Miley Cyrus And The Libertarian Renegade Culture

by Ryan Calhoun

Miley Cyrus And The Libertarian Renegade Culture

The most controversial and celebrated artist this year is, without a doubt, Miley Cyrus. Miley has quickly and flawlessly altered her image from 2000′s bubblegum sensation to corporate-sponsored rebel. Miley has captivated audiences with what many consider to be shocking performances that embrace hedonism and the mocking of puritan values. While many might consider her performances cheap stunts, they are stunts that undeniably work – getting her attention and altering her image into something new and even radical. But why should libertarians care about Miley Cyrus?

Well, because the mainstream matters and, more importantly, cultural institutions and constructs that persist matter. Libertarians have done an awful nice job in developing theory on how an ideal society ought to operate while completely ignoring ever getting anyone to care about their work that wasn’t already interested. Why the hell should an average individual who has barely a glancing knowledge on issues of politics and philosophy give a damn about libertarian values? The truth is many libertarians are by their nature rationalist iconoclasts. We enjoy non-conformity and bucking the system. We think that the most potent form of attack is a syllogism or perhaps the 25th Anniversary edition of Atlas Shrugged. The libertarian does not see rigor or intellect in much of mainstream culture and, therefore, deems it unnecessary of further analysis. This rejection has led to libertarianism being regarded mostly as a kook theory meant more for loners and introverts.

If libertarians want to make an effective change on society, they need to spend less time in debates over theory and more time injecting their ideas into mainstream culture and supporting the cultural norms which favor liberty and personal freedom. Cultural norms about sex, drugs and all other manner of fun that people don’t want other people to have are only as good as the views of those people themselves. The law is not an ethereal force which one violates necessarily. It is a matter of social recognition. Nobody cares about jaywalking in New York City enough to enforce the law because everybody does it. It would be impossible to try and enforce. Libertarians need to stop trying to argue people out of their cultural inculcations and start promoting the cultural values they care about.

Roderick T. Long and Charles W. Johnson have argued effectively for why libertarians should embrace traditionally leftist values as a matter of cultural thickness. The success of a libertarian society is not simply based upon smashing the state, but smashing all forms of oppression. What good is a stateless society where women are still treated like property? Where your race determines your socioeconomic status? Libertarians need to take non-government forms of oppression seriously, since it is upon such non-governmental oppression that the state gains its power. (See Roderick Long, “Libertarian Feminism: Can This Marriage Be Saved?”)

There are certain forms of oppression which are not simply dependent upon the State apparatus’ existence. Laws are made up of norms which people are willing to recognize and act on. Even prototypically authoritarian political institutions like the military rely more on cultural acceptance, obedience and docility than on the intentions of generals and politicians. What if there were a war and no one showed up? Political institutions give the military a bully pulpit, but no one is being forced into military service. No one puts a gun in your face and demands you support the troops. If tomorrow people stopped acting like every soldier was a hero and every war a great sacrifice for American values, we might begin to see the decline of this evil empire.

Like Johnson and Long, I too see a necessity for thick conceptions of libertarianism. Specifically, I think more libertarians ought to embrace what I call cultural libertinism, by which I mean the expression of an individual’s will to do what she and she alone desires. It means supporting the spontaneous actions of individuals whether they be expressions of our own personal morality or not. When cultural norms are used to stifle innocent personal preferences, libertarians ought to take exception.

Historian Thaddeus Russell has argued at length that the freedom we often take for granted, from women enjoying more independence to the weekend, we have renegades to thank. Renegades are not political figures. They don’t give a shit about the non-aggression principle (NAP) or a stateless society. In some cases, they might be rather unpleasant people you wouldn’t want to be left alone with for too long. They’re certainly not the disciplined folks who would be at the heads of mutual aid societies or coops. They might be those nasty free riders we fear so much. Nevertheless, the very acts we might be disgusted by have given us fuller expression of personal freedom, both politically and culturally.

What the hell does any of this have to do with the antics of Miley Cyrus? Well, I see Miley’s actions, as of late, whether they be embracing her sexuality, being open about her use of MDMA or smoking a joint on stage in front of millions, as not merely acts intended to shock, but as forms of cultural disobedience. Cultural disobedience, like civil disobedience, involves the public display of acts which are culturally frowned upon. When Miley rejected her role as a teenage sensation and began grinding wildly against Robin Thicke with a background of sexualized teddy bears, she was doing more than grabbing attention for her new album, she was stripping away what she saw as this culture’s expectations of her as an “innocent.” Miley is displaying her sexuality as a force for good, as something powerful to be enjoyed at an individual’s discretion.

Recently Miley engaged in another act of cultural disobedience by lighting up a joint on stage during a televised event. Again, we can see this as a cheap publicity stunt. She wouldn’t have done this if corporate lawyers hadn’t approve it already. But this is a sign that norms about drug use are breaking down. The biggest pop sensation of our day is being brazen with her drug use and, as a result, doing her own part in normalizing drugs into our culture. As I’ve argued elsewhere:

“… we will not get to a point where consumption of drugs isn’t severely regulated by society and the State without actual drug users participating in passive civil disobedience. Those who light up joints on their porch or in public parks are not only getting high, they are undermining the social norms that make these laws sustainable. When we endorse conservatives who pay lip service to libertarian policies and try to kick out those we see as deviant, we are endorsing the culture of puritanism. We undermine what should be our true values, we endorse the values that make drug laws possible.”

Consider this merely an extension or application of Agorist thought. Agorism recognizes that a government is only as good as the economy it controls. The libertarian culture warrior recognizes that culture plays a similar foundational role for the laws that are enforced. Drugs became illegal not just because politicians said so, but because of scare campaigns about their effects and the kinds of people that want to use them. Women did not simply wake up to their oppression the day after laws appeared regulating the use of their bodies. It was already accepted by the dominate culture that women needed to be treated in such a way and so it manifested itself into law.

Miley Cyrus is a potent force for good, as are other pop culture figures like her. You don’t have to dig their music or the way these people sell themselves. The fact is libertarians ought to adopt sex-positive and drug-positive attitudes in order to eliminate the oppression which is imposed on sexual minorities, drug users and cultural dissidents. Consider that there are more expressions of your political philosophy than the NAP. When people stand up and declare their freedom in spite of social norms, we ought to point to them as the best representatives of our philosophy. We must support cultural renegades and, especially, mainstream culture that deviates from traditional mores. By promoting libertarian and even libertine values in the mainstream, libertarianism is done a great service. The culture war is real and libertarians need to start taking it more seriously.

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140 responses to “Miley Cyrus And The Libertarian Renegade Culture

  1. Miley Cyrus is not a libertarian.

    There is a difference between being a libertine and a libertarian.

    Indeed libertine teaching and practice leads to big government – as it leads to vast numbers of people not looking after themselves and others. Not planning to deal with health problems and old age – looking to government to do everything for them (and for others – for if someone can not help themselves they can not help others either).

    Miley Cyrus is rich – and a lot of her “life style” is actually a matter of PUBLCITY STUNTS to trick the ignorant.

    But ordinary people who do all this for real (have sex with anything that moves, and seek salvation in drink and drugs) end up in the gutter – utterly dependent upon government.

    The idea that libertarians are “pro drugs” (and so on) is the old LIE put out by people who are the ENEMIES of libertarianism – people (establishment people – such as the media) trying to DISCREDIT libertarianism – discredit it with the old lie that allowing people to make a bad choice is telling them to make that bad choice.

    The basis of libertarianism is that most people most of the time can reason and make choices – that they can REJECT the road to the gutter (wild drinking, drug dependence, random sex). That most people can create (and help each other create) strong families and strong communities – without the need for Big Government.

    People (most people most of the time) can learn to exercise SELF CONTROL – thus making Big Government control not only not needed. but actively counter productive.

    The Libertarian vision is that of such people as Rose Wilder Lane and Isobel Patterson. The vision of “Bedford Falls” (in “Its a Wonderful Life”) or the play “Our Town” may have been written by non libertarians – but they show an essentially libertarian vision of people who can chose CHOOSE to live decently (and help each other).

    The reality that one sees recorded even by socialists in the “Middletown” sociological studies (really Munsie Indiana) and (historically) in such towns as Bedford New Hampshire.

    It is profoundly conservative vision. One Edmund Burke or (a century before) Hampden, would have understood.

    As for Roderick Long and co – are they enemies of “Social Justice” (the central doctrine of collectivists) yes or no?

    And do they admire people such as Jon Huntsman (who went from a house made of cardboard to building a great manufacturing enterprise) yes or no?

    Do they understand the central lesson of Classical Liberalism – that the long term interests of “rich and poor”, “employees and employers” is THE SAME.

    And do they understand that moral virtue (NOT in some priggish sense – but in the sense of hard work and self control) is the basis of a successful libertarian society.

  2. As for Miley Cyrus.

    Just ask the young lady if she thinks that people have a “right to health care”.

  3. Also the whole idea is bollocks. Pop “icons” have been openly drugging up for decades (my memory fails me a little here–McCartney was certainly arrested for drug use–wasn’t Jagger also likewise arrested?). Has that stopped the “War on Drugs ” crap or kept tens of thousands of non-violent people out of jail for their personal choices?.

    • The wider point you are missing is that it is through acts of civil disobedience, non-compliance, and non-recognition of the state and its institutions that the cause of liberty can be successfully advanced.

      The state is unlikely to ever be voted out of existence, and instead is an organization incentivsed grow ever further. For all the lauding of supposed libertarian revivals under Thatcher and Reagan the state did not shrink but increased in its size and scope. This is part of the reason that the recent interview with Russell Brand is important. Brand lacks a robust political theory and much of his sentiment would not be unfairly be characterized as Guardianista/Hollywood Statism. However he does point to an important truth, that for real change and greater levels of personal liberty it is not governments and state institutions that will be the driver of such change but pressure from individual people. Voting, campaigning for changes in unjust laws are examples of collaboration with the state. Instead what is needed are changes in personal behavior.

      By boycotting and refusing to recognize unjust laws and government power, by using personal example which can affect wider cultural attitudes individual freedom can be increased. This is the case with illegal drugs, and with sexual conduct as highlighted in the Miley Cyrus case. But this can also be the case in the non-payment of taxation, in boycotting those who work in repressive state agencies and in other areas of state intervention. A particularly striking example is the case of the Danish Jews in the 1940s, the overwhelming majority of whom were protected and evacuated against state attempts to murder them. This was done by widespread disobedience and non-recognition of unjust laws. Furthermore the boycott against German organizers of this repression lead to significant numbers of SS personnel “going native” and refusing to carry out orders.

      Too often libertarian groups react to the cultural left with an immediately negative emotional reaction against them. However it is just these groups, the Chomskys, the Brands, the Zizeks,and Miley Cyrus who we should be co-operating and exchanging ideas with. So often our differences are due simply to a lack of understanding of sound economic theory and a disconnect in language. Too often we can come across as defending state created corporate and business interests when we should be defending the free market. Too often we get caught in a game of policy, trying to argue in favor of incremental changes to what we at a theoretical level consider to be fundamentally unjust institutions. Take for instance any political debate from spare bedroom subsidy/bedroom tax, the position is clear, the should be none whatsoever, but there should also be no intervention in any area of the economy, from taxes, to building regulations, planning permission, mortgage support schemes, central banking,etc. However what usually happens is we get drawn into the small policy debate, i.e. lets at least try and reduce government spending by capping housing benefit.

      By being drawn into these minor political sideshows we endorse the repressive political system that Brand’s apathy was pointing to, and we don’t make any great strides in promoting our own liberty.

      However through the politics of example, through ignoring the state and its injustices, through simply not co-operating we can advance the cause of freedom.

  4. You wrote “Miley is displaying her sexuality as a force for good, as something powerful to be enjoyed at an individual’s discretion.”
    To use the word discretion when referring to Cyrus is as using the word caring to refer to Dr Mengele.

    Cyrus is a useful idiot who is promoting fornication and pedophilia. The problem with your thesis is that by associating it with Cyrus’ behavior there should logically be no restrictions on any kind of behavior and by example this now applies to “in public” as well as in private. Your prescription for behavior is the same as that of the Satanist Alistair Crowley whose dictum was “Do what thou will shall be the Law” – he of course was utterly selfish which is the kind of personality the Devil loves to hook up with. It is because there is a strong belief within Libertarianism that any kind of restraint is bad, that I can not support Libertarians in anything other than demanding a small unintrusive State. I consider myself to be a conservative Libertarian who thinks the Ten Commandments sufficient to be the whole of the Law.

    If you don’t think Cyrus is a useful idiot – and those who support such perversions – then read this

    I don’t expect anyone to regard my point of view as remotely Libertarian but frankly I do not care. Rome is burning.

    • The mental contortions of social conservatives never cease to amaze me. Here we are in a society in which the Progressive Left Establishment have driven hysteria about “paedophila” to a Salem level of fever pitch, and what do we find? Right wingers declaring that in fact that same Establishment is really promoting it. The mind utterly boggles. It’s the equivalent of claiming that Hitler was really trying to further Judaism or the Soviets were promoting Capitalism.

      Well, then we come back to a “why?”, and the answer of course from history is that both sides of this futile illibertarian argument descend from the same source, which is 19th century evangelical protestantism. So, they spend so much of their time trying to blame each other for any perceived collapse of puritanism, while working hand in hand to reinstate it, as with the current pincer movement on internet censorship.

      Any genuinely free society will be libertine, because that’s how people naturally behave without imposed State controls. People will take drugs, drink beer, smoke cigarettes, eat luxuriant food, have all sorts of sex and even dance with each other in public. This is just how human beings are.

    • Concerned Briton

      I agree with you Peter.

  5. Here again, the immediate emotional response where common ground can be made. The facts are that often the greatest damage is caused by the state supposedly seeking to protect people from themselves. The current prohibition on drugs has caused great destruction and suffering for many lives, through the actions of the police and prison system to the creation of gang culture, and increasing the costs and reducing the safety and quality of drugs. Similarly the greatest amount of violence against children, pedophilia and sexual crimes occurs within the family and within the state system of social services.

    You may not agree, with the taking of any amount of MDMA or cannabis, or any amount of bared flesh or provocative dancing in public. But sex and drugs are not themselves the direct causes of harm anymore than any other phenomenon. It is not robust therefore to support the use of state force against such actions.

    From a moral perspective of course agreement can be found in that one can misuse both drugs and sex if they become personally harmful. However in Ms Cyrus’ case, it would be arguably unfair to accuse her of destructive hedonism being it seems a financially successful and physically healthy media star. Twerking itself is simply one of a number of at one time controversial dances, from the waltz, Elvis’ hips, or showing a bit too much ankle. You can have an aesthetic perhaps a moral debate on such questions, but often what is passed off is merely the sound of reaction against an innovation and an argument merely in favor of the status quo.

  6. Without remarking on Ryan Calhoun’s obviously libertarian/anarchist affiliations and ideology (and my remarks would be extensive), I must at least lodge my disagreement with him about the significance of Miley Cyrus’s performance as an instance of “cultural disobedience.” Her “grinding wildly against Robin Thicke’s (groin) with a background of sexualized teddy bears” was fundamentally an instance of nihilism, of devaluating the importance of sex, of reducing sex to a mindless, promiscuous, Dionysian act with no more significance than consuming a plate of scrambled eggs. Having watched that performance I concluded that she was essentially sexless. By comparison, and to underscore how a woman’s sexuality can be celebrated, I invite readers to watch Rita Hayworth’s number, “The Heat is On,” in the 1953 movie, “Miss Sadie Thompson” (the fourth version of it since the 1928, pre-code original, and if you can find it on YouTube, as the video of that number has been taken down, but here’s a substitute ( Hayworth celebrates her sexuality without any gratuitous displays of flesh or gestures or insinuations. She wears a shimmering red nightgown. She performs her number in the close quarters of a Marines’ social club. She is surrounded by bedazzled and appreciative Marines. The lyrics (sung by another singer in a voice-over) complement her every gesture. The theme of her song is that women, too, can go on the prowl for sex. But there’s nothing gross or lascivious in her performance. It’s significant that at the end of the number, a Marine jumps in and holds her up, as a kind of ideal that men should aspire to. Miley Cyrus? Not an ideal that men should aspire to, but rather someone you’d want to stay away from, because you really don’t know with whom she was the night before, and the night before, and the night before, because, to her, sex is just something with which to kill time, and to kill. That’s why I say she’s a nihilist.

    • “Without remarking on Ryan Calhoun’s obviously libertarian/anarchist affiliations and ideology (and my remarks would be extensive),”- considering the forum that might be more interesting to hear about,

      Otherwise its just scattergun boo-hurrah cultural criticism,
      “reducing sex to a mindless, promiscuous, Dionysian act with no more significance than consuming a plate of scrambled eggs.” This really says more about your ability to enjoy or not enjoy scrambled eggs than anything else.

      “Dionysian act” and a nihilist. Maybe, but it might be just as fair to characterize your sentiment as itself a passive form of nihilism, which labels Cyrus’s performance ‘gross and lascivious’ and moans about gratuitous displays of flesh. How naked is too naked exactly?

      • So, your only response to my criticism is a personal attack?

        • Was it a personal attack on your personal criticism of ‘Miley Cyrus the Nihilist’. I didn’t think so, I thought it more a critical analysis of what you had posted.

          Firstly this being a libertarian blog-perhaps discussion of libertarian/anarchist theory might be of more interest.

          You’re conflation, (I quoted you) of Cyrus reducing sex to the act of eating scrambled eggs was merely an assertion with no argued point. Are we to surmise that sex is and must be held superior to eating scrambled eggs? Why? Even if it is why does this necessitate that sex or ‘sexual dancing’ in this case is something that should be done in private? Or perhaps this is unfair, clearly you think dancing in a red dress is not gratuitous, its not too naked. I was asking why? How naked is too naked? If your not going to discuss libertarian theory then perhaps you could at least argue your assertions. Otherwise it is just scattergun boo hurrah cultural criticism as I said. And it really only reflects a Judeo-Christian inspired second half of 20CenturyFox passive nihilism with respect to sexual mores.

