January 2008 - Posts


There has been a lot of hooting and hollering lately in libertarian circles, particularly as it relates to the Ron Paul campaign. This seems to be representative of a broader conflict between "culturally left" and "culturally conservative" libertarians. It is becoming commonplace for critics and opponents of Ron Paul, as well as people who are simply neutral to him, to be labeled "CosmoBeltwayCentralistTarians". It is important to note that this is a cluster-concept or a package deal term. It lumps multiple distict ideas together into one: cosmopolitanism, association with the beltway and support for centralization. But it is disingenous to imply that all of these things inherently imply the other. It is even more disingenous to imply that libertarian critics and opponents of Ron Paul inherently must be on the pro-war bandwagon. Lumping pro-war, cosmopolitanism, centralization, association with and criticism and opposition to Ron Paul together into one package deal is simply unfair. Especially as it relates to anarchist and anti-voting critics who see the Ron Paul crowd as being the true "beltway libertarians".

What exactly is cosmopolitanism anyways? Philosophical cosmopolitans are moral universalists: they believe that all humans, and not merely compatriots or fellow-citizens, come under the same moral standards. The boundaries between nations, states, cultures or societies are therefore morally irrelevant. Based on this understanding of cosmopolitanism, how can any libertarian possibly object to it? Is libertarianism not based on the non-aggression principle, and does the non-aggression principle not apply consistantly to all human beings? If the non-aggression principle is only applied to certain nations or other such groups of human beings, then it no longer is being consistantly applied. Cosmopolitanism can be seen as a logical extension of individualism in that moral standards apply to individual human beings, not exclusively to group-identities.

Some would have us believe that cosmopolitanism (and the opposition to nationalism and political borders that comes along with it) inherently implies support for global government, but this is not necessarily the case. It is true that some cosmopolitans may come to the conclusion that there needs to be a global government, but under logical examination their conclusion is actually inconsistant with cosmopolitanism because a global government will be run by an exclusive and small group of individuals who are not held to the same moral standards as everyone else. Even a global government would lack universal application of moral principles. No, the logical conclusion of cosmopolitanism is not global government, but the exact opposite: no government. To the philosophical anarchist, governments are illegitimate in part precisely because they represent an inconsistant application of morality. Along with reasons having to do with the problem of territorial monopoly, the anarchist may very well oppose political borders because they represent artificial divisions that allow moral inconsistancy.

On the question of centralization and decentralization, it is often implied that left-leaning libertarians and libertarian opponents of Ron Paul object to decentralization and favor federal dictation when it comes to certain issues. But this is also fallacious. Take the issue of abortion for example. Sometimes pro-choice libertarians are accused of supporting the idea that the federal government should essentially mandate abortion everywhere, and therefore favor centralization. But at least for this pro-choice libertarian's perspective, that's not exactly how it works. Once again, we are trying to consistantly apply principles. Many pro-choice libertarians would not support a federal ban or federal subsidization of abortion. But the point is that the same principle should apply to the states and localities. If it is true that the state has no legitimate authority to decide on the issue in either direction, then in principle no level of government may outlaw or subsidize abortion. Principles must apply consistantly.

It is of course true that a state's rights approach to the issue would be preferable to a federal approach, but a state's rights approach is still not entirely consistant. In short, from the fact that centralization at the federal level is potentially much worse then state's rights, it does not follow that states or localities may legitimately have carte blanch to do just about everything that the federal level is prohibited from doing. Decentralization, taken to its logical conclusion, leads to individual sovereignty. State's rights is actually a rather moderate form of decentralization. At least from an anarchist libertarian perspective, states of any sort don't have any rights. Individuals do. So the point is: go ahead and leave such issues to the states, but don't just stop there. Keep pushing for consistancy. Keep pushing for more and more decentralization. Don't just transfer governmental powers to the state or local levels and then suddenly fully support those powers.

