Review: of Richard Storey’s The Uniqueness of Western Law

The Uniqueness of Western Law: A Reactionary Manifesto
Richard Storey
Arktos, 2019

With Washington Summit taking a hiatus and Counter-Currents more or less capitulating in the face of a rapid sequence of Amazon bans, Arktos has emerged as one of the most prolific and stable of the Alt-Right’s publishing brands. Some of this success and stability may be due to the brand’s ability to secure translations of works by familiar names like Alain de Benoist and Julius Evola, as well as bring forward work from new, innovative, and fresh young thinkers like Richard Houck. But I think another, and possibly more important, element contributing to the brand’s ongoing growth and development is consistency — consistency in leadership, editorial standards, production values, and manuscript selection. Over the last couple of years, as a voracious reader of content on numerous topics from multiple sources, I’ve come to appreciate the consistency offered by Arktos in all of these areas. I recently acquired a number of their new titles covering a range of subjects, some of which I expected to agree with wholeheartedly, and others that I thought might challenge me or broaden my understanding in certain areas. Of these, Richard Storey’s self-described “Reactionary Manifesto” fell somewhere in the middle of these expectations. Marketed as “an original interpretation of libertarian theory,” the book was guaranteed to pique my curiosity.

I am not a libertarian, nor have I ever embraced any such political identity or affiliation. My thinking regarding the broader trajectory of libertarian thinking is absolutely in line with that laid out by my TOO/TOQ colleague Brenton Sanderson in his landmark essay “Free to Lose: Jews, Whites & Libertarianism” (TOQ, vol. 11, no., 3; Fall, 2011) For Sanderson, the Jewish intellectual origins of economic libertarianism are explained by the fact that

free markets advance the interests of Jews through imposing an impersonal economic discipline on non-Jews through which their ethnocentricity and anti-Semitic prejudice can be circumvented. … Jews have indeed prospered under the conditions of free market capitalism among often hostile majority European-derived populations. … Jews, even in the freest of markets, are notorious for developing and using ethnic monopolies. … Accordingly, the free-market libertarian agenda, when promoted in the context of a society that is multi-racial, and where some racial groups exceed Whites in the degree of their ethnocentricity, may not promote the group evolutionary interests of Whites in enhancing their access to resources and reproductive success.

Sanderson continues:

It seems evident from the foregoing that the only time that Whites will be acting in their own evolutionary self-interest in embracing the free-market libertarian agenda will be when they either live in a racially homogeneous society where their group interests are not imperiled by the utility-maximizing behavior of individuals; or in a multi-racial society where competing racial groups do not exceed Whites in their ethnocentrism, or exceed Whites in their ethnocentrism but lack the native endowment of intellect to capitalize on this by effectively employing altruistic group strategies in competition with individualistic Whites. … It would seem that libertarian ideas are particularly hazardous to the collective interests of White people because we are naturally attracted to them. As MacDonald notes, our evolutionary history makes us prone to individualism in the first place. You then get a negative feedback loop where libertarian ideology intensifies this innate individualism to encourage ever greater individualism among Whites, and an ever greater aversion to manifestations of White ethnocentrism. Thus, where the spirit of free market libertarian individualism reigns, Whites willingly maximize their individual self-interest at the expense of the group evolutionary interests of the White community — with disastrous long-term consequences.

In terms of analysis, this simply can’t be improved upon. Sanderson’s essay serves as a devastating critique of libertarianism from the standpoint of White ethnic interests, and it has been, and remains, very influential on my thinking about the topic. Thus, even before I opened Richard Storey’s text, I thought that its success would be determined to a large extent by the manner in which it addressed the core issues of ethnic interests and how it grappled with the fact Whites seem uniquely susceptible to individualistic and atomizing ideologies. The fact that Storey is known to frame his thinking in an outwardly Catholic fashion also raised possible doubts as to its potential for wider appeal. Fortunately, this short but remarkably efficient volume rose to the challenge.

