Shameless Self-promotion Sunday #40

Happy Sunday! You know what to do.

Or, in case you don’t: today is the day for shameless self-promotion. What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

18 replies to Shameless Self-promotion Sunday #40 Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Aster

    I’ve been trying to identify the precise difference I have with the contemporary libertarian movement- I find it maddening that a movement which loudly claims to support what I care so much about- individual freedom- so often promotes a mentality and mindset so deeply hostile to the same values. I found a couple of articles today relevant to these issues, specifically showing the spiritual and material horrors of contemporary closed societies outside the West. I’d like to draw attention to what closed societies mean for actual living human individuals.

    http://khartoum-khartoum.blogspot.com/2009/02/religion-versus-valentines-day.html

    http://media.www.claremontindependent.com/media/storage/paper1031/news/2009/02/15/Editorial/We.Stand.With.Ali-3630584.shtml?reffeature=recentlycommentedstoriestab

    I prefer the philosophical stance of the first article to the second (without precisely agreeing with either), as I think the worst mistake one can make in opposing non-Western traditional horrors is to confuse reason and freedom with the inherited traditionalisms specific to Western culture- which have and still do show hostility to reason and individualism to the degree that they are consistent and powerful. The most consistent advocates of Western or Christian identity loathe freedom and individuality (and consistently loathe the same social implications such as feminism and sexual liberation) every bit as much as do the Islamists or the proponents of Hindutva. All of them rage against the individual for poisoning the seamless mythic reality and cultural integrity of the collective. And all of them, when forced to operate in a pluralistic context, hide behind the same inhuman relativism which subordinates the human individual to inherited cults and customs, which are treated as beyond justification. Folkways are treated as if they had an innate right to exist; their irrationalies and brutalities are ignored or dismissed. And in all cases, the relativism is exchanged for dogmatism whenever and wherever secure power is acquired,

    I would partially defend the concept of multiculturalism to the degree that this means not historicism or relativism but a virtue of nuanced awareness of perspective and complexity- a matter of courtesy and sophistication more than ethical or political substance. This is necessary is a world where alleged universalism has so often merely been the facade (or technological enabler) of Western prejudice and imperialism. But I think this is mainly a matter of words and a secondary issue- much of what is promoted under the word ‘multiculturalism’ is anything but opposed to racism and chauvanism and instead demands against reason the uncritical acceptance of all the racisms and chauvanisms in the world. Ultimately, relativism is on the side of conservatism because any claim that I cannot know and judge works to the advantage of established false and harmful ‘knowledges’ and judgements.

    Today, a libertarianism dominated by its paleo wing (and increasingly influenced by ideas traceable to the Southern and European Right) has as often as not become a demand not for individual liberty but for political relativism- the claim that none dare interfere with what a group does to individual victims, and the deliberate confusion of this non-interference with real, individual freedom as a means to protect the traditional identities of white and Christian indigenous populations. It is simply another reaction against the open society for the sake of those herds which are white and rich and male. ‘Decentralism’ has become the libertarian way of saying ‘diversity’. There is no difference in practice or principle between multicultural apologists for non-Western closed societies and libertarian ‘decentralist’ apologists for Western patriarchy and racism. The racists and the fake anti-racists think precisely alike. Both want to see a thousand cages bloom- or they are willing to see a thousand cages bloom in order to defend their particular cages from a world in which cosmopolitanism and individualism can erode these cages by allowing individuals to walk out of them. Both resist ‘monoculture’- despising the idea od a world where each person can alike choose anything in favour of a world in which every local group can choose for individuals and thus preserve its historic continuity.

    That this mosaic of slaveries is called ‘freedom’ is a political dishonesty as bad as anything perpetrated by Communists or the ‘politically correct’ Left. The lie is the same- the substitution of liberation of the collective for the liberation of the individual. But a person advocating freedom for collectives (or families, races, or regions) and a person advocating freedom for individuals are in fact articulating opposite programs on opposite premises. The demand of smaller groups for collective sovreignty in the face of larger groups which have internalised some individualistic limitations is not a step in the direction of liberty but an abandonment of the principle in a senseless revolt against the imperial enemy of the hour. Like the postmodernists, the demogogues promoting the new libertarianism appeal to an unfocused need to revolt against ‘the system’ and keep quiet about the fact that they are revolting in favour of more collectivism. Like all demogogues they feed off rage, ignorance, and despair. Like the postmodernists they reduce everything alike to prejudice and treat reason and liberty as just another tribal convention. The paleolibertarian seeks to deny and degrade our awareness of our own freedom so that they may pass off their mystic collectivisms as liberty. And they are succeeding.