Another disingenous set of claims is that "left-libertarians" and libertarian opponents of Ron Paul are erroneously defining libertarianism as a lifestyle, making it seem as if libertarianism requires one to personally support alternative lifestyles and "culturally left" causes. But strangley enough, I have yet to meet a left-libertarian that actually has made such a claim. On the one hand, this accusation is fallacious in that it equates support for the liberty of people to engage in such "culturally left" activities with active support for and participation in those activities. Someone may radically support someone's right to engage in all sorts of activities that they do not actually personally favor. On the other hand, this charge could easily be leveled at "culturally conservative" libertarians who appear to imply that cultural homogeniety, traditionalism and religiosity is a requirement for a functional free society. In the atempt to achieve such things, there is always a dangerous temptation to use political power. What many left-libertarians fear is not the freedom of people to hold and practise culturally conservative lifestyles, but the possibility that they will be enforced through political means. But this does not mean that culturally left libertarians are themselves going to support political means in order to deliberately attack things such as religion and racism.

Insofar as the culture question is concerned, no particular cultural views or practises are a requirement for a libertarian society. This is libertarianism in a narrow sense, as a political philosophy in which whatever is voluntary gets a green light. However, libertarianism as a broad philosophy may very well be seen as being compatible with certain cultural causes, and that some cultural sentiments and practises may be more conductive to a free society then others. It is important to emphasize the difference between cultural views or practises being a requirement and being compatible and/or conductive. No serious left-libertarian would claim that you have to be an anti-racist and secularlist in order to be a libertarian. However, they would quite likely see such views and causes as being compatible with libertarianism. They may very well approach libertarianism in a broad sense in which there are non-governmental forms of coercion or oppression that deserve opposition. Afterall, states are not the only institutions that violate the non-aggression principle. Why should private organizations that engage in fraud and coercive usury, along with religious institutions that instigate conflicts, be given a free pass?

While there may certainly be some legitimate criticisms of libertarian deviations towards the "left", deviations towards the "right" deserve close scrutiny. If there are "CosmoBeltwayCentralistTarians", there are also "PaleoConservaNationalistTarians". There is of course nothing inherently wrong with a libertarian holding "culturally conservative" views, but some of these people hardly can be described as consistantly keeping them personal and not supporting political means towards their ends. A "PaleoConservaNationalistTarian" may harbor any combination of the following traits: nationalism, populism, opposition to immigration, support for protectionism, constitutionalism, pro-family, sympathies for monarchy, anti-abortion, anti-secularism and racism. To the "PaleoConservaNationalistTarian", the white anglo-saxon is America's persecuted majority. Behold the white proleteriet's burden! Multiculturalism and secularism are viewed exclusively as being a political system that is enforced onto the persecuted majority of white Christians. Opposition to government mandated religion is equated to persecution of Christians. Accordingly, we must close and secure "the borders", deport the evil Mexicans who are "stealing our jobs", buy American products only, fight toothe and nail for conservative judges, try to get abortion illegalized at the state (or federal) level and support theocracy on the "local level".

While many of these libertarians quite likely have wonderful track records on questions of war and foreign policy, it seems that they have a tendency to reconcentrate such militartistic means into domestic police powers. Since they are nationalistic, they may very well see a "proper role" for the military and paramilitary forces on our own domestic soil: to stop people from entering the territory and to monitor those who do enter the territory for drugs, disease, criminal records, citezenship and visas. According to these people, if an individual does not have the explicit permission of the government, they may not own property, have a job or possess any negative rights whatsoever within the territory. Without such permission, the government has free reign to kidnap you and forcibly exile you from the territory. Additionally, allegedly there is nothing wrong with the government using the tax-payer's money to fund gigantic border fences and maintain a massive immigration beureacracy to keep track of who is who and where they are. Oh, and you can kiss the free market in language goodbye, since the government must mandate uniformity in language all across the country. "National sovereignty" is a high priority, higher then individual sovereignty apparently.

Some of these same people who would gladly do away with the federal department of education simultaneously have no problem with local school boards dictating the curriculum to be taught children. Indeed, all things that the federal government is not supposed to do, "the community", or what in reality is more local state bodies acting in the name of "the community", may legitimately decide. Collectivism (which always is imposed by what amounts to an oligarchy in reality) at the federal level is bad, but apparently collectivism at the more homely level has free reign. This approach may be more libertarian then having the federal government do such things, but it certainly is not consistantly libertarian. There are many double-standards that may be supported in a more local way. Forced integration bad, forced segregation good. Government-enforced secularism bad, government-enforced religiosity good. Clearly, the "PaleoConservaNationalistTarians" are not innocent when it comes to the use of political means towards their ends, particularly if the means are not federal.

