Friday, May 15, 2009

Libertarian Totalitarianism

By Diamed (The Road Less Traveled)

If I had to sum up my political wishes, what type of government I'd like to live under, it would be this: Libertarian Totalitarianism.

I've read Hegel, and all I can really recall from him is a very impassioned argument against slavery. However, I've also read many people who talk about Hegel, and they all agree that Hegel's greatest contribution to philosophy is the idea of 'dialect.' According to Hegel, the progress of ideas comes through a certain process. At first, there is the generally accepted philosophy of the time, the 'thesis.' Then comes an 'antithesis' that rejects the thesis and supports some opposite bundle of values and ideas. As the two fight and discuss, an eventual consensus emerges between the two sides, a 'synthesis.' In time the synthesis becomes the 'thesis' of that community, a new 'antithesis' emerges, and the cycle continues indefinitely.

This is an exciting concept, because what it means is that contradictory, conflicting views are not necessarily counterproductive for one another. In fact, they can commonly be complementary to each other, a whole that is greater than its parts. The idea of synthesizing two mutually opposed and contradictory forces is then seen as the only path forward towards philosophical progress.

Let's take Hegelianism and apply it to Libertarianism and Totalitarianism then. What would we produce? An anti-matter/matter explosion that only causes logical chaos and destruction? Or a hegelian synthesis of an entirely new distinct ideology different from either original? I say the latter, and here's how:

Human nature includes a desire for freedom. People wish to be left alone to do things their own way, they don't like being bossed, bullied, or used by others. They certainly don't like to be serfs or slaves, taxed of their labor or told what they can and cannot do. In primitive societies, people were so free they could commonly get away with rape and murder, and barbarians were notorious in their unwillingness to adopt the Roman yoke and died en masse rebelling constantly against foreign rule. Various people have delimited freedoms as so important they are simply absolute, given to us by God not man, and irrevocable for any cause. These include the right to life, liberty, and property. Liberty includes freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of association and movement. The right to life includes self-defense and a justice system, as well as bans on all manner of arbitrary actions by the government that could deprive people of a fair trial for any supposed crimes. It also includes the right to defend against extra-territorial aggression by outsiders of the nation and the duty for the government to protect us in times of war or invasion. As for property, people should have the right to the fruits of their own labor and the right to an honest lifestyle that is capable of amassing wealth, supporting a family, and purposeful and rewarding work. A government which cannot grant such things is unbearable and should be thrown off without further ado. Everyone finds such freedoms, rights, and protections as enormous goods and desires to have them for themselves. The appeal of liberty and libertarianism runs deep in every soul and no one can truly be happy without this part of their human nature being taken into account and enshrined in some sort of constitutional protection.

However, this is not the whole of human nature. In fact, there is another current in our human nature that desires exactly the opposite in all things: the will to power. People are not satisfied with control over their own lives, they also seek to control the lives of everyone else. Money that can control others, laws that can control others, education and churches all meant to convert others, even our tyrannous upbringing of our kids to be and believe what we want them to believe, is a facet of our will to power. We are incensed when people do not serve us, show us proper respect and deference, do as we say, listen to our wise council, and so on. Often the will to power becomes so extreme that we are willing to exterminate entire groups of people who refuse to obey us and are utterly pitiless towards those we have already successfully enslaved and groan under their chains. But is the will to power wholly evil? Is the desire for freedom wholly good?

In a world of complete freedom, no taxes can be collected at all and no law can exist at all, because it infringes on somebody's liberty. In a world of complete freedom, no common culture can emerge and no organizations can form to tackle larger problems bigger than any individual. In a world of complete freedom, an individual could, for instance, dam up a river and destroy the livelihoods of everyone downstream of him, even though he personally had nothing to do with the creation of the river and hardly deserves all of its wealth for himself! In a world of complete freedom, people can break their words, betray each other, lie and steal, breaking the heart's of all the pure of heart, and corrupting to pitch black all the hearts of those susceptible to evil, but no longer constrained by any authority or moral climate from embracing it.

