The Left has for over a decade maintained that both tradcon and libertarianism are but gateway drugs to the “Alt Right”, which means some sinister form of Hitler-worshipping genocidal hatemongering. As much as the “race blind”, “Dems are the real racist” conservatives hate to admit it, there is some truth to this. Not the part where it all lands on “Nazis”, but the part where a lot of people are moving out of libertarianism into more explicitly right-wing, populist movements that include nationalism, protectionism and what the libertarians tend to call “social conservatism” (any desire to prevent social decay in the form of abortion, divorce, illegitimate children, sexual hedonism, homosexuality, sexualization of children, etc.).
If you listen to these guys, there is a common theme of harsh criticism leveled at libertarianism. What is interesting is that this is nothing new, even within libertarian circles, as it echoes the infighting of libertarians during the 90s. What, exactly, does “libertarianism” mean? To most people, it is a worship of capitalism (meaning, really, a worship of material wealth), a complete disregard for culture, family and society on a “live and let live” basis that no imposition of social norms on people can be just (in other words, people have a “right” to follow whatever social norms they wish), and a single-minded obsession with government to the point of becoming outright apologetic to corporatism, because “private corporations” have rights just as the individuals who form them.
Analyzing this philosophically, it can all essentially be boiled down to a single principle: “radical individualism”. Libertarianism is, for most people, an expression of a radical commitment to the self, to self-autonomy, to independent living, and to individual rights. Unwittingly or not, it holds up extreme atomization of people as a first principle. It is an aversion to “collectivism” or “groupthink”.
In other words, it is literally Satanic.
Devotion of the self is exactly what Satanism is. Living only for one’s own personal pleasure, particularly the type of worldly pleasure achievable by economic means, is to destroy one’s soul. Life becomes a meaningless drug bender, driven only by the next dopamine hit to feel good in the present, and for what? One day you will die, and will it all have been just to get off over and over for several decades? Is that all life is? Well, that’s what Satan wants you to think. If you aren’t Christian, you can strip the spiritual language out and still grasp it (however, in doing so you remove Evil-with-a-capital-E from the equation, and thereby neuter your ability to fully comprehend this). A drug addict lives an acute and accelerated form of this kind of existence. Chasing the dragon, trying to relive or outdo each high, for no reason except to feel good, turns you into a husk of your former self, physically rotting away in a gutter.
We all see this in the modern Left. In what is appearing to be a downright eerie repetition of the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Left is taking us deep into a hedonistic pleasure-seeking self-obsessed nightmare that starts with high divorce rates as the understanding of sex as the biological means of creating more life and families gets replaced with sex as a fun hobby. Then it fully deteriorates into some horror orgy of pedophilia and AIDS branded with a rainbow and “what’s wrong with two people (or maybe 15 all at the same time, hopefully not all over my nice living room furniture) loving each other?” All the other stuff about strip mining every successful entrepreneur, invading and conquering every wealthy white country to “share” it with the Third World, and socialist this and that to make everything “free” is an outgrowth of the same Satanic drive. In this mindset, what is wrong with murdering someone if you get his house (better yet if you get his wife and kids)? It’s all for your pleasure. A world where everyone thinks like this is literally Hell.
Satanism is, essentially, “a love affair with the self”. What modern Leftist could object to that?
The New Right is, essentially, a revolt against (indeed a counterrevolution to) this monstrosity. Why is a “new” Right needed? Because “conservatism” is not a revolt against this monstrosity at all. It may be sold that way, because that is really what the population wants (they want some kind of meaningful resistance to Satanic Leftist insanity), but conservatism is not about Christianity, protecting families, protecting traditional culture, or maintaining the integrity of nations (aka stopping immigration). Modern “conservatism” is really what is more specifically called “neo-conservatism”, which can be summed up as: obsession with capitalism as a means of maximizing GDP, tax cuts for ultra-wealthy ultra-connected state-sponsored corporate leaders, “free trade” agreements that supply multinational corporations with cheap labor, decimate intra-national industry and flood countries with immigrants, foreign wars that enrich arms-making corporations and corporate banks, and violently spreading the liberal democrat globalist world order to the rest of the planet until every last corner of the Earth is under the hegemony of the Wilsonian “Pax Americana. This is the age of “peace” that began when the U.S. stuck its nose into WWI and smashed the ancien regime into a million pieces.
This is all tied together with a neat bow called “muh Constitution”, which is really what conservatism cares about conserving.
You might object to all that and say, “that’s not what conservatives want, that’s just what the Republican party wants!” Yeah, exactly. Which party do these “conservatives” keep putting back in power? This is why, as the “Extreme Right” of today is fond of saying, conservatives couldn’t conserve the women’s bathroom.
Well a lot of that sounds familiar, no?
The mainstream idea of libertarianism is really this same concept taken to an even more extreme level. Obsession with material wealth via capitalism, low taxes, apologizing for corporations who are “just private companies” and supposedly living, breathing exemplifications of markets, “free trade”, and “open borders”. In fact, libertarianism just strips off the fake adherence to any semblance of traditional values and outright defends abortion, divorce and all forms of sexual hedonism as enshrined in “individual rights”. To suggest this is on the “opposite” side of the political spectrum to Leftism is hilarious. They are both Satanic devotions to self-worshiping hedonism in an open defiance of Western Christian culture.
Of course the New Right is going to figure this out and start addressing it. And yes, in this sense, the really “extreme” “Alt Right” is just a more fervent flavor of the same basic revulsion to the degeneracy of the Left (and often becomes a more extreme expression of the Right’s victim mentality, culminating in admiration of the 20th century’s ultimate victim: Hitler). The “mainstream” tradcons who care more about not being called names by the Left than they do about conserving anything are going to waste all their energy vehemently denying any relationship and swearing their milquetoast traditionalism is the “true” embodiment of the Left’s evil and nature-violating premises of egalitarianism and “tolerance”.
But where did this idea of libertarianism come from? It is certainly embodied by the actual so-called “libertarian” organizations of the world. But how did they adopt the name? Where did their ideas come from? This is an interesting question, because if you read the people who actually created the so-called “libertarian” movement in the U.S., you get a very mixed bag. On one hand you have Ayn Rand. She absolutely fits the bill of a self-worshipping hedonist who literally preached an ethic of selfishness.
On the other hand you have Murray Rothbard, who not only spawned the explicitly pro-traditionalist paleolibertarian movement of the ’90s and led the attack on the proto-SJW libertarians of that era (the ones who eventually turned libertarianism into “weed, sex, abortion and open borders”). He also gave us Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Hoppe specifically labeled the democratic era as one of social decay and specifically named abortion, divorce, even multiculturalism, as metrics of social decay. He even flat-out enshrined the right of pro-family covenants to kick out anyone who even preaches subversive ideas, let alone lives them out, which resulted in him being what may be the earliest instance of an SJW mob takedown attempt.
How is that “libertarian”? Because it’s not done with the state. It’s done by recognition of property rights, because Hoppe envisioned a world where people actually own their communities. This is why Hoppe supported closed borders. In this world, borders are not arbitrary lines drawn by the state, they are the physical lines drawn by the act of homesteading property, and they can be joined together by many property owners to form communities, based on communal ownership. Enforcing border security is, correctly understood, the most basic form of private property rights. Private property is defined by borders and exclusion.
But then how did two such diametrically opposed concepts both acquire the same name? On a superficial level, particularly from the perspective of Leftists, these two philosophies appear similar. They are both “anti-state”. They are both anti-socialist and anti-communist. Perhaps more profoundly, they both reject the Leftist principle (what we may consider to the raison d’être of the Left) of egalitarianism, but in different ways. The Randian and mainstream “libertarian” rejection of egalitarianism is a purely economic one, concerned only with peoples’ material wealth. They abhor any attempt to make everyone economically equal as a destruction of the hierarchical economic order that places the most capable at the top, which is necessary to have the economy actually be efficient and grow.
Rothbard’s objection to egalitarianism was much more foundational. While he understood the economic destruction that redistribution of wealth would cause, for him this is a mere side effect (albeit an expected one). Egalitarianism is a revolt against nature itself. Nature is full of hierarchies and void of equity. Economic egalitarianism is just a specific example of this, and all other forms of egalitarianism are as destructive as one would expect any revolt against nature (ala jumping off a cliff in revolt against gravity) would be.
