June 11, 2014


By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel, Mitchell Thompson

I’ve admitted myself a paleo-libertarian previously.  The audacity!  I even dared to define what I meant by my terms, which is a remarkably rare thing these days.  Now, to be a libertarian is trendy among the politically interested youth.  I bite back at trendiness by defining my terms precisely and consistently.  More importantly, I have “Old Fashioned” (*gasp*) views on sex and religion. This makes me unenlightened in the judging eyes of the libertarian progressives.  Being anti-egalitarian, like being a worldview Calvinist, is a dreadful sin to the Enlightened Ones.

The pursuit of trendiness makes me roll my eyes. I’ve got Reactionary in my blood.

Among the largest subsets of the libertarian world are those who have more progressive views on society and culture.  Those who might be considered “paleo” or traditional in their social habits and preferences are dismissed by the socially progressive libertarians as “anti-libertarian in spirit.”  Aside from the horrifying misunderstanding of the nature and extent of libertarianism as a political philosophy, this dismissal hilariously contradicts their self-described aim to be all-inclusive, and nonjudgmental toward those with differences of opinion.  Like the progressive worldview at large, it is immediately apparent that the “open-minded” “libertarian” libertines despise traditional culture, the Christian religion, and natural authorities (such as parents).

And with that introduction, I have more secrets to tell.  Secrets beyond my admitting that I am a paleo-libertarian.  Let me explain.

When it comes to conservative sources like National Review, The American Enterprise Institute, and the like, it is obvious that they often blunder on political matters.  Simply because any deviation from the Non-Agression Principle on political matters is unlibertarian and thus disagreeable (to the libertarian).  This is tautological. Sources such as these, and many more, are pro-war, pro-empire, pro-fiat money, pro-economic interventionism, and pro-interference of private property rights on a whole number of issues.  Their politics and economics are often non-endorsable (this does not mean these sources cannot be right).  Sometimes they talk a good talk, but a quick inquiry for detail and elaboration reveal a variety of flaws and absurdities.

I am talking here about the categorically statist right.  The statist left is just as bad, though more obviously and transparently, on politics and economics.

However, unlike the statist leftists, many of the statist rightists are, in my backwards and unenlightened opinion, pretty good on issues of culture and society.  At least, they are far better than both statist leftists and socially progressivist “libertarians.”  That is to say, on the issues where politics and political economy are not involved, I generally like the conservative’s outlook.  This has some important implications.  For one, it reveals the difference between political theory and non-political aspects of life.  Not all of life is political, although the State seeks to intervene everywhere.  The proposition that “homosexuality is a sin” or even more controversial, that “homosexuality is bad for society,” are not propositions that are categorically political.  Said differently, no theory of the State is needed in order to either affirm of deny these propositions.

It so happens that the statist rightists mentioned above are more likely than the statist leftists and the progressivist “libertarians” to agree with statements like those mentioned.  The divide between statism and libertarianism is not the only divide in this world.  There are many non-political divides, contrary to the popular narrative pushed by the State-influenced media, who has incentive to give off the assumption that all of life is political.  For if all of life is political, then perhaps Benito Mussolini was right when he stated: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”  Non-political divides can include “believers vs. non-believers” and “traditional vs. progressive cultural preferences.”

Thus, the paleo-libertarian recognizes that statists can be right on non-political issues over against other libertarians who can be wrong on these issues.  It is because libertarianism is a “brutally” thin doctrine that we can say this.

Now, I should readily mention that no conservative is agreeable on any issue, even cultural ones, to the extent that he deviates from the Word of God.  Quite opposite from what we usually think, modern conservatives have trouble strictly adhering to the Bible.  Take, for instance, the trendy issue of homosexuality.  The number one argument we hear against homosexuality is that it may lead to cultural acceptance of pedophillia, polygamy, or beastiality.  Perhaps this is so. And we should oppose all these things.  But this should not be our argument.  Our argument is not that homosexuality is a slippery slope.  Our argument is that homosexuality in and of itself is an abomination.  Homosexuality is the sin to oppose for its own sake, not as a preventative against “worse” sins.  Conservatives seem to have forgotten this (how conservative are they –or, how Biblical are they)?

