“Many thinkers have expressed the need for consistency between means and ends and not all were libertarians. Ironically, many statists have claimed inconsistency between laudable ends and contemptible means; yet when their true ends of greater power and oppression were understood, their means are found to be quite consistent. It is part of the statist mystique to confuse the necessity of ends-means consistency; it is thus the most crucial activity of the libertarian theorist to expose inconsistencies.”
– Samuel Konkin III, The New Libertarian Manifesto
This essay has been a long time coming. I first considered writing it in the fall of 2016 when it was becoming increasingly clear that certain libertarian activists and thinkers were falling prey to the Trump/Alt-Right deception. The problem has only grown throughout 2017 and must be addressed. The aim of this essay is to call attention to the individuals who helped promote the entryism of Alt-Right, Nationalist, and even fascist leanings into the American libertarian and anarchist movements. I will draw some conclusions as to how this type of thinking came to infect a movement based on self-ownership, individualism, anti-authoritarianism, and respect for justly acquired or homesteaded private property.
Before I explore the attempts at creating a fusion of Alt-right activism with the American libertarian movement, it’s important to define these terms. When I am speaking about the American Libertarian movement I am speaking of those who range from libertarian-leaning conservatives who may vote for the Libertarian party (or even the Republican party) to Rothbardian Anarcho-Capitalists, agorists, voluntaryists, and abolitionists. Within this movement there exists wide ranging, varied paths which bring individuals to the philosophy of libertarianism. Some came to the ideas because they want less government in their lives. Others came because they hope to completely abolish the government. Some found their way through a deontological, or natural-rights libertarian worldview. Others simply want to be left alone. Generally though, these individuals found their way to a philosophy which promotes self-ownership, individual liberty, anti-authoritarianism, and respect for justly acquired private property.
When I speak of the Alt-Right, I am referencing the now-infamous sector of American politics that not only rejects mainstream right-wing politics, but take their calls to “Make America Great Again” to another level by declaring that all of Western Civilization, or white culture, or European values (however they arbitrarily define it) is under attack and must be saved. The Alt-Right claims it is attempting to save the West from the evil forces of multiculturalism and mass immigration. They promote the apparent superiority of the West while disparaging “Eastern civilization”. This outlook tends to mask bigoted views and completely ignores the violence of the West and the accomplishments of the East. In reality, both eastern and western cultures are responsible for great achievements and systematic violence.
Many of these individuals espouse a desire to have a strongman in power (Trump, for some) to remove the enemies of liberty as they see them, and instill a sense of law and order. They have become obsessed with combatting their enemies: leftists, commies, “cucks”, Social Justice Warriors and anyone else who does not support their heavy handed vision of society. In their obsession with their enemies they have lost sight of the goal of freedom.This movement is definitely varied and still finding itself, but, generally, you find white supremacists and nationalists, paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians, traditionalists, and other obscure groups who hate the left-wing and feel left out or deliberately ignored by the political establishment. There are also those within this group who blame their problems on and call for the removal (and sometimes murder) of immigrants, muslims, mexicans and jews.
And, yes, as many in the media have noticed, it is true that there are former libertarians currently embracing the Alt-Right message. (Check out the search results for “AltRight” and “Libertarianism”) This is because the Alt-Right has taken some of the basic libertarian values – non-intervention, anti-globalism, respect for private property (well, at least for some) – and attempted to juxtapose them with their inherently divisive rhetoric. Many of those who now identify as Alt-Right came out of the 2008 Tea Party movement and the subsequent growth of the American Libertarian movement fueled by Presidential candidate Ron Paul. The former Congressmen from Texas was a student of Murray Rothbard and has actually been very outspoken against the Alt-Right (and SJWs). After the Libertarian movement failed to capture the presidency and end statism, many activists found themselves disillusioned with not only the political system, but with libertarian principles. Whether or not these people ever truly understood the message is debatable, but in the end this crowd went on to support Trump and has come to be associated with wanting to violently impose their vision of “freedom”. I don’t subscribe to the notion that Libertarianism is some type of gateway or pipeline to the Alt-right or fascism, but I do think there are a couple people who deserve part of the blame for pushing American libertarians (young and old) into joining this collectivist populist front of the extreme right wing.
