The more I read Jeff Deist’s “For a New Libertarian” speech, the more powerful and eloquent I find it. I don’t know if he realized it at the time, but he delivered a powerful blow against a subversive effort within the libertarian movement by not only calling out its presence, but pinpointing it, identifying it and thoroughly describing it and its flaws.
If there is one overriding point we should remember it is that liberty is natural and organic and comports with human action. It doesn’t require a “new man.” Yet libertarians have a bad tendency to fall into utopianism, into portraying liberty as something new age and evolved. In this sense they can sound a lot like progressives: liberty will work when human finally shed their stubborn old ideas about family and tribe, become purely rational freethinkers (always the opposite), reject the mythology of religion and faith, and give up their outdated ethnic or nationalist or cultural alliances for the new hyper-individualist creed. We need people to drop their old-fashioned sexual hangups and bourgeois values, except for materialism. Because above all the archetypical libertarian is presented as an almost soulless economic actor, someone who will drop everything and move to Singapore tomorrow to make $20,000 more in the gig economy.
What we have here is the “ideal man” as envisioned by what I would call “cosmopolitan libertarians” who are ultimately like globalists in that they share the exact same view of the individual.
Consequently, it completely shapes their communistic, egalitarian interpretation of the philosophy and why so many conversations between them and libertarians who are grounded in reality sound like the following:
Cosmopolitan libertarian: Stance A is the proper libertarian stance on Issue A.
Normal libertarian: But Stance A isn’t realistic for Issue A. That’s not how humans behave or think.
Cosmopolitan libertarian: Well, then humans had better change their nature, or else!
The erroneous belief in a perfectly rationale person is one of the many complaints Alt. Right figures and former libertarians such as Vox Day have held against the philosophy itself.
It’s not that I am opposed to libertarian ideals. Quite to the contrary, I cherish them as deeply as I ever did. It is merely that events, and a deeper understanding of history, have caused me to conclude that libertarian ideals are as ultimately utopian and irrelevant as communist ideals, progressive ideals, and conservative ideals.
….The key difference between the Alt-Right and libertarianism is that libertarianism insists on the existence of Rational Man. The Alt-Right observes, to the contrary, that Man is an irrational, rationalizing creature. Where you fall on that question alone will logically dictate whether you ultimately side with the libertarians or the Alt-Right, if your ideals incline towards the libertarian.
However, Deist brilliantly pointed out that this idea of a “perfectly rational” man is not a libertarian view, but that of some who, in actuality, foolishly believe such a being can be created – and if the crucible happens to be the state, so be it.
Well it turns out that’s not how humans really are. They’re fragile and fallible and hierarchical and irrational and suspicious and herd-like at least as much as they are a bunch of heroic Hank Reardens. In fact Rothbard talks about just this in his section on libertarian strategy at the end of For a New Liberty. He reminds us that it’s progressive utopians who think man has no nature and is “infinitely malleable.” They think man can be perfected, made into the ideal servant of the New Order.
But libertarians believe in free will, he points out. People mold themselves. And therefore it’s folly to expect some drastic change to fit our preferred structure. We hope people will act morally, we believe liberty provides the right incentives for moral improvement. But we don’t rely on this to make liberty work.
However, that is precisely what “cosmopolitan” libertarians rely on, because they are not interested in merely (or actually) eliminating the state. They have a “new man” that all people must become, and they’re more interested in achieving that end than ending the state.
In fact, ending the state is simply a means to that end. Not that libertarianism shouldn’t be a means to an end, as I’ve said before, but the difference is that they will have no qualms or scruples using the state to mold and fashion people into this “new man,” all while at the same time claiming to oppose the state and love liberty.
Cosmopolitan Libertarianism’s “New Man”
So what is this “new man?”
He is cosmopolitan in the truest sense of the word – an atomized individual with no ties, disinterested in his cultural, ethnic, and national past, present or future. The only world he knows or cares for, is that of the now.
He has little concern for familial bonds, creates no brotherhood, and cherishes none of his heritage. He is devoid of loyalties and devotions except as they relate to the market economy and those who serve a utilitarian purpose to him in that regard. He has no identities, save for ones based on what he consumes and purchases. Identifying by your race or ethnic group is evil tribalism, but identifying yourself as a consumer of a particular fast food restaurant’s value menu is a virtue. Cross necklaces worn as a religious symbol are dangerous, but a tacky whiskey-brand shirt is admirable. Identifying as a “European” and taking that identity seriously is tantamount to Nazism, but woe be him who thinks less of a man who identifies first and foremost as a “pot head” and dangles a bong necklace around his neck.
He rejects any sense of duty to God, family, or country, only to the customer or employer he serves. Any of these might cause him to choose them over, say, emigrating prior to the age of 35 in order to chase greater income, better perks, and a higher living standard.
His relationship with his mother and father and brothers and sisters and grandparents must be the same as they are with all others of the world, in the hopes of removing all “irrational” allegiances that might cause him to prefer them over strangers.
This “new man” libertarian may be married, but he dare not expect or maintain sexual exclusivity with his wife, for that is the another source of jealous, strife, and conflict – the cosmopolitan libertarian is one of open marriage and an “it takes a village” attitude regarding child rearing. Parents have no special claim to their child anymore than a husband and wife have a special claim to each other.
In fact, any and all forms of sexuality are to be celebrated and championed as part of his overall rejection of boundaries, and this sentiment on sexual norms, this loathing of any standards and what it testifies about the naturally-occurring inequalities among mankind, logically extends to his view of physical borders that divide rather than unite. Whether private or not, borders constitute a sense of partition, separating “us” from “them” on many a basis, including meritocracy. The belief in merit is heresy in an egalitarian paradise.
The notion of standards or requirements to enter a territory or organization, save for the rejection of standards at all, is hateful to the cosmopolitan libertarian. To him, separation of any kind, whether it in word or in action, is an intolerable rebellion against the global communal vision: We are one. None shall divide us. He envisions a world where godless creatures peacefully consume the cheapest products made possible by the market and take joy and comfort in their hedonism in order to distract from any possible competing desires that might otherwise inspire them to question their conformity and develop values not shared by those around them.
Emotionally, he is blunted. Concepts such love must be tempered, whether by drugs or other chemicals, in order to ward off the temptation to care too much about anything beyond the material that might arouse a willingness to defend things that matter on a spiritual, rather than financial level.
Ultimately, this “new man” is dead inside, a soulless wretch, because fundamentally he denies what he is and in doing so engages in a futile revolt against his own moral agency and purpose as a human being. He lives for nothing worth living for, and because he cannot love and experience the joys of life that come with a higher purpose beyond pleasing base instincts, he must envy, hate, despise, and oppose those who do.
Most importantly, cosmopolitan libertarianism’s vision is doomed to fail, unless it’s true purpose is to prevent libertarianism itself from accomplishing anything. This “new man” is every bit as utopian as his Soviet predecessor. One might as well believe in the abolition of money and emotions.
For those of you confused as to the screeches coming from the bowels of less admirable libertarian circles in response to Deist’s speech, perhaps you now understand why.