          Personal attack?

      • Dionysian: recklessly uninhibited; unrestrained; undisciplined; frenzied; orgiastic.

        Her performance was cheap, vulgar, and unappealing.

  7. What Miley Cyrus is doing is not performing acts of cultural disobedience but quite the opposite.

  8. Questioning the ethics of large corporations marketing soft porn and violent/misogynist gangsta rap to 9 year olds does not make you a prude. Some say it could only happen in a schizophrenic society…

  9. My bottom line is that i think anyone who is uncomfortable with lascivious dancing and so on is probably not going to much like a libertarian society if we ever get one, because I think it reasonable to conclude that it will feature quite a lot of lascivious dancing.

    I watched a talk a while ago by the always excellent Steven Davies, and in the Q&A at the end, he mentioned that he cannot quite understand why conservatives would support free markets, for the simple reason that markets are not conservative; they are disruptive. Free markets inevitably will change society and produce many products and services that conservatives will not like. For instance, lascivious dancing on the televisor.

    In this sense, the Left or Old (Statist) Right are more rational; they understand that the only hope of preventing lascivious dancing is to prohibit it via State force and send a vice squad to crack the heads of lascvious dancers with their State truncheons. As such, the socially conservative libertarian does not seem to me to be thinking rationally, in hoping that in a libertarian society some other mechanism will prevent or discourage lascivious dancing; there is usually a subtext of something as socially powerful as the State but not the State bolted into the proposed future society- such as a hegemonic Church or vasty amounts of peer pressure.

    Lascivious dancing is the natural state of, at least, Western European humankind. Any society that somehow suppresses it will not be free. Britain rose to greatness when there were brothels in Downing Street, kings had courtesans, and you could buy a beer at any time of day and night you darned well pleasey, and Britain lost all that under the rule of puritan statists. This of course does not mean that brothels built the Empire, but it does I think demonstrate that a ruling class who does not like them is probably generally flawed in a managerial sense.

    There is a widely held and pernicious faleshood put about by puritan sympathists, that the loosening of morals caused the State to expand. Historically, the opposite is true. We started off with our natural, loose morals; the State grew to suppress them, and then grew into other areas afterwards. The suppression of so-called vice preceded the growth of the welfare state and, indeed, set the lethal precedents that “if we can control this, then we can control that”. The “tight” morals that conservatives appeal to were a Victorian innovation. Indeed, it often surprises me that conservative/libertarians often appeal to that era of maximal suppression as a kind of Golden Age, when it was also the era of the most overt economic interventions; the 1950s was not only puritanical, but the great era of nationalisation and state controls. The two go together. When you control private lives, and the media, and so on, economic statism naturally fits together with that.

    You cannot be a liberal economically but not socially. Either you are a liberal in all things, or in none.

    • “My bottom line is that i think anyone who is uncomfortable with lascivious dancing and so on is probably not going to much like a libertarian society if we ever get one, because I think it reasonable to conclude that it will feature quite a lot of lascivious dancing.”

      Or it could be the complete opposite with various separatists forming the kind of communities they find the most emotionally gratifying and beneficial, rather than cultural uniformity.

      • Maybe, but, I think I’ve made this point before. Even if you are notionally an anarchy if there’s no central-government-as-currently-defined, if you’re living in some community with illibertarian rules, even if those rules are by some definition that satisfies anarchists “voluntary”, you are not living in a libertarian society.

        There are I believe some proportion of people cleaving to a kind of libertarianism as community separatism, mainly in the hope of setting up little dictatorships, and really they just hate the State for getting in the way of that.

        Which is why I’m interested in a mass libertarian society, not in a thousand nasty little Calvin’s Genevas. Liberty describes the relationship between the individual and whatever collective they are part of, and people often lose that in the endless circular legalist arguments about what defines “the State”, as if some other community isn’t The State so long as it hasn’t got “HM Government” on the headed notepaper. A voluntary North Korea isn’t a libertarian society, any more than a United Kingdom in which a pub can be prosecuted for allowing people to dance without a licence is, even if that licensing scheme is supposedly justified as voluntary by the notionally democratic political system that imposes the rule.

        • The difference with “setting up little dictatorships” and “North Korea” is that you can walk away anytime and the community has no legal grounds for imposing restrictions on your freedoms – you will be barred from their property if you disobey their rules and that’s about it. Also, philosophies, religions and cults don’t necessarily need a physical location to practise and voice their beliefs. I think pressure groups are necessary for any healthy society – even when they miss the mark…

          On another point, would a free market encourage more emotional development than a statist society, where fixation on “lascivious dancing” and sleaze may be regarded as the hallmark of an emotionally undeveloped mind? I say this because there is little opportunity for personal development and stronger human relationships when you have the safety nets of welfare (both corporate and social), state employment, state education, socialised healthcare, corporate privilege, and where sociopathy is rewarded handsomely.

          • Congratulations then, you already live in a libertarian world, divided into communities from which you may leave or be barred by those communities, etc. At the global level, the world is an anarchy in fact. How free do you feel, Nick?

            On another point, would a free market encourage more emotional development than a statist society, where fixation on “lascivious dancing” and sleaze may be regarded as the hallmark of an emotionally undeveloped mind?

            I never know quite what to do with this kind of argument, common as it is, because it just picks an assumption out of thin air, like saying “The Earth is an oblate spheroid, therefore banana”. There is no meaningful definition of “emotional development” beyond that suite of emotional responses which the speaker prefers. People have a habit of thinking that their own behaviours or preference are a “higher development” than those of others, but there is no meaningful measure of this; that two states are different provides no measure of which is preferable. A snob may tell me that if I were more emotionally and intellectually developed I’d prefer Bach to death metal, but to me Bach sounds like a tinkly bonky polyphonic ringtone and the death metal is far more emotionally compelling. These are just subjective tastes, not some objective developmental levels.

            And, as I said before, prohibiting lascivious dancing preceded the welfare state. Which is why the likes of Calvin and Cromwell had to specifically prohibit it, long before there was any meaningful welfare beyond a few coppers from the Poor Law or a smattering of alms from the Church.

            • “Congratulations then, you already live in a libertarian world, divided into communities from which you may leave or be barred by those communities, etc.”

              The difference is that if you are barred from one of ‘my’ communities you only have to walk down the road to join another, or just go back home and call it a day (provided you own property).

              “I never know quite what to do with this kind of argument, common as it is, because it just picks an assumption out of thin air, like saying “The Earth is an oblate spheroid, therefore banana”.”

              It’s because I like to listen to psychologists (and biologists) when I get time, as well as political theorists. You know I defend people who view porn, but I am always open to criticism of it and better ways to live your life. Challenging someone’s lifestyle is not the same as ‘prohibiting’ it. I think being challenged makes for better life choices and judgments. There seems to be this strand among libertarians for non-judgmentalism, and of celebrating any lowest common denominator as long as it appears superficially to be promoting the values of liberty; regardless of consequences (both personal and culturally).

              • Two points. The first is that as I said, we already have that system. Yours merely posits many more smaller countries, or States, even if you don’t call them that.

                But perhaps the more germaine point is that replacing the current nation states with some kind of flat multiplicitude of microstates isn’t going to happen unless you can get a critical mass of people in favour of it, and if you can get that you won’t need it.

                The problem we have with Statists is that they are not, by their nature, content to live their own way and let others live their way. For such a system of micro-autonomies to come into existence would be a horror to them, which is why they are determined to batter down the nation state system, and why they have destroyed the autonomy of the States in the USA.

                So to get it, you need to destroy the Statists as a social force. But if you can do that, you won’t need your microcommunities as isolation from them; indeed there won’t be anyone left to hide in such a city state, because you’ve now go a society of people who are accepting of others. People who want to ban dancing always want to ban dancing everywhere. People who don’t want to ban dancing won’t need little states within which dancing can be banned. This is true of both sorts of authoritarians, whether notionally on the Left or on the Right.

                • I was thinking more towards informal associations and experimental survival strategies than rigid city states.

                  As for the likes of Miley and the Madonna, the ‘trashy’ message they send out to the young is fine for those like them who have millions to spend on nannies and private tutors should they find themselves single and pregnant, but devastating to those who are not so wealthy; ensuring more state dependency.

                  A society that encourages young girls to tart-up yet shames grown men for looking at lads’ mags is not a healthy society. There is more than just feminism going on here…

  10. As a libertarian, I don’t think Miley Cyrus should be arrested or subject to any other form of violence for dancing in a sexually suggestive way, or anything else for that matter, but the idea that libertarians should celebrate Miley Cyrus for doing so is ridiculous. We’re under no such obligation at all.

    The assertion that MC is breaking taboos is nonsense, she’s totally conforming to mainstream culture, which is why she’s being emblazoned across the media. Not exactly GG Allin, is it? Now, there’s a poster boy for breaking taboos.

    Those who wish to equate libertinism with libertarianism do so either to attack the latter via a straw man, or else to lead it astray.

    • Those who deny the reality that libertarianism and libertinism are indistinguishable are not being consistent. Indeed, the use of the word “libertine” as a perjorative is a dead giveaway that the speaker does not really desire liberty at all.

      • Working with your own dictionary, are you Ian B? The words have quite different meanings in mine.

        • I’m sure they do, because you’re probably using the definition of “libertine” which means “anyone who does something I don’t like”.

          The word actually comes from the opponents of Calvin’s tyranny in Geneva, the wife of the leader of whom was arrested by his religious police for, yes, dancing in public. So is very apt indeed in this conversation.

          • ‘you’re probably using the definition of “libertine” which means “anyone who does something I don’t like”’

            If in doubt I use the OED. Words need agreed definitions, or else communication is not possible. You may consider yourself a libertine and a libertarian, but that doesn’t mean the two things are the same. You may be an Arsenal fan too, for all I know, but that doesn’t mean that libertarianism and Arsenal-supporting are the same things.

            As for the origin of the word in Calvin’s Geneva, it’s not particularly relevant. Just because Calvin’s Geneva was not a libertarian paradise, that doesn’t mean everyone who opposed him was a libertarian.

            I think your problem is you confuse society and the state, and can’t see the difference between someone disapproving of somebody else’s actions, and that being made a crime and punished as such.

  11. “Miley’s actions, as of late, whether they be embracing her sexuality, being open about her use of MDMA or smoking a joint on stage in front of millions, as not merely acts intended to shock, but as forms of cultural disobedience. ”

    Is it not fair to say that promoting currently illegal drug use is a form of cultural disobedience? Miley should be applauded for this. The War on Drugs has undoubtedly caused and is continuing to cause terrible harm to peoples lives and their freedom.

  12. The idea that Miley Cyrus is some sort of “rebel” is nonsense.

    For example, there she was on Saturday Night Live (NBC television) attacking enemies of the government by performing a skit in which she pretended to be a sex crazed version of Sarah Palin (oh how brave), in the same skit the Republican Speaker of the House (who at the time was resisting the Administration) was shown as a homosexual – both untrue and a rather odd thing for “socially liberal” people

    I see so all forms of sex are wonderful – unless opponents of Barack Obama engage in them (if they do – then homosexuality and even hetero sexuality is evil – boo-hiss) , and we (the left) are so desperate we will even pretend that people who are not homosexual are homosexual – as a way to attack them. And we will show Sarah Palin (a person with no power at all) engaging in adultery (with Miley Cyrus playing Palin) – even though there is no evidence that Sarah Palin has ever done so.

    Not exactly very “tolerant” of Miley Cyrus and the other pro government people. Why not just pretend that Sarah Palin and Speaker B. eat babies? Perhaps because Obama supporting Prof Peter Singer (Princeton – “leading moral philosopher”) actually does support using aborted babies as food – after all why waste all that flesh?

    • Squabbling over who has insulted who between people like Obama and Palin is pointless. They are both part of and have participated the same repressive system. Their values are those of a slave masters.

      The point about Cyrus is that through promoting the use of drugs and and near nude dancing she normalizes behavior which the state or people using the state wish to outlaw and criminalize. Her actions will do more to popularize freedom than simply restating again and again the logical arguments against prohibitions, and puritanical sumptuary laws.

  13. I do not see any reply above showing the Miley Cyrus opposes Obamacare (“healthcare is a right”) or any other big government Welfare Statism.

    Obamacare is (right now – as I write this) putting more and more people on Medicaid – and there is increasing talk of forcing (yes forcing) doctors to serve Medicaid people (many doctors do not want to deal with all the government bureaucracy.

    What has “social liberalism” got to say about this? Anything?


    There are two errors to be avoided.

    The first is to celebrate a lack of SELF CONTROL – to celebrate the sort of behaviour that leads to the growth of the Welfare Underclass. Dependent upon Big Government.

    This discredits libertarianism – and I suspect it is INTENDED to do so. After all “we are like Miley Cyrus” rules someone out of serious political or cultural discussion.

    However, there is a second error……..

    This is the error of trying to use the STATE to improve moral conduct – the very thing that Gladstone (rightly) said was folly. Although I wish he had remembered it was folly in 1874 when he was swept away by a torrent of gin and beer (thanks to giving in to demands for Licensing Laws) – that error prevented Gladstone ENDING THE INCOME TAX. He had almost done it – but the defeat in 1874 doomed us to income tax (and much else).

    But it is more than electoral error – it is a fundamental error of moral (as well as political) philosophy.

    Augustine was wrong (flat wrong) one can not save souls by coercing bodies – as in so many things (Predestination springs to mind) Augustine pointed thought in the wrong direction.

    And it goes right to the modern day……..

    I am rarely shocked by the “Economist” magazine – I know it is a “big lie”, a magazine that pretends to be “Classical Liberal” but is anything but – it really supports bank bailouts, monetary and fiscal “stimulus” and on and on.

    However, I was shocked by this week’s issue of the Economist magazine.

    It compared Sweden’s ban on buying sexual intercourse (treating men who do so as criminals) with the relatively liberal German approach to prostitution.

    And it was the GERMAN approach that the Economist magazine seemed to have a problem with.

    By all means preach against homosexuality – or just say it is tacky and unworthy of both men and women.

    But the criminal law?

    It would appear that the Economist magazine is as socially liberal as it is economically liberal – i.e. not liberal at all.

    It was a shock to find that I was actually more socially liberal than the Economist magazine.

    As for Miley Cyrus.

    I think the young lady is a publicity seeking fake – someone who pretends to be a rebel (but really works hand in hand with those in power).

    But I certainly do not want a law against her “twerking” or smoking X, Y, Z.

    • “I do not see any reply above showing the Miley Cyrus opposes Obamacare (“healthcare is a right”) or any other big government Welfare Statism.”

      You have missed the point of the article. Which was that libertarians should not restrict themselves to debates on theory and policy. Libertarians will not ever vote the state out of existence. Instead libertarians will succeed in promoting liberty and smashing the state through non-compliance with it. By ignoring unjust laws.

      Miley Cyrus’ position on Obamacare is not the prescient issue. That is the point of the article. What we should take from the article is that government programmes such as Obamacare could not be carried out if we simply did not co-operate, through the non-payment of taxes, or making it more difficult for tax collection, through attempting to use other forms of non-governmental currency,etc. This can be carried through with many unjust laws and state agents which for the most part we collaborate with instead of boycotting and disavowing.

      Aesthetic judgments of Cyrus aside. Save your negative approbation for politicians, policemen, soldiers, tax collectors, etc. Through example, through actions libertarians will be able to communicate their theory to the socially liberal, many of whom simply lack a clear understanding of robust economic and political theory.

  14. JKJ – if you really do not see a difference between those who want a smaller government (at State level as well as Federal level – after all Palin opposed the State wide building codes in Alaska) and those who want a bigger government, then you are useless. And I mean that literally – you are of no use (no use in trying to resist the growth of government – or in rolling it back).

    As for the powerful wanted to discourage degenerate behaviour – just how innocent are you?

    Since at least the 1960s the powerful (the media, Hollywood and so on – but also the universities and the government administrators they produce) have worked day and night to ENCOURAGE degenerate behaviour.

    The Frankfurt School (sorry “Critical Theory” or whatever the cover name is this week) influenced establishment have no use for people with self control – for people who can look after themselves and their families – and help others.

    What they (the leftist establishment) want is an UNDERCLASS – people dependent on government handouts.

    “Cloward and Piven” meets Herbert Marcuse.

    And one good way of encouraging that is to encourage degenerate behaviour – endless abuse of everything.

    Encourage it – and keep it illegal at the same time.

    After all periods in prison are also “good” – because they make it less likely that someone will get a legitimate job, or maintain a stable family.

    A free society depends on most people, most of the time, choosing to follow a life policy of self control, hard work, thrift (saving), and moral commitment to family and voluntary community (the “Little Platoons” as Burke put it – of Churches, clubs, societies and so on).

    Undermine the “moral capital” of the citizens (turn them into a degenerate underclass dependent on hand outs) and the battle for collectivism is won.

    • “JKJ – if you really do not see a difference between those who want a smaller government (at State level as well as Federal level – after all Palin opposed the State wide building codes in Alaska) and those who want a bigger government, then you are useless. And I mean that literally – you are of no use (no use in trying to resist the growth of government – or in rolling it back).”
      Is that the same Sarah Palin who ran on the McCain ticket? Real libertarian her. We need less government, but we need government to impose good old traditional values like state surveillance, water boarding, bombing people out East. The similarities between Pailin/Obama Republican/Democrat, Conservative/Labour beliefs are far greater than their differences. Does Pailin want a smaller government? Maybe the point is arguable, but its a pointless exercise, voting for her and her kind will only get you more government.

  15. I’m sorry Paul, but this is nonsense. There is simply no evidence of “the Establishment” being on the side of “Degenerate Behaviour”. They are currently gearing up to massive internet censorship to stop us looking at tits and bums, there is the paedohysteria, there has been nothing but intensification of drug prohibition, and so on and so on. Trying to worm out of that with the “and keep it illegal” as if it’s one of Baldric’s cunning plans makes no sense. The web of political correctness is fervently moral not libertine.