My secret was implied above: I tend to agree with conservatives –not progressivist libertarians — on matters of cultural and ethics and society; therefore, I read their articles and blogs on these topics.  I enjoy their lambasting of social liberalism, cultural marxism, and ethical progressivism.  And you know what?  This is completely acceptable for libertarians.  For libertarianism is a political philosophy that does not, because it cannot, condemn the social conservative for his outlook on culture.  It is by this division of social and political preferences that I can endorse various articles from sources that publish political and economic commentary that I disagree with on principle.

It is good to get this off my chest. I recently shared a National Review article on transgenderism and a libertarian reader informed me that National Review was not a politically libertarian site. Thank you, I know.

Let not the paleo-libertarian be bound by the same domineering mentality of “progressivism” that holds the Western World captive to imposed, approvable opinion.  I leave with the following endorsement: go listen to Tom Woods’ fantastic and encouraging discussion with Will Grigg on the “racism” issue.  It is one that will make progressive libertarians angry. Consider that incentive.

Written by Mitchell Thompson

I was born and raised in Northern California where I was homeschooled. I became a Protestant (Calvinistic) seven years ago. I was also, starting in 2006, a Buchananite conservative until I met Ron Paul during the 2008 elections. From then on I read everything I could from the Mises Institute and am now satisfied as a Rothbardian libertarian. I am slowly becoming a more confessional Reformed Baptist. Hoping to get more and more involved on this site. My Twitter handle is @MitchRThompson. Cheers.
  • David

    I didn’t read Will Grigg’s racism piece (I will), but one thing that I don’t get about racism is how its basically the unforgivable crime to progressives. And honestly, I think this sort of thing has infected me as well. I think I’m either more offended by racism as I should be, or I’m less offended by other stuff than I should be. Let me expound on this, and I’m curious what you think (anybody, but specifically C Jay Engel.)

    If somebody said that they supported the re-enslavement of black people, he’d rightfully be condemned by decent people. But what about when an elderly person (I haven’t noticed young people doing this often, though if they did my response would be the same) says that “everyone should have to do two years in the military” or something like that? He’s advocating enslaving the young, instead of black people, but other than the length of the enslavement, is this really any less morally reprehensible?

    Or if somebody says “You know, for some reason I really just prefer to associate with people of my own skin color” people would jump all over him (and I could understand why, after all, it is a distasteful view to have and certainly politically incorrect) but if you support the atomic bombing murder of hundreds of thousands of Japanese, that’s OK, and even to libertarians it might be just another political viewpoint that we tolerate. I mean, if someone says something like this in our homes, perhaps we should consider showing them the door, much like we might if someone says he prefers white skinned people? (I’m not saying this is the “right” or only response to this, just putting things in perspective.) Or, denying the historical truth of the Holocaust, which may not even be a racist position… I’ve seen people come to it based on skepticism of the government. (let me note here as I say this that I completely accept the Holocaust as real history) If you do that, its completely culturally unacceptable, even though all you’re actually doing is questioning what actually happened in history rather than advocating crime. But support the war in Iraq and that’s perfectly acceptable. Why?

    Do we make too big a deal out of racism, or do we not make a big enough deal about neoconservatism? Or both?

    • cjayengel

      Good thoughts David. You are certainly right that there is a complete lack of consistency in our response to evil. I agree with that. There is another dimension here at play: and that is the rise of what Paul Gottfried calls the “therapeutic State.” That is to say, there is a Dominant Social Theme at work in which there are a bunch of victimized groups that those of us “privileged” people (white males) ought to go out of our way to reconcile to society. In other words, there is a huge use of the “race” or “gender” card that is being played and pushed by the media. In that way, I think the racism issue is overblown.

      But on the other hand, Statist warfare is suspiciously under blown. No one is allowed to talk about it or question the narrative. It is ridiculous. So to answer your question: I think the answer is “both.”

      • David

        Thank you, that was an excellent response. I agree on both points. When somebody makes a racist joke(even if they know it was a joke) many people get offended, but if somebody says that the Iraq War was justified or that it was morally acceptable to nuke Japan because “the ends justify the means”, we just accept it as a different opinion.

        For what its worth, I still have a hard time fellowshipping with neocon/red-state “Christians”. I’m downright offended by it these days. I know some of them just don’t know any better, but I’m not sure how far that excuse goes.