YouTube LiberaPay Patreon YouTube Twitter Github RSS PayPal Email

There seems to be an assembly line straight from the von Mises Institute to the Dark Enlightenment.

A large amount fo the increasing number of people who describe themselves as "(Neo-)Reactionaries" have a history as right-libertarians if not anarcho-capitalists. Paying attention only to the surface level of politics, this seems like some kind of contradiction, or at least evidence of some emotive mass-conversion. Why the hell should an ancap, supposedly immunized against all forms of "statism," come in support of the Reaction, which is uperficially radically pro-state, pro-autocracy, anti-individualist, etc.?

In fact, if you ask me, historically being a libertarian is practically a precondition to being a good Reactionary. There are some nationalist knuckle-draggers and Christian dominionists in the Reaction, never having read the Gospel of Rothbard, but pretty much all Reactionaries of intellectual note since Moldbug have gone trhough at least a phase of libertarianism.Now the fact is, even though their policies my vary tremendously, libertarians and Reactionaries see the same specific flaws in the Progressive social engineering program, and Reactionaries have taken those to their logical conclusion which libertarians dare not to. At least, a true libertarian opens an intellectual can-of-worms in his development and it's only a matter of time until those worms do their work.

As a caveat, when I say "libertarian," I mean a true-blue libertarian, not a "minarchist who believes in democracy" and certainly not one of those vapid, suit-clad and Koch-kosher "moderate 'libertarians'" that hang out in D.C. LARPing and pretending that they actually have an effect on politics. I'm talking about a true ancap praxeologist who won't shut the hell up about spontaneous order.

Spontaneous order, as it happens, is where the magic happens, where libertarians become Reactionaries. One of the elementary aspects of libertarian economics is that the "economy" is an emergent and naturally ordered instrument, where prices and products arise from a subtle and constantly shifting interaction between individual subjective valuation and material inputs.

The human mind, on the other hand, is relatively nude of concepts and metaphors for understanding economics (or much of anything). Aside from the "data" required to make centralized economic decisions being infinite and inaccessible (unless the State starts mind-reading), we simply have no intuitive understanding of what is good and bad economically. State engineering and meta-decisions create scarcity they purport to alleviate and there's overwhelming evidence that purposeful interference in the complex system of the economy brings ruin, destruction, etc. in various forms (citation: the 20th century).

All libertarians understand this, and their research into economics is mostly an enterprise of creating accessible metaphors for making sense of economic action, the underlying principles of decision-making still far beyond our design. At the heart of it, someone who understands laissez faire in its most extreme and relevant variety understands that the economy is an emergent and self-organizing engine, and action taken to modify its output, worse than being ineffectual, is inevitably counterproductive. This is just spontaneous order. And if you're reading this, I assume you know your Hayek, so I won't belabor the point.

Understanding the spontaneous order of the economy immediately crushes the intuitive idea that we can graft our desires onto the macroeconomy in any straight-foward way. This libertarians understand, and for that reason, interventionism, socialism, economic nationalism, etc. are all a bore and intellectual stillborn from any analytical perspective. The battle for libertarians is against the neurotic conceit that individuals or collectives can model and control the market, which is formed from the diffuse desires and conditions of all people.

The thing is that libertarians fail, in a way Reactionaries do not, to generalize spontaneous order as widely as it should be. Sure, the economy is spontaneously ordered, but more than that, all of human society is as well. Libertarians will often shutter at the thought of collective and purposeful economic engineering, but suddenly soften their hearts for purposeful social engineering.

In the same way that economic institutions such as private property, banking and loans, credit, currency and the rest arise gradually as norms to solve underlying problems, social mores and institutions, be they gender roles, xenophobia, dieting prohibitions, aesthetic tastes, environmental practices, etc. evolve as a way of variously dealing with inherent social problems.

The whole point of spontaneous order is that no one sat down one day to decide what kind of gender roles a society should have (well, not until now...), in the same way that a banking system or conventions for private property rights are never decided in some historical meeting. A gradual inter-play of needs and solutions combine to address the problem. Gradually, an more-or-less efficient solution emerges, but no individual person needs to understand why or how it works.

In fact, most of the history of economic thought was an issue of gradually coming to grips with the fact that seemingly "irrational" or exploitative practices, say, taking interest on loans were, in fact, not just efficient in some narrow economic sense, but socially beneficent. If social engineers came into power and couldn't see a justification for any interest and therefore prohibited it outright, the social repercussions would've been disasterous.

The logic is the same in the social domain. If we honestly forfeit all our critical faculties and social mores to an opinion-molding class that insists that gender roles are "irrational" and must be stomped out, the diffuse ways that gender roles bring together the disjoint interests of males and females are lost. Rational precaution dictates that we shouldn't steamroll everything we might not understand.

Even at that, a lot of what sociobiologists, anthropologists, Game Theoreticians and others have done within the past century amounts to an account of human social mores similar in style to the French classical liberal analysis of economics. Instead of looking at complex systems in the human domain with a naïve eye to engineer, serious attempts at understanding how and why human societies arrange themselves as they do have been undertaken with fairly fruitful results. Even without them, it would be no more rational to trash social conventions because they are unsavory to use on individual aesthetic, pseudo-"rational: grounds.

There is a wooly-headedness in some libertarians that somehow social mores are "obsolete" because of some hand-waved social change. It's hard to enunciate how naïve this is. If a Progressive gets up and says "income inequality" or employment or scarcity itself should not longer be a problem if we adopt some Progressive panacea (college education, more progressive taxation, environmental regularion), a libertarian would wince, but some might turn around and say something equally as stupid like that xenophobia is no longer necessary because we live in a "globalized and multicultural world economy." Xenophobia and nepotism solve for inevitable information asymmetries and tail risks; they're never going to be "irrational."

Libertarians see the emergent nature of one aspect of human society: the economy, but often don't generalize the intuition where it's due. Reactionaries do. Granted, social mores can constrain individual action, so if he were to notice this, a libertarian would cease being a libertarian, at least in some sense (this is debatable). Still, the principles behind the Reaction and libertarianism are quite the same. Of course, there are other minor sociological reasons for the libertarian refuge in Reaction. There is the betrayal of Ron Paul by the RNC in 2012, which forced many libertarians out of "reforming the system." And now the perennial attempt to find middle ground with Progressives on things like gay marriage, sex and abortion is considerably compromised due to the unrelenting acceleration of unmitigated insanity of the social engineering Left.

What we're left with is the same old assembly line. Every libertarian has the same choice: sell-out and try to make it big at George Mason or see how deep the rabbit hole goes...