    Any libertarian who still believes in individualism should become aware that a plurality of libertarians today oppose individualism more deeply and consistently than today’s rickety and corrupt mainstream establishment.

  2. Chris Acheson

    I’ve gotten back to work on my currency project. This time, I’m looking for more outside feedback (and possibly participation), so I’ve created a development blog for the project. I’ve got a few posts up with background information, and I’ll be talking about the actual design soon:

    http://chrisacheson.net/aeiou/blog/

  3. Nick Manley

    The Origins of Totalitarianism is a fascinating and much enjoyable read. I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in history, philosophy, political science, and related social science disciplines.

    In other news: I am possibly visiting Tel Aviv, Israel at the end of the year! Yay ( :

    My first trip outside of the country.

  4. Dain Fitzgerald

    Aster,

    Today, a libertarianism dominated by its paleo wing (and increasingly influenced by ideas traceable to the Southern and European Right) has as often as not become a demand not for individual liberty but for political relativism- the claim that none dare interfere with what a group does to individual victims…

    I could give a white about the American Southern and European right, but my own defense of non-interference stems not from a sense of libertarian multiculturalism, but from individualism consistently applied. Are you saying that there must always be interference, and that one may as well choose the cosmopolitan group to side with, or that said interference need not be a project that involves one group lording it over another? I’m skeptical that most rescuers of parochial “backward” cultures don’t recognize themselves as a superior, civilizing force and in that regard a group/collective all its own. That would seem to be the case (see Thomas Friedman discussing the thrill of old Iraqi men forced to succumb to US female soldiers), and if not, it’s at least equally matched by a concomittant sense by those resisting said rescue that they act from what they believe is right, period, not just “different,” and so deserving of respect per se.

    …and the deliberate confusion of this non-interference with real, individual freedom as a means to protect the traditional identities of white and Christian indigenous populations.

    This would seem to contradict what you say above, but I think you are saying that this faux multiculturalism is just a ruse to protect white Christians? But that just sounds like pluralists recognizing that their own interests are best served by the maximum allowance of equal individual freedom for all (to practice their religion, et al.) If that be “Machiavellian Multiculturalism,” so be it. As someone who could give a whit about a Christian lifestyle, that sounds like my favorite kind of Christian.

    But a person advocating freedom for collectives (or families, races, or regions) and a person advocating freedom for individuals are in fact articulating opposite programs on opposite premises.

    I don’t feel like libertarians - of all people! - are advocating freedom for collectives (except perhaps Keith Preston, who actually shares more in common with classical, visceral Bakuninite anarchism than with classical liberalism or market anarchism). To the extent that you read their libertarianism as simply a cover for a right to live their way of life, well, that’s not surprising. Isn’t that what libertarianism is about? And isn’t that what’s important?

    I feel as if paleo-libertarians are simply pushing the old school anti-government line, which gets conflated with nothing more than deeply reactionary cultural politics because there is evidence for that in the Southern Strategy politics of yore.

    I suppose that if the default position of society is deeply conservative, then a laissez faire attitude is conservative by default, which means that individualism is incoherent, and the battle of better vs. worse cultures inevitable. Adam Tebble calls the post 9-11, post Theo Van Gogh liberalism “identity liberalism.” I wonder Aster if you feel some affinity for it, which makes you a defender of “group rights” more than you know.

  5. Nick Manley

    “I suppose that if the default position of society is deeply conservative, then a laissez faire attitude is conservative by default, which means that individualism is incoherent, and the battle of better vs. worse cultures inevitable. Adam Tebble calls the post 9-11, post Theo Van Gogh liberalism “identity liberalism.””

    Dain,

    I am not sure what you’re referencing here. Could you be a bit more explicit? It’s an interesting point.

    My best guess is that post-9-11-post theo (as in shorthand for theocrat) “identity liberalism” has something to do with the hawkishness displayed by some of America’s mainstream liberal intellectuals. There was a split in the ranks of the left over the clash of civilizations thesis and Afghan war.

  6. Dain Fitzgerald

    The demand of smaller groups for collective sovreignty in the face of larger groups which have internalised some individualistic limitations is not a step in the direction of liberty but an abandonment of the principle in a senseless revolt against the imperial enemy of the hour.

    Not if you do this out of a sense of preserving individualism in the long term. I don’t think you’ve shown just which libertarians go to bat for the right of cultural collective sovereignty per se. I have of course seen tons of libertarians who focus primarily on imperialism over critiques of foreign cultures, and if that be read as a defense of foreign cultures, it’s probably mistaken.

  7. Dain Fitzgerald

    Nick,

    http://adamtebble.com/identity_liberalism

    Essentially, the recognition that one’s community, state, or nation is of a given liberal identity that is worth preserving against illiberal elements inside and out. It fuses nationalism, which the left dislikes, with a progressive cultural program. This isn’t a very new idea of course, but I think it’s become more salient since 9/11 and the split on the left you speak of.

  8. dirty-sneakers

    Hi, I was doing a search for fellow anarchists in Vegas and it appears I found a goldmine. Looking forward to corresponding with everyone. For now here is my shameless self-promo http://www.dirty-sneakers.com Take care for now! Cory

  9. Nick Manley

    “Nick,

    http://adamtebble.com/identity_liberalism

    Essentially, the recognition that one’s community, state, or nation is of a given liberal identity that is worth preserving against illiberal elements inside and out. It fuses nationalism, which the left dislikes, with a progressive cultural program. This isn’t a very new idea of course, but I think it’s become more salient since 9/11 and the split on the left you speak of.”

    You’re right that it’s not a new idea. The original “Progressives” of the TR or Woodrow Wilson type were major imperialists with purportedly liberal intentions — as far as their official rhetoric goes. In mainstream American political economy or history, they are viewed as part of the left. That just goes to show that radical libs are really outside of conventional understandings of left/right.

    On Libertarians:

    The Libertarians I know around here are pretty cosmopolitan. They do tend to welcome people of diverse philosophic and spiritual approaches to life, but I’ve never met a vehement racist or anything. The ones I’ve spoken the most to are fairly respectful, curious, convinced that they can persuade ordinary people to support their ideas, and confidently honest. I’d also note that local crasher in chief Pete E made good on his promise to record the SWOP march ( :

    There are Libertarian functions devoted to certain things or people I am less interested in. I tend not to go to them, but I generally like the company of individual Libertarians without a conservative moralistic streak. Despite not really understanding Anthony Gregory’s Christianity or abortion position, I’d be close friends with him. Most of my family I am close to around here are all “Reds” of sorts. They have individualistic senses of life, but they don’t agree with Libertarians entirely on questions of the nature of freedom or political economy.

    I’ve thought about Aster’s writings on the state of Libertarianism and compared their contents to my own experiences. What I’ve discovered so far is that they don’t entirely match up. That said, I can support her views with some anecdotal tidbits, but I can’t violate the participant’s privacy. There was a speech by Thomas J. Dilorenzo around here. I thought of asking Charles to send me his post on some of his odd comments on homosexuality, but I decided not to go to the speech. None of the Libertarians I’ve talked to around here have a problem with it, but there may be tendencies to overlook these issues due to similar views on political economy.

  10. Sergio Méndez

    I think the worst mistake one can make in opposing non-Western traditional horrors is to confuse reason and freedom with the inherited traditionalisms specific to Western culture- which have and still do show hostility to reason and individualism to the degree that they are consistent and powerful.

    Or in other words, Aster, not to be like a modern anglo saxon conservative :)

  11. Dain Fitzgerald

    Anthony Gregory is Christian? I worked with the guy for a bit, didn’t notice that. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I know he believes in natural rights, which I’ve now abandoned. I’ve seen the inadequacy of Rothbard in ways I didn’t think possible when I was wearing his “Enemy of the State” shirt in Auburn Alabma summer 2005.

    The following summer I was at an IHS (Institute for Humane Studies) seminar in which I joined up with a group of folks comprised of a white Muslim female, a Romanian Marxist and assorted other European visitors. A fairly cosmopolitan crowd, though with regard to identity liberalism’s concerns, the Muslim woman is probelmatic because she has “internalized” an oppressive ideology. Well, she doesn’t think so, and had no patience for people like Ayann Hirsi Ali who would condescend to women who sport a headscarf out of modesty and generally religious considerations.

  12. Nick Manley

    Wow! I didn’t know they had Romanian Marxists visiting IHS. That shows a real willingness to engage in dialogue with ideological “foes”. I actually know some IHS employees around here. Let me know when you come for another seminar. We can hang out.

  13. Dain Fitzgerald

    Nick, without turning this into a personal back and forth, I’ll be at one of the advanced seminars this summer, but don’t know which one, and I don’t think either are in your area (Missouri right?)

    Out of respect for Rad, this will be my last such personal comment.

  14. Nick Manley

    Dain,

    My last personal comment too: I live in Silver Spring, Maryland right now. It’s a suburb of D.C.

  15. Bill Goodwin

    Nick and Dain, get a room. (I kid).

  16. Bill Goodwin

    Moderated comments?! Charles…

  17. Rad Geek

    Bill,

    Comments are unmoderated by default, but certain triggers may cause them to go into the moderation queue as a spam control measure. (Having had comments approved here in the past raises the bar for moderation; so future comments you leave should hopefully go through more smoothly.)

