Contra Libertarians, A Post-Liberal Critique

Philosophy, Politics

Arrus Kacchi

Ch.I | The Individual

This piece will serve as a sweeping critique of Libertarianism, with a diverse mixture of viewpoints ー all the way from anarchists such as David Graeber to reactionaries such as Julius Evola. The key influence here is C.A. Bond, specifically his recent work, ‘Nemesis’. This piece can also be read as a critique of Liberalism more broadly after all, and consequently of Neoliberalism/Economic Liberalism, as Libertarianism is just Liberalism but harder, in a manner more historically inimical to Power than Neoliberalism. However, I wrote this specifically in response to Libertarians, and so hence the title of this piece. Mind you I was a Libertarian for many years, so this will in a sense also serve as an autopsy of a previous version of me.

The central premise of Libertarianism, the “non-aggression principle” (or NAP), which holds that one may do whatever one pleases with their own property so long as said person respects other people’s rights to do as they please with their own is simple yet rests upon many, many presuppositions, which themselves are not only loaded with other assumptions but also lead to various other places, which we shall endeavour to explore. To give a brief snapshot of what we are dealing withーHenry Olson, from the now-defunct site provides some good insight;

“Since the boundaries on what it means to encroach on someone else’s property rights are not always clear, the NAP was typically understood as a prohibition on the initiation of force. If, for instance, I put a statue of Mussolini in my front yard, it might “affect” my neighbors by driving down the resale values of their homes. But since I had not used force against their property and only used objects (statue and lawn) that I justly own, they would have no recourse against me. On the other hand, if they lobbied the town government to impose zoning restrictions that would prevent me from putting statutes in my yard, then they would be initiating force against my property and violate the NAP.

Some of the more abstract extensions of libertarian theory were certainly strange. Murray Rothbard deduced that the government could not force parents to feed their children[1]. Walter Block spun justifications for blackmail and littering[2]. Today, if you search the ultra-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute website for the term “Ebenezer Scrooge,” you will find at least a half dozen independent results on how Scrooge’s miserliness[3] from A Christmas Carol was actually admirable.”[4]

Weird but ok, let’s go deeper. The Libertarian tells us; You own yourself. This is the beginning of your being from which you freely contract with others. This is your domain, your autonomy which no one but yourself has the right to do with. This is the individual, of whom is the most fundamental unit of society. F.A. Hayek writes;

“[The] basic contention is quite a different one; it is that there is no other way toward an understanding of social phenomena but through our understanding of individual actions directed toward other people and guided by their expected behavior.”[5]

To begin with, “self-ownership” is Cartesian dualism. To “own” is a transitive verb, which requires a distinct object to have, body distinct from mindーCartesian dualism. Hayek is keenly aware of this fact in his text ‘Individualism and Economic Order’, and prescribes this effect of Descartes upon the individualism of Rousseau to deflect this accusation ー going as far as to assert that the French Cartesian individualism itself leads collectivism, unlike the British Liberalism which he, and the rest of the Libertarian project at large, inherits. While Hayek is correct in illustrating that the British tradition loses much of the baggage from Descartes, it never actually escapes the notion of self-ownership because the very British tradition from Locke, that Hayek inherits, posits that;

“Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person; this nobody has any right to but himself.”[6]

Man’s ‘person’ being his property establishes dualismーthe thinking ‘I’ distinct from the body. A marketised Cogito. St. Thomas objects;

“Some, however, tried to maintain that the intellect is united to the body as its motor; and hence that the intellect and body form one thing so that the act of the intellect could be attributed to the whole. This is, however, absurd for many reasons.

First, because the intellect does not move the body except through the appetite, the movement of which presupposes the operation of the intellect. The reason therefore why Socrates understands is not because he is moved by his intellect, but rather, contrariwise, he is moved by his intellect because he understands.

Secondly, because since Socrates is an individual in a nature of one essence composed of matter and form, if the intellect be not the form, it follows that it must be outside the essence, and then the intellect is the whole Socrates as a motor to the thing moved. Whereas the act of intellect remains in the agent, and does not pass into something else, as does the action of heating. Therefore the action of understanding cannot be attributed to Socrates for the reason that he is moved by his intellect.

Thirdly, because the action of a motor is never attributed to the thing moved, except as to an instrument; as the action of a carpenter to a saw. Therefore if understanding is attributed to Socrates, as the action of what moves him, it follows that it is attributed to him as to an instrument. This is contrary to the teaching of the [Aristotle], who holds that understanding is not possible through a corporeal instrument (De Anima iii, 4).

Fourthly, because, although the action of a part be attributed to the whole, as the action of the eye is attributed to a man; yet it is never attributed to another part, except perhaps indirectly; for we do not say that the hand sees because the eye sees. Therefore if the intellect and Socrates are united in the above manner, the action of the intellect cannot be attributed to Socrates. If, however, Socrates be a whole composed of a union of the intellect with whatever else belongs to Socrates, and still the intellect be united to those other things only as a motor, it follows that Socrates is not one absolutely, and consequently neither a being absolutely, for a thing is a being according as it is one.

There remains, therefore, no other explanation than that given by Aristotle—namely, that this particular man understands, because the intellectual principle is his form. Thus from the very operation of the intellect it is made clear that the intellectual principle is united to the body as its form.”[7]

Unlike say a vehicle and its driver, the ‘you’ reading the words on the screen and sensing, understanding the words involves the body. And so it follows that your body is not separate from you; your body with its biological design is you. This is the Aristotelian view of hylemorphism (hyle, “matter”; morphe, “form”) that you are not only your soul, nor only your body, but you are of both body and soul. Your identity does not exist in one of the two particulars but in their unity. But then, the transitive verb of “owning” cannot take a distinct object without violating the law of identity. Therefore said dualism is nonsense and the formulation of “self-ownership” is rendered as such. Julius Evola elaborates that the unit of the “individual” isn’t even a worthy point of discourse as it is categorically substanceless;

“For all practical purposes, the pure individual belongs to the inorganic rather than to the organic dimension. In reality, the law of progressive differentiation rules supreme. In virtue of this law, the lower degrees of reality are differentiated from the higher ones because in the lower degrees a whole can be broken down into many parts, all of which retain the same quality (as in the case of the parts of a noncrystallised mineral, or those parts of some plants and animals that reproduce themselves by parthenogenesis); in the higher degrees of reality this is no longer possible, as there is a higher organic unity in them that does not allow itself to be split without being compromised and without its parts entirely losing the quality, meaning, and function they had in it. Therefore the atomic, unrestricted (solutus), “free” individual is under the aegis of inorganic matter, and belongs, analogically, to the lowest degrees of reality.

An equality may exist on the plane of a mere social aggregate or of a primordial, almost animal-like promiscuity; moreover, it may be recognised wherever we consider not the individual but the overall dimension; not the person but the species; not the “form” but “matter” (in the Aristotelian sense of these two terms). I will not deny that there are in human beings some aspects under which they are approximately equal, and yet these aspects, in every normal and traditional view, represent not the “plus” but the “minus”; in other words, they correspond to the lowest degree of reality, and to that which is least interesting in every being. Again, these aspects fall into an order that is not yet that of “form,” or of personality, in the proper sense. To value these aspects and to emphasize them as those that truly matter is the same as regarding as paramount the bronze found in many statues, rather than seeing each one as the expression of distinct ideas, to which bronze (in our case, the generic human quality) has supplied the working matter.”[8]

Your ousia means nothing without its relationship to eidos. The identity of a given individual is itself made intelligible by its participation in social identities. In this sense, the person (I will henceforth be contrasting the non-liberal conception of the individual with the Libertarian concept by calling the former, “the person” instead of “the individual”), in his  Geworfenheit, always has some kind of being-in-the-world which paints him with various social colours. Social identities, of which the individual is really posterior to. Hayek does contest that every individual has a social existence, but because his Liberal anthropological assumptions lead him to believe that we contract into social orders, which we shall explore as nonsense later, there can be for him one that exits it. But as we never entered into society from pre-society, we always have social eidos. Are truly always ‘thrown’ into the world. We are always of some colour. The individual that is pure ousia not only does not exist but has never has existed and will most likely never exist, which makes individualisation all the more corrosive as we shall explore.

Ludwig von Mises writes;

“Imagine a state of affairs in which governments are devoted exclusively to the task of protecting the individual’s life, health, and property against violent and fraudulent aggression. In such a world the frontiers are drawn on the maps, but they do not hinder anybody from the pursuit of what he thinks will make him more prosperous.”[9]

However, as C.A. Bond goes to great lengths exploring, the individualisation of society only has resulted from and results in further centralisation of authority. Fundamentally, human social orders are not dualisticーof the ruler and ruled, but rather of;

  • The Centre which occupies Power: Occupied by an institution (or a network of them) or perhaps something metaphysical; The ruling office, Monarch or God(s) etc.
  • The Subsidiary: seen as the appendages of the Centre; Nobility, Church etc.
  • The Periphery: Governed by the Subsidiaries.

Following the work of Bertrand De Jouvenel, Bond illustrates how this essentially centralised mode of human orders results in situations whereby, to increase its domain of authority, to centralise, the centre will raise the periphery against its subsidiaries often through appeals to the common good, or otherwise try to circumvent them. Both Marxists and Liberals have made the mistake of identifying subsidiaries with the centre as a cohesive ruling class, when in reality the development of money (as will be later explored), but for our immediate concerns, the “individual”, was a historical product of the centre in an antagonistic orientation towards its subsidiaries.

To illustrate;

“The reader should bear in mind that to be a freeman in medieval England required that the person was under no feudal obligation to a local lord and was in the authority of the king alone. Here we have a clear example of the king empowering a section of society at the expense of the subsidiary centres of power, and the act being labelled a grant of freedom. To be free in this conception, therefore, meant to be free of local obligations only, and not of obligations to the king, and so not free simpliciter.10

[The modern individual] is instead a subject, and a subject-individual is premised on a disregard for his ability to maintain his individuality separate from the king’s or the government’s, enforcement of his rights as an individual.”[11]

In short, we see that the efforts of Power strips away eidos, of the local influences of subsidiaries, in favour of ousia. You, having less dispersed identities and obligations, makes you a better footsoldier for the centralising state. Bond goes on to track the development of both centralising power and the development of “the individual” as Power levels the Catholic ChurchーDuke of Lancaster promoting John Wycliffe, Bohemian royalty promoting the Hussites, Elector of Saxony, Frederick III promoting Martin Luther and Michael of Cesena promoting William of Ockham ー the centre promoting the periphery against the subsidiaries. Each case we see that this is always within the gestalt of the individual being liberated from the tyranny of ecclesiastical power. This was a development in response to Plenitudo Potestatis, which is what made secular power more inimical to the Catholic Church, yet the process of levelling the Church ended up developing Divine Right as a justification for the rule of secular princes, of which then to be breached by the Papacy to regain strength. In response, the Papacy promoted the likes of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine who asserted the consensual nature of monarchy. First, Divine Law was to be discovered within an understanding of authority as natural and anagogically instantiated, then it was consecrated as the justification for an authority which was otherwise unnatural ー in Divine Right, and then man became “free” and subject to no one save God with Christian Voluntarism ー authority’s unnatural character taken to its end save the overturning of God’s own authority.

This process is also what proceeds the idea of there being a “consent of the governed” which shall be explored later on. But it suffices to say that the notion of the free individual as Libertarianism views it was a product of power, seeking to “emancipate” the periphery from immediate authority to expand its domain. You first didn’t need the Apostolic Church, nor the nobles in other contexts, then you didn’t need the king, then you were “free”. All the while, Power exploited the ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the atomised, increasingly dependent “individual”. This continued to produce the very grandfather of Liberalism and consequently of Libertarianism; John Locke, who saw promotion from the oligarchic Whigs;

“The term ‘Whig Oligarchy’ is appropriate in at least two senses. In the first place, after the Tory dismissals of 1716 one-party monopoly of all central offices of government and Household and one-party control of the main institutions of county administration remained unbroken until the death of George II. At the height of Walpole’s power few appointments of state were made, however minor, that did not meet with his approval; the first criterion applied, whether filling Cabinet posts or the humblest clerkships, was loyalty. Tories were ruthlessly excluded from the reckoning on automatic suspicion of Jacobitism, unless, like Winnington, Henry Legge or the Fox brothers they had already plainly signalled their conversion to Whiggery from the old family creed.”[12]

And in the Anglican Church’s support from the Whig Oligarchy, we see there that Walpole’s Lockean Liberalism comes to spread through the Church itself;

“It was a more debilitating malaise in the age of Walpole and the Pelhams than at any time since the Reformation, and while one can sympathise with a state church forced to accommodate itself to a Whig Oligarchy determined to depress clerical pretensions as never before, the feeling remains that the clergy could have struggled harder to resist the muzzle. That said, there are important aspects of Church-State relations in this period which have frequently been misunderstood. It is clear that after 1720 there was a deliberate attempt to subject the Church to the Whig patronage machine.[13]

Thus it was that the Church that took Tillotson for its model, and for which Locke became almost a second Bible, came to insist in its practice as well as in its preaching on rationality and restraint, on a basic decency and seemliness.”[14]

To counter the Tories and Sir Robert Filmer, as well as the other more conservative Anglican vestiges of Britian, it is quite the irony that the proliferation of Locke’s ideas was not at all due to winning in the “free marketplace of ideas”, a notion we shall tackle in further depth later on, but rather their proliferation not only makes perfect sense but was historically so a product of oligarchic Whig centralisation.

“At this point, the idea presents itself that in any situation where we see the success of individualising or equalising accounts of society, we will also see the fingerprints of conflict between various centres.”[15]

“If we accept that this individual is a product of the Jouvenelian dynamic then, by this act, philosophy in its modern form assumes, and thus by default demands, a political order of centralisation.”[16]

Curiously, the negative rights scheme of Libertarianism also presents itself as a potentially extreme expansion of Power. Adam Katz writes regarding this paradoxical nature of rights[17];

“If there are to be rights, they must be enforced, by some agency large enough to enforce them without hindrance. The state, naturally. The more rights we discover, acknowledge, and demand enforcement of, the more powerful and unhindered the state must be. If we are talking about “international human rights,” we must therefore be speaking of a state, or states, capable of exercising imperial control over other states: to compel other states to enforce the rights in question, and to remove their governments if they can’t or won’t.”

Libertarians would like to tell us that ‘negative rights’ exist in the absence of authority. Yet human orders have never been as such for there to be pre-society, one of pure unobstructed “rights”.

“If rights need to be defended, they need to be defended against someone. When we posit a right, or advocate for one, then, we are imagining a state willing and ready to act against specific people assumed to be potential violators of that right.”

The Libertarian responds that; property rights are defended by the property holder. Yet in a social order with no central order intervening, there is nothing stopping someone with more coercive capital from violating your NAP.  The NAP is a pure Stirerian spook. And that rests upon the absurd assumption that there can be a social order with no centre. Katz continues;

“I have not forgotten that the first calls for rights were for rights against the state. There is something paradoxical in the first consistent articulation of rights that exist separate from and prior to the state, that of Hobbes: the most basic right, that of life, and therefore of self-defense, so that one has the right to defend one’s life even against the state (so, the prisoner on death row being taken to execution has no obligation to go peacefully), leads to the first argument for a state to which nothing is forbidden, except perhaps disregard for its own survival, which really just means the right to self-defense of the sovereign himself. If the individual is to surrender all rights (except self-defense in the last, hopeless, resort) in order to have his most fundamental right defended more effectively by the sovereign, he must accept a sovereign that is capable of doing anything, anytime, to anyone.”

Ok sure, says the Libertarian, but what about those who aren’t NAP purist anarcho-capitalists? What’s so inherently flawed with the concept of a state enforcing a bare-minimum set of rules?

“Hobbes was at least consistent enough to realize that you cannot have rights against the state. The “laborist” argument for rights introduced by Locke initiated the tradition of positing rights against the state, limiting its powers. This is the argument that has, of course, been institutionalized and venerated in the United States, and we still see significant vestiges of this argument among American conservatives, and more than vestiges when it comes to the defense of gun rights. So, it might appear as if this original, “classical liberal” understanding of rights has been distorted by later victimary rights claims: this distinction is what the argument over “equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcomes” and “negative vs. positive rights” comes down to. But it’s not really the case that advocates of these rights stood outside of any entanglements with the state, and just wanted to be left alone to add their labor to various pieces of nature surrounding them.

They wanted the state (first of all a liberalising monarchy) to be deployed against the Church, aristocracy and other privileged groups, such as corporations chartered by the state, independent towns, banks, and guilds. It’s easy for us to overlook this, since the most formidable of those entities either no longer exist (or exist in a thoroughly neutered form), and few today could muster any historical sympathy for them. But that just means that we identify with the state that swept them into the dustbin of history, or broke and trained them. The history of the United States, meanwhile, the first modern society with neither a monarchy or aristocracy, has been the history of different groups trying to influence the state so as to defend their rights against some other, “privileged” group. Meanwhile, defending rights of free speech and bearing arms generally involve trying to bring the state into your quarrel with some local public authority, and whichever groups support it. So, even the most “natural” of rights involve using the state against one’s enemies.”

So the Libertarian is stuck in recursivity. Libertarianism identifies negative rights, of which aren’t to be infringed upon and are prior to the social orderーonly made intelligible through the state of nature argument of which’s intellectual vacuity we shall explore in full later. But it suffices to say that if “rights” can only exist through their enforcement, are only really exercised as tools for centralisation they have historically operated as so, the paradox of the NAP would on the contrary to Libertarianism, require a very managerial, bureaucratic, bloated central authority. Coming back to the idea of the individual of pure ousia, Adam Katz goes even further[18] to say that the creation of the individual, as its creation was a historical artefact for the purposes of levelling social orders, is consequently extremely antisocial ー anti-eidosーpsychopathically so;

“To see yourself as an “individual” is to see yourself as a center of attention, with as many qualifications (titles, formal associations, histories) as possible obscured—the more stripped of qualifications, the more individualised. Liberalism projects the denuded individual back to the founding of society, but that individual is obviously a result of liberalism. In other words, liberalism’s self-legitimating misconception doesn’t detract from the reality of such an individual—but it has to change our assessment of its meaning. Individuals can be removed from their supporting and defining institutional dependencies, which means that the individual is defined against those institutions and dependencies. (Eric Gans sees this self-definition as the project of romanticism.) To be an individual is to be in a perpetual state of mutiny against whatever form of order most directly threatens to define one. Don’t look at me as a “_____,” the individual demands, look at me as… the other of “_____.” Individualism is a kind of negative gnostic theology.”

The individual is a perpetual revolt of the ousia against the eidos.

“David Graeber’s discussion in Debt: the First 5,000 Years emphasizes the violence intrinsic to this abstraction of individuals from their dependencies. Humanism posits the “human” as the highest value, and what makes anything a “value” is its commensurability and exchangeability with other values—and against what can human value be defined other than against other humans? Gans sees the romantic production of the individual as a means of enabling humans to participate in the market—the creation of an “anti-social” self-representation is a way of achieving value within society (Gans calls this the “constitutive hypocrisy of romanticism”). But in that case it is humans, rather than things, that are circulating on the market. We may not readily see or feel the violence of this competitive self-valuing, habituated as we are to it, but it becomes easier if we imagine removing the (also unnoticed) limits upon individualisation that must still exist. What if we were actually to define ourselves constantly, indiscriminately, against every social dependency—friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.? Such behavior would be psychopathic. Moreover, defining yourself against dependencies don’t leave those dependencies unaffected—rather, it has a deeply corrosive effect. Our mutinies always target specific dependencies, and are aimed at extracting specific concessions—hence, they are best described as hostage taking. Not the market itself, but the “market economy,” is a system of hostage exchange, of more and less direct kinds. It is promoted by those with the most to gain by sowing discord and disorder.”

And what’s even worse, as Mark Fisher illustrates, is that the Cartesian dualism that sets ousia against the dependencies of eidos allows for capitalism, the very hostage-taking process, to blame you for your mental illness and then exploit this condition it creates;

“It is telling, in this context of rising rates of mental illness, that… The current ruling ontology denies any possibility of a social causation of mental illness. The chemico-biologisation of mental illness is of course strictly commensurate with its de-politicisation. Considering mental illness as a chemico-biological problem has enormous benefits for capitalism. First, it reinforces Capital’s drive towards atomistic individualisation (you are sick because of your brain chemistry). Second, it provides an enormously lucrative market in which multinational pharmaceutical companies can peddle their pharmaceuticals (we can cure you with our SSRIs). It goes without saying that all mental illnesses are neurologically instantiated. But this says nothing about their causation. If it is true, for instance, that depression is constituted by low serotonin levels, what still needs to be explained is why particular individuals have low levels of serotonin. This requires a social and political explanation; and the task of re-politicising mental health is an urgent one if the left wants to challenge capitalist realism. It does not seem fanciful to  see parallels between the rising incidence of mental distress and new patterns of assessing worker’s performance.”[19]

In short, the disordered nature of capitalism creates the schizoprenitisation it uses to excuse itself for exploiting for the conditions of which you are now inculcated in. This is made possible due to a fundamental memetic virus, which Libertarianism holds at its very essence in its understanding of the “individual”, that has spread through the ages from the Rationalist project, principally from Descartes in the West, promoted for centralisation purposes, and has created a psychopathic ethos within which we are now confined within. Yet this individual at the centre of our inquiry, in its corrosive and futile attempts at emancipation from itself, ends up creating the very opportunities for itself to be further predated upon. The new managerial examinations of the worker only accelerate his schizophrenitisation as he is forced to wade neck-deep in the sign-exchange marination of the ever examining hypermarket;

“At the deepest level, another kind of work is at issue here, the work of acculturation, of confrontation, of examination, of the social code, and of the verdict: people go there to find and to select objects – responses to all the questions they may ask themselves; or, rather, they themselves come in response to the functional and directed question that the objects constitute. The objects are no longer commodities: they are no longer even signs whose meaning and message one could decipher and appropriate for oneself, they are tests, they are the ones that interrogate us, and we are summoned to answer them, and the answer is included in the question. Thus all the messages in the media function in a similar fashion: neither information nor communication, but referendum, perpetual test, circular response, verification of the code.”[20]

This subordination of the increasingly denuded individual to perpetually interrogative object relations isn’t even the only issue that will keep him up at night and chip away at his psyche, but that of his employability in face of the Dire Problem[21];

“Dire Problem is that there is a line of productive competence beneath which a human being is a liability, not an asset, to the society including him. This calculation is made in terms of the marginal human—does California gain or lose by adding one person just like this person? For millions, the answer is surely the latter.

Worse, with the steady advance of technology, this line rises. That is: the demand for low-skilled human labor shrinks. Abstract economics provides no guarantee whatsoever that the marginal able-bodied man with an IQ of 80 can feed himself by his own labors. If you doubt this line, simply lower it until you doubt it no more. At least logically, there is a biological continuum between humans and chimpanzees, and the latter are surely liabilities.

Why does this matter? It matters because either (a) a man can feed himself, or (b) he dies horribly of starvation, or (c) someone else feeds him. If (a), he is an asset. If (c), he is a liability—to someone. If (b), he makes a horrible mess and fuss while dying, and is thus in that sense a liability. Moreover, the presence of the poor becomes extremely unpleasant well before the starvation point.”

The house divided does not fall immediately but becomes a field within which all are collateral to the competitive levelling of the field. The centralisation process itself deludes the person into thinking that they are being emancipated, consequently dividing the self which becomes a frenzied flesh-puppet for further centralisation.

~ • ~

Ch.II | Ethics and Justice

The Libertarian tells us; Who are you to judge what someone else does with their property (implicitly also their body), insofar as it doesn’t infringe upon another?

Nozick states that  if the world were wholly just the only people entitled to hold anything, that is to appropriate it for use as they alone wished, would be those who had justly acquired what they held[22]. Friedman writes that;

“The consumer is protected from being exploited by one seller by the existence of another seller from whom he can buy and who is eager to sell to him.”[23]

Aside from the fact that this notion already presupposes “self-ownership”, there are further problems with this sentiment ー with the NAP. When someone engages in a socially destructive manner ー in the privations of reason that are the vices, but they are permitted insofar as they do not “infringe upon others”, we are presented with what we call negligence. Apathy is a vice. Libertarian morality is such that there is a fundamentally negligent ethos coded into a system of morality ー a fundamentally vice-ridden scheme. Libertarianism venerates Mao’s 8th type of Liberal that;

“…see[s] someone harming the interests of the masses and yet [does] not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue.”[24]

Evidently, by “dissuade”, Mao doesn’t mean solely through polite argument, but with force or the threat of it as well, which is another thing; the exercise of force isn’t an evil in and of itself. It has its place beyond mere self-preservation and of the defence of property rights as we shall explore later. The fundamental problem, however, is the lack of reference to moral desert inherent in a scheme predicated upon negative rights. A (perhaps our mentally ill modern from Fisher’s example) enters into a contract, willingly with B (perhaps our predatory pharmaceutical companies from Fisher’s example) in which B is allowed to exploit him in some manner ー even in scenarios where A is aware of such exploitation. This is perfectly fine under the libertarian conception morality, and no punitive measure is to be taken for the objective wrong being done to A. A acted purely voluntarily.

It’s not about A’s feeling of approval of what B does to him or her that makes such a contractual, yet exploitative relationship right, which is the fairly recursive Emotivist view, but rather it is about the objective good and as to whether this relationship actualises or robs either of them of this. There must be poena (punity) in response to culpa (evil) for there to be dikaiosune (justice). But it is worse than just that.

Goodness itself is a perfection in some manner, evil a privation ー privatio boni.

“The perfection of the human being is the end to which every healthy social institution must be subordinated, and it must be promoted as much as possible.”[25]

The Libertarian social order is one that is at best apathetic to the cultivation of human perfection and at worst antithetical to the achievement of eudaimonia. Desiring one’s perfection is intrinsic to human nature but perfection cannot come about through the self-actualisation of the individual by itself, from itself. For A to become more than A, A cannot rely merely on A. A must know how to become perfected, which presupposes being taught. Being taught presupposes a teacher ー some authority. To perfect a society it naturally follows you must have some authority to capture the attention of the entire populace and to be able to organise it as such that it may begin to even grasp this perfection ー a socially harmonious and healthy centre. Though, because humans are not without privations, we are not perfect (to be as such would be to be God) the closest one might get is thus in the eudaimonia of theosisーintimacy with and knowing of the perfect divine. Per Plotinus’s formulation of divine simplicity;

“I. There must be a first principle of all if there is to be an explanation of why the world exists.

II. If the first principle of all were composed of parts, then those parts would be ontologically prior to it.

III. But in that case it would not be the first principle of all.

IV. So the first principle is not composed of parts, but is absolutely simple.

V. If there were a distinction between what the first principle is and the fact that it is, then there could be more than one first principle.

VI. But in order for there to be more than one, there would have to be some attribute that distinguished them.

VII. But since a first principle is absolutely simple, there can be no such attribute.

VIII. So there cannot be more than one first principle.

IX. So there is no distinction in the first principle between what it is and the fact that it is.

X. So the first principle is not only absolutely simple but utterly unique: the One.”[26]

As this first principle per privatio boni is purely simple, it lacks privations and is thus purely good. Lacking in privations it is lacking in limits, and is thus unbounded. Yet, as so above, so below ー we should then see that achieving unity with God is in the cultivation of a unity of human goodness, a full capturing and blossoming of which must encompass the life of the person. Quite the opposite formulation of libertarianism, which not only refuses to see the unity of such a lifeーfocusing in on the atomised individualーbut also cares not for requisites for theosis, and consequently of ultimate human happiness or eudaimonia. Libertarianism is actively opposed to the subordination of institutions to the ideal of perfection because it would appropriately require coordination from a central authority which would mean the exercise of force. However, authority is not entirely constituted by the capacity to exercise force as we shall explore later. Note that this order aimed at human perfection doesn’t require levelling centralisation, the circumventing or destruction of intermediaries/subsidiaries, but of their cooperation rather than competition. As St. Thomas writes, this human perfection that culminates in eudaimonia is the highest good;

“Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence. To make this clear, two points must be observed. First, that man is not perfectly happy, so long as something remains for him to desire and seek: secondly, that the perfection of any power is determined by the nature of its object. Now the object of the intellect is “what a thing is,” i.e. the essence of a thing, according to De Anima iii, 6. Wherefore the intellect attains perfection, in so far as it knows the essence of a thing. If therefore an intellect knows the essence of some effect, whereby it is not possible to know the essence of the cause, i.e. to know of the cause “what it is”; that intellect cannot be said to reach that cause simply, although it may be able to gather from the effect the knowledge of that the cause is. Consequently, when man knows an effect, and knows that it has a cause, there naturally remains in the man the desire to know about the cause, “what it is.” And this desire is one of wonder, and causes inquiry, as is stated in the beginning of the Metaphysics (i, 2). For instance, if a man, knowing the eclipse of the sun, consider that it must be due to some cause, and know not what that cause is, he wonders about it, and from wondering proceeds to inquire. Nor does this inquiry cease until he arrive at a knowledge of the essence of the cause.

If therefore the human intellect, knowing the essence of some created effect, knows no more of God than “that He is”; the perfection of that intellect does not yet reach simply the First Cause, but there remains in it the natural desire to seek the cause. Wherefore it is not yet perfectly happy. Consequently, for perfect happiness the intellect needs to reach the very Essence of the First Cause. And thus it will have its perfection through union with God as with that object, in which alone man’s happiness consists, as stated above (Articles 1 and 7; I-II:2:8).”[27]

We can only be satiated in coming to know what is itself truly unlimited; in participation in and knowing pure goodness, through faith and the exercise of the virtues in works, culminating in the vision of, and unity with, the Divine Essence. As this is purely good in and of itself, it is appropriate to not only exercise influence, but force as appropriate to cultivate a social order conducive to the realisation of our respective telos. However, this isn’t merely to prepare us for some external existence to that of the world you currently inhabit. I must stress that there is a reflective aspect to eudaimonia. For our highest perfection to be theosis, we must first participate in the fullness of our possible being in goodness as we live in the world. We must play the game of life as best as possible, in the most perfect manner. This is the role of the virtues. There is no guarantee for our theosis as such, and so our worldly existence must be of virtue for the fulfilment of our telos ー enabling the person to pass from a present state to a true end;

“We thus have a threefold scheme in which human-nature-as-it-happens-to-be (human nature in its untutored state) is initially discrepant and discordant with the precepts of ethics and needs to be transformed by the instruction of practical reason and experience into human-nature-as-it-could-be-if-it-realized-its-telos. Each of the three elements of the schemeーthe conception of untutored human nature, the conception of the precepts of rational ethics and the conception of human-nature-as-it-could-be-if-it-realized-its-telosーrequires reference to the other two if its status and function are to be intelligible.”[28]

To assert the goodness of something then is not merely reducible to an assertion of personal approval, but rather it is an evaluative term as it relates to the ergon or function of a thing, which is dependent on social context which ordains the manner of the fulfilment of goods. Another essential problem with this entire scheme predicated on free choice in this regard is a Schmittian one. Liberalism is fundamentally an eternal injunction against anyone ever making a final decision as to what is most sacred and valuable, in favour of perpetual and thus an ultimately pointless conversation about it, which can never reach these goods, either internal to practices for which virtues are cultivated for, or in our final end (or does so only incidentally for a few select people independent of said decision). I’m sure you’d rather our conversations to be fruitful, you would want the best for other people and want a functioning political order that mediates resentments instead of selecting for their acceleration ー all of which means that at the end of the day, we need to have a shared understanding of the good, and the goods that allow participation in higher goods ー an ordering of the goods that we can all agree upon. To draw together our previous discussion on centralisation’s creation of the individual and the vacancy of decision, I present you some ancient Chinese wisdom as a dash of irony considering our favourable dealings with elements of Maoist thought;

“When the ruler’s seat is insecure, the great ministers revolt and the smaller ones pilfer. Punishments are then made severe, laws become irregular, rules of ceremony uncertain. Then the people do not turn to what is right.”[29]

To return to Mao and the discussion of force, setting aside his aversion to anything other than scientific materialism, this shared good, homonoia, from which a just social order may be built upon is exactly what should be defended with force ー and because social orders and their unity are never contracted into as we shall later explore, this view of the moral use of force transcends the use seen appropriate by the NAP. Force in poena also has its place in defence of, and employment for, the cultivation of higher goods as we shall now see.

The Libertarian tells us; Justice is only possible when we consider the individual in and of himself and his acts from self-interest. The individual is the smallest minority and is also the truest, most fundamental measure of humanity.

To make the subject of political justice the individual abstracts away from all the identities that comprise an individual identity itself. Again, you’re left with matter without form, ousia without eidos. A just social order requires social harmony, social unity ー homonoia. The Libertarian forces you into a gestalt that renders these very identities which would allow for the cultivation of a just polis, invisible. This gestalt bears similarities to the Rawlsian veil of ignorance in trying to grasp a kind of noumenal individual-in-itself. However, the veil of ignorance is also deficient in conceptualising justice as the veil of ignorance could never actually be operated within. As Alasdair MacIntyre argues, if the rational actor behind the veil of ignorance neither knew;

“…whether and how his needs would be met or what his entitlements would be, ought rationally to prefer a principle which respects needs to one which respects entitlements…, the immediate answer must be [that] we are never behind such a veil of ignorance.”[30]

Operating in a contextual vacuum, one has denied the necessary social contextualisation needed to be able to decide whether the capitalist or the worker, the trans person or the conservative, the white man or the black man, is more deserving of compensation for a given injustice, as what is just must first be informed by inquiry into moral desert ー the lack of which, coupled with individualistic premises being what Nozick and Rawls both share.

The truth is in the whole, fulfilled in its result, but the result cannot yet be reached in denial of that which comprises the whole. A deprivation of context frustrates any fulfilment of justice by denying an adequately informed assessment of desert. Thus the project of justifying morality from an “original position”, from an attempt at evaluating the “the individual” fails, and by extension, so does Libertarian attempts at formulating a conception of justice as they both preclude critical components for the attainment of truth itself. As MacIntyre illustrates in his exploration of the two;

“Nozick is less explicit, but his scheme of justice being based exclusively on entitlements can allow no place for desert. He does at one point discuss the possibility of a principle for the rectification of injustice, but what he writes on that point is so tentative and cryptic that it affords no guidance for amending his general view point. It is in any case clear that for both Nozick and Rawls a society is composed of individuals, each with his or her own interest, who then have to come together to formulate common rules of life. In Nozick’s case there is the additional negative constraint of a basic set of rights.

In Nozick’s argument too, the concept of community required for the notion of desert to have application is simply absent.

It is, from both standpoints, as though we had been shipwrecked on an uninhabited island with a group of other individuals, each of whom is a stranger to me and to all the others. Nozick’s premise concerning rights introduces a strong set of constraints; we do know that certain types of interference with each other are absolutely prohibited. But there is a limit to the bonds between us, a limit set by our private and competing interests. This individualistic view has of course…, distinguished ancestry: Hobbes, Locke…

Thus Rawls and Nozick articulate with great power a shared view which envisages entry into social life as – at least ideally – the voluntary act of at least potentially rational individuals with prior interests who have to ask the question ‘What kind of social contract with others is it reasonable for me to enter into?’ Not surprisingly it is a consequence of this that their views exclude any account of human community in which the notion of desert in relation to contributions to the common tasks of that community in pursuing shared goods could provide the basis for judgements about virtue and injustice.”[31]

Ah, so both Nozick and Rawls are back to being premised on the idea of the individual as prior to social existence. The ghost of Locke walks their pages. In counter to the Libertarian position, Aristotle illustrates that the virtue of friendship, of the shared good and social willing of goodness which Libertarianism is made inimical to, is the foundation of a functioning polis, preceding justice;

“Friendship seems too to hold states together, and lawgivers to care more for it than justice; for unanimity seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at most of all and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.”[32]

It is unity, homonoia, through agreement that constitutes the healthy polis. The reason for Aristotle’s assertion is that justice is the virtue of rewarding desert within an existing social order. The rewarding of desert also implicates the social distribution of poena. Friendship, which homonoia is treated as the political expression of in a shared conception of ‘the good’, is required for this civil constitution. Threats to this unity should be placed at the end of the barrel of a gun in order to preserve justice.  We also have overwhelming empirical verification as to the detriments that the decline of homonoia, and its causes bears[33]. Population heterogeneity decreases social cohesion. As homonoia is the necessary prerequisite to justice, unrestricted movement of labour, of individuals ー immigration which would lead to population significant heterogeneity, threatens the very basis of justice within the polis. Given an already unified polis, population heterogeneity decreases cooperation substantially, in other words compromising the necessary social constitution of friendship from which justice proceeds.

After all, you are more inclined to will the good of another that you know, that you share a common social existence with, than someone totally alien to such social existence and shared understandings. Here we see quite clearly the moral imperative for the state to obstruct the free movement of labour with force to uphold immigration laws and border enforcement in the preservation of homonoia.

Katz’s accusation of individualism as “gnostic theology” is in full viewーthe psychopathy of individualism is in revolting against an ill-perceived evil ー against the unity of the social order of which is a fundamental political goodーfor something beyond that, which cannot exist, namely the sovereignty of the individual. Moreover, it becomes clear how a competitive social order of the minorities of individuals against each other in their self-interest would be inimical to the kind of ethical life that Aristotle correctly proposes; that of a decision and affirmation of shared goods. Imperium in imperio[34] itself;  what Aristotle calls ‘faction’, the checks and balances of countervailing power, implicitly the competition between power centres, is intrinsically hostile to the social cooperation homonoia demands. The social virtue of friendship, human perfection and man’s attainment of eudaimonia has been repeatedly compromised and frustrated by divided power & centralisation of which the futile ideological exercise of Libertarianism only serves to exacerbate in both its minarchist and nonsensical anarchistic forms.

~ • ~

Ch.III | Authority and Human Orders

The Libertarian tells us; When we speak of authority, of authoritarianism, we mean the ability to coerce, and the actual exercise of force.

I answer that authority is more than just the ability to exercise force or exercise the threat of it. Imagine that I am a public figure. My ability to capture the shared attention of thousands, if not millions of people allows me to draw the shared gaze of these people towards ideas and objects in manner begotten from my inclinations. In this sense, I am an authority, without exercising coercion, much like schools & academia, the media. If I were wealthy I could likewise fund proponents of my ideas, like NGOs/Think Tanks/Foundations do, who need not exercise coercion to do so.

The Cathedral does not need to exercise martial authority to spread its malaise.

The Libertarian tells us; But woke capitalism, just like any cultural trend, is a consequence of consumer shifts in preference, not the other way round. Politics is downstream from culture. F.A. Hayek writes;

“Adam Ferguson expressed it, “nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action but not the result of human design”; and that the spontaneous collaboration of free men often creates things which are greater than their individual minds can ever fully comprehend.”[35]

The reality is that spontaneous order does not exist. Here is where we can finally tackle the idea of there being a pre-society from which social orders emerge ー the state-of-nature. The very nature of language precludes such spontaneous manners of organisation. To illustrate; to understand the language, words/phrases/ideas we utilise in thinking and speaking, and as language is a mode of intentional discipline, we must posit an intentional agent(s) who is/are directing or has directed the forms of language we are using[36], of which we have acquired through socialisation with said intentional agent(s).

The ideas, words and phrases you are using to think and speak with are not your own creations as such, but in so far as they can be said to exhibit originality, you can only really explain what they are and mean by appealing to the meaning of its related words, concepts and phrases of which you inherited from elsewhere. Perhaps you inherited these linguistic forms from your family, and they inherited it from somewhere else. Perhaps you learned it in school or university. From work, or television. From some tradition of thought that has imparted it upon them and perhaps then unto you, external from yourself. Someone must have been the first to use these words, thoughts and phrases because it would be impossible for them to just causelessly manifest in our minds and if they did, they would be meaningless because they lack necessary anterior intention which makes them intelligible. Linguistic forms are diachronic[37], that is to say, that a given idea has a history which makes it intelligible in its use.

A given agent’s use of the word “liberty” for an example, not only means you must understand his or her inclination in using the word, but for it to be fully intelligible you need to know of other words it is related to such as “tyranny”, “dictatorship”, “freedom”, “democracy”, “rights” as well as to know how liberty has been fought forth, or as we have seen, how it has been used as the post hoc justification for the levelling of social orders. For you to have come across those words related to liberty, say word/phrase/idea ‘X’, someone must have directed your attention towards ‘X’, and likewise for your intentional director’s encounter with ‘X’ and so on, recursing back to an originary moment whereby one is confronted with the sublime and newーexternal to themselves and must grapple with communicating it in some mode. An originary scene[38] from which language itself arises, we could say.

So how is this relevant? Well as we see, market demand, as well as political desire, is thus a product not of purely economic factors, or biological factors, of rational individuals reaching a conclusion through discussion, or through the competition of said ideas. Desire/demand for a given social object is a product from whoever is able to capture the shared attention of a given population to direct their collective attention towards said social object, and thus is a construct of some authority. So it follows that spontaneous order in all senses is also nonsensical because it violates the basic relationship between act and potency of communicative acts. A given social order does not spring up from nowhere ー no society has contracted into existence, no cultural form is generated outside of inherited traditions which are themselves, sometimes created but often merely perpetuated by some authority, that being how they get their proliferation, nor do they get proliferation without the sponsorship of authority and “wokeness” is no exception. Woke capitalism is thus a product of authority, capturing those who seek social emancipation within its own processes. Similarly, as Adam Curtis explored in his BBC documentary, ‘The Century of the Self’, the consumer as we know it today is a very recent development and was entirely a product of authority in this same manner thanks to the likes of Edward Bernays who pioneered Public Relations.[39]

Further down the line we also see that progressivism, the strains that have been successfulーespecially in displacing working-class movements in favour of identity-based movements, have been selected for by power;

“Not all foundations adopted the cause of social change, of course; but the overwhelmingly “progressive” large foundations set the tone for the entire sector—especially such giants as Ford, which got radicalized in the sixties, and Rockefeller and Carnegie, which followed suit in the seventies. Such foundations wield enormous financial might: a mere 2 percent of all foundations (or 1,020) provide more than half of the approximately $10 billion that foundations now give away each year, and in 1992 the 50 largest foundations accounted for more than one-quarter of all foundation spending.

When McGeorge Bundy, former White House national security advisor, became Ford’s president in 1966, the foundation’s activism switched into high gear. Bundy reallocated Ford’s resources from education to minority rights, which in 1960 had accounted for 2.5 percent of Ford’s giving but by 1970 would soar to 40 percent. Under Bundy’s leadership, Ford created a host of new advocacy groups, such as the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (a prime mover behind bilingual education) and the Native American Rights Fund, that still wreak havoc on public policy today. Ford’s support for a radical Hispanic youth group in San Antonio led even liberal congressman Henry B. Gonzales to charge that Ford had fostered the “emergence of reverse racism in Texas.”

The notion that the 1960s represented a “populist upsurge,” or that New Left values bubbled up from the American grassroots rather than being actively disseminated by precisely such rich, elite institutions as the Ford Foundation, could only be a product of foundation thinking.”[40]

We see a similar case for the similarly bourgeois notion of ‘human rights’;

“[The UN’s Declaration of Human Rights] was drawn up for the UN in the wake of WWII by a transnational elite with clear aspirations to world governance. That it should appeal to all of humanity and should deign to grant to all equality as well as a newly minted collective identity, seems much like the repetition of James Madison’s invention of the “American people” [previously discussed in the text as the pretext to centralise the US government in spite of the subsidiaries that were the states]. In this case, it is not the sovereignty of individual continental states being targeted but rather that of nation-states.

Finally, a much less recognised development of human rights occurred in the early 1970s. This last development is of special importance as it is not widely known beyond specialised histories of human rights, and only clearly comes to light upon recognising the connection between conflict and the expansion of individualising culture.”[41]

“At this time, elites in the UN, and specific elements of the American power structure, began to focus on the concept of human rights as a means to undermine the legitimacy of Latin dictatorships, communist regimes, and most importantly, the foreign policies of the Republican presidency of Richard Nixon. This final point of conflict is central, and well within the Jouvenelian dynamic of rival centres engaging in conflict over political centralisation. Human rights were not first devised and then implemented; they were raised to prominence by the needs of particular actors in the midst of conflict. As Clair Apodaca writes of structural conflict’s importance to the adoption of human rights in the 1970s American foreign policy in Understanding U.S. Human Rights Policy: A Paradoxical Legacy:

“U.S. human rights policy was not an intentionally planned strategy. Congress saddled presidential foreign and domestic policy initiatives with human rights mandates in order to restrain the immoral, if not illegal, behavior of an imperial president. (p.23)”

To this end, Congress dominated by the Democratic Party, voted to withhold funds for foreign assistance programsーsomething which had never been done beforeーand began congressional hearings in the Subcommittee on International Organisations. These hearings, led by Democratic Party congressman Donald Fraser, were justified on the basis of concerns over “rampant violations of human rights and the need for a more effective response from both the United States and the world community”. The result of these hearings was a report entitled Human rights in the World Community: A Call for U.S. Leadership, which led to the State Department creating the Office of Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs. This report also called for greater promotion of the concept of human rights in the UN, and beyond, something which was evidently achieved.”[42]

“These human rights organisations, funded by the Ford Foundation in conjunction with other influential foundations, were then put to use in undermining not only the latin dictatorships but also towards the end of the 1970s, the communist regimes of Eastern Europe by way of the Helsinki accord. Soviet acceptance of the presence of human rights watch groups with this accord would prove to be a disastrous mistake, one which effectively allowed subversive American institutions to develop and operate within Soviet territories.”[43]

More of this is documented in Bond’s book and his Journal of Neoabsolutism including the promotion of Neoliberal Chilean dictator Augusto-Pinochet and his victims both by competing U.S. power centres, the further promotion of Human Rights and their development by various interconnected NGOs, the development of radical Islam, as well the rise of Behaviourism and modern International Relations as Foundation led projects just to mention a few. To wrap up the small case study on Human Rights;

“These various developments of rights that we have chartered up until the present now appear to have a systematic nature, even if proponents do not fully appreciate it. By developing human rights or the individual as concepts, the thinkers of modernity have been providing the intellectual justifications for a specific structure of authority. That there were, and are, advocates who have not understood themselves as doing so is irrelevant to the result. Indeed we could argue that the less aware the thinkers are of this relationship between the individual and a centralised structure, the more earnest and effective the intellectual disguise for it will be. Disturbingly, this charge can be levelled across vast areas of modern thought. There is scarcely any aspect of modern thought which does not, in some way, depend on, or imply, the individual that has followed in the wake of political conflicts.”[44]

With Human Rights as just one prominent example of an idea that has captured the totality of political discourse for the purpose of centralisation, there is no such marketplace of ideas. Human sociality is fundamentally not conducted through a transactional or contractual mode of intellectual competition, but rather as the drawings of authority to social objects for a variety of other reasons prior to the creation of any space within which disciplinary inquiry is undertaken. Human Rights did not “win” through competition. It won through patronage. Sure, but Libertarianism is not predicated on Human Rights as such. So let us take a look at how a diachronic and intentionally directed understanding of language can explain Descartes as they have previously explained Walpole and Locke;

“From biographical information, we know that Descartes spent his adult life moving between France, Holland, Central Europe and Germany where he fought in the Thirty years’ War, finally ending his days in Sweden at the court of Queen Christina. The regions where in Descartes lived, the reader may note, were among those that had been heavily marked by the expansion of protestant bodies of thought, and by the centralisation that brought them into prominence. While Descartes was, admittedly, a Catholic, this makes little difference, since much of the thought of his time and place, even in Catholic regions, was following the same pattern as Protestant thought, as evidenced by Jansenism. The overall structures of authority made this all but inevitable.”[45]

Descartes was operating in modes of thought, inherited from social orders which had been conditioned in a certain manner by centralising Power, from which we derive the individual ー his relationship with the Swedish royal court having served as his patronage. This process of centralisation is quite the vicious positive-feedback loop.

The Libertarian tells us; The government can only govern insofar as it has the consent of the governed. John Locke writes;

“‘Tis true, in land that is common in England, or any other country where there is plenty of people under government, who have money and commerce, no one can enclose or appropriate any part without the consent of all his fellow-commoners; because this is left common by compact, i.e., by the law of the land, which is not to be violated.”[46]

The idea that the President/Prime Minister (government institutions etc.) derive their authority from “the people through the democratic process” isn’t one unique to Libertarianism but one that is very much in its contractual character. This is the bedrock of the idea of democracy from which it derives its supposed legitimacy. Our previously explored intentionally directed understanding of diachronic linguistic forms renders the idea of a social contract null and void.


No voter votes in an absence of intention, even those who spoil their ballot. Voters come to understand and formulate judgements about who it is they should vote for through ways about thinking, about say policies and other political problems, that they did not create, yet inherited in some form (perhaps through the previously discussed lenses of “human rights” or “individualism”, or perhaps of Democratic Socialism, Neoconservatism and so on and so forth) and receive information concerning, candidates, parties, ideologies and relevant events etc., from media they did, not themselves create (ie. Academia which produces ideologies, NGOs which perpetuate political ideologies and media companies who distribute political information, current event news and propaganda). Inevitably, we see that the voter is conditioned in such a manner to select for centralisation, given the dominant strains of political thought and understanding lending themselves to this.

Naturally in line with the thinking of both Vilfredo Paredo and Robert Michels, when we trace back the flow of intention and discipline we will find only a specific few, who are responsible for who should be elected President. The democratic process, just as with the generation of culture and market demand, are run by unelected, highly influential, intentional agents. They are themselves anterior to elections and the like, transcending term limits and are thus potentially more influential than democratically elected leaders. To take the Italian Elitist conclusion further, we might also note that the idea of spontaneous collective decision making is refuted on St. Thomas’s note that;

“Every natural governance is governance by one. In the multitude of bodily members there is one which is the principal mover.”[47]

We know this to hold true considering that the direction of attention proceeds from a unified agent. So for any given decision, as there is at any given point a most influential agent in any oligarchy, perhaps Walpole as previously explored, there is a singular agent most responsible for said decision. Albeit, since the inauguration of liberalism, these decisions never truly are of any anagogic finality. In this sense, the “consent of the governed” is  inherently manufactured, yet the very notion of consent is beside the point because we never contracted into social orders, to begin with. Any scheme that posits the individual as prior to the social order, the “state of nature” vis-a-vis Locke, Hobbes Rousseau et al., is a model of anthropological minecraft ー whereby individuals spawn into existence and contract into anti-griefing rules or something as equally absurd for real-life application. There is absolutely no historical record for the existence of such a state of human affairs because there is always a centre ー someone or something that holds the most influence, the most shared attention.

But can’t we revolt against the system?

Sure, ok. How and with what means?

To be effective, revolutions need to be;

  • Organised in some fashion
  • Sponsored

There has to be a revolutionary vanguard as such, but also some kind of sponsorship to get off the ground in the first place.

