zac Petkanas was a master class in this regard.

I attempted to find the ideal amount of force that a civilization should use to maintain itself, coming to the conclusion that, contrary to mainstream liberalism and libertarianism, the bare minimum is not ideal.

Welton took on an important issue that has long been waiting for a proper reactionary response: the undue reverence given to the Magna Carta by liberals of all stripes.

In 2017, I argued the case for reining in censorious technology giants by threatening the revocation of their incorporation. I followed this up with an argument against the corporate form itself as a creature of statism that would almost certainly not exist in a free society. Continued problems with corporate censorship that touched me personally led me to formulate a holistic approach to solving the problem.

Qui returned with a thorough survey of the producerist school of thought, which has both significant overlap with and significant difference from libertarianism.

On July 23, Social Matter published an article by Mark Christensen in which he argued that conservatives should favor larger government. I welcomed Darien Sumner, the fourth additional writer at Zeroth Position, in August to rebut Christensen’s arguments point-by-point. A September 25 article by Henry Olson that criticized libertarianism from the right merited a more measured response.

Welton and I figured that if libertarians and rightists are going to be slandered as fascists and Nazis no matter what, then we have nothing to lose by examining real Nazis and seeing what can be learned from their example. The result was an excellent piece on the rise and fall of the Sturmabteilung (SA).

The Walking Dead comic series and the television show based on it contain many themes which are of interest to the student of libertarian philosophy and reactionary thought. I explored the many ways in which Negan’s group resembles a state apparatus, as well as what one can learn from those who resist his rule and ultimately overthrow him. The third part was released in 2018, covering the second half of Season 7. The fourth and fifth parts, covering Season 8, were planned for 2018 but will instead appear in early 2019.

In 2016, I wrote a guide to political autism as it pertains to libertarian commentators. I followed up that effort with a similar overview of autistic conservatism.

On September 4–7, the United States Senate held hearings on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy. I wrote a list of observations on the events. After Democrats launched an unprecedented smear campaign, I wrote another list of observations.

Nathan Dempsey returned after an 11-month hiatus to begin a quarterly series of updates on his Liberty Minecraft project, the first of which ran on October 24.

Clashes between different strains of political universalism, as well as proselytization into territories ruled by non-universalist governance structures, led to the unprecedented losses of life and property in wars and genocides during the 20th century, and is capable of doing much more damage going forward. I examined the history and practice of universalism, its pathway to genocide, and what libertarians may do about it in a sweeping essay.

Welton offered a history of imperialism and colonialism, considering the bad name it has unjustly acquired, the joint-stock and free state models, and how colonialism might be used to create a libertarian social order.

Black Friday is revered by most libertarians as a celebration of free-market capitalism. I updated my explanation of why this reverence is misplaced.

My final think piece of the year will continue into 2019, but the first part offers a detailed explanation of the concept of immaterial technology.

All in all, it was an interesting year full of occasions to make sharp libertarian and reactionary arguments. May 2019 bring more and better!

Book Review: Anarcho-Monarchism

Anarcho-Monarchism is a collection of 30 essays by libertarian author Insula Qui. The book explores various issues from a libertarian reactionary perspective, all of which factor into a synthesis of anarchy and monarchy.

The introduction sets out the purpose of the book, which is to synthesize liberty and authority in such a way as to avoid the apparent contradictions in doing so. According to Qui, this is done through careful nuance. She recommends an alternate order in which one may read the book, but this is only necessary for those unfamiliar with any libertarian reactionary thought. She includes here a disclaimer that the work is not professionally edited, which unfortunately is more glaringly obvious than in her previous book.

In What is Anarcho-Monarchism?, Qui offers an extended introduction. She proposes that the non-aggression principle is necessary but not sufficient, and that property rights will lead to natural hierarchies that culminate in monarchs. These monarchs are different from the absolute rulers of history, in that they rule based on merit and ability rather than coercion.

The Contradiction of Freedom explores the limitations of freedom as pertains to the mutual incompatibility of each person being free to do as one will, which naturally leads to people violating each other’s freedoms. The differing conceptions of freedom offered by competing political ideologies motivate further conflicts in this regard. She summarizes these conditions thus:

“To fight for freedom qua freedom is to fight for other people to be able to impose their vision of freedom onto you. To fight for freedom is simply to fight for the dominance of an unspecified party, and as such if you fight for freedom you fight for subjugation. However, there is still the slight hope that you will be the one doing the subjugating.”[1]

She resolves this problem by advocating as a pragmatic matter that there must be a pursuit of autonomy to avoid needless conflicts in which people seek to impose their vision of freedom upon everyone else. Qui concludes the essay by denouncing the egoism of Max Stirner as the worst combination of freedom and autonomy.

In The Final Arbiter, Qui deals with the problem of final resolution of disputes. She considers various possibilities for how such a final arbiter may exist outside of a monopolistic legal system. Unfortunately, she accepts the opponent’s framing of the question and spends all of her effort in trying to answer it rather than rejecting the concept of a final arbiter as either nonsensical (in that no person or institution can absolutely guarantee that any issue will be resolved forever with no possibility of review) or guaranteed by nature (the dead cannot dispute and every person eventually dies, so the Grim Reaper is the final arbiter).

The fourth essay is The Centralization of Defence, and it argues against the contention of Robert Nozick and others that market anarchy would eventually be undone by centralization of defense agencies leading to the re-establishment of states. Qui admits the advantages of centralizing defense, such as volume discounts and the reduction of transaction costs. But as she explains,

“[P]eople do not constantly need viable alternatives. Rather, what is necessary is the possibility of alternatives emerging.”[2]

In other words, the mere threat of competition can inspire existing companies to provide better service. But more importantly,

“[T]he system of law enforced by the agencies of defence is independent from those agencies that provide physical protection. There is no one agency that should have control over both law and force, and these industries would always be separate. If these industries are not provided by different agencies, the defence agency would become a dictator and would become what it was supposed to defend against.”[3]

The separation of law creation and law enforcement into entities that are not under the same umbrella would be absolutely necessary to avoid the tyranny of modern nation-states. Finally, there is the problem of a powerful defense agency simply conquering a territory and declaring itself a new state. Qui admits that this is possible but not certain, which while less than ideal, is better than the certainty of the current system.

Pro-War, Anti-Nation offers a strong case for the incompatibility of nationalism with warmongering, noting the dysgenic effect of sending the best men to die, the economic ruin brought by wartime destruction and production diversion, and the loss of moral foundation. Qui argues that true nationalism has been corrupted by imperialism, and restoring non-interventionist thinking is the path back to sanity. To her credit, she recognizes the possibility of restoration of martial virtues in a defensive war.

In The Necessity of Force, Qui argues against the utopian ideas of some left-libertarians who advocate a goal of universal nonviolence. She writes,

“ There will always be people who use force and there will always be people who need to respond to force with force to ensure that the original initiator of violence can be brought to justice. …If there are no people who are willing to use force to secure relative peace for people who do not want to use force, then people who are willing to use violence for personal gains would always achieve unjust outcomes for the sake of themselves.”[4]

She also demonstrates that this need not devolve into a state, as the incentive structures involved give advantages to defenders over aggressors.

Qui considers the corruption of libertarian philosophy for the purpose of appealing to leftists in Brutal Freedom. Here, she considers the flip side of full personal responsibility to its logical conclusion of social Darwinism, though she does not use the term in this essay. Though charity may mitigate brutality somewhat, Qui argues that some brutality will remain, as these charities will only help those who are willing to help themselves and just need a temporary step up.

All Men Are Created Equal is a brief essay that addresses that all too common liberal fiction. As usual,

“Definitions change and juxtaposing a modern notion with a classical one results in a misunderstanding of much thought in the classical tradition.”[5]

As such, she compares modern notions of equality with the classical liberal idea of getting rid of titles of nobility and other such birthrights. This classical idea of human biological diversity and meritocracy is contrasted with the modern idea of equality of outcome. But Qui commits an error at the end, arguing for classical equality instead of natural inequality.

Social Darwinism is given direct treatment in the ninth essay. Qui argues that far from trying to deny such an accusation, capitalists should embrace this sort of thinking. She illuminates the difference between actively killing and passively allowing death, showing expectation of survival to be a revolt against nature. But then she makes a dubious assertion:

“If a system allows people to gain unearned advantages, that system ceases to be a social darwinist [sic] one. This is because it starts to encourage parasitism and negative qualities instead of the advancement of all individuals.”[6]

Left unsaid is what constitutes an unearned advantage. There is also the problem that one does not earn one’s own genetic code, and that parasitism and other negative qualities are part of the evolutionary process. However, she correctly recognizes that a Darwinian process applies not just to who can survive, but who will occupy each station in life. She argues that social Darwinism will prevent charity from being wasted on those who will never become productive members of society, with resources instead flowing to those who prove themselves best at managing them.

In The Rule of Law, Qui briefly contemplates the impossibility of any political system securing the rule of law, as any such system places someone above the law. She argues for a separation of law and state:

“The only solution to this is to remove the managerial position when it comes to law from being legitimized by the coercive use of force and to put law on the same level as every other industry. We can have the managerial position of law be put onto the free market where each person is able to patronize the providers of law and where each person is also free to not do so. Thus the people who are in the position that is traditionally one of governance become reduced to the level of every person who is not within the system of governance. In that manner, it is possible to create a situation where there are no privileged positions and there is real equality before the law.”[7]

Of course, this raises the usual objections of the wealthiest patrons ultimately deciding the law by which enforcers they will hire for which purposes, the free rider problem, and the possibility of re-emerging states, none of which are adequately addressed in the essay.

Against Taxes is the first long essay of the book, and approaches the case against taxation in economic terms rather than the usual moral arguments. Qui uses opportunity cost, price mechanisms, the lack of market accountability of the state, the cost of collecting taxes, the cost of prosecuting tax resistance, wealth transfer from competent stewards to incompetent stewards, and the impossibility of creating a taxation scheme that does not disproportionately harm the poor to make this case. She concludes the essay by debunking the idea of public goods.

In High Trust, Qui provides an overview of various types of individualism, settling on ethical individualism as most conducive to a libertarian social order. She also considers the role of homogeneity in strengthening trust. Unlike mainstream libertarians, Qui accepts the impact of genetics:

“Due to evolutionary pressures in different ecosystems and climates, genes change in humans when they are in different areas of the world. [T]hese genes affect the culture and they create the basis for culture. Furthermore, even if a member of a genetic group comes into contact with the culture of another, they still have the genetic incentives of their original culture.”[8]

The essay concludes by explaining why high trust is important. Where Qui goes astray is with her insistence on nonviolent means of enforcing social norms; violence has almost always entered into this process and will likely continue to do so. There is also no mention of the possibility for technology to reduce the need for trust.

In Liberty, Property, Society, Qui argues against critics who accuse libertarians of being anti-social because they reject coercive institutions. Defining liberty as self-determination and explaining property as a rational method for allocating scarce resources, she concludes that this allows for social interaction to be maximized. She explains the difference between capitalism and corporatism, which critics of libertarianism (and many libertarians as well) frequently confuse. The essay concludes by exploring the reversal of the argument, that a lack of liberty and property will undermine society.

With The Family in Capitalism, Qui begins addressing the relationship between libertarianism and the far-right. She addresses the far-right contention that capitalism is anti-family. Unlike left-libertarians, many of whom view the breakdown of traditional family structures as a positive, Qui argues that the state and the corporatism it enables has done this to everyone’s detriment. She shows that both states and corporations are incentivized to destroy the family as a challenger and impediment to their power. She understands that capitalism is an amoral process; garbage inputs result in garbage production, while good inputs result in the production of virtue. The ending deals with women in the workforce, and bears quoting at length:

“[T]here is the…point that capitalism pushes women into the workforce…so there is a need for fascist economics to avoid this phenomenon. This argument has a compelling point. Capitalists are directly benefited by there being a surplus of labour to make those who own capital able to lower wages in the economy. This would eventually correct itself and, given enough time, the supply of capital would reach the demand for capital. But capitalists hold political power in an unfree market. We can say that when the capitalists hold both political and economic power, capitalism has inherent forces that destroy the family. This cannot be achieved with economic power alone. There would be no way to force women into the workforce and keep profits from increasing the size of the workforce. However, in a free market, the capitalists cannot prevent additional capital from entering the market and cannot alter the amount of labour in the economy by incentive structures.

Furthermore, it is simply profitable due to the division of labour for women to stay home and take care of the children while the father works. This is for multiple reasons, usually men earn more since they are more productive and more willing to work longer hours. Women are more apt at taking care of children and more emotionally attached to the process of child-rearing. Thus, if a couple aims to produce healthy children in a good family with enough wealth, that couple needs a division of labour that would fit the strengths of all people in the family.”[9]

The Case for Tradition argues against “libertine hedonihilism,” as Qui terms it. This is the left-libertarian view of liberty as freedom to engage in any degenerate behavior whatsoever as long as no one else is aggressed against. She argues that the family is the bedrock of society, therefore a stable libertarian order will be undermined by anything that erodes family values. She writes,

“Every society is organized along some lines, even a society with no coercive power system creates a system of exclusion, rules of interaction, and other norms to stabilize social life under the system. These social foundations may be implicit or explicit, however, they will always exist and thus we should make sure that the everpresent [sic] organizational principles result in a society that produces the best quality of life for the people involved. The libertine recoils at this statement as he firmly believes that all people should be left alone to be as degenerate as they want to be and no person should be bothered by any sort of moralism. But even the libertine must function within a society and that society will have organizational principles.”[10]

Qui explains the difference between individualism as isolation and individualism as independence. She then describes tradition thus:

“[T]radition is not to be understood as the corrupted american [sic] concept of tradition. So-called family values, military histories, and constitutions do not constitute a historical basis for organizing society. Rather, tradition is the all-encompassing concept of the cultural heritage and the knowledge of all people involved in those traditions. Tradition is the manifestation of the cultural group that created the traditions. …Simply put, tradition is the spontaneous historical order of a nation and to not respect tradition would be to not respect proper social structures.”[11]

She urges libertarians to appeal to rightists instead of leftists as a more natural fit, much as Murray Rothbard did in his 1992 essay Right-Wing Populism. She finishes the essay by thinking of tradition as a collection of best practices through the ages, which while imperfect, was good enough to bring people this far.

In Community, Tradition, Liberty, the same matters are approached from the angle of community as a mitigating factor for the degeneracy that can result if people regard themselves as atomized individuals. The role of social capital as an economic factor is also discussed, along with lower transaction costs and better economic calculation as people form tight-knit communities. She then considers the problems of implementing traditional values absent liberty.

The Two Laws of Nature begins a streak of five controversial essays, in which Qui attempts to bridge the liberty-authority divide. She describes her undertaking as follows:

“In the niche sphere of radical politics, you find two very contrasting American intellectual traditions with their own notions of what is the natural law. American white nationalists and fascists occasionally claim that the law of nature forms a brutal order of self-defence and racial animosity. Radical libertarians interpret the law of nature as something that guarantees rights to each person. I would propose a synthesis of these two laws of nature to combine them into a proper set of moral values. This could form a social order that is a combination of libertarian and extreme traditionalist-nationalist values. Furthermore, this synthesis is highly similar to classical concepts of natural law which combine both personal morality and rights.”[12]

She considers fascist ethics as being rooted in animal behavior and adapted to take account of the differences between humans and lower animals. This sets up hierarchies as the natural form of organization, while egalitarianism and democracy are revolts against nature. By contrast, Qui views libertarianism as constructed from reason, from which the non-aggression principle and private property rights emerge. But curiously, she refers to libertarian theory as “empty tautologies.” She describes her proposed synthesis thus:

“Each person ought to value their tribe, know their place in society, attempt to form a family, and defend themselves. This is not to say that each person can succeed at all of these, there are certain inherent limitations. [H]owever, these things should be required for living a perfectly moral life. The tribe does not have to be a race or a nation, the tribe would rather be the community in which you find yourself.”[13]

The next essay is National Socialism and Libertarianism, and it deals with common premises shared between libertarians and national socialists, which are commonly believed to be diametrically opposed. Qui believes these to be that society should emerge organically, opposition to parasitism, recognition that the state is an institution of force, and intolerance of communism. The manifestation of each of these differs greatly; is the parasite the state or Jewry, are parasites best removed by the market or the state, and so on. She closes with a warning:

“[I]t is very easy to become disillusioned with freedom when one realizes for which purposes freedom is used. Because there are overlaps in the general worldview of fascists and libertarians, it becomes easy to simply remove the seemingly problematic aspect of freedom that leads to various ills within libertarianism.”[14]

“However, this does not mean that libertarians are similar to fascists or that it is necessarily libertarian to intermingle with fascists.”[15]

Authoritarianism Versus Libertarianism deals head-on with the central issue of the book. Qui argues that liberty and authority are incompatible in the political realm, but can come together outside of politics. Again defining liberty as self-determination, she finds the enemy of liberty to be not authority but coercion. She writes,

“When strong command structures and a social order predicated upon a strong focus on authority can defeat coercion at large in society, then authoritarianism is more libertarian than perceivedly unauthoritarian structures. This may seem impossible. After all, when there are strong structures of command it seems like there could not be any room to exercise liberty. But this ignores human action and psychology. These strong command structures do not liberate people from command structures but rather give them the liberty to decide what they do outside authority.”[16]

This kind of liberty under authority comports well with both traditional and neoreactionary thinking. Qui also has an explanation for why this is poorly understood among libertarians:

“But the people who want to be left alone to practice their liberty are also the people who are viscerally opposed to being constrained by command structures. This means that they often overlook how these seemingly oppressive structures can actually benefit the ability to exercise control over your own life. A government that makes a few demands in a very authoritative manner should always be preferable to a government that makes many demands in a democratic manner.”[17]

She spends the remainder of the essay considering the benefits of non-coercive command structures over coercive ones as well as a lack thereof.

Qui’s flirtation with neoreaction continues in Strong and Small. Here, she argues that an ideal state exercises hegemonic control and strong political authority, but does not needlessly involve itself in every facet of society. She uses public choice theory to show that states are inclined to grow, either by becoming stronger or larger (or both). She contends that a strong state will primarily look after its own interests, while a weak state will do the bidding of various special interests. But this contention is dubious because a strong state can have special interests and factionalism internally rather than externally, leading to similar problems. Her conclusion is that a state can either function as an anarcho-tyranny (as many currently do) or as a liberal autocracy, a strong state that does very little.

Libertarianism and Fascism began as an article here at Zeroth Position, though the version in this book is significantly different. Qui compares the spectrum between libertarianism and neoliberalism that leads to left-libertarianism to the spectrum between libertarianism and fascism that can lead to a type of libertarian reaction. She provides a history of the various fascist movements, though this history is not exhaustive. Next comes an overview of fascist ideology, which Qui explains as placing the advancement of the nation above all else. Of a potential synthesis of libertarianism and fascism, she writes,

“Fascism undoubtedly preserves property more than left-wing socialism does, thus fascist sympathies cannot be construed as completely anti-libertarian. But one cannot take both nation and property as ultimate goals. This is because the conflicts between these goals would have to be solved by means of arbitrary decision. This means that libertarianism and fascism cannot be combined as ideologies because their premises are different. One may combine republicanism, minarchism, monarchism, anarcho-capitalism, etc. into a broad political movement, as the premises of these positions are sufficiently similar. But there is no way to create a big tent movement that can accurately represent the interests of both fascists and libertarians; the premises come into too much conflict.”[18]

She concludes that although fascists and libertarians are incompatible in the long-term, they can work together against common enemies by setting aside their incompatibilities to deal with common enemies.

Conversely, the lengthy essay Producerism was later adapted from this book into a Zeroth Position article. Qui’s contention that efficiency is the base value of libertarianism is questionable at best. She describes producerism (differently from most sources) as trying to increase production in general, both of material and immaterial goods. Her claim that producerism is the only metaphysically consistent form of political philosophy requires more support than is given, as she does not prove uniqueness as needed. Much of the rest of the essay repeats material from earlier in the book. This essay would have benefited greatly from exploring the dangers of overproduction as a source of degeneracy instead of containing so much repetition.

Communitarian Libertarianism deals with yet another possible synthesis between libertarianism and another school of thought. Qui blames the strategic errors of Friedrich Hayek for the top-down focus of political libertarianism, which has so far failed to convince elites to be more libertarian for entirely predictable reasons. Though she correctly notes that warfare against the state would be required for the masses to implement libertarianism, she does not contemplate the possibility of a rogue elite leading the way to liberty, as neoreaction does. Qui instead focuses on building communities as a bulwark against the leviathan state, as this is what worked in pre-modern times.

The provocatively titled The Final Solution to the Banking Question argues for a fundamental reform of banking systems. Qui begins by explaining what is wrong with contemporary banking, which essentially functions as a globalist system of debt slavery. Before proposing a solution, she describes a conflict between two sets of critics of banking:

“Our approach to banking should not be about turning a blind eye to unethical action, rather it should wholly be a method of critique and instituting a market solution to a state problem. And there are plenty of people who critique banks from an anti-market perspective. They propose different solutions as they feel that banks are unethical by nature and not by circumstance.”[19]

She provides a standard free-market defense of interest as a measure of time preference. Her proposed solution is quite similar to the Banking Act of 1933 (better known as Glass-Steagall), in that she would separate savings and loan banks from investment banks, disallowing any institution to practice both. Strangely, there is no mention of cryptocurrency and its potential to eliminate the need for banks as we know them.

Familism refers to primacy of the family rather than the individual or any larger collective. Qui argues that families cannot be separated into discrete sub-units in economic analysis, as the income and spending of the individuals is too intertwined. More broadly,

“In cultures that have not been subject to American cultural imperialism, there is often no such thing as individualism divorced from the family. In most of the world, individualism does not imply that the individual should be independent from the constraints of the family, but rather that individuals should be focused on their own family. However, due to the increasingly westernized [sic] nature of the world, this is not a commonplace meaning.”[20]

She contends that unless families consist of degenerate and/or aggressive people, alienated individualism and non-familial collectivism are less optimal than familism. According to Qui, one redefines one’s family through redefining oneself, and advancing one’s family by giving rise to the next generation is the purpose of economic action.

