Seth Segal of BigLeaguePolitics interviews Ilana Mercer about paleolibertarianism.
BIG LEAGUE POLITICS: Being a preeminent paleolibertarian thinker today, how would you define paleolibertarianism and how does it differ from standard paleoconservatism?
ILANA MERCER: First, let’s define libertarianism. Libertarianism is concerned with the ethics of the use of force. Nothing more. This, and this alone, is the ambit of libertarian law.
All libertarians must respect the non-aggression axiom. It means that libertarians don’t initiate aggression against non-aggressors, not even if it’s “for their own good,” as neoconservatives like to cast America’s recreational wars of choice. If someone claims to be a libertarian and also supports the proxy bombing of Yemen, or supported the war in Iraq; he is not a libertarian, plain and simple.
As to paleolibertarianism, in particular, and this is my take, so some will disagree. It’s how I’ve applied certain principles week-in, week-out, for almost two decades. In my definition, a paleolibertarian grasps that ordered liberty has a civilizational dimension, stripped of which the just-mentioned libertarian non-aggression principle, by which all decent people should live, will crumble. It won’t endure.
Ironically, paleoconservatives have no issue grasping the cultural and civilizational dimensions of ordered liberty—namely that the libertarian non-aggression principle is peculiar to the West and won’t survive once western civilization is no more. Which is why, for paleoconservatives, immigration restrictionism is a no-brainer.
By the way, the statement is not meant to be culturally chauvinistic. There are indigenous tribal people (say, in Brazil) who’re peaceful and pastoral. I mourn their culture’s near-extinction, as well. Where such extinction has been brought about by the West’s chauvinism—it must be condemned.
In any event, paleoconservatives would typically grasp that libertarian principles would not endure in certain cultures. Libertarians, on the other hand, have had a hard time linking civilizational issues with the libertarian axiom of non-aggression. What do I mean? Libertarians will chant, “Free markets, free minds, the free movement of people.” Let’s have ‘em all.
They don’t always explain how these principles are to endure once Western societies are overrun by individuals from cultures which don’t uphold these principles. (From the fact that our own societies are turning out liberty hating individuals—it doesn’t follow we should import more.)
On the other hand, paleoconservatives are far less focused on the state as an evil actor and often appear more concerned with culture wars: gay marriage, cannabis, pornography, abortion. The paleolibertarian rejects any attempts by the state to legislate around the issues of:
Abortion: Completely defund it is our position.
Gay marriage: Solemnize your marriage in private churches, please.
Drugs: Legalize them and stop the hemispheric Drug War.
Wage walls, not wars.
As a creedal paleolibertarian, I see the road to freedom, primarily, in beating back The State, so that individuals can regain freedom of association, dominion over property, the absolute right of self-defense; the right to hire, fire, and, generally, associate at will.
Foreign policy—specifically, no meddling in the affairs of other countries!—is the be all and end all of both paleoconservatism and paleolibertarianism. Don’t let any of the radio or TV personalities fool you. If he or she liked, justified or rationalized Bush’s Middle-Eastern wars or Trump’s dabbling in Niger—he or she is no paleolibertarian. (Tucker Carlson is a fabulous paleoconservative.)
Both variants are for small government and big society. Again, more so than the paleoconservative, the paleolibertarian is radical in his anti-state position, sometimes even advocating a stateless society.
BIG LEAGUE POLITICS: In what ways does your political thought differ from CATO institute libertarianism?
ILANA MERCER: CATO’s political thought is left-libertarianism. I call it “lite libertarianism.” Lite libertarians equate liberty with abstract, lofty ideas, which—against all evidence, historic and other—purport to work magically when applied to every individual in the world.
You can say that the crucial difference between lite libertarians and the Right kind is that, to the former, the idea of liberty is propositional–a value, an idea that’s untethered from the realities of history, hierarchy, biology, tradition, religion, culture, values.
Bluntly put, the principles of American freedoms were not developed by progressive, libertine ladies, marching in pussy dunce caps; by the suffragettes or the LGBTQ community and their program. Are those significant facts? You bet!
The garden variety libertarian, CATO and Reason types, see liberty as a shared, universal quest. They appear to think that inside every Afghani or Yemeni or Iraqi is a Jeffersonian waiting to break free.