“Without the assistance of a centre of power, any action by the periphery is, by virtue of lacking institutional embodiment and political protection, at best sporadic and ineffective. A popular protest, rebellion or any other form of dissenting action by the periphery, if it has no support from an element in the power structure, will quickly fade into irrelevance; if it does have this support, it will find itself supplied with the resources, exposure, protection, and institutional embodiment.”[48]

As such, revolutionary bodies must be organised into an authority, in a manner that is congenial with an existing authority of their own much as we have described earlier whereby the political desire for a given social outcome is created through direction by an intentional agent already capable of capturing the shared attention of enough people, or perhaps of merely the right people, to realise said political aim. In practical terms, this means an intentional agent more capable of galvanising the masses than the mainstream media, academia, the intelligence community, most NGOs and corporations all combined, or of capturing other power centres such as the Military Industrial Complex, if it is supposed to truly counter the prevailing order. After all, no matter how ephemerally, whether it be a monarch, a network of institutions, or perhaps for an “egalitarian” pre-civilisation order ー the Gods and a metaphysical hierarchy, someone, something, always occupies the centre. Evidently, curtailing the influence of the network of private NGOs who have been instrumental in the process of 20th-21st Century centralisation efforts would not be very libertarian, and neither would the curtailing of corporations in their subversive PR psychological operations. Looks like we have quite the hurdle to subvert or jump over somehow or another but either way, authority is inextricable.

The Libertarian tells us; Rule of law is the most desirable mode of political operation for the state as it allows the subordination of men to a neutral order and a government limited from exercising abuse. So a government ruled by law is thus a just government. Ludwig von Mises writes that;

“The contractual order of society is an order of right and law. It is a government under the rule of law (Rechtsstaat) as differentiated from the welfare state (Wohlfahrtsstaat) or paternal state. Right or law is the complex of rules determining the orbit in which individuals are free to act.”[49]

Carl Schmitt proved that rule of law is also a spook as sovereignty ー he who decides the exception, is always conserved ー but we already know this because we know of the centrality inherent to human orders. Moreover, rule of law, as is rule of science, are both rule by formula. Sir Robert Filmer writes;

“Whereas being subject to the Higher Powers, some have strained these Words to signifie the Laws of the Land, or else to mean the Highest Power, as well Aristocratical and Democratical, as Regal: It seems St. Paul looked for such Interpretation, and therefore thought fit to be his own Expositor, and to let it be known, that by Power he understood a Monarch that carried a Sword: Wilt thou not be afraid of the Power? that is, the Ruler that carrieth the Sword, for he is the Minister of God to thee — for he beareth not the Sword in vain. It is not the Law that is the Minister of God, or that carries the Sword, but the Ruler or Magistrate; so they that say the Law governs the Kingdom, may as well say that the Carpenters Rule builds an House, and not the Carpenter; for the Law is but the Rule or Instrument of the Ruler.”[50]

The application of  political formula necessitates an actor to actualise its operation and is inextricably coloured by the human action of said application. In the fallacy of “rule by law,” and the fallacy of “rule by science,” we see a common thread: the fallacy of “rule by formula,” in which it is pretended that a government can be conducted by some mechanical process, in which the human character of the governors is irrelevant.[51]

Therefore there is no rule of law, only rule of men. Do you want these men & women to be wise, to be virtuous? To exercise phronesis? You probably know what I’m getting at already.

~ • ~

Ch.IV | The Economy

The following critique of Libertarian economics is also implicitly a further critique of Neoliberalismーof Economic Liberalism at large; its presuppositions, its conclusions, it’s after-the-fact justifications.

The Libertarian tells us; Capitalism is the most natural economic system because markets and the like are just the default mode of human economic interaction. Contradicting this nature produces inefficiencies hence why Capitalism is the most desirable system and has produced the most wealth.

Murray Rothbard writes;

“What we need is for government to get out of the way, remove its incubus of taxation and expenditures from the economy, and allow productive and technical resources once again to devote themselves fully to increasing the wellbeing of the mass of consumers. We need growth, higher living standards, and a technology and capital equipment that meet consumer wants and demands; but we can only achieve these by removing the incubus of statism and allowing the energies of all of the population to express themselves in the free-market economy.”[52]

Capitalist markets are an emergent phenomenon and not spontaneous. The “state of nature” and likewise for Adam Smith’s “land of barter”, are both historical fictions and refuted by very cursory anthropological evidence ー the earliest records of the development of money is as a debt system for the accounting bureaucracy for the Sumerians. Money is a product of a given authority looking to centralise, and as we have already explored, the demand for a given object is a product of a given authority itself, in all senses beyond perhaps mimetic desire. Geoffrey Hodgson argues that a key factor in the development of Capitalism was a powerful and sophisticated state apparatus able to protect property and trade;

“John Kenneth Galbraith (1987, 299) wrote: “The separation of economics from politics and political motivation is a sterile thing. It is also a cover for the reality of economic power and motivation. And it is a prime source of misjudgement and error in economic policy”. Similarly, Douglass C. North, John J. Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast (2009, 269) argued: “The seeming independence of economic and political systems on the surface is apparent, not real. In fact, these systems are deeply intertwined.”  I also concur with Bruce R. Scott (2009, 4) in his claim that capitalism is both “a political phenomenon” and “an economic one” and that “specifically it requires the visible hands of political actors exercising power through political institutions.” Capitalism always involves legal and political institutions: pure “anarcho-capitalism” is an unrealisable fantasy.”[53]

“A key factor [in the emergence of capitalism] was the development  of a new and sophisticated state machine that was strong enough to protect property and trade, but adequately restrained by checks, balances [etc.,] to protect a relatively autonomous legal system and to allow the development of self-governing organisational forms that could engage in productive activity and reap the rewards of innovation.

Once a merchant class became well established in [European nations], it became a political lobby to defend its interests, reinforce countervailing power, and enable the development of a relatively autonomous system of law. In countries where merchants had greater power and autonomy (contrast England with Spain) the rewards of global trade made this class even more powerful and led to institutional changes that further checked the arbitrary power of the state. Access to emerging Atlantic trade routes enhanced this process of positive feedback between commerce and countervailing power.”[54]

Note Hodgson’s illustration of ‘countervailing power’ leading to further checks of state power, which we should recognise immediately now as imperium in imperio. In other words, capitalism is an inherently deterritorialising process, it emerges and exists within prevailing positive-feedback loop systems of insecure power, selecting for more of itself and is contingent upon such processes. The state isn’t dependent on capital, and capitalism cannot exist within every type of statist order, but instead is contingent upon a very specific kind of statist order ー of divided power, one that historically self-selected, and continued to select for the levelling process ad nauseum. The conclusion that must be drawn then is that capitalism is a direct development of centralisation under insecure power, and could not otherwise exist with formal sovereignty. Furthermore, as David Graeber exploresーmoney itself is a product of bureaucratic centralisation;

“Credit Theorists insisted that money is not a commodity but an accounting tool. In other words, it is not a “thing” at all. You can no more touch a dollar or a deutschmark than you can touch an hour or a cubic centimeter. Units of currency are merely abstract units of measurement, and as the credit theorists correctly noted, historically, such abstract systems of accounting emerged long before the use of any particular token of exchange.

The obvious next question is: If money is just a yardstick, what then does it measure? The answer was simple: debt. A coin is, effectively, an IOU. Whereas conventional wisdom holds that a banknote is, or should be, a promise to pay a certain amount of “real money” (gold, silver, whatever that might be taken to mean), Credit Theorists argued that a banknote is simply the promise to pay something of the same value as an ounce of gold. But that’s all that money ever is. There’s no fundamental difference in this respect between a silver dollar, a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin made of a copper-nickel alloy designed to look vaguely like gold, a green piece of paper with a picture of George Washington on it, or a digital blip on some bank’s computer. Conceptually, the idea that a piece of gold is really just an IOU is always rather difficult to wrap one’s head around, but something like this must be true, because even when gold and silver coins were in use, they almost never circulated at their bullion value.”[55]

For an example;

“The Sumerian economy was dominated by vast temple and palace complexes. These were often staffed by thousands: priests and ocials, craftspeople who worked in their industrial workshops, farmers and shepherds who worked their considerable estates. Even though ancient Sumer was usually divided into a large number of independent city-states, by the time the curtain goes up on Mesopotamian civilization around 3500, temple administrators already appear to have developed a single, uniform system of accountancy—one that is in some ways still with us, actually, because it’s to the Sumerians that we owe such things as the dozen or the 24-hour day. The basic monetary unit was the silver shekel. One shekel’s weight in silver was established as the equivalent of one gur, or bushel of barley. A shekel was subdivided into 60 minas, corresponding to one portion of barley—on the principle that there were 30 days in a month, and Temple workers received two rations of barley every day. It’s easy to see that “money” in this sense is in no way the product of commercial transactions. It was actually created by bureaucrats in order to keep track of resources and move things back and forth between departments. Temple bureaucrats used the system to calculate debts (rents, fees, loans …) in silver. Silver was, effectively, money.”[56]

The money is thus in no way as spontaneous or “natural” to human social life in the manner that Libertarians like to think it is, but a bureaucratic, one could say statist, creation whose legal enforcements are vital for its modern, Liberal existence. The Liberal social order, divided power, preceded the much later development of Liberal Capitalism. A specific political configuration was required for the generation of capitalism, not the other way around. On the development of money as a product of centralisation, Bond writes;

“With the arrival of the Germanic kingdoms, we find that the Roman taxation system and the circulation of coinage inherited by these kingdoms seem to have all but disappeared. These non-monetary kingdoms operated on a system of land dispersal, where land was granted to vassals from whom they could provision their own forces. It appears that a similar process occurred in the Near East, where land reforms were instigated as a means to maintain an army following the collapse of the Byzantine coinage system. In the West, such an arrangement required a substantial devolution of power to the local lords, who were granted the land to maintain. The monarchs had to rely on the lords agreeing to supply men and resources under the lord’s immediate control, which presents a case of subsidiary power centres having a great deal of leverage vis-à-vis the primary Power centre.

This first stirrings of the centralisation of monarchy become apparent with attempts by monarchs to reintroduce coinage on a large scale. This may seem somewhat surprising given that the modern economic assumption that money is both natural and an extension of barter, but this is erroneous. To understand why monarchs would wish to implement a coinage system, we need to understand that a monetary system is not a natural and spontaneous affair, but, rather one that requires a demand which itself is not spontaneous.”[57]

Well, this should all seem fairly familiar to you by now dear reader. Demand for a given social object of attention is a construct of some intentional agent ー in the case Bond is illustrating it is for the purposes of undermining local lords, whilst in Graeber’s case, it was for bureaucratic administrative purposes. Both are essentially two strains of centralisation. Bond continues;

“All of these aspects of a monetary system have to be created with great effort, but despite this effort, the benefits are great for centralising power. We must consider that a coinage system bestows on the minting authority a source of profit in the form of reminitng and debasement, a form of monetary manipulation which also weakens subsidiaries by making their wealth depreciate in comparison to those who are miniting coins. The coinage system also allows the central Power to engage in disintermediated relationships with elements it would previously have been unable to engage. Money, for example, allows the purchase of mercenaries who can be used in lieu of the nobility, thereby offering the central Power access to a body of men directly loyal to itself. In addition, once this system is widespread, the possibility of transferring wealth over long distances becomes feasible. Discharging feudal dues in the form of produce is an inherently localised system; discharging it in coinage is not. The implementation of a wide spread taxation system premised on coin the makes it possible for a kings court to reside in one place indefinitely, and so we see the development of capital cities following the  establishment of coinage systems.”[58]

What we consequently see is that money, that the Libertarian takes for granted as spontaneous and natural, is not only an emergent product of central authority but also is precisely what makes the Libertarian’s nightmare, taxation, possible in a widespread manner. A strange irony. Conversely, is the abolishment of money possible? Maybe it is? Good question. Is it a desirable thing to abolish it? Perhaps, but this is definitely worth exploring, as is market consciousness itself, which I will endeavour to do at a later time. To continue, another of the economic liberal’s sacred cows to slaughter is free trade. Milton Friedman writes;

“In the economic jargon coined more than 150 years ago, that is the principle of comparative advantage. Even if we were more efficient than the Japanese at producing everything, it would not pay us to produce everything. We should concentrate on doing those things we do best, those things where our superiority is the greatest.”[59]

However, Ricardo’s Principle of Comparative Advantage is rendered defective in exploring a few key underlying presuppositions;

“(1) Domestic capital or factors of production like capital goods and skilled labour are not internationally mobile, and instead will be re-employed in the sector/sectors in which the country’s comparative advantage lies;

(2) Workers are fungible, and will be re-trained easily and moved to the new sectors where comparative advantage lies.

(3) It does not matter what you produce (e.g., you could produce pottery), as long as you do it in a way that gives you comparative advantage;

(4) Technology is essentially unchanging and uniform; and

(5) There are no returns to scale.

Assumption (1) doesn’t hold today and what happens is movement of capital under the principle of absolute advantage (Lavoie 2014: 508). This results in a type of race to the bottom for industrialised countries that do not protect their industries. (2) is of course highly questionable. (3), (4) and (5) are utter nonsense. Abstract pro-free trade arguments often seem to make the implicit assumption of full employment, or the effective tendency to full employment, in all nations as well, which is yet another mad and unrealistic assumption (Lavoie 2014: 508).”[60]

Of course, as we can intuit, (2) relies on a very malleable, denuded individual, which a liberal like Ricardo takes as natural, but is actually as we know a product of centralisation. Moreover, protectionism is better for economic development, so much so that the industrial revolution would not have happened without Walpole’s protectionism (a strange irony). Despite its widening technological lead over other countries, Britain continued its policies of industrial promotion until the mid-nineteenth century. Britain had very high tariffs on manufacturing products even as late as the 1820s, some two generations after the start of its Industrial Revolution. Ha Joon Chang also points out, the industrial revolution might not have even happened in Britain as it did, in absence of the policies that were promoted by previous governments at the protection of infant sectors which perpetuated their industrialisation;

“Symbolic as the repeal of the Corn Law may have been, it was only after 1860 that most tariffs were abolished. However, the era of free trade did not last very long. It ended when Britain finally acknowledged that it had lost its manufacturing eminence and re-introduced tariffs on a large scale in 1932 (Bairoch, 1993, pp. 27–8). Thus seen, contrary to the popular belief, Britain’s technological lead that enabled this shift to a free trade regime had been achieved “behind high and long-lasting tariff barriers” (Bairoch, 1993, p. 46).”[61]

Chang’s argument generally follows the idea that the initial explosion of industrialisation, the industrial revolution itself which predates this period and easily had a much larger scale and proportion of development than that of the 1860s to 1910s, was propelled by the likes of Walpole’s interventionist policy reforms of 1721 and its continuation through the first half of the 1800s. To be kind of reductionistic about it for clarity’s sake, the process for many European nations generally went:

Adoption Protectionism  → Technological development  → Adoption of Economic Liberalism.

Chang, in addition to illustrating in detail the Walpolean parallels with Hamiltonian U.S. policy, interrupted by only a brief interlude, 1913-1929 until impinged by the  GATT in the 1950s;

“[The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, portrayed by free-trade economists such as Jadish Bhagwadi] as a radical departure from a historic free-trade stance, only marginally (if at all) increased the degree of protectionism in the U.S. economy. As we can see from table 1, the average tariff rate for manufactured goods that resulted from this bill was 48%, and it still falls within the range of the average rates that had prevailed in the United States since the Civil War, albeit in the upper region of this range. It is only in relation to the brief “liberal” interlude of 1913–1929 that the 1930 tariff bill can be interpreted as increasing protectionism, although even then it was not by very much (from 37% in 1925 to 48% in 1931, see table 1).”[62]

(Table 1)63

Because it wasn’t until the 50s, after the 1947 establishment of the GATT that the US truly liberalised trade ー that is after it was able to establish itself as a political and economic superpower. Chang also cites that post-war economic development followed a model similar to Walpole’s protectionism and moderate regulatory intervention citing Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, however, their interventionism was more sophisticated than Walpole’s.

“They used more substantial and better-designed export subsidies (both direct and indirect) and much less export taxes than in the earlier experiences (Luedde-Neurath, 1986; Amsden, 1989). Tariff rebates for imported raw materials and machinery for export industries were much more systematically used than in, for example, eighteenth-century Britain (Lueede-Neurath, 1986). Coordination of complementary investments, which had been previously done in a rather haphazard way (if at all), was systematized through indicative planning and government investment programs (Chang, 1993 and 1994). Regulations of firm entry, exit, investments, and pricing intended to “manage competition” were a lot more aware of the dangers of monopolistic abuses and more sensitive to its impact on export market performance, when compared to their historical counterparts, namely, the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century cartel policies (Amsden & Singh, 1994; Chang, forthcoming).  The East Asian states also integrated human capital and learning-related policies into their industrial policy framework more tightly than their predecessors had done, through “manpower planning” (You & Chang, 1993). Regulations on technology licensing and foreign direct investments were much more sophisticated and comprehensive than in the earlier experiences (Chang, 1998). Subsidies to (and public provision of) education, training, and R&D were also much more systematic and extensive than their historical counterparts (Lall & Teubal, 1998).”[64]

At this point I anticipate that the Libertarian will be foaming at the mouth, ready to eject the words; “SINGAPORE, HONG KONG, DUBAI”. But on very cursory examination, it wasn’t the free market, rule of law or any such liberal platitude that made them as lucrative as they became, rather it was the fact that they were administered personally[65], where Lee Kuan Yew, Sir John Cowperwaithe and Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, respectively, had and exercised near-total executive authority, which allowed for the cultivation of their material prosperity.