First, we saw Walter Block (a libertarian thought leader who is already problematic in other areas) promote the idea of “Libertarians For Trump” based on the assumption that Trump was the least-worst option. Block repeated the same faulty logic we often hear from the deadstream media and activists lacking in principle: Trump would be better than Hillary. If Block’s words are to be taken at face value then this is one hell of a case of misreading the tea leaves. Even worse, Block launched this group in March of 2016, several months before Trump won the election. I would argue it is the work of thinkers like Block that helped influence some libertarians who were (for some reason) on-the-fence about voting for Trump. I truly hope some interviewer or activist will hold Block’s feet to the fire for his role in promoting Trump now that it has become crystal clear (to those with eyes and ears) that Trump is not a bastion of liberty, and ultimately, it makes no difference whether we have a Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump in office. Seriously, Block is not an imbecile and it’s difficult to chalk up his misstep as simply failed strategy given the breadth of experience he has with working with the Libertarian movement for the last 50 years.
Another individual responsible for swaying the minds of his followers is Stefan Molyneux. Without a doubt Molyneux formerly promoted a libertarian/voluntaryist message via his channel and website, Freedomain Radio. However, in the last few years Molyneux has made very obvious shifts towards the extreme right wing. Where Molyneux once promoted peaceful parenting, debate, and philosophy as the most effective way to spread liberty, he has now become another white nationalist, race-science peddling fear monger of the blogosphere. Molyneux enjoys making long presentations with charts and statistics to back up his claims and refute his critics. He can be very persuasive and make the viewer feel as if they are participating in an exercise in pure logic. But look closer and you see that Molyneux is no libertarian and does not care about universal liberty or individual liberties, so much as he cares about providing a “rational” backing for his bigoted views on Muslims, immigrants, and other groups that he claims American descendants of Europeans should fear.
The man has gone from being an outspoken anarchist or voluntaryist to espousing collectivist views and defending the establishment via Donald Trump. Despite what some would have you believe, a collectivist mindset is not compatible with libertarian values because it implies that one should be judged according to some collective identity (whether based on race, nationality, age, color, ethnicity, etc) rather than judged as an individual. Both the Alt-Right and the SJWs are guilty of collectivizing their enemy and refusing to judge each individual according to their own behavior. This does not mean that humans never see groups and that libertarians are immoral if they see groups. It does mean that each individual is worthy of liberty regardless of what collective identity they may share with others. Unfortunately, Molyneux seems to have taken a good amount of his formerly anarchist supporters with him on his journey into statism and hate.
Another unfortunate aspect of the Alt-Right’s entryism is the influx of the immature, infantile 4chan culture of Pepe the Frog memes and fantasies of throwing their enemies out of helicopters. Just as many on the left venerate historical dictators like Stalin or Mao, it is now increasingly common for the alt-right to embrace murderers like Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet. In fact, many in the alt-right, and even some confused anarcho-capitalists, have been promoting the idea of throwing political opponents or “counter-revolutionaries” out of helicopters into the ocean, an inhumane practice that was notoriously employed during Pinochet’s reign of terror. They justify this outright call for violence by citing insidious libertarian infiltrator Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s “physical removal” proposal. Hoppe is a conservative monarchist who masquerades as an anarchist and espouses authoritarian views that are in total opposition to true libertarian values. In his book “Democracy, The God That Failed” Hoppe outlines his vision of a “free” society:
“One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and removed from society.”
Hoppe goes on to express his distaste for “alternative”, nontraditional lifestyles:
“Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They–the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centred lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism–will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”
Of course, in a truly free society operating under libertarian norms it would be permissible for an individual to choose what type of people they prefer to live near. Their preferences might even resemble Hoppe’s vision. However, as we will see, Hoppe’s words have been fuel to the fire that burns within the minds of the deplorables. Hoppe’s supporters have said that he is being misinterpreted, that he is only describing a vision for his ideal covenant community. I don’t buy it. He seems fairly clear he imagines physically removing people from his ideal society, not just his own property.
