Tag Archives: interventionism

When Libertarians Attack!

The enemy of liberty has been found. Now it’s only a matter of exposing the monster for what it is, and it shall die from humiliation.

That monster is — conservatism.

It seems conservatism is an ideology, like communism or Nazism, that demands a powerful, centralized government, a police state, regulation over every aspect of an individual’s life, and a militaristic foreign policy.

Or so says libertarian author and blogger Tom Mullen. His book Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? claims to expose conservatism as the ugly and vicious love-child of those ancient apologists for despots, Thomas Hobbes and Edmund Burke.

Wait, what? Edmund Burke?

It takes only a cursory look at Mullen’s assertions to see just how sloppy and poorly researched they are. In doing so, I will let conservatives define conservatives, rather than libertarians. Seems only fair.

First, let’s consider how ludicrous it is to claim conservatism was co-founded by Thomas Hobbes and Edmund Burke. In fact, Hobbes belonged to a camp of political science that was directly opposed to Burke’s. Hobbes was a rationalist philosopher. Rationalists, as Michael Spicer explains in The Founders, The Constitution, and Public Administration: A Conflict in World Views, view human reason as sovereign. Reason, say the rationalists, is the ultimate authority on how humans should conduct themselves and organize society. Rationalists believe man can perfect himself and create utopia on earth. Because reason is the same everywhere, its principles apply to all peoples. Spicer observes that “rationalists distrust ideas derived from customs and traditions,” and therefore customs and traditions “are seen as impediments to obtaining true knowledge and must be swept aside.”

That’s why rationalist philosophers look to violence, whether by revolution or state-sanctioned force, to sweep out those musty old traditions that impede their programs.

Edmund Burke, on the other hand, was an anti-rationalist. As Spicer explains in his book, anti-rationalists do not believe human nature can be perfected. Instead, anti-rationalists “see the world, particularly the world of human affairs, as simply too complex and hence too unpredictable for any one mind, however wise, to comprehend and control.” For that reason, anti-rationalist philosophers look to established customs, traditions, and institutions as the most reliable guides to human conduct.

I cannot improve on this summary of Burke’s thought from the Edmund Burke Institute:

Burke is commonly regarded as the founder of modern conservatism. In his speeches and writings, he articulated the concept of an organic society: a social order that is sacred, natural, historical and traditional. He believed that social change was best achieved when eschewing abstract thought divorced from experience; instead, he favored renewal of the polity in harmony with a regard for individual liberty, respect for the accumulated wisdom within existing institutions and a concern for the greater good of the community. His political theory can best be summarized by his most famous phrase: “Society is a contract between the past, the present and those yet unborn.”

Traditional, organic society, then, is the foundation of order. Russell Kirk argued that traditional society is the only — the ONLY — source of our rules for mutual interaction — in other words, our rights:

Traditions are not abstractions; they are particular beliefs and customs closely related to private life and faith. The American Republic has its traditions, and so has the Cambodian Kingdom; but traditions are not created by political authority, and ought not to be debased into party slogans.

Only for the past century and a half has the word “tradition” been employed to signify “ancient customs” or “established habits of life in society.” Edmund Burke, for instance, writing in the last years of the eighteenth century, used the word “prescription” to convey these meanings, rather than the word “tradition.”

When we speak of tradition in America, then, generally we mean prescriptive social habits, prejudices, customs, and political usages which most people accept with little question, as an intellectual legacy from their ancestors.

The stable of rationalist philosophers includes Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, and Irving Kristol. Rationalists believe in the sovereign individual, whose chief concern is economic, and from that assumption, they derive their advocacy of the unitary, consolidated state; open borders; economic globalization; and the eradication of all traditional restraints on individual choice.

Among the notable anti-rationalists are David Hume, Adam Smith, and Joseph de Maistre. Anti-rationalists believe in the social nature of man, whose chief concern is the preservation and well-being of one’s culture, and from that foundation, they argue for small, culturally based political units; mediating institutions, such as families, churches, and voluntary associations to shelter and nurture the isolated individual; border security to insure demographic continuity; economic nationalism to protect jobs; and respect for traditional morality, which strengthens families and communities.