Richard Storey seems very aware of the problems outlined by Sanderson, and his treatise on libertarianism is explicitly and unashamedly ethnic and pro-European. The title of the volume is a nod to Ricardo Duchesne’s monumental The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (Brill, 2011). Duchesne provides a predictably excellent afterword to Storey’s text, and it is clear throughout that Duchesne has had a very marked impact on Storey’s thinking. Indeed, Western Law can to some extent be read as an homage to Duchesne’s ideas, as well as augmenting them and taking them into new areas and applications. Economic matters are on the periphery in this text, and these areas and applications are instead brought under the four sections that comprise the volume: Natural Law, Socio-Biology, Politics, and Family. Each section contains an average of five short essays that, individually, are easily read and digested in a short period of time. This is therefore a book that will strongly appeal to those who like to read on the move, or who are forced to adapt their reading habits to very busy lives.

The section on Natural Law is split into six brief essays of no more than a few pages in length. Partly because my knowledge in this area is lacking, I found it one of the more challenging but interesting sections of the book. In the first essay, “Libertarianism is Only a Theory of Law,” Storey appears to attempt to define libertarianism away from its Jewish trajectory in free market ideology, insisting instead that its deeper ethos is linked to the great Western heritage and, in particular, to the “egalitarian aristocracies of the Indo-Europeans from whom all the European civilisations are descended.” For Storey, “libertarianism is part and parcel with the uniqueness of Western law and, therefore, the uniqueness of Western civilisation.” In the second essay, “The Uniqueness of Western Law,” the author moves further into descriptions of what exactly this Western law consists of, and he cites a number of scholars who have concluded that even law itself is a “non-universal phenomenon of the West, other civilisations developing little more than principles of moral life which are not law.” The rest of the essay is a fascinating interplay between the ideas of Duchesne and their application in developing a kind of spiritual (in a non-religious sense) genealogy of the principles of Western law. Foremost here is the Indo-European egalitarian aristocracy (i.e., egalitarianism among aristocratic peers) and its striving for personal recognition.

Storey clearly has an attachment to modes of limited monarchism, especially those witnessed prior to, and during, the Middle Ages. He admires “the customary law and the right to resist tyrants, with kings being answerable to the rulings of another lord’s court.” The author argues that Western law, conceptualized as primitive, tribal libertarianism, was able to survive and thrive under such an arrangement, and he adds that the same logic applied to Western law in relation to the Church. For Storey, in line with similar arguments advanced by Duchesne, the Catholic Church was/could still be, a vehicle of essentially Hellenistic ideas. He writes:

It has been argued by various modernists, especially New Right thinkers, that pre-Christian Rome and the revival of its more anti-Christian features during the Renaissance and Enlightenment is more in keeping with the ancient culture and principles of European civilisation; what’s more, that Christianity was essentially an alien, even subversive, Jewish influence on European civilisation, and one which has been, at least in some ways, incompatible with the culture of Europeans. On the contrary, as shown above, the Roman state was a divergence from Indo-European ideas of rulership in significant ways, such as the Greek experiments in freedom and the kings of the Germano-Celtic tribes. Now I shall argue that Christianity is Hellenistic, a rightful successor of the natural law tradition, and, therefore, that it lies at the heart of Western civilisation.

Chapter 3, “Estopping State Systems of Government,” is the most technical of Storey’s discussions of natural law. Novices to the subject, or to legal matters in general, are likely to find some parts difficult, at least initially. For my part, I was left somewhat stranded by one of two very early jargonistic sentences such as: “Praxeological jurisprudence and the doctrine of dialogical estoppel provide the rational framework to show that, where there is incentive for rational consistency in the law, estopping the activities of state government and employing private judicial services is the only rationally viable option.” As a novice, I had to read through once more after checking definitions of some of these terms, and then once again to assess in my mind whether or not I actually agreed with the point being made. Though I suspect some of these essays originally featured on Storey’s blog with a view to being read by those familiar with such terms, a future project along similar lines might benefit from editorial input that smooths the path to understanding for a broader readership, perhaps with a useful written illustration or anecdote. But this is a minor complaint, and there are only a couple of examples in the book, limited to this chapter, in which such a criticism could be made. The central thrust of the chapter is a critique of the monopoly of judicial services aggressively maintained by the state, in contrast to earlier systems of Western law.