In essence, this left-libertarianism is one that underplays, underestimates or just plain refuses to recognize what I just referred to as “liberty’s civilizational dimension.”
Notice how similar are left-libertarians to neoconservatives in the tendencies just described.
INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY. Lite libertarians also tend to blame governments, principally, less so the individual, for barbarism in certain parts of the world. Your regular libertarian’s attitude to personal wrongdoing often runs to what I’ve characterized as a form of social determinism: “The state made me do it.”
In other words, if for the sins of man the left is inclined to blame society; a lot of libertarians fall into the same methodological error when they implicate the State. The conservatively minded paleolibertarian will recognize humanity’s innate, biblical capacity for evil.
Both factions (left-libertarians and neoconservatives) are short on punishment, individual responsibility and agency, all preconditions for ordered liberty.
RACISM. And this is vitally important: A lot of establishment libertarians have joined the neoconservative and neoliberal establishments in the habit of sniffing out racists. Sniffing out racists is an absolute no-no for any and all self-respecting libertarians.
True libertarians don’t, or should not, prosecute thought crimes or persecute thought “criminals.” Period.
BIG LEAGUE POLITICS: Which conservative thinkers resonate most with your beliefs?
ILANA MERCER: John Roanoke, John Calhoun, Edmond Burke, Russell Kirk, Frank Chodorov, Felix Morley, James Burnham (once a leftist), Paul Gottfried, Clyde Wilson, Samuel P. Huntington.
This interview was previously published on November 23, 2018.
The latest “caravan” community planning to crash borderless America is not part of Latin America’s problems; it’s escaping them. So say America’s low-IQ media.
And Latin America’s problems are legion.
The region, “which boasts just eight percent of the world’s population, accounts for 38 percent of its criminal killing.” Last year, the “butcher’s bill … came to around 140,000 people … more than have been lost in wars around the world in almost all of the years this century. And the crime is becoming ever more common.”
So writes the Economist earlier this year, in an exposé aimed at “shining light on Latin America’s homicide epidemic.”
As is generally the case with this august magazine, the shoe-leather journalism is high-IQ, but the deductions drawn therefrom positively retarded.
Tucked into these frightening facts about a killer culture is a timid admission: The Problem—Latin America’s murder trends—could be exported to the neighbors.
How? Do tell. By osmosis? Perhaps by “caravan”? Liberal louts never say.
By the by—and just so you know—Latin America’s crisis of crime “has been mounting.” El Salvador, for instance, had the highest murder rate in the world: 81 to 100,000. By the early 2010s, “the bloodshed in some cities had reached a pitch.”
Referred to by demographers also as a “youth bulge,” this “demographic bulge” is the crème de la crème comprising the caravans. Their exodus is from the slum-dog cities of Latin American, where the crime is heavily concentrated, and where “people are crowded into … shantytowns and favelas.”
Our young, strong caravanners hail from a culture of “extortion gangs,” “drug-trafficking,” badly trained, “often corrupt” police and prosecutors, marred by general “institutional weaknesses.”
War-like conditions in their countries force “Latin American governments [to] spend an average of five percent of their budgets on internal security—twice as much as developed countries.”
Since I reported on El Salvador’s murder rate … a paragraph or two back, the murder rate in that country has “rocketed to 104 per 100,000 people.”
Such is the power of the war lords there, that stationing “soldiers on the streets” and throwing “thousands of gang members into prison” only served to increase crime.
Only— and only—when government offered bribes to “El Salvador’s three main gangs” did murders halve “almost overnight.” The government gave “imprisoned leaders luxuries like flat-screen televisions and fried chicken if they would tell their subordinates to stop killing each other.”
But then “the gangs began to see violence as a bargaining tool,” and the peace died.
What do you know? Since telling you about El Salvador’s criminal pinnacle, a mere paragraph ago, Venezuela did one better. (Maybe the Economist isn’t so high-IQ, as the rather randomly yoked-together data I relay here are its own).
“Venezuela now has the world’s highest homicide rate.” The country “stopped releasing murder statistics altogether in 2005,” because these make South Africa seem an oasis of peace and prosperity.
To fanfare, Colombia announced the achievement of “a murder rate of 24 per 100,000 people, its lowest in 42 years,” in 2017. In the United States, it’s still 4.9 per 100,000, although in some spots, murder rates are higher than in South Africa.
