Libertarianism

Selfish Bastards: A Review of “Atlas Shrugged, Part I”

I saw Atlas Shrugged on Saturday, April 16th. It was a sold-out showing to an all-White audience in a predominantly White area. The audience contained a large contingent of Tea Party people, mostly Christian, as well as libertarians and Objectivists. There was geeky anti-government banter as we waited for the movie to begin. There was applause after the movie ended, but I did not join in. In fact, I found this to be a deeply disappointing adaptation of the first third of Ayn Rand’s epic novel about the role of reason in human existence and what would happen if the rational and productive people—the Atlases that carry the world on their shoulders—were to shrug off their burden and go on strike.

Atlas Shrugged could be a spectacular movie. It is certainly a spectacular novel, although not a perfect one, primarily because it is deformed by the grotesque excess of Galt’s Speech, 60 odd pages in which the novel’s hero John Galt explains Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. But I have to hand it to Rand, because at least for me, she managed to make even Galt’s Speech a page-turner. In truth, although I reject Rand’s individualism and capitalism and would not have lasted five minutes in her presence, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most audacious and enthralling novels I have ever read—and I have read most of the classics—and even it does not equal Rand’s earlier novel The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged is the greatest mystery novel of all, for it is about what makes civilizations rise and fall. It is the greatest adventure of all, for it tells the story of a man who stopped the world. Read more

Libertarianism under intellectual scrutiny — and a call for papers

Rand Paul’s Senate candidacy has been a godsend to the liberals. Jonah Goldberg puts it this way:

Indeed, it’s worth noting that the only people who are really jazzed to reopen the argument about the Civil Rights Act are liberals. And they have good reason: They won that argument, politically and morally. This is a fact liberals never stop reminding us, and themselves, about. Like a paunchy middle-aged man who scored the winning touchdown in the high school championship, nostalgic liberals don’t need an excuse to bring up their glory days (which were not the Democratic Party’s glory days, by the way). Give them a living, breathing politician who suggests, no matter how imprecisely or grudgingly, that the Civil Rights Act wasn’t perfect, and they’ll talk your ear off like a drunk uncle at a wedding.

I’d have to agree with Goldberg that the liberals won the argument politically — hence the liberals’ glee at finding a really fat target. But it’s not at all clear that the liberals won the argument intellectually, or even morally. Goldberg himself is quite confused about what Rand Paul is saying — conveniently, as it turns out, because he comes up with a clever argument that he seems to think absolutely destroys Paul’s position:

For the record, Paul and [Barry] Goldwater were both wrong. The libertarian position is not to defend Jim Crow but to condemn it, and not just because of its unjust bigotry but because of its economic folly that served to entrench that bigotry.

Paul weeps for the lost right of white businessmen to refuse black customers (even though he rejects the practice himself). But he fails to appreciate the perverse irony that one of Jim Crow’s greatest evils was its intrusion on the property rights of whites. Jim Crow wasn’t merely some “Southern tradition” undone by heroic good government. Jim Crow laws were imposed by government. And they banned white businessmen from serving blacks.

Based on his interview with Rachel Maddow, Rand is well aware of the distinction between private discrimination and government laws that would force people to discriminate. Paul stated quite clearly that he supports the aspects of the Civil Rights bill that struck down government laws that enforced segregation, but he opposed the parts of the law that made it illegal for private individuals or companies to discriminate on the basis of race.

So Goldberg is managing to go along with the liberals in bashing Paul, without really confronting the intellectual issue of whether the rights of individuals should include the right to personal discrimination. (Incidentally, one wonders whether Israel apologist Goldberg would condemn Israeli apartheid. I assume he would rationalize or ignore all the official and unofficial ways that Israel discriminates against Palestinians in Israel and especially in  the occupied territories, doubtless citing the “Israel is our democratic ally” mantra.)

So the intellectual and moral issues remain.  I have recently become editor of the Occidental Quarterly. (Formal announcement and plea for subscriptions TOQ later, but you can subscribe now, if you want.) Greg Johnson, the previous editor, initiated a contest for the best essay on “Libertarianism and Racial Nationalism.” (The deadline is June 1, but it will be extended to July 1. $1000 to the winner!) Great topic.

Libertarianism is a strong tradition in American history — the tradition of unfettered individualism. Eric Kaufmann’s treatment emphasizes the idea that 19th-century libertarians saw their freedom-loving ideology as an aspect of their Anglo-Saxon ethnic heritage, and as an evolutionary psychologist I agree that there is an ethnic basis to libertarian tendencies.

But Kaufmann also notes that this libertarian tendency became part of the culture of Western suicide in the 20th century. One of the things I noticed in writing the chapter on the Frankfurt School for The Culture of Critique was that these very Jewish (and therefore profoundly anti-libertarian in their own commitments) former Marxists had nothing but good things to say about individualism.  “In the end, the ideology of the Frankfurt School may be described as a form of radical individualism that nevertheless despised capitalism—an individualism in which all forms of gentile collectivism are condemned as an indication of social or individual pathology.”