In the fourth chapter, Storey offers a legal vision of the Europe he’d like to see. Here, he points to “the realisation of anarcho-capitalist principles” that would “most resemble the stateless societies of medieval Europe.” Storey offers a concept of “Personalism” — neither individualism (which is destructive) nor collectivism (which is not natural to Europeans, at least when solely among their own kind). The author takes a quite clearly anti-Protestant and anti-Enlightenment stance in this chapter, blaming both for the rise of destructive individualisms and the abandonment of natural law/order. As someone raised Protestant, with lingering affinities to elements of Protestant thought as well as elements of Enlightenment thinking, some of these critiques stung but nevertheless demanded attention. In the end, however, and quite apart from any opinions I might have had on the finer points of Storey’s criticisms, the author’s conclusions in this chapter are difficult to argue with: our states are now essentially central coercive authorities with limited liability, and this has been incredibly useful to those hostile elites seeking to control masses of individualistic Whites. Storey argues that the only potential immediate legal competition to the state might come from the Church. The fact that there may indeed be some truth to such an argument can be seen in Church resistance to homosexual marriage legislation; an example, perhaps, of the way in which separation of Church and State could conceivably provide the groundwork for alternative or divergent legal pathways.

Chapters 5 and 6 makes the case for an ethno-national libertarianism. In “Libertarianism needs Nationalism (Not Statism),” Storey explains his sense of nationalism not via an abstract racial pride but via “simple, socio-biological facts.” The author writes that there probably wouldn’t be an authentic libertarianism without European-origin groups. The continued belief and practice in libertarianism would also be dependent on the presence of Europeans in homogenous, high-trust societies that are no longer multicultural. One of the singular threats to libertarian ideas in non-homogenous societies is the presence of groups preoccupied with the “ethno-nepotistic desire to look after one’s own.” Storey writes: “In short, if you love freedom, you’ve got to love homogeneity. … Simply put, if libertarianism is to become more than an intellectual theory of law — if it is to manifest and grow in the future, it must become nationalistic.” In “Folk-Right Versus Multiculturalism,” the author continues in this vein by arguing that kinship, and not civic nationalism, should be the fundamental basis of the nation. In a paragraph in which Storey shows he is all too aware of the same concerns that weighed on Brenton Sanderson, he very powerfully describes the concept of jus soli (right of soil), as opposed to jus sanguinis (right of blood), as follows:

An unsustainable mistake which leaves the ethnic groups of Europeans vulnerable to those aliens who are conscious of their ethnic loyalties and are willing to take advantage of a democratic system which pits all conceivable groups against each other in competition to wield political power. We cannot ignore the fact of ethnic nepotism.

Drawing on Duchesne and Frank Salter, Storey insists that biology

sets natural boundaries around whom we are prepared to extend our individual recognition of kinship to. This not only makes the ethnic the most practical focus of self-interest, but it also explains why human societies have near-universally done so as a matter of intuition. Members of our ethnic/racial in-group should be seen as family, albeit less related than biological families, but definitely far more closely related than people from different races. Naturally, such interests are best protected with laws of jus sanguinis.

The book’s second section, on socio-biology, is less concerned with legal, scientific, and historical matters and is generally lighter in tone and style than the first section. The six essays concern basic differences in worldview and temperament between Whites and other races, musings on European personality types, and the question of White guilt. The first, “In Search of Non-White Philosophers,” is a brief and interesting few pages on the fact that philosophy is an almost exclusively White phenomenon. Storey makes the excellent point that if academic philosophy caved in to demands to “decolonize” the subject and stock it with non-White thinkers, then the discipline would effectively cease to exist. The author writes “there can be no philosophy course without much-maligned, dispossessed and disenfranchised white men … Truly, in European civilisation alone, philosophy lives, moves and has its being.”

Of all the essays in the volume, I found Storey’s next to be one of the more provocative. In “Why There are No Successful Black Nations … Yet!,” the author acknowledges the role of genes and culture in limiting Black accomplishment, but he also suggests that Christianity could provide “the best cultural technology” for incentivizing behavior changes among Africans. I found the argument a little weak, though, to be fair, Storey’s discussion is only six pages in length. On the one hand, it’s certainly true that Blacks in America enjoyed a more stable and successful communal and home life in the rural, conservative South before the 1960s than they do at present. But how much of this was due to Christianity, as opposed to the presence of strict social controls, is something that needs to be given more serious thought and analysis than appears in this brief essay. Another potential critique is that Christian missionaries have been at work all over Africa for centuries, and that large parts of Africa are, after a fashion, quite flamboyantly Christian — with negligible impact on the African economy (which is Storey’s real focus here).

In “Why Libertarianism is Unique to the West,” “Source of the Faustian West,” and “Is There a European Personality Type?,” Storey draws heavily on Richard Lynn to explain the biological and cultural interplay between Whites and their successful cultures. In this interesting piece, he describes culture as a “bottom-up” process in which race gives rise to society, which then imparts traditions to its individuals. The European libertarian and individualistic cultures and institutions are thus the result of four socio-biological qualities: IQ (average Caucasoid IQ significantly above the Negroid mean, but slightly below the mongoloid mean); testosterone levels (also intermediate between Negroid [high] and Mongoloid [low]); low proneness to psychopathy (i.e., lack of empathy or concern about others), and high time preference.

All of these traits are rooted ultimately in the need to prepare for the pressures of harsh winters. For example, people with a high time preference are relatively focused on their well-being in the present and in the immediate future; on the other hand, people with low time preference are relatively prone to emphasizing their well-being in the distant future. While people with high time preference are prone to immediate gratification, people with low time preference would be more inclined to prepare for harsh winters.

Storey, again borrowing from Lynn, identifies psychopathy as key to European success. Psychopathy is not always a bad thing. If a race has too little psychopathy, it would tend towards developing societies that are largely domesticated and submissive under a very small number of despotic rulers, as well as a tendency to absolutely dread standing out from the crowd. Historically this has been more characteristic of East Asians, where one Japanese proverb reminds: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down!,” although similar phenomena are apparent in some  Northwest European societies, particularly Scandinavia (see section titled “Scandinavian Roots of Western Egalitarianism and Sense of Fairness”); see also F. Roger Devlin’s review of Ed Dutton’s recent book on Finland). By contrast, too much psychopathy results in societies riddled with crime, social chaos, and civil war. These have been very typical features of Negroid societies. In the middle are those descended from the Indo-Europeans. Moderate psychopathy resulted in the development of societies based on respect among peers, and in the creation of cultures typified by restless curiosity and just the right level of dissent — resulting both in innovation and in the conquest of all boundaries.