When they aren’t in hiding, Latin-American leaders and their international helpers try to excite a reverence for life among their people with sexy sounding campaigns. “Value life” is one. Another is “Instinct for Life.” These attempts haven’t taken.
Still, when the most hated man in America, President Donald J. Trump, questioned the benefits to the U.S. of immigration from what he called "shithole" countries, the low-IQ media lost it.
The president’s brutal honesty masks a more vexing question:
What makes a country, the place or the people? Does "the country" make the man or does the man make the country?
To listen to the deformed logic of the president's detractors, it's the former: The "country" makes the man. No sooner will these Latin-American migrants crash into our borderless country—than the process of cultural and philosophical osmosis will begin. Big time.
In no time will American probity and productivity become second nature to the newcomers.
Quite the reverse.
Having chronicled and analyzed the fate of the dying Christian civilization at the tip of Africa, allow me to sound the alarm, straight from a book that predicted the demise of South Africa, due to the same, shared flippant attitude toward human capital:
“Human action is the ultimate adjudicator of a human being's worth. The aggregate action of many human beings acting in concert is what makes or breaks a society. Overall, American society is superior to assorted African [and Latin American] societies because America is [still] inhabited by the kind of individuals who make possible a thriving civil society.” (“Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa,” pp. 161-162, 2011.)
Put differently, it is the individual who creates the collective, not the other way around. The Man makes the country what it is.
South Africa ceased being great once enough good people were expunged from state and civil society.
The tipping point is coming. A sufficient number of bad people admitted into the Unites States of America will make America great no more.
Adroitly, President Trump has optimized outcomes for the American Worker. His is a labor market like no other.
Long overdue in the U.S., a labor market is one in which firms compete for workers, rather than workers competing for jobs.
“For the first time since data began to be collected in 2000, there are more job openings than there are unemployed workers.” By the Economist’s telling (Jul 12th 2018), “Fully 5.8 million more Americans are in work than in December of 2015.”
Best of all, workers are happier than they’ve been for a long time.
Not so business. For American business, it’s never enough.
Big or small, business is focused on elephantine-like expansion.
Big and small, business is nattering about labor shortages: “Ninety percent of small businesses which are hiring or trying to hire workers report that there are few or no qualified applicants, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.”
With blaring headlines, the megaphones in the financial press are amplifying a message of dissatisfaction:
“The shortage is reaching a ‘critical point’ … A lack of applicants for blue-collar jobs such as trucking and construction has received particular scrutiny, as have states like Iowa where the unemployment rate is especially low (it is just 2.7 percent in the Hawkeye state).”
August 31 saw President Trump sign an executive order meant to further boost small businesses. These will be permitted “to band together to offer 401(k)s.”
Again, nice, but not enough. It never is. A businessman present piped up about “a very tight labor market … causing us a little bit of a problem.”
Contrast this gimme-more-forever-more attitude, with the patriotic perspective of your average Trump supporter: “I’m willing to take my lumps for the good of the country,” a farmer told broadcaster Laura Ingraham. “The Scottish in me says to the death.”
Look, a labor market allows wages to rise and productivity to grow, for unprofitable firms will soon fold when they find they can’t pay enough to attract workers. Scarce resources—labor and capital—are then “put to better use.” …
More crucially, wage gains accrue “to the poorest workers.” As the neoliberal, Trump-hating Economist notes, “Full-time employees at the 10th percentile of the income distribution are earning almost 4 percent more than a year ago.”
Beware; the good times may be short-lived. Trump’s response was Pavlovian. He promised the bitchin businessman to “start looking at, very seriously, merit-based immigration. We have to do it, because we need people.” Read: We don’t have enough fabulous people among a labor force 160-million strong.
This is the conditioned response corporate America has come to expect from Power. Business wants the world as its labor market, because? Fill in the blanks, dear reader.
For its part, government cares a great deal about outsized sectional interests and GDP (gross domestic product) numbers, as churned out by number-crunchers.
But, surely prosperity is about per capita growth as well, and—dare I say? —the wealth and health of local communities?
We know that multinationals—stateless corporations; “global beasts with vast balance-sheets”—are preoccupied with increasing value for shareholders. However, that and training American talent are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
What’s so wrong with making fellow Americans part of the success story? This may slow economic growth, but may increase its sustainability; make it the kind of growth around which authentic, organic communities can coalesce.