Neo-Feudalism explores the common ground between libertarianism and feudalism, which is quite rich despite libertarianism’s origins in anti-feudalism. Qui makes the case that a natural landed aristocracy will arise out of libertarian standards for property ownership, but the absence of coercion would allow for more turnover of incompetent landowners. Second, the defense structures of anarcho-capitalism greatly resemble that of feudal lords, but Qui again hand-waves the issue of potential re-establishment of states. Even so, the destruction wrought by modern nation-states dwarfs anything under feudalism. She also notes the benefit of using mercenaries for lessening “my country, right or wrong” sentiments.

The Case for Guilds argues that trade unions are a statist corruption of the older system of guilds, which should be reborn and adapted for the future economy. Qui highlights the issue of guilds being run by the best in their line of work, while unions are run by the best at rent-seeking. The means by which guilds ensure quality in ways that unions, trade schools, and universities do not are also discussed.

In Greatness, Qui contemplates the conflict between modernity and potential for excellence. She blames the Enlightenment for abandoning the virtues of previous eras:

“Rationalism became replaced by populism, religious tolerance became replaced by institutional secularism, human advancement became replaced by anti-traditionalism, and an opposition to absolute and tyrannical monarchs became an opposition to monarchy. This was not helped by the opponents of the enlightenment [sic] as they were not staunch traditionalists, but rather simply anti-rationalists and similarly opposed to greatness. They only helped create the monsters of the enlightenment and the popular philosophy that started the downfall of the world.”[21]

This assessment of the Counter-Enlightenment is only partially accurate; for example, Joseph de Maistre opposed a rational foundation for governance because he believed it would only lead to arguments devolving into violence over whether this or that particular government was legitimate. Qui goes on to expose the contradiction between popular democratic will and eternal values. She then describes the progression from Enlightenment values to progressivism:

“Without equality, liberty, fraternity we would have never reached egality, entitlement, collectivity. It is a logical progression from wanting to abolish institutional privilege to wanting to abolish every kind of privilege. The same is true with wanting the ability to be undisturbed by other people and the ability to be undisturbed by the fundamental realities of the world. Respect for your fellow man can easily lead to demanding that the focus of each person be on their fellow man.”[22]

In Kings by Merit, Qui advocates authority as the means for creating virtue, which she believes liberty cannot do on its own. Why this would involve removing authority from economics or politics is left an open question, as degeneracy is especially prone to manifest there. She describes the libertarian king as a societal patriarch who is followed voluntarily for his leadership skills, which she believes is necessary for most people to avoid being led astray by the various demagogues that arise from time to time. Qui views the king’s function as combating parasitism and embodying virtue. She writes,

“The king would logically then be the person in society who has the highest degree of virtue and the highest degree of merit, voluntary monarchy is the ultimate meritocracy as the most qualified person would have the most power. The…person who is the most righteous and most capable would be the king. …Monarchy in any other way and democracy in all ways results in situations in which the rulers are people who do not embody virtue, although this happens far more with democracy than with monarchy. It does not mean that involuntary rule will always necessarily be against virtue, but we need exemplary kings to embody virtue and we only get exemplary kings through voluntary monarchy”[23]

The final essay, For an Anarchist Monarchy, closes the book on its central theme. Qui discusses the failures of combining monarchy with democracy, then proposes a synthesis of monarchy with anarchy by retaining the best principles of both while mitigating the potentially destructive aspects of both with a voluntary monarchic system.

The book ends with a single page advocating further reading of her series “On Libertarianism and Statecraft” here at Zeroth Position.

The first word that comes to mind when describing the entire collection is ‘unfinished.’ The grammatical constructions and punctuation are awkward throughout. A book of this many essays should be categorized into sections of similar subject matters, and the table of contents lacks page numbers. Each of the essays would benefit from a much deeper bibliography, as there are many important points which are simply asserted without proper support. The essays are also somewhat disjointed, in that they do not refer to each other to save space. That being said, the thoughts expressed in this book are sufficiently intriguing to merit reading despite these flaws.

Rating: 3.5/5

References:

  1. Qui, Insula (2018). Anarcho-Monarchism. p. 22.
  2. Ibid., p. 38.
  3. Ibid., p. 40.
  4. Ibid., p. 57.
  5. Ibid., p. 66.
  6. Ibid., p. 71.
  7. Ibid., p. 80.
  8. Ibid., p. 104.
  9. Ibid., p. 123–4.
  10. Ibid., p. 127.
  11. Ibid., p. 129.
  12. Ibid., p. 146.
  13. Ibid., p. 153.
  14. Ibid., p. 162.
  15. Ibid., p. 160.
  16. Ibid., p. 168.
  17. Ibid., p. 169.
  18. Ibid., p. 189–90.
  19. Ibid., p. 224–5.
  20. Ibid., p. 232.
  21. Ibid., p. 257.
  22. Ibid., p. 259–60.
  23. Ibid., p. 268–9.

On Universalism, Genocide, and Libertarianism

One element which distinguishes modern political ideologies from their pre-modern counterparts and predecessors is universalism. That is, each of them makes several objective truth claims, and their adherents believe that everyone should convert to their point of view. Most also believe that everyone eventually will. This is due in large part to their Whig historiography, with the dominance of their particular system as the “end of history”. Clashes between different strains of political universalism, as well as proselytization into territories ruled by non-universalist governance structures, led to the unprecedented losses of life and property in wars and genocides during the 20th century. The currently dominant form, which will be examined at length, has the potential to motivate even greater destruction going forward. Let us explore the origins of political universalism, its implications, and what might be done with this knowledge.

Origins: Universalism, Calvinism, Unitarianism

Like most Western political ideas, the dominant strain of universalism in contemporary politics has its roots in Christianity. The doctrine of universal reconciliation says that all humans will eventually be saved and reach Heaven, that no permanent Hell exists, and that the idea of eternal damnation comes from a mistranslation of Scripture.[1] This belief can be found among some of the early church fathers[2], and persists in some sense within Catholicism through the belief in Purgatory. From a Protestant perspective, universalism is perhaps best understood as an extreme form of Calvinism. Calvinists believe that God has predetermined the fate of every soul, with some going to Heaven and others going to Hell.[3] A Christian Universalist believes that all souls are in the former category in the long-term. The Calvinist view of election is in contrast to Arminianism, which holds that election is conditional[4], and to open theism, which claims that God does not know in advance how a person will respond to the Gospel.[5]

The other four points of five-point Calvinism are total depravity, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. Total depravity means that all people are enslaved to sin and cannot by their own faculties choose salvation. Limited atonement means that salvation is intended only for the elect and not for all people. Irresistible grace means that the elect will be saved regardless of their resistance to the Holy Spirit. Perseverance of the saints means that the elect cannot fall out of communion with God; apostates either never had true faith or will be divinely chastened into repentance. All five points have important implications in the political realm which will be discussed in the next section. The teachings of John Calvin eventually led to his own de facto rule in Geneva, the rule of Oliver Cromwell following the English Civil War, and the dominance of the Puritans in New England, the latter of which has never truly lost influence over American politics. Each of these produced its own horrifying and deadly results, from the burning of heretics like Michael Servetus[6] to Cromwell’s massacres of the Irish[7] to the Salem Witch Trials.

Christian Universalism proper can be traced to a liberal denomination formed in 1793 to uphold belief in universal salvation, which would later become known as the Universalist Church of America. This denomination merged with the Unitarians in 1961 to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. The early Unitarians rejected several fundamentals of mainstream Christianity, such as the doctrines of the Trinity, the pre-existence of Christ, original sin, and substitutionary atonement. During the 19th century, through the influence of Transcendentalism, they moved away from liberal Protestantism to become more theologically diverse.[8] This trend continued with 20th-century secular theology.

Unitarian Universalists have seven fundamental principles: 1) the inherent worth and dignity of every person; 2) justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; 3) acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; 4) a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; 5) the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; 6) the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and 7) respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

These principles look remarkably similar to secular progressive liberal rhetoric, and for good reason. As Unitarian Universalism became pluralistic and no longer explicitly Christian, it lost whatever minuscule resistance to leftism it once had, and Conquest’s Second Law took effect as usual. Unitarians and Universalists were active in social reform movements during the 19th and 20th centuries, including slavery abolition, alcohol prohibition, women’s suffrage, feminism, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmentalism, and social justice.

As the Unitarians in America became more secular, they formed a bridge between mainline Protestants and various types of radical leftists. The allegiance of these forces took some time, but was finally accomplished during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Their takeover of academia and the mainstream media after World War II led to their dominance in political life, so much so that non- or anti-Universalist ideas were steadily pushed outside of polite discourse and into the fever swamps of far-right conspiracy theorists. Only in the age of the Internet is this hegemony beginning to crack, though this may be partly attributable to backlash against the sheer extremity of the leftist vanguard, which is a natural consequence of their dominion.

Social Justice as Secular Calvinist Universalism

Taken together, the twelve beliefs listed above explain many facets of contemporary leftist behavior, and the contradictions between them are responsible for much of progressive doublethink. Although progressive liberal ideology claims to advocate for the seven Unitarian Universalist principles, its practice looks more like the five points of Calvinism. Like Calvinists, progressive activists believe that the world is fundamentally unjust, and that people cannot save themselves. But since they generally reject the Christian God, they substitute the secular god of statism and view themselves as its agents and advocates. This also leads them toward total depravity, but their self-righteousness and use of statism to avoid the consequences of bad personal decisions shield them from this understanding.

Unconditional election manifests in the form of oppressor classes and victim classes. For all of their supposed opposition to essentialism, social justice warriors group people into what would in earlier times be called the elect and the damned based on race, sex, orientation, and other biologically immutable characteristics. Since they define bigotry as prejudice plus power, they contend that members of the elect (victims) cannot be bigoted against the damned (oppressors). This paradoxical view echoes the parable of the rich man and Lazarus[9], in that the eternally wealthy are temporally impoverished and vice versa. Just as a Calvinist never is sure of one’s salvation status, so too is a progressive activist never sure of whether one is sufficiently far to the left or whether one has done enough work for the cause.

Limited atonement takes on two forms with the radical left. First, despite their claimed universalism, they do not intend that all people and their descendants should have a long-term part in their planned future society, especially if they are classified as oppressors and prove resistant to social justice ideology. We will return to this later, but let us now consider the second form. Because a progressive activist is never sure of one’s status, one must endlessly engage in ritualistic privilege-checking confessionals and sacrifices, such as ceding platforms and resources to those deemed less privileged and more oppressed. These offer only limited atonement and are never sufficient to resolve one’s “burden of original sin” for being part of an oppressor class.

Irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints manifest together. Members of oppressed classes who reject social justice ideology are said to have “internalized oppression” in general, which includes particulars such as “internalized misogyny”, “internalized homophobia”, “internalized racism”, etc. Universalism rules out the possibility that nonbelievers never had true faith, and secular progressives reject divine chastening, so they themselves must chasten nonbelievers and apostates to repentance. This chastening never ends because of the doctrine of irresistible grace; the elect must be saved regardless of their resistance, and universalism extends this chastening to all of society.

Against Unitarian Universalism

At the surface level, the seven fundamental principles of Unitarian Universalism may seem harmless or even beneficial. Worse still, they may fool one into thinking that they are an antidote to secular progressivism. But the way that these principles are interpreted through a Calvinist lens leads down very dark paths, and has already done so on multiple occasions.

It is possible to have reasonable disagreements with six of these seven principles. First, both the labor and the subjective theories of value reject the idea of inherent value, so taken to their logical conclusions, human life does not have an inherent worth or dignity and can become a negative in some cases. The replacement of the culture of honor with the culture of dignity may also be lamented for its amplification of uncivil conduct and decline of martial virtues. When offensive speech carried the possibility of being challenged to a duel, and either risking one’s life or being branded a coward, it was necessary to engage other people in a more dignified manner. That social justice warriors view only some people as elect seems to conflict with the inherent worth of human life, but this is resolved by dehumanizing their opponents.

Second, the idea of justice, equity, and compassion in human relations may be rejected at a shallow level as an excuse to intervene in affairs that are none of one’s business. All too frequently, social justice warriors will insert themselves into private transactions and relationships which do not concern them, using the promotion of social justice and equality as a pretext. At a deeper level, whereas social justice rarely means the same thing as actual justice, one may dispute the meaning of justice. The ideal of equity may be rejected as a revolt against nature, with the alternative view that human individuals and collectives have differing capabilities as a result of both genetics and environment. Fewer people will argue against compassion, but there are times when rational psychopathy, social Darwinism, and so forth produce superior results.

Third, universal acceptance rejects the idea of discriminating against anyone for any reason. In practice, this is both an assault on private property and on freedom of association. If one cannot exclude people, then it is impossible to have quality control. The result is a predictable decline in quality of human relationships, economic goods, and standards of living. Encouragement to spiritual growth may be rejected by materialists who deny the existence of the spiritual, though some progressive activists will do this as well.

While no one should disagree with the fourth principle, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, such a search has the potential to undermine the entire progressive program. Leftists will instead attempt to create the illusion that this is both occurring and finding results consistent with their ideology, with any discrepancies blamed on lack of funding, poor communication, and any other cause besides the possibility that they might be wrong. Of course, this means that anyone who finds contrary results and publishes them will feel the full force of the establishment machine.

Fifth, the right of conscience can be opposed as an assault on contract law. While conscription by the state should be rejected as a form of slavery (or agreed with for the wrong reasons), it is also a consequence of universalism in the political realm. The democratic process may be rejected as an affront to individual liberty, private property, freedom of association, the iron law of oligarchy, the right of might, and/or the divine right of kings, depending on one’s political views. One may also critique democracy for empowering those who are unworthy of having a voice, creating conflicts of interest, encouraging demagoguery, and perpetuating social unrest.

Sixth, the goal of world community is in opposition to all political ideologies which call for non-globalist, non-universal political organization, such as nationalism, localism, anarchism, and individualism. This point in particular is the path to darkness, and will be addressed at length later.

Seventh, respect for interdependent ecosystems cannot be fully rejected, but can be subordinated to human concerns. Alternatively, one may approach ecology from a reactionary perspective; not as a pretext for state intervention in the economy, a broader social justice movement extended beyond humanity to all living things, or a myopic desire for a nice place to live, but as respect for cosmic order, hierarchy, bravery, harmony, and beauty.

Other Universalist Ideologies

Before we continue, it is necessary to take note of other kinds of universalism. The progressive liberal variety described above at length traces its lineage through the political philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the Young Hegelians in particular. Other Young Hegelians were the forerunners of various socialist and communist ideologies, such as Leninism and Stalinism. Right-Hegelianism, another school of thought founded by Hegel’s disciples, was a contributing factor to fascism and Nazism.

Conflicts involving these schools of thought have provided the philosophical backing for the great wars of the 20th century. In World War I, universalists defeated their non-universalist opposition in the form of the traditional monarchies of Europe and Russia, leading to the rise of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Austria-Hungary. World War II was a victory of Young Hegelians over Right Hegelians in Europe and non-universalists in Japan, respectively. The Cold War was a conflict between two different branches of Young Hegelians, the Soviet communists and the progressive liberal West.

The War on Terrorism in the 21st century is a struggle between the ascendant progressive liberals and the forces of political Islam. Some Islamists embrace a universalist ideology, seeking to bring the whole world under the rule of a global caliphate. Others are non-universalist, seeking an exit from and alternative to postwar progressivism. But both of these are rivals of the Western hegemony, except when the establishment sees fit to weaponize them against the remnants of non-universalism in Western countries.

The Path to Genocide

The fundamental characteristic of any universalist ideology is that it posits at least one common factor among all people. Such factors may be formulated as “All people are W”, “All people believe X”, “All people do Y”, “All people require Z”, and so forth. But what shall a universalist do with a person who is not W, or believes the opposite of X, or deliberately avoids doing Y, or has no need of Z? Like a scientist who encounters data which does not comport with the hypothesis being tested, the universalist faces a binary choice: reject the hypothesis and formulate a better one, or alter the data to fit the hypothesis. In science, the latter is (hopefully) condemned as academic fraud, but it is standard practice in the political realm. In other words, because the presence of people who steadfastly reject universalism is an empirical falsification of universalism, a universalist must either renounce one’s ideology or renounce those people, and the latter tends to occur. The method by which this renunciation of people is performed is best known as “no true Scotsman,” and declares them to be less than human.

The path from universalism to genocide is thus clear; dehumanize the inconvenient people, systematically reduce their role in socioeconomic life, then remove them from society. Because it is impossible to remove people to a location outside the Universe, which is what would be necessary to preserve universalism from those who reject it, the universalists are left with the option of murdering the incompatible. Regardless of whether the universal ideal is the Nazi master race, the Soviet industrial worker, the Khmer Rouge agrarian peasant, the Islamic State interpretation of Sharia, or the Calvinist-Unitarian-rooted system of progressive liberal values, any belief system which posits a mold that all people must fit will ultimately dehumanize those who do not fit, often with ghastly results.

But what genocide are progressive liberals carrying out? Surely the United States government is not forcing its own citizens into concentration camps or murdering them en masse, even though it has done both in the memorable past. Merriam-Webster defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group”, “the deliberate killing of people who belong to a particular racial, political, or cultural group”, and “acts committed with intent to partially or wholly destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” Note that only one of these three definitions explicitly mentions killing. The other two are far broader in scope, including any acts intended to destroy a group of people. Whereas the size that a group must have in order for its destruction to be considered genocidal is rather arbitrary, this is also absent from the definition. Culture is defined as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group”, “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”, “the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic”, and “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” All four of these definitions denote aspects of traditional Western thought that radical leftists seek to transform and destroy.

Because progressives have acquired such immense cultural power in the West, it is not necessary for them to directly murder their domestic opposition in appreciable numbers at this time. Such treatment is currently reserved for third-world peoples abroad. It currently suffices to use corporate power to censor their opposition, use social shaming to render them unemployable, promote milquetoast moderates as controlled false opposition in the political arena, wield state power to stop open attempts at real opposition, and steadily import migrants who are culturally incompatible with American and European rightists to demographically displace them over the course of generations. But no one should doubt that progressive universalists would resort to shooting like the others if nudging and shoving were to lose their efficacy, and this is beginning to happen throughout the Western world.

Genocide and Libertarianism

At this point, one may wonder what any of this has to do with political libertarianism, the idea that the use of force should only be defensive in nature. It may seem so obvious as to go without saying that genocide is incompatible with libertarianism, but let us take a closer look. By inserting the definition of culture into the definition of genocide, one finds that deliberate action intended to partially or wholly destroy a political or cultural group and eliminate the set of shared attitudes, beliefs, conventions, goals, practices, and values that characterize them is technically a form of genocide. Therefore, if a political or cultural group has a set of shared conventions and practices which are inherently aggressive in nature, then certain forms of genocide against said group would count as defensive uses of force.

That libertarian philosophy does not forbid genocide, but rather provides guidelines for its proper practice is a shocking realization that must be understood correctly, so let us contemplate these guidelines. First, of the four universal factors listed in the previous section, only the behavioral factor can form the basis of a libertarian genocide. It is aggressive action or the threat thereof that merits the use of defensive force. All forms of universalism based on a person’s essence, beliefs, or requirements are enemies of liberty because they lead to violence on the basis of factors which do not involve initiating the use of force against people. Only a group of people who actually behave in an unrepentantly aggressive manner merit partial or whole destruction.

This leads to the second requirement, that collective punishment should be minimized. While it is acceptable and may be necessary to use the authority of private property to censor and exclude those who provide the ideological motivation for criminal behavior, each person has the agency to decide whether or not to attack innocent people and/or their property. Thus, the people who are responsible for crimes are the people who committed the crimes or hired others to commit crimes in their stead, and defensive force should be focused on them. Broader nonviolent measures to suppress cultural norms which are anti-libertarian may be less targeted in application.

Third, a genocidal effort against an anti-libertarian faction should be the culmination of a long train of lesser measures and escalations, all of which have failed. One should not reach for a rocket launcher when a fly swat or a handgun will suffice, and one should not attempt to eliminate an entire political or cultural faction if lesser measures will restore orderly peace. The amount of force which is best for civilization is dictated by the strength and cohesion of the enemies of that civilization, and partial or complete suppression of a political faction is only necessary for ending existential threats to a libertarian social order.

Conclusion

Let us conclude by considering libertarian strategy in light of the points discussed above. There exists an established order that has permeated and controlled established organs of politics, academia, media, business, and finance. This order originated with a heretical Christian sect despite the denials of its membership that this is the case, but has since become almost entirely secular. Examining the tenets of this religion is useful for understanding why progressive liberal activists argue and behave as they do. The practice of this religion has brought unprecedented aggression, destruction, and death to the world, and will continue to do so unless and until it is stopped.

In order for a libertarian social order to succeed, it must stand against this creed with both the might and the willingness to defend itself from the proselytizing acolytes of secular Calvinist universalism. Of course, libertarians will need to make the advocacy of such ideas within their territories punishable by exile and outlawry. But because the establishment is universalist, the very existence of islands of liberty in the ocean of progressive liberal statism refutes their ideology. For the reasons and by the processes enumerated above, peaceful libertarians minding their own business in their own societies can expect to be attacked. This necessitates considerations of robust defense, as failure to do so will result in said libertarians being genocided by statists.

While part of the practical answer to globalism is local governance protected by nuclear deterrence, another part is a counter-universalism that fights fire with fire. A behavioral standard that all people refrain from engaging in the worst forms of criminal activity, with those who do regarded as having forfeited their personhood in an ethical sense, is not only necessary to prevent social order from being disrupted, but is essential for dealing with persistent external threats. Just as an individual need not spend a short life dodging hired assassins instead of stopping the person who hires them, libertarian communities need not live on the precipice of annihilation by an all-consuming global statism. By resorting to the methods discussed in the previous section which happen to fall within the dictionary definition of genocide, a libertarian social order can prevent itself from being defeated by the nation-state system and stand defiant against secular Calvinist universalism.

References:

  1. “What Is Christian Universalism?”. Auburn.edu.
  2. Knight, George T. (1953). The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 12, p. 96.
  3. Calvin, John (1994). Institutes of the Christian Religion. Eerdmans. p. 2206.
  4. Allen, R. Michael (2010). Reformed Theology. Doing Theology. New York: T&T Clark. p. 100–1.
  5. Gregory A. Boyd (2001). “The Open Theism View”, in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, ed. James K. Beilby, Paul R. Eddy. InterVarsity. p. 14.
  6. McGrath, Alister E. (1990). A Life of John Calvin. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 118–20.
  7. Breton, Albert (ed. 1995). Nationalism and Rationality. Cambridge University Press. p. 248.
  8. Engaging Our Theodiversity. Unitarian Universalist Association.
  9. Luke 16:19–31.