In a totalitarian world, injustices can be rooted out, privileged groups and classes can finally be dethroned and destroyed, who before hid behind the law or liberty to mask their own oppression and chicanery from the shadows. Bad habits and practices can be banned, promoting the virtue and health of the entire community. Kids can be raised in a certain way, that protects their physical, psychic, and spiritual health against the unlimited snares and pitfalls of our earthly lives. The entire community, in totality, will be behind this attitude so that your parental attempts to protect your children are not undermined the moment they leave the door of your house, or the moment they turn on their TV or open up a book. In totalitarianism, people needn't suffer their fools, crooks, liars, and incompetents and can instead demand everyone live up to the same high standards they themselves live by. No longer can drunk drivers live alongside and endanger sober drivers. No longer can druggees huddle and beg in parks and street corners, or tempt your kids into joining them. And the trains will run on time!

Can anything then be done, when human nature desires both to rule others and to not be ruled? When people desire both for everyone to be like them, and to be true to themselves? Must we always forge some continuous series of compromises that pleases neither instinct but shifts back and forth between them? Can generation after generation of people vote in an election whether today we will accept the abuses of liberty or the abuses of totalitarianism to afflict themselves with?

I say we can do something. I say there is a way everyone gets everything they want. I say compromises with evil are simply another term for surrender. Instead I offer the Hegelian Synthesis of these two halves of our nature: Libertarian Totalitarianism.

What is Libertarian Totalitarianism? You could say it is Kant's categorical imperative made flesh. (I've also read Kant, and got a lot more out of him than Hegel!) From Kant we read the categorical imperative: "Act in such a manner that your more could be a universal law." Or "Run your life as though you were the legislature of and a denizen in the ideal world."

From Kant we are given two important truths. Duty imposed is slavery. That's the libertarian part. Duty assumed is morality. That's the totalitarian part.

Or to make it more clear, no one should have any right to legislate your universe for you, you are your own End and have the right to be true to yourself no matter what.

At the same time, once you have legislated your universe, once you have chosen to live a certain way, once you have undertaken a duty, or promise, or wyrd to embrace a certain path, you have lost all right to divert from it. As a rational being, and as a moral being, you can no longer be anything than the Self you chose. You cannot be inconsistent, fickle, false, or simply oblivious to your own moral reasoning. Your law. Your sacred creed and code. This occurs in daily life when one enters into a pact of marriage. Before you married, you had the right to live however you pleased. After you married, you lost those rights, and instead had only duties. From now on for the rest of your life, you may never part again. Your fidelity is to her, you are obligated to have and support children by her, to honor and protect her, and to treat her as a second self.

There can be no morality, no Good, no virtue in anyone who refuses to undertake any duty. A man who makes no promises and stands for nothing, is himself nothing, just a devil or a beast of the fields. Amoral people do not belong in human communities and are contemptible trash. The first beginning of human worth and moral good comes not from your being born, but from your first duty you assume to fulfill. Once your soul is aligned to something greater to itself, and dedicated to something higher than your own whimsy, we can love and honor you, we can make promises in return to you, and most importantly people can have a sense of their own identity, purpose, and value. There is no shortcut to these goods. They all begin by giving away the purposeless freedom and empty amorality of some sort of cartesian nothingness of mind. And yet, no one has the right to make those decisions for you, or impose their values on you. As a rational, moral being, we cannot be slaves or puppets or robots. We must be the legislators of our own soul, the crafters of our own swords. Morality is duty
assumed. It cannot be created any other way. Rape is not marriage. Fornication is not marriage. Only marriage is marriage.

So how do people, practically, marry their nation? How do we gain the freedom to live under a law of our own choosing, and yet the will to power to have everyone else live under a law of our own choosing? How do we undertake crippling constrictions of our freedom, and in return be given the benefits of all those restrictions on others? Through the social contract!

No more of this bullshit about how we 'implicitly' signed a social contract the day we were born, against our will, into one country or another. No more crap about how our staying in a country of our birth due to matters of the heart, due to economic needs, or due to practical impossibility of being accepted elsewhere, translates somehow into approval of and legitimacy for the laws of the current government.