And what’s wrong with doing well enough with the labor available in the country? Or, with a view to training American talent? Or, with a mind to paying more for local labor?
As it stands, business is permitted to petition The State to import the world at a price heavily subsidized by disenfranchised American taxpayers.
By extension, the attitude of business toward economic growth is rooted not in healthy, community-based practices (stateside and abroad), but in some aberrant economic gigantism; in an economic elephantiasis undergirded by greed.
Fair enough: Small business wants to be big when it grows up. But let us not confuse the metastatic multinational, motivated by mammon alone, with a business whose growth is sustained by communities, as opposed to colonies of imported labor.
This piece originally appeared on IlanaMercer.com on September 20, 2018.
No good deed goes unpunished. Jeff Sessions wants to restore to America the "sound principles of asylum” and long-standing tenets of immigration law, abandoned by American leaders over the decades.
That makes the attorney general a Hitler, to use liberal argumentation. Condemned for all eternity.
As the left sees it, if America isn’t going to police the world; it must at least provide shelter to all people from unpoliced parts of the world.
That’s the left’s reason du jour for opposing the restoration of American immigration sovereignty.
And now, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is piling on.
By narrowing promiscuously broad asylum criteria—the system is being gamed, attests Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge—Sessions stands accused of flouting the “right to life” of the women of the world.
No matter that America has its own share of abused women “persecuted by their husbands and ignored by their own governments.” The last, parenthetic remarks were uttered by immigration lawyers, who mask greed with prattle about values.
This legal club is looking out exclusively for the women of the world, not the women of America. To them, we are the world.
Over the objections of such rent-seekers, Sessions has dared to say “no!”
"Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems—even all serious problems—that people face every day all over the world," reasoned Sessions, quite sagaciously.
To manipulate Americans, politicians (save the likes of President Trump and his attorney general) use the values cudgel.
With respect to immigration, the idea is to impress upon pliable Americans that the world has a global Right of Return to the U.S. Fail to accept egalitarian immigration for all into America; and you are flouting the very essence of Americanism.
When a politician or a high priest like Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB, pules about "the values that make our country great" (originally the mantra of Mrs. Hillary Clinton), this is what they invariably mean:
Wide-swung borders, multiculturalism, pluralism; accepting Islam as peace and the majority in America as dangerously pale and privileged; “recognizing” that communities divided in diversity are a strength, and that a living, breathing, mutating Constitution mandates all of the above.
Just ask Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
For them, "protecting" the abstraction that is "our way of life" trumps the protection of real individual lives. "We must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are," dissembled Barack Obama in the waning weeks before he was gone.
Meandered U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Democrat from the state of Nevada:
“Attorney General Sessions continues to betray every American value of compassion, justice, and respect for the rule of law. This is not who [sic] America is.”
The hollow values phrases are meant to make the sovereign citizen forget government's most important role, if not its only role: to uphold the individual rights of its citizens.
Self-government, and not imposed government, implies that society, and not The State, is to develop its own value systems.
The State's role is to protect citizens as they go about their business peacefully, living in accordance with their peaceful values.
Whenever you hear an appeal to "permanent values"—"the values that make our country great”—know you are dealing with world-class crooks. These crooks want to swindle you out of the freedom to think and believe as you wish.
For in the classical conservative and libertarian traditions, values are private things, to be left to civil society—the individual, family and church—to practice and police.
The American government is charged purely with upholding the law, no more. Why so? Because government has police and military powers with which to enforce its "values."
A free people dare not entrust such an omnipotent entity with setting or policing values, at home or abroad.
For values enforced are dogma.
When incontestable majorities call on government to curb Islamic and Latin-American in-migration because this imperils American lives, President Trump's unswerving opponents, on this front—Ryan, McCain, Graham, Schumer and their media mafia—invariably intone, "That's not who we are."
When you hear that manipulative chant, tell them to mind their own business. Tell them to stick to their strict constitutional mandate to protect the people, not police their minds.
Remember: Through an appeal to values, the State aggrandizes itself.
A limited government, serving an ostensibly free people, has no right to push through illegitimate government policy by merely appealing to “our values,” because a legitimate American government has no right to enforce values.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa”(2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube