Libertarians have found themselves in an impossible position thanks to years of regular anti-police activism, bombastic statements against police, and sloganeering around the Drug War.
I would argue that the leading voice in this strain is Radley Balko, who ran a widely-read blog on police abuses that he eventually turned into a book contract and columnist gigs at the Huffington and Washington Posts.
The main reason why this strain of activism has turned into a dead-end for the libertarians comes down to a several reasons:
- The problems of maintaining a stable legal order.
- Misunderstanding what the Drug War is, due to taking political propaganda at face value.
- Being unable to speak honestly about race, knowing the fates of Murray Rothbard and H.H. Hoppe for doing so.
- An emotional and financial desire to reach the mainstream population through the prestige press and television.
- A misunderstanding of the demographics that are likely to respond to libertarian appeals.
To support the first bullet, let’s get ourselves to Moldbug, who writes:
The problem with Mises as guru is that Misesian classical liberalism (or Rothbardian libertarianism) is like Newtonian physics. It is basically correct within its operating envelope. Under unusual conditions it breaks down, and a more general model is needed. The equation has another term, the ordinary value of which is zero. Without this term, the equation is wrong. Normally this is no problem; but if the term is not zero, the error becomes visible.
The entire idea of a stable libertarian order is predicated on the ‘order’ part of things. When the country is populated by numerous people who have no respect for notions of property and peace, then it’s impossible to maintain the law… and even then, only possible to maintain the law at high expense, with some measure of brutality.
On the second point, contemporary libertarians, for fear of the outer darkness to which anyone who writes about racial differences will be relegated, tend to neglect to discuss the different tendencies of different groups of people and cultures. Ron Paul’s first race in the Republican primaries was damaged badly by the publication of what were really quite mild newsletters in which his ghostwriters discussed race and crime.
Contemporary libertarians tend to over-compensate for this with ostentatious expressions of pro-Civil-Rights rhetoric, contradicting many of their other positions concerning freedom of association.
The libertarian ideology, at least in its most vulgar expressions, tends to float atop a world of pure theory, without reference to its cultural roots or origins.
Finally, it’s the worst possible pose to strike for an ideology supposedly dedicated to the defense of absolute private property rights to support violent rioters who are destroying the property of small merchants.
The libertarian is supposed to be fighting for the rights of the people like the petty merchants whose businesses the rioters are destroying. The rioter who destroys his shop and threatens his life is a more direct threat than the policeman who collects tax and intimidates the more dangerous men away from his territory.
Similarly, it’s nonsensical to simultaneously support an ideology that supposedly fights for the rights of ordinary people to maintain the integrity of their persons and property against all challengers to express sympathy for assassins of police officers.
Regardless of whatever theoretical reasons there might be for grinning ghoulishly at the deaths of cops, to place oneself on the same side as the communist revolutionaries advocating these disruptions of public order is to be on the wrong side, to ally with the left and the associated forces for the forceful dissolution of society.
In this way, libertarians behave like someone else who called herself a ‘libertarian’ on occasion: Emma Goldman, who allied with Lenin, until the Party purged her and exiled her to America.
Contemporary libertarians who support rioters above police adhere to their own theories, which are obscure and alien to the common people, above the facts of actual events happening outside of their windows.
Arguments about the ‘NAP’ and the ‘absolute right to property’ spoken on one day, in private, become irrelevant to the minds of the common people when they see a libertarian spokesperson go on television and say that the police are at fault, and that the mob (invariably a socialist-democratic mob) is correct to be incensed.
I understand the appeal of striking this pose, because I have stricken something like this pose before for the same reasons, and regret my mistakes.
People like Christopher Cantwell, who are evidently invited to speak at libertarian conferences, speak as if they are either on the FBI’s payroll or on the payroll of whatever succeeded the Comintern:
Even these liberal fuckin idiots who want the government to control every aspect of their lives, are starting to realize that police are violent fuckin monsters who cannot be trusted, and while I don’t like the race pimping or the destruction of private property, if these Marxist fuckin animals can produce just a few more Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s, guys who will whack a couple of the king’s men then take themselves out, well, they just might make up for some of the damage they’ve done to society.
Such statements have little appeal to anyone predisposed to civilized life. It wouldn’t go over well with an insurance salesman with three children in Peoria.
The intellectuals are far more dangerous than the police ever have been and ever will be. Libertarians have created a commons under their intellectual brand, and have subsequently debased it, as Rothbard lamented late in his life.