Then there is their support for constitutionalism and the "rule of law". The problem here is that the "rule of law" is a myth and libertarian theory has long since debunked the common conception of the social contract. Of course, there's also the problem that enforcing the law for the sake of it being the law is not consistant with any libertarian conception of law. Libertarianism involves an independant theory of justice that whatever the law happens to be must be held up to. There is also a post-ponement arguement often made, which essentially states that because the current system and certain set of laws exist, it should be enforced for the time being until certain things are done away with first. Only when certain things are gone, such as the welfare state, can we move on to persueing other goals, so claims the "PaleoConservaNationalistTarian". Strategically, this only keeps the system in place. Such an attitude in itself post-pones change. Such gradualism is perpetuity in practise. Libertarianism is "radical" in that it always keeps pushing for the ultimate goal, it does not post-pone one section of its own goals by putting them to the side until other goals are first met, or it does not obtain (partially or fully) a goal and then stop there and be content with the status quo when there are other goals to be met or the goal is not fully met yet.

The problem with "PaleoConservaNationalistTarians" is that in the attempt to preserve traditions and create homogeniety they sometimes end up supporting political means. PaleoConservaNationalistTarians hold onto a historical view that is conservative in that they glorify the past. Tradition is to be preserved at all costs, while deviations are to be opposed toothe and nail. PaleoConservaNationalistTarians wish to "restore the Republic". But clocks cannot be turned back. In the attempt to turn clocks back, however, a lot of damage can potentially be done.

Liberty as a Lack of Unchosen Positive Obligations

And a lack of a gaurantee of survival and flourishing 

There are two fundamental ways in which liberty and rights can be defined. One definition of liberty is the freedom to use one's faculties in order to persue one's rational self-interest without infringement by others. This is a negativistic definition: you are free from the coercive, imposed or initiatory violent actions of others. This principle of liberty bestows no positive obligations on others to do certain things for you, only an obligation to abstain from doing anything to infringe on you. Consequentially, noone can legitimately murder, steal, extort, rape, enslave or you. The positivistic definition of liberty is that you are entitled to certain positive benefits, such as food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, daycare, and so on. This bestows positive obligations onto others. You have an abstract right to be provided with such material things and services by them. Consequentially, everyone must take certain positive actions with regaurd to the other. Based on this view of rights, it is easy to see why one would demand things such as universal healthcare, welfare, minumum wages and public housing.

In the negative view of rights, you have the right to persue such things in a voluntary manner without infringing on others or any others infringing on you, but noone else has a positive obligation to yield them to you without their explicit consent. You do not have a right to be served by others against their will. Unless there is some kind of voluntary contractual agreement previously made or some debt incurred, they have the right to refuse to yield such things. People may freely exclude others from their time, energy, labor and possessions. To use food as an example, noone may force you to buy food against your will and noone may force you to yield food against your will, but you are perfectly free to exercise your faculties in order to voluntarily trade for food or work for food or give your food away. You cannot just pop up at someone's doorstep and force them to empty out their refridgerator to feed you. In principle, even if you are starving to death, you still cannot steal from a store or rob someone at gunpoint in order to feed yourself.

These two views of liberty clash with eachother on a fundamental level. They are hopelessly irreconcilable. One must violate the other. If you have unchosen positive obligations to others, then your negative rights are being violated. If you do not enforce any unchosen positive obligations to others, then your positive rights are being violated. Positive rights, if consistantly and universally applied, imply that everyone is effectively enslaved to eachother in the name of providing anything from the necessities of survival to mere material wants. According to the philosophy of positive rights, survival, security, comfort and a potentially huge laundry list of non-essential special benefits are things that must be gauranteed by others. First and foremost, it puts survival above everything else. But in the philosophy of negative rights, you cannot rationally or sensibly achieve any of those others things (survival, security, health, knowledge, etc.) without first being free. By definition, you must be free to excerise your faculties in order to obtain such things in a manner that is in accordance with reason, morality and your fundamental nature. However, they are not an absolute gaurantee in life that you will survive or flourish by the provision of others.

The incentives of these two views of liberty are very different as well. In an atmosphere of negative rights, the individual has an incentive to exercise their faculties in order to find a way to provide for their survival, safety and happiness in part precisely because there is no way for them to legitimately expect others to provide such things for them for free and without any effort on the recipient's part. On the other hand, pure acts of giving are not necessarily disincentivized, but they must come about by a sheer act of will on the part of the gift giver. Negative rights is neutral to charitable acts. In an atmosphere of positive rights, self-motivation and self-reliance is disincentivized and one is given an incentive to sacrifice for the sake of everyone else. The individual's actions done to benefit themselves are viewed with distain while they are expected to simultaneously feed, clothe, shelter and associate with other people.

In the absence of unchosen positive obligations, the individual has an incentive to associate with others for the purpose of obtaining survival, security and happiness precisely because noone else is just going to deliver it to them for free on a silver platter. So such an atmosphere encourages social cooperation. In an environment of unchosen positive obligations, the incentive is not towards genuine participatory social cooperation so much as grudgingly made acts of sacrifice and social uniformity. Since such obligations were not explicitly consented to, it could not be said that the individual is necessarily willingly associating with and providing for others. They are in fact completely incapable of genuinely choosing to be "good" and benefit other people in such an environment. In contrast, in an environment in which one is simply free from others and has no unchosen positive obligations, the only way to be "good" and benefit other people is through a free act of will. By definition, you cannot be forced to be moral through coerced obligations, you are only capable of being moral as a consequence of the free choices that you make.

It is interesting to note where these different views relate to inclusion and exclusion among people. If you have no unchosen positive obligations, then you may freely include or exclude others from your property and not associate with them as you please. You have no obligation to hire someone, allow them onto your property, or be their friend against your explicit consent. On the other hand, there are natural incentives for you to consensually do such things to some degree, since you cannot survive or flourish while living as a completely isolated hermit. So while in theory you may be as exclusive towards other people as you like, you are going to have self-interested reasons for associating with others in a whole plethora of ways rangings from trade to labor to reproduction to common friendship. There is an extent to which exclusion of others may be harmful to your well-being, particularly as it relates to economic relations. On the other hand, if you do have unchosen positive obligations, then you will be forced to be inclusive even when it does not benefit you and you have no desire to act as such. As an act of servitude rather then consent born out of necessity and desire, you are obligated to associate with and hire and work for people whom you may dislike and distrust. Or, on the other side of the coin, you may be obligated to disassociate with, fire or not work with people whom you do like and trust, or at least see no compeling reason not to engage.

When it comes to universal application of principles, a world in which all unchosen positive obligations are met is a pipe dream of monstrous proportions. The resources, labor, knowledge and willpower necessary to accomplish such a feat simply does not exist. The unavoidable fact of scarcity makes this especially true. And of course it is simply physically impossible for every single person in the world to serve the other, especially not in an equal manner. A world in which the individual is free to exercise their faculties to the best of their ability without infringement by others, in contrast, does not require any positive actions and therefore is much more realistic in that it only requires a sheer act of abstaining from infringing on others and it does not make utopian demands of human perfection. Such a view is quite sober. It readily aknowledges that there will always be some degree of natural inadequacy in the world. Prosperity and security and happiness cannot rain down like mana from the sky. A free world is not a perfect one, it is only optimal. Some people may not suceed or flourish in a free world, but only as a consequence of their own actions, a lack of initiative or a lack of luck.

Radicalism and Moderation

What does it really mean to be "radical"? Usually when the term radical is employed it has negative connotations. It is used to imply that someone takes something "too far" or that they are willing to use very extreme measures in the name of proving their point or achieving their desired goals. But I think that this common view of the meaning of being radical is quite flawed. A question that immediately pops into my mind is: radically what? Are you radically correct or radically incorrect? Radical relative to what? Radical Islam? Radical Capitalism? Radical Atheism? Radical Socialism? What does radical really mean? Why should the term radical be divorced from context? Why should the term radical always have a negative connotation? Couldn't it be good to be radical? Is there not a sense in which radical can simply mean logically consistant? Is someone radical for taking themselves seriously? Because if that's the case, everyone is radical to some degree. I don't have any shame in calling myself a radical. I'm proudly radical about what I think. That doesn't mean that I'm going to burn anyone's house down in the name of my beliefs, it simply means that I have the courage of my convictions and that I at least think that I have logical consistancy on my side.

On the other side of the coin, the term "moderate" is commonly employed in a positive manner. The moderate is supposed to be the opposite of the radical. The moderate is thought of as being reasonable, while the radical is thought of as being irrational. The moderate is looked to as someone who won't go through allegedly extreme measures to prove their point or achieve their cause. But I would say that there is a negative sense to being a moderate, particularly as it relates to politics. In my view, a political moderate is someone who lacks the courage of their convictions or is unable to make up their mind about much of anything. A moderate political person is someone who constantly changes their position in an oppurtunistic manner, essentially "blowing in the wind". A moderate politician is one who essentially panders. I don't see this as a good thing at all. Why is it a good thing to have your mind so open that you don't really believe anything? Shouldn't you have some courage to your convictions? The moderate lacks the certainty and confidence of the radical. The moderate is unstable in that they lack any fixity to their position on any ideological spectrum.

There's another sense in which moderation can be viewed. Moderation is the process by which people become radicalized. That is, when faced with new information or when one finds logical inconsistancies in their own positions, they moderate, as in change, their position. In order for someone to become a radical, they must go through such a process of moderation. Obviously noone starts out as a radical because they still are going through a learning process (and of course to some extent we are always going through a learning process, by being faced with new information and internally digesting that information and drawing one's own conclusions from it). In either case, as we can see, the whole radical vs. moderate dychotomy, as it is commonly thought of, breaks down because the way that the terms are typically used is disingenuous. They are essentially anti-concepts. Surely being inconsistant and uncertain ("moderate") is not necessarily a good thing, and surely being consistant and certain ("radical") is not necessarily a bad thing. Truth and falsehood is what really matters. But unfortunately the term radical has become a smear word against anything that is either logically consistant or certain.

In my understanding of the term, a radical is someone who holds the status quo up to an independant standard and refuses to back down in advocating change towards meeting that independant standard. The actual content of that independant standard is beside the point in terms of the general meaning of radicalism, although incredibly worthy of debate. The problem with dismissing all radicalism out of hand as irrational is that it avoids having to address the content of the radical's ideas. The moderate or "conservative", in contrast to the radical, bitterly resists any kind of meaningful challenge of the status quo. If they prefer any change at all, it has to be incredibly gradual. The moderate shrinks away from taking a strong stance and avoids oppurtunities to "push the red button", so to speak. While the radical, if actually given the oppurtunity to push a red button that would lead to a sweeping change that they desire, would push the button, the moderate would not. The moderate fears the consequences of meaningful changes and is hesistant to take a strong postion. While many radicals may be wrong about things, radicals alone have always been the driving force behind all of the progress of mankind because they do not shrink away from the certainty of their position and their advocation of change.

Capitalism and Socialism: Strategic Dead Ends

Where have all the anarcho-anarchists gone? 

In his classic essay "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty", Murray Rothbard describes socialism as a "middle of the road doctrine" in that it supports political or conservative means in the name of achieving radical, revolutionary or liberal ends. This problem can even be seen in many allegedly anarchistic socialists, many of whom still seem to take a rather Marxist approach in that they seem to think that the state can be used to crush "the capitaliists" and socialize everything, and then the state will just wither away, which is absolutely silly. "We must destroy private property first, then we can worry about dismantling the state", they say. They also have a tendency to function as apologists for the state in the name of anti-corporatism. For example, while Noam Chomsky claims to be an anarcho-syndicalist, I think he is actually functioning as a social democrat because he has openly defended the welfare state, advocates plenty of government interventions domestically, has argued that the government is "at least somewhat susceptable to popular control" and thinks that if the state were dismantled now we would be left with "private tyrannies". So how can someone like Chomsky claim to be an anarchist?

I completely agree with Rothbard's analysis in the essay. But perhaps we should turn this analysis on its head, or perhaps extend it further. Is this not also true of the "capitalists", including many "anarcho-capitalists"? Are not many "capitalist" libertarians openly advocating conservative means as well? When they're advocating all kinds of interventions to fight immigration, anti-abortion laws, and enthusiastically campaigning for conservative Republicans? Are many libertarians, at least "vulgar" ones, not functioning as apologists for corporatism or corporations by using the theory of a free market to defend currently existing "capitalism" as if it is a free market or came about as a result of such a process? If "capitalism" is thought of as just another strategy for using the state, one based on use the state to try to protect property titles or property classes (regaurdless of justice) and maximize efficiency, then it ends up being not much better then "socialism". The disagreement between the two appears not to be one of fundamental principle at all, but a matter of which interest groups state intervention should be used to benefit and which interest group we want to be apologists for (the state vs. the corporations, the workers vs. the employers, "the rich" vs. "the poor", and so on)

I don't see how my strategic objection to Noam Chomsky does not apply just as much to certain right-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists. When I see libertarians argueing that since the state still exists, we should view it and use it as if it were a private property owner in the present and we should use the political process to our short-term advantage, my mind is blown. "We must stop this influx of people into the territory and work within the system to get good guys elected first, then we can worry about dismantling the state", they say. Isn't this kind of "post-ponement" logic precisely what has always gone wrong with the socialist movement, namely, that they have advocated and used political means towards their ends in the present under the hopes that it will lead to a future anarchy, while in objective reality that are functioning as statists and have reinforced the institutional framework that the state thrives upon? While many social anarchists may be functioning as social democrats in reality, perhaps many self-proclaimed market anarchists are functioning as conservatives in reality or classical liberals at best, because they are still functioning with a statist strategic mindset.

In my view, both capitalism and socialism have basically become anti-concepts with no objective meaning anymore. Their meanings change depending on context, and this leads to self-contradictary connotations to the words. There is definitional chaos. In the case of socialism, worker's control and government ownership are inherently contradictary. In the case of capitalism, free economic activity and government protection of buisiness and property titles are contradictary. Socialists often end up advocating government ownership as a strategy in the name of worker's control, which is self-defeating in principle because you cannot have worker's control when the government is owning the means of production, considering that the government and the workers are mutually exclusive. Capitalists often end up advocating government protection of property titles in the name of the free market, which is self-defeating in principle because not all currently existing property titles are just, and no free market exists.

I hate conservatism

In the most classical definition of the word, conservatism has always stood for a defense of the status quo. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the so-called "liberal" parties were more or less interested in revolutionary change into the future and opposition to political power, while the so-called "conservative" parties were a reactionary movement that was interested in maintaining the privileges of the existing political classes and elites of the times. In those days, this meant a defense of things such as monarchy, land privileges and the union of church and state. Hardly an admirable political position. The thing to be conserved by conservatives in those days was political power and the privileges that came with it to particular private individuals.

As a historical view, conservatism has a tendency to romantisize the past. In particular, anything from colonial America to fuedal Europe to the 1950's is painted in as positive light as possible to the level of absurdity. Conservatives tend to paint colonial America as a haven of freedom. Yet, not to sound cliche, but this is only remotely true if you were rich, white and male. If you were a native American, a slave or the average worker your conditions were fairly horrid. This is of course not an indictment against freedom, because freedom was denied to such people in the first place. In either case, the conservative idea of "turning back the clock" represents a desire to do something that is impossible. While the starry-eyed progressive and social darwinist notions of perpetual or gradual progress into the future may be silly, the idea of returning to a past utopia is equally absurd.

In modern times, conservatism is in many ways the most hypocritical contemporary political position. At least the so-called "liberals" are consistant in that the objective content of their political positions more accurately matches their rhetoric, as they tend to openly advocate a nanny state. But conservatives have been preaching rhetoric in favor of limiting the government's powers for decades, yet the objective content of their political positions is in sum total pretty much no less statist than that of the contemporary left, and in practise they have expanded the power of the state every time that they have gained the helm of political power.

For years, conservatives have promised to gut taxes, spending and federal departments. But it seems that this has been little more than rhetoric. While making such promises and claims, they have proposed and fully supported the establishment of new departments such as the department of homeland security, and have been more than happy to expand funding to the military and intelligence bereaucracies. They have proposed and rubber stamped massive spending increases on both domestic and foreign policy. The neoconservative's foreign policy of aggression and empire inherently requires considerable government intervention in the economy and a drain on the resources of the people.

So-called "fiscal conservatism" is clearly a myth. While it is true that Republicans may sometimes cut taxes, these tax cuts are rather miniscule and they never have the courage to actually advocate any abolitions of certain taxes. At best, tbey propose "tax reform", which is a shell game that merely shifts from one type of taxation to another or one tax bracket to another. Furthermore, conservatives have a long history of simply using monetary inflation to fund the government in order to make up for the initial loss of revenue from the tax cuts. Republicans simply rely more on borrowing from overseas and printing money to fund their expansions of the state. This creates a situation that leads to tax increases in the future anyways.

While conservatives tend to rhetorically support "the free market", they fall into a false paradime shared by the contemporary left in assuming that we currently have one and in practise they tend to support existing property classes rather than property rights. There is a huge difference between being pro-market and pro-buisiness. Conservatives are generally pro-buisiness, which is to say that they favor government intervention in the economy in order to favor buisiness interests. A free market, on the other hand, by definition requires the lack of government intervention in the economy. The type of system that they favor more closely resembles economic fascism than a free market. Economic fascism is a mixed economy in which the government and big buisiness collude through mechanisms of patronage and protectionism.

While many conservatives rhetorically support a restrained domestic policy, they often paradoxically do not apply the same principles to foreign policy. The idea of cutting back the government at home and expanding it abroad is an oxymoron. It is impossible to have both a limited government at home and a highly active one abroad. A highly active and aggressive foreign policy always coincides with an increase in government intervention domestically. In either case, most American conservatives have almost never met an American war that they did not support. They have a clear history of being war-mongers. And their wars are the most expensive endeavors that a government could possibly engage in.

Some may object to my harsh treatment of conservatives by making a sharp distinction between neoconservatives and paleoconservatives, claiming that the paleoconservatives are true to the limited government rhetoric. The paleoconservatives claim to be the true conservatives, and accuse the neoconservatives of being leftists who hijacked their movement. But while there are indeed some signicant differences between these two schools of conservatism, I do not find too much of a significant difference in the some total of state power that both ideologies tend to support. When it all is tallied up, the paleoconservatives aren't much better than the neoconservatives, and on some issues they may very well be worse than them.

It is true that paleoconservatives may tend to be less interventionist when it comes to foreign policy, yet their so-called "isolationism" is a very different thing than non-interventionism. "Isolationism" is a nationalist policy of government intervention in the name of isolating the people within geographic territories from eachother socially and economically. In place of foreign adventurism, paleoconservatives have a tendency to simply reconcentrate the military power domestically into a police state, just pointing the guns a bit closer to home. They are willing to expand the powers of the government in all kinds of ways in the name of fighting immigration. And they have a history of being virulently protectionist when it comes to foreign economics. To make matters worse, they are permeated by social conservatism and therefore may very well tend to support government legislation of religious and traditionalist morality. Paleoconservatism has much in common with national socialism and tends to attract white nationalists.

While it is theoretically possible for someone to hold socially conservative views and confine them to a voluntary context, most social conservatives support enforcing those views onto everyone through the mechanisms of the state. Inevitably, this implies some kind of coerced uniformity in opposition to free association. Social conservatives may have a tendency to use the state as a mechanism to promote their personal cultural preferances for the purpose of oppressing groups that they do not like such as homosexuals, seculars and certain ethnic or religious groups. While people are perfectly free to have whatever cultural views they please, the desire to create a monolithic culture is in contradiction to reality and trying to use the government towards this end is incredibly dangerous.

I find the assumed alliance between libertarians and conservatives in America to be mostly ill founded. While the so-called "old right" of the 1930's and 40's contained libertarian elements with in it, such elements were never the mainstream of the movement and their remnants have long since been scattered into oblivion. The "old right" has clearly been overly romanticized in either case. Mysteriously, many libertarians continue to this day to have faith in traditionalist conservatives to magically "restore the republic". Libertarians have had an unfortunately tendency to vote for Republicans time and time again, under the illusion that the right is somehow more restrained than the left. This tendency has in turn allowed the libertarian movement itself to be infiltrated by conservative elements that water it down.