    The media is not part of a conspiracy. It is simply acting as a way around that suppression, as far as it can, actually responding to what people want rather than what the PC authoritarians think people should want.

    It’s this kind of inversion of reality that drives me barmy and makes me type too angrily, you know, hammering away at my keyboard like a twunt. I just cannot grasp how intelligent people can believe that there is an establishment libertine conspiracy. It’s totally barking mad.

  16. Richard Carey (starting a new thread because the old one got too narrow!)

    The point I’m trying to make, or part of it anyway, is that a person who doesn’t embrace the behaviours and life choices that will inevitably manifest in a state of liberty is being neither realistic nor helpful to libertarianism. Look at it this way; imagine you are debating a Leftist (I’m sure you will have done many times). And the Leftist says, “under your horrible Libertarianism, there will be lots of porn and kids will see it and so on”.

    If you’re stuck saying “well, I disapprove of porn but I won’t stop it by law” the Leftist effectively wins because you’re starting off agreeing that something (porn in this case) is a Bad Thing but then saying you’re promoting a society in which there is going to be lots more of this Bad Thing than in the one the Leftist is proposing (their usual fearsome censorship regimes). It’s saying “Vote For Liberty And Get A Worse Society!”.

    At that point, you’re stuck with mumbling something feeble about the hope that civil society somehow will produce porn-reducing mechanisms, and that just isn’t going to convince anybody, because it won’t. We’ve already seen liberty in action on the internet (now about to end, thanks to yet another campaign by the Left and their notionally conservative Useful Idiots) and it’s got lots of porn in it. Lots and lots. More than anyone could have imagined before the internet’s libertarian experiment began. A libertarian society is going to be full of lascivious dancers, porn, prostitutes, drugs, people smoking everywhere, awash with beer, and even allow Jamie Oliver’s repellent mug on the telly unrestricted, and there is nothing that could be done about that, and nothing that will be done either.

    So it comes down to a practicality, either you embrace the Libertine Apocalypse, or accept that you’re arguing for a society which not only you disapprove of, but so do the people you’re trying to win the political debate against. Which IMHO is as much use as a chocolate fireguard and undermines libertarian promotion considerably.

    • If a society “full of lascivious dancers, porn, prostitutes, drugs, people smoking everywhere, awash with beer” proves to be a good survival strategy, then hurray to its proponents and I’ll be all for it, but personally I don’t think it will survive long without a nanny state as backup, or a serious tech-fix.

    • I don’t accept your argument. You are asserting a choice of two things: the ‘Libertine Apocalypse’ or an authoritarian, puritan tyranny. It’s a false choice, there are alternative positions, and our present society is one such alternative. It is neither the one nor the other.

      As I note above, you are seemingly unable to distinguish between society and state, or specifically here social disapproval and criminalising a particular act. In my view Miley Cyrus can do what she wants, but now you are telling me that this is not enough, that to be a libertarian I must celebrate Miley’s silly act with a foam finger as some kind of Jan Palach in Wenceslas Square moment. Maybe if she had done the same in Calvin’s Geneva, you’d have a point, but she didn’t so you don’t.

      The libertarian should strive to separate the criminal law from any role in suppression of vice. This does not require the libertarian to reject the categorisation of any particular behaviour as vice and instead to celebrate it as a virtue, nor to reject the traditional view of morality with regard such acts. You may think that doing any or all of these things is correct by your lights or practical as a political strategy. I do not.

  17. JKJ

    I have never claimed that Sarah Palin was a libertarian – but if you can not tell the difference between someone who wants a smaller government and someone (such as Miley Cyrus) who wants a bigger government, then you are a useless person. You are no use for the effort to restrict the size of government – indeed your efforts will lead in the opposite direction. Clue for you – San Francisco is one of the MOST statist places in the United States (not one of the least statist).

    No evidence Ian?

    Apart from entertainment television (since the FCC regulations handed a de facto monopoly to an handful of leftists in the early 1960s) and (unionised – backed by government power) Hollywood, and the entire Progressive education system (financed by the government).

    It one ignores just about everything – then there is “no evidence”.

    And (of course) even Obamacare is being pushed by adverts of young men and women seemingly about to have sex. “Free” contraception you see.

    “Who Benefits?”

    The classic question.

    And the people who benefit from the breakdown of traditional society (of self reliant individuals, families and communities) are the STATISTS.

    If families and communities collapse (due to collapsing “moral capital”) the state “has to” step in – even though it actually helped create the collapse in the first place.

    “Bottom up” (chaos in the cities – promoted by the very “Great Society” that were supposed to “help people” and it continues step by step), “Top Down” (massive state intervention) and “inside out” – society is “fundamentally transformed” – never-let-a-crises-go-to-waste.

    There is no question about the effect of government policies (over decade) they spread degeneracy, and the dependency that goes with it – over generations (creating the Underclass).

    The only question is………..

    “Is it deliberate”.

    Is the establishment promoting all this by accident – or deliberately.

    I say it is deliberate.

    Of course – the Peter Hitchens “answer” (use the state to combat the problems the state has helped push) is folly.

    Extreme (fundamental) folly..

    • “I have never claimed that Sarah Palin was a libertarian – but if you can not tell the difference between someone who wants a smaller government and someone (such as Miley Cyrus) who wants a bigger government, then you are a useless person. You are no use for the effort to restrict the size of government – indeed your efforts will lead in the opposite direction. Clue for you – San Francisco is one of the MOST statist places in the United States (not one of the least statist).”

      Which is more “useless” in advancing the cause of liberty?
      Is it ignoring unjust state laws and normalizing behavior which the state seeks to suppress? Or is it debating ideological conspiracies and future conceptions and permutations of libertarian/minarchist/anarchist societies in the hope of one day voting into office a dismantle-the-state party?

      The point of the article was to argue that through actions by large numbers of people which ignore the state the cause of freedom is better advanced.

      I do not doubt Miley Cyrus has many statist opinions. But neither do I doubt that Pailin and her tax and bomb and spread the gospel brethren also have statist opinions. Debating which group of statists is better or worse, is a parlor game which the article contends is not a libertarian’s best course of action. Indeed I would argue it is actually harmful to the cause of liberty as you lead to the pointless compromises. Where on the one hand youre voting for a group which lets say legalises drugs and legalises abortions but at the same time raises taxes to 50%, on the other hand you are voting for a group which seeks to ban these activities but cut taxes to 30%. You are simply voting for two types of statism. Oh and both groups will use some of your money to go and drop bombs and drone people in foreign parts and read through all your emails.

      By libertarians playing the statist political game we always lose.
      Instead libertarians should be advocating through actual actions our own freedom and independence from the state.

      For instance you argued about San Francisco. A centre somewhat for gay rights advocates. If proponents of gay rights were restricted simply to campaigning through ignoring unjust discriminatory laws then this would be a much better situation than the current where proponents of gay rights lobby and vie the state to cede them not only equality under the law but special protections and legal institutions. At an individual level advocates of gay rights probably wanted immediate freedoms such as being able to display their love and sexuality in public, when this becomes a political process however it leads to the use of the state to better one group against another.

      Miley Cyrus like the overwhelming majority of people likely harbors a great mix of statist opinions. However when this is applied to individual behavior these opinions can be best taken on. At an individual level people want the freedom to wear what they want, put into their bodies what they want, to not pay taxes, to not fill in forms, to not be conscripted. Therefore through targeting individual behavior libertarians have a greater chance of promoting the success of their cause than in playing along and ticking a box which says McCain/Pailin or Obama/Biden every 5 years. Which is more useless?

  18. Ian – if a working man (be he a farm labourer or a factory worker) spent all his money on drink, drugs and whores (letting his family) starve, he was DESPISED (despised by other working men).

    Men who were admired were those who SAVED and tried to make sure that their children and grandchildren had a better life than they did.

    Remember as recently as 1911 80% of British workers were members of Friendly Societies (mutual aid societies) – the sort of person who spent their money on drugs and whores was not welcome in such bodies.

    As Norman T. is fond of saying – “only the upper classes could really afford to behave like that – and only the stupid ones really let it get a grip on them”.

    Fun is good servant – but a terrible master.

    Of course there were always Miley Cyrus types.

    Theatre girls and so on.

    Some of them were clever – and got a ring on their finger (sometimes from someone from the gentry or even aristocracy).

    And some did not – but at least saved their “presents”.

    But if a women really was just drink and drugs and sex (rather than putting on an act – whilst being quite rational and self controlled in reality) – well things went badly for them.

    • Paul, nobody is suggesting that somebody spend all their money on “drink,drugs and whores”. Merely that these are things in a free society that many people are going to spend some of their income on, and indeed already do, even though it is illegal. To be a “libertine” is simply to be a consistent libertarian and respect these choices as as valid as any other choices, such as your right to spend some of your income on cream cakes and “unhealthy” foods, which our Cromwellian opponents also deride, for much similar reasons.

      The point is, the State is not trying to promote “degeneracy”. It persistently- and ever more strongly as the Second Wave Progressives are in power- tries to stop us drinking, smoking, looking at porn, visiting whores, eating cream cakes and all the rest of the Puritan list. While the free market, where possible, and the black market, where illegal, try to get around the State and supply them.

      The particular Miley Cyrus performance I personally thought was crap. I’ve said in several internetty places that IMV she hasn’t “got it” like Christina Aguilera has it, and Madonna had it, as a risque sexy performer. But that’s just a personal review. The point is that she, and her record company, are presenting her music and performance on the free market and, if that is what sells, we should support it, not tut tut at it. If they could, the Proggie Left would stop her. That’s just a fact.

      The point for me is this; in fact, she is trivial. But opposition from anti-libertarians/libertines in itself makes her act non-trivial. It is they who turn it into a political statement. There is a very old principle that when something is prohibited, that is when you must do it. If the Left were trying to ban, say, bowler hats (“a symbol of imperialist patriarchal oppression”) then I, who have never worn a bowler in my life, would see it as a political act to wear one. They would have turned bowler-hatting into a revolutionary act, by trying to use their power to prevent it, even though in a free society one’s hat choice is utterly personal and non-political.

      So in this sense the original article we’re replying to is correct. The Statists have made sexual or pro-drug or whatever behaviour into politics. So, we should be on the side of those behaviours, whether or not we personally wish to do them.

      And I come back to my basic argument against Richard Carey; a libertarian society is not going to be some kind of 1950s type conservative society. It will contain whatever quantity of Miley Cyruses, recreational drugs and cream cakes full of trans-fats that consumers desire, and anyone hoping for anything else isn’t being realistic and if one can’t stand up and say “Good!” at that prospect, one is left in a pretty hopeless argumentational position against the legion of prohibitionists whose justification is protecting “the people” from Miley Cyrus, cream cakes, beer and all the rest of their hobby horses.

  19. I keep seeing references to Miley Cyrus challenging unjust laws. This may be the case if she was openly smoking a joint, but has nothing to do with all the rest of her faux ‘notoriety’. There’s no law against dancing, wearing scanty clothes or sticking out one’s tongue. These are matters of taste, not law.

    • Well, yes Richard. But there are enemy formations trying desperately to make those a matter of law, hence the constant complaints about “sexualisation of society” and demands for compulsory age rating systems, etc. It is also worth remembering that the Anglospheric governmental system in its advanced state often works not by directly implementing laws, but indirectly by mafia-style “influence” tactics, which some call “the rule of the threat of law”. As with the coming internet censorship regime, in which ISPs are hauled in front of the minister and “asked” to censor our connections, or else be labelled as enablers of child abuse, etc.

      As an example, take ATVOD. Ever heard of them? They’re the “industry regulator” for “TV On Demand” which has been arbitrarily decided includes in its definition all internet video. ATVOD has itself arbitrarily decided that anything it thinks pornographic that is not behind a paywall is in breach of their regulations, and they then report that website to OFCOM, who then impose an arbitrary fine. The particular ATVOD regulation inherited via OFCOM is that they can choose what “harms moral development”. Which of course could mean anything.

      In practise, this means any website under UK jurisdiction is arbitrarily vulnerable to ATVOD’s powers; plus, they have had to stop taking payments for paywalls from debit card customers, because ATVOD have arbitrarily concluded that this is against their regulations because under 18s might have debit cards.

      Do you remember the law banning free adult video from UK websites? No, neither do I. The law banning adult or adult-related websites accepting debit cards? Likewise, no. There wasn’t one. Instead, a chain of inherited enabling powers has allowed a half dozen state-appointed flunkies to just make up their own rules.

      That’s how the State works these days. It’s not the old “have a rigorous debate and pass a precise law” system that we like to pretend our democracy uses. It’s the exercise of unrestrained power by whatever conduit the ruling class think will encounter the least resistance.

    • Yes but the issue is that people keep trying to use the law to govern matters of taste, instead of the laws proper function as the organisation of justice.

      Therefore acts such as taking drugs, choosing what clothing to wear, dancing, things you say, things you eat. etc become more than simply matters of taste but are made into legal and political issues. .

      As the old misquotation goes, ‘Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver.’

      The aesthetic value of Cyrus is not the issue of fundamental importance, or I would at least argue it shouldn’t be on a libertarian blog. The point of the article was to make libertarians think about better ways to practically advance freedom as opposed to often pointless up in the air theoretical discussions ironing out what everyone’s supposed libertarian utopias may or may not look like.

  20. No Ian – people ARE suggesting (more than “suggesting”) that people spend their time and resources in this way “turn on, tune in, and DROP OUT” (my stress on the last couple of words).

    “Cloward and Piven” meets Herbert Marcuse – that is how the economic left and the cultural left work hand-in-hand. Broken families and a dependent underclass in burned out dysfunctional neighbourhoods.

    Libertarianism depends on most people, most of the time, acting in a conservative way – working hard, saving, being loyal to their families and helping out in their community. Without that, liberty is a DEAD DUCK.

    Why do you think the Marxists (and the hangers on – the Fellow Travellers) made such vast efforts to destroy the old “functional” society (and are still continuing those efforts). It is because self reliant people who look after themselves and help others with their own resources are NO USE TO THEM. They (the left) want a population that swims in its own filth – that collapses into degeneracy. Because such a population DEPENDS ON GOVERNMENT HAND OUTS.

    As for Miley Cyrus – the young lady supports a BIGGER GOVERNMENT.

    Which is logical – as that is exactly what ordinary (non rich) people following her behaviour (for real – not as a publicity stunt) would lead to. As Norman T. is fond of pointing out – what rich people (stupid decadent rich people) can do (at least for awhile) is fatal for ordinary people – and for their families.

    Fun is a good servant – but a terrible master.

    Where people like Peter Hitchens go wrong is that they assume that the social and cultural decay that government policy helped create (I would say DELIBERATLY) can be reversed by an active state.

    This is folly – terrible folly.

    Government can not improve morals – it can only degrade and corrupt them.

    One can not save souls by coercing bodies – force warps everything it touches.

    It is an error that goes all the way back to Aristotle – to the idea that the role of the government is to make people “just and good”, Even Aristotle can be wrong – and this is wrong.

    The work of moral improvement (like the work of economic improvement) can only be done by VOLUNTARY effort.

    The hard work of ordinary human beings, over years, decades and centuries – building up the “moral capital” of civil society.

    • We could debate morality and how we believe people should behave and organise their lives in terms of ‘dropping out’, use of currently legal and illegal drugs, marriage,etc. It may or may not be an interesting conversation.

      For instance you argue that ‘Libertarianism depends on most people, most of the time, acting in a conservative way – working hard, saving, being loyal to their families and helping out in their community. Without that, liberty is a DEAD DUCK.’, I do not see this as a robust assessment of libertarianism, as all the categories mentioned could to a greater or lesser extent be applied to Communist China during the Great Leap Forward. What is certainly required for a libertarianism to flourish is the non-aggression principle and property rights.

      The foundation of a libertarian society can be found in a moral or ethical basis, conservative ‘traditional’ values are not sufficient, instead libertarianism is based on the morality of the non-aggression principle. This is not to say that such ‘traditional’ values are at odds with libertarianism. But I argue that the point of this libertarian association is precisely so that it is not necessary or required for people to have to justify their non-aggressive actions. This seems to be a point of view you share.

      Simply in terms of historical accuracy, there was no mythic time of libertarian ‘functional society’ based on traditional conservative values. Some golden age classical liberal utopia. Undoubtedly in Britain, the United States in the 18-20centuries there were many areas of life where yes people were markedly more free than they are today, and the state interfered less in their lives. But it is also the case that in many areas political and legal institutions were much less liberal, much less free than they are today, from marriage laws, to religion, slavery, even in some cases the regulation of the economy. Furthermore the moral degeneracy that you equate with today versus some moral past is equally as illusory, the past being filled with drunkards, prostitution, licentiousness, drugs, domestic and sexual violence, and criminal aggression overall it was in many ways a thoroughly much more violent world than today in terms of traditional moral vices. Traditionalism does not and never will equal libertarianism. We are after actual freedom, not simply a conservative state with lower levels of direct taxation.

      As for Miley Cyrus. She supports a bigger government you argue. This I think is where you a missing the point. I agree if you asked Miley Cyrus her views on healthcare, the environment, taxation, foreign policy,etc. She may be likely to respond with a number of statist answers. This is no different to the vast majority of the population. However in terms of her behavior concerning the use of illegal drugs and near naked dancing Cyrus is behaving in a way which promotes human freedom by ignoring those who would see her clothed, not dancing in such a fashion and not taking drugs. Through her actions and many other peoples similar actions in ignoring censors and prohibitionists freedom can be made a reality.

      By trying to reduce the state from within the state’s own structures,ie voting, individuals will always be disadvantaged. Instead by ignoring unjust laws and boycotting the state and normalizing such behavior we are able to make ourselves free. From taking drugs, the non-paymnet of taxation, to ignoring other unjust laws such as smoking indoors, these non-violent methods will arguably be more fruitful in creating a libertarian society. Instead of restricting ourselves to policy debates we should embrace such direct action such as informing juries of nullification, and using high profile campaigning methods including popstars and celebrities to oppose unjust laws, not simply through campaigning in changes to the laws but by simply ignoring them, and we should do as loudly as possible.