  18. Nick Manley

    “Hi Nick!

    I’m not sure yet if my club and I are coming down, but if so, I’ll definitely get in touch with you. We have limited funding, and have not even applied, but it does look like a very neat event. We’d all love to talk to other people, particularly about implementation of liberty-oriented policy. I’ve heard of RAWA [not surprisingly, in a women studies class]. It sounds like a worthwhile cause. What sort of thing do you think you might organize? I think associating libertarians with human rights causes is a very good idea. I often I run across those who think of the liberty movement as a threat to human rights, and so I see some strategic pragmatism in aligning libertarians with human rights activism and even private charities.

    On another note, I’ve been trying to talk to libertarians and gauge their current satisfaction with the party, kind of get a feel of their opinions. I’ve been libertarian-leaning for some time, but only joined the LP just over a year ago. Lately, I’ve sensed some worrisome things in their emails. In addition to increased inner-party drama, it all has an air of cheap propaganda, with a recent bitter taste of social-conservatism I hadn’t noted before. There has been increased negativity, and a lot of useless anti-Obama (admittedly, mostly from Young American Libertarians) that I find mentally repelling.

    I understand many reasons why this might be the case and what crowd they may be trying to appeal to, but I thought I’d ask if you noticed this or if you had heard of anyone complaining [I noted your William Gillis quotation]. Or even simply if you had any more thoughts you’d like to share (with me or the blogosphere).

    -Elizabeth”

    “Hi Elizabeth!

    Do let me know if you and your “comrades” (?) are coming down this way anytime soon. I am glad you’re not interested in 21st century classical liberalism being identified with our nest of Sean Hannity/Ann Coulter inspired conservatives or social conservatives more generally. I don’t follow the politics of the LP, so I am not sure what people are saying about Obama as LP members. William Gillis is anti-Obama, but he’s not a social conservative. Arthur Silber has penned some pretty angry essays about him. You may already know of him, but you can view his website here: http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/. Alas, Arthur is a fervent atheist and gay man, so he’s got no paitence for cultural conservatives. You should read these essays of his:

    http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2003/11/in-praise-of-contextual-libertarianism.html

    http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2007/02/living-on-insideand-living-on-outside.html

    May I ask what your opinion of Obama is? I certainly don’t see a problem with his stated opposition to the theocratic policies of the Christianist right. I’ll be happy to see him follow through in that department. It’d help to know more about your own development of Libertarian or individualist leanings. How far “left” do you consider yourself on the spectrum of Libertarian ideas? Where do you stand on the Ayn Rand question? Lol.

    On RAWA and human rights/charity: I see support for them as a principled response to the present evils of the world. I am also interested in researching alternatives to welfare statism. It’s often on issues of potential for economic advancement and well being that left-liberals depart from classical liberals. I aim to end that.

    Do you mind if I post this on my website or other blogs for the purposes of stimulating discussion?”

    “Nick! I must have missed the email notification, although delayed responses seem to be a trend lately with me. I’ve been stretched pretty thin. Please feel free to post whatever. I’d be interested in participating in public discussion, time permitting.

    Thank you for the Arthur Silber articles. I actually got a chance to read them today and enjoyed them a lot.

    The Rand question has been a big one in my life for a number of years, and I think it’s about time I sat down and carefully thought about how to answer it again. Consider this a precursor to a longer, more thought-out response, addressing all of your questions.

    My immediate reaction is to speak at length about my theories of who is attracted to O’ism and why, and to discuss the ways Rand is often interpreted in ways that seem to justify emotional immaturity or failed social interactions. While based in some empiricism, I’d have a hard time presenting such arguments. They’re mostly just suspicions.

    Contextual libertarianism sounds like a much better approach. It’s dynamic and seems methodologically superior to the way I’ve seen some O’ists operate. The problem with reasoning “in the realm of the ethers” is that it’s easy to get caught in one isolated perspective, as I think the author correctly identifies. The role of culture and its interaction with the indivdual is extremely important, and I think sometimes libertarians tend to forget that not everyone shares their values, or gets value out of life in the same way. In my experience those drawn to extreme O’ism tend to be isolated on a number of planes, emotionally, intellectually, and socially, which I think contributes significantly to the formation of their political philosophy. That gulch is so attractive for a reason. Of course, this is a generalization, and I’ve been out of the libertarian social community for a few years now. I think the article was right, one should oscillate between context and principle in policy matters.

    Elizabeth”

    In light of Aster’s comment, I thought I’d post this exchange between I and a woman in NY. We’re discussing liberty ideas and conservatives. I was going to post it on Rad’s latest, but I didn’t want to entirely dominate the discussion there.

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