The last essay of Section Two, “Why Do Whites Choose White Guilt?,” is one of the most interesting in the volume. Like Kevin MacDonald, Storey sees the root cause as being psychological, writing: “There is something peculiar to white folks which has resulted in too many of us kowtowing to the negative self-image in vogue; this something also results in us being so apologetic for our existence that we don’t want to make a fuss about declining birth-rates and encroaching minority status in a few decades or less.” This peculiarity, argues the author, rests in the “hopelessly repetitive” habit of the White man to universalize every principle he encounters — the flip side, or Achilles Heel, of the same traits that lead to greatness. The White psychopathic psychology, and in particular its longing for recognition, combines with the tendency to transcend social norms with the result that “whites tend to presuppose that every single culture does or could or should exhibit the same levels of brilliance they perceive in themselves; and they have frequently coerced others to do so.” In a stunning and heartbreaking summary, the author writes “Just as the white man has sought to be the first to reach the poles, mountaintops and even the moon, so too I believe that the white man is endeavouring to be the first to show he has no care at all for his own genes.” However, Storey also points out that, while most Whites are desperate for the kudos that comes from expressions of White guilt and altruism, the overwhelming majority marry other Whites and try to live among other Whites. I was quite fascinated by Storey’s discussion of the Chinese perception of such behavior:

The Chinese aren’t fooled. They know exactly the egoism afoot amongst liberal whites; thus the immense popularity of the derogatory term, ‘baizuo,’ for white liberals. This term means a ‘naive western-educated person who advocates for peace and equality only to satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority. … The Chinese see the baizuo as ignorant and arrogant westerners who pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours.

These themes are developed in ‘Politics,’ the third section of the book. The first essay, “Liberal Supremacism: Today’s White Man’s Burden,” is in some respects a continuation of the discussion of pathological altruism, extended now to the political rather than psychological realm. In “The Neocon Slave Ethic,” Storey offers a punchy three-page critique of neoconservatism that points out hypocrisy in relation to “the ethno-nepotism of Israel” and ends with the conclusion that “Neocons may have had a good run at disguising themselves as part of the ‘right,’ but they cannot disguise the cowardly and subversive nature of their ideology, which thus betrays its origins, having no root in conservatism or traditionalism.” The following two essays, “Democracy Isn’t Working” and “Europeans Want Hungary, Not Sweden,” were some of my favorites from the volume. Their titles are fairly self-explanatory, and their content and style is excellent.

In “Why the West Can’t Unite Against Terrorism,” Storey offers another provocative and powerful challenge to atheism. He argues that we have been reduced by modernity to little more than “mere economic units” deprived of meaning, and, in one of my favorite lines from the book, explains that we have “become so weak that the state power of our own government finds us to be the path of least resistance.” In the event of any and every ethnic conflict, including Islamic terrorism, our governments will look at whites as the people most easy to placate, manage, and silence. This is certainly an indictment of what we have become. Storey insists we need a strengthening and sense of meaning that can only come from religious sources. Again, this will divide opinion, but deserves careful reading.

In ‘Family,’ the book’s final section, matters end on a significantly lighter note. In “Why Women Are the Unfairer Sex” and “Why Fighting Is Good for Men and Boys,” Storey offers a defense of masculinity, before moving on to the heartwarming “Four Reasons My Housewife is Awesome.” I found both essays to be much-appreciated light relief from some of the heavier content in the preceding section. His essay “How to Be A Good Father,” is also a welcome addition to a volume that is, ultimately, about ensuring a future for our people.

Capping this unique and important volume is an afterword by Ricardo Duchesne. Typically brilliant, the piece praises Storey’s “effort to show that libertarian freedoms are not incompatible with a strong commitment to in-group white identity politics.” Duchesne writes that:

Many on the Alt Right, followers of Alexander Dugin, to be sure, are calling for a Western world that is more in line with the way non-European societies are organised, with their authoritarian governments and strong collectivist values. But this is impossible. Europeans are innately individualist. This does not mean, however, that their liberalism inherently precludes them from recognising the importance of collective identities, shared values, and ancestries.

All of this brings me back to the conclusion of Kevin MacDonald’s Culture of Critique, where MacDonald questions whether Europeans will be able to maintain their way of life or whether they will be forced to adopt the methods of highly ethnocentric competitors. There is certainly an element of sadness to the latter. Richard Storey’s “Reactionary Manifesto” offers some light at the end of the tunnel.

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