In fact, because of Hoppe’s writing, the idea of “physically removing” your enemies has become a meme in some Alt-Right and AnCap circles. The meme spawned pages like HHH Physical Removal Service. Hoppe himself even got in on the “joke” back in October during the Mises Institute’s 35th Anniversary celebration in New York City where he was seen smiling while holding a toy helicopter. Mention this to his supporters and they say, “it’s just trolling!”, or, my favorite, “stop pearl clutching, you leftist!”. Despite these claims, Hoppe’s own words reveal how he feels. At the Mises anniversary event Hoppe stated the following during a speech titled “Coming of Age with Murray”:
“The ideal of the left- or “modal”-libertarians, as Murray referred to them, of “live and let live as long as you don’t aggress against anyone else,” that sounds so appealing to adolescents in rebellion against parental authority and any social convention and control, may be sufficient for people living far apart and dealing and trading with each other only indirectly and from afar. But it is decidedly insufficient when it comes to people living in close proximity to each other, as neighbors and cohabitants of the same community. The peaceful cohabitation of neighbors and of people in regular direct contact with each other on some territory requires also a commonality of culture: of language, religion, custom and convention. There can be peaceful co-existence of different cultures on distant, physically separated territories, but multi-culturalism, cultural heterogeneity, cannot exist in one and the same place and territory without leading to diminishing social trust, increased conflict, and ultimately the destruction of anything resembling a libertarian social order.”
It’s unclear if Hoppe has ever been to a place like Houston, the 4th largest and most diverse city in the United States. Over several generations Houston’s population has transformed from being a city of white middle class workers to one in which Mexicans, Hondurans, Cubans, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Ethiopian, and so many more ethnicities are represented. In fact, the L.A. Times reports:
“In 1970, about 62% of Houston’s population was white. By 2010, that had shrunk to 25.6%. Over the same period, the Latino population grew from 10.6% to about 44%.
Newcomers have long been part of the Houston story, a city of migrants from across the U.S. that later became a city of immigrants — and their children. From 2000 through 2013, the Houston metropolitan area’s immigrant population grew at nearly twice the national rate.”
Those numbers are sure to terrify the white nationalists and supremacists who believe they are being eradicated through a shift in population, but the reality is that Houston is a place with massive diversity and it has not caused the city to fall into a state of despair and conflict. There are more than 140 languages spoken in Houston yet despite this lack of a commonality of language, we do not see regular conflict. (My guess is this is due, in part, to Houstonians love of eating food from a variety of ethnicities) The people of Houston (and other locales with diverse populations) are co-existing despite not living in “distant, physically separated territories”, as Hoppe suggests. When Hoppe suggests that “multi-culturalism, cultural heterogeneity, cannot exist in one and the same place and territory without leading to diminishing social trust, increased conflict, and ultimately the destruction of anything resembling a libertarian social order”, he ignores the reality of the diversity found within the United States. Sure, we are far from a “libertarian social order”, but living in a world where we co-exist, work with, and do business with people of different ethnic backgrounds does not necessarily entail a loss of trust or increase in conflict.
Hoppe would have us believe the outcome to living in diversity will always be a disaster. Rather than making an effort to reach out to others and help them understand the value of libertarian principles, Hoppe suggests physical removal and segregation. Of course, this is the right of every libertarian and every free human in general. It is immoral to force individuals to associate with those who we choose not to. However, it would be a mistake to make assumptions about another person based on their shared ethnicity or nationality or religion or other trait. This short sighted judgement based on arbitrary differences does not lead to a world where the individual liberties, self ownership, and private property of an individual are respected. Hoppe’s thinking leads to separating ourselves from other human beings, emphasizing an “us vs them” mentality and a revival of the age old view that civilization evolves through conflict. Libertarians ought to reject this worldview and remain consistent in their support of individual autonomy and liberty.
Hoppe provided further legitimacy to the Alt-Right (at least in the eyes of his followers) when he spoke at the 12th annual meeting of the Property and Freedom Society in Bodrum, Turkey, in September of this year. In a speech titled, “Libertarianism and the Alt-Right: In Search of a Libertarian Strategy for Social Change”, Hoppe explains what he believes is the connection to the Alt-Right and the paleo-conservative movement of the 1990’s. Rothbard and Hoppe were both involved in the paleo-conservative movement in the 1990’s.