Henry Olson Misunderstands Libertarianism

On September 25, Social Matter published an article by Henry Olson titled “The Death and Tragic Rebirth of Libertarianism”. While this article raises several important issues for libertarians and gets some points correct, it also has major theoretical problems. Whereas Olson’s misunderstandings are more commonly distributed and believed than correct libertarian theory, and this is a primary reason for many rejections of libertarianism, let us explore them and offer corrections while also noting where his essay is accurate.

Abstract

Olson begins,

“Whatever their partisans claim, political ideologies rarely succeed in describing some timeless truth about the world. More often, their existence is entirely contingent on the events around them. They serve as gathering points for similar personality types to consider the important issues of their day. When the issues change, most partisans move somewhere else, and the ideology goes stale.”

This is mostly correct, though libertarianism (in the Hoppean sense) does succeed in providing a rational proof that self-ownership, non-aggression, and respect for private property form the basis for how people should act, even if it is not how they do act. Though a political ideology can become stale when partisans leave, it can also lead to renewal as those who would use (and abuse) the ideology for their own purposes go elsewhere and take their corruptions with them.

Olson views the rise of political libertarianism through Ron Paul and its recession away from Rand Paul in favor of Donald Trump and the alt-right as an example of this staleness. He describes the passing of the “libertarian moment” in favor of Trumpism and the alt-right as “the sadness of a vanished childhood, where we realized that the dreams we once believed so deeply were only dreams”. But as we will see, this view rests upon a foundation of misunderstanding, as does the mainstream corporatist libertarian position that Olson criticizes.

Libertarian Theory

Olson attempts to provide the reader with a brief overview of libertarian theory, but offers a deeply flawed version of it. He writes,

“The central tenet of libertarianism was always simple. It was based around the so-called ‘non-aggression principle’ (or NAP), which held that anyone may do whatever he pleases with his own property so long as he respects other people’s rights to do the same with theirs. 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.”

While it is odd to read of even a former libertarian referring to the “so-called NAP,” the issue here is that self-ownership is the central tenet while NAP and private property are corollaries thereof. Though the definition of “encroachment” is not always clear in the abstract, it usually is clear in practice because people negotiate agreements in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts. The exceptions to this tend to be caused by state interference that inhibits the ability of private actors to negotiate such matters between themselves. Olson’s footnote about zoning laws, which suggests that libertarians have no answer to the objection that zoning laws “make communities nicer for nearly everyone and do not significantly harm the few cranks and outliers they inconvenience” suggests an unfamiliarity with libertarian theory. Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s theories on covenant communities resolve such problems, as does the work of many other libertarians on the subject of contracts. If one wishes to prevent “transforming the Vermont village green into a strip mall,” for instance, the charter of a covenant community may provide that this space is never to be developed. The residents of the area may also band together to make socioeconomic life so difficult for anyone who would develop a particular plot that no one would want to take the risk. “Using force to preserve something that nearly everyone appreciates” is not “defined as immoral from the outset”; it simply requires that the proper private legal structures be put into place and that the proper forces be arranged toward that purpose.

Olson raises the canards of Murray Rothbard’s case for letting children starve, Walter Block’s less palatable chapters in Defending the Undefendable, and the apparent love affair that the Mises Institute has with Ebenezer Scrooge. For the former two, it must be said that even the greatest thinkers can be dreadfully wrong on occasion. No philosopher should be followed exactly on reputation alone, but neither should the rest of their canon be rejected without further cause. Defending Scrooge, however, makes far more sense, especially from a Social Darwinist perspective, which a person moving from libertarianism to neoreaction could reasonably possess and retain. Even so, Olson praises libertarianism for giving “the right answers to the most pressing practical issues of the late 2000s,” even if its adherents occasionally wished for a past that never was (also common among reactionaries of all types). However, his history is slightly off. The Austrian School began in 1871 with Carl Menger’s Principles of Economics; those working in the early 20th century (e.g. Ludwig von Mises) were the second generation of Austrian economists.

The Moment Passes

Olson’s initial description of the passing of the “libertarian moment” on the right is poignant:

“As the defections of former libertarians and Tea Partiers to Donald Trump and the alt-right showed, a lot of the libertarians from the Ron Paul years fundamentally did not believe in libertarian theory as much as they thought they did. They flocked to it at the time because it offered an intelligent critique of the Left and the mainstream Right that was otherwise lacking in a time when Sean Hannity and Karl Rove were leading right-wing luminaries. But when a meatier opposition arose—based on nationalism, immigration restriction, and economic protectionism—many libertarians saw no problem in dropping their old beliefs for contradictory ones.”

These people never were libertarians (or Tea Partiers, for that matter); they were anti-progressives and anti-cuckservatives who saw no other political movement that opposed both camps. He then identifies himself as being in this category, which is glaringly obvious by the analytical mistakes in his next paragraph. Olson writes that his “libertarian dream died with the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri.” His description of events is saturated with exactly the type of political autism of which reactionaries tend to accuse libertarians. It is true that within context, the police and National Guard forces imposed order upon a rioting mob that was attacking innocent bystanders and destroying their property. But who created that context? For the past century, all levels of American government have worked tirelessly to suppress militia groups that once performed the legitimate functions of the National Guard. Many cities once had racial zoning ordinances that created segregated ghettos where none had existed previously. The welfare state provides perverse incentives that have destroyed black families and grown the criminal element, and government education has failed to prepare them to lead a life outside the criminal justice system. Legal protections for the press dating back to the Constitution itself keep them from facing proper consequences for inciting people to riot, loot, and burn. Wherever one looks, the state is at fault, and expecting them to clean up their own mess is the least that one can ask. It is fair to criticize “the libertarian theorists pontificating on how the best solution would be to privatize the roads, abolish the police, or legalize pot” for not addressing the problem at hand with the implements at hand, but they did far more than “offer only platitudes in the face of real life-and-death problems”.

On the left side, Olson is closer to the target:

“Certain aspects of libertarianism insisted on drug legalization, open borders, and the right to all kinds of weird sex, in what was then an even more aggressive manner than the mainstream Left. But as the ‘mainstream’ Left adopted increasingly radical positions in the culture wars, such that, today, elected Democratic politicians demand that we ‘abolish ICE‘ while Democratic voters nominate transgenders as their gubernatorial candidates, there is little reason for cultural leftists to stick with libertarianism. Why buy the knock-off when the real thing is just as accessible? So these people left too, and joined the freakshow known as liberalism circa 2018.”

His errors here are minor. First, there has always been a degenerate, hedonistic element in majuscule, political Libertarianism. These people come into libertarian circles because they seek a safe space for the practice of their vices, whatever they may be. Leftist elements within libertarianism provide them with this safe space because doing so is an easier way to grow the movement than authentic proselytization. This also gives them occasion to attack right-libertarians for opposing the adulteration and degeneration of their political movement. Second, they are not leaving the Libertarian Party in sufficient numbers to turn it rightward, as many of them know that they lack the talent to perform in a major political party and would rather remain as big fish in a small pond, fighting over worthless scraps of non-existent power.

A Tragic Rebirth?

We now reach the purpose of Olson’s article: to make the case that libertarianism is an enemy in the fight against corporate censorship. He describes the importance of this struggle thus:

“The most important battle of our time is now shaping up to be the battle against the tech monopolists. Whereas issues like changing demographics, non-white immigration to the West, and the glorification of sexual deviancy and hedonistic consumerism over traditional Western norms all pose existential threats to our civilization, the threat from the tech world presents an even more fundamental problem. It challenges whether we will even be able to talk about these other issues at all. By excluding dissident websites from Google search results, by preventing rightists from using Facebook or Twitter to spread their messages, or by banning the Right from online payment processors, private tech monopolists have every bit the same power to silence critics as the old Soviet Cheka.”

Once more, Olson is poised to ignore how the current context was formed. He continues,

“In fact, their power may even be greater. The secret police of the twentieth century communist regimes had to rely on glaringly primitive and brutal tactics like the gulag, the torture chamber, and the firing squad. While a force like the Cheka was obviously able inflict much more pain on individual people than Google can, its obvious brutality could not help but stir up popular resentment; thus, the common refrain that by the fall of the Berlin Wall the only people still believing in communism were American university professors. Therefore, the fact that modern tech companies have given up primitive methods of control for more sophisticated ones is an evolutionary improvement in managerial totalitarianism, not a weakness. The goal of the gulags was rarely to hurt individual people; it was to make the cost of opposing the system prohibitive to others. If Google, Twitter, PayPal, or any other company can silence dissent just by changing search algorithms or banning dissidents from using a service, then it has achieved in the same results in a less intrusive way. And because their methods are less obviously evil, they are also less likely to engender popular disillusionment or revolt.”

That soft power frequently faces less backlash than hard power is important to remember, as is the fact that private enterprise working hand in hand with the state typically results in the worst of both worlds: the evil of the state combined with the efficiency of the market. It is important to remember that the market is fundamentally amoral; it is not a thing but a process. If the inputs are corrupted, so will be the results. Just as markets “find solutions that the government misses” for good, so can they for evil. As Hoppe writes,

“Moreover, free competition is not always good. Free competition in the production of goods is good, but free competition in the production of bads is not. Free competition in the torturing and killing of innocents, or free competition in counterfeiting or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad.”[1]

Olson accuses libertarianism of “rush[ing] to the rescue of the establishment censors,” defending them as “private companies [that] can set whatever terms of service they want.” While some prominent libertarians are saying this, proper libertarian theory says no such thing. Instead, it recognizes that corporations are not private companies; they are legal fictions created by the state to shield business owners from full financial liability and ease the enforcement of laws upon those businesses. It is impossible to create a corporation without involving the state, as attempting to do so without chartering or registering the corporation with a state will have no effect. The closest one could come would be to negotiate recognition of a business entity with limited liability with each customer of that business, but this would not be identical to a state-recognized corporation in terms of its interaction with the state or with bystanders. Corporations as we know them are therefore incompatible with libertarianism; they should be replaced by other forms of business organization, such as common-law partnerships and cooperatives.

Olson quotes Rothbard on the matter of freedom of speech:

“Freedom of speech is supposed to mean the right of everyone to say whatever he likes. But the neglected question is: Where? Where does a man have this right? He certainly does not have it on property on which he is trespassing. In short, he has this right only either on his own property or on the property of someone who has agreed, as a gift or in a rental contract, to allow him on the premises. In fact, then, there is no such thing as a separate ‘right to free speech’; there is only a man’s property right: the right to do as he wills with his own or to make voluntary agreements with other property owners.”

What both Olson and Rothbard neglect is that, as explained above, corporations exist on the backs of taxpayers who are extorted to fund the government that allows them to incorporate. It is not trespassing for those taxpayers to enter the property of the social media companies, payment processors, etc. and make use of their services against their wishes because their incorporation is a benefit of property rights violations. Therefore, their exercise of private property rights by denying service to people and trespassing them is estopped as long as they remain incorporated.

Olson correctly points out that (misunderstood) libertarian theory serves the progressive leftist establishment, and that they will use the part that serves their interest while ignoring and discarding the other parts and implications, such as the right to discriminate racially. But as shown above, his descriptions of libertarians who do oppose the technology giants are false:

“They range from an acknowledgment of the problem but a refusal to find a solution (e.g., ‘a free speech social media alternative will come eventually, so we can ignore the problem for now’) to a half-baked rationalization that government tech regulation really is not regulation at all (e.g., ‘tech companies get lots of government subsidies, so it really does not aggress against their property rights to regulate them’).”

The consistent libertarians really are not “the tech apologists,” nor are the effective opponents those who would “rally government force to stop them.” If the NAP really said that “we are not allowed to stop them” from “silenc[ing] dissent to aid our ruling class’s efforts to turn America into the Third World and destroy the civilization that we inherited,” then one could reasonably say “to hell with the NAP.” Fortunately, it says no such thing. Government force is the ultimate cause of the problem because it provides the means to destroy Western civilization and empowers the technology giants to become giants that serve as tools of oppression in the first place. Though it may be necessary to break up the near-monopolies of Google, Facebook, and Twitter, this alone will not be sufficient. Nor will regulating them as public utilities, as this will both stifle innovation and incentivize regulatory capture.

Conclusion

Olson’s article is most interesting for its dueling political autisms; he correctly chastises mainstream libertarians for their inability to understand and deal with the current situation, all while remaining blissfully unaware of how his beloved state created the current situation. The solution to censorious technology giants will likely require taking the reins of power, but only for the purpose of setting parts of the Cathedral against other parts in order to hasten its demise. If the Right, per his suggestion, “learn[s] to be unapologetically statist,” it will only retread a predictable course that ends in failure, more robust leftism in the long term, and the abandonment of liberty.

References:

  1. Hoppe, Hans-Hermann (2001). Democracy: The God That Failed. Transaction Publishers. p. 87.

The State Is Negan, Part III

<<<Part II                                                                                                 Part IV>>>

The Walking Dead comic series and the television show based on it contain many themes which are of interest to the student of both libertarian philosophy and reactionary thought. The character Negan, who appears in the Season 6 finale and is the primary antagonist in Seasons 7 and 8, is one of the most obvious allegories in recent memory for the nature of the state. Let us examine the third part of his character arc to see how he and his underlings deal with a developing hostile challenge to their rule. As we will see, there are many lessons to be learned for those who seek either to abolish state power or to wield it oneself. This part of the article series will cover the time period following Rick’s decision to resist Negan (Episode 709) up to the battle in Alexandria (Episode 716).

Reluctant Warriors I

In Episode 709, Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom begin their resistance. The episode begins with Gabriel watching the gate in Alexandria at night. He leaves his post, fills crates with food and weapons, drops his Bible on the pantry floor loads them into a car, and leaves. A dark figure is seen in the passenger seat as Gabriel drives away.

Jesus and many people from Alexandria meet with Gregory in Hilltop. Gregory refuses to fight the Saviors, but upon leaving his office, the group finds others in Hilltop who will fight. The discussion turns to tactics. Daryl proposes bombing the Saviors’ compound, while Tara objects that this may kill innocent civilians. Rick suggests returning to Alexandria. Jesus reveals a walkie-talkie taken from the Saviors that can be used to spy on their movements, then proposes they visit the Kingdom, which they do. After meeting Richard and Alvaro, two Kingdom guards, the group enters the Kingdom. They are reunited with Morgan, who informs them that he found Carol but that she has gone. Rick’s group then meets King Ezekiel and his tiger Shiva. Rick makes the case for war while Morgan advises non-violence. Ezekiel invites them to stay the night while he deliberates.

During the night, Benjamin finds Carol in the woods, who gives him advice on being quiet and sends him home. Ezekiel puts Benjamin’s brother Henry to bed, then Benjamin asks Ezekiel to help fight the Saviors. The next morning, Ezekiel declines to fight but offers asylum to Daryl so that the Saviors will not find him. Dejected, the group leaves. Outside, Rick and Richard discuss matters, both realizing that while they lack numbers, they are making the Saviors stronger by paying tribute to them. Rick convinces Daryl to stay and try to change Ezekiel’s mind.

As the group returns to Alexandria, they encounter a roadblock of cars set by the Saviors, which they move. They then find a tripwire and explosives, which they appropriate for their own use. They hear on the walkie that Negan is looking for Daryl and see a large herd of zombies coming, so they hurry in order to get back home and avoid the zombies. Rick decides to keep the zombies on the highway in case they can be useful later. Accomplishing this endangers some of the group, but everyone survives and goes home.

Moments after returning home, Simon arrives with some Saviors and says he is looking for Daryl. They search and find nothing, noting only that the pantry looks bare. After the Saviors leave, Rick asks Aaron about the pantry. He and Tobin tell Rick about Gabriel’s actions. Rosita accuses Gabriel of theft, but Rick defends him. Rick finds Gabriel’s Bible on the floor, then finds a note from him in the inventory book that says “BOAT.” Rick and Aaron go to the boat where they found supplies earlier. They find a trail of footprints that lead to a parking lot. A large armed group surrounds them as Rick smiles.

* * * * *

Let us begin with Gregory, the weak and treacherous leader of Hilltop. He, like many people in positions of power today, is unfit for leadership on his own merits, and is accordingly the puppet of a higher authority. He knows on which side his bread is buttered, and that the people of Hilltop will probably remove him in favor of Maggie if not for the threat of what Negan might do to them if such removal were effected. Naturally, Rick’s group sets about building an alternative power structure to serve their interests.

Speaking of elites and rebellion, Jesus recognizes the need to have at least one more community leader on board with the plan, and so hopes to recruit Ezekiel. It is natural for someone in Ezekiel’s position to be cautious of such plots to overthrow the established order, as the Kingdom has a better deal with the Saviors than do the other communities. From his perspective, Rick is an unknown quantity who should not be entrusted with full allegiance as yet, but Ezekiel does offer a token gesture by protecting Daryl. Rick is wise to convince Daryl to stay and whisper in Ezekiel’s ear in the hopes of slowly warming him to the idea of revolution. Of course, a wise rebel leader will also work on the lieutenants of the elites that one hopes to bring on board, as Rick does with Richard. The decision to bring Morgan along was questionable, as his arguments for a nonviolent resolution both undermine the chances of bringing Ezekiel into their plot and are out of place in the ultraviolent context of Negan’s actions.

The discussion between Tara and Daryl is an important one that any serious revolution must contemplate. Will a war effort be total, or will there be rules of engagement that one will not cross, even if it means failing the mission? Many treatises have been written throughout history debating the merits and demerits of each position, and reaching a definite conclusion here is outside the scope of this article, but the particular context of The Walking Dead clearly indicates total war, as Negan is an existential threat.

The walkie that Jesus acquired from the Saviors demonstrates the importance of spying and gathering intelligence. Without this advantage, Rick’s group would not know how to stay away from Savior patrols. The group also shows good judgment in appropriating explosives and tripwires that the Saviors placed, as well as by using a zombie herd to block a road that the Saviors could use. It is important to impair the enemy in whatever way possible.

Finally, Rick trusts and defends Gabriel when others do not, treating him as innocent until proven guilty. This may come from his former life as a police officer or from his experience as leading the group; likely both. It is important to trust one’s subordinates to accomplish important tasks, even if they sometimes do so by questionable means.

Reluctant Warriors II

In Episode 710, the uneasiness before battle continues. The episode begins with a tribute meeting between Ezekiel and the Saviors. Gavin, the lead Savior, says their tribute is small but accepts it. Richard and Jared come to an armed standoff, but Richard backs down at Ezekiel’s command. Morgan stops Jared from attacking Richard again, then Jared attacks Morgan, then Benjamin attacks Jared. Ezekiel orders his people to stop fighting.

Once back at the Kingdom, Ezekiel admonishes Benjamin for being too eager to fight. Daryl asks Morgan why he tolerates the Saviors, saying that Carol would want to fight if she knew about Negan’s murders of Glenn and Abraham. Morgan agrees, adding “that’s why she left.”

Later, Daryl and Richard discuss killing the Saviors while practicing archery. They leave for a hidden camper in the woods, where they discuss making war against the Saviors and moving Ezekiel to fight. Daryl discovers that Richard’s plan is to get Carol killed by Saviors in order to anger Ezekiel, which angers Daryl enough to threaten to kill Richard if this plan is enacted.

The episode then picks up where the last one left off at The Heaps, where Rick’s group is surrounded by the Scavengers, a new group. Rick speaks to Jadis, a woman who leads the Scavengers, asking to see Gabriel. He is brought out, and Rick says that killing his people will anger the Saviors. He asks for help against the Saviors, but Jadis refuses. After a fight breaks out, Jadis takes Rick to the top of a trash heap. Thus begins a test, as Rick is pushed down into a pit with a zombie that has been covered in armor and spikes. Rick sustains hand and leg wounds, but kills the zombie. Jadis throws Rick a rope to climb out of the pit, then agrees to help Rick fight in return for one third of the Saviors’ supplies. Scavengers load the supplies that Gabriel took into Rick’s car. Gabriel thanks Rick for the rescue and for believing in him. Rick responds that enemies can become friends. Rosita argues against going home, saying they need to find guns for the Scavengers. Tara responds that Rick and Aaron need medical attention. Michonne asks Rick about where to look for guns. Rick asks Tara, but she does not mention the armed women she met in Oceanside.

Ezekiel and Jerry deliver food to Carol. She tells them to go, then Daryl arrives, who she is much happier to see. Carol tells Daryl that she left because she didn’t want to lose anyone and wanted to stop killing, but she would have to kill the Saviors if they killed anyone she loved. Daryl decides not to tell her about Glenn and Abraham. After dinner, Daryl hugs her and leaves.

In the Kingdom, Daryl sits next to Shiva’s cage. He informs Morgan that he found Carol and asks him to convince Ezekiel to fight. Morgan refuses, after which Daryl decides to return to the Hilltop. The next morning, Morgan watches him leave and sees Richard watching as well.

* * * * *

Here, we witness further evidence that Negan is not a competent sovereign. Lack of respect for one’s vassals breeds discontent, and his lieutenants clearly treat the Kingdommers with contempt. The Saviors only get away with this for so long before matters escalate and Ezekiel decides that war must be waged, and oppression in the real world is no different. As Frederick Douglass wrote, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

The tension between Richard and Daryl illustrates a problem that is always present within revolutionary movements. People will make plans of their own, sometimes without consulting with their fellow revolutionaries and even throwing them under the bus in some cases, as Richard plans to do with Carol. This can not only disrupt long-term strategies, as will be seen later, but can lead to splinters within the revolution when fights over leadership occur or hostility over perceived or actual betrayals boils over.

When Rick deals with the Scavengers, we once again see a hesitant leader who wants proof of Rick’s mettle. Jadis is far more open and direct about what will bring her on board, while Ezekiel does not show his cards. Of course, one must always be cautious of the establishment, who may demonstrate greater character, resolve, or ability, or may simply make a better offer.

