Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kinists and libertarians

There's an intriguing relationship between libertarianism and white racism, viz. Kinists, neo-Confederates. By that I mean, these groups overlap. So what's the nature of the relationship?

The relationship is asymmetrical. Libertarianism doesn't logically entail white racism (or racism generally). And it's not a domino effect, where one thing automatically leads to another.

But while you can be a libertarian but not be a white racist (indeed, many or most are not), at least in my anecdotal experience, Kinists and neo-Confederates are typically libertarians. So what's the connection? The very fact that there's some correlation despite the lack of logical continuity invites a special explanation to account for the overlap.

What's the entry point? Do they start with libertarianism, then migrate to Kinism/Southern nationalism? Do they start with Kinism/Southern nationalism and migrate to libertarianism? Do they start with theonomy and migrate to Kinism/Southern nationalism? Do they start with Kinism/Southern nationalism and migrate to theonomy? Is there a one-stop shopping site where they get the whole package?

We might begin by distinguishing between reasonable libertarians and the lunatic fringe. I asked a couple of libertarian (or libertarian-leaning) friends about who they thought were the best representatives of libertarian ideology. The combined list was Bastiat, David Boaz, Isaiah Berlin, Friedman, Haywek, Nozick, Rothbard, and von Mises–along with thinkers whose work underpins libertarianism, viz., Locke, Mill, Paine.  

Let's cite those as a benchmark for reasonable libertarians. Presumably, there's no logical trajectory from their socioeconomic and political views to white racism. BTW, although I'm not a libertarian, I'm sympathetic to some libertarian principles. 

On the other hand, there's what I'll dub the wing of the libertarian movement. Other examples include Michael Butler and Timothy Harris. 

A malarial swamp of conspiracy theories. 9/11 Truthers. JKF conspiracy buffs. The usual suspects, viz. Trilateral Commission, Skull & Bones. A whole alternate narrative about American foreign policy. 

There've been many debacles in American foreign policy. But the pundits I've referencing invariably impute the most underhanded motives to American foreign policymakers. Fiascos can't be explained by anything as mundane as human folly and foibles. No, the motives must be more nefarious–like the invisible omnipresent Jewish lobby. This fosters a mindset which makes Kinism and Southern nationalism more plausible by placing that within an overarching historical narrative. 

Another potential entry point is the intersection between Calvinism and Southern Presbyterianism, a la Thornwell, Dabney. That's an adventitious association or historical accident. A temporary confluence and a particular place and time. A counterpart would be Francis Nigel Lee. I dissected that a few years ago:

I think the upshot is that libertarianism and white racism sometimes overlap, not because those ideas logically group together, but because people group certain ideas, and when certain people form groups, especially like-minded people, there's a synergistic effect. 


  1. A couple more examples of what you're talking about...

    Thomas DiLorenzo, a libertarian economist who has written for Lew Rockwell, penned an influential book about 15 years ago pushing a pro-Confederate, pro-secession, anti-Lincoln narrative. Libertarians read the book because they like DiLorenzo, and in the course of it, they also become pro-Confederate if they read the book and agreed with it. IIRC, Walter Williams reviewed the book favorably when he guest hosted for Rush Limbaugh, leading to it getting a broader distribution.

    In libertarian circles there's a lot of anti-war fervor, especially in the aftermath of the Iraq War. Libertarians tend to want to believe in alternative narratives that declare this or that war unnecessary, an example of imperial American meddling. Thus they find themselves rubbing shoulders with Southern nationalists who say the Civil War was an unnecessary, unjust war, and with neo-Nazis who deny the Holocaust and say World War II was an unnecessary, unjust war. Or with anti-Semites who oppose the Iraq War because they view it as an unnecessary, unjust war...and an example of the Zionist Conspiracy ruling American foreign policy.