“The Alt-Right movement is essentially the successor of the paleo-conservative movement that came to prominence in the early 1990’s, with columnist and best-selling author Patrick Buchanan as its best-known representative. It went somewhat dormant by the late 1990’s, and it has recently, in light of the steadily growing damage done to America and its reputation by the successive Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations, reemerged more vigorous than before under the new label of the Alt-Right.”
Hoppe goes on to describe the genealogy of the Alt-Right through it’s connection to him and the Property and Freedom Society (which he founded to express his conservative views):
“Many of the leading lights associated with the Alt-Right have appeared here at our meetings in the course of the years. Paul Gottfried, who first coined the term, Peter Brimelow, Richard Lynn, Jared Taylor, John Derbyshire, Steve Sailer and Richard Spencer. As well, Sean Gabb’s name and mine are regularly mentioned in connection with the Alt-Right, and my work has been linked also with the closely related neo-reactionary movement inspired by Curtis Yarvin (aka Mencius Moldbug) and his now defunct blog Unqualified Reservations.”
I have tried (unsuccessfully) to point out these connections to different AnCaps and Libertarians who support Hoppe. They refuse to see that Rothbard’s conservative stage later in his life and Hoppe’s “rational” justifications for this type of thinking influenced thinkers like Curtis Yarvin, who founded the pre-Alt-Right neo-reactionary movement under the name Mencius Moldbug. Yarvin has also been linked to the Trump campaign.
Despite Hoppe’s followers’ reluctance to accept his influence on this movement, he is more forthcoming. He recognizes his role in working to move libertarianism further to the right. In Democracy, Hoppe claims that libertarians must be “uncompromising conservatives”. Despite Walter Block’s support for Trump, one of his better essays is called “Libertarianism is Unique and Belongs Neither to the Right nor the Left: A Critique of the Views of Long, Holcombe, and Baden on the Left, Hoppe, Feser, and Paul of the Right”. The title speaks for itself and is worth your time to understand why the philosophy is outside of the political spectrum.
Interestingly, Hoppe notes that white nationalist Richard Spencer had previously spoken at the conference. During his talk Hoppe mentioned his disappointment with Spencer. He believed Spencer to be a lost cause – not because Spencer has called for the cleansing of non-european ethnicities in order to create a white-ethno state. No, Hoppe was merely upset that Spencer has revealed himself as a right-wing socialist.
“When Spencer appeared here, several years ago, he still exhibited strong libertarian leanings. Unfortunately, however, this has changed and Spencer now denounces, without any qualification whatsoever, all libertarians and everything libertarian and has gone so far as to even put up with socialism, as long as it is socialism of and for only white people. What horrifying disappointment!”
John Hudak, a contributor to Being Libertarian, does a great job of pointing out what I consider to be some of the darker elements of Hoppe’s thinking – he seems to lack empathy and compassion. He is more interested in making fun of his critics than actually engaging in debate.
“Hoppe attacks the libertarian group Students For Liberty, calling them “Stupids for Liberty” and criticizing them for their motto of “peace, love, liberty,” as if peace, love, and liberty are bad things or things we shouldn’t strive for,” Hudak writes. “But rather than condemning the rampant racism throughout the alt-right movement, Hoppe chooses to refer to brushing off the accusations of racism as a “strategically wise” move on their part. Though this may in fact be true, he does not address or even acknowledge the fact that there is a fair amount of racism within the alt-right.”
At this point, if there are any Alt-Right supporters still reading, they are likely saying, “well, racism does not violate the non-aggression principle!”, or that they have the right to discriminate against anyone they want on their own private property. That is true. However, if you are a bigot you will likely find yourself losing friends and business partners who choose to discriminate against such primitive thinking. The market allows for the bigots and the libertarians to voluntarily segregate or integrate, and build autonomous communities and associations based on their preferences. Some individuals may feel so wronged by the racism that they believe it must not be allowed to stand. I am not calling for punching nazi’s or racists. I am calling for an awareness that these people are attempting to infiltrate the American libertarian movement and peel away as many people as they can. These right-wing collectivists are attempting to build a movement off the backs of libertarians, and any other movement with resources they can manipulate for their own ends. Don’t be fooled.
The Lesser Knowns
There are other lesser known individuals who have bought the Alt-Right rhetoric hook-line-and-sinker and used their social media echo chambers to promote the clash of civilizations. Chase Rachels, author of A Spontaneous Order: The Capitalist Case for a Stateless Society, has been working hard to shed any previous libertarian credentials he held as he shifts further towards support of nationalism and fascism. Full Disclosure: throughout 2016 I went back and forth with Chase Rachels on facebook, calling him out for his tendency to support the extreme right-wing. In March of this year, Rachels and I ended up debating his call for a “Libertarian-Right Alliance”. At the time I could already see that he was shifting towards support of the Alt-Right and their calls for a white nation. Rachels denied this was the case during the debate and continued to deny that he was racist or pushing white nationalism. That is, until Hoppe gave his recent speeches. Rachels has now come out in the open with his call for Libertarians and the Alt-Right uniting. His website Radical Capitalist features charming essays like, “On White Nationalism, White Supremacy, and Genocide”, and “Single Mothers and Feminism Ruin Children”.
In his essay For a Libertarian-Alt-Right, Rachels continues to parrot Hoppe by repeating his recent outline of how to achieve the goals of a “Libertarian Alt-Right”. Hoppe’s steps are as follows:
One: Stop mass immigration.
Two: Stop attacking, killing and bombing people in foreign countries.
Three: Defund the ruling elites and its intellectual bodyguards.
Four: End the Federal Reserve and all central banks
Five: Abolish all ‘affirmative action’ and ‘non-discrimination’ laws and regulations
Six: Crush the “Anti-Fascist” Mob.
Seven: Crush the street criminals and gangs.
Eight: Get rid of all welfare parasites and bums.
Nine: Get the State out of education.
Ten: Don’t put your trust in politics or political parties.
Rachels says that step one is non-negotiable in order to achieve the ends of the libertarian alt-right. When you get past the first step you find goals that are actually compatible with libertarian principles – ending the wars, removing the funding for the political elite, ending the fed, abolishing regulations – and then we get to his “crush the anti-fascist mob”, “crush the street criminals and gangs”, and remove “welfare parasites and bums”. Each of these seem like very thinly veiled digs at minorities and immigrants. Not to mention the fact that Americans of European descent also account for welfare costs. Is the answer to creating a free society to crush and rid ourselves of those who are on assistance? Is this truly a representation of libertarian values and principles? I think it’s obvious that Rachels and Hoppe are not representing the philosophy as most libertarians see it.
Rachels, like Hoppe, considers himself highly rational. He makes convoluted arguments attempting to justify the use of some level of state power against illegal immigrants. He also makes the preposterous claim that net taxpayers are the true owners of what is currently known as “public property” and thus should be able to restrict immigration throughout the United States. Again, John Hudak handles the argument:
“One could make a convincing argument that an individual should receive the rights to what their tax money paid for, but only if logistics are ignored.
There is no way of knowing exactly where an individual’s tax money went. It is possible that some net taxpayers have paid little to nothing toward the maintenance of public property, but rather had their money go toward military spending, entitlements, or even paying down the public debt. It is also practically impossible to figure out who is a “net taxpayer” and how their standing as a net taxpayer relates to others (whether they deserve more compensation than their neighbor, for instance).”
Not to mention, deciding who gets paid what would necessitate a centralized institution to handle such claims. This would lead to the creation of another state. My personal view on borders is that the time has come to abandon terms like open and closed borders in favor of decentralized borders. I imagine a free society with decentralized borders would consist of a mixture of open borders, closed borders, public property, private property and unowned land. I believe a network of competing public and private spaces which allow for freedom of movement is most consistent with the sovereignty of the individual. (more of my thoughts on borders) Without getting further sucked into the borders debate, let me just say that I believe individuals like Rachels and Hoppe attempt to use libertarianism and its logical arguments and conclusions to justify their pre-existing bigotry and bias towards other individuals from different cultures, ethnicities, and traditions.