In any martial effort, it is natural for some people to have mental breakdowns. Horror at the sight of blood and guts can cause this, but this is all but absent this long after the apocalypse, with almost all such people being zombies or zombie food. However, slower-onset cases in which one sees so much death and destruction that one simply cannot handle any more still occur. It is important to recognize the signs of this and handle such people with care, as Daryl does for Carol.

Tara’s refusal to tell Rick about Oceanside and the useful weapons they possess is important, but will be discussed later when the issue resurfaces.

Enemy Camp

Episode 711 returns to the Sanctuary immediately following Daryl’s escape in Episode 708. A group of Saviors finds Fat Joey’s body. Dwight notices a missing motorcycle, runs to Daryl’s cell, and finds it empty. Dwight grabs his walkie from his apartment and finds Daryl’s prison clothes there. He also finds a note given to Daryl that says, “Go now.”

Negan returns from Alexandria with Eugene, who is terrified. Laura, a female Savior, walks him to an apartment as he begs for mercy. He is surprised to find that the apartment is for him. Laura says that Daryl escaped and asks Eugene if he has any leads. Eugene says no and that he would not lie about it. He is glad to find the refrigerator stocked and to learn that Laura can get him other food as well. After being denied lobster, he settles for canned pasta in tomato sauce but is disappointed by a lack of pickles available.

After examining the note, Saviors barge in and beat Dwight as Negan looks on. Dwight is put into the cell that had housed Daryl. Negan tells him that Sherry ran away, then questions whether she or Dwight helped Daryl escape. Dwight is released with orders to find and return Sherry. In the infirmary, Dr. Carson stitches Dwight’s wounds and says that Sherry probably helped Daryl. Dwight gets his gear from his apartment and leaves on a motorcycle. He rides through a suburb and parks at an abandoned house which used to be his. He finds Sherry’s wedding rings and a letter from her, in which she admits to freeing Daryl and apologizes for getting them into Negan’s system. Shaken, he puts the rings in his cigarette carton and leaves pretzels and beer next to a candle, in accordance with her letter. When Dwight returns, Dr. Carson tends his wounds again. Dwight lies, saying he killed Sherry.

Laura takes Eugene on a tour of the factory floor, explaining the points system and that it does not apply to Eugene. She takes a pickle jar and gives it to Eugene. Outside, Negan orders Simon to lead a party to Alexandra to find Daryl. Eugene is brought out and intimidated by the Saviors. As he commonly does, Negan asks for everyone’s name. Eugene gives his own name, then everyone else says “Negan” together. Negan shows Eugene what his bullet did to Lucille, then asks if he is a “smarty pants.” Eugene lies as he did to Abraham long ago, saying that he has multiple doctoral degrees and was part of the Human Genome Project. Negan tests him by asking how to better preserve their fence-line zombies. Eugene proposes pouring molten metal on them, which will harden into armor. Negan is impressed, offering to send several of his wives to Eugene’s apartment and nicknaming him “Dr. Smarty Pants.”

Eugene plays video games while Tanya, Frankie, and Amber, three of Negan’s wives, are with him. One of them jokes about making a bomb, and Eugene lists the ingredients he would need. He walks outside with them, mixes ingredients, and ignites a balloon filled with hydrogen, to their delight. Later, Tanya and Frankie visit him again, saying that Amber wants to kill herself. Eugene agrees to make pills for her. He uses his rank to cut in line at the points market, getting cold capsules and a stuffed toy. Back at his apartment, he makes the pills.

Laura brings Eugene to the factory floor, where a crowd has gathered around the furnace. Negan tells Eugene to pay close attention to what is about to happen. Negan hits Dr. Carson with Lucille, accusing him of helping Daryl escape. Dwight had clipped part of Sherry’s farewell letter and planted it in Dr. Carson’s desk, framing him. Dr. Carson accuses Dwight of lying, but confesses under the threat of Negan’s hot iron. Negan throws Dr. Carson face-first into the furnace. After the execution, Negan stares at Eugene and remarks to Dwight, “Good thing we have a spare Dr. Carson.”

When Tanya and Frankie come to Eugene for the pills, he correctly guesses that they intend to kill Negan and refuses to help. Tanya calls him a coward before leaving. Negan then stops by, telling Eugene not to be afraid anymore. Negan asks Eugene for his name, and he eagerly says, “Negan.”

Eugene oversees the workers as they carry out his metallic upgrade of the fence zombies. Dwight joins him and asks if he is on board. Eugene apologizes for attacking Dwight in Episode 614, then says, “We are Negan.” Dwight reluctantly agrees.

* * * * *

Like many people who are captured and forced to work for the enemy, there is a delicate balance that Eugene must walk between doing enough legitimate work to fit in and engaging in whatever subterfuge is possible while saying what one must in order to survive. For the rest of the war, Eugene will have to deal with this, but he partly realizes that subterfuge must wait until he can gain Negan’s trust and partly is too scared to try anything just yet. This is evidenced by his unwillingness to help Negan’s wives assassinate him and his eventual willingness to take on Negan’s name. As for Negan’s side of this interaction, he is more perceptive than most people and knows how to make others believe that he knows more than he does, which both helps keep people in line in the short-term but makes him vulnerable to betrayal by his closest associates in the long-term. His tactic of bringing in resourceful people from the other side makes more sense than letting them keep working for the enemy, but he does not have the overall temperament to prevent eventual defection.

As for saying what one must, Dwight does this both to cover for Sherry and to spare himself Negan’s wrath. In a totalitarian regime, someone must always be to blame, which leads to Dwight’s use of Dr. Carson as a scapegoat. This is a natural tendency rooted in the instinct of self-preservation, and Negan’s treatment of Dr. Carson shows that this instinct is well-honed. But again, Negan takes ultraviolence too far. Making a public spectacle of shoving someone’s head into a furnace because a prisoner escaped just to have someone to blame is the behavior of someone whose power is insecure; secure rulers have made their example and do not need to regularly brutalize their own people. This helps explain the desire of Tanya and Frankie to kill Negan, along with his mistreatment of their former partners and his callous domination of them.

War Materiel

In Episode 712, the hunt for weapons begins. Rick and Michonne look for guns to fulfill their deal with the Scavengers. They find some Saviors playing golf in a field and manage to sneak over to their truck in order to use batteries inside to power their walkie. Driving their van, Michonne sees that Rick has fallen asleep. She pulls over, makes coffee, spots a deer in the woods, and grabs a gun. Rick wakes up and joins the hunt. They lose the deer but find an abandoned school in the distance. They approach, bang on the fence, and dispatch a zombie drawn by the sound. They see shell casings and guess that powerful guns are nearby. They climb onto the roof for a better view, seeing carnival rides and zombies carrying guns. The waterlogged roof caves in, dropping Rick and Michonne into the school. They get lucky, landing on a bed. Inside, they find many food rations and other supplies. Rick and Michonne discuss their future plans and what to do with the resources they found, deciding to give one third of the food as tribute to the Saviors and some of the guns to the Scavengers.

The next day, Rick and Michonne make a plan to kill the zombies outside. A zombie with a machine gun gets stuck in some re-bar in such a way as to make the gun fire at them. They take cover in a car, then escape through the sunroof as zombies swarm it. They split up to divide the zombies. Rick spots a deer and tries to shoot it from a Ferris wheel, but it cannot hold him. Zombies close in on him, and Michonne thinks he may be dead. She is glad to see him when he emerges. Rick sees Michonne crying as they gather guns from the fallen zombies. On the way home, Rick warns her that they will lose people in the fight against Negan, possibly each other. He says that such sacrifices will be worth it and that the struggle is about the future, not about them. He asks her to lead if he dies.

In Alexandria, Rosita is removing stitches from the cut on her face. Tara tells her that they have enough people but need more weapons. Rosita leaves to look for guns. She finds a toy gun and almost gets bitten by a zombie, which infuriates her. She returns to Alexandria and visits Gabriel. She yells at him for trying to discourage her from shooting at Negan. Gabriel remains calm, arguing that the rest of the group needs her alive.

Tara babysits Judith and debates whether to tell Rick about Oceanside or keep her promise to its residents to keep their existence a secret.

Rick’s group delivers 63 guns to Jadis, who says that she needs twice that many. This angers Rosita. Jadis agrees to let Rick keep 20 to help his group get more. When they return, Rick asks Tara if she has seen Rosita. Tara decides to tell Rick about Oceanside.

Rosita goes to Hilltop to see Sasha, asking for help with killing Negan. Sasha agrees to help as long as she gets to take the shot. Rosita says that she remembers Daryl’s and Carl’s descriptions of the Sanctuary, while Sasha has a map of the exterior from Jesus. They both acknowledge that it is probably a suicide mission, but decide to go anyway.

* * * * *

When building a revolutionary movement, it is important to avoid taking stupid risks. Rick and Michonne became far too careless in pursuit of their objective. Had a bed not been located in an implausibly lucky location, they would have been either killed or mortally wounded by their fall through the roof. In real life, this would have been the end for both of them. Their plan to escape the school almost fails, then Rick’s ill-advised attempt to hunt deer from a rusted Ferris wheel almost gets him killed again.

Once the two of them apparently wise up, they discuss the important realizations that they will lose people in the fight and that there must be a leadership plan if Rick dies. Many revolutionary movements lose their original leaders, especially if the revolution drags on for many years. That people will die fighting is obvious in principle but still difficult when it hits close to home, but the manner of Negan’s rule leaves them with nothing to lose. Another aspect of revolutions is that a victory easily won is hardly valued, whereas a victory that costs a great amount of blood and treasure will be defended more vigorously against later threats out of a desire that one’s friends and riches not be ultimately lost in vain.

Tara finally decides to help her own group instead of keep her word to outsiders by telling Rick of Oceanside’s weapons. The desire to keep one’s word to neutrals is generally a virtue, but out-group preference loses wars. Anyone in such a situation is best advised to share all available intelligence with one’s leader to help the war effort. Neutrals can usually be made to understand or brought to heel as needed, but leaving a resource untapped against an enemy like Negan is no way to win.

Once more, we witness splinter factions within Rick’s group jumping the gun and attempting their own private missions. Rick’s plans are moving too slowly for Rosita and Sasha, who believe they can carry out a targeted assassination against Negan. While such a plan may work in this case, it is not generally possible to remove a totalitarian regime from power by assassinating the head of state. The result is usually “the king is dead, long live the king” or “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

Uneasy Peace

In Episode 713, the Kingdom inches closer to conflict with the Saviors. The episode begins with several Kingdommers loading a blood-stained cantaloupe onto a truck. Morgan teaches Henry how to fight with a staff as Benjamin watches.

Carol wakes up, gets out of bed, and leaves her house for the Kingdom. She incapacitates a zombie but does not finish it off. Once at the Kingdom gate, she kills five zombies. The guards let her in, after which she goes to see Morgan. She wants to know why Rick’s group came to the Kingdom and if everyone in Alexandra is alright. Morgan tells her to ask Daryl and offers to return to Alexandria with her. She leaves. On her way out, Benjamin asks her to teach him to fight, and she refuses. Carol then finds that the zombie she did not finish off earlier has been killed. A shadow is seen watching her from a distance.

Richard digs a hole to bury a child’s backpack, which has the name “Katy” written on it. One of the Kingdom residents informs Ezekiel that a crop has weevils and must be burned. She assures him that it will grow back. Benjamin gives Morgan a painting.

Several Kingdommers load cantaloupes onto a truck for another tribute. Richard apologizes to Morgan, then warns him that someday he will have to kill. On their way, Ezekiel’s crew encounters a barricade of shopping carts in the road. They search the area as Richard covers the group from behind, and find an open grave that Richard dug earlier with a sign saying, “Bury me here.” They remove the roadblock and continue to the tribute meeting. Gavin reprimands Ezekiel for arriving late and will hear no excuses. Jerry tells Gavin not to interrupt, and gets hit by Jared with Morgan’s staff for his trouble. Benjamin mutters under his breath, which Jared hears. Gavin inspects the cantaloupes, then demands their guns. The groups draw on each other. Gavin says they have the same choice they have always had; try to use their guns or not. Richard advises Ezekiel to submit and is mocked by Jared. Ezekiel complies. Gavin says they are short one cantaloupe, but Ezekiel insists that all twelve are there. Gavin says he will teach them a lesson. Jared points his gun at Richard, who tells him to shoot. He shoots Benjamin twice in the legs instead. Gavin orders Jared to return Morgan’s staff, and orders Ezekiel to bring the last cantaloupe the next day. The crew loads a bleeding-out Benjamin onto the truck and leaves for Carol’s cottage. They try to save Benjamin, but he dies.

Morgan walks alone at the urban lot where the roadblock was. He sees visions of his past and considers suicide. He kicks a box and finds the twelfth cantaloupe. He deduces that Richard hid the cantaloupe on purpose. Morgan goes back to the Kingdom to confront Richard. Richard says that he was supposed to die, hoping that his death over something so petty would push Ezekiel to war. Richard tells Morgan about losing his wife and daughter, blaming himself for inaction then. Richard proposes they regain the Saviors’ trust, then destroy them with help from Alexandria and Hilltop. Morgan goes to his room and thinks about his next move.

The next scene returns to the beginning of the episode, as the last cantaloupe is loaded. At the meeting, Gavin asks about Benjamin, then realizes that he died. He angrily orders Jared to walk home, threatening to kill him if he disobeys. Richard brings the cantaloupe to Gavin, but Morgan beats Richard with his staff and strangles him to death, shocking everyone present. He explains what Richard had done and assures Gavin that their tribute relationship will be honored going forward. The Saviors leave. Morgan tells Ezekiel what Richard told him, but refers to Benjamin as Duane, his deceased son’s name. This confuses Ezekiel, who attempts to console him. A crying Morgan tells Ezekiel to leave him alone. Ezekiel leaves, then Morgan stabs Richard so he will not reanimate. Morgan drags Richard’s corpse to the open grave and buries him. He buries Katy’s backpack with him, then goes around killing zombies.

Morgan visits Carol and tells her about killing Richard. He then tells Carol the truth about Glenn, Abraham, Spencer, and Olivia. He explains that Rick came to the Kingdom looking for allies against the Saviors. Carol returns to the Kingdom, finding Ezekiel with Henry. She says that she is moving in to help them fight, and Ezekiel agrees, adding that the fight will not be immediate. Carol, Ezekiel, and Henry replant the burned crops.

Morgan sits on Carol’s porch, whittling the end of Benjamin’s staff into a spear.

* * * * *

With the confrontation at the tribute delivery, we see the age-old dilemma that every armed people facing oppressors has: submit and be disarmed, or try to use one’s arms. We also see the Kingdommers give the incorrect answer, as many oppressed people do. As is frequently the case in real life, one of the oppressed who does not make war against tyranny winds up dead anyway, for those who would disarm people seek to do to them what could not be done if they were armed.

Though it was Richard’s intention to get himself killed as a means of starting the war, intentions are irrelevant compared to results. One can never be sure of who will be lost in war; only that some people will be, so war is only worth waging once it is clear that some people will also be lost without war, as is the case under Negan. Note that Richard originally intended to get Carol killed to start the war.

Many people make sacrifices in order to keep the peace, even if the peace is phony. The Kingdommers give up their guns, and Morgan kills Richard just to maintain this false peace of subjugation and oppression. But the truth is becoming increasingly unavoidable, as it always does, leading Morgan to symbolically sharpen his stick into a spear. That the last holdout who seeks peace at any cost is now preparing for war foreshadows the coming breaking point. In any revolution, there tends to be “a long train of abuses and usurpations” by the establishment that will continue until enough opposing elites find revolution to be preferable. Morgan also tells Carol the truth about the Alexandrians that Negan killed, knowing that she will join the fight.

As always, timing is everything. If one waits too long, then tributes and sacrifices may make a revolution too weak to succeed. If one strikes too soon, then the people and resources needed for a successful revolution may not be gathered. Ezekiel wants to wait perhaps too long; Rick wants to strike once they are ready; Richard and others in Rick’s group want to strike too soon. There is a window of opportunity, and any successful revolution must have leaders who can recognize its boundaries.

Plans Interrupted

In Episode 714, plans unfold at the Hilltop while Saviors visit. Maggie teaches the residents how to throw knives. She works with Jesus on future plans. Sasha draws a floor plan of the Sanctuary. Enid sees Jesus hand his map to Sasha. Maggie sees Daryl sitting alone, so she brings him food. Gregory watches with suspicion as a group of Hilltoppers congregates in the courtyard. Rosita arrives and tells Sasha that she needs her help to kill Negan. Maggie apologizes to Jesus for taking over his trailer, but he says that he likes having her, Sasha, and Enid there. Maggie goes to see the blacksmith about making spears for trading with the Kingdom. Jesus begs Sasha to delay her mission, but she refuses. Enid tells Sasha that she will inform Maggie but give them ten minutes to get a head start.

Just then, a guard alarms them that a group of Saviors have come. Sasha and Rosita make for a secret escape hatch that leads them out of Hilltop. Maggie does not have time to make it to the hatch, so Enid guides her and Daryl to a root cellar to hide. Daryl looks out from the cellar, and Maggie calls him over to a dark hiding place. Sasha and Rosita escape through the woods.

Gregory greets Simon, who tells him that Negan wants one of the Hilltop residents. In the medical trailer, Simon tells Dr. Carson that his services are needed at the Sanctuary. This informs him that his brother has died, though not that Negan killed him. Simon gives Gregory a crate of aspirin. Gregory then pulls Simon aside. He assures Simon of his loyalty, then explains that he may have an insurgency on his hands. Simon gives Gregory a pass into the Sanctuary in case he needs Negan’s help with quelling a rebellion.

Roy, a Savior, walks toward the cellar doors and enters, despite Enid’s efforts to distract him, to which he responds in a rather creepy manner. Daryl is enraged, but stays hidden. Roy searches the cellar, and Daryl readies his knife. Maggie holds him back. Roy takes some supplies and leaves. Maggie senses Daryl’s anger and tells him that she also wanted to kill Roy, but it would have been counterproductive. Daryl apologizes for his role in Glenn’s death, and Maggie responds that Daryl is not to blame.

The Hilltoppers gather and watch the Saviors leave with their doctor. Gregory is uncomfortable.

Rosita fails to hot-wire a car. She notices Sasha’s necklace and says that she made it for Abraham, renewing tension between the two over their common ex. Sasha suggests sniping Negan, while Rosita wants to enter Sanctuary and kill Negan up close. Rosita burns a car to distract zombies in the area, then they climb a fence into the lot. Rosita successfully hot-wires a car, and they drive to Sanctuary. They enter an empty building near the Sanctuary, where Sasha discovers Eugene overseeing some Saviors. She tells Rosita, who believes Eugene must be pretending to be a Savior. While waiting for Negan, Rosita and Sasha discuss Abraham and their pasts, making peace with each other. The truck from Hilltop arrives and Negan walks out, but Sasha cannot get a clear shot before Negan goes back inside. Then they hear Eugene ordering Saviors to strengthen fence security. Sasha and Rosita decide to go in.

Back at Hilltop, Gregory summons Jesus. They quarrel over job assignments for the newcomers from Alexandria. Outside, Daryl asks Jesus where Rosita and Sasha went.

After nightfall, Eugene discusses security with a Savior, then Rosita and Sasha kill the Savior. They ask Eugene to escape with them, but he tells them to leave and goes inside. They cut through the fence. Sasha goes through and tells Rosita to keep watch. Sasha locks Rosita out and tells her that Alexandria still needs her. Sasha kills another Savior and goes into the Sanctuary. Rosita cries, then flees as Saviors approach and guns fire. She notices a dark figure with a crossbow watching her.

* * * * *

Gregory’s weakness and treachery is already well-established, and he behaves as one may predict in recruiting Simon to help him save his hide from a mutiny. It is interesting that Gregory does not reveal to Simon that Maggie is alive, but he probably realizes that this would get him killed by someone at Hilltop. Many puppet rulers eventually find themselves in such a situation, and their behavior can be difficult to predict, as they are eventually doomed regardless of what choices they make.

As for Maggie, her leadership qualities are on display. It is important to know one’s limitations and refuse to fight the establishment on their terms, such as when Saviors are in Hilltop. She shows this by restraining Daryl, who could have caused great trouble for himself and everyone else in Hilltop by killing Roy rather than staying hidden. Meanwhile, Enid demonstrates the importance of knowing the terrain. Without her knowledge of their community, Maggie and Daryl may not have been able to hide. Those who know the lay of the land have a decisive advantage over those who do not.

Again, there are members of the resistance who are making and executing their own plans outside of leadership. While there is some virtue to stating an overall goal and allowing for freedom in execution, this can easily go too far and compromise the greater strategy of the revolutionaries. Finally, there is Sasha’s willingness to sacrifice herself for the group. Almost all revolutions have their martyrs, and this one is no different. Some people are drawn to suicide missions out of a sense of civic duty, some believe there is no other way to accomplish their goals, while others are simply tired of living and want to go out with a bang. Still others are thrill seekers who believe they can defy the odds and be a hero. Regardless of the motivation, individual sacrifices can be powerful motivational propaganda to fuel a revolution.

Alternate Plans

In Episode 715, the gun hunt resumes and power dynamics continue to shift. Tara tells Rick about Oceanside, so they lead a group there. Meanwhile, a group of zombies moves down the shoreline to Oceanside. Rick’s group gets into position outside Oceanside: Michonne climbs a tree with her rifle, Jesus and Daryl plant explosives, and Aaron and Eric keep watch. Eric tells Aaron that he understands his resolve to fight the Saviors.

At Hilltop, Maggie offers farming advice to Eduardo as Gregory observes. He is unsettled by Eduardo calling Maggie “boss lady.” Maggie plans to transplant a blueberry bush into Hilltop from outside, explaining that they can produce for decades and that they should be making long-term plans. Jesus chastises himself for not stopping Rosita and Sasha, but Daryl reassures him and guesses that they could have returned already.

