Friday, September 19, 2014

Still More Looniness

When I posted THIS yesterday, I knew the kids in the basement would burst into self-righteous indignation, as only religious or political ideologues can.

When I make the argument that because libertarianism is a product of, and dependent on, Western Civilization, libertarians should take steps to preserve Western Civilization, I fully expect the argument to be ignored and pilpuls about "rights" turned to instead. But I'm always a little surprised when it's argued with. Oh, you can argue about the origins of Western Civilization, and take the Oswald Spengler position that it started more or less with Charlemagne, but even he saw that it took elements from Classical Civilization and from the Bible and Christianity as it existed beforehand.

But to say that the concept of "libertarianism" somehow has origins outside that stream of Western Civilization is kind of mind-boggling. Maybe you can find hints of the idea of individual sovereignty in Lao-Tse, but you have to squint. Anyhow, it doesn't lead to the idea of political freedom.

Anyhow, here's one of the reactions I got. He begins by quoting from the post:

"But – by all rights – libertarians should want to see the things which make western civilization distinct preserved and even magnified, rather than attenuated and diluted.

"Sometimes, libertarians pretend that their philosophy is universal and that it can be abstracted away from any particular people or place. But it’s obvious, at least in North America, that the liberty we enjoy is fairly traceable to the traditional liberty of Englishmen, under the English
common law, as well as to frontier pragmatism and a little bit of European, enlightenment philosophy."

This is a titanic misunderstanding of the origins of the premise of individual liberty. The *basis* for concepts came as far back as Aristotle, and the basis for freedom is not 'English Common Law' - that's ridiculous - but English common law came *from* many of the principles outlined by the enlightenment philosophers. You have it precisely backwards.

Freedom did not originate in America, and the concept of individual liberty is not originated in western civilization. America was a bi-product of the earlier works that recognized the sovereign of the individual, not the other way around. We do not fight for 'Western civilization' because it is where freedom came from, we fight for freedom because it is what made western civilization - which, by the way, is in no way any longer a place of freedom - possible.

Libertarian philosophy *is* universal, because they are based on premises that apply to ALL men by their nature, not ones born by accident in certain borders. Freedom is not geographic, it is ours by our nature. To try to pin in to a bordered area of land is jingoistic and monstrous.

So, what does everybody think? Where did the idea of freedom come from? The Bhagavad-Gita? Popol Vuh? The Koran? Zimbabwean folk tales? Can we toss Western Civilization and create a libertarian society with immigrants from Chechnya, Somalia, and Honduras? If so, we can dispense with spreading the word about libertarianism till the Liberals and Neocons have finished their work, and brought in a few hundred million Third World immigrants. When that is accomplished, then we can build a libertarian society.


  1. Disfunctional libertarians asume that, given an environment of political freedom and free markets, foreign people with foreign cultural values (and here I should add, with values that don't match our idea of freedom), can always adapt and never do harm to the system. That's nothing but wishful thinking. In the best case scenario, few of those immigrants adapt to their host culture and cherish those values, but the rest always are unable to cut ties with their original cultural mindset.

  2. If the idea of individual sovereignty comes from Aristotle as the critic claims, wouldn't that make the concept merely pan-western, as apposed to Anglo-American? How exactly is that supposed to counter your argument?

  3. Perhaps he forgot, or does not know, that Aristotle wrote of "natural slaves."