In summary, Libertarianism is either fatally incorrect or advocating for impossibilities regarding nearly everything it purportedly stands for. Where it is wrong, it is corrosive, perpetuating that which would frustrate your telos, would rob you, and does rob you, of your happiness and is merely apologetic for a predatory system it cannot change. It is inimical to that which is purely good, goodness itself, and your intimacy with such goodness ー ideologically setting itself against moral social ordering. It tries to justify itself with what might frankly be called spooks. It doesn’t even understand the enemies ー authority and coercion, that it sets up for itself, and even when it falls back on the most base economic justifications, it still fails as it starts out with historical absurdities as key presuppositions. It is then further refuted in regards to “economic prosperity” compared to other economic systems. This isn’t necessarily to praise the industrial revolution and its consequences however, as it is also in part to blame for our schizophrenitisation and for the acceleration of capitalism which compounds this process after all. Rather, it is to illustrate that the justifications Libertarianism presents for itself are equally as easy to shoot down. Nonetheless, the various strains of the Liberal tradition that Libertarianism largely participates in, that have successfully inculcated modern man, have proven to be destructive at the most fundamental levels in the perpetuation of social orders inimical to the cultivation of perfection and the execution of justice. Baseless and corrosive, this ideological malaise must be handled by a cooperation of anti-capitalists and social conservatives, a Post-Liberal unity that goes beyond the petty left and right, and should be dealt with extreme prejudice.

Republished from

~ • ~

Notes & References

[Ch.I Notes]

[1] The way Rothbard manages to justify such a thing is in invalidating legislature as “coercive” and thus evil, which we shall explore as erroneous later on.

Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)

Rothbard, Murray Newton. The Ethics of Liberty. New York: New York Univ. Press, 2002, 100.

He then assumes that humans would spontaneously form, in a marketised manner, in modes such that neglect would be reduced. This is quite unabashedly the enshrining of an order that takes the market hostage-taking process Graeber and Katz explore to its extreme.

[2] From Walter Block;

What, exactly, is blackmail? Blackmail is the offer of trade. It is the offer to trade something, usually silence, for some other good, usually money. If the offer of the trade is accepted, the blackmailer then maintains his silence and the blackmailee pays the agreed-upon price. If the blackmail offer is rejected, the blackmailer may exercise his rights of free speech and publicize the secret. There is nothing amiss here. All that is happening is that an offer to maintain silence is being made. If the offer is rejected, the blackmailer does no more than exercise his right of free speech.

Block, Walter. Defending the Undefendable: the Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylender, and Other Scapegoats in the Rogue’s Gallery of American Society. Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2018, 41.

[3] At the time of writing this piece, there are 9 current entries concerning Scrooge from the Mises Institute website:

[4] Olson, Henry. “The Death And Tragic Rebirth Of Libertarianism.” Social Matter, September 25, 2018.

[5] Hayek, Friedrich A. von. Individualism and Economic Order. London: Routledge, 2016, 6.

[6] Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government ; and, A Letter Concerning Toleration. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. Ch.V, §. 27, 12.

[7] Aquinas, Thomas, and Timothy MacDermott. Summa Theologiæ: A Concise Translation. Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1989. Prima Pars, Q:76:1, 114.

[8] Evola, Julius, Guido Stucco, and Michael Moynihan. Men among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. Inner Traditions International, 2002, 135.

[9] Mises, Ludwig Von, and Bettina Bien. Greaves. Human Action. a Treatise on Economics. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007, 685.

[10]  Bond, C. A. Nemesis: The Jouvenelian vs. the Liberal Model of Human Orders. Imperium Press, 2019, 15.

[11] ibid., 12.

[12] Holmes, Geoffrey, and Daniel Szechi. Age of Oligarchy: Pre-Industrial Britain 1722-1783. London: Routledge, 2016, 27.

[13] ibid., 103.

[14] ibid., 114.

[15] Bond, Nemesis, 47.

[16] ibid., 60.

[17] Katz, Adam. “Power and Paradox.” Anthropoetics 23, no. 2 (2018).

[18] Katz, Adam. “Sovereign as Onomastician-in-Chief.” GABlog (blog), July 13, 2017.

[19] Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Zero Books, 2010, 38-39

[20] Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018, 75.

[21] The horrifying reality then is that it is more economically efficient to just eliminate the swathes of the labour force that, in being made redundant by techno-capital, are now economic drains on the system;

That is, as machine intelligence increases, economic demand for human intelligence at every level goes to zero. Oops!

As both a good Carlylean and a good Misesian, the King condemns economism—the theory that any economic indicator can measure human happiness. His goal is a fulfilled and dignified society, not maximum production of widgets. Is it better that teenagers get work experience during the summer, or that gas costs five cents a gallon less? The question is not a function of any mathematical formula. It is a question of judgment and taste. All that free-market economics will tell you is that, if you prohibit self service, there will be more jobs for gas-station attendants, and gas will cost more. It cannot tell you whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Moldbug, Mencius. “The Dire Problem and the Virtual Option.” Unqualified Reservations (blog), November 12, 2009.

Albeit, as we have explored and shall continue to explore, Mises is still operating upon quite disastrous premises, and so he too needs surgical removal from Moldbug’s scheme for a healthy social order.

[Ch.II Notes]

[22] Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Oxford: Blackwell, 2017, 151.

[23] Friedman, Milton, and Rose D. Friedman. Free to Choose: a Personal Statement. Paw Prints, 2008, 228.

[24] Mao, Zedong. Mao Tŝe-Tung’s Quotations; the Red Guard’s Handbook. Nashville: International Center, George Peabody College for Teachers, 1967, Combat Liberalism, Selected Works, Vol. II, 31-32.

[25] Evola, Julius, Guido Stucco, and Michael Moynihan. Men among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. Inner Traditions International, 2002, 139.

[26] Feser, Edward. “Plotinus on Divine Simplicity, Part I.” Plotinus on Divine Simplicity, Part I (blog), January 15, 2010.

[27] Aquinas, Thomas, and Timothy MacDermott. Summa Theologiæ: A Concise Translation. Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1989. Prima Secundæ Partis, Q:3:8, 178.

[28] MacIntyre, Alasdair C. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Bloomsbury Academic, 2014, p.53.

[29] Max F. Muller. Sacred Books of the East. London: Routledge, 2004, Li Ki, Lî Yun, 2.11.

[30] MacIntyre, After Virtue, p.288-289

[31]  ibid., p.298-290, 291

[32] Aristotle, and Jonathan Barnes. The Complete Works of Aristotle: the Revised Oxford Translation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk.VIII.I, 1154b20-28, 1825.

[33] Quite a few resources linked here but here are some choice selections. On the micro-scale;

In this article we tested whether ethnic diversity in one’s immediate residential surroundings has an impact on social trust. Using survey data merged with data from the national Danish registers, our results show that ethnic diversity of the micro-context— measured within a radius of 80 meters of a Downloaded from at University of Otago Library on April 23, 2015 16 American Sociological Review person—has a statistically significant negative impact on social trust, controlling for a large number of potentially confounding variables. When expanding the size of the context, the effect of ethnic diversity is diluted, and we take this as an indication that interethnic exposure—which is inevitable in the micro-context, but not in more aggregate contexts—is the mechanism underlying the negative relationship between residential ethnic diversity and trust.

Dinesen, Peter Thisted, and Kim Mannemar Sønderskov. “Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust.” American Sociological Review 80, no. 3 (2015): 550–73., 15-16.

On the macro-scale;

Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country. In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that violence between groups can be inhibited by physical and political boundaries. A similar analysis of the area of the former Yugoslavia shows that during widespread ethnic violence existing political boundaries did not coincide with the boundaries of distinct groups, but peace prevailed in specific areas where they did coincide. The success of peace in Switzerland may serve as a model to resolve conflict in other ethnically diverse countries and regions of the world.

Rutherford, Alex, Dion Harmon, Justin Werfel, Alexander S. Gard-Murray, Shlomiya Bar-Yam, Andreas Gros, Ramon Xulvi-Brunet, and Yaneer Bar-Yam. “Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence.” PLoS ONE 9, no. 5 (2014).

Why does violence erupt in some ethnic conflicts but not in others? To answer this question, I introduced a theory of ethnic war called the theory of indivisible territory. I argued that the likelihood of ethnic violence rests on how a conflict’s principal antagonists—a state and its dissatisfied ethnic minority—think about or value a disputed territory. Attempts to negotiate a resolution short of war will fail when, [1.] the ethnic minority demands sovereignty over the territory it occupies, and, [2. the state views that territory as indivisible. Ethnic war is less likely to break out if one condition only is met, and very unlikely if neither condition is met.

Toft, Monica Duffy. Geography of Ethnic Violence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010, 127.

  1. As we shall explore later, such demands are only truly spurred by political patronage, irrespective of Toft’s categorisation of them as ‘charismatic demagogues’ or ‘representative statesmen’, which is made accessible for, and actively selected by, centralising power in situations of power insecurity.
  2. A centralising authority would never, and does not ever delegate territory to subsidiaries in such a manner that make territory divisible.

Liberalism has various mechanisms at its disposal to keep civil conflict from emerging, namely the fact that the demands of the periphery are conditioned and directed by centralising authority, and of course various technological developments, from money to surveillance, which make this easier. Nonetheless, it follows that population heterogeneity could be and, as Toft explores, is exploited repeatedly for centralisation.

[34] Here is Bond’s elaboration upon imperium in imperio, and power security;

In categorising unsecure power and secure power Mencius Moldbug correctly identified that the primary motivations for power centers to engage in leveling conflict were the insecurity of their positions and the blocks they faced, they simply could not, and cannot, govern in a direct and concise manner. This has many further ramifications which we shall cover later, but for now it suffices to note that as these power centers were placed in positions of chronic conflict within society. The centers were unable to engage in actual direct conflict to resolve the tension, so the alternative option was, and still is, to pursue that of advancing their attempts at centralisation and conflict against competing power centers by appeal to greater societal good.

Secure power in contrast is power which is not placed in a position of conflict. This conflict can take the form of either the balancing of institutions against one another, such as with the republican structure and the balance of power it enshrines, or by claims of law or human rights being bounding, thereby placing the judiciary as a competing institution – there are many variants of imperium in imperio.

In pursuing this line of investigation over a number of years, an extremely accurate and effective model of the current liberal power structure was developed on the Unqualified Reservations blog which managed to trace the development of power by virtue of ignoring the frames of analysis which current political theories take as relevant. This analysis neither took the human individual as the relevant point of analysis, nor did it take current political institutions such as nation states as relevant. Instead, by placing the analysis on the manner in which internal institutions have been allowed to operate in a state of permanent surreptitious conflict, a picture emerged of a strange governing entity which centred around the Ivy League universities, media, the civil service and additionally non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society foundations in a systemically logical conflict against all other intermediary structure which have been under sustained and continued destruction. The key point to note is that the systemic conflict provides all of these centers with the context within which their decisions are enacted, rendering their actions predictable to a large degree. This is why we can see all the progressive institutions acting in a similar manner without need of a central governing body. Unsecure Power is then definable as power acting in a system designed on (or degraded to) internal conflict.

Secure Power in contrast is Power acting within a system in which institutions are complementary and not conflicting. Authority flows down only. Similar entities are seen in the form of corporations, the very same entities which actors in governance have been engaging on ever greater levels as a means to provide effective and efficient services, something which the national governance structure of the modern state has been unable to maintain. The great expansion of private military companies and privatisation in everyday walks of life are premised on the idea that the profit motive is a strong driving force for competence, but fails to take into account that the profit driven companies are first and foremost driven on a model of governance which is a rejection of imperium in imperio, thus ensuring a means of management which allows for clear and effective action. No one creates a business with an imperium in imperio design.

The modern system has managed to ingrain imperium in imperio not as a solecism, but as an unalloyed good. Institutions in unceasing conflict are assumed to balance out society and ensure no center in particular may hold total power…., Jouvenel’s great observation [was that] this division of power has led to continual and unceasing conflict between internal institutions using the concept of equality as a means of undermining competitors.

Bond, Chris A. “The Patron Theory of Politics.” The Journal of Neoabsolutism (blog), May 2, 2017.

[Ch.III Notes]

[35] Hayek, Friedrich A. von. Individualism and Economic Order. London: Routledge, 2016, 7.

[36] Here’s a further elaboration on the intentional character of communicative acts from Knapp & Benn Michaels;

John Searle, for example, asserts that “there is no getting away from intentionality,” and he and others have advanced arguments to support this claim. Our purpose here is not to add another such argument but to show how radically counterintuitive the alternative would be. We can begin to get a sense of this simply by noticing how difficult it is to imagine a case of intentionless meaning. Suppose that you’re walking along a beach and you come upon a curious sequence of squiggles in the sand. You step back a few paces and notice that they spell out the following words:

A slumber did my spirit seal;

I had no human fears:

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

This would seem to be a good case of intentionless meaning: you recognize the writing as writing, you understand what the words mean, you may even identify them as constituting a rhymed poetic stanza-and all this without knowing anything about the author and indeed without needing to connect the words to any notion of an author at all. You can do all these things without thinking of anyone’s intention. But now suppose that, as you stand gazing at this pattern in the sand, a wave washes up and recedes, leaving in its wake (written below what you now realize was only the first stanza) the following words:

No motion has she now, no force;

She neither hears nor sees;

Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,

With rocks, and stones, and trees.

One might ask whether the question of intention still seems as irrelevant as it did seconds before. You  will now, we suspect, feel compelled to explain what you have just seen. Are these marks mere accidents, produced by the mechanical operation of the waves on the sand (through some subtle and unprecedented process of erosion, percolation, etc.)? Or is the sea alive and striving to express its pantheistic faith? Or has Wordsworth, since his death, become a sort of genius of the shore who inhabits the waves and periodically inscribes on the sand his elegiac sentiments? You might go on extending the list of explanations indefinitely, but you would find, we think, that all the explanations fall into two categories. You will either be ascribing these marks to some agent capable of intentions (the living sea, the haunting Wordsworth, etc.), or you will count them as nonintentional effects of mechanical processes (erosion, percolation, etc.). But in the second case-where the marks now seem to be accidents-will they still seem to be words? Clearly not. They will merely seem to resemble words.

Knapp, Steven, and Walter Benn Michaels. “Against Theory.” Critical Inquiry 8, no. 4 (1982): 723-42, 727-728.

[37] Ferdinand de Saussure on diachronic linguistics;

Diachronic linguistics studies the relations which hold not between coexisting terms of a linguistic state, but between successive terms substituted one for another over a period of time.

Immediately, we see the parallels within the historical process of individualisation and its relationship to centralisation – the process replaces the previous form(s) employed for centralisation with a new form(s) over the course of history as the political problematic that centralisation itself faces; from Divine Right, all the way down to Human Rights. Each one not coexisting but successive, and often in conflict with each other, in their employment by Power. There is a Heraclitean element here as Saussure continues;

Absolute stability in language is never found. All parts of the language are subject to change, and any period of time will see evolution of a greater or smaller extent. It may vary in rapidity or intensity. But the principle admits no exceptions. The linguistic river never stops flowing. Whether its course is smooth or uneven is a consideration of secondary importance.

The paragraph that follows concerning literary language is of specific interest to our enquiry concerning the hierarchy of intentionally directed linguistic forms within a given field of shared attention;

It is true that this uninterrupted evolution is often hidden from us by the attention paid to the corresponding literary language. A literary language (cf. p [267] ff.) is superimposed upon the vernacular, which is the natural form a language takes, and it is subject to different conditions of existence. Once a literary language is established, it usually remains fairly stable, and tends to perpetuate itself unaltered.

Saussure, Ferdinand de, and Roy Harris. Course in General Linguistics. London: Bloomsbury, 2016, 167.

[38] The origin of language, the first sign, emerges from the mimetic crisis of the originary event;

According to the originary hypothesis, the first occurrence of language was in the originary event or scene of language. The birth of representation within the mimetic triangle involves a new form of consciousness. Not only is mimesis of the human other not essentially conscious, it essentially excludes language. (The game of Simon Says exploits the fact that language interferes with rather than aids imitation.) In contrast, in the case of mimesis of the object, or representation, my sign imitates not the object’s actions but its formal closure, to which I must be attentive in a new way.

But although the mimetic triangle contains all the elements necessary for the emergence of the sign as the solution of the mimetic paradox, language as the foundation of the human community can only have arisen in a collective event, where the multiplicity of the participants multiplies mimetic tension. The object desired by all members of the group becomes the center of a circle surrounded by peripheral individuals all mediating each other’s desire. The aborted gesture of appropriation occurs as the solution to an originary mimetic crisis in which the group’s existence is menaced by the potential violence of mimetic rivalry over the object. Animal hierarchy that previously prevented general conflict by limiting rivalry to one-on-one relationships breaks down in the intensity of this crisis. The emission of the first sign is the originary event that founds the human community.