A true social contract, one that reads like this:

"Upon entering this state and agreeing to become a citizen thereof, I hereby agree to all the laws of this nation, I agree to renounce all power or right to change them, and I agree to willingly and cheerfully enforce them on myself and all those around me, so help me God. I enter with the unanimous consent of all those who inhabit this land, as a member qualified to join the selection criteria of this Body as designated by the Constitution and reviewed and approved by the government in my particular case as factually meeting this criteria."

A spelled out constitution covering every field, and a powerful government with all the means necessary to fulfill the constitution. And an absolute unwillingness to compromise. Every citizen in the entire nation must be a true believer in it, or he must leave. This is a land of, by, and for this exact Contract, this Constitution, as unanimously entered upon by the inhabitants thereof. It has nothing and offers nothing for anyone else. No one has any rights outside the ones the Constitution has designated for its people.

Everyone is a libertarian until he enters the social contract of his choice. Everyone is a totalitarian until he leaves said social contract, and thus the community where said contract prevails. Every aspect of his life is under the control of the Constitution, there is nothing reserved to the individual.

Everyone must marry their nation. Everyone must assume a duty as sacred and immutable as the love they share with their own wife. And once this 'Great Sorting' has occurred, there will be no abuses of power or freedom, because everyone will be in total power, and no one will be in the least free. We will all be bound to our own decision, our chosen destiny.

Finally, for the first time in history, we will have the right to choose not only our wife and our friends, but our neighbors, our countrymen, our entire community. And they will all, universally, have chosen and approved of you. You will be among friends and allies from dawn to dusk. The values you most cherish, will be expressed all around you in every face you see, in every building, every street corner, every song that drifts on the wind. It will all be animated with the same spirit that animates you. Nothing will offend you, or grate on you, or pinch you, because of its total alienation from your inner core. It will be like a giant emanation of your soul, an ideal world of your own legislating -- a Kantian city in the clouds. As Rushton has shown, people prefer people like themselves. They use assortative mating over matters like education levels, religious beliefs, wealth and moral values to make sure they have united with a harmonious partner. Why would we really stop there though? If we had the power, wouldn't we prefer to sort the whole world as well? To sort it all out from top to bottom? And for those who don't like sorting, who want to be around their mirror opposites and contraries at all times -- well couldn't they all get together and sort on that very criteria? Aren't they free to be around people unlike themselves all they like, to craft any sort of constitution and acceptance criteria they please, and get their very own Tower of babel they so desire? In my world, everyone gets what they want. There is no conflict of interest, anywhere, because we can all be who we please, so long as we are in separate places. The number of creeds is only constrained by the number of square miles on this earth. And that can be solved as well -- someone, some community, is going to want to reach the stars. You can bet on that.

The main complaint people have when others suggest changes is that they themselves do not desire the change. And yet that means the people who don't desire the status quo are stuck in unjust prisons they can never escape. There is no best fit for everyone, our differences are too great and our passions are too strong. We each need a breathing space of our own, a place of our own with people like ourselves. It is no more just to constrain people to the present borders and the present law code, than it would be for a fanatical group to revolt, seize power, and impose a wholly new law only they desire on the public at large. In the name of not being brutalized by such laws, you brutalize everyone else with your own laws. Is that just? Is this the best of all possible worlds? No, no, no.

I have an idea for the contract and Constitution I would personally live under. It is very strict and includes lots of rules of behavior covering the cradle to the grave. It is totalitarian in every facet, and I would THRIVE in it because I would meet all its requirements gladly, and cheerfully, and would love nothing more than everyone around me to behave and be just as good as I am. However, I am not suggesting everyone adopt this Constitution. I'm not suggesting even 1% of people live under my totalitarian fantasy. I suggest only those who embrace it as I would, who are excited as me about it, to do so. And everyone else, I just ask to leave us alone. to not interfere. To let us be ourselves as we always wished to be, instead of in the straitjacket of the world's borders I was born into but never myself made.