So it’s not surprising that Goldberg as  a Jewish neocon presents himself as true to libertarianism — while ignoring the more difficult issue of personal discrimination.  But for us White advocates, the problem is even deeper. On the one hand, there is good reason to think that we Whites have a natural tendency to want to live free from intrusive governments and not have to march in lock step with others. That’s not to say that we can’t organize as a collective, it’s just that it’s harder for us to do.

Indeed, White advocacy is essentially a plea that Whites have collective interests and a right and an interest in organizing in order to achieve their interests in what has now become a cauldron of competing ethnic interests. Ethnic competition is always the death knell of individualism, as people organize themselves into competing groups. (That’s the real point  of the Arizona ethnic studies law: The last gasp of American individualism.) Any putative White homeland would necessarily discriminate on the basis of race, if only to secure its borders against the sort of invasion that we are now undergoing. Are Whites really so principled that that they would fail to see a moral imperative in preserving themselves, their culture, and their institutions, even if it meant that they had to discriminate on the basis of race.

It seems clear to me that libertarian individualism is indeed a culture of White suicide given the current political landscape. As Whites become a smaller and smaller percentage of the population, libertarianism will become an “okay” ideology for Whites — an officially approved harmless palliative to make them think they are intellectually honest while they sink into the sunset.

But I am open to all sorts of ideas on this topic and am definitely looking forward to reading the contributions to the special contest issue of TOQ.

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Christopher Donovan: Rand Paul, The Civil Rights Act, and My Evening at Wendy's

The other night, there was a fundraiser at the local Wendy’s.  Ten percent of the evening’s proceeds went to the local library, so my wife and children headed over for some delicious greasiness.  Not our usual dinner routine, but it was for a good cause.

Every person in the restaurant — including, believe it or not — the employees, was White (perhaps the library fundraiser skewed things).  Compared to the typical ghetto-area fast-food restaurant experience, this one was delightful.  The restaurant was clean.  People were friendly.  Families were interacting.  There were older couples smiling at the babies crawling on the floor, mothers chatting with each other.  It was as comfortable as a family dinner.

I reflected on all this after having listened to Rand Paul be grilled by Robert Siegel, a Jewish NPR host, about his views on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Paul, as most know, is the son of Ron Paul, and has recently emerged the winner of the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky.

Whatever Paul’s real views, he of course has been taking the careful tack of insisting that he opposes “racism”.  I trust Siegel relished needling him about whether he’d allow roadside barbecue joints to bar entry to Blacks.

I don’t know how I’d handle that one myself if I were serious about getting high elected office in America today.  The legal distinction between government discrimination and private discrimination isn’t one most people grasp in dumbed-down America, so arguing Constitutional principles wouldn’t work.

How about this?

“Robert, the Civil Rights Act wasn’t about expanding rights, it was about taking them away — from Whites.  Everyone’s got a right to decide whom they’ll associate with, and whom they won’t.  This is probably the most fundamental right.  The government has no business dictating who our associates will be.  This may be awkward and painful at times, but that’s life.  How would you feel if the government forced you to host three Ku Klux Klansmen at your condo in D.C.?”

Christopher Donovan is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist. Email him.

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The Arizona Ethnic Studies Law: The Last Gasp of American Individualism

Things keep getting more and more interesting in Arizona. Now they have penalized school districts that have ethnic studies courses: As reported by the NYTimes, “any school district that offers classes designed primarily for students of particular ethnic groups, advocate ethnic solidarity or promote resentment of a race or a class of people would risk losing 10 percent of its state financing.”

The people involved in teaching these courses deny that there is any advocacy of ethnic solidarity or racial resentment against Whites. And if you believe that, I’ve got some land I’d like to sell you.

Tom Horne, the state superintendent of public instruction, is the main man behind the law. He points to an incident in which all the Mexican students walked outon a speech by his deputy, a Republican Latina who was trying to counter another speaker who said that Republicans hate Latinos: “In the middle of her speech, a group of students that are in the Raza [!] studies program got up, put their fists in the air, turned their back to her. The principal asked them to sit down and listen, and they walked out on their own principal.” Sounds like a hostile act of ethnic solidarity.

The NYTimes article mentions that Horne objects to Pedagogy of the Oppressedby Paulo Freire, and the LATimes mentions Horne’s objection to Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, by Rodolfo Acuña, a professor and founder of the Chicano studies program at Cal State Northridge. Who would ever think that titles like that could lead to resentment against a certain (very evil) race?

Actually reading these books is well beyond my tolerance level. Friere’s book sounds like straight cultural Marxism right out of the Bill Ayers playbook. A reviewerquotes Friere: “Education as the exercise of domination stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent (often not perceived by educators) of indocrinating them to adapt to the world of oppression.”

