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.

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.