Libertarianism in Charlton and Moldbug

Bruce Charlton has a traditionalist Christian blog. Here he questions libertarianism, and why it is bad. From a mainstream conservative standpoint, libertarianism is good. Mainstream conservatism in America is mostly libertarianism. Freedom is good! Freedom is the best! So what could the problem be?

Charlton makes the simple point that libertarian policy breaks down social order. To a conservative libertarian, this is good, because it gives people space in which to make their own choices and organize their own non-coercive institutions. But Charlton points out that this does not occur, but rather in the ensuing social breakdown and chaos leftists move in with even more coercive control and institutions. And that is the actual social history of libertarian policy.

Moldbug took this idea even farther, saying that this breakdown, and subsequent leftist control, was the whole idea in the first place. In his thinking libertarianism was a leftist idea, and he says someplace, I can’t find exactly where, that as soon as leftists got what they wanted, in the late 1800’s using libertarian ideas they stopped being libertarians and started being statists.

I’m not sure it works exactly that way; leftists have introduced one kind of freedom, for one kind of people, which was indeed a freedom, then took away other freedoms in the name of defending that freedom. Blacks got more freedom, which led to heavy control of whites; same thing with gays. Freedom for a small number leads to loss of freedom for many more.


About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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9 Responses to Libertarianism in Charlton and Moldbug

  1. Mainstream libertarianism today is a way of advocating one kind of freedom (namely, freedom from the government) for white people. Conservative whites want to limit the government’s power, as they (rightly) consider it to be against their interests and for the interests of the dusky hordes and leftist masters. However, since the ultimate sin in this country is to be a racist, they must couch it in terms of appeals to the founding principles, the Constitution, freedom, etc. It isn’t so much that a federal mandate to buy health insurance in and of itself is a galling overreach of government power and a violation of the Constitution, but rather that a guy named Barack Obama with a dubious pedigree and peculiar baggage and associations (Bill Ayers, anyone?) is pushing for it.

  2. joetexx says:

    This is one of the things which kept me reading Moldbug, prolix as the gentleman is.  He works in the idea in a number of posts – e one you are thinking of might be:

    “While the continuity between John Stuart Mill and Barack Obama may not be obvious – considering as their preferred policies are almost opposite – it is there. They are part of the same great movement, which it is perfectly fair to describe as “liberal,” a word which both gentlemen would have used to describe themselves.

    The policies changed. But the movement is one. 19th-century Radicalism and 20th-century progressivism are unified by a single force: the collective quest for power.

    19th-century Radicals favored libertarian policies because they faced an ancien regime which still, to some extent, existed. This was the old regime of Throne and Altar, of mercantilism, Anglicanism and Anglo-Catholicism, imperialism and colonialism – in a word, Toryism.

    When Toryism was a reality rather than a bugaboo, liberals could only seek power by destroying it. Thus they sought to cut off its air supply, destroying its sources of profit: protectionism, venal offices, chartered companies, and so forth. They favored rigorous economies of government, and other such ideals quite foreign to the modern liberal.

    As they gained power through these aggressive measures, the liberals entered government itself. Thus their interests naturally shifted, toward enlarging and empowering the State. A State that had become “us,” rather than “them.” And thus, the Left went from libertarian to statist.

    Thus when we look at policies, which as good democrats we should, we see a discontinuity. But when we look at power structures, which as good reactionaries we must, we see a continuity.

    The key is to remember that the Left, at all times, is an adaptive phenomenon. If it were a conspiracy (organized by – the Jews) it would not be Left, but Right. Right is organized; Left is distributed.

    The Left is the alliance of all those who seek power through the mind – intellectuals, basically. The Right is the factious and impotent collection of all those who seek to resist the Left, by any means – corruption, or violence, or propaganda, or (seldom, very seldom) the truth and nothing but the truth.

    Thus, there was no one in 1900 who said “okay, guys, enough with the libertarianism, our work there is done. Now let’s bring on the statism.” At all times, the Darwinian dynamic of the Left has favored those ideas which brought their thinkers power.

    In the 19th century (and before), that power was the power to destroy the ancien regime. Victory in this task naturally brought authority to the destroyers, who established a regime of their own. The ideas of power then became expansive ones, and liberalism pulled its 180.”

    • Yeah, that’s it, thanks.

    • jamesd127 says:

      Minor correction. Imperialism was left, colonialism was right. The colonialists were a bunch of pirates and brigands who made the transition from roaming brigand to stationary brigand, and generally ruled better and less oppressively than the native stationary brigands. The imperialists were located in London, not the colonies, and sought to cut the colonialists off at the knees, since the colonialists tended to get rich outside the established London power structure.

      The Imperialists piously sought to bring good government to the unenlightened natives, much as the US is now doing in Afghanistan, and generally brought bad and unpopular government, prefiguring Zimbabwe and the current Afghan chaos. Decolonization and anticolonialism is what you got when imperialism failed disastrously, and the fans of imperialism decided to double down on everything that they had been doing wrong.

      Similarly, Victorian puritanism was left wing – of course it was, the puritans were the original anglosphere left. Victorian puritanism was part of dismantling patriarchy. The patriarchs argued, much as Roissy does today, that women were sexual animals, and their uncontrollable sexual impulses would destroy the family and and society, unless men had charge of them. The argument that women were naturally pure, chaste, did not much like sex, and were oppressed by the lusts of vile lecherous men was the argument that those dismantling patriarchy made, which argument continues in the form of ever more one sided rules for trying rape cases, ever more expansive definitions of rape, and ever more severe sexual harassment laws.

      • Interesting you should say that. I have written a lot about Victorianism here. Guys correctly attribute a lot of crap from women to feminism, but they think feminism is a 60’s thing, when it goes back at least 100 years before that.

  3. Mr Racist says:

    Imagine a society that refuses to dumb down and feed the lazy. Instead we willing provide the sub species in out country with enough monetary assistance to pursue mindless lust for trinkets and trends. I am a libertarian. With any luck, from the ashes of America will arise a true capitalist libertarian nation.

  4. unger says:

    Moldbug’s critique is worth a lengthier consideration, and is even, aside from a few niggles, correct within the confines of an atheistic worldview (which he holds), but Charlton’s is insipid. Stripped of its excess verbiage, it amounts to this: people said libertarian things on the campaign trail, and even implemented a few proposals, but then turned around and behaved worse than those they replaced; therefore libertarianism is wrong.

    With rightists like Charlton, who needs leftards?

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