Occupied America emphasizes the evil that Whites have inflicted on Mexicans and Native Americans in the past. An Amazon review titled “Abajo con los Gringos!” (“Down with the Gringos”) states that Acuña’s book “contributes additional heft to the indictment of White settlement and expansion in this hemisphere as the cause of immense suffering by an essentially stone-age culture at the hands of a militarily superior civilization.” Another states that Acuña

pulls up countless accounts of slaughter, rape, torture, mutilation, and abuse of Mexican men, women, children, mostly incited as a sort of blood sport by American cavalry, enlisted men, volunteers, and associates, as well as the leveling of Mexican cities and towns just for target practice. To add to the war crimes, most of the Americans involved, even the command of Zachary Taylor, were never brought up on any charges, nor even in the most slightest way, reprimanded for their actions.

One has to agree with Horne and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer that this sort of thing is likely to produce hatred toward Whites. A spokesman for Brewer stated, “Governor Brewer signed the bill because she believes, and the legislation states, that public school students should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.” Horne says much the same.

So the ideology underlying the bill is to let bygones be bygones and get on with the project of getting along with each other. The intellectual basis is classic libertarian individualism. Horne puts it this way:

I believe that what’s important about us is what we know, what we can do, what’s our character as individuals, not what race we happen to have been born into. And the function of the public schools is to bring in kids from different backgrounds and teach them to treat each other as individuals. And the Tucson district is doing the opposite. They’re teaching them to emphasize ethnic solidarity, what I call ethnic chauvinism. And I think that’s exactly is the wrong thing to do in the public schools, and that’s why I introduced this legislation to give myself the authority to put a stop to it.

This libertarian ideology is indeed the last hope of those intent on avoiding a race war as the inevitable consequence of present trends. The idea is that the faces will look different as the US absorbs all these immigrants, but we’ll still have a consensus commitment to individualism — nothing but vestigial group loyalties. No group conflict. No retribution for what happened in the past.

But now that America has gone so far down the road of minority ethnic consciousness and has signed on to massive non-White immigration motivated by fear and loathing of the traditional White population, is it really possible to turn back and pretend we are all nothing more than individuals? One reason to think that this is very unlikely to happen is that individualism is a unique creation of Western culture. No other culture has developed individualist institutions, and there is no reason to suppose that the millions of non-Whites who are crowding our shores will do so. Certainly these programs of ethnic consciousness raising will do nothing but strengthen group loyalties and hatred and resentment and hatred of the White majority.

At TOO we have repeatedly emphasized that White Americans are crazy to voluntarily become a minority in a society where the non-White majority has historical grudges against them and continues to have a strong group consciousness. Hostility to the traditional people and culture of America is a powerful current among Jews, spanning the entire Jewish political spectrum, from leftist intellectuals like Susan Sontag (“The white race is the cancer of human history”) and Howard Zinn (whose A People’s History of the United States has been a staple of college history courses for three decades) to neoconservatives like Norman Podhoretz (see also here). It goes without saying that these attitudes are common among Blacks, and the fact that Acuña’s work is mainstream among Latino intellectuals is yet another indication, if any were needed, that it is common among Latinos too.

All the indications are that non-Whites are coalescing into a powerful political coalition centered in the Democratic Party. This coalition is formidable in large part because of the prominenc of Jews who are such an important component of American elites in the areas of personal wealth, media and political influence, and in the legal and academic worlds.

This plea for individualism is really the last gasp of hope for avoiding a racial bloodbath in the future. It is simply inconceivable that a non-White majority led by racial and ethnic activists filled with anti-White hatred of the sort that we see every day now will somehow be magically transformed into an idyllic Neverland of individualists of all races, ethnicities and religions. Unless Whites manage to develop a separatist state or manage to massively reverse the changes of the last 45 years, they will be in a physical fight for survival.

This is not to deny that Whites have been brutal towards other peoples in the past. But it is naïve to suppose that non-Whites would behave any differently if they could have. Speaking as an evolutionist, the idea that Western culture is uniquely evil is ridiculous.

But the idea that Western culture and White people are uniquely evil have been common among the intellectual activists of the left that now dominate in the academic world, beginning with the Boasian anthropologists who dominated anthropology for most of the 20th century. The Boasians created an imaginary past expunged of ethnic violence and warfare (see here, p. 29 ff.) Non-Whites were portrayed as gift-givers and myth-makers, not at all prone to ethnic warfare.

Non-White intellectual activists are now celebrating their ethnocentrism and hostility toward Whites. Legions of them are tenured professors in departments of ethnic studies. Acuña’s department of Chicano studies at CSU-Northridge has 28 professors, and it’s the same pretty much everywhere. The Arizona legislation shows that this sort of intellectual ethnic activism also pervades the K-12 curriculum.

So Whites really have three choices:

  • Reverse the trends of minority empowerment by getting rid of ethnic studies programs and deporting illegal immigrants, as Arizona is doing. However, that won’t be enough, unless they succeed in getting the very large numbers of legal non-White immigrants to leave.
  • Stake out a White separatist area in North America.
  • Get ready for the coming race war.


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