Mullen’s sloppiness is most apparent — and grating — in his conflation of neoconservatives and conservatives. Neoconservatives, despite their misleading name, are rationalists who view America as a “creedal nation” rather than a nation founded on Western traditions. Neocons base their ideology on Trotsky’s strategy of the “permanent revolution,” which called for supporting socialism in other countries to protect socialism in the USSR. So when Neocon handpuppet George W. Bush launched his US-led “global democratic revolution” beginning with Iraq, he argued that exporting democracy would help protect democracy in the US. When real conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, Charley Reese, and Sam Francis aired their objections to Bush’s crusade, National Review’s David Frum denounced them as “unpatriotic conservatives.” Nevertheless, Mullen equates “militarism” as a defining conservative value.

There’s also an amusing aspect of Mullen’s intellectual confusion. On the basis of a few quotes, Mullen claims Edmund Burke fundamentally agreed with Thomas Hobbes, despite Burke’s radically different politics. While Burke believed in an organic society, Hobbes argued that man is not a social animal. Hobbes even went so far as to claim that society could not exist without a powerful government. The foundation of conservatism is that culture precedes government. Despite this breathtaking contradiction, Mullen frequently (obsessively?) uses Hobbes to discredit conservatism. Yet, Mullen applauds John Locke as one of the good guys, despite Locke’s frequent citation of Hobbes and partial agreement with him.

Why is this important? If we are to defend liberty, we have to understand where it came from, how it can be preserved, and what threatens it. Today we are faced with an out-of-control and self-serving central government that is busily importing a compliant Third-World population. Libertarians such as Mullen claim to defend liberty, but vocally support open borders and economic globalism, the same double-edged sword the ruling elite wields against us, its subjects. Without a Western majority, we cannot hope to preserve Western standards of behavior and governance.

Soldiers Are Not Angels: A Review of Samuel Finlay’s Breakfast with the Dirt Cult

Breakfast With The Dirc Cult

My review of Samuel Finlay’s gritty and gut-busting war novel Breakfast With The Dirt Cult is featured today at the Abbeville Review blog.

An excerpt:

Finlay’s fictionalized account of his tour of duty in Afghanistan, Breakfast with the Dirt Cult, is hard to classify. It isn’t a red-white-and-blue “Support our Boys!” kind of tale, nor is it an expose of imperialistic brutes in uniform wielding high-tech machines to murder and subjugate noble savages. So one should not expect this war novel to be “The Green Berets” or “Apocalypse Now.” It is instead a tale that bristles with humor, honesty, and has an edge to it that will alternately have you chuckling or holding your breath.

Read the rest at the Abbeville Review.

Hold Open The Gates!!

In last week’s Amconmag article “The Neoconservative Cursus Honorum, Phillip Giraldi reverse-engineers the system that the neoconservatives used to subvert the Right:

“If one looks at the careers of 30 well-known neoconservatives, one notes that there are a number of stops that pop up on many of the resumes, a progression that might well be described as something like a cursus honorum whereby the neoconservative aspirant is afforded status and credibility before stepping out onto the national or international stage.”

More specifically:

“…starting out in elite academia and then bouncing from position to position inside and outside the government, aided at every step by others in the movement. The neoconservatives benefit particularly from their ownership of a number of foundations and institutes, the aforementioned alphabet soup, that provide resting places between university and government positions, complete with salaries and important-sounding titles. Many also are provided with lucrative opportunities in the private sector that free them to subsequently concentrate on the true task at hand, which is shaping U.S. foreign policy.”

In a fascinating juxtaposition, Jim Antle last week wrote about the declining power of the few remaining foreign policy realists in his Amconmag blogpost “Is James Baker Too Realist for the Republican Party?”:

“The GOP’s most hawkish national-security hands want to maintain a monopoly on foreign-policy advice for Republican presidents and other elected officials. As the James Bakers age out of government service, they don’t want any younger realists trying to replace him in the GOP.”

Meanwhile, we Paleoconservatives have been almost completely exiled from all spheres of political power. Now that the same is happening to those in the “realist” camp, the neoconservatives have nearly completed their chain of impregnable ziggurats from which they can hatch their plots in safety and comfort.

A major theme expressed here in the Conservative Heritage Times has been the necessity of building a Paleoconservative “bench team”, and several posts have decried the lack of Paleoconservatives with “plausible resumes” who can lead our movement.