This is interesting because Rothbard’s objection to the flattening of hierarchies, including economic hierarchies, comes from a philosophical position based on accepting an intrinsic order to reality. Rothbard was building off the old Scholastic tradition, all the way from Aristotle through St. Aquinas, which understood philosophy as the study of natural order that exists because of God. Rothbard, who was born to a Jewish family, never really talked about his own personal religious beliefs and tended to take refuge in agnosticism, but he was obviously sympathetic to the Christian worldview, as so much of his philosophy was built upon it.
Rand, on the other hand, was a fervent atheist and appeared to have no working knowledge of Medieval philosophy. For her, no appeal to natural order carried the same weight. Instead, and I think this is related to the fact Rand was a woman (sorry not sorry), her principles seemed to be rooted in aesthetic principles (or as the snarky Far Right would say, “muh feels”) instead of logical principles. This only underlines the irony that Rand called her philosophy “objectivism” and saw it as a complete expulsion of all “subjectivism” (what it ended up being was elevating subjective feelings about objective reality to the status of objective facts).
Why is flattening economic hierarchies bad according to Rand? Because they destroy our ability to be ourselves, to be individuals. This is what Atlas Shrugged is really about. The great leaders of industry were shackled with the burden of society’s revolt against economic hierarchies, and they disappeared because of the individual suffering it caused them. This all follows from a Randian (really Satanic) commandment to “be selfish”. Of course there is all the logical analysis about how selfishness drives economic activity, which enriches everyone, so it’s actually mutually beneficial. But so what? If, as Randians say, selfishness is a virtue, doesn’t appealing to mutual benefit, if anything, hurt the cause? On a deeper level, this is a circular argument because that extra economic activity primarily just allows more hedonism from everyone else.
It’s important to distinguish between the argument for rational self-interest made by Mises and other economists, and the ethic of selfishness preached by Rand. The economists point to a technical feature of markets to “tame” greed, in a sense, by morphing it into altruism. Whether you believe this or not, you must recognize that this argument appeals to an ethic of altruism. If it didn’t, the expected response to, “markets promote altruism” would be, “so what?” The economists assume altruism is a good thing, so then the tendency of markets to promote altruism makes markets a good thing. But Rand specifically argued that selfishness is good. She was not justifying selfishness on the grounds that it may end up being mutually beneficial. She defined selfishness to be just. The goodness of anything else, including markets, follows from the goodness of selfishness.
Rothbard admired Rand’s work and, both living in New York City, he began attending her social gatherings. The ensuing fallout was epic, going all the way from Rand’s followers trying to get Rothbard fired from his job by accusing him of plagiarism (wait, maybe this was the first SJW hit job!), to Rothbard pegging Objectivists as a cult and even writing a play to mock them. For Rothbard the straw that broke the camel’s back was that the Objectivists had a hard fast rule that everyone in their club, and everyone they associate with, must be atheist and renounce any belief in “mysticism”. Rothbard’s own agnosticm was annoying enough, but it was his wife’s devout Catholicism that could not be tolerated. They instructed Rothbard to divorce his wife or be expelled from Objectivism and never permitted to associate with Rand again.
Guess which one he picked.
What ultimately caused the schism between the two thought leaders of libertarianism was… God. And here we are, half a century later, seeing one of those leaders’ movement grow into a literal embodiment of Satanism, and the other’s grew into what I believe is solely carrying the torch of Medieval Scholastic philosophy; a philosophy that frames knowledge and science as a study of God and His natural order.
The lines are there but have gotten muddled in the movements. Rothbard’s influence echoes throughout mainstream libertarianism, despite their attempts to cleanse themselves of him, and Rand’s influence has created a flavor of anarcho-capitalists who see anti-statism as just a specific example of anti-religion. They inherited from atheists the belief their whole worldview is the canonical embodiment of “reason”. They are unfamiliar enough with philosophy to coin the term “rationalism” as meaning “a devotion to reason”, not realizing it had already been coined as meaning a belief that reason takes preference to empirical evidence. Most modern atheists, Rand included, strongly reject this, and are actually staunch “empiricists”. Before having what is, for all intents and purpose, his Come to Jesus moment, Stefan Molyneux was a leading example of this kind of atheistic-Randian but also heavily Rothbardian, ancap mutant. The Rothbardian influence is probably what eventually saved him.
The “gateway to the Alt Right” stuff happens because mainstream libertarianism, most likely by accident, exposes people to Rothbard and Hoppe (if not their work, work directly inspired by theirs), which is their first taste of a forgotten philosophical tradition. It is the one that predates the Enlightenment; the one the Enlightenment sought to tear down. Where did “left vs. right” come from in politics? The answer is the French Revolution. The Right Wing were the literal “conservatives”, seeking to conserve the institutions of the crown, the aristocracy, and the church. The Left Wing were the revolutionaries, who believed in egalitarianism and democracy. It is complicated how the idea of “free markets”, meaning an opposition to mercantilism and its tariff policies, fits into this. At the time, the dominant alignment was free markets with the Left. A lot of the confusion going on now is about the fact this shifted, starting with Wilson and the “progressives”, and completing under FDR in the United States. After WWII the stage was reset with radical socialist/communists on the “Left” and free market capitalists on the “Right”. This really isn’t surprising. The first time the Left gained political power was the French Revolution, and that was the same communist authoritarian shitshow that happened when they took over Russia a century later.
And it was after WWI when the actual Right Wing disappeared off the stage. The Enlightenment had won, the old order fully expunged both in the arena of ideas and also in the actual world. WWI saw the destruction of the old monarchies to be replaced with Enlightenment-conceived democracies. In retrospect, we can take the fact that Karl Marx saw himself as a Ricardian free market economist and frame this as the evolution of Leftist politics. They eventually realized that it was not capitalism to which they were devoted, but democracy, and it took them about a century to realize that democracy and capitalism are not (as previously thought) compatible but totally incompatible (Marx’s evolutionary theory of societies is really about how this “class conflict” plays out over time). So then in the early-mid 20th century we had this odd era of mutant Left-Right political figures. One is Ludwig von Mises, who wrote the book on “Liberalism” at the time, but was championing free market capitalism. He was also quite blue-blooded, a member of an elite aristocratic family in pre-WWI Austria, and was a nationalist in the true sense of the word (where “nation” means a people).
A few decades after the true Right Wing (who wanted to preserve the church, crown and aristocracy) was forced off the stage, it reappeared as fringe underground movements. The most notable, and most intellectually well-developed by far, is the one of Mises’ student Rothbard, with the bizarre twist that he was an anarchist but saw the state as the destroyer of natural hierarchies like a nobility. Hoppe eventually wrote an entire book whose thesis is, “the Enlightenment was a disaster, we’d have been better off without it”. How strange it is that Mises, who has been called the “Last Knight of Liberalism” (the last “classical liberal”), spawned such a thing. Other offshoots, including the paleoconservative movement of Pat Buchanan, have popped up since, with the latest one being the emergence of the “Alt Right” (and no, I’m not talking about Richard Spencer). Trump is the first appearance, at least symbolically, of this resurgence on the national political stage, which quickly became just the initial splash of a global wave of truly counterrevolutionary political movements (including Brazil, Britain and Poland).
What people mean when they say libertarianism and conservativism are “gateways” to the “Alt Right” is summed up by pointing out “Alt Right” is a misnomer. The so-called “Alt Right” are the true Right. Libertarianism is where the Right’s head first popped out from under the water, starting with the recognition that “liberal democracies” are authoritarian dictatorships. Conservatism is the fake controlled form of the Right, making flimsy appeals to Christianity and the family order but really being fully pro-Enlightenment “muh Constitution”. Still, simply appealing to these true Right concepts gives people a little taste of them. This is why these things are all related. The Left is correctly identifying that through any of these conduits there is a path of rehabilitation from Leftist brainwashing about egalitarianism. I remember mine quite clearly. It was reading Hoppe write, “blacks commit more crimes than whites”. A fact no different than saying the sky is blue, and I saw myself react to it like the little SJW I was raised to be. But then I thought, “what am I doing? He’s just pointing out crime statistics to help explain sociological trends”. That was my first, but certainly not last, red pill. What’s amazing is I remember specifically thinking, “oh no, what if my friends find out I’m reading this?” We all know that’s how the Left preserves itself.
Okay, so after that brief history of the complexities underlying the umbrella term “libertarianism”, how do we answer the question of individualism? Obviously I will answer this from within the framework of Rothbardian-Hoppean traditionalism, not Randian mainstream libertarianism. The answer is simple, and it is contained within the principles of libertarian ethics. Libertarian ethics begins with the inalienable rights of the individual. But it does not end there. If individuals have inalienable rights that include the right to homestead property and trade, then they have the right to form communities. To deny the right of communities to form and pursue collective self-determination is a violation of the individual rights of the members of that community.
Libertarian ethics claims it should be legal (not that it is moral) to live as an isolated individual, so long as you do so without violating the rights of others. But it does not require or even encourage anyone to live like this. If it did, it would be an even more profound revolt against nature than egalitarianism, because humans do not live like that. Even “loners” don’t literally go off into the woods and build a one-man self-sustaining castle. Humans are social creatures and everything about our lives is tied to the societies in which we live. Any political philosophy that either ignores, or God forbid actively opposes, human societies as structures made up of many individuals is worse than useless. And I think that’s a fair criticism of Randian libertarianism. They may not oppose societies, but their political philosophy has nothing to say about them, except that the only just societies are those that don’t infringe on the individual’s right to be an individual. This may be true, but if that’s all you have to say about society, then your political philosophy is useless at best.
Rather, libertarianism enshrines the right to self-determination of a society, be it a family, a tribe, a nation, a race, an ideological community, or any other type of society, as an outgrowth of the right to self-determination of each of that society’s individuals. The real novelty here as opposed to other political philosophies is that membership in a society should be voluntary. One should never be forced against one’s will to join a society. But this also means that because societies have rights no less important than the rights of individuals (from which those societal rights ultimately derive), individuals (whether they’re isolated or members of some society) may not infringe on the rights of societies.
This is the relevant and pertinent point that well-formed libertarianism, which may be better called voluntarism, brings to the table of contemporary political discourse. Societal rights are far more relevant than the rights of isolated individuals, who don’t actually exist. Does the society of America have the right to decide who gets to enter the country? Yes. Does the society of America have the right to decide on an official language and conduct official business exclusively in that language? Yes. Does the society of America have the right to decide upon and enforce their cultural values, including their stance on families, open homosexuality, sexual hedonism, illegitimate children, and abortion? Yes. Does the society of America have the right to decide that it is a Christian society and that other religions and atheism are not to be openly tolerated? Yes.
More importantly, the protection of individual property rights is for no real purpose beside to protect the family order. The family order is the natural order and thus has an inherent advantage to unnatural orders. Advocates of unnatural order must violate the property rights of others in order to prolong the eventual collapse of those orders. Libertarians might say, “as a libertarian I simply think it should be legal to discriminate in favor of anything, be it nuclear families, polygamous hippie communes, homosexuals, or anything else”, they miss the point. Genuinely protecting property rights, especially societal/communal property rights, will only serve the natural order of nuclear families, and undermine all other orders. This specifically is a subject too deep to explore any further here.
Who am I arguing with when I say this? Mostly libertarians and MLK-quoting tradcons, although obviously Leftists would object on pseudo-libertarian ground about their “rights” to subvert the social order in which they live. The first step is to get that nonsense off the table, and the way to do so is with the voluntarist principle: you cannot subvert the social order in which you live, nor can any social order compel you to live within it. Most of the objections based on “individual rights” evaporate once you lay down as a principle: you are always free to leave the social order in which you find yourself and either become an isolated individual or join with another society. Of course most people implicitly agree with this and you hear it in the form of, “if you don’t like it, you can get out!” (to be read in thick Redneck accent). But today that’s bullshit. You couldn’t go live in the woods on your own and not be forced to pay property taxes. Expatriating requires handing over about half your stuff to Uncle Sam. If we first actually respect the right of anyone to leave the social order, then we can dispense with these arguments that people have a “right” to stick around and try to screw up a social order, which correctly understood is a violation of the rights of everyone else in that society, namely the right to form and maintain societies.
There is much more to say on this, but the point here is to lay to rest once and for all the absurd “libertarian” argument that societies have no rights in competition with the rights of individuals. Those societies are made up of individuals too. Libertarianism is not about this mythical “isolated individual”, this badass cowboy who doesn’t depend on anyone for anything, that doesn’t actually exist. This includes the “intellectual cowboy” who’s an “independent thinker” despite thinking in a language spoken by millions of people, and agreeing with ideas created, shared and expanded upon by countless other people. This is not what libertarianism is about, lest it be pointless navel gazing about an absurd fiction where any human is, in isolation, anything more than completely helpless and doomed to immediate death. Libertarianism is about the rights of a society to preserve its heritage, its culture, its religion, its homeland, and yes its demographics, against conquest of any of those things by a foreign imperialist.