Rachels has shown he is willing to exploit existing racist symbols and codes for a cheap joke, or to wink at/dog-whistle to the racist elements of the Alt-Right. For example, in a post on the Radical Capitalist facebook page, Rachels has taken the popular white supremacist phrase “1488” and adopted it to fit Hoppe and the Alt-Right. Fourteen is a reference to the 14 words (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) promoted by prominent white supremacist David Lane. The 88 can refer to a quote from Mein Kampf or Lane’s essay 88 Precepts. Alternatively, it can also be used to refer to “H”, the 8th letter of the alphabet, and stand for HH, or Heil Hitler. Rachels has modified 1488 to 14888, or “There can be no tolerance to democrats and communists in a libertarian social order,” and Hans Herman Hoppe.
Sadly, Rachels – once a purist voluntaryist who believed the initiation of force made you a statist, no matter the excuse – has now joined the rank-and-file Alt-Right. My guess is that 2018 will be the year he officially drops the title of libertarian and goes full on white supremacist.
Conclusion: Libertarianism Grows Through Individual Action
These individuals are a part of the reason for the misconception that there is any valid connection between the libertarian philosophy and the Alt-Right. Individuals like Walter Block used their credibility among the movement to promote a Trump victory while Stefan Molyneux used his platform to promote Trump, as well as give voice to guests who peddle race science and promote an inevitable clash of civilizations. I also place blame on Stephan Kinsella, Lew Rockwell, and Jeff Deist for their silence on the presence of racists and bigots, and for tacitly promoting the cause by pretending it’s simply a joke to trigger leftists.
As previously stated, I do not believe Hoppe’s focus on saving western civilization, crushing the anti-fascists, or removing “welfare parasites” should be the focus of any libertarian platform. All of these men are either lost in the lie that immigrants are going to hurt them or take their jobs, or they are deceitfully pushing statism and authoritarianism to further some other agenda. I do not care to speculate. I already know their view of the world leads to division and conflict. These men continue to spread the idea that our current predicament can be reduced to left vs right, Alt-Right vs AntiFa, etc. They need conflict in order to spread their ideology and seize power. This is why Hoppe and others attempt to reduce libertarianism to be exclusively about private property and the reduction of conflict related to the scarcity of resources. While establishing norms does help reduce conflict over resources, this is not the focus of libertarianism. The philosophy starts with an understanding of self-ownership. From there one derives the concept of ownership of goods and products created by the self, as well as property which was homesteaded. This, along with a respect for the non-initiation of force, is the foundation of libertarianism in America.
It should be clear that the Alt-Right’s preference for tradition or conservatism does not mean that all libertarians with conservative leanings (as I do on certain issues) are racists or bigots or Alt-Right. However, the aforementioned men are at best confused former libertarians and at worst they are authoritarians and racists biding their time while using libertarianism as cover. Be cautious of supporting them.
The Alt-Right claims that state violence or private violence is justifiable and necessary against political opponents who have ideologies that are deemed to be threatening or dangerous. According to their logic, the ideologies of their political enemies, whether it be communism, environmentalism or whatever, are viewed as acts of aggression in themselves, and thus, they believe that they would be defending themselves by using violence against their enemies. While it may be true that certain ideologies can be precursors for acts of aggression, simply holding an idea is not an act of aggression, and does not warrant a forceful response. If we follow that line of reasoning we will have constant conflict and we will see the end of the progress which liberty has allowed humankind to experience. We must continue to guard against the undercover statists and authoritarians and work to keep this philosophy focused on empowering the lives of all individuals so they may manifest the life of their choosing.
This message grows by living the principles in our daily lives and limiting our involvement and support of the State. Libertarianism will not grow if the libertarian movement chooses to align with the Alt-Right. This does not mean the reverse – an alliance with the extreme-left wing of American politics – is necessary. It does mean that libertarians ought to remain principled and work with individuals from across the spectrum on issues where there is alignment. We can ally with and collaborate with individuals of different persuasions without diluting or abandoning our message and goals. Liberty grows one by one, as each heart and mind abandon the false promises of statism and embrace the superiority of spontaneous order, self-ownership, and non-aggression. Don’t let the authoritarians fool you into supporting half measures, or even worse, completely abandoning your principles. Because without them, you’re just another statist.