“A Brief Introduction to Generative Anthropology.” Anthropoetics, May, 2017,

[39] Essentially, Freud’s theories concerning the self became widespread in the ruling class, the centre, largely at the behest of his nephew Edwards Bernays who was extremely well connected. He assisted with President Woodrow Wilson’s WWI propaganda efforts, President Calvin Coolidge’s PR, and went on to spread his theories through Hollywood, most of marketing in the earlier parts of the 20th Century, and became quite influential with the likes of Goldman Sachs. The goal was to produce ‘happiness machines’, denude and individualise the person to such extreme degrees so that “in an age of mass democracy”, per the Freudian paranoia that was in vogue, the masses and their “underlying dark forces of desire” could be subdued and managed in such manners to produce high volumes of economic output. This meant that advertising became a kind of psychological warfare against the general public, to break down their various limitations on their desires and demands for consumption, so they would consume for consumption’s sake.

The Century of the Self. BBC. United Kingdom, 2002.

[40] Another curious note is how even though many of the Foundation personnel may have at one point been leftists, or even Marxists;

Schrank, a former Communist, recalls the “secret anti-capitalist orientation” of his fellow program officers. “People were influenced by the horror stories we Marxists had put out about the capitalist system,” he says; “it became their guidance.”

By the 1990s, anti-capitalism had all but taken a back seat.

Today, the full-blown liberal foundation worldview looks like this:

First, white racism is the cause of black and Hispanic social problems. In 1982, for example, Carnegie’s Alan Pifer absurdly accused the country of tolerating a return to “legalized segregation of the races.” The same note still sounds in Rockefeller president Peter C. Goldmark Jr.’s assertion, in his 1995 annual report, that we “urgently need . . . a national conversation about race . . . to talk with candor about the implications of personal and institutional racism.”

Second, Americans discriminate widely on the basis not just of race but also of gender, “sexual orientation,” class, and ethnicity. As a consequence, victim groups need financial support to fight the petty-mindedness of the majority.

Third, Americans are a selfish lot. Without the creation of court-enforced entitlement, the poor will be abused and ignored. Without continuous litigation, government will be unresponsive to social needs.

Fourth, only government can effectively ameliorate social problems. Should government cut welfare spending, disaster will follow, which no amount of philanthropy can cure.

Notice how the enframing of the latent foundation led flavour of anti-capitalism is entirely within that of narrative led by racial periphery grievances rather than economic grievances themselves? By the time Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “Intersectionality” and Critical Race Theory is rolled out by the Rockefeller Foundation in the form of the Bellagio project, the diachronic nature of centralising forms is all but painful as the new form of racial and sexual equality replaces that of economic justice for the purposes of centralisation.

MacDonald, Heather. “The Billions of Dollars That Made Things Worse.” City Journal, 1996.

[41] The most significant upswing in the use of the term is dated around the mid 1970s by Google’s Ngram Viewer.

Bond, C. A. Nemesis: The Jouvenelian vs. the Liberal Model of Human Orders. Imperium Press, 2019, 48.

[42] ibid., 49.

[43] ibid., 51.

[44] ibid., 54.

[45] Footnote;

Jasenists, despite being Catholics, adhered to many doctrines shared by Calvinists, such as predestination and justification by faith.

ibid., 58.

[46] Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government ; and, A Letter Concerning Toleration. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. Ch.V §. 35, 15.

[47] Aquinas, Thomas, Gerald B. Phelan, Joseph Kenny, and Ignatius Theodore Eschmann. De Regno: Ad Regem Cypri. Bismarck, ND: Divine Providence Press, 2014, Ch.III:XIX.

[48] Bond, Nemesis, 7.

[49] Mises, Ludwig Von, and Bettina Bien. Greaves. Human Action. a Treatise on Economics. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007, 198.

[50] Filmer, Robert, and Peter Laslett. Patriarcha and Other Political Works of Sir Robert Filmer. The Legal Classics Library, Division of Gryphon Corporation, 2013, Ch.III, II, §. 4.

[51]  Moldbug, Mencius. “Three Homeworks for Professor Hanson.” Unqualified Reservations (blog), June 27, 2010.

[Ch.IV Notes]

[52] Rothbard, Murray Newton. The Ethics of Liberty. New York: New York Univ. Press, 2002, 252.

[53] Hodgson, Geoffrey Martin. Conceptualizing Capitalism: Institutions, Evolution, Future. University of Chicago Press, 2016, 11-12.

[54] ibid., 17.

[55] Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Melville House, 2014, 46.

[56] ibid., 39.

[57] Bond, C. A. Nemesis: The Jouvenelian vs. the Liberal Model of Human Orders. Imperium Press, 2019, 11.

[58] ibid., 12.

[59] Friedman, Milton, and Rose D. Friedman. Free to Choose: a Personal Statement. Paw Prints, 2008, 43.

[60] Keynes, Lord. “The Cult of Free Trade in a Nutshell.” Heterodox Economics Blogs, July 4, 2016.

[61] Chang, Ha Joon. Kicking Away the Ladder. Cambridge: FPIF, 2003, 5.

[62] ibid., 6.

[63] ibid., 2.

[64] ibid., 11.

[65] In response to this Foundation for Economic Education piece Bond writes;

Whoah, whoah, whoah… hang on a second.

Hong Kong had a competent government, pursuing market economics under the rule of law.


Cowperthwaite had almost complete control of Hong Kong government finances and used it to implement his policy of “positive nonintervention.”

Eh? So which is it? Rule of law made this possible, or someone with” almost complete control of Hong Kong government finances” am I missing something here? Is this making any sense?

Bond, Chris A. “Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai: Classical Liberal Paradises” reactionaryfuture (blog), June 14, 2016,

Is Drew Pavlou’s Penis Real?


Arrus Kacchi 

Note: This article was written with the intent to be read aloud. 

Drew has been castrated. 

Let me explain.

In the high agency hotbed of profound philosophical and sophisticated socio-political discourse that is ‘Discussion Space,’ Matt Kurl suggests the notion that he has mentally constructed Drew Pavlou’s johnson – The Pavlouvian Phallus [henceforth: PP]. The following interaction occurs:


drew baudrillard

So I naturally figured that I’d bring into actuality this article, yet the potential descriptive article from Matt Kurl may succeed this article in time. In doing so, we have constructed a reality that now places before us a simulacrum. The precession of said the simulacrum is as follows [i]:

1) The implicit sign representing the PP (a reflection of profound reality).

2) The sign absorbed by Matt Kurl (denaturing of the profound reality).

3) The simulation of the sign representing the PP in the article that arrives from the future (masking the absence of profound reality).

Not once in this process did we ask ourselves whether the PP truly was a particular of the Real. This, however, is to be expected. We have suffocated ourselves ever since 1920s advertising, in phallus signs and signifiers within our present mode of capitalist consumer marination, symbiotically depriving us of the little space that societies of control such as ours deny us; 

“The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another…we are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure—prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an “interior,” in crisis like all other interiors—scholarly, professional, etc.” [ii]

Consequently choking on our loss of atmosphere through which we would otherwise grasp or even stroke the Real, the PP merely occupies space in the saturated hyperreal – produced from the radiating synthesis of combinatory phalluses in this hyperspace without an atmosphere, without a true original. We don’t know if Matt Kurl ever saw the PP, or whether he is truthful if or when he claims to have truly seen it. Let us force some conventional conservative wisdom into a dialectic with schizophrenic, post-post-modern accelerationist theory to shed some more light on this scene and how it came into being.

Thesis: Conservatives are inclined to argue that this presently decadent, hypersexualised mode of discourse, an affection of psychoanalysis as it may be, is a product of modernity. Sexual liberation and ubiquitous porn consumption give us our current state of phallus-sign-intoxication. These same conservatives tend to be defenders of free-markets, capitalism, and economic liberalism generally speaking.

Antithesis: Nick Land famously remarked that the essential, catalytic engine of modernity is capitalism [iii]. Capitalism and modernity name the same holistically entropic development, in terms of entelecheia – the intrinsic possession of end. It is a globalised ataxia whose evacuation from history appears inside history as capitalism, transcending and overcoding sociality – our collective being-in-the-world of which we are thrown into [iv].

Synthesis: While conservatives are right when they affirm Thatcher’s slogan implying that capitalism won the day, further nuance must be drawn to the fact that capitalism itself is the motor that enables and propels the deterritorialisation of sexual taboos and boundaries as well as the production and consumption of pornography itself. While the root of the sexual liberation of the 60s may have been essentially left-liberal and of an anti-capitalist flavour, like all revolts against capital;

“…in this germinal accelerationist matrix, there is no distinction to be made between the destruction of capitalism and its intensification. The auto-destruction of capitalism is what capitalism is.” [v]

“Perhaps there will always be a fashionable anticapitalism, but each will become unfashionable, while capitalism – becoming ever more tightly identified with its own self-surpassing – will always, inevitably, be the latest thing. ‘Means’ and ‘relations’ of production have simultaneously emulsified into competitive decentralized networks under numerical control, rendering palaeomarxist hopes of extracting a postcapitalist future from the capitalism machine overtly unimaginable. [vi]”

These Dionysian visions of excess, abundance, and orgiastic emancipation are sublated, repackaged and sold back to the revolutionary – consuming him as he consumes his new shiny new commodities. Sexual liberation is no exception, and it even has come to constitute the ousia of its most recent evolution; neoliberalism (rainbow capitalism, woke-capital and so on and so forth). This evolution produces our hyperreal PP – semiotically castrating Drew Pavlou.

“Where as representation attempts to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation itself as a simulacrum”. [vii]

In an analogical sense, we could even consider there to be a nameable capitalist culprit – Disney, who is responsible for Drew’s castration.

“The imaginary of Disneyland is neither true nor false, it is a deterrence machine set up in order to rejuvenate the fiction of the real in the opposite camp.” [viii]

Swap out ‘The imaginary of Disneyland’ with ‘capitalism’ itself, not the most intricate surgical procedure, and we unconceal another angle through which to explore the cavity between Drew’s legs. Drew is an upstanding libertarian socialist, a stalwart defender of human rights, a spiritual kshatriya for all that is sweet and progressive. Thus the very vitalism he represents is the antikeimenon birthed of and identical in nature to capitalism itself; an affection of its dialectical development. 

The simulacra, Matt Kurl’s creative representation, never hid the truth of the Real PP – it is the truth that hides the fact that there is none. It has no relation to any reality whatsoever: the PP is its own pure simulacrum, lost in a hyperspace oversaturated with phalluses as capital adapts to the new array of flexible methods of control that sexual emancipation and pornography offer through libido dominandi. Drew Pavlou has been semiotically and analogically castrated. Like tears in rain, we lost his dick and Matt’s article will eventually be lost in cyberspace too. Within the chaotic but stultifying, immanent plane generated by the hyperreal that floods our claustrophobic society of control, abstraction precedes the experiential. 

The simulacrum is true.


[i] Baudrillard, Jean, and Sheila Faria Glaser. Simulacra and Simulation Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018. P.6

[ii] Deleuze, Gilles. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” October vol.59 (1992): 3-7. Accessed February 7, 2020. p.3-4

[iii] Thanos. “Dark Star – A Special Review of Nick Land’s ‘The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism.’” The Autistic Mercury, February 5, 2020.

[iv] Land, Nick, Robin Mackay, and Ray Brassier. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007. Falmouth, United Kingdom: Urbanomic, 2019. p.305

[v] Land, Nick. “A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism.” Jacobite, August 18, 2017.

[vi] Land, Nick, Robin Mackay, and Ray Brassier. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007. Falmouth, United Kingdom: Urbanomic, 2019. p.625

[vii] Baudrillard, Jean, and Sheila Faria Glaser. Simulacra and Simulation Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018. p.6

[viii] Ibid p.13

Late Modernity and Teleology

Philosophy, Politics

Erentsen Erentsenov

“If we’ve learned anything from psychoanalysis is that we humans are very creative in sabotaging our own attempts at happiness… The worst thing is for us to get what we officially desire.”

– Slavoj Zizek, 2019

In terms of the right-left dichotomy, neoliberalism is a right-wing economical system with left-wing social tendencies. Teleology is a purpose, end, and a higher order or a meaning to life, going by the Aristotelian definition. This meaning is assumed to be desirable, if not achievable, or at least worth looking for.

Some are worried about the resurgence of ‘the left’, that it may pose a threat to civilizational order, or bring chaos to our society.

I will try to counter this notion by presenting three points: humanism, capitalism and liberal left movement and its relationship with teleology. This rather informal essay will show that the modern liberal left is a puppet of capital – it lacks its own ideas and coherency. Moreover, this geist stems from utilitarian ethics: materialism and positivism are infantile ideas because the basis for humanism and liberalism is absent. This further shows that the real threat to “freedom” is a hegemony of capital and its tendency towards authority.

Ontological clarification and methodology of identity

With my basic understanding of Deleuze and Hegel I can conclude that modern day capitalism has resulted in deterritorialization and a creation of new meanings. According to Deleuze, the definition of a category is influenced not only by its static meaning, but by movement in and of itself. For example, the role of the church, its tradition, and its symbolism have changed throughout the course of the 20th century, partially due to the movements around said institution: thus, the very definition of the category (in this case, the church) dependent on its motion – basically, “becoming” is an essential part of “being.”

The idea that identity is a stable concept that precedes the existence of the phenomena is a counter to Deleuze’s de-territorialisation. Of course, his own counter, in saying that the identity is originally created through the difference in objects (this difference is the identity), is much cleverer than that. However, the identities change, move and mould themselves depending on geist, historical context, current social conditions, and so on.

Moreover, as a condition or geist changes, the definition of the objects change as well. In the famous Dewey v Lippmann debate, Lippmann stated that the founding fathers assumed the role and expertise of their public in creating an active liberal democracy. However, the expertise of the common man was assumed by the standards of their local community. If they had a competent understanding of their local area, they were considered typical of the common man. Currently, the modern ‘common man’ is required to have a much wider understanding of affairs that extend well beyond the confines of his own nation. The understanding of ‘common man’ has changed, and therefore, the label of “liberal democracy” has changed as well, even if its fundamental characteristics remain. More importantly, Dewey had an idea that a liberal democracy’s reaction to world affairs should be an emotional one, which was the original development of the liberal democratic character. Therefore, a single identity exists in motion, it is inseparable from its motion and history, and more importantly, the condition of the object in context influences its identity.

This classification of identity is important as it reflects on the current nature of global capitalism and its identity and effect on the global cultural sphere. This was how Deleuze originally argued that capitalism took over from the preceding pre-modern western condition, and it de-territorialised meanings of masculinity, power, state, Christianity and many other social systems and customary attitudes in the western world. However, as capitalism became a more global phenomenon, it began re-territorialising these concepts: witness the growing authoritarianism of private companies and the imposition of capitalism on culture as merely two of many features of this growing cultural hegemon. Consider also the imposition of the idea of productivity as an end goal, and the widespread conception that normal human behaviour is behaviour that makes one a suitable employee – i.e. behaviours and attitudes that restrict freedom in favour of capital. This loss of freedom is natural as global capitalism matures and assumes cultural hegemony.

What kind of meaning could neoliberal capitalism create? In terms of teleology of the human life, there is nothing. Capitalism is in itself a materialist category (much the same as Marxism or any other materialist ideology). It rejects things outside of the empirical, the physical. Therefore, the meaning of this materialist category cannot in itself be something “higher than human.” The vain accumulation of resources or increasing material life conditions may suffice to an extent, but it is difficult to argue that this is the ‘meaning of life’, and more importantly, it entails lazy thinking.

To counter my assertion, one might claim that capitalism is only an economic tool, a system of resource allocation. However, the dichotomy of material vs ideal creates and imposes its reality on the mind. Assuming it functions as a Nietzschean ‘master morality’, people lack the agency to withstand and overcome subjective materialist capitalist impositions on culture.

Moreover, the current zeitgeist is purely modern. The most pervasive and apparent ideology of the modern day is capitalism. Specifically neoliberal capitalism. The idea of a good human matches the idea of a good worker.

Furthermore, the ideas of equality and inclusivity are capitalist as well, and neoliberalism is obviously the product of free-trade-capitalist-globalists.

Humanism and Teleology

Taking the works of postmodernists such as Zizek and Dugin into consideration, we can assume that idealism is essential to human existence. One of its manifestations exists through storytelling, framing events for oneself and others, thus creating subjective reality. Subjective reality is much more reliable (an idea stemming from Nietzsche). Therefore, one cannot discard idealism and the power of narrative from the human experience.

Clearly, neoliberalism as a whole has not even made an attempt to create any kind of meaning. By its own definition it can’t – it lacks any notion of idealism, of the notion that telling stories has any benefit.

Some thinkers say that modernity is an ateleological condition, where people’s only purpose is to destroy any higher purpose. But this notion of ateleology needs further examination. Modernism’s humanist ideas and reaches (literature, scientific advancement) are examples of the human-oriented end-goal of understanding being and stoking individualism.

One may counter that secular democracy in itself creates meaning in achieving a state of perfect secular democracy. One can also propose that meaning and teleology for humans is synonymous with progress. However, a real progressive idea only exists when coherently explained. The most coherent and furthest-reaching ideas of progress were conceptualised in the modernist era which tackled teleology (and materialism as its compass) with cold-blooded rationality, rejecting it and embracing the excellence of humanity instead (classical liberalism of Locke and Marxism).

The whole idea of a secular democracy is that people have the capacity to develop their own values, and they are encouraged to search for personal meaning.

However, techno-capital is infringing on this notion by creating and encouraging authoritative practices and by assuming hegemony over social discourse. Techno-capital is a force that stops de-territorialising identities and starts to create its own, and the resulting authority and hegemony are a part of that process (from schizophrenia back to authority). But moreover, Marcuse has shown that modernity always possessed authoritarian characteristics, and not only was the population during the height of the movement unable to create their own personal values, but it summarily asserted dominance and propagated its values in people’s minds. Late modernity is eating its own tail and it is openly aggressive towards the perceived freedoms of the west.

I find it very easy to disprove the humanist’s idea of a human being. At modernism’s birth, it retained the idea of a “human” from the pre-existing humanist tradition. The human is an ever-developing, rational being, constantly striving to find the truth, and the height of creation.

In a period where psychoanalysis and psychology were undeveloped, this conception of humanity may have sounded reasonable. But even then, this assertion was a positivist one. The underlying assumption was that this is what a ‘human’ should and can be, if possible. And this ideal ‘human’ should be liberated from the shackles of material hardship.

However, psychologists then discovered the myriad of ways we lack self-control, and Zizek and Deleuze found that humans are complicated and intricate machines of desire, and that we require mythology and storytelling to function.  Levi-Strauss believed that we could only assess things through binary oppositions, and Roland Barthes posited that mythology in media and everyday life were more prevalent in the 20th century than they had ever been before. It is also important to remember Kierkegaard’s assessment of media as a new church – occupying the same mythological spot in a person’s mind. To summarise, postmodern assessments of human nature under our current circumstances concluded largely that we are still the same mystical, tribal, mythically-inspired, irrational, imperfect, and very interesting species. Brushing all this aside to label humans as generally rational, even if we are rid of material hardship, is an incorrect assessment of human nature.

Therefore, the idea of the human posited by humanism and liberalism does not really exist. This breaks the fundaments of humanism and liberalism. More importantly, it leaves the liberalism’s ideas as forever positivist, forever aspirational. This is not a terrible thing – most idealist concepts are unreachable or at least not fully materialistic. Active faith is involved in fleshing out concepts such as ‘being’, love, freedom, etc. However, the fundament on which these concepts are built should be coherent and correct and that is where modernism lost its ideological basis.

There are many ways in which this fundamental ideological core affects our cultural life. For example, the idea of equality in the modernist era also assumed that the discourse between two rational people would be able to seize the truth. However, under the postmodern condition, one has to spend a lot more time studying and engaging with the object to achieve expertise in any given field. This shows that the most effective empirical or ‘better-assessed’ truth is only accessible to a qualified subject. There is no longer a level field that could unify us, no basis of equal human universality looking for a rational truth through discourse. This is a clear example of how the fundamental misunderstanding of a human condition is affecting the cultural field: miscommunication is a fundamental feature of human experience.

To summarize, the humanist and liberal’s idea of the human does not exist, liberal democracies of the present day lack an overriding coherent meaning despite the fact that people function through stories and myth and an explanation of the world on a subjective level. On the objective level the narrative fails because the ideal human in humanist tradition doesn’t exist. More importantly, this absence of higher meaning (or teleology) is most prominent in late stage capitalism.

Capitalism and its lack of teleology

The destruction of old hierarchical structures in cultural life created a window of freedom in western civilization. However, as capitalism gained more power in the world, it created its own hierarchical structures and began influencing cultural life. I will take the notion that global capitalism became stronger throughout the 20th and 21st centuries as a given: it has won.

Moreover, global capital’s hegemony squeezes and assumes authority over the spheres of cultural life in which it wants to assert itself. The most obvious examples show the ease with which traditionalism is sidelined by capitalism: Gillette ads, Starbucks support for LGBTQI, and a number of other global companies’ incorporation of socially leftist movements. The workers and consumers’ lives and their social opinions are of little importance to these companies – as long as they are consumers of their product and hardworking employees, people’s personal lives have no influence on the company. ‘If there are more consumers and workers to participate in capital accumulation, then why should society be organised along traditional family lines (father works, mother homesteads, children are educated), when one could have two members of the home actively participating in the economy?’

Consider also fourth wave feminism, with its ideas of responsibility and independence, which greatly resemble the positive attributes of masculinity. These ideas perfectly fit the idea of a good employee and are widely accepted and promoted by private institutions.

Another hot topic of the day is free speech – private institutions are asserting speech restrictions on their employees. Ironic that the value that was brought through modernity is now being shut down by another modernist creation. The existence of these contradictions is not terrible in itself, but when human nature is taken into account, these contradictions are becoming unavoidable and inevitable.

These examples are not new – they have existed since Bernays’ time, as shown in Century of Self by Adam Curtis.

Capitalism is becoming naturally and visibly more authoritative, to the point where it now restricts freedom of expression. The workplace is an authoritative environment where you are told what to do, what to wear, how to act to be successful, how to engage with your emotions, how to present yourself, etc.

The natural extension of capital’s control to everyday life will result in further losses of freedom of expression. According to Deleuze, capitalism has created the window of schizophrenia by dismantling old structures. But it will also create its own new hierarchical structures.

“The Liberal Left”

The postmodern condition births hedonist drones because we are supposed to find a fulfilling life and create meaning ourselves, and this is a difficult thing to do. Modernism, and its child capitalism, lack inherent meaning, leaving us to fill in the gap ourselves. Rather, the meaning that was created by modernist societies is one that we are unhappy with because it is unfit for our condition.

The overriding ethical system of the modern day is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism and materialism in the postmodern condition have created the ‘left’ that seeks material fulfillment. It is best exercised in capitalism, the system best at creating material goods. We should examine the ‘left’ as a generalised populace in 21st century: it has definitely been more socially accepting than most movements before its time, but that is because of its historical condition, in which ethical values such as pleasure and happiness are embraced.

Combine vulgar utilitarianism with the left’s infantility (its natural strive for change) and with positivism, and the result is the average modern leftist’s movement. These people are trying to defend an idea of humanity that does not exist while simultaneously exercising utilitarian ethics stemming from capitalism. The left continues to push for material improvement to see their idea of a human, which does not exist, flourish.

The main thrust of the left is the spread of social liberalism, headed by somewhat vague ideas about universal equality and diversity. It asks for the representation of quotas, as capital owners and in the workplace itself. Therefore, it is comfortable with capitalism.

The modern day left movement is the last gasp of a dying animal. They’re a leashed dog – all bark, no bite. Their moralising is hollow. 

This condition is widely recognized by most of their intellectuals: they lack a coherent left-wing theory describing and providing a framework for the modern condition and lack a prescriptive methodology, which is especially apparent when they are compared to their 19th century counterparts.

Their hollow reaction to the modern condition, and subsequent moralising is made manifest through hysteria: that’s why the neoliberal leftist supporters are often incoherent. Take as the Ur-example the political engagements of students on American college campuses, and as further example the reaction of Hollywood stars to the global affairs.


Late modernity has assumed an unprecedented level of control over social life through re-territorialisation, which has manifested itself through capitalism, the most prominent social hegemon. Private institutions, under the current system, will continue asserting inclusivity, equality and diversity in our cultural sphere.

But the nature of this leftist movement is false and incoherent, based on disproven ideas of what it means to be a human being. And the modern leftist movement lacks substance and is subverted by private institutions.

Is it the chicken or the egg that comes first – there a genuine desire for change in the left wing which has been exploited by the authoritative practices of capitalism, or is the current state of affairs the result of the left’s impressive control over capitalism?

People worried about the left bringing ‘chaos’ and a threat to civilisation ought to examine the ideas of the left a little more closely. I hope I have made it clear that the left lacks the coherency to drive large-scale movements, and is currently just subject to the power of capital.


The methodology and causation in this essay imply that there is a movement and dismantling of pre-modernist categories that modernism destroyed. But as late modernity creeps in, it establishes its own authority and hierarchy.

This is also a normativist essay, there are no reaches and value judgements: I am not saying what is right, I am simply describing the changes in western culture. Moreover, I used a very assertive tone, as it is a very raw representation of my current thoughts.

This analysis is based on half-baked ontology, and there is no examination of aesthetics and their changes. Moreover, most of this is just my limited interpretation of Zizek, Dugin, Deleuze, Nietzsche and Hegel. There are many assumptions such as the hegemony of capitalism, liberalism’s Kantian ethics losing to capitalist utilitarianism, and there is no examination of personnel in the control of capital. Moreover, this work assumed that capital and government are much the same. My main assumption is that teleology is real and important and that the idealism suffices in targeting it.

Moreover, there few examples – both because this is an expression of subjective truth, and more obviously because this point has been made throughout postmodern philosophy before.

The Fetish: A History, A Future, and Why You Can’t Survive Without One

History, Philosophy

Peter Calos

On the first of October, in 2013, a man revealed anonymously to the internet that he had a deeply-held and obsessive fetish for the state of Ohio.

His story was as follows:

He lived in Ohio, and was intensely interested in hunting, in the geography and history of the state; enough to read an obscure book by a longhunter (a hunter who typically embarks on elongated excursions, some lasting for as long as six months). This book concerned the fault lines around the Ohio Valley River, and the author was a local, who he quickly managed to contact and befriend. This author happened to lead a hobbyist group that would often embark on hunting trips near the valley. Our protagonist was encouraged to come on one of the trips in question, where he was led into an obscure forest near the Ohio River. Once there, the members of the hiking party encouraged him to take several unidentifiable pills, and he experienced audio-visual hallucinations while the leader of the troop spoke about the history of the land and performed sexual acts in front of him.

Emerging from the experience, the man found he had acquired a…shall we say, a ‘certain taste’ for the fault-lines and specific geological features of Ohio.

This story, posted on 4chan slightly under six years ago, is almost certainly not true.

Yet it raises the question of how our interactions with and ideas of the fetish have changed over time. What is the origin of this idea, of attraction to a physical object? The etymology? Its conception over time? How should we consider the ‘fetish’ in modern society?

Tracing terms

The term ‘fetish’ first rears its head in 16th and 17th century travelogues, written by European traders journeying as far as their supplies and superstitions allowed into West Africa. Common parlance has it that the term ‘fetish’ refers to a small wooden idol, worshiped as a god by African tribesmen; Portuguese traders from the 15th century originally distinguished between a feitico (an object worn on the body and used in rituals) versus an idolo (a medium of worship). Collation of the terms was a European generalisation.

As the concept became more widespread, the colonialists’ impression of the fetish developed into an object that obstructed the natural path of commerce, it being a valueless piece typically composed of wood, stone, or bone, which captivated its owner despite its complete lack of monetary value.

Introductions of the fetish to Western intellectuals were fraught with travellers’ preconceptions of fetishes as primitive African misunderstandings of the universe. Their belief that devotion to a physical object could change the natural state of the world, bring prosperity to the unfortunate, or curse a particularly offensive person was a ridiculous idea to a culture that had already long accepted monotheism and the idea of an incorporeal god.

And this was also a culture that had only relatively recently recovered from the cultural shock of Protestantism, which had raised the following questions:

  1. What to do with physical representations of divinity
  2. How to accept that the Catholic power structure was both necessary to uphold social values, and also irredeemably corrupted by centuries of selling relics and indulgences.

Discrimination from a Christian world followed fetishists (If I may be allowed to use the term in an anachronistic context) in West Africa and in the Haitian colonies, on account of the association with witchcraft, sorcerous acts, and the deception of others through perceived tribal fakery. These tensions were compounded by the efforts of the West Africans to resist their oppressors with highly effective poisons. The use of fetishes had become yet another aspect of the ‘barbarian’ image the West had of her colonies.

In 1757, a French philosopher (Charles de Brosse) coined the term ‘Fetichisme’ to describe “the religious delusion that blocks recognition of rational self-interest and social order.” This description signposts two aspects of the European mindset: it is both an evolution of the Portuguese traders’ conception of the fetish as a useless trinket clogging up the market with inflated, non-extant value, and it is also an evolution of the idea that the fetish is an obsession, something that cannot be disregarded on a whim or bought or sold in the first place.

Fetishism abstracted: 19th century Europe

The backdrop of the late 19th century: European imperialism, contrasting the civility of a Europe which was being torn apart by politics and economic depression (the Austro-Hungarian Empire) with the brutal reality of colonial oppression. What Belgium had done in the Congo, and Germany in Southwest Africa, was widespread knowledge, to say nothing of the position of African-Americans in the United States.

Fetishism as a concept had become abstracted from its roots in totem worship, and had veered off wildly into two directions:

Commodity: Karl makes his Mark(s)

Commodity fetishism finds its roots in Karl Marx’s writings. In creating his labour theory of value, Marx conspicuously neglects a quite obvious source thereof: black slaves. In Marx, the slave is not a commodity, or a productive entity, or even a person: he is a ‘pedestal’, an object lacking agency, whose work is absorbed into Marx’s equations as part of the socially autonomous white labour force. In Marx’s work, the African slave is a demonstrative example for the plight of the European wage-worker, not an object in himself.

Yet the great irony of Marx’s attitude towards the fetishists is that his labour theory of value was itself a framework to be applied to the world in the absence of real evidence, something to be ideally taken in faith and acted upon by a unified proletariat. In other words, his work was written for the sake of creating a framework to judge the world by and act accordingly, which is the same principle as the African priests with their fetishes. Marx, being Jewish and downwardly mobile in class terms, was in a decidedly poor position within his own framework, and so must have considered the subjection of African culture to Europe to be in his personal interest (adding the Africans to the ‘ladder’ of European class would have brought him, relatively, one rung higher).

Commodity fetishism: when producers and consumers perceive one another in value terms, as mere creators or purchasers of value, rather than people. Economic relations abstract the reality of a given situation, hide the cruelty of the capitalist towards the worker through market-oriented language. In other words, in Marx, the ‘fetish’ is an obscurant; an obsessive, religious framework that conceals the truth of the world.

Sexual Fetishism:

The first person to coin the term sexual fetishism was the French psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911), who was also the progenitor of the first IQ test. Binet established the belief, popular among contemporary psychoanalysts, that a fetish was established as a result of an associative process, a lasting after-effect of a sexually-charged first impression. Following in his wake was the Austrian Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), whose exhaustive book of sexual pathology, the Psychopathia Sexualis, challenged many pre-existing ideas on the formation and classification of perversions. The book was considered an essential resource for 19th century psychologists.

Krafft-Ebing retained the idea of perversions as functional sexual deviations which arose during puberty and declined after 40. He also wrote about individual fetishes in a distinctly gendered manner, referring to sadism and lustful murder as excessively manly, while masochism was excessively effeminate. Masturbation, in Krafft-Ebing’s view, was a key component in causing a fetish to appear.

He differed from his progenitors, however, in asserting that fetishes were mainly brought into being by hereditary tendencies, ‘taintedness’ in the family line which led to imbalances between inhibition and sexual instinct. This instinct was aggravated by stimulation, but not caused by it. Like Binet, Krafft-Ebing believed that a specific fetish was caused by the association of an object with inborn sexuality.

His most important deviation from the contemporary consensus, however, was the new conception of a fetish as not the result of degeneracy, a weak anatomy, or weak will, but as an intrinsic part of a person’s psychological composition, inseparable from that person. This more liberal perspective allowed him to then separate actions from psychological states – ‘perversions’ from ‘perversities’. “In order to differentiate between disease (perversion) and vice (perversity) one must investigate the whole personality of the individual and the original motive leading to the perverse act. Therein will be found the key to the diagnosis.” Perversion was now separated in the popular consciousness from immorality and crime, and thoroughly individualised.

One cannot avoid Freud.

In his first three essays on the subject, Freud simply summarised and regurgitated the views of his predecessors. Then came disparity: according to Freud, the sexual norm (attraction to a mature member of the opposite sex) was a perversion in itself, in the sense that the disposition towards perversion was common enough to overlap with sexual norms, and thus formed a part of sexual normalcy. In simpler terms, perversions existed, and were defined in much the same terms as Krafft-Ebing and his adherents, but they were universal. Childhood sexual proclivity was perversity to Freud because it always had the potential to veer off into any fetish as a consequence of a formative sexual experience.

In 1927, after having delved deeper into his psychological studies, Freud returned to the concept of fetishism, and redefined it as a result of traumatic childhood experience. Such a radical idea was a point of contention between Freud and other psychologists and contemporary sexologists, but this and other differences largely rose from a difference in objectives: Freud was sceptical about the possibility of ‘curing’ the perverted, while the main body of European psychoanalysts considered themselves medical workers. This was what distinguished psychoanalysts of the 20th century from sexologists: a focus on treatment versus research.

Fetish as Universal Phenomenon

‘Sexology’ became an accepted and well-defined intellectual discipline around the turn of the 20th century. This discipline was politicised in the sense that it dealt with power relations and the representation of deviants – the founder of the first sexological journal, Magnus Hirschfeld, defined sexology as a ‘progressive science’. His findings supported this definition: sexual deviation was not pathological or dangerous to society on a wider scale. A second founder of the discipline, the American Henry Havelock Ellis, claimed that sexology should serve a primary role in the politics of sex reform, and tried to garner sympathy in particular for sexual inversion.

