By Robert Wenzel
When I was first asked to participate here at the H.L. Mencken Club conference I was asked to speak on Libertarianism and the Right.
I wasn’t aware that this was a mere subtopic under the broader title Enemies of the Right. For I am a libertarian but come here as a friend of the right or at least the right that I believe is represented here at this conference. I consider us cousins.
Now before I get any further, I must define my terms. There are many people running around calling themselves libertarians these days that in my view are far from libertarian.
There are two men one by the name of Gary Johnson and the other by the name of William Weld that claim to be libertarians. One of these men, Bill Weld, who is the vice presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, this week essentially told libertarians to vote for Hillary Clinton. Go Figure.
There is a Silicon Valley billionaire who claims to be a libertarian and yet in a speech he delivered this past week in Washington D.C., he raised concerns about free market ideology.
I am not making this up. I quote:
“Voters are tired of hearing conservative politicians say that government never works.”
“[W]e cannot let free market ideology serve as an excuse for decline.”
There are those claiming to be libertarians who would like to slip in some cultural Marxists themes and general social justice themes into libertarianism
I hasten to add that on a personal level I have no problems with gays, those of other races and I have lived in urban centers most of my adult life. I like to interact with those different from me. That said, I do not believe that libertarianism provides any guidance on such matters.
Libertarianism is about the non-aggression principle and a foundational respect for private property. You should be allowed to do whatever you choose to do on your property, ban whomever you want and rent to him whomever you want and refrain from renting from to those you do not want to rent to or be free to not associate with anyone you don’t want to.
As the great libertarian Murray Rothbard put it:
Libertarianism...is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit, except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism...
Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles.
So in other words, if you hold particular views that do not violate the non-aggression principle and respect for private property, you are not going to get flack from libertarians, as libertarians, that you should somehow be coerced by the hand of government to change your views and actions.
To the degree the right incorporates certain cultural values in its worldview, you are not going to see libertarians siccing the government on the right to coerce members of the right to act differently.
Libertarianism is about leaving people alone. It is about total freedom with the exception of objection to physical aggression against person or property.
I understand the views of the right as reflected by those here today as being generally in favor of very limited government. This, of course, does not reflect all of the right. The neo-conservatives, for one, are quite happy with a large government that spreads its military might around the world.
So in a very important way the libertarians and the Right in this room, which Paul Gottfried calls the real right, are on the same road. We stand on this road virtually alone in desiring to shrink government and shrink it a lot, I am not talking about the phony shrinkage that so-called conservatives in Congress propose, what Gottfried calls Conservative Inc.
That libertarians and the real right are very close in our views can be seen even more clearly when we contrast libertarianism and the right versus the left. The left is fully about expanding the state and gaining power in the expanded state.
The action handbook of the left, Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals tells the left;
The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the have-nots to take it away.
And they have no qualms about using any method necessary to gain power. From Rules for Radicals again;
In war the end justifies almost any means.
And In action one does not always enjoy the luxury of a decision that is both with one’s individual conscience and the good of mankind... He who sacrifices the mass good for his personal conscience has a peculiar perception of “personal salvation’;he doesn’t care enough for people to be ‘corrupted’ for them”
It took me sometime to realize how different the current day left is from libertarians and the right. They are truly about gaining power and will say and do pretty much anything to gain it.
Vox Day was very accurate when he titled his book SJWs Always Lie.
This really hit me when I attended a World Affairs Council event in San Francisco some years back. I was sitting next to a woman who was a lefty and the discussion between us somehow turned to Paul Krugman. I said to her that in certain ways he doesn’t understand economics very well and at other times he just outright lies in his New York Times columns..
Her response to me was,”Well. it concerns me if there is something he doesn’t understand but I don’t mind if he lies in his columns.”
This is the Left we are dealing with. It is an end justifies the means Left, and they will say and do anything.
Hayek understood, way before Saul Alinsky put pen to paper to provide tactics to the Left, why this happens. Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom in 1944.
The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves "the good of the whole", because the"good of the whole" is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done. The raison d'etat, in which collectivist ethics has found its most explicit formulation, knows no other limit than that set by expediency-the suitability of the particular act for the end in view.
All this said, I see no need for the right here to buy into the no government philosophy of libertarianism. That is a proposition that libertarians need to advance on our own and we have a long way to go to get that advancement.
In my view, there is no Private Property Society magnum opus that is similar to the magnum opus that exists in economics in the form of Human Action by Ludwig von Mises.
Murray Rothbard did heroic work in advancing the concept of anarcho-capitalism but there is much further to go. The theory needs much more development and better descriptions of how a libertarian society could emerge.
I agree with Paul Gottfried when in his 2008 speech to this very group, he said:
It is one thing to deplore the modern welfare state as a vehicle of grotesque social change or for its violations of the U.S. Constitution. It is another matter to believe that all authority structures can be reduced to insurance companies formed to protect the property and lives of anarcho-capitalists. Such a belief goes counter to everything we know about human Nature..
The idea that insurance companies are the answer to a Private Property Society is a stretch to be gentle about it. It ignores, as Gottfried states, how societies develop. It indicates a failure to understand how businesses operate and most remarkably displays a failure to understand the nature of insurance.
I can assure you that no anarcho-capitalist society will ever emerge where you are going to have to show an insurance card to enter Macy’s as some have proposed
I have also heard libertarians suggest that insurance programs would emerge that would protect against a massive global nuclear war.
If there are any libertarians here in the room that support the insurance structure of an anarcho-capitalist society and want to buy insurance against a full out global nuclear war, I will write you the policies during the next break in the back of the room. Give me a check now and I will pay you damages after you and the world are blown to smithereens in a nuclear attack.
We libertarians have a lot of work before us to explain how our type of society would emerge and function.
That said, there is a great giant that must be stopped from growing and the growth must be reversed and that giant is the interventionist mentality that permeates every nook and cranny of this country and the world, including the education system, mainstream media and the masses who have been bombarded with interventionist propaganda.
Here libertarians and the real right can work together. We are far far outnumbered by those who want to see the state grow. There is no reason that we need to promote each other where differences do exist but there is no reason that we shouldn’t work together where we agree.
As an example, the monster cultural Marxism must be defeated. There is absolutely no reason that libertarians can not post on their blogs and websites and otherwise promote the video on the Frankfurt School created by real right thinker William Lind. If you haven’t seen this video I urge you to see it. In a conversation last night with Bill he tells me that there are some serious people who may have interest in promoting the video. This is the kind of work that needs to get out that promotes important understanding that both libertarians and the real right can agree on.
Whenever we can, we should promote each other’s views, where they do not conflict with our basic principles and that has to be at least 70% of the time. We are simply outgunned to such a vast degree that it is important that we support each other when we can.
Political correctness and interventionist views simply permeate now. A business acquaintance recently told me the story about a major Silicon Valley firm, I have been sworn to secrecy to not reveal the name. The CEO of the firm gave a company wide address via a video conference. After he completed his formal remarks, he opened the conference up to questions.
One employee asked about a future earnings report. The CEO talked about corporate earnings but was alleged to have made a microaggression so that he had to send an apology letter out about his comment on earnings!
I believe it is fair to say that the Cultural Marxists have captured the minds of the masses.
Paul Gottfried was correct when he said last night that The Left has been triumphant. They have gained control of the views toward culture and the nature of government.
BUT Not only is cultural Marxism and interventionist schemes in general a problem but we are being directly attacked and plotted against.
I have read about 15% of the Podesta emails released by Wikileaks. While it is noteworthy to see the cooperation between the Clinton campaign and the DOJ and mainstream news media, I found of perhaps greater significance the plotting Hillary people are already planning for a Clinton administration, as revealed in the leaked emails.
One email, in particular, concerning the formation of a secretive time Hillary group in the development stages. The group is the creation of Clinton economic adviser Heather Boushey who is sure to get a major position in a Clinton administration. From the memo on the nature of the group:
[A] standing, but informal, group to engage with and advise us on the policy and political conversations happening at the highest levels in Washington...It will consist of a small group (3-4 people) of permanent members and several others who are rotated in and out of participation depending on the subject of each particular meeting...