But this categorical imperative, this Kantian universe made flesh, I do think is universal and the highest good. The meta-concept, the hegelian synthesis of Libertarian Totalitarianism, is in fact a universal truth and a suggestion I implore all people adopt. This is not like my wishes to ban adultery and drinking and for everyone to be married with children by age 25, the particulars of My nation. This is the code for ALL people, the one we must all abide by, because it is the most just, most natural, and most rational politics imaginable. As the crisis in the world expand and as our differences grate ever more between the various diversities of our nations, an explosion is bound to occur. If my plan isn't endorsed, something much worse will follow. Our differences are insurmountable. Differences in perception about the proper roles of the sexes, differences in racial attitudes, differences in religious outlooks, differences in scientific mindsets, differences of wealth, of class, of intelligence, of erudition, of language and history and ideology. Do you really hope to hold such powder kegs together? Create a one-world government? Don't make me laugh. You couldn't even keep Yugoslavia together, a country of a few million people. The whole world? Only violence and lies could ever perpetuate such a thing. no one desires it. No one will thrive under it. The soul of mankind will shrivel into dust. The honor bound and faithful of my world is a better representation of the ideal man. Of the heroic.

Your way can only castrate the soul of mankind, domesticate it, and eventually extirpate it like the Soviet Union did their people for the past 70 years.

My way can sharpen the swords of all our souls, until they blaze across the very heavens, everyone expressing himself as fervently and brightly as their strength can take them. It appeals to everyone and stifles none.

Libertarian Totalitarianism. Give it a whirl.

8 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Diamed writes kak.

Doberman said...

@ anon 3:38, and what do your masterful words "Diamed writes kak" signify? More "kak"? No thanks, I'd rather try and understand how someone thinks rather than dismiss them because what they write is beyond some people - like you obviously.

Viking said...

Diamed does write a lot of kak, particularly about Jews.
But this one is very very good, and if quoting Hegel and Kant is kak, Anonymous 3:38 PM, then I will read kak all day.
I don't quite agree with his synthesis, but the analysis of the problem is insightful. Constitutionalism is certainly the answer to the failings of democracy, although a totalitarian state of any kind surely requires a huge government to run it, and that is never a good thing.

Vanilla Ice said...

@Anon 3:38. Do you mean his writing style is kak, or his message? Anyway, always good to see typical South African words being used jou doos.

Dachshund said...

Oh, those old philosophers! It being Friday, I'll drink to all of that (whatever it means, and whether it's utopian or not):

The Philosopher's Song

Immanuel Kant was a real piss-ant who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table...

David Hume could out-consume Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach 'ya 'bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, after half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day!

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
And Hobbes was fond of his Dram.

And René Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed.

Andrea Murrhteyn said...

I agree when I am in a hurry and just want to quickly skim what is written; then reading Diamed is not a good idea! In such a case, Diamed could be interpreted to be 'kak', i guess. But only cause I ain't got the time or inclination to really listen to what he has to say; and when I do, its generally anything but 'kak'.

Diamed: my brief interpretation: I imagine many may misunderstand your concept of 'Totalitarian Libertarianism', and interpret, particularly the 'totalitarian' aspect, as a external 'totalitiarianism', as opposed to what I interpret as an inner totalitarianism, namely put differently an honourable commitment to hold yourself accountable to the values you commit to.

It is a freedom of thought, and being and knowing who you are; that few ever conceive of cognitively as a way of being; let alone applying the principles to their values, and living according to them.

Anyway, much food for thought. Thanks.

Andrea Murrhteyn said...

Dachshund: Love the Philosophers Song!

Dachshund said...

@Andrea: I agree with you. The trouble with any kind of -ism, whether totalitarian or libertarian, is that it always seems to swing over to fascism. As for Kant and his categorical imperative, there's always that snag of "It all depends". Which means you are back (or forward) to judging the moral merits or demerits of your actions within a paricular situation for yourself.