We learn that they did not; Sasha was captured and is in a cell much like Daryl’s. David enters to find her arms and legs bound. She asks for water, to which he responds by telling her that he will bring her water in exchange for sex. He tries to sexually assault her, but Negan interrupts. He says that rape is forbidden and executes David. Negan apologizes for the incident and orders a Savior to bring her a new shirt. He asks if Rick sent her, and she says no. Negan then unties her wrists, leaves her a knife, and leaves her with a proposal: let David reanimate and kill her, or stab David to prevent that, after which she must join his cause. Eugene comes later to bring Sasha a blanket and pillow. He tells her that he joined Negan because meeting him was the scariest time of his life and he never wanted to feel that way again. He advises her to join Negan, and she demands that he leave. Once Eugene is gone, David starts to reanimate. Later, Negan goes to Sasha’s cell to find that she saved herself. She agrees to join him, and he retrieves his knife. He says that she must do more to demonstrate her loyalty. He tells her that he knows Rick is plotting against him and wants her to help him stop Rick.

Maggie and Gregory go outside to get the blueberry bush. He contemplates killing Maggie from behind, but decides not to. A zombie comes at them, which Gregory fails to kill. Maggie kills it as a second zombie attacks Gregory. She has to save him again, as a passing group of Hilltoppers watches. One of them remarks that Gregory exaggerated his zombie-killing experience. After returning to Hilltop, Gregory takes out Simon’s note, studies a map, and calls for Kal to pack a bag and prepare to drive him somewhere.

In Oceanside, Tara sneaks into Natania’s home and holds her and Cyndie at gunpoint. She asks them to join their resistance, but says they are taking their guns regardless. The others detonate the explosives. Beatrice and Kathy are captured by Daryl and Jesus as others flee. Cyndie and Natania manage to subdue Tara, then Tara reveals that her gun was unloaded. Rick’s group rounds up the Oceansiders. Rick tells them that he does not want to hurt anyone. Natania appears, holding Tara at gunpoint. Cyndie and Beatrice both suggest joining the fight, but Natania refuses. Zombies approach, and Cyndie knocks out Natania. The groups work together to kill the zombies. Beatrice and Rick shake hands, and Natania concedes. She lets Rick’s group take the guns, but will not join the fight. Gabriel wonders whether they need all of Oceanside’s guns, but Rick says it is necessary. Cyndie thanks Tara for fighting but says that Natania has forbidden Oceansiders from joining them.

Eugene visits Sasha again. He assures her that she chose correctly, but she cries, worried that she will now be used against Rick. She begs for a weapon to kill herself, and Eugene says he will consider it. Later, he brings her the pill he made for Frankie and Tanya, but Sasha really wanted a weapon to use against Negan.

Late at night, Rick’s group returns home. Jesus asks about Sasha, but Rosita just says they have a visitor. She leads them to the Alexandria prison, where Dwight awaits. Daryl charges at him, but Rick and Michonne restrain him. Rosita says that Dwight wants to help. Rick holds Dwight at gunpoint and orders him to kneel.

* * * * *

The incident with David shows that even evil has standards. Negan engages in many forms of cruelty, but rape is one crime that he will not abide, even if his conduct toward his wives could be construed as such. This is perhaps best understood as the general hypocrisy of tyrants; many totalitarian rulers engage in behaviors that they criminalize for others. This provides insight into the purpose of such governance structures; they are meant to free those at the top by binding those beneath, which can be seen in Negan’s system more generally.

Gregory continues to be treacherous, even to the point of wanting to kill someone who ends up saving his life, but there is nothing to discuss about him that has not already been covered. Meanwhile, Maggie again shows herself to be the real and more capable leader of Hilltop, both in facing the ever-present threat of zombies and in making long-term plans. A revolutionary movement must have not only an endgame, but an after-game in which people live free from tyranny and build a new order that is better suited to their well-being. However, Natania demonstrates the opposite qualities. Her spirit is broken by the death and destruction that Negan brought to her community, and this impairs everyone in Oceanside. The younger women could be valuable fighters in the resistance, but they will not disobey Natania’s orders to stay at Oceanside.

Fools rush in, and Sasha’s Leeroy Jenkins-style strategy is a textbook example. Her myopic plan helps the enemy, as Negan now has her as a bargaining chip against Rick. This places her in a difficult position, although it is curious that she does not attempt to stab Negan once she has killed David. Almost any real person who has been captured, has a weapon, and knows the enemy leader is coming would lie in ambush. It is important to take advantage of any opportunity once captured by the enemy.

The end of the episode deals with one of the most important aspects of a revolution: how to handle enemy defectors. Though killing Dwight is tempting, Rick’s group correctly realizes that an enemy lieutenant working to undermine Negan can provide the edge that they need. Of course, any despot knows this, so one must always handle such cases with care, never trusting anyone without verification of a switch in loyalty. In the long run, bringing hostile elites over to one’s cause can be even more important than securing support from neutral elites, especially if the hostile elite is foreign. The Saviors will need new leadership if Negan is deposed, and Dwight could be a friendly leader.

The War Begins

In Episode 716, the uneasy peace can no longer hold. The episode begins with Sasha in a dark place listening to an iPod. She sees Abraham in a flashback, thinking back to Episode 616 just before everyone met Negan. Sasha asks him to stay, but he says he must go to Hilltop with Maggie and the others. In the present, Negan brings food to Sasha in her cell. He says that someone from Rick’s group must die, but it does not have to be her. She asks him what he needs from her. A second flashback shows Sasha with Maggie in a field.

Rick and company interrogate Dwight in their prison. Tara accosts him for murdering Denise in Episode 614, to which he says that she was not his intended target. Daryl slams Dwight against the wall and holds a knife to his neck. Dwight offers to work with them, saying that Sherry is gone, so he has no more reason to stay with the Saviors. Tara says to kill Dwight, but Daryl backs down. Dwight warns that Negan is coming the next day and presents a plan. He suggests attacking Negan and his crew in Alexandria, then using their trucks to go to the Sanctuary. Dwight will radio back that everything is normal, which will lead to the Saviors being caught off guard when Rick’s group comes out of the trucks instead of Negan’s group. Then, they can rally the workers to overthrow Negan’s lieutenants. Rick agrees, then Dwight leaves. Daryl vows to kill Dwight after Negan is defeated.

Sasha is shown in the dark place listening to music again. Her flashbacks with Abraham and Maggie continue. She tells Abraham that she dreamed that he died. In the present, Negan tells Sasha of his plans for her. He insists on killing three Alexandrians, but she bargains him down to one. Negan does not know that she means herself.

Maggie, Enid, and Jesus review Dwight’s plan. She considers whether to join the fight. Jesus says that he is glad she is deciding instead of Gregory.

Carol leads some Kingdommers toward Alexandria. They find the shopping carts and an unstable Morgan. He wants to hunt Saviors alone, but Ezekiel convinces him to join them as they continue toward Alexandria.

The Scavengers come to Alexandria with bicycles and garbage trucks. Rick greets Jadis. She propositions him, but he rejects her advances. Aaron, Daryl, and Rosita set up explosives near the gate. A Scavenger watches Tara set up a blockade near the gate. On a balcony, Michonne gives instructions to Farron, a Scavenger, and hands her a sniper rifle. Farron says, “We win.”

Dwight secretly fells some trees onto the road to delay the Saviors. Negan’s crew works to remove them, and Negan suspects that Alexandrians are responsible. He reminds Simon that they have a second plan. Eugene asks to negotiate with Rick to try to avoid war.

Sasha is shown in the dark with her headphones a third time. She struggles to stay conscious. In one of her flashbacks, she tells Abraham that in her dream, he drowned while swimming at the beach. He jokes that he hates the beach and gets up to leave. She asks for them to stay, but to no avail. In the other, she watches the sunrise with Maggie. In the present, the Saviors prepare to leave for Alexandria. Eugene tries to talk her out of using the suicide pill, but she is determined.

The Saviors arrive at Alexandria. Rick takes position at the front gate, with Jadis hidden next to him. Eugene steps out and asks Rick to surrender. He asks where Negan is, and Eugene says that he is Negan. Rick signals Rosita to detonate the explosives, but nothing happens. The Scavengers then betray the Alexandrians, with Jadis pointing her gun at Rick and the other Scavengers turning their guns on the other Alexandrians. Negan emerges to taunt Rick as other Saviors open the truck with the explosives. Michonne tries to leave her balcony, but Farron stops her. Dwight and Simon remove a coffin from their truck. Negan announces that Sasha is inside and offers to let her live if they surrender their weapons, lemonade, pool table, and Daryl in addition to someone of Rick’s choosing being executed. Otherwise, Negan will kill everyone. Rick insists on seeing Sasha, and Negan taps Lucille on the casket.

Another flashback of Sasha is shown. She kisses Abraham, then he reminds her that Maggie and her baby are the future of their group. They leave for their journey to Hilltop that was interrupted by Negan.

Before leaving for Alexandria, Sasha confirms with Eugene that the trip will take hours. Eugene gives her an iPod. Sasha asks for a bottle of water and to travel in the casket to rest. He agrees and thanks her for cooperating. In the coffin, she listens to “Someday We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway and takes the suicide pill.

In the present, Negan opens the casket to find a zombie Sasha who attacks him. The Alexandrians turn their guns on the Scavengers. Michonne and Farron fight, Alexandrians on the guard posts fire on the Saviors, and Rosita is shot and helped away by Tara. Jadis holds Rick at gunpoint. Roy saves Negan, and zombie Sasha kills him instead. Negan yells to Simon to use Plan B. Rick tries to negotiate with Jadis, but she shoots him and pushes him off the platform. Farron beats up Michonne and pushes her to the edge of the balcony.

The Saviors and Scavengers gain the upper hand in the street fighting. Several Alexandrians are killed and several more are captured. Jadis takes Rick to Negan and makes him kneel next to Carl. We learn that Negan learned of Rick’s deal with Jadis and turned her with a better deal. Negan had offered her twelve people in exchange for their help, but he bargains Jadis down to ten. Rick and Carl think they see Michonne thrown to her death. Negan says he will kill Carl, then cut off Rick’s hand. Rick, fearless, declares that he will kill Negan.

Before Negan can kill Carl, Shiva suddenly appears and mauls a Scavenger. Forces from the Hilltop and Kingdom arrive, catching the Saviors and Scavengers by surprise. Negan orders a retreat and is surprised to see Maggie alive and well, commanding Hilltop forces. Numerous Saviors and Scavengers are killed in the battle as Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom forces push their enemies out of Alexandria. The Saviors escape in their vehicles as the Scavengers throw smoke bombs to obscure their exit.

With the battle won, Carl and Rick go to Michonne’s station and are relieved to find a dead Farron on the ground. Michonne is badly beaten inside the building next to the balcony.

With the battle lost, the Saviors prepare their next move. Dwight and Simon inform Negan that preparations are underway. Negan asks Eugene how Sasha died, suspecting subterfuge. Eugene supposes that she ran out of air. Negan doubts this but cannot prove anything. Later, Negan addresses his crowd and tells them that they are going to war.

Maggie and Jesus carry out the emotional task of going into the woods to put down zombie Sasha. Gabriel presides over Sasha’s funeral, then the alliance celebrates their victory. Morgan seems to have regained stability. Dwight left a figurine by the front gate that says “Didn’t know”, which Daryl finds. Tara sits with Rosita in the infirmary, and Rick stays with Michonne as she rests.

The final flashback shows Maggie and Sasha smiling as they watch the sunrise together. The episode ends with Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel addressing their communities.

* * * * *

The handling of an enemy defector continues, and Dwight is put to the test. As with any such person, action is required for judgment. The action is inconclusive thus far and will continue in Part IV.

In Hilltop, we see the process of a shadow government coming to power, as Gregory is reduced to the figurehead for the Saviors. Building such alternative institutions and offering the masses a better governance structure is the most effective means of taking power away from tyrants and their vassals. Maggie and Jesus are doing this well.

As mentioned before, war can push unstable people to the breaking point. It is important to help unstable members of one’s group channel their impulses productively, as Ezekiel does for Carol and they both do for Morgan.

Negan apparently continues to misjudge the situation, as rule with an iron fist is the only method he understands. Had he made a better offer to Rick’s group from the beginning or at any time thereafter, he might have been able to bring them on board. To make an offer that requires Rick to surrender so much seems destined to fail, but perhaps that is the point. Negan massacred all of the men from Oceanside, and may wish to do something similar to Alexandria, so an offer they will certainly refuse is a way for him to justify an atrocity.

One must always be wary of mercenaries. Rick had no idea what Jadis was doing when his people were not around the Scavengers, and they found out too late that Negan was aware of their plans. Pure mercenaries in an environment in which reputation ratings are unavailable are best left out of a conflict unless one has no other options, and the Alexandrians learned this lesson the hard way.

In Sasha’s final acts, she becomes the weapon against Negan, as it is her only move remaining. Though it is best to avoid maneuvering oneself into a position in which suicide is the only outcome, it is commendable to strike at the enemy with one’s last breath once one is out of other options rather than simply die for nothing. Like a terrorist attack in the real world, her surprise attack on Negan gives the Alexandrians a much-needed advantage in a tough situation.

Just as state forces in the real world can be defeated with irregular tactics and the element of surprise, Negan’s forces must retreat when an unexpected attack comes from Hilltop and the Kingdom. But victory in battle and victory in war are two very different things, which both sides, to their credit, realize.

Conclusion

The third part of Negan’s story showcases his strengths and weaknesses as a statesman. He is adept at converting potential threats into allies, keeping his regime in order, and keeping himself enough steps ahead of his enemies. However, he engages in needlessly excessive brutality that can prevent people from perceiving a benefit from living under his rule. He also allows his rivals to have an unnecessary amount of contact that they can use to plot against him. Ultimately, these flaws prevented him from bringing Alexandria under his wing while encouraging the Hilltop and the Kingdom to make war against him. In the fourth part, we will examine the time period from the beginning of war between the Saviors and the alliance of Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom (Episode 801) to the destruction of Alexandria (Episode 808).

<<<Part II                                                                                                 Part IV>>>

The Rise and Fall of the Sturmabteilung

Editor’s note: There is a faction of the contemporary left which denounces anyone who disagrees with them as fascists, Nazis, or “literally Hitler”. I figure that if we will be called such names anyway, then we have nothing to lose by studying real Nazis to see what lessons can be learned from their example.

One of the problems that has long deviled the Western Right is that of creating alternatives to the Leviathan state. For the Left, there is no such problem. West German communist Rudi Dutschke told his followers that, in order to win, the Left must take over the institutions of power. The Dutschke model has succeeded in the United States. To see how the Left has overrun American human resources and marketing departments, one need only consider the existence of “woke” corporate capital or the recent banning of Alex Jones for ill-defined “hate speech”. In Europe, the situation is even more dire thanks to the legal reality of “hate speech” laws and the existence of left-wing bureaucracies that think it is a good idea to provide former jihadists with housing and jobs. A mostly disarmed European populace also makes resistance all but impossible, thus giving the Left in Europe safety to pursue their desired population engineering.

The Right, on the other hand, always finds itself on the blunt end of the stick when it tries to organize because the Cathedral always views right-wing activism as much more serious threat to its power. This is arguably the most terrible legacy of the 1930s, when mass movements in Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, and Poland seized power and established right-wing dictatorships. For opponents of the Western Right, any mobilization of supporters is seen as one step away from extermination campaigns.

Taken together, they belie the inherent weakness within democracy. As Hoppe writes,

“As soon as mature members of society habitually express acceptance or even advocate egalitarian sentiments, whether in the form of democracy (majority rule) or of communism, it becomes essential that other members, and in particular the natural social elites, be prepared to act decisively and, in the case of continued nonconformity, exclude and ultimately expel these members from society.”[1]

Unless egalitarianism is stamped out, countries will inevitably decline into avarice, sloth, and patterns of elite-backed racial guilt-mongering. Western countries that accept egalitarianism will come to resemble modern France, where government debt to GDP and government spending to GDP are both well over 50 percent. Philosopher Guillaume Faye recently made the point to interviewer Gregoire Canlorbe that “[France] is today more communist than the Soviet Union ever was.” In a country that represents less than one percent of the world’s population, Faye notes that “France represents 15 percent of the world’s welfare state redistribution.” The reason why France’s natural elites (the descendants of those not guillotined in the Revolution) do not rebel is because the French state provides then with the “good life”—wine, cheese, world-class food, and plenty of Internet pornography. In his book The Returned, French journalist David Thomson says that besides its nightmarish immigration policies, France’s problem with Islamic terrorism stems from the fact that the Fifth Republic is the archetype of the decadent and amoral Western “pleasure dome”.

The fact that democracies inherently accept egalitarianism, especially mass democracies like the ones currently ruling the United States and Europe, renders them pathologically incapable of expunging communism, whether overt or covert, from their bodies politic. After all, both communism and liberal democracy are predicated on the idea that all men are equal, should be afforded the same rights, and should never be under the thrall of a natural elite. As such, both are revolts against nature. As Murray Rothbard noted in his essay “Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature”, the reason why the Left enjoys such power is because they have been conceded “to have morality, justice, and ‘idealism’” on their side.[2] The Right, because it opposes the Left, is therefore rendered morally repugnant and the enemy of an ill-defined “progress”. The Left gets away with such easy moralizing because they rule over an unnatural state and have convinced the masses that what is unnatural is natural.

What is to be done? For both Hoppe and neoreactionaries, the answer lies in creating or restoring a new elite. This makes sense initially, but how can one find such an elite in a society so thoroughly imbued with an egalitarian, democratic ethos? One answer may lie in the history of Germany between the World Wars. During this age of great instability, several right-wing movements came to the forefront via violence, demonstrations, and ingenious political intrigue. Eventually one group, the National Socialist German Workers Party, seized power in 1933 and ultimately drove their nation and many others into the worst war in human history.

Despite this horrific end, and despite the hue and cry of the left-wing intelligentsia, the story of these Weimar-era groups in general and the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) in particular can teach the Western Right quite a bit about organizing for victory. It is necessary to learn from what they did right. Even more importantly, we need to study what went so terribly wrong.

The New Man

World War I forever changed the world for the worse. As Hoppe outlines, World War I deserves to be cursed simply because of what it did to Austria-Hungary—the last true Christian and free monarchy in European history:

“If the United States had followed a strict non-interventionist foreign policy, it is likely that the intra-European conflict would have ended in late 1916 or early 1917 as a result of several peace initiatives, most notably by the Austrian Emperor Charles I. Moreover, the war would have been concluded with a mutually acceptable and face-saving compromise peace than the actual dictate. Consequently, Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia would have remained traditional monarchies instead of being turned into short-lived democratic republics.”[3]

The fall of these nations set in motion the Soviet gulags, the Ukrainian famine, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. As for Austria-Hungary, it, the direct descendant of the medieval world and the Holy Roman Empire, was lost forever under a flood of war, nationalism, and Bolshevism.

However, World War I, with its machine guns, tanks, and gore-filled trenches, gave the world a new type of man. German writer Ernst Jünger, a veteran of all four years of the trenches, was the first to give voice and shape to this new man of the trenches. Jünger saw the new man as prefigured by the storm-troopers of the Imperial German Army:

“Like the Italian arditi whom they resembled, the storm-troopers were the prototypical Fascist ‘new man’, with straight jaw and empty killers’ eyes staring beneath the shadow of the steel helmet. The Nazis would regard them as their immediate precursors.”[4]

The storm-troopers of Germany and Austria-Hungary, along with the arditi of the Royal Italian Army, were considered the best of the best. These men were drawn from the battle-tested infantry divisions, sent to the rear for specialized training, then deployed during massed offensives as battering rams designed to poke holes in enemy lines. They often went into battle with sub-machine guns, grenades, and knives. These specialized troops received better food and housing than their mates in the trenches, and, like officers, they were given the luxury of wearing sidearms.

More importantly, according to Jünger, the storm-troopers embraced death and cultivated a mixture of aristocracy and democracy. The storm-troopers were “aristocrats of the soul” who came from the democratic masses. In the storm-trooper units, the stultifying stiffness of Prussian class distinctions were discarded, and the enlisted men called their junior officers by their first names. This tradition would come to full fruition during the interwar period, when right-wing movements in Europe tried to sway workingmen away from internationalist Marxism by destroying old class distinctions in favor of nationalism, national socialism, and promises of direct action in the form of street fights. Unemployed former soldiers joined these right-wing groups in droves, thus forming the backbone of the “New Man” class.

From Freikorps to Sturmabteilung

It is not surprising that the Nazis decided to call their armed street soldiers “storm-troopers”. Many SA men had been storm-troopers, and on the streets of Weimar Germany, they often proved their mettle by besting bigger militias like the Red Front of the German Communist Party (KPD) or the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The SA was born out of the ashes of the Freikorps (Free Corps). Historians like Nigel Jones and Robert G. L. Waite have long maintained that the Freikorps soldiers gathered by SPD politicians Friedrich Ebert and Gustav Noske provided the germ that became National Socialism. Following the declaration of the German Republic on November 9, 1918 (a declaration made by the SPD in order to offset a potential Communist takeover), Germany erupted in several massive strikes and far-left mobilization campaigns. The first Communist uprising, orchestrated by the Spartacists, briefly took Berlin in January 1919 and forced the SPD-led government to flee to the central German city of Weimar.

Despite their socialist credentials, the major figures of the SPD in January 1919 were mostly German patriots who, like President Ebert, “hated the mob, and hated the revolution”.[5] Noske, the Minister of Defense, was not averse to using violence to put down the worker and soldier soviets that sprung up all throughout Germany following November 9. The problem was that the government could not rely on its own soldiers. When soldiers returning from the Western Front were tapped in order to put down the remnants of the Kiel Mutiny, they were embarrassed and many soldiers defected to the other side. A majority of German troops just wanted to go home, and indeed most did.

Desperate to stamp out the raging fires of Bolshevism in Germany, Noske called upon patriotic German generals to form volunteer battalions of veterans, recently demobilized troops, and right-wing university students. These Freikorps soldiers put down the Sparticist rebellion with armored cars, rifles, and machine guns. They would do the same in Munich, central Germany, and in the Ruhr. Historian Nigel Jones quotes one Freikorps volunteer writing home to his parents in the spring of 1920: “We even shot some Red Cross nurses. How those little ladies begged and pleaded! Nothing doing!”[6] Such was the blood-lust born out both the “betrayal” of the German Army in November 1918 and the experience of totalitarian Red republics in Germany.

Not less than a year after their birth, the SPD government realized that it had created a monster. Freikorps soldiers were always up for a fight and did not want to listen to the central government that they considered illegitimate. Freikorps troops fought private wars in Silesia and the Baltic in 1919 and 1920. When the central government officially disbanded them, they created underground cells like the Organisation Consul which carried out hundreds of political assassinations and murders. In March 1920, the Freikorps-backed Kapp Putsch almost destroyed the Weimar government.

By 1923, the visible Freikorps were no more. They had been replaced by hunting and shooting clubs that were actually underground paramilitary organizations and political militias like the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten and the Sturmabteilung. Another was the so-called “Black Reichswehr,” a secretive, alternative army that was made up of the officially dead Freikorps divisions and was far away from the prying eyes of the League of Nations.

At this point, for today’s American readers, an important fact bears mentioning: large segments of the German judiciary, police, and military openly supported groups like the SA and the Stahlhelm. German judges, especially in Bavaria, often handed down lenient sentences to right-wing activists, even those who carried out murders. Similarly, men like future SA leader Ernst Röhm used their positions within the regular German Army to supply their paramilitary friends with light and heavy weapons. Hardly any right-wing groups in America can say that they enjoy these perks.

It should also be noted for fans of the Third Reich that the Freikorps included hundreds of patriotic Jews. Historian Thomas Weber notes that “158 Jews served in Bavarian Freikorps after the First World War.” Weber also adds that “Jews continued to join the Freikorps in the days and weeks after the end of the Munich Soviet Republic.”[7] For every anarchic and anti-Semitic “Freebooter,” the Freikorps included more men of all backgrounds inspired by a love of the Fatherland and a hatred for Bolshevism.

Rise and Fall of the SA

The SA began when Adolf Hitler, a virtually unknown Austrian corporal who had served in the Bavarian Army, attended a meeting of the small German Workers’ Party (DAP) in 1919. The DAP had been formed by the secretive Munich-based occult order, the Thule Society. The aristocratic members of Thule wanted the DAP and its leader Anton Drexler, a railway worker and ardent nationalist, to be the public face of their movement. The DAP was supposed to win over Bavaria’s working class, but by 1919 the DAP was a small cabal of intellectuals with no support.

Hitler changed all of that. Weber shows that the future leader of the Nazi Party was a self-declared social democrat[8] who was a part of minor bureaucracy in the Bolshevik-backed Munich Soviet.[9] By the time that Hitler first found the DAP, he was an intelligence operative under the command of German Army officer Karl Mayr.[10] Mayr wanted Hitler to infiltrate the DAP and turn it into a partner for the more conservative and monarchist German National People’s Party (DNVP). This plan backfired, as Hitler quickly became the leader and renamed the group the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. In order to protect his speeches from Communist and SPD thugs, Hitler formed a bodyguard of political soldiers known as the SA. These men, who would later adopt the brownshirt, were often former soldiers with easy access to firearms. Many also embraced the nihilistic ethos of the Freikorps, with a love for violence for its own sake.

Early on, the SA was also filled with political soldiers more interested in the socialist aspect of National Socialism. Because the SA drew recruits from the working class and the criminal underclass, many of the brownshirts had a strong thirst for class warfare and hooliganism. Indeed, while Hitler controlled the SA for a time in Bavaria, his followers in Berlin expanded the Nazi brand in the Protestant north and center by embracing far-left politics. Röhm, Joseph Goebbels, the Strasser brothers, and Walther Stennes all characterized the more left-wing SA of the pre-1933 era. In March 1931, Stennes and his SA followers, which included many former Communists, revolted against Hitler’s autocratic rule and occupied the party’s Berlin headquarters because they were fed up with Hitler’s slow approach and wanted their promised revolution.[11] They would not get it, and most of the SA hierarchy from this time was murdered during the Night of the Long Knives.

The problem with the SA was always its thuggish lack of discipline. For Hitler, who wanted to achieve power by using the means of democracy against itself, the SA increasingly became a liability. In 1933, major German industrialists and members of the army decided to put Hitler in power as the Chancellor of the Reich, and they demanded that he rein in the SA. The industrialists were afraid of the political radicalism of the SA, while the army was afraid of Röhm’s idea of using the SA as a “people’s army” that would be fused with the regular army. The officer corps wanted none of this, so Hitler used the SS, his more loyal bodyguards, to thoroughly weaken the SA.

The last great hurrah of the SA came immediately after Hitler’s bargained victory in 1933. SA units throughout Germany created wildcat concentration camps that housed their KPD and SPD enemies. These early concentration camps numbered as many as 240 by 1934, and Berlin alone had three such camps that were controlled by autonomous SA units. Historian Daniel Siemens writes,

“In the first weeks of the Nazi takeover of power, most of the captives were brought to the illegal SA prisons that mushroomed in the larger German cities. Cellars of SA taverns, sports facilities, youth hostels, barracks, and deserted factory buildings were all used as provisional prisons. These locations often existed for days or weeks before they were replaced by a string of larger concentration camps that were run either by the German states or by the SS and the SA.”[12]

The brutality and illegality of these SA camps, many of which were located in the middle of Berlin neighborhoods and therefore highly visible, drew the ire of Hitler’s conservative partners. The SA, they said, either had to be gutted or destroyed.

From 1934 until 1945, the SA took a distinct backseat to the SS, Gestapo, and Wehrmacht. A huge chunk of SA were drafted into the army, and only rarely did entire SA units form the nucleus of new German military divisions. As Siemens notes, the SA, which was originally created as the revolutionary volk community of future “Aryan” colonists, ended its days as both a bureaucracy—a public relations arm of the Nazis that was mostly kept away from the front linesand a low-level street militia. Siemens notes that during the war, “SA diplomats were not the driving forces behind this [Holocaust] policy, but they often acted confidently and independently to carry it out.”[13] The SA, as the most radicalized arm of the Nazi machine, never achieved its original aim of creating a new army, but many of its members did jump at the chance to beat, harass, and murder unarmed civilians.

Learning From the Nazis

The successes and failures of the SA as an organization contain valuable lessons for any rightist anti-establishment movement. The foremost lesson of the SA and the National Socialists is to always refuse totalitarianism. Authoritarianism is the goal—indeed, highly local authoritarianism is desirable in the form of the anarcho-monarch. Totalitarianism, whether fascist or liberal, is a stultifying force that leaves no room for “aristocrats of the soul.” Totalitarianism inherently means a massive bureaucracy; authoritarianism runs best when its power is decentralized.

Second, the story of the SA is the story of the futility of the Führerprinzip. Hitler was a megalomaniacal leader who gutted the SA—the very organization that brought him to political prominence—because it was expedient for his personal authority. If a leader lacks loyalty to his subordinates, as Hitler clearly did, then they will never be seen as anything other than expendable. Thus, organizations much choose their hierarchies wisely.

Third, right-wing movements need to know when to act openly and when to practice subterfuge. The failed Beer Hall Putsch made an enemy out of Gustav von Kahr, the arch-conservative Bavarian minister who had previously acted as a protector of right-wing militants in the large and Catholic German state. The failed putsch also split the Nazis, with Hitler and his followers in Bavaria and the more left-wing Strasser brothers active in Berlin and the Protestant states of northern Germany. This internal split would not be addressed until the Night of the Long Knives. Finally, the failed putsch also turned Erich Ludendorff, the former military dictator of Germany between 1916 and 1918, against the movement, thus severing the possibility of a more monarchist and national conservative element within the Nazi victory of 1933.

Fourth, it can be argued that the Nazis seized power in Germany too soon, thus forcing the Allies to gravitate towards the Soviet Union as a more attractive option. Similarly, Hitler’s willingness to sacrifice the SA to appease his more conservative backers shows the danger in cooperating too closely with groups seeking to harness revolutionary enthusiasms for their own gain. Cooperation between right-wing groups is good, but each group should be allowed to remain somewhat independent. Also, amalgamation should be avoided. One could theorize that had the DNVP and Stahlhelm stayed around after 1933, the excesses of the Nazis, especially Hitler’s suicidal war, could have been curtailed by more cautious conservatives.

Fifth, the SA’s story shows the necessity of having standards of inclusion. The SA was such a threat to the German order because so many of its men were criminal-minded and only cared about the chance to crack some skulls. Nihilism, which was such a large part of the Freikorps and the SA, has no place in a serious movement. The SA’s rotten core became all too apparent in the concentration camps of 1933 and 1934, thus dooming the organization within its own political movement. Any right-wing movement today must be highly selective in choosing its men. However, the men of a rightist movement need to be willing to use defensive violence. Also, the forced removal of egalitarians should also be encouraged in the public-facing organization, but carried out by secret arms of that same organization. The SA made a mistake in having both a public-facing bureaucracy and a public-facing army of street thugs. A smart movement would separate the two, thus allowing the public-facing and “respectable” part of the movement the ability to disavow the actions of the other.

Sixth, there is a warning about entryism. Owing to the name “National Socialism” and the thirst for revolution that characterized so many SA men, the group saw an influx of former Communist street fighters in the early 1930s. These “beefsteaks” undoubtedly played a role in the Stennes revolt of 1934, and many probably had a hand in the wildcat concentration camps of 1933–4. As Sergei Bulgakov observed, “Socialism is the apocalypse of the naturalistic religion of man.” Socialism in any form is antithetical to Christendom, and should therefore play no part in the Restoration. Even nationalists (nationalism itself being a kind of socialism) should not be included if they have pink or outright Red attachments.

The brutality of the SA following Hitler’s victory in 1933 should also serve to remind us that right-wing organizations will always come under more scrutiny than their left-wing counterparts. Again, the Left gets a pass because its motives are supposedly grounded in a higher morality. Therefore, right-wing movements must be careful not to engage in overly savage violence. Similarly, right-wing movements should always be wary of Hitlerian figures—men who preach violence while being themselves adverse to doing it. The other warning from Hitler is this: according to Weber, Hitler saw himself as a “genius” and therefore never questioned his own decisions.[14] Hitler’s self-aggrandizement often meant that his decisions went unquestioned by his underlings because of his central position as leader. Right-wing movements must avoid leaders who believe in their own infallibility.

What the SA got right included their eventual termination of the KPD. Whether it was a false flag operation or a legitimate act of left-wing terrorism (most historians now say the latter), the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933 gave Hitler and the Nazis all the ammunition that they needed to enact emergency decrees listed in the Weimar Constitution. The SA seized on these decrees in order to destroy the KPD—a move that gutted the power of German communism until Soviet arms reintroduced it in 1945 and pampered West German students stormed classrooms in the 1960s. In America, right-wing movements should study how the attacks on September 11, 2001 gave Washington, D.C. a reason to openly expand the reach of the security state with a popular mandate.

The SA established an esprit de corps that sought to change the world. It just so happened that their vision of the world was anti-Christian and went against the best traditions of the West. The SA was also incapable of cooperating with other paramilitary groups, even the Stahlhelm (which the SA briefly joined with before completely engulfing). Because the Stahlhelm represented the ethos of the old Wilhelmine period (the Kaiser, the Prussian junker class, and militarism), the more revolutionary SA saw fit to confiscate their weapons and force Stahlhelm members to join their organization. Also, by this point, the SA included some “beefsteaks” (former members of the KPD) who gleefully brutalized their former political opponents in the Stahlhelm.[15]

Applying the Lessons

In order to restore the West, the Right must form organizations for young men. These organizations should specifically recruit active and former military members, patriotic students, and workers of all stripes. They should be willing to cooperate with other like-minded organizations, as political purity dooms any movement. This hypothetical movement should only use violence defensively, but must be prepared to do so. Giving into the offensive violence of the SA would see the movement quickly suppressed by the Cathedral, as happened to the alt-right after Charlottesville. Most importantly, any right-wing movement in our world should be explicitly pro-Western and dedicated not to pursuing totalitarian and impossible visions of racial purity, but achieving an ordered and authoritative liberty deeply embedded in the traditions of Christendom. As previously noted by this author, any new right-wing organization should focus on trying today’s youth to be competent in the wild, self-reliant, and independent. This explicitly right-wing organization should not have any truck with communist thinking, and should cultivate men of both action and education.

A good place to start would be to form armed groups contracted by private citizens to guard private property along America’s southern border and in various places in southern Europe. Border protection is popular with American voters. In Europe, some independent border patrols have already been established in Bulgaria and Macedonia in order to curtail illegal migration. In protecting American and European property, these armed groups would earn the goodwill of citizens who live close to the unstable borders and show the moribund nature of the professional border enforcement agencies of current governments.

Other options include reintroducing outlawry and letters of marque. In towns and counties near porous borders, local officials could contract independent militias to either deport or apprehend illegal immigrants guilty of certain crimes. If these militias prove more swift and efficient than the Cathedral’s police forces, then many citizens will begin to look to the militias for justice. This would be a step in the right direction towards more decentralized power. A vanguard of right-wing individuals should be at the forefront of this decentralization platform.

Conclusion

The Right in the West must finally get serious about organization. The Left is far better organized, even despite their clear internal divisions between the far, Marxist left and the moderate, liberal left. Only the common sense of populist voters in rural and middle class Europe and America has kept the Left from completely dominating every aspect of power and culture.

In reviewing the history of the SA, today’s Right must recognize that this was the force that bested the Left on the streets and in politics, but ultimately made subsequent right-wing mass movements all but impossible. The SA are still a bogeyman haunting the minds of our current elite. We need to understand what they did right and what they did wrong in order to better our chances of victory in the present and the future. A new right-wing movement must adhere to the steadfast principles of Christ, ordered liberty, property, hierarchy, and authority. There should be no talk of socialism or messianic leadership. The Right should also learn the importance of keeping the street toughs and the intellectuals separate while instilling in both a core set of values about self-defense and enmity toward communism. Unlike the SA, the next great right-wing movement must not frighten the burghers into submission, but convince them that the values of the ancient West are superior to the unnatural delights of mass democracy.

References:

  1. Hoppe, Hans-Hermann (2001). Democracy–The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order. New Brunswick: Routledge. p. 218.
  2. Rothbard, Murray (2000). Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature And Other Essays, 2nd ed. Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute. p. 1.
  3. Hoppe, p. xiii
  4. Jones, Nigel (2012). A Brief History of the Birth of the Nazis. London: Hachette Book Group. p. xii.
  5. Ibid., p. xiii
  6. Ibid., p. 192
  7. Weber, Thomas (2017). Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 61.
  8. Ibid., p. 66.
  9. Ibid., p. 102.
  10. Ibid., p. 101.
  11. Siemens, Daniel (2017). Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 59.
  12. Ibid., p. 125.
  13. Weber, p. 190.
  14. Ibid., p. 300.
  15. Ibid., p. 158.

Agreeing With Statists For The Wrong Reasons: Impeach Donald Trump

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Ever since Donald Trump became the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, there has been a concerted effort by the establishment to do whatever they can to stop him. Publicizing scandalous materials, weaponizing intelligence agencies, voting, marching, protesting, and political violence were all tried, and none managed to keep him from gaining the Presidency. As such, the focus of the leftist vanguard has shifted to impeachment as a means to remove Trump from office, regardless of the facts of the case. Though the Democratic Party leadership has sought to distance itself from such efforts thus far,[1,2] more ardent leftist activists are pushing the idea in growing numbers. Let us see why this strategy is likely to backfire in such a way that the federal government itself will be damaged, and thus why one should agree with statists for the wrong reasons.

The Attempt

Before they can impeach Trump, Democrats (and a few cuckservative Republicans[3,4]) will have to mobilize greater support, given that the most recent attempt to bring the measure to the Congressional floor was defeated by a 66–355 margin.[5] The effort to drum up support for impeachment will anger Trump’s base, bringing them to the polls in greater numbers than would otherwise occur in a mid-term election. In the American system of government, an incumbent president does not stand for re-election in singly even years. But if impeachment is to be the result of Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives in 2018, Trump can argue with merit that he actually is on the ballot, even if informally so. Later, attempting impeachment going into the 2020 election will be seen as redundant, as the electorate will wonder why the decision should not be left up to them. Should Trump win re-election, the same argument for the 2018 mid-term voter turnout would apply again in 2022, and an impeachment effort against a lame duck president after that will be viewed as wasteful and needlessly divisive. It is also worth mentioning that impeachment proceedings would occupy the news cycle in the legacy media to the exclusion of other important events. This could both allow the Trump administration a freer hand in performing unsightly but necessary tasks and provide more fodder for mobilizing Trump’s base against Fake News.

Throughout his presidential campaign and ensuing administration, Trump’s signature move in the political arena has been to do unto others as they have done unto him. He counterattacks anyone who attacks him and defends whoever defends him. However, there is much more that Trump could do with the powers of the Presidency, such as pardoning people to remove leverage that the investigation led by Robert Mueller may have, unilaterally declassifying information that would be damaging to the Cathedral, issuing sweeping executive orders, and firing executive branch officials who serve at the pleasure of the President. He seems to be taking a relatively passive approach, perhaps sensing that Mueller could interpret the aforementioned maneuvers as obstruction of justice. But if Trump were to be charged and impeached, he would have nothing to lose by engaging in such vigorous countermeasures. The result of this is likely to be a revelation of massive amounts of criminal activity by government agents at all levels in all agencies which are currently hidden behind a veil of secrecy. In other words, if Trump goes down, he can probably take half of D.C. with him.

The (Likely) Possibility of Failure

So far, there have been two impeachment proceedings against Presidents of the United States, both of which had significant political motivation and both of which failed to produce the two-thirds super-majority required by the Constitution to remove a President from office. House proceedings were initiated against Richard Nixon, but he resigned before the House voted to impeach him. Should impeachment proceedings against Trump proceed to a vote in the Senate, 67 Senators would be needed to remove him. There is no realistic possibility at this time for Democrats to gain enough Senate seats to remove Trump on their own, and damning evidence against Trump of a caliber not yet seen would be necessary to convince enough Republicans to both remove a president of their own party and defy the will of voters who sent a clear message in 2016.

Should impeachment fail, Democrats and the establishment press will emerge from the process looking weak and petty, and Trump will be able to parlay this into political capital to a greater extent than any past President would be capable. The end result is difficult to predict, as the political milieux of 1868 and 1999 were quite different from the Trump era, but Trump’s support is likely to be buoyed by a failed effort to remove him. Even so, this would further strain his relationship with Congress and the media, leading to more rule by executive orders, more interference from judges, and escalating rhetoric from the chattering classes.

As for the Democrats’ next strategy, an example following the Johnson impeachment may be instructive. Some citizens of Massachusetts submitted a petition to Congress in 1868 that called for a constitutional amendment to abolish the office of the Presidency and transfer its powers to a body composed either of members of Congress or “other competent citizens” chosen by Congress.[6] Following a failed impeachment of Trump, it is likely that some leftists will pursue this tactic, as some have already called for abolition of the entire Constitution in recent years.[7–10] These efforts may be agreed with for what leftists may consider to be the wrong reasons, especially if amplified to the point of abolishing the federal government to create many independent nations of the several states and territories. Should leftists succeed in removing what few undemocratic features remain in the American system, it should only hasten the collapse or Balkanization of the United States, and a dose of pure democracy beforehand should inoculate whatever new systems emerge against such foolhardiness for the foreseeable future.

The (Unlikely) Possibility of Success

To review, there is no direct precedent for this outcome and little reason at this point to believe it is a realistic possibility, but it must be discussed in the interest of thoroughness. Should Trump be removed, the Presidency would go to the current Vice President Mike Pence. Given his positions on various social and economic issues,[11–19] it is almost certain that those who impeached Trump would dislike a Pence presidency even more. Successfully removing a President for the first time in history would embolden the Democrats and establishment Republicans to try again, especially because Pence was elected with Trump and the Speaker of the House (a Democrat in this case) is third in the presidential line of succession.[20] Pence would require a majority in both houses of Congress to appoint a new Vice President,[21] and a Congress that had just impeached and removed Trump would presumably deny him this majority, thus making the Democratic Speaker of the House next in line.

For Congress to remove one President from office, let alone two in quick succession, would greatly diminish, if not work to delegitimize, the office of the Presidency. This may seem counterproductive in terms of weakening a powerful office that can be captured by outsiders to use against the establishment, but such actions would only reveal a paper tiger to be such. A Presidency thus weakened would signal an important truth to the American people: that they are governed by a faceless monstrosity unresponsive to their needs that they cannot bring to heel by placing a man of their choice behind the curtain. Eliminating ineffective democratic means of change is sometimes necessary to encourage effective anti-political solutions.

It goes without saying that Trump’s base would be enraged by his removal, but what becomes of that rage could end the American system of government. There is a significant minority of people who are generally pessimistic about improving their fortunes by using the tools provided by the system, with a great amount of logic and evidence to support their position. Trump offered them a glimmer of hope for meaningful change, and they decided to give democracy one last try. Having that small candle in the dark snuffed out by the establishment and/or a part of the electorate that is openly hostile to them could teach them the lesson that the democratic process no longer serves their interests, if it ever did in the first place. This is fertile ground for both libertarians and reactionaries, and a growth of anarcho-capitalist, localist, minarchist, and neoreactionary movements should follow.

However, the short-term prospects favor force over reason. One possibility is a military coup, either to take power for a select group of top brass or to bolster Trump (or Pence) by forcibly closing Congress and thwarting their efforts of impeachment and removal. Whether Trump or Pence would actively coordinate such a power grab or participate in such a plot if presented to them is an open question, but their supporters may back such an extreme measure. A coup in the United States would be violently resisted by all parts of the left as well as establishment conservatives, but that resistance is likely to fail due to discrepancy in the ability to use force. Recent polling on this option has received a consistent level of support (20–30 percent) similar to that in South American countries which have had military dictatorships in the past.[22,23] The resulting junta may resemble those which once ruled there, which is very bad news for those leading the leftist vanguard, especially if they cannot fly once dropped from aircraft. But after progressive leaders are physically removed, the United States could very well get its own version of the Chilean Miracle.

Another possibility is a guerrilla campaign waged against the political establishment. They may wage a civil war or terror campaign to put Trump back in power, violently suppress the left, secede parts of the United States as independent nations, or simply eliminate the entire federal government. This is less likely to be successful and more likely to result in a more authoritarian state, especially if the rebels expect a short fight that they can win without much effort. That said, victory for the Cathedral is not guaranteed. Whatever the outcome, the divisions within America would be deepened, hastening the collapse of the current system to the benefit of all who are not part of it or dependent on it.

Conclusion

It is unlikely that the establishment will succeed in removing Trump, and any attempt is likely to backfire as such. But even if they pick this battle and win it, they will almost certainly lose the war in the long run. Because this would damage the most powerful and dangerous state in human history, one should agree to impeach Trump for the wrong reasons even if one supports his agenda.

References:

  1. DeBonis, Mike (2017, Dec. 6). “House votes to kill Texas lawmaker’s Trump impeachment effort”. Washington Post.
  2. Martin, Jonathan; Burns, Alexander (2017, May 18). “Democratic Leaders Try to Slow Calls to Impeach Trump”. New York Times.
  3. Smilowitz, Elliot (2017, May 17). “First Republicans talk possibility of impeachment for Trump”. The Hill.
  4. Seipel, Brooke (2017, May 16). “McCain: Trump scandals reaching ‘Watergate size and scale’”. The Hill.
  5. “Final Vote Results For Roll Call 35”. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Jan. 19, 2018.
  6. “Memorial Regarding the Abolition of the Presidency”. National Archives Catalog. Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration.
  7. Gibson, C. Robert (2013, Mar. 4). “Abolish It: It’s Our Right”. Huffington Post.
  8. Copple, Roger (2013, June 25). “Why a New Constitution is Our Best Hope”. Dissident Voice.
  9. Day, Meagan; Sunkara, Bhaskar (2018, Aug. 9). “Think the Constitution Will Save Us? Think Again”. New York Times.
  10. “Abolish the Constitution”. Sydiot, Jan. 25, 2017.
  11. Kliff, Sarah (2011, Feb. 16). “Pence’s war on Planned Parenthood”. Politico.
  12. (2016, July 15). “Donald Trump’s Running Mate Has Some Truly Strange Views on Modern Science”. Fortune.
  13. Ring, Trudy (2015, Apr. 1). “Mike Pence ‘Abhors’ Discrimination? His Record Shows Otherwise”. The Advocate.
  14. Drabold, Will (2016, July 15). “Here’s What Mike Pence Said on LGBT Issues Over the Years”. Time.
  15. Yglesias, Matthew (2009, Feb. 25). “Mike Pence Calls for Massive Anti-Stimulus”. ThinkProgress.
  16. Sahadi, Jeanne (2016, July 15). “On Social Security, Trump and Pence couldn’t be more different”. CNN Money.
  17. Heinz, Katie (2015, Aug. 26). “As congressman, Gov. Pence co-sponsored change to birthright citizenship rules”. WRTV.
  18. Hirji, Zahra (2016, July 15). “Trump’s Choice of Pence Adds a Conservative Fossil Fuel Backer to GOP Ticket”. InsideClimate News.
  19. Carden, Dan (3016, Mar. 21). “Pence reinstates mandatory minimum prison terms for some drug crimes”. The Times of Northwest Indiana.
  20. Mount, Steve. “Constitutional Topic: Presidential Line of Succession”. ussconstitution.net.
  21. 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  22. Feierhard, German; Lupu, Noam; Stokes, Susan (2018, Feb. 16). “A significant minority of Americans say they could support a military takeover of the U.S. government”. Washington Post.
  23. Bell, Brandon. “When Do High Levels of Corruption Justify a Military Coup?”. AmericasBarometer Insights 2012, number 79. Vanderbilt University.

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The Producerist Theory of Society and Civilization

Producerism is a unique view of political and social philosophy. To completely understand this theory, we first have to establish how ideologies are constructed. For any ideology, it is important that there is a base value. There must be some value-judgment above all other value-judgments. (There are two other key requirements for a set of ideas to be an ideology, but we will deal with them later.)

For libertarianism I have identified the base value as efficiency. When presented with a choice between the value of liberty and the value of efficiency, most libertarians will choose efficiency. This value of efficiency is not necessarily the creation of the best possible GDP, but rather preventing unnecessary waste and striving towards goals in the best possible manner. On an individual level, efficiency means organizing one’s life so as to create the best path between a person and his goals.

This is why mainstream libertarians mostly advocate for liberty due to its efficiency. There has never been a libertarian who thinks that liberty is less efficient than the lack of it. The closest we get to this are those with immense classical anarchist influences, but their significance is constantly being reduced. One could also say that Rothbard valued liberty as self-ownership more than he valued efficiency, but his political action demonstrates otherwise. He was quite willing to ally with people who did not see liberty as the most valuable goal as long as he viewed them as the most expedient way to reach a particular goal. Even Walter Block, who frequently makes moral arguments for traditionally immoral behavior, supports libertarianism in large part because of purely economic reasons. His support of philosophical libertarianism has always taken a backseat to economic libertarianism. (In this context, we are speaking about Austrian economics and not neo-liberal economics; the Austrian School cares less about maximizing monetary value and more about individuals striving towards any goal that they value.)

Libertarians may claim that their key value is liberty, but if liberty brought universal misery, decay, and poverty, they would be the first to abandon their current ideal. We can see this in practice, as most people who abandon libertarianism slingshot toward the most authoritarian version of their new persuasion, whether they become Stalinists or national socialists (or even both). However, in reality, we know that liberty brings the most efficient form of organization. This does not mean that it is simple to establish a regime of liberty, but simply that people best achieve their chosen goals when they are given the freedom to do so.

Socialists, on the other hand, value equality above all other values. To a libertarian this seems odd; equality is inefficient and thus useless. But the socialist would rather have everyone equally poor than some unequally rich. However, the American socialist still functions within classical liberal cultural assumptions. The American people value efficiency far more than most other cultures. This means that American socialists will also constantly appeal to efficiency, but they do so to justify socialism as they do not actually value this efficiency.

Both of these values are ultimately arbitrary; there is nothing that makes efficiency objectively correct or that makes equality objectively desirable. The necessity to construct an ideology from principles that approach objectivity is thus clear. We cannot see the world without ideology; the best we can do is to switch the lenses of ideology so fast that it becomes unnoticeable. The only solution to this is producerism.

And finally, let us mention the other two key components for ideologies. One can be described as the secondary value or end goal, one that backs up the base value. For libertarianism, this would be property. For the libertarian, the moral value of efficiency should ultimately create a regime of full property ownership. The other is the method of analysis employed by different ideologies. This is a key part that differentiates left- and right-libertarians. Left-libertarians tend to focus on materialism and empirical data, while right-libertarians tend to be more concerned with rational systems and the results of applying moral principles.

Producerism 101

Let us begin with Ayn Rand. Rand posited that there are ultimately only two forms of value. One can either be dead or alive. One can prefer death, or one can prefer life. One can discount the possibility of valuing death, as all sane people will always value life, at least to a degree. The only section of the population that does not value life are the insane, or in the politically correct vernacular, mentally ill people. Thus, valuing life is the closest we get to an objective value. This means that the fundamental value for producerism is life. But life does not exist in a void, there needs to be production to facilitate life.

Producerism, as a term, is not a unique one. It is associated with the populist right and their focus on traditional middle-class values. Producerism mostly aligns with the same values. But for producerism to be a useful philosophy, it must be properly contextualized. First, we need to apply producerism to individual lives. This lies outside the broad apolitical theory that producerism signifies, but is still a useful application. The first step of this would be to categorize humans into two groups. The first is people who live to produce; the second is people who live to destroy. This can also help us understand what degeneracy means on an individual basis. Those who live towards destruction can be properly categorized as degenerates and maladjusts. Living for destruction is an ontological conflict.

Life, by its very nature is productive insofar as it exists to self-improve and self-perpetuate. This means that those humans who do not use their lives to produce anything are inherently misusing their life. But this does not mean that each unproductive or destructive action must be necessarily evil or wrong. We can all strive towards the saintly ideal of perfect production, life with no destructive vice. But this metric cannot be applied to most people. Someone who constantly engages in vice might make up for it by creating something that leaves such a positive impact as to compensate for his vice.

This fits well into my theory of privatizing society. Many people in the Outer Right signal their supposed ideal that all vice needs to be violently eliminated, but this is not necessarily the case. It is true that those who live for destruction can only be described as living in a cancerous state, but all vice does not inherently cause a person to live for destruction. When society is fully privatized in a perfect manner, exclusion becomes a matter of removing those who live for destruction. This is because all people in a society lose value when sharing a society with those who abuse that society, and society itself is a scarce good that retains value.

The individual application of producerism is far less important when contrasted with the apolitical application, and producerism is thoroughly apolitical. It can be seen as a political philosophy that is entirely focused on functioning outside politics. This is necessary because of the mutual co-dependence of society and civilization. Society is the nexus of values; when values are shared across a society, it creates a civilization. For example, when Peter feels that red is the most beautiful color, he is doing so within a society. If others follow Peter’s judgment of red as being inherently beautiful, the beauty of red becomes a part of that civilization. For instance, in the Russian language, the word for red is almost the same as the word for beautiful because of that attitude. Conversely, if a culture is based on the concept that work is a virtue in itself, most individuals will be driven to work. And if work is in reality a virtue, the culture drives most people to virtue. However, if a culture has a core value of egalitarianism, it drives most people to seek equality. This is unimaginably destructive, since equality will cause fundamental damage to a social order.

There is a feedback loop between creating civilizational values and having an established set of civilizational values. The better a civilization becomes, the more civilizing forces there will be. This requires an inherent degree of separation when we try to improve society and civilization. If we are to improve civilization at the cost of society or vice versa, we will ultimately find ourselves damaging both.

This makes a lack of specialization in these fields untenable. We can only improve civilization by only improving that civilization; the same is true for society. This is because a person who is trying to improve both at once will have to engage in trade-offs. For example, if an artist is also trying to be a social activist, he has to either sacrifice the values in his art and create a lesser overall product, or give up art altogether for the sake of being a social activist. However, if an artist tacitly ingrains his values into his art, he can create masterpieces that also spread his values. Classical masters did not imbue their art with the politics of their time, but their art still makes a significant statement. But this has an important corollary: if we improve one of the two, we improve both. And if we can improve both from the inside, we can create a productive spiral towards an ideal.

Practical Application

Instead of trying to get a firm grasp on the political apparatus, we ought to improve that which we can improve. Trying to do both at once will always lead to having to make sacrifices which are ultimately destructive. If one is blessed with a sociable nature, the best one can do is to create connections, lead people towards an ideal of connectedness, and imbue individuals with a higher regard for production. But if that person is instead talented in the arts, it is in his power to change the landscape in which aesthetic values are conceptualized to make people embrace that which is good.

However, destructivism is a similarly powerful strategy, with the important aspect that one is able to destroy both society and civilization at the same time. But when there is an agent that has acquired a controlling position over civilization and society, trade-offs are inevitable. And when one sacrifices civilization or society for the sake of building the other, the result will be a decay in both.We can look at Communist Russia and late 19th-century America as examples of this tendency. In Russia, the Bolsheviks seized the power over both art and interpersonal relationships. The art that the communist state created was created solely to promote the communist regime and philosophy. The social control of the communists created decay in relationships between family members or friends because communism is fundamentally an anti-social system. This further reinforced the destruction of civilizational values.

During the Progressive Era in the United States, the government increasingly got involved in both society and civilization, trying to improve both simultaneously. One such measure was the progressive school system, which was designed to get competitive young members of society locked up in schools for economic reasons and prevent the perceived social ills of idle young men. Furthermore, it was adapted from the Prussian school system, which was designed to further the power of the military. The school system was ultimately a perceived measure of improving society, but it sacrificed various civilizational values. It was an institution that was against efficient economic organization, strong familial relations, and individual growth and responsibility. Due to these values not being instilled in children, we have seen even worse social ills erupt.

Another example is Prohibition, which attempted to promote civilizational values such as temperance. To do so, the government sacrificed the social values of interpersonal trade and bonding over drinks. The result of this was a giant growth of black markets and an environment of alcohol consumption that was less inclined toward bonding. This era ended with civilizational values breaking down in a gang war between the state and various organized crime factions. In all of these circumstances, we can see how trying to use trade-offs for producing virtue results in adverse effects for both society and civilization.

Increasing this tendency is easy, but most people do not hate life and as such will not try to destroy these values. Most of this destruction is incidental and created out of incompetence. This leads us to the necessity of determining what increases production and how we can increase it. There are two methods for increasing the production of values. The first is improving the amount of productive social relations. It has been proven that people with productive social relationships are more successful, happier, and generally better off. This is integral towards creating civilization and maintaining a societal order. However, destructive social relationships have the exact opposite effect. One can improve social relationships by encouraging people to join organized religion or any other kind of virtuous community. No matter one’s religious views, religion has always been an effective way for people to find community and values.

The other possibility for improving a civilizational order is to increase the quality of the relations between people. The best way to do this is to remove all state influence. When every interaction has people looking down the barrel of an implicit gun, interactions will necessarily deteriorate. When people are allowed to peacefully interact without being restricted by force, those interactions will always have better outcomes in the long run. A spontaneous order is desirable if people are to enjoy a higher quality of life and a more consistent morality. Improving the human condition is dependent on whether or not people are restricted by aggressive force.

Leaving people free of state restriction also leaves them free to live for destruction, but this possibility is irrelevant. Most people have a far better understanding of how to live for production than the state does. Restrictions on people’s activities by a central agency with interests mainly in the proliferation of its own power will only tend to aid the state. Thus, it is vital to understand that the state is not a desirable source for preventing destructive behavior in individual people. Furthermore, we cannot only conceptualize society as that which does not bring profits. Organizations created for the purpose of profit are an integral part of society. If people have a greater freedom to seek profit without using aggressive violence, the generated wealth will greatly allow for producing that particular value.

The other side of the coin is that which is good for civilization. It is far easier to discover these values. To sustain a civilization, it is necessary to always value rationality above irrationality. Although rational judgment cannot solve all issues, it will allow for civilization to exist. Civilization will also need to value the concept of the individual; without doing so, envy alongside other ills will destroy that civilization. This does not require a worship of the individual, but rather the simple distinction between unique actions of unique people.

Occidental and Oriental Civilizations

To go farther, we need to find particular values that help civilizations prosper. This leads us to a rational conclusion of analyzing the values of the Far East and the Occident, as those two areas have created the most successful civilizations throughout history. The most counter-intuitive thing we can find from the Occident is the concept of a gynocentric patriarchy, a society in which the men traditionally have the ultimate power, but only as trustees. And although women cannot physically overpower men, the strong sense of honor has prevented men from tolerating harm against women. We can view this as a market trade between Western women and men. Men have the responsibility of protecting their women from all harm, and in exchange they can exercise the power necessary to do so.

This is reflected in the differences of mate choice between different cultures. The West is unique in that it is the only culture that has allowed women the ability to discriminate between mates, and this is necessary for the advancement of the genetic stock. When men are able to exercise mate choice, they will do so recklessly, as they have no consequence for it. We can see this play out with the massive amount of inbreeding in various patriarchal systems. Women have a far greater need for responsibility, as they suffer the entire ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth. Furthermore, women can have a limited amount of children while men can procreate endlessly. This leads women to more rationally appropriate the value of the ability to bear children, which is a scarce resource, to the best-suited men.

We can see that civilizations that deny this tend to have a greater proclivity towards in-breeding and dysgenics. The African and Islamic nations, which have the greatest degree of patriarchy while giving women the least autonomy, are more inbred, have lower IQ averages, and have barely accumulated sustainable wealth. The current prosperity of the Middle East was entirely created before the CIA-backed Islamist revival, and is only sustained by profiting off their vast abundance of natural resources. This can allow for a proper view of patriarchy. The concern is that female dominance would promote a form of polygamy in which the best men find themselves with the most women. But the nature of pair-bonding makes this concern fairly irrelevant; most people simply do not prefer to be in polygamous relationships. Furthermore, we can see improper patriarchies practice polygamy for the power-elite, which is incredibly dysgenic. State power is not allocated through rational means; rather, it is obtained by chance, demagoguery, or violence. This means that those who wield state power are not selected for good genetics, and practicing polygamy for a meritless group prevents those of actually good genetic stock from finding mates.

Another important value in the Far East and Occident is a general merchant culture. This may seem strange to the far-right, but the West and Far East have always had respect for the craft of trade. This is visible from guilds in the West to craftsmanship in the East. Furthermore, these are the only cultures that view the customer as the object of trade. In other nations, we see the seller being defined as the primary benefactor from trade where the customer only facilitates the profits of the one selling goods. This also lead the West to accept the industrial bourgeoisie, who were able to bring a healthy mode of free market production. This lasted until the 20th century, when the influence of the state defeated the instrumental power of relatively unhindered trade.

As for the religions of the West and the Far East, they tend to be quiet religions focused on cultivating virtue instead of trying to achieve concrete results. We can characterize this as a sort of trust in the metaphysical order, while other religions are concerned with manipulating it. This forms a sacral realism in which the consequences of reality are accepted to be imbued with will that leads to justice. The apex of this could be seen in the Christian view of Providence, where God looks over and maintains the entire order of the universe. Thus, each Christian can always resort to Providence and trust in reality itself. This is also reflected in the Shinto view of each object being imbued with a spirit. This is insofar as inactivity is not promoted under the auspice that all conflicts will eventually be righteously solved by God.

An additional value that allows the Occident to sustain its civilization is that of absolute honesty. Deceit is a fairly unique vice in the Western tradition. Many other cultures do not place moral significance to lying; we can see this from various experiments and from the fact that corruption is endemic to geographical regions. To understand the importance of honesty, we can take inspiration from propertarianism and its concept of testimonialism. Concisely put, testimonialism is the belief that we gain our knowledge from testimony; that is, we trust that other people represent reality correctly. This is an interesting exercise in epistemology, but even more interesting when practically applied. The Western notion of the militia has historically been able to unite the testimony of a large section of the male population in order to achieve the goals of that population. Another aspect of this is the fact that Western people respect the division of labor; they trust others to do honest work only from the testimony of the people who do that work.

Responsibility and Accountability

Responsibility itself is unknown in many cultures outside the Occident-Orient spectrum. Personal accountability is a fundamental requirement for a group of people to be able to produce any sort of society. Having responsibility as a fundamental value is also necessary to sustain a reproductive order. We can see what happens otherwise in African-American communities which struggle with single motherhood and the harmful effects thereof. This is not to say that this is a necessary part of the African-American culture, nor to dismiss the effect of the welfare state on responsibility. But promiscuity is not the only bad effect of a lack of responsibility.

To further analyze responsibility, we need to split it in two. First, there is individual responsibility. Each individual needs to internalize the costs of all of his actions; causing other people harm is unethical and rightfully scorned. When all costs are internalized, the social order is only met with the benefits of individual action and is always improving. Second, there is social responsibility. This is the responsibility a person feels towards his family, community, tribe, thede, and nation. Social responsibility aids in having each person work towards the betterment of his own environment and not only of himself. We can see this in the concept of respecting the environment, which is rarely a part of government policy in Africa, the Middle East, or Asia.

The concept of responsibility is also integrated with merchant culture. Since each person has their craft and their niche in the division of labor, each person can never get more out of the market than they put in without facing scorn. This creates the economic growth we see in Western and Eastern societies. Each person who gets more out of the marketplace than they put in is seen as a thief. This is reflected in law, as fraud is considered one of the worst nonviolent crimes people can commit, sometimes even judged more harshly than overt theft.

Conclusion

The fact that producerists aim to create the most production does not mean that those who are not producerists may want to create less life. However, as each non-producerist does not take life itself as the ultimate goal, they will always be less efficient in producing the values necessary for life. Lastly, it would be impossible to catalogue all values that create life in a single article. However, these values are truly endless, not in that any value can be a fundamental building block of civilization, but rather that everything that goes into building civilization is too complex to simplify to a limited number of values. The task of dissecting various cultures and analyzing values that help nations flourish is an immense and valuable field of research.

Against the Magna Carta

As some American eggheads say, there could not have been 1787 without 1215. The legacy of Philadelphia starts at Runnymede. Put more bluntly, the U.S. Constitution would not exist without the Magna Carta that was signed by King John of England.

America’s political culture, ideals, and most of its founding stock come from the British Isles. As such, arguing that American documents have an English lineage is entirely sensible. America’s Bill of Rights is based on and not much different from the Bill of Rights that English Protestants ratified in 1689 following the Glorious Revolution.

There a few documents in the world that receive such undue reverence as the Magna Carta. Conservative MP Daniel Hannan has called the signing of the document a “secular miracle”, the logic being that it was the Magna Carta that enshrined limited government in the English, then British soul. Hannan and others sincerely believe that the 1215 document is the root and origin of modern Anglo governance, with its protection of individual freedom, liberties, etc. Let us show that this is bunk.

Historical Context

The Magna Carta, which can be read in translation here, was signed by a king so loathed that no subsequent English monarch took his name. Although King John‘s story has been colored over the centuries by writers who hated him, it is true that John was a tyrant and a bumbler who lost most of the Angevin holdings in France to King Philip II of the House of Capet. Even worse, insofar as the Anglo-Norman barons of England were concerned, John was not the legitimate king because he ruled in the stead of the brave Richard the Lion-heart, who spent years languishing in an Austrian jail.

Beginning in 1215, the same year that John affixed his emblem to the Magna Carta, the Anglo-Norman barons of England’s north and east rose up in rebellion. Their main grievances were over John’s misrule in England and Normandy as well as his steep taxes that were raised in order to fight new campaigns in France. This rebellion would become known as the First Barons’ War, an unnecessary conflict that further weakened the monarchy in England.

The Magna Carta had already been signed by the time the war broke out, so it neither prevented the war nor ended it. In fact, haggling over the Magna Carta following its signing led both parties to be dissatisfied with the document, ultimately putting all on a war footing. The “secular miracle” was ineffectual insofar as internal English politics were concerned. The main reason for this is that King John had the document annulled not long after signing it by a decree from Pope Innocent III. The Pope and the King agreed that the document had been signed under coercion. The Pope even went further by excommunicating those barons who had forced John’s hand. Even in its own time, the Magna Carta meant nothing to either the English monarch or the barons who fought him.

The Document Itself

Those who claim that the Magna Carta is the origin of Anglo-American freedom often point to one line in particular:

“No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will we not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.”

This passage is often cited as the foundation of the notion that all governments should be held to the rule of law. This is a strange assertion, given that no English or British court case has been decided based on either this passage or the Magna Carta generally, and that the Romans had a legacy of protecting legal authority long prior. The Magna Carta is therefore of no legal importance. It is merely a symbolic gesture that signals the king’s willingness to compromise on his authority. When the English sovereign faced a much greater revolt in the 17th century, many Parliamentarians echoed the work of barrister Sir Edward Coke, who often invoked the Magna Carta during his injunctions against outlawry, unlawful arrests, and other formerly common practices of medieval (and Catholic) England.

Another criticism of the Magna Carta from the perspective of the Catholic or hard Protestant Right is the fact that the document makes God a mere observer in English affairs, not the creator and ultimate judge of all human actions:

“FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church’s elections – a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it – and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.”

This moment then could be seen as the first stirrings of a legally encoded separation of church and state (an idea that is un-Christian down to its vary marrow) even though, as said before, the Magna Carta is ultimately a useless document. More to the point, legal codices and other documents have shown to be poor restraints on the state. Formerly, a Pope could excommunicate kings (and even that was not always effective) because the Pope in Rome was seen as having power in both the secular and ethereal realms. Nowadays, thanks to the Enlightenment, rulers are only constrained by contracts that can be changed thanks to the democratic and chaotic process of voting. Amendments are poor substitutes for excommunication; thus these weak constraints have empowered bureaucrats and managers at the cost of weakening sovereigns.

Third, the Magna Carta’s constant talk of “freemen” is meant to only apply to those Anglo-Norman barons who stood so threateningly beside King John as this document was signed. As G. K. Chesterton famously quipped, “the poor object to being governed badly, while the rich object to being governed at all.” This pithy statement is certainly apt when viewing the situation in England in the early 13th century. After all, the raising of taxes is one of the few duties of a king, and from the perspective of the Angevin crown, John was raising taxes in order to defend those lands that were his by birthright in France.

King John’s taxes did constitute a threat to baronial privilege, however. For a legitimate monarch, taxes are rent charged to tenants by the private property owner. In the case of King John, he enacted import and export taxes and pseudo-income taxes, most of which were only applicable to England’s barons. Those barons who could not or would not pay their taxes or debts saw their lands given to the crown. While the barons were wrong to draft the Magna Carta, King John was equally wrong to enact unfair taxes that went against precedent.

While the Magna Carta does speak out against the illegal seizure of non-English land (“If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of land, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgment of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them”), it certainly does not articulate anything close to equal rights between the Celtic and Germanic subjects of the British Isles. Indeed, as discussed on Episode 77 of the Myth of the 20th Century podcast, the Magna Carta enshrined and justified the popular business of buying and selling English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh slaves to foreign and domestic markets. Similarly, the passage in the Magna Carta absolving Christians from debts to Jews (“If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.”) is really nothing less than an a way for debt-ridden nobles to cover their own hides after several failed crusades in the Holy Land.

It must also be mentioned that the “security clause” of the Magna Carta (Clause 61) does not offer up protection from unjust land theft, but rather tried to enshrine the rights of those twenty-five barons present at Runnymede:

“The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter. If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us – or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice – to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us. Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power.”

This clause gave the English public the right to forgo oaths of allegiance to the king, and in its opening passage (“SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons”) Clause 61 places man ahead of God in terms of the creation and structuring of civil society. Taken together, Clause 61 might be the most egregious in the Magna Carta for undermining the Christian nature of monarchy and the rights of the English sovereign. Historian Wilfred Warren argued in his book King John that Clause 61 made civil war inevitable in England because it so drastically upset the balance of power in the country in favor of the barons.

Other clauses, such as Clause 53 (“…when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a ‘fee’ held of us for knight’s service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person’s ‘fee’, in which the lord of the ‘fee’ claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters”) and Clause 55 (“All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgment of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace”) gave the barons the right to default on their debts and the right to refuse to pay certain fees. Many of these fees, including taxes on land, had been a part of English Common Law prior to the Norman Conquest. Clause 50 (“We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers”) lays bare the true nature of the Magna Carta—it was a document conjured up by aggrieved nobles looking for a way to increase their power against their rivals.

If the Magna Carta had been enacted in 1215, then England would have become a baronial oligarchy that could easily manipulate any sovereign. The Magna Carta would have also offset the possible dismantling of the Norman state back to its Anglo-Saxon origins (more on this later), for the barons would have seen the clear benefits of dominating both London and their estates in the country. Had the Magna Carta become law in 13th century England, it would have further centralized the English state at the cost of weakening the sovereign and legitimate monarch.

By the 17th century, the process of England’s pull away from the sovereign was completed by the Glorious Revolution. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 is one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the English-speaking peoples. Not only did it remove the legitimate heirs to the throne—the Catholic and Norman-Scot Stuart family—but it threw the British North American colonies into chaos. After all, the signing of a new English constitution suddenly rendered the American charters null and void. While the men and women of Massachusetts originally cheered the revolution and the destruction of the Dominion of New England, the revolution threw the legitimacy of colonial governments into question. The mother country responded by taking a more active approach in North American affairs, a result that quickly rubbed the New England and Virginia colonists the wrong way, eventually contributing to the American Revolution.

An Anglo Alternative

Again, it bears repeating that the original Magna Carta was never ratified or nor put into law. The reissued Magna Carta of 1217, for instance, added that all castles built during the First Barons’ War would be destroyed. Signed by King Henry III and sealed by the papal legate Guala, the 1217 document is also noteworthy for the fact that French Prince Louis resigned all claims to any land formerly held in England.

King Henry reissued the document eight years later in 1225. This version of the document, known as the Great Charter of 1225, became the definitive version of the Magna Carta. The purpose for its issuance was Henry’s desire to raise new taxes—the very same issue that got his predecessor, King John, in so much trouble. The Great Charter also removed any wording or suggestions that the original document had been written under coercion. This probably seemed pleasant to England’s barons, except that the 1225 document placed a tax on the fifteenth part of their movable property.

The final incarnation of the original Magna Carta occurred in 1258 with the Provisions of Oxford. This document, which was also signed by King Henry and saw promises of financial aid to the monarch from the barons, is actually considered the first true constitution in English history. After a military blunder in Sicily, Henry groveled before Parliament, which forced the king to agree to a 24-man royal commission which included at least twelve men handpicked by the barons themselves. The Provisions of Oxford officially made England’s barons part of the royal power structure, and for twelve years, Henry was under the control of a Council of Fifteen along with chief ministers, a Justiciar, and a Chancellor.

While the absolutism of the 17th century, which is itself a perversion of the kingly ideal based in early Enlightenment and Protestant thinking, caused the growth of sharp anti-monarchical feeling in the British Isles, it was the Magna Carta and its offspring that set in motion the weakening of the sovereign’s authority. Instead of one ruler constrained by God, natural law, and inherited privileges, 13th century England concocted a witch’s brew that reeked of proto-democratic oligarchy. King John and Henry III, because of their poor military adventures, relinquished their power to petty barons and the court mandarins in London. England, and indeed the entire West, have never fully recovered.

The Stuarts had an alternative to absolutism that was based in the ancient soil of England. According to historian and sociologist Spencer Heath, “heathen anarchism” was the state of affairs in England prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066. Now called “anarcho-feudalism”, this state of relations emphasized the Anglo-Saxon tradition of decentralized power, chieftains, and property. Take for instance the Anglo-Saxon custom of paying voluntary rent and/or customs to local lords. Prior to 1066 and the creation of the “Norman yoke”, Anglo-Saxon England did not have a centralized system of tax collection. Once taxation became official government policy, feudalism, which up until that point had been voluntary, became coercive. It was also the Norman Domesday Book which codified centralized authority, especially the authority that the king had over his nobles. It could be argued that had England retained Anglo-Saxon style governance, then the Magna Carta would never have been written.

Sadly, Norman rule in England brought about greater state centralization and coercion, and yet, the Magna Carta, which nominally tried to reign in King John and subsequent monarchs, only created greater synergy between the nobility and the monarch. The Magna Carta left unanswered the question: who has greater power, the nobles or the king? Such a vexing question would plague England for centuries and lead to yet another barons’ war. While the Anglo-Saxon system was far from fully voluntary (land tenure regulations and compulsive military service did exist), its more decentralized nature and the nature of tax collection in pre-Norman England was much closer to the spirit of liberty than either the Magna Carta or subsequent English laws written by either the monarch or Parliament.

Conclusion

The reverence given to the Magna Carta must be cast aside. The document meant nothing just weeks after it was written, and it means little now. Kings have a right to rule, so long as they rule in accordance with natural law. By restricting the king’s prerogative by instituting written constitutions, societies set themselves up for oligarchic exploitation. During the Second Barons’ War, Anglo-Norman knight Simon de Montfort captured London and the surrounding area. One of the first things he did was to create a parliament, subsequently known as Simon de Montfort’s Parliament. Because of this, Baron Montfort is often called the founder of the House of Commons, which means that this baron kick-started the engine that would decapitate King Charles I and dismantle any meaningful power invested in the English (later British) crown.

The Magna Carta was also invoked by the Protestant anarchists known as the Levellers during their resistance to both King Charles I and his Long Parliament. Ironically, when the Parliamentarian warlord Oliver Cromwell took power in London, he dispensed with the notion that he would abide by the 13th century document. Cromwell famously called the Magna Carta the “Magna Farta.”

Would one rather be ruled by a roster of barons or a single king? For libertarians and reactionaries, the answer is quite obvious. The Magna Carta was not some “secular miracle”; rather, it was a failed document that spawned other failed documents.

How Much Force is Best for Civilization?

The fundamental concern of libertarianism is the question of what constitutes the acceptable use of force. The primary objective of reactionaries is to correct bad decisions and undo the damage done by them in order to establish, secure, and advance a healthy and stable social order. Adherents of these political ideologies thus share an interest in determining the optimal level of force needed to maintain civilization. Finding the correct balance is the overarching question of proper statecraft as applied to domestic policy. Let us attempt to do this by defining scales of force usage, considering the role of a sovereign with regard to use of force, and examining their interrelationships.

Scales of Force

Let us construct scales to measure the amount of force used in a society. Like a Spinal Tap amplifier, these will go from zero to eleven, but unlike Nigel Tufnel’s explanation, the reasons for this unconventional range will make sense. There are three categories of force to consider: force used by government agents (official force), force used by private actors in accordance with the law (officially sanctioned force), and force used by private actors in violation of the law (criminalized force). In all real societies, the boundaries between these three categories are somewhat fluid. Laws and customs are changed over time, which alters the use of official force and the categorization of legal versus illegal uses of force by non-governmental actors. Even so, they rarely change quickly, and those exceptions will be handled in our definitions of the zeroes and elevens. Corruption of the governance structure also blurs the lines when official and/or sanctioned force does under color of law that which should be criminalized. Finally, it must be understood that the scales are qualitative and particular, not quantitative or universalizable. There is no constant value by which force must be added or multiplied to reach one number higher on the scale. The range of forces that a society can withstand depend on culture, genetics, and even the weather. Force that would be a five in North Korea may be an eleven in the United States; force that would be a six in winter may be a seven in summer.

The first scale is that of official violence, the force used by the governance structure of a society to punish criminal behavior and enforce social norms. If too little force is used, then acts of aggression against people and property will not be sufficiently deterred and criminals will run amok. If too much force is used, then officially sanctioned acts of aggression will tear the social fabric. A zero on this scale means that there is no officially sanctioned use of force. Because a governance structure must have some control over the use of force, sanctioning some uses and forbidding others, zero means that no such structure is present. This value is thus outside the realm of human civilization, describing instead a Hobbesian war of all against all in a primitive state of nature or a post-apocalyptic ruin. (A utopian civilization of angels in which no one uses aggressive force to get what one wants would also be at zero on this scale and the others, but let us deal with the world as it is.) An eleven on this scale describes a dystopian totalitarian state in which minor crimes are met with wildly disproportionate and brutal punishments, so much so that the civilian population decides to violently revolt because they reasonably believe that the state will murder them anyway. Stable civilizations occupy the one to ten range, with one being the minimal amount of force needed to maintain order and ten being the maximum amount of force that does not cause a collapse.

The second scale is that of officially sanctioned violence, the force used by private citizens to further the cause of civilization. If too little force is used, then both criminality and statism will grow. If too much force is used, then excess violence will destabilize the social order. A zero on this scale typically means that the governance structure has taken over all responsibility for the use of force by banning any private defense, which inevitably results in totalitarianism. It could also mean, as before, that there is no governance structure to allow or forbid anything. An eleven on this scale means that the governance structure has failed and that private citizens may use force as they see fit because no one sits in judgment. To permit anything is to yield sovereignty to whomever would take it, and thus eleven comes full circle back to zero in the latter sense. One represents a minimal legal right to self-defense, while ten represents the limit of private violence that a civilization can withstand. It is important to remember that legally sanctioned forms of mutual combat also belong on this scale.

The third scale is that of criminalized violence, the aggressive force used to harm people, steal wealth, and destroy property. An important aspect of statecraft is to keep this value small by both suppressing crime and defining it correctly. A zero on this scale typically means that crime has been improperly defined, as true zero is beyond the possibility of human nature. It could also mean, as before, that there is no governance structure to allow or forbid anything. An eleven on this scale means that the governance structure has failed and the criminal element is destroying civilization. One represents the realistic minimum of crime in a healthy society, while ten represents the maximum amount of crime that will not break the social order.

Note: A fourth 0–11 scale could be used to measure the force used outside of a society in terms of defending against external enemies and engaging in foreign interventionism, but the scope of this article is internal use of force only.

Turning the Knobs

So far, we have described the possibilities of existence, but a useful social theory must be not only descriptive, but prescriptive and proscriptive as well. Let us consider the relationships between each category of force and a ruler’s role in these relationships.

The master of a territory has differing abilities with respect to the three scales of force. His hands rest upon the knobs that adjust the scales. A sovereign, whether over a single hectare or a vast kingdom, decides the level of force that he and his agents will use to maintain the code of conduct that he considers appropriate in his lands, as well as the level of force that he deems prudent to let others use toward the same purpose. The effect on the first scale is direct; should he change his mind about the necessary level of force, he may escalate or abate. If his agents do not perform according to his wishes, he may fire them. The second and third scales can only be affected by a ruler indirectly in the form of setting limits on force used by citizens. With this power comes the responsibility to govern properly by keeping all three scales from going to zero or eleven.

We now turn to the goal of finding the optimal setting on each scale. Let us begin by reviewing the extreme settings we have already discussed. 0–0–0 is anarcho-primitivism before civilization develops or a post-human utopia. 0–11–11 is a street war between citizens and criminals that the governance structure cannot stop. If the criminals win that civil war, the result is 0–0–11, a failed state in which criminals do as they please and everyone else lives in fear without the means to stop them. If the citizens win that civil war, the result is 0–11–0, which can either result in the establishment of new governance structures, continued civil war along new factional divides, or both. 11–0–0 is a totalitarian state that goes too far and destroys civilization, thus leading to a situation which could be described as either 11–0–11, 11–11–0, or 11–11–11 as the citizens try to overthrow the state out of desperation. This is because the lines between citizen and criminal are blurred in a violent revolution against the established order.

With the extremes out of the way, let us turn to the force levels that society can withstand, one through ten on each scale. The third scale is the easiest for which to find the ideal setting; in a healthy society with proper behavioral norms, criminal uses of force should be mostly suppressed. That being said, having no crime to speak of can lull people into a false sense of security and make them wonder about the necessity of maintaining defenses, especially if no foreign enemies are present. This may lead to more crime in the long run than if a minimal amount had always occurred. Just as a person’s immune system can become weak if it never encounters pathogens, a society’s security apparatus can become weak if it never encounters any situation that is not a drill. Therefore, the ideal level of criminality may be between one and two rather than at zero. In other words, there should just enough crime (or attempted crime) to remind people that crime exists and must be countered, but no more.

In a healthy society, the first two levels work in a complementary fashion; a certain level of force is necessary to suppress crime, and this quota must be met by the combination of official force and legal extra-official force. Maintaining a proper balance between these two levels is the essence of successful statecraft, libertarian or otherwise. This is easy in the short-term but much more difficult in the long-term. As crime rates naturally crest and trough, the defensive use of force must adjust to meet the enemy, and therein lies peril. It is through incorrect adjustments here that societies become unhealthy, i.e. the governance structure becomes monopolistic and tyrannical, eventually causing the very problems that it is supposed to prevent.

Historical Systems

In traditional societies with weak central states, the second scale was mostly free to adjust to keep pace with the third scale, with the first scale aiding one or the other, depending on whether the local chieftain was just or unjust. This makes the force reading of traditional societies low–X–X with a derivative of stable–fluctuating–fluctuating, with X being a variable dependent on a multitude of environmental and sociological factors. This can be sustainable for long periods of time if no outside force conquers the society, and is only broken if the weak central state collapses or if an unusually powerful ruler is able to found an empire or nation-state.

In imperial systems, the state is stronger but still reliant on some private assistance to maintain order, hiring privateers and mercenary companies in war while using private firms to handle some aspects of security and administration. The force reading of empires tends toward medium–medium–X in the beginning, with a derivative of up–fluctuating–fluctuating. An empire can fall to foreign conquest, but it can also collapse internally when official violence goes off the scale or when private forces and/or rogue legions manage to sack the capital. The most frequent historical cause of this outcome has been famine, which lowers the amount of oppression that the masses will tolerate.

In modern nation-states, crime spikes tend to be met with an increase in official force and a restriction of private defense which moves moral behavior into the category of criminalized force. This combination is called anarcho-tyranny. When crime declines due to increases in private defense, credit is never given where it is due. Private contractors still exist but are primarily servants of the state, forming a powerful military-industrial complex. The force reading of modern nation-states is high–low–X with a derivative of up–down–fluctuating. This is unsustainable; when the first scale reaches eleven or the second scale reaches zero, the social order will collapse.

Erroneous Liberalism

The view frequently espoused by liberals is that the first level should be minimized, but not so much that the third level is uncontrolled. Views on the second level vary widely; classical liberals typically favor robust private force while progressives typically favor greater state control of arms. Marxists tend to agree with classical liberals for the wrong reason of using arms to inflict communism through a revolution of the proletariat. Charles Krauthammer articulates a standard liberal view of the first and third levels thus in an article about punishment and the maintenance of order:

“It is a mark of civilization to maintain order at the lowest possible level of official violence. One is not supposed to talk these days about higher and lower levels of civilization, but even political correctness would admit that the less a society has recourse to official violence the more civilized it is. We do not cut off the hands of thieves. We do not keelhaul miscreant sailors. We no longer have public floggings. Each abolition represents an advance of civilization. Abolition of the death penalty represents a further advance.”[1]

As is typical among liberals, Krauthammer confuses civilization with politeness and official violence with state violence. The purpose of official violence is to maintain order by punishing crime and enforcing the social norms of a community. The reactionary view recognizes and respects the role of regular brutality in conditioning people against revulsion toward necessary and productive uses of force. It puts aesthetic concerns over the occasional gore of such practices not out of mind, but in their proper place of subordination to the primary concern of maintaining civilization. Furthermore, routine application of force incentivizes the physical training necessary to apply it as well as the teaching of martial virtues like discipline, honor, loyalty, and restraint.

Krauthammer continues:

“If capital punishment could be demonstrated to deter murder, I might be persuaded to tolerate a few exemplary hangings to save many innocents. But there is no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters. Murder rates in states with the death penalty are just as high as in neighboring states without it. In states where the death penalty has been introduced, murder rates do not, on average, go down. And in states where the death penalty has been abolished, murder rates do not go up.”[1]

He presents a false dilemma between the neutered expression of capital punishment in modern America and complete abolition, ignoring both the deterrent effect of cruel and public punishments and the community-building exercise of working together to remove evildoers. This prevents him (and most other liberals) from recognizing the benefits of maintaining a level of force in society above the bare minimum.

Because the world is dominated by nation-states and currently has no examples of sovereign private property owners or traditional monarchs, the liberal assumes that these are past forms discarded in the Whiggish march of progress, never to return. Likewise, Whigs regard the present condition as the end of history, blinding them to possible future innovations, such as anarcho-capitalist private defense agencies. This intellectual and historical myopia, combined with the tendency of modern states to restrict all private uses of force, leads to the interchangeability of official violence and state violence in the liberal mind. This causes them to blur the first and second scales together into a particular sub-type of the former.

Interestingly, it is the ancient traditional societies that liberals disparage as backward and repressive that actually offer the best expression of the stated goals of liberalism. Government was limited because the populace could not economically afford for it not to be, individual liberty was imperfect but less restrained than under modern nation-states, and most people were equal in the sense that they lacked a political voice but could attempt an exit to build a new life out in the wilderness.

Bring Back the Duel

As stated in the definition of the second scale, mutual combat is included in it, and it will not do to neglect the role of dueling in shaping a civilization. To concern oneself only with overt criminality while overlooking its precursors is to hack away at the branches of evil without striking the roots. Criminal acts are frequently preceded by various insults and improprieties which escalate when left unchecked. Forms of honorable combat on equal terms governed by a code of dueling can resolve disputes privately without recourse to official violence, thereby lessening the demand for government. Dueling may also improve the governance structure; what government there is could be staffed through dueling tournaments in order to ensure that unfit officials do not stay in office for long and that all who succeed in attempting power have combat experience before administering a violent organization. The possibility that one must either risk one’s life and limb or acquire a reputation as a coward is a strong incentive against uncivil behavior. The trade of additional violence for reduced incivility has been rejected by liberals from the Enlightenment onward, and modern civilizations have paid the price in greater statism and other dishonorable conduct.

Conclusion

State power has a tendency to grow over time and crowd out private defense until government becomes too large to sustain itself or too onerous to tolerate. This trend must be suppressed in order to form a stable social order, and the only method for doing this is powerful private force that can suppress growth of the governance structure without daring to overthrow the structure to install itself in power. This means that the second scale must be set higher than the first, but not too much higher. The first scale should remain low in order to avoid totalitarian tyranny, but above the level of criminal force so that the governance structure is not overthrown.

We thus arrive at an ideal force range of A–(A+B)–C, where 2 ≤ A ≤ 4, 0 < B ≤ 1, and 1 ≤ C ≤ 2. Should C move outside this range, A must temporarily adjust to meet the threat, but it is most important that B not fall.

References:

  1. Krauthammer, Charles (1992, Apr. 24). “Without the Noose, Without the Gag”. Washington Post.