Indeed, back in the 70's there were libertarians scrambling to support none other than Richard Nixon. And in the 80's the same was true of Ronald Reagen. Yet the state expanded by leaps and bounds under both adminstrations, despite the fact that both of them predictably ran on a platform of limiting the government down to a smaller scope. And it would be disingenous to blame such an expansion of the state solely on the Democrats, as conservatives tend to do. These Republicans are responsible for proposing and rubber stamping plenty of expansions of the state in themselves. What's most puzzling of all is how libertarians could be fooled into supporting or admiring such people in the first place. What will it take to get libertarians to wake up from their slumber and realize that such political means are not conductive to the ends of liberty?

On Human Nature

It is common for humans to be presented as being separate from and even antagonistic with nature. In particular, some radical environmentalists portray human beings as inherently waging war on mother nature, that our existance is intrinsically destructive to nature. But this is erroneous. Humans are a product of and part of nature themselves. There is no separation between humans and nature in this sense. The ecosystem ultimately absorbs us back into it. It is a dynamic system. Whatever effects modern civilization has on the ecosystem are ultimately trivial. It will adapt to us and we will adapt to it. If anything, the relationship is symbiotic, not a one-way street.

A common idea, derived in part from Hobbes, is the notion that humans are inherently in a conflicting state of nature, and that we have developed the capacity to form "society" as to leave this state of nature and enter a state of civilization in which we interact for our mutual benefit. But in reality humans never leave a "state of nature". We are always in one. The real question is "what will we make of this state of nature?". Civilization is still a product of and a part of a state of nature. The notion that we have the power to overcome nature in this way is utopian in that it assumes that we can "plan" a change in our own basic natures. But no matter what form of social organization we opt for, human nature remains the same.

The question as to wether humans are inherently good or inherently bad is a false dychotomy. Humans are inherently neither. What they are is inherently free, capable of choice. Wether or not they are good or bad can only be determined as a result of the choices that they voluntarily make. Humans are capable choosing both good and bad. Without choice, good and bad are meaningless as concepts, for we would be no more responsible for our actions than a rock falling down a cliff. Morality ceases to exist in the absence of choice. So both Hobbes and the uber-optimists are wrong. Humans are not naturally "war of all against all", and neither are they naturally virtuous. They can only be virtuous as a result of their free choices. Man is a rational animal, meaning that we possess the capacity to choose either path.

Determinists, particularly biological determnists, seem to make the error of thinking that nature dominates humans in the absolute. Radical subjectivists seem to make the opposite mistake of thinking that humans determine and dominate nature in the absolute. The truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. On one hand, humans cannot act in any way that violates the laws of nature. We are bound by the confines of physics and biology. We have freedom to act, but freedom does not equate to power over nature. For a human being relying solely on their natural faculties, there is no such thing as the "freedom" to leap 1000 feet or fly into the sky. Humans cannot simply wish whatever reality they want into existance.

Of course, none of this validates the premises of the determinists. The fact that we must function within the confines of nature does not mean that our actions are causally predetermined in the absolute. Nor does it mean that we are entirely bound by our instincts. We possess a capacity to defy our insticts. If this were not so, men would mount every woman they see, noone would go on fasts and noone would commit suicide. Humans possess volition; the capacity of self-awareness. While the individual's faculties are determined by biology, their use of those faculties is up to them. They must be exercised through an act of will, and if they are not exercised then they will atrophy over time. A strong man can choose to not use their strength, and an intelligent man can lay their intellect to waste. On the other hand, a weak man and an intellectually hampered man may push their abilities to their limit.

While a human being is born into a particular environment that they did not choose, they are presented with a multiple of possibilities as to what to make of that environment. Praxeologically speaking, they may choose among multiple possible means to desired ends. We act in order to remove a source of disatisfaction, otherwise we would not act. And to choose to do nothing is still an action. Acting consists of ranking our desired ends in a particular order and persueing means towards those ends, in a process of trial and error. Over time, we may change the ranking of our desires and modify the means that we persue towards obtaining them. Desires are theoretically infinite, while existing resources and the means towards obtaining them are scarce. Therefore, there is always a compelling reason for acting. Our nature is set up so that we cannot reach a stalemate in which no action is possible, unless of course we are afflicted with a serious mental disability.