      Greater freedom will not come from endless policy discussions, but from people taking their freedom and boycotting the state, as far as possible. From Miley Cyrus to Pussy Riot their relative aesthetic value is not the issue of substance, neither is the entirety of their worldviews. Where what they propose advances the cause of liberty we should support them. But we should also learn from them that through actions we can circumvent the state and create a freer society.

  21. I think the argument here is between those who see libertarianism as a political philosophy, and those who see libertarianism in some other, greater sense, as a way of life perhaps. For the former, liberty is a good thing because it allows people to be moral individuals, for the latter liberty is a good thing in itself, and morality does not seem to even exist, and thus libertinism and libertarianism become synonymous (and the coercion of the state is no different than the pseudo-coercion of social convention).

    Something like this is going on, anyway.

    • I certainly think that characterises some of the sentiments argued earlier in the thread. But to develop it slightly, liberty is itself only a concept and not an actual thing in itself. Libertarianism is the belief that force should not be used against those who adhere to the non-aggression principle. No one actually wants liberty, what they want are actual things for instance to be able to purchase MDMA without suffering the threat of force, or to smoke indoors, or to keep their earned wealth, or to buy a 5 gallon soft drink. A moral position on all these various activities has not been put forward either in support or against any of them. The only moral position libertarianism proposes is that it is wrong to use force to stop such behaviors.

      This does not therefore mean that to such libertarians morality does not ‘seem to even exist, and thus libertinism and libertarianism become synonymous’. All it means is that they are against coercive state force. Libertarianism does not simply allow people to be moral, to make moral choices, but it prevents immorality, through preventing coercive violence.

      Arguing against non-traditional values and morality does not necessarily entail an absence of morality. It can do, but it can also mean that instead of basing morality on inherited authority and tradition such moral actors are basing their morality on other sources such as their own reason.

    • Richard,

      No, I don’t think that. My argument is not that there is no morality. Firstly, to get this out of the way, as a libertarian morality (to simplify) has to be derived from the non-aggression axiom. This is the fundamental root of a libertarian morality.

      But secondly, the main point I am arguing is that the puritan value system under discussion is directly oppositional to libertarianism. That is, it is not that there is no morality. It is that the puritan one- which we now call “conservative”- is absolutely the wrong one, and conservatives trying to synthesise it with liberty are on a hiding to nothing and doing more harm than good.

      I have a bit of a reputation for going on about this, and Sean and David keep telling me to write a proper article and I never do, but my position is that the source of Statism in the Anglosphere comes from the radicals, who derive directly (not in some metaphorical or vague sense) from the Puritans. After losing power after the Restoration they went into remission for a bit, and we got the 18th century which was, notably, the period of origin of liberalism and the US Constitution and so on. Then, they regrouped and swept back to power after that, and by this time the puritanism had developed into a full scale ideological system, a kind of European sharia. And it is that which introduced the moral code we debating. It means that the Left and the Right are really two wings of that same ideology which, to use an example, is why we find supposedly oppositional “liberals” and “conservatives” working hand in glove on so many issues.

      So in this model, rather than the Cultural Marxist Hypothesis’s claim that the 1960s liberal period was some kind of cunning plan to undermine western culture, it actually was simply a reactionary bohemianism against the puritan radicals. Why did it happen? Well, after the Progressives (Puritan radicals) got everything they wanted pretty much (temperance, suppression of obsecenity and prostitution, drug prohibition etc) the ran out of steam, and we get this period when political radicals switch to marxism instead. So, the puritans weren’t minding the store and, combined with a set of social changes like the contraceptive pill, western culture relaxed back to its normal state of social liberalism- i.e. like the 18th century.

      But then two things happened; the bohemianism rapidly induced a reactionary revival of the puritans- under the guise of second wave feminism. And Marxism ran out of steam with the failure of Communism. So, the left have, over the past few decades, shifted back to being puritans again, and we’re now in the Puritan Third wave.

      You only have to look at the history to see two obvious things; firstly that there is nothing traditional about banning sex and drugs (for instance) but that these interventions were radical innovations of the 19th century. And secondly that these innovations are a creation of, almost entirely, the Anglosphere. And thirdly, that these innovations got going long before marxist ideas, and were driven by evangelical Christians, not communists. And, fourthly, that these puritan movements are the ones who converted the Anglosphere from (18th century) liberal values (“libertarian”) to authoritarian statist values. This is even more clear in the USA where, inescapably, the growth of the Federal State and destruction of the Constitution has been implemented by the Yankees of New England. The American Puritans.

      Sorry I’ll have to stp, typed a lot anyway and got a migraine coming on so can’t see the screen properly.

  22. @ Ian B,

    “Firstly, to get this out of the way, as a libertarian morality (to simplify) has to be derived from the non-aggression axiom. This is the fundamental root of a libertarian morality.”

    I’m not happy with this. It seems to illustrate the difference I mention above, between those who see libertarianism as a political philosophy and those, such as you I would say, who see it as something more – a way of life or even a kind of religion.

    “the main point I am arguing is that the puritan value system under discussion is directly oppositional to libertarianism. ”

    I cannot accept this statement. It is not the puritan value system per se, but only when such a value system is turned into an authoritarian legal structure with the power to use violence that it becomes oppositional to libertarianism.

    I’m sure I’d agree with you about the malign influence of the Yankee puritans and their post-millennial piety, but I think you are fitting the history to the theory, rather than the other way around. I’ll say no more at this point.

  23. Yes Richard – the problem with a “Puritan” is NOT hard work, saving and avoiding throwing themselves into a sea of filth – whilst letting their families starve.

    The problem with the “Puritan” is not that they think they can FORCE moral conduct upon others.

    Or (rather) this is the problem with SOME “Puritans”

    Roger Williams (the Founder of Rhode Island) was no less moral in his personal conduct than the leadership of Mass that he rejected – indeed he was probably rather more moral than this leadership – whose outward show of morality often hid hypocrisy).

    What Roger Williams rejected was NOT morality – but the effort to use the power of the state to FORCE morality (which held to be an effort to save souls by coercing bodies – EVIL in the name of good).

    We can even see a change of heart at the heart of the Massachusetts leadership.

    Judge Sewall – the Judge at the Salem Witch Trials.

    Judge Sewall later bitterly repented of his actions – seeing that by the use of FORCE he had become the unwitting agent of the very forces of evil that he had tried to fight all his life.

    It was Judge Sewall who then (1700) wrote “Selling of Joesph” – the first great protest against SLAVERY in American literature.

    The Non Aggression Principle is indeed the way.

    For example, someone like Jon Huntsman (a man who started in a house made of CARDBOARD, built a great manufacturing enterprise – and then devoted vast sums of money to the fight against cancer) can not be produced by the state.

    Only freedom can give such people the opportunity to achieve both economic, social, and MORAL advance.

    Of course other people may fail to live up to such examples of achievement – but without freedom they (human beings in general) have no chance to do so.

    Even the chance of small scale achievement is taken from people – if the state attempts to “help” them.

    • Concerned Briton

      Paul, I have followed most of the comments down this thread and I must say that I tend to side with yourself on many of your arguments and observations, such as the place for morality and striving for a better society which is not hedonistic and retarding what are forces for good and forces for a healthy, self reliant and small government.

      I also share the opinion that to say Miley Cyrus and such people are “anti-establishment” is a complete joke. I agree with your premise that it has been fostered and encouraged – and I personally do not believe there has really been this “war on drugs” either. But that is another topic.

      If Miley Cyrus really wanted to “rebel” against the push of the way things are being pushed, then she would not be licking sledgehammers in her underwear or swinging naked on wrecking balls or smoking drugs……no, if she really wanted to rebel against the establishment, she would be dressing conservatively, promoting edgy anti-drug messages and singing songs about love, family and so on.

      Have promiscuous sex, abandon proper relationships, get wasted, do what you like and sod the consequences, etc has been the message for nigh on 60 or 70 years. Has society got better or more libertarian? No. Quite the reverse. The message of it is tired and jaded.

      Perhaps the youth of this country are ready for a new message, not that same old stale “faux rebellion” they still see parroted in articles like this one. Maybe the new ‘revolution’ we be a rejection of this kind of mindless pap and the degeneracy that tends to come with it.

      That really would be revolutionary, to start making a better world instead of the most depraved and baseless.

      • The mental contortions required by social conservatives to convince themselves that the Establishment are promoting libertinism never cease to amaze me. I’m all out of arguments. White is black, black is white, A is not A. There is no counter-argument other than to say that white is white, black is black, and A is A.

        The State is anti-drugs, it is anti-porn, it is anti-prostitution. It sends legions of “educators” into schools trying to persaude teenagers to only want sex “in a committed relationship” instead of casually. It tries to discourage us from drinking, it is ruthlessly persecutory of smokers. It only grudgingly allows strippers under draconian regulations. It is right now about to impose ludicrously Chinese censorship on the internet to stop us looking at tits and bums.

        The only counterpoint to this is the media, the free market media (at least, as free market as it is allowed) like the music industry which produces some “libertine” content, and what do so-called “libertarians” do? Deride it as anti-libertarian. Because the only mental contortion that can ease the cognitive dissonance is to claim that the media is the State, apparently. I don’t know why you and Paul and the rest of you don’t go the whole hog and blame it all on the Jews who run Hollywood, why not, everyone else does.

        If you want a Europeanised form of Sharia, go ahead. But sure as eggs is eggs you won’t get libertarianism out of it. If you think a State that can’t trust people to decide how much T and A to look at is going to allow them to make much more important decisions economically and socially, you’re in cloud cuckoo land.

        • Concerned Briton

          The state does not tend to prosecute drug takers, nor many drug dealers. I am with Peter Hitchens on this one, in that the “war on “drugs” was never seriously fought.

          I have stated before that I am not a hardcore libertarian. I am not in favour of a large state that meddles in every aspect of our affairs.

          I have grave concerns about all sorts of infringements on our lives and society, particularly in potty Britain where there was even talk of banning parents providing their own children with lunch boxes because they cannot be trusted to not include “bad” things in them.

          Yet I often come to this Libertarian site and not much of a muff is said about it all, as (often American visitors to be fair) are banging on about some impossible border-less society and banging on about “property rights” whilst the country is slowly being taken over and lost to the real zealots that want to herd us all like cattle.

          I am a moral person, I have what I see to be high standards and high expectations. I see nothing wrong with striving to be upstanding, wholesome and moral – and nurturing those things in society at the condemnation, if need be, of things which make society stink and be nasty.

          That does not mean to say I would “ban” everything I do not agree with, but I do think it is acceptable to try and stand some ground and promote what ought to be GOOD aspects for a society, for family, for a nation.

          Taking drugs, especially hard or addictive drugs, to me, is a bloody menace for this country and our people. It destroys lives, wrecks families, ruins societies and pulls this country down into the gutter.

          I am not going to sit by and just say “hell yeah, for the sake of liberty to all, you can all do whatever the hell you like, get drugged up, watch kiddy porn, or do whatever you see fit “as long as it does not harm anybody else” or “is the confines of you own home”.

          The effects, say, of serious drug abuse affect all of us in society not just the sad soul injecting it in their own homes. We also deal with the fall out, the blight, the resultant of their “choices”.

          I also come here to champion the rights of freedom of the internet and so on. That is what I am interested in. I do not agree with the new legislation that seems to mean you have to be on some sort of list of people “accepting porn”, or using “child porn” as an excuse to monitor us all wholesale.

          The ideologues of the last century sought to make the west “so corrupt that it stinks” – and bit by bit, they have fostered what they intended to foster in order to break down this civilisation.

          That is what I speak of, and with the Labour Party and Lib Dems especially, they have not exactly put much of a stop to this aims and ambitions – making it easier and easier to be individualistic and hedonistic in the name of “liberty”.

          Only none of it has really brought liberty has it, only more measures to deal with the illnesses they have themselves created.

          The “revolution” of drink, drugs, rock and roll has been the normality for 60 years. To think it is still “pushing the boundaries” and “showing the establishment” is nonsense to me, for they have not only stood by why it happened, but many in government and the BBC etc are fiddling with young boys, snorting cocaine, and whatever else.

          “I don’t know why you don’t blame it on the Jews and Hollywood”……well, as it happens, I do apportion some of the blame there – as well as vested interests in this “free market” system, where they have used psychological warfare and societal programming in order to peddle their wares and interests.

          With this, are people really always “choosing” what they want – or being conditioned to think it is what they want, in the name of ‘freedom’?

          An example, as it happens, would be cigarettes, in particular with women smokers. How did this societal change come about, and what vehicle was used to push it? (I found it can be a bit of an eye opener, if the reasons I saw are to be believed).

          Now that smoking is out there and people are addicted to it, I do not believe in the government raking the taxes from selling it whilst effectively banning anyone smoking them outside of their own homes.

          I do not agree with forcing pubs to be non smoking either, or in their own cars alone, or anything like that. It is ridiculous.

          But that does not mean that I value smoking, that I prefer people I know to smoke, that I prefer a wider society that smokes and that people should puff themselves into an early grave and line the pockets of big business just to be some kind of “rebel” against the state.

          Perhaps Paul Marks and myself intend and hope for a society which has a little more self control, self worth, a little more self reliance, and self respect for what are good ingredients.

          Hopefully, by explaining that there is another way things can be and ought to be, people could come to start to improve their lives and their outlooks on their own accord, rather than turn towards the free-for all on offer in the name of “liberty”.

          I do happen to believe in peoples ability to take decisions and be on such a path, but when a society (or “media”) is doing everything it can to render all of those values and virtues useless, it is hardly conducive to fostering such a society and the kind of society that can take responsibility and not require the kind of state apparatus to take care of the chaos that itself has created or allowed to be created.

          The likes of Miley Cyrus and Pete Doherty are not some sort of champions or people to look up to for inspiration (as the main article made out).

          I sought to contradict that notion, as do I believe Paul Marks did.

          Myself and Paul my not share the same positions, but I happened to find the thrust of the piece not really to my liking, whether that makes me un-libertarian or not.

          • Concerned Briton

            (I did not mean to lump c/porn with drug use in one of my paragraphs, I just had it in mind for something I wanted to mention later and interjected it where it had no place as an example. My mistake).

            You might already be aware of what I am talking about with the matter of perceived freedoms and liberty meeting the minds of clever propagandists and psychologists (of which the public cannot always defend themselves from, in my view), but here is a quick 4 minute video talking specifically about the matter of women and cigarettes.

            It is not the same one as I saw years ago, but from the BBC World Service by the looks of it:

            It tends to sum it up, though it is a little light on the women’s-lib movement aspect compared to the other I saw.

            It may not be the best example in the world, but all I am suggesting is that not everything seen for the good of freedom and liberty is actually right or welcome, or even originally of peoples own volition.

          • “I have stated before that I am not a hardcore libertarian. I am not in favour of a large state that meddles in every aspect of our affairs.
            I have grave concerns about all sorts of infringements on our lives and society, particularly in potty Britain where there was even talk of banning parents providing their own children with lunch boxes because they cannot be trusted to not include “bad” things in them.”
            I hear that’s actually already happened?

            The arguments in favor of human freedom are well explained on this site and many others, has many excellent resources. Here’s just a snippet:
            “But Macaulay asked “is there any reason for believing that a government is more likely to lead the people in the right way than the people…themselves?” The answer: “[W]e see no reason for thinking that the opinions of the magistrate on speculative questions are more likely to be right than those of any other man.” “,

            That said there are certain points you raised which I think could benefit from a little reality.

            “The state does not tend to prosecute drug takers, nor many drug dealers. I am with Peter Hitchens on this one, in that the “war on “drugs” was never seriously fought. ”

            There is currently a prohibition on many drugs. Drugs are illegal. This is a fact, objective violence is currently being practiced by the state against people. That means the state directly uses physical force against people.

            The statement ‘war on drugs’ as such is statist propaganda. The truth it conceals is that the state carries out direct violence against innocent individuals. Not on some inanimate object, but people. The state across the globe, locks people up, in some places even kills them for producing, possessing, taking and supplying drugs. I am not sorry at all that this systemic violence has not been pursued as vigorously as supporters of violence, theft and murder such as Peter Hitchens would desire.

            The argument that the state does not tend to prosecute drug takers is utterly fallacious, the United states having larger prison population than anywhere else in the world, ever. More people in the United States alone have been incarcerated as a result of the prohibition than ever were in the Gulag. This is apart from the countless lives destroyed by the prohibitions other effects, tearing apart families, the creation of a criminal gang culture, the increased costs of drugs and the reduction in their safe use and quality.

            I could go on, and on, tempted to debate the morality of not just current suppression of the use of drugs but drug use itself versus buying brand name fashion items, overexercising, compulsive television watching, cereal bars and other religions, perhaps even return to the substantive point of the original article which was not actually advocating indulgence in anything other than freedom, and expounding on ways libertarians can best realise this, but meh, the response will probably be something along the lines of:

  24. I think Peter Hitchens is trapped in a contradiction.

    He says that he admires how things changed in the 19th century – how poverty fell over time, partly because behaviour (of most people most of he time) improved.

    Yet he supports the OPPOSITE of the social polices actually followed in the 19th century.

    The sort of policies that Peter Hitchens supports concerning drugs are not the moral persuasion and moral sanctions of Victorian civil society – the policies that Peter Hitchens supports are government FORCE.

    This is a policy that has failed in the United States (in spite of millions of people being sent to prison over the decades – indeed I suspect the policy was followed BECAUSE it would fail) and has failed here.

    “Government has failed – it needs wider powers” is not a rational response, but it is the response of Mr Hitchens.

    Mr Hitchens might as well hold the following position…..

    “I really admire how private enterprise improved transportation in the 19th century – that is why the STATE should own the railways in Britain”.

    And that actually IS the position of Mr Hitchens – it really is.

    He gives a good account of voluntary moral improvement in the 19th century and the failure of the modern state – and then says this proves the STATE should have wider powers to enforce moral conduct.