    Libertarians want minimal government and minimal government interference. Thus, they will often oppose things like non-discrimination laws, or laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Barry Goldwater is a good example of this dynamic. In the course of opposing civil rights laws or Supreme Court decisions like Brown vs. Board of Ed, you rub shoulders with racialists whether you want to or not. There's cross pollination. Goldwater wasn't a racist. But it was convenient for his political opponents that he ended up on the same side as the racists.

    BTW, not saying I necessarily disagree with libertarians on these things. I'm just explaining the dynamic.

    Then there's the careless newsletters Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul's former chief of staff, ghostwrote for Ron Paul 20, 30 years ago that contained racist statements. In that case, there's no logical cause or common ideological position that explains the association of libertarianism or racism, but simply the carelessness of Ron Paul and the lunacy of Paul's friend Lew Rockwell.

    There aren't that many libertarians. It's a small, eccentric group. That makes it vulnerable to infiltration by crazies of various stripes. Just the nature of the case.

  2. Libertarians are a small group. As a result, they often find themselves on the outs with mainstream conservatives. So do (or did) paleo-conservatives. That led to paleocons and libertarians like Murray Rothbard forming a sort of alliance, being co-belligerents.

    Paul Gottfried has said that the foundation for today's Alt Right was the old Paleo Right. Before the Alt Right, paleo intellectuals were writing about "human bio-diversity" and contending for racialism of various stripes.

    An example of the awkward co-belligerence between libertarians and race-conscious paleos was the first American Renaissance conference, at which the libertarian Joseph Sobran spoke. Sobran wasn't a racialist. He wasn't an immigration hardliner. He spoke because he was, by 1994, on the outs of the mainstream conservative movement, and AmRen was an alternative venue, and Sobran took what he could get. The same thing obtains somewhat with Sobran's later decision to speak to a Holocaust denial group some years later.

  3. I have an accountant friend (a self identified conservative and monetarist) who dryly remarked that libertarians have had the luxury of never having had to implement their fiscal policies in the real world. It's easy for libertarians to imagine that if you just obliterate all market controls things will work out.

    Taking a stab at this relationship, my guess is the overlap of libertarianism with white utopianism/nationalism might just be that white utopians are drawn to libertarianism because they think it would most coincide with what they now believe the Founding Fathers would have wanted. The appeal isn't rational or historical so much as thematic pairing of utopian nostalgias.

    Not that this vice is confined only to the right, of course. There's a comparably anti-historical utopian conflation with skin color that is still sometimes taken up by progressives. Leftist utopianism in America is more apt to imagine a communistic and egalitarian hunter-gatherer society in Native American tribes, which is equally absurd on its face as a historical option. If people on the left want Indians who believed in five genders and fluid sexuality they'll emphasize that rather than the robust slave trade or rigid caste systems or the constant tribal conflicts. But because the policy toward American Indians was more often massacre rather than enforced breeding of slaves it was, terrible as it was, a whole lot easier to retrospectively fabricate for Native American tribes ideals and beliefs that were really those of white progressives seeking a way to get their ideas to be more popular. Sherman Alexie riffed on this in a couple of his books and he's perhaps had a little too much fun pointing out that white progressives have simply fabricated a nature-loving proto-hippie American Indian that never existed and is contradicted by the reality of pervasive slavery across the tribes.

  4. I think, in regards to libertarians in general (especially the Ayn Rand/Mises free market variety) is that they believe in the good of humanity, at least in the private sector.

    They rail against the corruption of government and the evil of government controls while extolling the virtues of the complete free markets.

    What they don't realize is that the same corruption that causes the government to be heavy handed is in every heart of every person. Thus, greed and corruption will come along and mess up the free markets causing many of the same problems, if not worse.

    As for the alt-right/pro-Confederate racist portion, I think the easy answer is that they are attracted to a smaller government that doesn't restrict their pet evil.

    I know good libertarians that believed Lincoln was wrong and the states have the right to secede based solely on the US Constitution. They don't realize that their belief leads to an in for these racist idealists, or they don't think they're a threat.

  5. I remember when Michael Butler was a promising up-and-coming philosopher, then at some point made some anti-semitic remarks that dashed all of that...if my memory serves.