I have been back and forth on Rand Paul, but this is the pro-Rand line of reasoning I find most compelling. His victory, or even a strong showing, holds back the day we are irrevocably exiled from all power. Again, Jim Antle:

“The bigger the Paul vote is, the more likely a Republican candidate not named Paul will covet it. This is especially true since there was a large presidential vote for the Libertarian Party in 2012. There are a few GOP candidates whose foreign-policy views are largely unformed, with Scott Walker and John Kasich being two of the best examples. Mitt Romney is a known panderer not bound by past positions who got along well socially with Ron Paul.

It’s also necessary to diversify the set of foreign-policy advisers available to future Republican presidents. Even if a Walker or Kasich gets elected, the qualified professionals they’ll have to choose from when gaining national-security counsel will be almost uniformly hawkish. A Rand campaign can bring more realists and libertarians into party circles.”

In fact, one realistic and attainable goal is the possibility I heard the other day…. a strong Rand Paul showing, coupled with an early primary exit, sets the stage for a Walker/Paul ticket.

If that could mean the gates are held open for a few of our favorite Paleoconservatives to get White House experience- quietly building a bench team, building plausible resumes- then it is well worth pursuing.

Li’l Lindsey Graham would sic the military on Congress

What could we expect from the Graham administration? For one thing, there would be a LOT more discipline in DC. A lot more. For starters, President Graham would reverse Obama’s “budget cuts” to the Pentagon’s bloated budget — never mind that the current base military budget of $534 billion will be the largest in the history of the United States. The Pentagon’s bottomless pit already receives 55% of all federal spending. But that wouldn’t be enough for President Puss in Boots:

And here’s the first thing I would do if I were president of the United States. I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We are not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.

Oh, goodie. A military dictatorship to force Congress to appropriate even more taxpayers’ dollars for the Pentagon. That would also be a boon for the Democrats since the NAACP has called for a return to military rule to enforce even more aggressive Civil Rights laws. I can see Graham’s campaign slogan now: Win-Win with Lindsey!

Disregarded Stars

Jim Webb, a bit of a paleo projection in the 2006 Democrat midterm triumph, has announced he is forming an exploratory committee to run for President.  Webb, from the paleo view, had the identity of a warrior, who was anti-war–something akin to Andrew Bacevich.

Webb is a mixed bag on immigration/visa issues, but generally speaking a patriotic technocrat, rather than a rogue populist politician.  Webb can address the “white male” issue the Democrats have, and will continue to have, making him a potentially potent primary campaigner in the Northeast and West.

Keep an eye on it, Southern Man.

The Answer to Empire

Bill Kaufman describes the problem:

We are, today, subjects of an empire, not citizens of a republic. The idea of “citizenship” has been diluted from one of membership in an organic body in which each person matters, takes part in civic affairs, to the current condition, in which you are a cog in a machine, just another brick in the wall. The role of an American citizen, as viewed by our rulers in Washington, D.C., is to pay your taxes, cast a meaningless vote every four years, and shut the hell up. You have almost—almost—no say in U.S. foreign policy. As Dick Cheney once replied when told that the vast majority of Americans wanted our soldiers home from Iraq: “So?”

And, being the brave soul that he is, Kaufman outlines a response to the problem. Anything we can do to decentralize, to devolve, to reclaim local control of our lives — since we all live locally, not globally — is a step in the right direction. The good news Kaufman seeks to share is that those of us who grasp what the great problem of our time is and have an idea about how to tackle it are no longer alone. There are a number of movements afoot coming from different directions but heading toward a similar goal:

Wendell Berry, one of our age’s sages, has noted that hopeful signs are sprouting everywhere: life-giving, life-affirming movements… everything from community-supported agriculture to homeschooling to the New Urbanism to the return of the natives that is going on all over this homesick land. People are rediscovering—reclaiming—citizenship. Berry calls this a “redemptive” movement, though he acknowledges that “in terms of standing and influence [it] is hardly a side at all. It doesn’t have a significant political presence. It is virtually unrepresented in our state and federal governments. Most of its concerns are not on the agenda of either major party.”

As I’ve noted previously, the breakup of the DC Empire is inevitable. It has already begun in the minds of its subjects. As the administration of Barack Obama has made clear to all who will see, it makes no difference which organized gang is in power. The Empire will go on dropping bombs on innocent civilians in the name of spreading democracy, subsidizing billionaires in the name of prosperity for all, and illegally spying on us in the name of protecting our liberty.

As the man said, “Every day the bucket goes down to the well. One day the bottom will drop out.”