Equitable Growth [where Boushey is president] plans to host two meetings in 2016, and in 2017 will begin quarterly meetings of the group. The meetings will be held in Washington, DC, and Equitable Growth will provide dinner, and, when necessary, travel and accommodations for members and/or the expert academic.
The memo lists 8 potential topics, including the taxation of capital, another on inequality. One curiously enough on The Next Recession.
I am not sure if they are expecting a recession or plotting one but it is there on the agenda of potential topics.
But those of you here should find this agenda topic most interesting:
The Rise of Extremely Conservative Politics
They are talking about us, folk, and it is not to create a reach out effort.
It is clear that we will be under active attack in a Clinton administration. The niceties of the differences between libertarianism and the right are not going to matter.
We have to be on high alert for whatever they are plotting here and create a unified front against it.
I spent last week in Washington DC talking to DC insiders and was told that the dynamics are such that the horrific interventionist Elizabeth Warren will be a significant Senate player in a Hillary administration that she will pull Hillary more to the left than she already is.
If Donald Trump does lose, however, his campaign has done wonders in bulldozing the old cozy establishment Republican party. A great vacuum will be created that will have to be filled. It will be an opportunity for us to provide intellectual guidance as Trump followers and other rank and file Republicans look for direction.
Yesterday, I had a discussion with Prof. Stanley Payne and the conversation turned to the radical left of the 1960s that really didn’t have an intellectual foundation at its beginning. It was the Marxists of the Frankfurt School who opportunistically provided the foundation.
We can provide our own intellectual foundation, if Hillary wins, to those who will be anti-Hillary.
There will be many looking for sound arguments to justify their hate of Hillary. We can supply it.
If Trump is elected, given that he appears to not have any strong foundational philosophical thinking behind his views, the opportunity arises once again to provide intellectual guidance.
As best as I can gather, the insiders on Capitol Hill view Trump as being lazy. He is known as a non-reader and is unwilling to even read 2-page briefing papers. They hope, and this really is "their plan," that after being elected Trump will spend most of his time on golf courses so that business continues as usual on The Hill. He may focus on a couple of issues but for the most part they believe (hope) it will be business as usual.
Our role under this scenario would be to be the watchdogs against business as usual and be loud about it so that Trump gets wind of it or the masses object so that Trump can not ignore the objections. But our best attacks during a Trump administration will likely be in the area of political correctness. To the degree we can point to all the areas of influence where cultural Marxism resides, and how to eradicate it, the more influence we will have. Important influence.
Trump may not be able to articulate it in these terms but if he is elected it would be because he rode into office on a reactionary movement that includes reaction against cultural Marxism. We know how to deliver the intellectual heft to justify the destruction of that culture.
And although Trumps isn’t a reader, there are aides of his that are. He has some very bad neocons around him but there are others that I have a more positive view of. In fact, Bill Lind told me last night that the campaign reached out to him to get a copy of his book, The Next Conservatism.
We are in a unique period in history, we should not let it go to waste. We are small in number and in funding and in mainstream support but we are powerful in intellectual depth. We bring flamethrowers to a knife fight. We just need to watch one another’s backs.
We are a tough breed: Those of us that are pure libertarians and the real right represented by those in this room. All of us are sufficiently talented to find cushy jobs within the establishment. We are here because we put principle above it all. This makes us different from leftists and those in the right who can be bought off.
A time of turmoil, which is likely ahead, regardless of who gets elected, is a time when many look for new answers. We have those answers. In this sense, there is a great opportunity ahead.
But we will continue to be attacked viciously from multiple sides.
Cousins we are going to need to stick together to battle the attacks. It is going to be a great battle, an intellectual battle that offers the opportunity to turn the tide away from growing government, cultural Marxist infiltration and a general view that government intervention is somehow a must everywhere.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn.