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The Problem with the Umbrella approach to Libertarianism

Professor Phil Magness has a tweet thread on why Libertarians eventually turn away from freedom, to alt-right or marxism:

He remarks that this “originates from attempts to synthesize exogenous illiberal ideas into libertarian thought.” He identifies this as libertarian thinkers “dabbling in illiberal thought.” One example he uses is the case of Austrian, anarchist, “critical thinker” Hans Herman Hoppe:

Hoppe’s “argumentation ethics,” in turn, is explicitly lifted from the Discourse Ethics tradition in critical theory. Hoppe even directly sources the origin of his “argumentation ethics” claim to his old grad school advisors Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel.”

Again, having trained directly under Habermas, Hoppe was deeply versed in critical theory, approved of it, and used it in his work. He simply gave its traditionally far-left political disposition a far-right makeover.”

“Hoppe also imports an eclectic mix of reactionary racial theorists that originated wholly externally to the Austrian-liberal economic tradition. You see this in his book Democracy the God That Failed, where he describes Mises’s open immigration views as a relic of a bygone age.”

After rejecting Mises on immigration, Hoppe replaces them with appeals to far-right racial theorists such as J. Phillipe Rushton and the novelist Jean Raspail (of “Camp of the Saints” infamy). These figures populate the footnotes of his book whenever he talks about immigration.

Like Yarvin’s use of Carlyle, Hoppe’s main influences are EXTERNAL to classical liberalism/libertarianism, and indeed quite a few of them are traditional ADVERSARIES of libertarian economic philosophy – Marx, Habermas & the critical theory world.

Why do figures such as Yarvin, Hoppe, and their various followers veer down this illiberal path? In each case, it stems from them finding something dissatisfying with the traditional classical liberal status quo. So they search for external authors in other traditions.”

The problem with the “umbrella approach of libertarianism” is that the objective value and meaning of liberty—freedom from the initiation of physical force—is not a self-evident axiom, but a sophisticated conclusion from a long chain of observations and premises—a specific philosophy.

To the extent that the underlying philosophy is pro-reality (this-worldly, natural), pro-reason (logic and evidence of senses), or pro-egoism (individualism), it will have a proper conception of liberty; as it strays its conception of liberty will be corrupted. This is what happened to the “classical liberal” tradition.

It’s no coincidence that the rise of freedom, and the birth of America, historically occurred along with the Renaissance thru Enlightenment, with the cherishing of reason (vs faith), science (vs superstition), and individual rights (vs collectivism) to various degrees.

This view is best expressed by philosopher Ayn Rand:

“I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.”

If one wishes to be an advocate of liberty, one must first be an advocate of reason, then and only then, does “all the rest follow.”

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