    And he gives a good account of how private enterprise improved transport in the 19th century – and then says that the STATE should own the railways (and so on).

    It makes no sense – none.

  25. As I continue to battle jet-lag in Taipei where I am currently on a language course. I thought Id put forward a suggestion of consensus.

    The Chinese word for freedom is 自由 ziyou, which literally translates as self reason. I believe this is beautifully descriptive and encapsulates the main philosophy of libertarianism.

    I fully accept the importance of the moral development of individuals and how real freedom is more than simply an absence of external physical threats against individuals. Real freedom is also the ability to find something of an epicurean balance in our existence and have control over our own minds, to not be dictated to by madness both foreign and also within us as individuals.

    But as has been argued on this thread, this is only fully achievable once the external threats to our self reason, to our sovereignty over ourselves have been defeated.

    By attempting to remove these external threats through co-operating and collaboration with the very systems of power and violence which seek to dominate us, libertarians will never succeed. The systems themselves are fundamentally opposed to their own destruction. Furthermore we become complicit in trade-offs and bargaining over which state violence is acceptable in exchange for the freedom which is rightfully ours in the first place. Weighing up which criminal to tick a box for, and who is the less pernicious slave master.

    Neither however do I believe violent resistance is the solution to removing the external threat of the state. Success is unlikely, and I would argue will never in itself deliver a free society. What will stop threats to our freedom is instead the refusal to cooperate with the state. The refusal to allow states and external threats to do violence against us. For as many tax riots as there have ever been there are still taxes. The only thing that will truly stop taxes is for people, the great majority of individuals to refuse to pay. This is the case for every unjust law and violation against an individuals ability to self govern. We must simply say no, not co-operate, even be prepared to boycott supporters of the state, we must seek to create an ideological climate where it becomes unacceptable for someone to say we should tax, make laws over you, regulate you, conscript you, censor you and prohibit you. We must make people see the violent reality of the state and how supporting it is morally unacceptable.

    Is Miley Cyrus a statist? Of course she is. Does she believe in socilaised medicare, environmental regulations and care for the elderly, I would hazard a guess that she probably does. Do the vast majority of other people also currently support such polices, yes they do. But then anyone who believes in taxation however small is also a statist. Does Miley Cyrus truly advocate a complete legalisaiton of all currently prohibited drugs I also very much doubt it.

    Why then in this case is Cyrus important, or rather why is the idea of what Cyrus was doing important? There are those who believe the states power should be used not simply to prohibit the drugs which Cyrus was partially supporting the use of, but would also like to prohibit what she wears, says, and how she was dancing. It is because of the exercise of the remaining freedoms we have that we are still free to do them. The prohibition on drugs has caused immense harm and suffering to individuals but now thankfully drug use is becoming more normalized among large populations, leading to ignoring the law and then to repeal of these unjust laws. Cyrus in her small part and anyone else who publicly renounces unjust laws be they drugs or any other area, are playing a peaceable role in the death of state dominion over us.

    Whether Cyrus’ behavior represents a dangerous nihilistic immorality and degeneracy is an important point with regard to living truly free lives and our self reason. But the point I would make is that those who view Cyrus and her like as part of a statist ideological conspiracy to destroy society, must first acknowledge that society by the presence of the state has already been destroyed. We already lack the ability to self reason due to the external threat of the state. The argument that statists encourage degeneracy which leads to social breakdown and thus provides them with a rationale to intervene is contradictory. The statists have already intervened. Their argument that intervention is made allowable by social breakdown is itself purely propaganda. It is their excuse for their notionally helpful interventions in society, but it is unsound. here is no justification for practicing violence against innocent individuals.

    Miley Cyrus is important in this case, not because of her general moral and political beliefs, (which may be both degenerate and statist), but she is important as to what she represents. By ignoring unjust laws and acting against the worldviews of those who would seek to control her actions, Cyrus
    represents the first neccessary steps towards realising greater freedom, the first of which is the absence of external threats to our own self reason.
    In this refusal to follow the state and those who seek to control Cyrus shows every other individual the possibility of exercising their own self reason, and helps to normalize behviour whihc is in opposition to statust violence and injustice.

    The solution is to refuse to play the states game.

  26. Agreed Richard.

    Libertinism is NOT libertarianism.

    It should not be celebrated nor banned. Neither Miley Cyrus or Peter Hitchens are the way forward – indeed (in their different ways) they are both part of the problem. As both Miley Cyrus and Peter Hitchens support using FORCE to create the type of society they want – they just differ (radically differ) on what this society should be like.

    Both forget that “Civil Society” – is just that, the result of civil (voluntary) interaction, Not government financed healthcare (indeed government financed everything) as with Miley Cyrus, or government bans of X, Y Z as with Peter Hitchens.

    However, it is indeed “playing the states game” – as it is a matter of record that the Hollywood types (and the entertainment industry generally) are dominated by people who want a BIGGER GOVERNMENT and see the deliberate encouragement of degenerate conduct as a WAY OF ACHIEVEING THE OBJECTIVE OF BIGGER GOVERNMENT.

    This has been true since at least the 1960s – and it does not take much investigation to find it out. The “creative” types (backed by the government REGULATIONS that have given them such power in television and so on) see “capitalist society” (such as stable families and local community organisations – such as Churches, or secular local charitable or mutual aid societies and so on, the “Little Platoons” as Edmund Burke put it) as the enemy, an bar in the way of the creating the collectivist society they crave.

    Indeed in literature this desire (to promote collectivism by encouraging vice – thus creating vast numbers of people who DEPEND UPON THE STATE) goes back more than a century.

    I repeat my statement of the obvious……..

    Liberty depends on most people, most of the time, living in a CONSERVATIVE way. On resisting the various temptations in life – a hard task (a very hard task).

    The cultural left (the Frankfurt School and so on) have known this for a century or so (indeed it was well known even back in the 1700s – there are plenty of 18th century thinkers who explain the matter well), the left see “bourgeois” society as their great enemy – as the great obstacle to creating the collectivist communal society they crave.

    The obvious question for anyone who claims to be a libertarian (to be a defender of capitalism) is whether they are a supporter of “bourgeois” society or not.

    If they are not supporters of “bourgeois”, “capitalist” society then they are PART OF THE PROBLEM – not part of the solution.

    There is nothing wrong with having fun.

    But amusement is a good servant – but a TERRIBLE (DESTRUCTIVE) master.

    Those who use Miley Cyrus (for the young lady herself is only a pawn) want to make amusement this destructive master – for the purpose of increasing dependence on government.

    Indeed in the case of Miley Cyrus the specific film producer and photographer assigned to encourage her antics has “form”.

    He is (“surprise surprise”) a man with left political connections – going back DECADES.

    Hat tip to David Horowitz’s organisation for exposing who was actually the Miley Cyrus thing.

    It was not the young lady herself – it was indeed one of the “usual suspects”, engaged in a standard subvert-bourgeois-society operation (operations with which Mr Horowitz is well aware – as he himself comes from a Communist family and was a leading leftist in the 1960s).

    The idea that these people are somehow “rebels against the state” is absurd.

    In fact the Hollywood left have contacts up the highest levels of government (including President Obama) and serve the same cause that the government does.

    As the old mantra goes…….

    “Bottom up” (chaos on the streets), “top down” (demands that the government must “do something” to end the chaos), and then “inside out” – the “fundamental transformation of society” that the Reds crave (and that their Black Flag “Anarchist” ALLIES also crave).

    The idea that the Hollyood left are somehow independent of government is as absurd as the idea that big city street gangs are “rebels”. The street gangs are in fact pushed by “Community Organisers” – and have been since the 1960s

    It is no accident that the great riots of the 1960s came AFTER (not before) the government paid for organisers (and the Great Society welfare schemes and “Civil Rights” hit Northern cities).

    Yes again the modern situation might best be described as…….

    “Herbert Marcuse meets Cloward and Piven”.

    The antics of Miley Cyrus (actually thought up by a middle aged far leftist -with a lot of “form” in these operations) are a part (a very small part) of this destructive process.

  27. I hope I do not need to remind people that Mr Obama was such a “Community Organiser” (the savage conditions in Chicago, with many hundreds of murders a year and so on, are what he and other members of his profession always intended they should be), and that the Hollywood left were actively involved in putting him in office.

    Although (at least since the early 1960s) the subversion of the Civil Service (via the education system) means that the left are (to a great extent) in power – even when they are officially out of office.

    Miley Cyrus is almost irrelevant in all this – I repeat “her” antics are actually thought up by a middle aged far leftist (a veteran of such cultural subversion operations) if the young lady dropped dead (say of an overdose of drugs) he would not care – he has other people he can use (as he has in the past).

    And when they have served their purpose – they can be discarded (to die in the gutter).

    I hope that Miley Cyrus is intelligent enough to save her money and to not follow in private the conduct she is TOLD (INSRUCTED) to promote in public.

  28. The problem with your argument is that it is based on the faulty premise that ‘traditional or bourgeois society’ equals a capitalist libertarian society.

    ““capitalist society” (such as stable families and local community organisations – such as Churches, or secular local charitable or mutual aid societies and so on, the “Little Platoons” as Edmund Burke put it) as the enemy, an bar in the way of the creating
    the collectivist society they crave.”
    These very institutions, churches, secular organisations, businesses, families, all manner of little platoons, have been and continue to be complicit in statist power. This point has been further developed, (including by yourself) in the article, on english liberalism.

    This society of the little platoons, was not libertarian. It saw the growth of more modern forms of statist activity as well as continuing to harbor older forms of statism. The change being more one of who made up the ruling elite. Statism was not some invention of the 1960s. You may hold a dim view of much of the cultural output of the 1960s but it is an utter fallacy to argue that it was a direct cause of statism, which pre-existed the 1960s. The cause of statism is people using violence over other innocent people and claiming they have a legitimate right to do so. Whether they make this claim of legitmacy based on the divine right of kings or on doing Gods work, or as a response to what they consider the evils of a 1960s drug culture, it makes no difference, all these claims are is propaganda in order to create a legitimating ideology for their violence.

    You claim that,
    “Liberty depends on most people, most of the time, living in a CONSERVATIVE way. On resisting the various temptations in life – a hard task (a very hard task).”

    You say that this is obvious. That is quite wrong. At an a priori level, what is required for liberty is the non-aggression principle, that is obvious as it is something that can be deduced axiomatically. Your claim would need to be tested using evidence, and even then would not be a law of human action, but would simply be a historical assessment of past human actions. Clearly based on the historical record bourgeois/traditional/conservative society did not equal a libertarian society.

    Maybe then you are arguing that bourgeois society is a conceptual framework which has not yet been followed, but if people do follow it then we will realise a libertarian utopia. Which basically means, as long as everybody strictly adheres, (voluntarily), (most of the time anyway) to whatever parameters I decide bourgeois society to mean then we will live in a free society. Can you spot a potential contradiction here?

    Furthermore, the terms bourgeois and conservative in this context are left completely undefined, as are the ‘temptations of life’ you refer to, and even most of the time is left ambiguous. If it is the historical bourgeois society that would be a problem as already argued. Therefore you must mean some conceptual definition for bourgeois society, how traditional exactly? Church tithes, wives being chattle, infanticide, or is it some bourgeois society lite version, stripped of anything you dont personally agree with.

    This argument in favor of bourgeois society, and blaming statism wholly on 1960s culture is simply an attempt to hide your preference for a certain as yet undefined way of living and your dislike for 1960s culture. Arguing that 1960s culture equals statism and that bourgeois society equals liberty, despite this flying in the face of historical fact and I would also argue theoretical certainty.

    Your subsequent claim therefore that,
    If they are not supporters of “bourgeois”, “capitalist” society then they are PART OF THE PROBLEM – not part of the solution.”,
    is not only baseless, it is meaningless, as bourgeois society is an undefined and as such unfalsifiable concept.

  29. Your general argument seems to resemble the singing of a bird that has learned to love its cage. You appear to be quite happy wailing about this ‘big other’, the decadent 1960s culture,and blaming that for statist violence. You appear to be stuck in a ‘where id it all go so wrong’ mentality, wailing that ‘our country has gone to the dogs’, but the truth is that ‘it was never right’.

    If there is any chance of realising a more free society, it will only occur based on the actions of individuals taking their own freedom, not on morose despondency that everything has been ruined. Wailing about evil leftists, and discussing libertarian theoretical utopias while at the same time doing nothing or very little to practically resist the state, is part of the weakness of the current libertarian movement. It is an example of Sloterdijk’s cynical reasoning, of ‘I know it, but I still do it’. The only way to gain more freedom as individuals is to take practical steps to be freer, whining and just carrying on as always, maybe voting at an election now and again will never bring an end to statist violence.

  30. JKJ – to me “the cage” is big government and those who want to make it bigger (such as those who use Miley Cyrus as a puppet). I do not regard self restraint on the evolved (and voluntary) customs and of civil society as a “cage”.

    “Freedom” from rationality (from good sense and moral responsibility) is not freedom at all – it is the road to slavery (total and absolute slavery).

    As for your claim that Civil Society (what you would call “capitalist” or “bourgeois” society) and the principles of conduct on which it depends does not exist……

    This reminds me of the old Russian saying “First they smash your face in – then they say you were always ugly”.

    Civil society was never perfect – but it was basically good (most people most of the time) and gradually getting better. Collectivists undermined it – deliberately and out of bone deep evil.

    As the late Andrew Breitbart (no Puritan kill-joy he) used to say…..

    They [the Frankfurt School “intellectuals”) were in southern California in the late 1940s – they looked at a society that was getting better, and where people already lived better than they had done anywhere else before. And the response of these “Progressive” intellectuals was HATRED and the desire to DESTROY.

    The Black Flag (“anarchist” collectivists) totalitarians are not really different from the Red Flag totalitarians.

    Both wish to destroy traditional society, without which liberty can not survive (let alone be expanded – as it should be). And they wish to do so for the purpose of destroying what is left of independent civil society

    To destroy what is left of self reliant individuals, loyal to their families and working in their local communities (in their churches and in secular clubs and societies)..

    It was not fundamentally different in the time of the Abbe de Mably or Rousseau than it is today.

    Both the Black Flag types and the Red Flag shout “freedom” – whilst working for slavery.

    And they do so in the same movements – such as the “Occupy” movement and the teacher unions. and the universities (and on and on).

    It is pointless to try to reason with such people because they have rejected reason. And it is hopeless to appeal to the conscience of such people – because they made a choice (and it was a choice) long ago to reject their better selves, and give themselves (body and soul) to evil – for the sake of evil.

    David Horowitz (who knew the “freedom fighters” being born into their ranks) found that out when he sent a women to help the “Black Panthers” with their accounts.

    They murdered her – because she had uncovered some frauds.

    That would not have moved him fundamentally – after all, every political movement has some bad apples.

    What moved David Horowitz was the response of his “liberal” friends.

    They did not care – they could not care less.

    A kindly women had been murdered – and they did not care, because no “Progressive use” could be made of the murder.

    He then had a choice to make (and it is a choice) – would he also reject his conscience and give himself (body and soul) to evil, and his “friends” had.

    David H. choose not to do that.

    “That does not make him a libertarian” – quite right JKJ it does not.

    But it does make him a human being. Stumbling along (and often making mistakes) as humans do.

    One can not (in the end) side with the forces of “liberation” (which are really the forces of destruction and slavery – whether they follow the Red Flag or the Black Flag) and retain one’s humanity.

    Full disclosure – my own father faced such a choice (in the 1930s) and choose to cling to his humanity, trying desperately (and with all the stupid mistakes that us humans are guilty of) to do the right thing.

    And my half brother also faced such a choice – and went the other way.

    These are people (both the followers of the Red Flag and the Black) who see a place such as Bedford New Hampshire and are filled with hatred and the desire to destroy.

    And when they see somewhere such as the south side of Chicago they smile to themselves – at a job well done.

  31. –“Freedom” from rationality (from good sense and moral responsibility) is not freedom at all – it is the road to slavery (total and absolute slavery).—
    Yes I agree, this was the point I made in saying freedom is self-reason.
    However the immediate problem that libertarians seek to address as a public movement is that of external threats to their liberty and their ability to make free moral choices based on self reason.
    Your line of argument seems to be happy to curse and moan at what it considers to be the cause of state violence. As you refer to ‘big government’, (although I am not sure why big is necessary, any government will reduce liberty).
    I also fundamentally disagree with your view that all the current statist woes are a result of 1960s culture, as I argued it does not stand up on either a factual or theoretical basis.
    For instance, you are arguing that 1960s culture promotes degenerate behaviour which leads to financial and behavioural problems. This then provides the state with an excuse to intervene, and expand its role. The obvious problem is that the state already existed and used violence before 1960s culture. But the fundamental flaw in this argument is that it accepts the statist’s excuse for intervention, ie, it is alright to use violence against people to help people from themselves or to help the less wealthy. The state’s reason for intervening is not sound, there is no justification for violence against non-aggressors.
    Look at your argument if you substitute ‘social freedoms’ with respect to ‘economic/financial freedoms’. Wild and speculative financial gambling, waste and degeneracy have caused an economic crisis. Therefore what is needed is government intervention to avert economic and financial catastrophe. This is again simply statist propaganda. The cause of the crisis in the first place is more than likely government intervention. Furthermore there is no reason why government would ameliorate the crisis by intervening. But most importantly there is no moral justification for the use of state violence against innocent parties. The strongest argument libertarians have is not on some based on a litany of reasonable arguments, but on clear morality, violence against non-aggressors is wrong. The statists various ideologies for intervention are beside the point.
    You have made mention at various stages to civil/bourgeois/capitalist/traditional society. I have not claimed it doesn’t exist. I am merely waiting for you to provide a definition, is it a historical entity or is it a conceptual framework for human behaviour?
    “Civil society was never perfect – but it was basically good (most people most of the time) and gradually getting better. Collectivists undermined it – deliberately and out of bone deep evil.”
    “traditional society, without which liberty can not survive (let alone be expanded – as it should be).”

    At a historical level I do not doubt you could attempt to label certain periods and groups as meeting the definition you provide, but I would question how libertarian they were. When, who, where, exactly was this “never perfect but -basically good and gradually getting better and better” civil society.
    At a conceptual level I doubt that you will be able to define a robust definition. But please do try.
    Society, (no prefix required), can be defined as the sum total of voluntary interactions between individuals.
    “to me “the cage” is big government and those who want to make it bigger “,
    The point is that simply decrying everything that you dislike since the 1960s, will not advance liberty. What will advance liberty and lead to increased freedom of action for individuals is people disobeying and refusing to co-operate with the state. Your seems to be based on the idea that some kind of electoral event will take place whereby the state is voted out of existence. For anything of the sort to ever be likely to happen people must in their everyday lives oppose the state and see it as the malign institution it is. So that they become so accustomed to opposing it and it dies a natural death, starved of resources, as people refuse to be taxed, stop using the state’s fiat money and refuse to lend to it. They ignore its unjust laws and regulations, and refuse to serve in its agencies or to associate with those who do.
    On Miley Cyrus, (again), yes she is almost undoubtedly statist in her beliefs. Again though, those who are not statist in their beliefs make up a tiny minority. Her importance is simply as an example in this case of behavioural opposition to unjust laws. The state makes drugs illegal. Miley Cyrus and many others use drugs. The state finds it increasingly difficult to enforce these unjust laws, and it is becoming a laughing stock and receiving criticism for the pointlessness of the laws. The state repeals the unjust laws, or they simply die from a lack of enforcement. Freedom has been increased.
    Overtime, and through constant debate, and actions of ostracism on libertarians’ parts, people who hold statist beliefs, such as Miley Cyrus but also many supposedly free-market conservatives, could be and should be the receivers of negative social approbation, much as today those who express anti-Semitic or homophobic views are on the receiving end of criticism, for having hateful and irrational points of view.
    If as a libertarian you encounter a statist who wants to increase taxation, you should tell them how deplorable and immoral their views are. Perhaps after a period of discussion after which they continue to hold such immoral views you should simply say that you refuse to associate with them further. However if this same statist also holds the view that the prohibition on drugs should be ended, and they show this opposition by using currently illegal drugs then this act is in itself and act of resistance against the state, and there overall statist opinions do not change this fact.
    Libertarians instead of playing the statist game of voting for either block of the welfare/social liberties-warfare/economic liberties state, should simply support freedom where they find it. That is the point of being a libertarian; we do not have to discriminate as to which freedoms we support. However I fully accept that the point of freedom is so that you have the ability to self reason, ie live a sensible life, not lead simply in the pursuit of ‘fun’ or any other cause which leads you eventually to unhappiness.

  32. FJK – did you miss the reference to Rousseau?

    We could discuss Plato as well if you wish.

    However, for the present discussion all that is needed is the following……

    Some people seek to expand the size and scope of government – government has been expanding since the late 19th century, but they do not think it has a expanded enough – they want total collectivism, although they often reject the words “state” or “government”.

    They see encouraging certain forms of behaviour as a good way of creating an dependent underclass – to use as a excuse for radically more collectivism.

    And they are quite correct – if these sorts of behaviours dominate most people (or even large numbers of people) in a particular area then dependency, and also violence will be increased. Families destroyed, neighbourhoods destroyed (and so on).

    Especially violence against old style community leaders – it is no accident that a primary target of the riots of the 1960s were local BLACK businessmen (it the riots were really about race – why were they attacked?).

    Miley Cyrus herself is just a puppet – like many others.

    A puppet of people who are not “rebels” – at least not rebels against collectivism (very much the reverse).

    John Adams was right – everything depends on how most people behave most of the time. This is what is meant by “virtue” – in a very practical way.

    There is nothing wrong with a party once in a while – but life (in general) can not be turned into a party.

    Those who tell the young that life can be one big party do not them no service.

    And those who tell them that they do not need to be loyal to their families (that relationships can be casual and remain based on nothing but fun) destroy the lives of the young.

    And (in the case of the rather middle aged people behind the Miley Cyrus stunts) actually want to destroy the young – destroy them in the sense of undermining the potential for hard work, thrift, and self control with them.

    It is not liberty they seek – it is license, and even that only for a little while.

    The moment the “fundamental transformation” is complete they turn into the most harsh Puritans you could ever think of.

    “Bottom up”(chaos on the street), “top down” (the government needs to do X.Y,Z to “stop the chaos”) then “inside out” – the fundamental transformation.

    People are either “chained” by their own self control (their own reason and morality) or they end up being really chained.

    And that is what those who seek to undermine the “chains” of right and wrong really seek.

    As Mr Chisholm of the World Health Organisation (cited by Hayek) put it.

    “Some of us have learned to reject these moral chains of right and wrong and think freely”.

    He meant – “so we can enslave the population – having first brought them to such a state that they will BEG us to enslave them”.

    Unable to look after themselves – or each other. In nightmare cities without hope. Then they will look to the “enlightened” ones – who will promise them everything.

    And if they ask “but how did things get to be like this” – they will be told “they always were this bad” (to control the present and the future – it is necessary to control the past, to exaggerate everything bad and leave out the good).

    Or they will be told “the rich” or “the reactionaries” are to blame for everything – even for lack of toilet paper.

    Do not laugh – that is the line in Venezuela now.

    “Life is a party – sing and dance, twerk, twerk, twerk…..”

    “You will be able to hunt in the morning and fish in the afternoon and be critical after dinner, without being a hunter a fisherman or a critic – for society will organise production”.

  33. Succinctness is next to Godliness.

  34. I think you just don’t like pop music.
    In earnest though, suppose your entire assessment is right. What are you going to do about it? What is your strategy, what are your proposed tactics to further the cause of liberty?

    Supposing you are right, whatever you and the libertarian movement have been doing is an utter failure thus far. So do you propose continuing playing the statist game of voting, political parties, writing to politicians, debating libertarian theory,etc.? Or instead would you support direct actions which refuse to obey and co-operate with the violence of the state?


  35. Certainly the state has been growing since the late 19th century (even as a percentage of the economy) – but that is no reason to extend it further, or not to work to roll it back.

    As for violence (rather than elections and so) – I rather think that violence is the ultimate “statist game”. If you refuse to even engage in peaceful discussion and (yes) elections – you make the victory of the ever bigger government certain indeed.

    Show me a man who says “come on people let us take up arms and overthrow the government” and I will show you either an idiot or an FBI plant .

    As the charming Cass Sunstein pointed out (in his arrogance he thought only his own kind were listening) the best way to discredit “anti government” people is to have fake “anti government” people say and do stupid (indeed evil) things.

    Promote chaos and you get statism – that is why statists LOVE the promotion of chaos. Moral as well physical.


    A recent Hollywood film (staring that collectivist mental giant – Matt Damon) showed that the collectivists would follow even into outer space – in order to get resources (from the “evil” rich) in order to finance the “right to health care”.

    And the endless push for “world governance” (all those treaties of international cooperation) show that “tax havens” and so on will not be tolerated by the collectivists.

    So no running away I am afraid – you just find the same ideology following you (for example the new state health care system in Taiwan).

    “But do you really think peaceful persuasion will work Paul?”

    Actually I do not.

    I think the collectivists are going to win – that their dream of total economic and social bankruptcy will be “achieved”.

    But then their dream of the new collectivist society will NOT be achieved – because it is IMPORRIBLE.

    The left operate on a level of tactical genius but strategic absurdity.

    And then (after things break down) we do indeed come down to a numbers game.

    If there are a large number of people who are still basically decent (who cling to some rationality) then there is a chance to rebuild.

    If there are not enough people who are sane (if most people have turned into savage animals – who want “Social Justice”, first the goods of others, then their flesh, as food) then there is no chance.

    It is the brutal numbers game.

    And the numbers are being decided now.

  36. Well you certainly make a strong case that rational argument will fail to persuade people of their mistaken beliefs.

    At no point have I proposed violence as a solution. Instead I proposed anything but. Refusing to comply with unjust laws, refusing to co-operate with the state and associate with it. Elections, voting, engaging with the political system makes you complicit with the objective violence of the political system. You know it will not bring you freedom, you know the system is fundamentally corrupt and unjust and based on violence but you participate anyway.

    So, your answer is no then, no strategy, no tactics, no hope. Just that the whole world is going to break down. Because of evil degenerate leftists! The sound of a bird, that is quite content in its cage.

    Chirp, chirp

  37. “I think you just do not like pop music Paul” – LOL.

    Actually that is not a bad point.

  38. JKJ.

    Why are you deliberately twisting what I say?

    And why are you writing “chirp, chirp”?

    Of course we should engage with people right now (I have never denied that).

    Things may not break down (I could be WRONG). It would be wonderful if (for example) Rand Paul was elected President of the United States in 2016 – I doubt that he could turn things around even if was elected, but (again) I could be wrong. It is certainly worth trying.

    And even if things do break down it is vital (totally vital) to have a large number of people with some idea WHY things have gone wrong.

    And for there to be functioning communities of human beings.

    We must save what can be saved – in order to have a foundation upon which to build.

  39. Im going to try and give this whole freedom thing a go things are bad enough already. You wait around for the zombie apocalypse or whatever break down you’re expecting, you can even choose your own songs to listen to, (No Miley obviously), chirp chirp.

  40. Anyway, a small example that action against is possible,

  41. Julie near Chicago

    Reading this discussion, all I could think of was Pinocchio. With Miley Cyrus (and her ilk) as Lampwick and the other Lost Boys, and Sunstein+Obama+any-number-of-old-New-Leftists+too many alleged “libertarians” as Stromboli. And here is Pinocchio. Pleasure Island, free candy and all manner of goodies in unlimited measure, including things not really good for young boys to have, like cigars, gambling, drinking, ….. Pinocchio wants to enjoy those things too! But — something about it just doesn’t feel quite right, and memory reminds him of what he’s given up to come here….

    And after much carousing and high-jinks, we see Stromboli’s real purpose. I trust everybody remembers what happened to the Lost Boys. Pinocchio, of course, in the end decided to go back to the real world, and as a result ended up as a Real Boy — or a real man.

    • Yes, an it’s just a story.

      It’s like when people talk about THe Lord Of The Flies as if that’s real, as if it’s some kind of warning from history. It’s make believe. It didn’t happen. Pinnocchio didn’t happen either.

      Western European civilisation is naturally hedonist. It is the society most capable in the world of successfully dealing with hedonism; indeed that’s the wrong way to put it. The hedonist element is an essential characteristic of our culture, which is why attempts to suppress it- derived from Levantine repressive culture via Calvin et al- lead to ruinous destruction of liberty and social normality.

      I can understand why so many people believe this puritanical tripe; more than a century of indoctrination by the Victorian radicals and their ideological descendents. But it still fills me with despair, especially when it’s libertarians who are so capable of bucking the rest of that system- at least in economics- then fall for it hook, line and sinker as soon as it’s just some bird wiggling her arse on telly, which apparently is going to cause the sky to fall.

      • I’m reading about Alfred the Great versus the Vikings. If what you say is true, then the Vikings will win, and Alfred, with his miserablist Levantine culture, will be crushed. Let’s see.

        • Well, the snidey aside, despite christianisation as we know the Britons/Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians (who resisted conversion for some centuries more) maintained much of their culture- so that’s all a bit of a false comparison.

          The interesting thing about Europe is how despite the Christian hegemony, our native values have proved astonishingly resilient, with this tendency to snap back after evangelicalised periods. Which is why we have Miley Cyrus, while the Middle East has women shrouded in black burlap. The strength of that resilience may even indicate some genetic propensity, though I’m always loathe to get into that quagmire.

          Western individualism versus oriental despotism. It really shouldn’t be a hard choice for a libertarian to make.

  42. I have tried to steer clear of the debate surrounding aesthetics, not because it is not important. But because I believe the focus should be on practical and immediate actions libertarians can take to increase their freedom.

    That said all this bashing of Dionysian pleasure seems to suggest a inherent reactionary spirit amongst a certain strand of the debate. That argues Dionysian pleasure equals nihilism. It may do, but this does not have to be some self-destructive passive nihilism.

    For more on this:
    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy,

  43. The film clip was just people saying “dude” a lot – like teenagers trying to annoy their elders. Accept (and I suppose this is the joke) the people saying “dude” (pretending to be teenagers) were middle aged men.

    Fair enough, but it men acted like that in real life someone (most likely THE STATE) would have to look after their children – while they were off pretending to be teenagers.

    JKJ seems to be under the illusion that all this behaviour will lead to a smaller government – actually it will lead to a BIGGER government (as the people who instructed Miley Cyrus know only too well – again hat tip toDavid Horowitz’s people for finding out who actually gave the orders and what their agenda is).

    As for “anarchism”.

    Anarchism does not promise smaller government it promises no government at all – sounds fine but…….

    The Black Flag “anarchist” who promises no government turns out to really stand for TOTAL government (totalitarianism), just as much as the Red Flag Marxists do (accept that the “anarchist” does not use the words “government” or “state” – using such words as “the people” instead). This can be seen by the cooperation of the Black Flag and Red Flag people in such things as the “Occupy” movement and the teachers unions.

    And (Ian) the “Lord of the Flies” types in such things as “Occupy Oakland” are only too real.

    Anarchists do NOT have to be like this – Murray Rothbard (on his better days) and David Friedman, stood in defence of large scale private property in the means of production, distribution and exchange (exactly what the Black Flaggers hate – just as much as the Red Flaggers do). And they stood for civil society – for the conservative “bourgeois” society on which liberty depends.

    Undermine that (create chaos – which is NOT liberty) and you undermine the alterative to the state.

    Libertarians need to be able to point at civil society and say “look this works – do not let the government mess it up”.

    If it does not work (if the “Babbitts” are driven away and somewhere like the South Side of Chicago becomes the norm) then libertarians have no argument – other than “but the state destroyed civil society here” to which the reply is “even if that is true – you were cheering as civil society collapsed, so you have no standing to complain”.

  44. Frederick Nietzsche now?

    Would he not have not just mocked the non aggression principle as “slave morality”?

    Would he not have cheered on the Black Panthers and the Weathermen (or todays “Occupy” thugs) – like one of those “intellectuals” that Tom Wolfe mocked so well?

    Still perhaps NOT – after Nietzsche can be quoted on both sides of most arguments (syphilis is not good for the brain).

    And, at least, I do not think that Fred Nietzsche would have turned up at any Miley Cyrus concerts.

    “slave culture” says Fred. “to earn money for the Jews” his sister adds.

    That was the thing about Nietzsche – he was not nearly as bad as his sister. Indeed (like many people) I suspect that “The Will to Power” is largely her work. Taking quotes out of context, making stuff up – all the standard tricks……

    Has anyone seen Miss Nietzsche and Kevin Carson together? I mean it is just a thought – the lady could have faked her own death and disguised herself as a man, and ………

  45. Short version.

    It is not “libertarian” – neither Miley Cyrus or the people who tell her to do XYZ are libertarian.

    It is not “renegade” – as it is all ordered and packaged by the people and groups who have been in charge for at least 50 years. Indeed the Bloomsbury set were doing this cultural demolition stuff a 100 years ago (and one can find people who were doing it as far back as the 1700s – to clear the way for the French Revolution, which led to BIGGER government).

    And Frederick Nietzsche would have said that it is not culture either.

    Although I think that is too harsh. The young lady can sing – and so should concentrate on that (the people who what her to act like a whore do not have her best interests at heart – pimps do not tend to).

    • It is not “libertarian” – neither Miley Cyrus or the people who tell her to do XYZ are libertarian.

      It is the free market though, which ought to be the damned point Paul. Are the famously capitalist music industry suddenly crypto-Marxists? Can you explain why, if the Statists approve of this, they’re so desperate to censor the internet? Which side is the false flag operation?

      Or might it just be that the free market entertainment industry is providing sexy girlies in their scanties because that is what consumers want?

      • “It is the free market though, which ought to be the damned point Paul. ”

        But that point has never been at issue, because the standard libertarians (i.e. libertarians who recognise the difference between the meaning of libertarian and libertine) never had a problem with Miley Cyrus being allowed to cavort around in her underwear. We just don’t see it as striking a hammer-blow against the state.

        • It may not be a hammer blow, but as I said somewhere above, it’s a form of resistance. In the same way that singing nursery rhymes is trivial, unless the State is against nursery rhymes, in which case it becomes a revolutionary act to belt out Baa Baa Black Sheep at the top of your lungs, and the more the said State complains that you’re being racist or it’s demeaning to ovines or something, the louder you should sing it.

          • “In the same way that singing nursery rhymes is trivial, unless the State is against nursery rhymes”

            But the state is not against Miley dancing, so your whole argument collapses into utter oblivion.

        • No hammer necessary,

          ‘From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.’

          Etienne de La Boetie, The Politics of Obediance

  46. ” This crown of the laughter, this rose-garland crown
    to you my brethren do I cast this crown ! Laughing
    have I consecrated : ye higher men, learn, I pray you
    to laugh ! ”

    F.Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, Introduction, An attempt at self criticism August 1886

    Dear Mr. Marks I think this manages to address a number of your points

  47. Ian – if you would check you would find the answer to your question (where the people behind this Reds or Fellow Travellers) is actually “YES” (the Horowitz people exposed the individuals involved – and the late Andrew Breitbart used to expose them before his death).

    Still I have not heard of anyone saying this should be banned. So a bunch of middle ages leftists (who regard themselves as “special” rich people – who should not be robbed and killed like other rich people should be according to their doctrines) make money from this mess, YAWN.

    As for it being a blow against the state……

    The whole point (how these people justify, to themselves, making money out of this) is that it is to lead to a BIGGER state (after all the middle aged men involved are all friends of Barack and co, not foes of them).

    Actually I do not think it will work today – people have seen this a million times before, they are immune to it by now.

    Jaded and bored – not filled with the desire to reject civil society and live on welfare.

    But the truth is the truth.

    I am reminded of all the cultural “liberationists” that Kevin used to trot out (so called “historians” and other such).

    Julie would go and look them up and find (surprise. surprise) they were all Marxists and other such.

    Turn on, tune in, and drop out – death to “capitalism”.

    Oh how very 1968 – a bit of a bore now though.

    Almost as bad as Rousseau – with his stupid lies about how being privately employed was “slavery” and working for the collective was “freedom”.

    And the “cultural liberation” stuff goes back to Rousseau also.

    Including (indeed especially) “Progressive” education.

  48. By the way – why should it come as a surprise that the music industry has a lot of powerful leftists in it?

    Or that these people are personally very greedy for money whilst holding that other rich people are evil and should be hit? And that the “capitalist system” is evil.

    Hollywood has been dominated by people like that for many decades.

    As has the book publishing industry.

    See the old essay in the Freeman (by W.T. Crouch of the University of Chicago Press) about the opposition to publishing Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”.

    “it would sell very well, but……….”

    The left take this “cultural hegemony” thing very seriously.

    Although sometimes they score own goals.

    Like that man in Northampton who wrote “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen”.

    He hates (really hates) fan mail from libertarians.

    You see the idea behind the comic books (sorry Graphic Novels) was to make people want a wonderful new collectivism (NOT to make people hostile to collectivism – which the Graphic Novels actually tend to do).

    If collectivist “cultural” people often scored own goals like that – then I would be with JKJ.

    Yes JKJ – I would be “laughing with you”.

  49. The current argument:

    Religious belief in [insert your god/gods of choice here] leads people to unhappiness, self-destructive behaviors, mental disorder, poverty, dangerous sexual practices, family breakdown and suicide. Religious leaders know this is the case. And that by promoting religious belief they will create a situation where the state is forced to exist and intervene using violence in peoples lives. Even those who claim to have no religion, the atheists, are secretly in connivance, as they know that no religion is a belief that will also lead to the state being forced into existence.

  50. Richard – agreed.

  51. I judge on where investigation shows people to actually stand – the person behind the videos who this thread started out about, is a middle aged male leftist.

    As for religious people – some are indeed leftists (the whole “Social Gospel” then “Liberation Theology” tradition).

    In each individual case one has to do the work (look into background of the person involved) before making a judgement.

    Nor is it true that all people who believe in free enterprise and objective right and wrong are religious.

    For example Randian Objectivists do not believe in God – and they say that very clearly.

    They regard God as a myth – this does NOT mean that they are political leftists or cultural destroyers.

    The position might be summed up in the following words…..

    “Just because I do not believe in God that does NOT mean I worship the state – and nor do I need a God to tell me the difference between right and wrong”.

    As the Schoolmen (the Scholastics) admitted.

    “Natural law is the law of God – but if God did not exist, natural law would be exactly the same”.

    • I agree mostly. My point of contention however is with,

      “I judge on where investigation shows people to actually stand ….In each individual case one has to do the work (look into background of the person involved) before making a judgement.”

      I argue that in order to realise more freedom, libertarians should support incidents of people taking back or defending their freedom. In this way people will become gradually more accustomed to acting without the state interfering in their lives, and they will become more minded towards libertarianism. I do not think that simply putting forward the entire libertarian argument, (rational as it may be), will persuade the great majority, instead they will need to be “schooled” on a piecemeal basis or perhaps deschooled is more apposite, to see liberty as the norm. (De La Boetie’s Politics of Obedience further addresses why it is that people currently consent to their own enslavement).

      In this sense therefore we should look to learn from the strategy of the statists in the 19th and 20th centuries. We should adopt their Fabian tactics, advancing liberty by retaking little pockets of our lives back at a time, whenever and wherever opportunity allows. Meaning that in some instances we will act with left statists and in others right statists depending on the issue at hand. This of course still includes dissemination of libertarian theory and creating libertarian cadres to attempt takeover of institutions. But for a radical change to occur we must seek to alter our behavior and to do so be means of direct and purposeful actions which refuse to co-operate with the state.

      So instead of only judging on the background of the person, we should look to base our judgements on the exact action they are taking. For example, lets take as agreed that the Miley Cyrus management are attempting to advance the destruction of healthy society so that the state has to step in. This is their motivation. However this does not mean that in this incidence we should not be supportive of acts which directly oppose statist restrictions or attempted restrictions on liberty, ie drugs, clothing, sexual behavior, free speech,etc. We should support any reclamation or defense of liberty. And in doing so will slowly make people more accustomed to actually being able to practice freedom.

      • Our choice is between, ‘I don’t think it will work, but I’ll sort of try it.’ versus
        ‘I know it will work,we just have to try it.’

        • The fundamental ideology which we must defeat, is that which says, it is permissible for the state to act. The ideology which says there is moral and social degradation and so the violence of the state is required. Moral and social degradation there maybe but this still does not legitimize the use of force against innocents.

          There is something rotten in the state of Denmark. The state.

      • “supportive of acts which directly oppose statist restrictions or attempted restrictions on liberty, ie drugs, clothing, sexual behavior, free speech,etc.”

        Can you point to anything which can justify this statement with regard to clothing and sexual behaviour? The only place where reality comes anywhere near, as far as I can think, is talk of banning the burka, in other words banning something which is not revealing enough!

        • Clothing- burka, indecency laws, sumptuary laws, those who are currently campaigning for a ban on pornography, regulation and censorship of depictions of men and women in the media,etc.

          Sexual behavior- same as above, any law past,present and potentially in the future which attempts to censor and prohibit behavior.

          • It’s not a fun time to be gay or naked anywhere near red square, ask pussy riot

            • Sumptuary laws? Are you a time-traveller? You’re protesting laws which were abolished hundreds of years ago.

              As for being naked in Red Square, the only guy who has tried this recently nailed his own bollocks to the road. There’s nothing the Moscow police are likely to do to him worse than what he did to himself.

              As with Ian B, your comments smell strangely of the very thing you claim to oppose. You seem to want to enforce your view of morality on everyone else, and view those who disagree as oppressing you in some strange way.


                Past, present and future any infringement on the liberty of innocent people should be argued against and opposed. The only view of morality I want to ‘enforce’,is that of the non-aggression principle, to say that I have argued otherwise is pure fiction.

                Why do libertarians kick up such a fuss, when someone argues in favor of promoting freedom? You seem, (and please correct me if you think this is an unfair assessment, which it probably is due to its glibness and it being totally based on supposition), to think that all that needs to happen is tax rates to be reduced, maybe scrap a few “equality” laws, and get rid of licensing hours. Just return to some fabled libertarian lala land of one long Edwardian summer, but never Christmas.

                • “Why do libertarians kick up such a fuss, when someone argues in favor of promoting freedom? ”

                  Errr, they don’t, and as far as I can tell you are not promoting freedom.

                  As for your assessment of my position, it is not my position at all, and I have no idea how you arrive at this assessment. My disagreement with you is as follows: you don’t seem to have a correct understanding of coercion, and this means you don’t seem to draw any clear division between coercion and people expressing opinions you don’t like, specifically opinions pertaining to the morality or lack thereof of particular acts. Therefore you see a connection and a continuum where I do not think there is one.

                  If Miley smokes a joint and is arrested, prosecuted etc, her rights and liberties have been violated, and this is wrong and libertarians should denounce such violations of her rights and liberties. However, no libertarian is obliged to celebrate or champion Miley’s joint-smoking. A libertarian who does not approve of her joint-smoking is free to say so as stridently as he wishes, as long as he does not violate the NAP or call for it to be violated. There is nothing contrary to libertarianism in disapproving of joint-smoking on health grounds, moral grounds or any other grounds, as long as you don’t use violence to prevent other people smoking joints.

                  The above is looking at an area where state coercion does exist so it is easier to discuss. Once we cross into the other areas of your argument, we seem to lose touch with reality. There are no laws stopping Miley dancing in a provocative way, and sumptuary laws have been abolished for centuries. If you wanted to bring the Naked Rambler into the argument, it’s true that his liberty to march around starkers is being infringed, but it is also true that he is a bit mad, indicated by the fact that so few other people feel this way about clothes, especially now the long winter nights draw in.

                  • Dear Richard,

                    I mostly agree with your sentiment, when you say that there is nothing contrary to libertarianism in disapproving of joint smoking, (perhaps a person may dislike like the smell), as long as you don’t use violence to prevent other people smoking joints. This statement is quite correct.

                    We would also agree then that disapproving of giving to charity, non-payment of taxation, disapproving of churchgoers, disapproving of any activity is quite compatible with libertarianism.

                    I argued earlier in the discussion that liberty is not an abstract ideal, but is actually a real phenomenon only when it is tied to specific actions. Person A does not want liberty the abstract, so much as they want to go and buy a sandwich. They may be stopped from buying a sandwhich by government laws and regulations. Sandwiches may be banned, or their type of sandwich banned, or taxed so high that they cannot afford it, or any other manner of regulation which serves to prevent them buying a sandwich of their choosing which in a society free of state violence they would have been free to consume.

                    Now of course person B may not care for sandwiches, he may be entirely without care for sandwiches or may highly disapprove of their use. Person B may also hold libertarian opinions, and believe that although he wouldn’t take advantage of people having the freedom to consume sandwiches, and maybe he would even caution against people consuming sandwiches it is wrong for the state to regulate, tax, prohibit and interfere with sandwiches altogether.

                    This same situation can be applied throughout life, from burkas, to speech laws, to homosexuality, taxation, etc.any and every state infringement against a person’s freedom of action to do or not do something.

                    As a libertarian you are not obliged to approve, even support or defend miley cyrus’ drug use, even from the violence of the state.

                    My question to you is, what freedoms do you want to reclaim that the state currently prevents you from doing or is potentially threatening to prevent you from doing?
                    The point about the Miley Cyrus is that she shows the potential in the use of non-violent direct actions, which normalize behaviors and actions which the state regulates or seeks to regulate. As such the actions of Cyrus and many others which ignore state sanctions are part of an effort to claim back freedoms wherever they are being curtailed. You do not have to support Miley in this specific effort, you are by no means obliged to. But I think you and the libertarian movement can learn from the example that the best way to be free is to go and take back our freedom by actually practicing it.

                    Where is your freedom of action most offended? Whatever it is you should look to take back these freedoms by actually practicing them directly disobeying and ignoring the state. This normalizes such behavior and will help convince others follow suit. The best way to be free is to live free.

                    If taxation is your bugbear, you at the very least should look to minimise payment, and then publicise this fact and advise others how to go about this. You could also look to go further by not paying taxes and publcising this fact and the reasons why. You are not obliged to do this, but if you are concerned about this infringement of your liberty you should look to actually stop having your liberty infringed and not be afraid of potential negative social appropriation you may receive. Much in the same way that many drug using hedonists are not overly concerned with this fact, but are perhaps concerned about suffering punishment at the hands of the “law”.

                    Maybe its not taxation but an other issue or issues for you, it is of course personal, smoking indoors, fox hunting, freedom of speech, freedom of religious conscience. Whatever it is there are immediate ways to take back your freedom and to show through “the politics of example” of the possibility of living free.

                    The point is that libertarians should instead of being theorizing utopians, should look instead to be realists and to actually attempt to create ‘utopia’ in present society. This I argue is more productive than some of the discussions that sometimes crop up in libertarian circles, such as what to do after the total breakdown of society, and what exact form will society take when everything is libertarian, or what should be the libertarians policy on X. The form of future society will be dictated not by the predictions of libertarian speculators but will be an organic creation of market relations amongst free individuals. My point is how do we make such a world a reality.

                    Just quickly on your time travel point, a sumptuary law is simply a law that regulates consumption, clothes, drugs, music, food, etc.

              • Richard, quick answer (I’m cooking dinner :) )

                I’m not trying to impose a morality on anyone. What it comes down to is which moral position will require state force to áchieve it, and the answer is the “conservative” one. Without state force, you won’t get that moral position (an absence of Miley Cyruses). Remember, the libertine position is not that every performer should gyrate in scanties, merely that any who wish to be free to do so. Whereas the conservative position is that any performer doing so is harming the public good. So, the two positions are not symmetrical.

                To view that asymmetry clearly; I can think of numerous States that have felt the need to impose blue laws. I cannot think of one that has needed a law requiring the provision of libertine services (from beer to prostitution to porn). There will always be a demand, and always a market to supply it.

                States always censor. There is never an inverse statist position.

                (Okay, Hitler and State “Joy Division” brothels, maybe. But that wasn’t libertine, it was slavery, routine in that regime, and not a free market service provision).

                • Just because a conservative person doesn’t approve of something, doesn’t mean they want to ban it. There is nothing illogical or contradictory in disapproving of something but not wanting it made illegal, they are separate matters. I’ll give you one example: The number of people who disapprove of voting BNP is considerably greater than the number who want the BNP made illegal.

                  • I didn’t say you do want to ban it. But I did say that if you (or perhaps more relevantly, Paul Marx) think that a conservative morality is necessary for a libertarian society, you’re on a hiding to nowhere. The only way to get one is coercion, either by the State or, in the past by the other “State”, the Church.

                    The State, where it has an opinion, and all the enemies of liberty on the Left and Right, would prefer no Miley type stufff; hence their constant whinging about a plague of “sexualisation” and think of the children and so on. As such, though Miley is no doubt not herself a libertarian, her actions are reflective of the anti-state position on the issue of jiggly bum dancing.

                    This is why, whether notionally Left or Right, States only ever make anti-lewd dancing laws, not compulsory lewd dancing laws.

                    Paul in particular in this thread is deploying a theory developed by the Statist Right, such as William S Lind et al, that lewdness in the media is a cultural marxist conspiracy to derail (libertarian) Western Civilisation (on the basis that lewdness is a virus that prevents people behaving sufficiently well to live in a free society without the support of the State). I am saying it’s just the free market operating. But if we accept that such a conspiracy exists, then either it is an effective strategy or it is not. If it is not an effective strategy, it is irrelevant. If it is an effective strategy, one must conclude that lewdness precludes libertarianism; in which case a libertarian must either prohibit lewdness or give up on gaining a functioning libertarianism.

                    Me, I’m saying that lewdness is normal and does not preclude liberty; and indeed that some lewdness is a feature, not a bug, of Western Civilisation, and makes the world a rather jollier place, and that like the rest of the market, will find its own level under liberty. If liberty is so fragile that it cannot survive a few tits and bums, I don’t see much hope of a free banking system lasting beyond the first day.

                    So I think there is a reason not to merely sniffily tolerate said lewdness, but to celebrate it even if it’s not your cup of tea. Just as I’m glad that there are Christians in this society, though I am an atheist; it’s a symptom that we are free to have different tastes, if nothing else.

    • I judge on where investigation shows people to actually stand – the person behind the videos who this thread started out about, is a middle aged male leftist.

      Oh Jesus fucking hell Paul, you’re better than this. This is kindergarten level reasoning.

      Okay, look at it this way. Every major organisation and organ of the modern “PC” left agrees with you about the horrors of “sexualisation”, not me. Right now they’re pulling out every stop to try and censor the internet and the media to stop it. You’re on the same side as the former Angry Brigade terrorist that runs the Fawcett Society.

      Does that not at least make you wonder whether your proposed conspiracy is entirely correct? Surely it must make you stop and think for a moment that the most radical elements of 1960s revolutionary marxism have consistently and persistently worked hand in glove with rabid conservatives to try to prohibit pornography and so on?


  52. There was nothing childish about the reasoning Ian – it is perfectly sound reasoning to say that a leftist is a leftist. And it is sound reasoning to point out that the cultural left push X, Y, Z with the aim of pushing their political agenda (it is not just for the money you know – indeed they sometimes LOSE money for “the cause”). Many books have exposed this (with recorded interviews and so on).

    On the other hand JKJ is CORRECT.

    If someone wanted to take away their freedom to do publicity stunts like this – they should be resisted.

    Regardless of their motives – which are indeed evil, their freedom must be protected.

    Being free to only do things I like is NO FREEDOM AT ALL.

    And that works both ways.

    No government backed unionisation.

    And no FCC regulations.

    Indeed – no FCC.

    It has no legitimate purpose.

    Which means it should not exist.

    And, most certainly, no more government subsidies for education.

    As the entertainment people are only the shadow of the education system (pushing the same agenda).

    “Academic freedom” most certainly.


  53. By the way Ian – you are quite right that elements of the radical left are now pro censorship.

    They have split.

    Some of the left still work in the tradition of Rousseau – and some are radically not so.

    But then this was always the case.

    M.R. claimed to be an ardent follower of Rousseau – yet he was radically puritan (although anti Christian).

    And he produced quotations that showed that Rousseau was “really” on his side (as Rousseau was dead – no one could ask him).

    The same is true today – with Marx and co.

    Some say they are following him by XYZ – and some (with equal passion) say they are following the cause of “liberation” (against “capitalism”) by trying to ban XYZ.

    Will the real left stand up?

    LA or Minnesota?

    The truth is that they are BOTH the left.

    As for “conservatives”.

    My answer to them would be the same as that of Roger Williams (the Founder of Rhode Island)

    If you use force you SUBVERT morality – you do not support it.

    This was view that even Judge Sewall (the Judge of the Salem Witch Trials) came to accept.

    In years of bitter repentance – knowing he could not undo what he had done.

    He thought he was fighting evil – but by using FORCE he had become its tool. Something he understood – too late.

    Hence “The Selling Of Joseph” (1700). His anti slavery work (the first to be published in what was to become America).

    It would have come that that understanding before killing people.

  54. I am starting to agree with JKJ – I must be tired.


    It is not “just” that the use of force (aggression) will fail to achieve good constructive things (whether it the government or private attacks) twisting and perverting every good aim.

    It is also immoral to do down this road in the first place – even if one does not know it will fail to create something nice (such as make everyone spend their money on their wives and children rather than booze – which that DRUNK Billy Sunday promised Prohibition would achieve.

    The problem is what do you do when someone else uses force?

    The argument of “Billy the Kid” (and he and his “Regulators” wore badges just as much as their foes did – the idea that he was some sort of “Social Bandit” is a Hollywood myth) was that Mr Tunstall being unarmed had not saved him.

    Any more than Mr McSween only being armed with a Bible saved him.

    Both killed for the “crime” of opening a grocery store in opposition to Mr Murphy and Mr Dolan (and the law they controlled).

    Even years later when Mrs McSween hired a layer to investigate the murders – he (the lawyer) was simply killed as well.

    In circumstances like this it is hard to argue against picking up a firearm. When you know the government is in the pockets (is) the evil doers.

    But then you have the “Lincoln County War”.

    Mr Earp (no puritan he – as Ian knows) faced the same choice some years later over the border in Arizona.

    Not in the walk down the road in Tombstone – but in the “ride” after it.

    After one of his brothers was murdered and another crippled for life (both shot from behind on dark nights).

    What law was there against people such as the “Ringo Kid” who boasted that he has never had to face a man (because he had always been clever enough to shoot them in the back).

    And (yes) many of the people that Mr Earp faced in Arizona has previously been in the employ of Mr Murphy and Mr Dolan in New Mexico.

    They were also known in Mexico – as part of the American based “Cowboy” gang.

    Sometimes force (even “outside the law”) is needed.

    Although YES – the firemen become corrupted by the fire.

    But to fight other FORCE – not to fight little Miley Cyrus.

  55. Julie near Chicago

    Completely O/T, but I absolutely HATE the “threaded” style of presentation of comments that the LA weblog has chosen. One has to re-read the whole darned discussion if one wants to see what further comments have been posted. Therefore I choose to subvert the process and present this comment as if it were not a response to a particular earlier one. Snarl.
    . . .

    Ian B writes of Pinocchio, “It’s just a story.” Well, the point of the story (which is found, in its essence, in many cultures and times, including possibly Gilgamesh, and therefore just might be making some accurate observations of humans’ history and the human condition generally) is two-fold.

    More directly pertinent to the theme of this discussion is the point that the people who push the glories of a life of unrelieved hedonism should be considered with great suspicion, as they often to have something else than providing costless, unremitting joy for all in mind as the ultimate objective. (As a matter of fact, pushers do this to drum up new business. Not that there’s nothing wrong with “free samples” as such: like any tool, it can be used for good as well as bad.)

    And also, note that it’s Pinocchio’s sense that while a life of pure hedonism might be attractive on the surface, one tends to wake up from debauchery with a bad hangover and feeling like s***. And this is true not only of folks who go on three-day or thirty-year drinking binges (yes, I know, some metabolize the stuff so fast as to feel no ill effects), but also of people who’ve left the paths of common sense and self-regard in other ways. For example one could do worse than to read the story of Susan Lydon as told by David Horowitz in (I believe there is also a chapter on her in his new book, Radicals. )

    The fact is that unremitting hedonism doesn’t work for most people. Though I daresay there are exceptions — in the area of human behavior and human nature there are exceptions to just about any statement one can come up with.

    And in the end, you’ll notice that it’s not any form of forceful intervention by outsiders (certainly not The State! As far as I know, there IS no State in Pinocchio) that saves Pinoocchio from the fate of the donkeys in the salt mines. It is only the force of his own mind, and memory, and, yes, reason — although this last is brushed over almost as if it didn’t exist.

    . . .

    By the way, smashing “the cage” of “bourgois morality” ended up with the Terror led by the Committee of Public Safety, you know, Robespierre & them.

    And it certainly and definitely led to the salt mines — slavery — for folks who dwelt in what became Soviet Russia.

    And, very much to the main point: Anyone who thinks that Obama’s version of Pleasure Island — Obama gonna give us free phones! — complete with ol’ Cass and his beloved wife as among the ringmasters, isn’t calculated to lead to Equal Slavery for (Nearly) All, is blinded by his own ideology.

    . . .

    Of course, along with the filthy Left who purposely pursue such a course, there is also the class of amoral thugs. David Axelrod is one, I think. Black Panthers like Huey Newton or George Jackson also. Possibly the REV Jeremiah Wright. To sell a product, be it a tangible item, a personal style, a genre of art, an ideology, a philosophy, or a “religion” without considering its effects for himself not only in the near term, but also in the future; and not only for himself but also for others; is to have left the path of wisdom. This wisdom is the principle is the foundation without which a truly libertarian society cannot exist, and it is called the principle of Enlightened Self-Interest. Some of you might have heard of this in high school, if you are lucky enough to be 800 years old like me.

    This is long enough already, and I should hope that people already understand the importance of Enlightened (or “Rational”) Self-Interest. But one quick example: It’s in the Enlightened Self-Interest for companies to refrain from cheating, or polluting, or “rent-seeking” and special privilege: They need clean (in all senses) working conditions for themselves, and they need them as a matter of PR, and they need to exemplify them so that others will be encouraged to behave likewise. And the same goes for individual persons. That, plus the principle of Sauce-for-the-goose, is why Enlightened Self-Interest involves one’s effect on others (usually, unfortunately, lumped together under the term “society”).

    What goes around comes around.

  56. Julie near Chicago

    Sigh… S/B ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with “free samples” as such….’

    And, ‘This wisdom is the foundation without which a truly libertarian society cannot exist….’

    Sorry. :(

  57. Julie,

    The problem here is the “unremitting” bit. Unremitting anything is not good. If you spent your whole life doing nothing but sing hymns, it wouldn’t be a good life either. The poisonous thing is this puritan presumption that “vices” are always uncontrollable and ruinous. Beer is never something you enjoy at the weekend, it’s the road to alcholic death. Porn isn’tsomething you look at when you’re in that mood, it’s the start of an addiction that destroys you, your family and society. So if you let *any* of it happen, everything goes to ruin. And it’s this ideology that got us into this Statist, controlled mess.

    This is why morality tales are less use than they seem. Because they always depict an extreme, and thus miss the point that most people don’t drink, fuck or eat themselves to ruin.

    Some people are ruined by religious mania, a golf playing addiction, or workaholism. Most people aren’t. The very basis of libertarianism is that society works because people find their own level. If we don’t believe that in all things, we are not logically entitled to believe it of anything, in which case liberty becomes a futile ideal. We may as well agree that we must appoint some wise owls to tell us how religious to be, how much golf to play, how many hours to work, how many cakes to eat, how much beer to drink and how much nookie we might have to be whatever kind of optimal these other people think we ought to be.

  58. Julie near Chicago

    Yes, Ian, and that’s why I was careful to include “unremitting.” The promise of Pleasure Island was not that it would be there for those who wished to partake of it off and on; rather, that the boys could live there and enjoy their hedonistic pleasures for free and forever.

    Surely you don’t think I’m against Club Med or even S&M clubs, per se. But in fact indulgence does tend to encourage overindulgence in SOME type of experience or other, in many if not most people. To ignore any fact is to leave the path of wisdom (“Rational Ignorance” to the contrary), and this too is a fact.

    Further, a good many people have turned their backs on overindulgence of one kind or another (including breaching the bounds of properly-understood libertarianism: there is such a thing as a truly “rehabilitated” person convicted of petty theft or armed robbery, rare though he may be) because in their considered opinion the siren’s call led only to fools’ gold. This is a well-attested-to FACT, and to pretend that stories illustrating such are “mere” “useless” “morality stories” is simply to ignore the objective reality that they illustrate.

    Pinocchio, in fact, would probably have found that he got more out of being a Real Boy than he possibly could have out of a life in Pleasure Island — even if he hadn’t been made to pay the final price for that misjudgment.

    As for the “usefulness” of morality tales, the best-written of those which illustrate how the world really works: the choices with which we’re faced, and the effects of the alternatives we choose–the best-written of these are in fact useful, through the phenomenon of reinforcement. They can remind of the costs of certain behavior, and of the rewards of other behavior. This is bad how, exactly?

    . . .

    As a matter of fact, I love the brief jaunts in the Land of (Relative) Hedonism that we enjoy as we celebrate Christmas (provided somebody else does the work *g*) and our birthdays and Hallowe’en and New Year’s Eve, and hunting real or chocolate eggs at Easter — and except for Hallowe’en, enjoying the sumptuous and totally unnecessary gluttony that is de rigueur for the occasion.

    And, gee, watching certain movies all snuggled up with my Honey. You see, I too have Lived. ;)

  59. Julie near Chicago

    Also, Ian, you seem to be missing a crucial part of my point: that no one, and certainly not some putative State, FORCED their choices on any of the boys or Pinocchio. Pinocchio made a decision about what would work best for him, and in view of what happened to everybody else at P.I., I tend to think he was right.

    And again, the PRINCIPLE of the story illustrates very well what so often happens in real life. People DO fall prey to various counterproductive choices in life, including in lifestyle, and some of them regain contact with reality and some do not. No one is denying anyone a right to enslave himself, or to murder himself, through ignorance or stupidity or a lack of regard for himself or even for others (e.g. Che Guevara). But pretending that the people who go so far are so extreme that they don’t count is to deny reality, and also to deny that they might have started with a large measure of human potential.

    You say that “people find their own level.” To some extent that’s true, but some of us are concerned that a certain kind of person is encouraging–“nudging!” — us to accept the “level” which they wish us to occupy, and they employ every means they can find: enticement, lying, extortion, out-and-out murder.

    Unless you keep before you a shining image of your own health and strength and capability, and the commitment to keep them, all qualities that you need in order to obstruct the vandals of the soul. (Sounds more poetic than “the vandals of the psyche,” no? *g*)

    . . .
    Now go ahead, Ian, quote Professor Dodge making fun of Mr. Southey at me: “How doth the little crocodile / Improve each shining hour ….”

    I know of no broad religion nor culture that has ever espoused values or principles of action with all of which I agree, and that includes the Victorians (though increasingly, evidence seems to show that they’ve gotten an undeservedly bad rep) nor yet the American Puritans.

    It even includes my parents, who nevertheless I think mostly got it right.

    And as for “little Miley,” as it happens I never thought that giving the finger to my folks was the absolute height of Adult Independence.

  60. Julie near Chicago

    Not to further flog the horse, but here, in ~ 7 min., is a perfect example of what happens as the members of a society begin to think in terms of narrow and immediate, rather than broad, rational, and long-term self-interest. They simply don’t understand that they’re going to the dogs. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’d a whole lot rather go take up residence with most dogs than with a whole lot of people.)

    This blindness is exactly what overcame Lampwick and the others.

    And they don’t understand that they’re spreading poison amongst the populace. The video illustrates how the greater the number of people in a society who tolerate, let alone encourage and enable a behavior (including “good” or healthy behavior, by the way — which is why one tries to “set a good example,” if it’s not too inconvenient *g*) the more widely the behavior will come to be accepted and practiced.

    The interesting thing is, this woman sounds quite intelligent to me. I would not be amazed to learn that 20 years from now, she’s said “Good-bye to all that” — if political conditions at the time allow it.

    First, a quote from the video:

    “While workers out there are preaching morality at people like me living on welfare, can you really blame us?… I get to sit home… I get to go visit my friends all day… I even get to smoke weed… Me and people that I know that are illegal immigrants that don’t contribute to society, we still gonna get paid… Our check’s gonna come in the mail every month… and it’s gonna be on time… and we get subsidized housing… we even get presents delivered for our kids on Christmas… Why should I work?… Ya’ll get the benefit of saying ‘oh, look at me, I’m a better person,’ but when ya’ll sit at home behind ya’lls ‘I’m a better person,’ we the ones gettin’ paid!… So can you really blame us?”

    • Nice vid. From a secular perspective, the only morality as far as I’m aware is the NAP. Everything else is down to aesthetics, taste and various levels of appropriate behaviour… The only ‘crime’ these welfare recipients have committed is voting for a majoritarian statist party that uses coercion to extract wealth from one social group to privilege another…

      In the West, virtually everyone at all levels of society is a freeloader to a greater or lesser degree – the genuinely productive are a minority. Corporate welfare/privileges and make-work jobs exceed welfare spending… Yet I find it humorous that it is always the people at the bottom who are expected to set an example to the rest of society…

  61. How can we live in a freer world?
    Will we ever vote the state out of existence?

    All the theory and I support your right to doisms will never bring us freedom in reality. How best then do we advance our own liberty. By practicing it. By simply refusing to acquiesce and consent to the violence of the state. We must stop fetishising liberty only in the abstract. We must dare to be realists.

    Our choice is between, ‘I don’t think it will work, but I’ll sort of try it.’ against ‘I know it will work,we just have to try it.’

    • Our focus should be not on being law makers but instead where the law is unjust we should become law breakers.

      Instead of playing the statist game, of debating the rights and wrongs of public policy in civil society we should focus on society. Civil society is a fallacy, (promoted by the statist scholar Jurgen Habermas). There is nothing civil in it. Instead what civil society amounts to is the discussion in the public space of how we should use the force of the law not to organise justice, (following Bastiat’s essay The Law),but instead how we should use the law to organise peoples lives. We as libertarians must realise this ideology for what it is, and instead try and change society, which is based on voluntary interaction and voluntary interchange of ideas.

      If you are opposed or not partial to the consumption of drugs, porn, displays of sexuality. You are not obliged to support them with your actions. Similarly if you are opposed or not partial to organised religion, you are not obliged to practice it or physically defend those who do where and when the state seeks to censor and prohibit it. There is no obligation to help a victim of violence, this is true, although some may argue that there is a moral dimension to such questions, and that we should try to defend and support those who suffer unjust violence against them, (especially if you would consider yourself as part of an alliance of libertarians). At the very least you should try and take practical steps in your own life to obstruct and defy the state’s trespasses against you and your own freedoms that you cherish wherever they are threatened and impeded.

  62. As the old lie goes,

    ‘People should be allowed to do/say/own what they want, and I will defend their right to do so’

    This is almost never true. Not only do we not defend their right to do so. We do not even defend our own right to do so. Instead we consent to our rights being taken away. ‘Defend’ becomes a meaningless term, a banality cyncially thrown out while we consent to other people’s and our own rights being crushed.

    I think it unlikely that many of us are willing to make martyrs of ourselves for other people’s rights, particularly when so often we do not agree with what they propose to do with them. But what we must be injuncted to do by our own consciences is to defend our own personal rights and freedoms at the very least. If you don’t no one else will.

  63. Yes I think we all agree on the nonaggression principle.

    We can (and should) advice people to avoid their errors “you are walking towards the cliff and it is crumbling – STOP”.

    But insist on drinking themselves to death, or having sex with everything that moves and dying of the pox – or whatever,

    We MUST NOT use force to stop them.

    That is the key thing.

    The nonaggression principle.

    Partly because force does not work – not in creating positive, constructive things.

    “Booze causes terrible harm, let us BAN it” – that did not end very well.

    And partly because we have NO RIGHT to use force – against people who are not threatening attacks against the bodies or goods of others. It is WRONG to use force against someone who insists on walking off a cliff (or whatever).

    Certainly they may have terrible motives for what they do (people often do) – but that is NOT enough on its own.

    And as Ian and JKJ – would AGREE…..

    People must accept the consequences of their actions.

    If people want to drink themselves to death or smoke crack (or whatever) then the state must be prepared to let them die.

    No welfare, no “interventions”, NONE – they choose their end. let them end. If people feel badly about this – then they should go to their local church (or secular society) and help WITH THEIR OWN HANDS.

    Bad times are coming – the Welfare States are all going to go bankrupt.

    All my life I have wanted gradual reform – top roll things back (prevent bankruptcy and collapse).

    But people like me have FAILED – we have failed, I have failed.

    The system is going to bankrupt.

    Which means that those who follow the “Counter Culture” are going to die.

    Either they are going to starve or they are going to get shot (attacking those they think have resources – only to find that these people tend to be much better with firearms than counter culture kids tend to be).

    This is unfortunate – but there we are.

    After all – I am going to die horribly also.

    As the line goes.

    “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”.

  64. “Sumptuary laws”.

    Actually there is a long (and demented) defence of them in Woodrow Wilson’s book “The State”.

    Oh no – I have just shown what an nerd I am to know that.

  65. Miley’s back catalog successfully downloaded from youtube, but that’s another conversation, #IPlawfun

  66. Anything Miley Cyrus does on TV is state-approved cultural conditioning. She’d be in jail otherwise. Who are you kidding.

    • “Anything Miley Cyrus does on TV is state-approved cultural conditioning.”

      You took the words right out of my mouth. If it appears on telly then it is already state-sanctioned and people drop their guards. If there was no regulations, then parents would approach mass media with more caution…

  67. This is proving to be a lively discussion and some of the regulars haven’t even contributed yet… And to think it’s only about closed bums – not open borders ;-).

    Personally, I think it should be retitled “Miley Cyrus And The Degenerate Culture”. I’ve already mentioned that from a secular perspective, the only morality as far as I’m aware is the NAP. Everything else is down to aesthetics, taste and various levels of appropriate behaviour. As for the likes of Pussy Riot and Co, they would love to send everyone to Siberia for not embracing the New Universal Faith of ‘gay rights’, radical feminism, multiculturalism, atheism and environmentalism etc..

    Not so long back, two girls aged 15 and 16 incited riots in Sweden by creating the ‘Sluts of Gothenburg’ account on photo-sharing site Instagram; encouraging people to share photos of teenage school friends whom they claimed were sexually promiscuous. They were found guilty of defamation. They were ordered to pay more than £55,000 in compensation to their ‘victims’ – the younger girl was sentenced to juvenile detention and the older one to community service.

    You used to get your head kicked in for being a hippy, now you get your head kicked for not wanting to be one…

    My first girlfriend bragged about how she started having sex at 13 (with her stepbrother) and had two abortions by 15; claiming she could teach me anything I wanted to know… I was even 5 years older than her. Another from a more privileged background had 3 abortions (masking her lifestyle from her parents) and can’t seem to conceive now. Both are now partially wrecked human beings.

    A third one told me she had several serious relationships with older men starting when she was 14 and even had the approval of her parents. She regrets it now and wonders why her kind parents normalised everything (victims of the MSM?)…