Historical and anthropological contexts were added to the study of sexology, to divorce it from the exclusive domain of psychoanalysis and to potentially gain a deeper understanding of sexual proclivities. The question for Iwan Bloch, a major figure in the field and the creator of the term ‘sexology’, was not the origin and treatment of fetishes, but the reason they had been repressed throughout most of human history, and why they continued to be repressed. Activism from these circles mainly focused on the legal reformation of anti-homosexual laws, even from those sexologists who believed homosexuality to be a mental disorder.

Henry Ellis argued that the phenomena central to perverted desire was closely related to socially accepted sexual norms, implying that fetishists were in fact closer to the sphere of ‘normality’ than people had previously believed. According to him, sexual desire existed on a bell curve, with the majority of society close to the mean and a relative handful of individuals located at the extreme ends. Yet all previous standards upheld from Krafft-Ebing’s time were not lost: Ellis considered exhibitionism a perversion of the courtship instinct, and considered excessive self-stimulation to have harmful side-effects.

Ellis found a receptive audience in the 20th century Americans; in part because his writing was less obsessed with theory than the typical German tract, in part because it was filled with examples of deviation. These details, released publicly in popular science books, were seen as a form of social amelioration for those who had previously been pathologised. Many American sexology books became bestsellers.

Some statistical arguments and biological arguments were used to reduce the stigma of the fetish: because much of the population had a fetish of some kind or another, according to sexological research, practices that were ostensibly deviations were in fact secretive norms. Many of the fetishes were also practiced by animals, meaning there existed a biological, or a natural basis for a fetish. The idea was at the time radical, and by no means an accepted perspective – but an extant one.

Well, what do you think it means?

Try the following experiment: run the gamut of 20th century anthropological attitudes on the fetish, as I have just outlined them, through the gauntlet of 1960s and 70s progressivism. The result is our contemporary conception of the fetish as something slightly scandalous, but mostly harmless, and usually privately admissible.

(One will forgive the lack of relative detail in this section; my assumption is that the layman is familiar with the liberalising tendency of the second half of the 20th century on various fields of the social sciences, and the reader is also aware of the liberating effect its socio-cultural movements had on the public consideration and expression of sexual deviance. There is little I could add to that understanding within the scope of this work. To return to our topic, the modern-day fetish…)

According to the ever-reliable Oxford dictionary, a fetish is now “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc…an excessive and irrational devotion or commitment to a particular thing.” The original meaning of the word as an object of African worship is now apologetically retained as an outdated secondary meaning.

Since it has become to a large degree secularised, in the sense that it no longer refers strictly to either the sexual meaning or the original religious meaning, the term is somewhat less charged in modern Western society.

With that in mind, and given that we appear to have run out of history to analyse, please allow me to delve into the realm of speculative philosophy, to create a prospective definition for the term ‘fetish.’


The term may be increasingly divorced from its overtly psychological meaning, and come to refer to something like the following:

“A specialisation undertaken for its own sake, a private interest (not reliant on anyone else sharing it for it to interest you) that serves as a framework through which you interpret the world. Or a ‘motivating framework’. Not something that exists in isolation, and not something that completely dominates the mind, but exists in tandem with a whole host of other specialities and interests. We might tentatively call a ‘worldview’ a ‘collection of fetishes.’”

This covers both the original divine spectrum of the word and the modern secular use.

Under this definition, the fetish can be considered a ‘god’ in the sense that it provides an underlying meaning and reason to act in the world, and as an artistic/creative endeavour.

  1. Fetish in divine terms

There is no reason to discount the original definition, since a fetish and a god are the same. There is a tie here between the idea of ‘god as fetish’ and ‘fetish as god’. Both contain the key to meaning: a solid bedrock, an unquestionable foundation through which to interpret the world. Unquestionable in the traditional sense due to superstition, certainly, but now also unquestionable from a secular viewpoint as a result of the time put into it, the hours of understanding gained from a lifetime of experience, and from the inability of even the most ardent postmodernist to discount that experience.

A fetish contains its own minuscule yet gargantuan world: within the area of a single art-form or of a profession is a universe-full of specialist terms, of ideas, a personal history relative to the history of everything outside of it, which may actually belie or contradict another fetish’s history in tone, if not in content. A fetish defines things.

An example. Ask a 21st century atheist what God is and he’ll likely reply with some variation on ‘a psychologically driven superstition’. None of the terms of religion or the practices thereof have any meaning for him. But a 12th century Frenchman believes that God is the underlying reason for everything, and the existence of his God – his fetish – is what allows him to define everything, understand abstract events. He can look at an assortment of religious tools, symbols, icons, and understand how they all fit into the overarching tapestry of Christian faith – what each piece means, what it’s used for and why. In other words, for the man with the belief, the man with the fetish, somewhat arbitrary practices have their own meaning and map onto the world in a very specific, specialist way.

To use a secular example, a chess player understands the reason each piece moves the way it does – because it’s an abstraction of a certain type of warrior on a battlefield.

The understanding of shared world history differs between a fetishist and a non-fetishist. The aforementioned 12th-century Frenchman considers the crucifixion of Jesus to be the supreme moment of salvation, the event around which the world turns, while the atheist would view it as merely another Jewish rebel being given a typical Roman punishment. To use a less dramatic example, consider ‘history’ as viewed by an art historian, versus someone whose chief focus is political history. A peaceful exchange of techniques, driven by outside factors which are not in themselves important – versus the history of those same factors.

Whoever lacks a fetish lacks meaning: all aspects of life assume an equally important, agnostic, characterless character, and the observer becomes a post-modern believer in nothing, immobilised, with only a casual interest in everything, unable to decide anything is more important than anything else. This is the fate of the fetish-less.

2. Fetish in artistic terms – what makes good art?

The fetish in regards to art is a combination, between the excessive focus outlined in my modern definition (specialisation for its own sake) and the Marxist idea of commodity fetish, or the uniquely sell-able product. A fetish is what distinguishes one piece of art—one product—from another. What people typically consider ‘good’ art is usually a piece with a strong, unique focus, where a specific theme is explored in unusual and interesting depth, as opposed to a poor work, where a theme is ignored, treated in a shallow manner, or used as window dressing for the sake of some irrelevant aspect of the work. In other words, good art is good because it caters to a specific fetish.


Whether my prediction for the future of the idea of ‘fetish’ is deluded or prophetic, out-of-order or the order of the day; whether the fetish will become an entirely secular, non-sexual concept again or whether the European psychologists have associated it with the carnal instinct beyond all recovery is not something I can tell you.

Take, as a final example, the excessive, fervent devotion of a frenzied, sexually frustrated acolyte for a religious icon, which promises to cure him of his shameful impurities: an icon which he is intent on purchasing. Here is the archetypal frustrated, embarrassed 15th century Christian, convinced by the Catholic church that he can indulge in his forbidden fantasies if he purchases the requisite volume of indulgences. In this man, every aspect of the term ‘fetish’ is combined into a focal point. It is at once an obsession, a commodity, a locus for his desires, and a thing that grounds his worldview and allows him to define his world relative to it. So, perhaps, the term will never lose its potency, as long as we have that example to draw upon.

Within the history of the fetish we encounter a history of cultural exchange, unwilling and purposeful, of rebellion, discrimination, of mental deficiency, of degeneracy, of religions lost to time. The fetish as object and the fetish as symbol of the mind have been collated in our modern understanding as a slavish fixation, something to obsess over and fascinate us forever, no matter the future.

The Ageism Epidemic

Australia, Philosophy, Politics, Society

Lachlan Green

Disclaimer: Names have been changed at the request of those involved for the sake of privacy and dignity.

Jodie is an incredibly talented artist. Her rural landscapes dot the walls of her villa and her bedroom. The intricate details of the country settings are made even more incredible when it is discovered that all the locations are painted from Jodie’s own memory. Her modesty means she adamantly refuses to take any compliments about the works, preferring instead to criticise the tiny imperfections that only an artist can see.

Jodie is also in her late-70s and living in a residential aged care facility. In fact, her talent for painting wasn’t uncovered until she had her first art therapy session in the facility, in which she showed off a talent she hadn’t explored at all through the years. A major part of Jodie’s life has been her involvement in her local rugby league club, where she was heavily involved in team management and business operations for many decades. She maintains an undying love for her footy team, and frequent visits to the club show that she’s still a familiar face and her significant contributions are often celebrated.

On one standard Tuesday, Jodie had to catch a taxi into Brisbane city for a regular hospital appointment. When the taxi arrived, Jodie saw that it was a larger, van style, Maxi Taxi. Due to age-related complications, Jodie has limited mobility. On this particular day, the taxi driver refused to call Jodie a smaller taxi and refused to assist Jodie into the back of the taxi. After some time, Jodie hauled herself into the back of the cab and they were off.

On arrival to the hospital, the taxi driver remarked that she was slower than most people and asked her to get out of his vehicle. Jodie sat for a moment and asked once again for assistance, this time, clearly upset with the time all of this was taking – the driver finally agreed. Briskly opening the side door, grabbing Jodie roughly on both arms, and applying enough pressure to make Jodie feel like she was being pulled out onto the road. Jodie showed me the grab marks on her bruised arm that persisted. Jodie made one comment to the driver before leaving, “When you’re my age, I hope that no-one treats you the way you have treated me.”

While a more extreme example, this is just one way that ageism (age-related discrimination) manifests in our society. Ageism is surprisingly rife in western society and although many people would claim it does not affect their daily thinking, it pervades culture in interesting and unrecognised ways. Simple, “harmless” generalisations about older generations and assumptions about older peoples’ abilities are basic ways in which discrimination manifests and paves the way for more sinister forms of ageism. For instance, the taxi driver’s intolerance of Jodie’s impaired mobility could most likely be attributed to a sub-conscious belief that, as a younger person, he was superior to her. Current ideas regarding ageing implicitly perpetuated in the West centre around people becoming less capable and more worthless as they grow older. This is demonstrated by the countless stories of people unable to find work once they get to the later stage of the “middle-aged” bracket.

Of course, the most extreme manifestation of ageism is elder abuse, one of the most globally prevalent forms of abuse. Elder abuse merits an article to itself, but it is safe to say that stories of physical, sexual, financial and psychological abuse and neglect are not hard to find. Evidently, the mindset of many perpetrators of elder abuse is based in ageist stereotypes and judgements of the older victims.

As with other forms of discrimination, ageism can be questioned philosophically. The big question is, what part of human reasoning causes ageism? Many people have provided a range of answers, all of which probably hold some degree of truth. Some would say that the common perception that older people are a ‘drain’ on society and on public resources, causes people to treat older people with disregard. Yet, this perception itself is inherently ageist. Many older people do contribute economically and the generalisation that all older people do not serve any purpose in society is central to the problem of ageism (and is nothing more than a gross stereotype). In fact, in many instances where older people are not contributing, it is because of younger people in the workforce refusing to work with them.

Another interesting, and perhaps more philosophical answer would be that older people are treated poorly because of a human fear of growing old. While I am not in any place to deny or confirm that answer, I do not see fear as a valid reason to treat someone as less than oneself.

The story of Jodie is not unique, it’s not even especially remarkable. The taxi driver was reported and is pending disciplinary action. Jodie claims that she’s okay but she has stated, “I don’t feel like I’m comfortable going out on my own anymore.” Yet, it’s the words that follow that floor me, and in the many instances of ageism that I’ve been informed of over the last 4 years of working in, or close to, the aged care industry, these words always seem to follow. “Don’t worry, it’s just how it is.”

Works Cited

Raccoon Hierarchy Triumphs Over The Lobster Menace


Maxim Salvador Otten-kamp

On April 19th we witnessed what was apparently the debate of the century. Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson and “Marxist” philosopher Slavoj Zizek faced down over the course of three hours in Toronto in front of an audience of thousands, with millions watching online. Did it live up to the hype? Of course not. The important take away, however, is not so much what came out of the debate but the politicking that went on surrounding the event.

Dr Peterson

Let me start with Dr Jordan Peterson and his appeal to young men. There is a crisis (I use that term loosely) of masculinity in the Western world today in the sense that many young men feel they lack a stable identity in a world in flux. Afflicted by the agony of choice, many young boys wish for a return to the days where traditional roles for men were more simple and clearer to understand. Stereotypes offer something that choice cannot: direction for those who are not confident in the modern world. This should not be read as an endorsement of tradition. Old traditions must die to allow new ideas surrounding masculinity to flourish. We see the issues surrounding the existence of toxic masculinity and hyper masculinity everywhere in society. Shooters and terrorists, predominantly young men, act out their frustration with their situation at those who they believe want to see old traditions die. Unfortunately, with ideology, you don’t often get to pick and choose the ideas you like to go on. You take the whole package.

This is where Peterson steps on the scene, with his second and most widely known book 12 Rules For Life. Much of the book is simply devoted to banal self-help shtick – think ”stand up straight,” ”clean your room.” These ideas are obviously not problematic in themselves. Where Peterson becomes problematic is in his dogged insistence that human life is defined by primal competition and social hierarchy and so must be gamed. He makes use of Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth (the idea that the stories we tell ourselves are the product of ancient wisdom) to transpose them onto nature, advancing the idea that human beings should accept hierarchies and social competition as natural. He is therefore sceptical of campaigns to advance the rights of minority groups that have historically been subjected to oppressive treatment in society. It is not simply the case that equality in and of itself is the problem – Peterson believes fights for minority rights are just another guise for social conflict within the broader hierarchical structure of society. He doesn’t ever consider the fact that human societies are malleable and that hierarchies of dominance can be transformed. He does not question their efficiency or their morality – he does not consider the importance of raising up new voices and perspectives.

An Anecdote

I want to pause briefly here to introduce a personal anecdote relating to my mother. As I grew up, she imprinted on me the importance of standing up straight and standing up for myself. She grew up in a dysfunctional home and upon having myself and my sister she was mostly alone in raising us. This is not to disparage her but to create understanding. She told us many times that she had to take on both traditionally masculine and feminine roles in our lives as she saw fit. Crying was selfish, laziness unacceptable, stress reigned supreme. A few years ago, when Jordan Peterson came onto the scene my mother went through a series of unfortunate events. She suffered loss, pain and absolute despair before her life ultimately started coming back together. Who at this time spoke to my mother best? Who helped her make the best out of the absurdly awful situations she found herself in? Jordan Peterson. He was a voice of support and belief in the primacy of the self that was invaluable to her.

Dr Zi

Now for the dishevelled rockstar philosopher Slavoj Zizek. His ideas are more complicated than Peterson’s (though this is sometimes to the point of incomprehensibility). He offers no real solutions to the great problems and challenges of our time. But he confronts them on a level that I feel is at least worthy of appreciation.

Zizek’s analysis of ideology’s function in society is particularly worthy of consideration. He views ideology as an ever-present aspect of our lives, constantly shaping us. His conception of ideology is broad enough to encompass religion and other concepts that dictate the way we act in society. For Zizek, even the ostensibly simple, impersonal act of walking down the street listening to music is shaped by ideology. Depending on your proclivity for pirating media content, the act of listening to music either conforms or challenges the overarching capitalist system. Ideology’s influence in society is far more pervasive, complex and nuanced than we often give it credit for.

The core criticism to be made of Zizek is that he lacks substance. His critics see in him not a serious cultural theorist but a post-modern performance artist of slippery predilections. This characterisation is informed by his fascination with and appreciation for the murderous Stalin, as well as his almost championing of political violence. This piece is not a polemic against Zizek. I mention this rather to attempt to better understand him. He is someone born out of the 20th century communist experiment and whilst he was a fierce critic of the Soviet backed regimes of the Iron Curtain, a sense of nostalgia for communism perhaps understandably resides in him. He is not alone in this – a recent poll out of Putin’s Russia found nostalgia for Stalin to be at an all time high. As post-Soviet states languish under the yoke of kleptocracy and corruption, many look back fondly on the days where the state provided an adequate social safety net and provided for all citizens. Democrats and liberals might be shocked by Zizek’s fondness for the former communist bloc, but it is less outrageous when considering the decline of post-Soviet states and Zizek’s writings on the deep psychological desire for the totality of power.

The Debate

Finally, we come to an analysis of the debate itself, which focused on the question of economic systems and happiness. It was indeed enjoyable, but anyone expecting a Foucault – Chomsky style academic clash had very bizarre expectations of the venture. Firstly, there is the problem that Peterson was not familiar at all with Zizek’s Hegelianism. Indeed, his understanding of communism was itself fuzzy: he bizarrely relied solely on the Communist Manifesto as the basis for his understanding of socialism. This to me is deeply ironic, for the right so often charges Marxist academics with the crime of such intellectual laziness. Furthermore, Zizek added to the confusion by never once attempting to defend Marxism. He pulled Peterson into a trap by refusing to engage with him on the subject Peterson so dearly wanted to highlight: the USSR’S many depravities and atrocities. This might have been disappointing to Zizek’s more ardently communist fans, but intellectually it was a brilliant tactical move. Peterson is only on firm ground when he is speaking of Solzhenitsyn and Stalin’s gulags. Zizek was more comfortable challenging the very concept of happiness itself.

Ultimately, Zizek exposed and punished Peterson for his exceedingly vague grasp of political ideology. His ”post-modern neo-Marxists” were nowhere to be found and Zizek exposed his obsession with ”cultural Marxism” for the crude anti-semitic conspiracy theory it really is. Some of you may remember the famous Vidal – Buckley debates during the 1968 American election where Buckley was so thoroughly outclassed as to threaten Vidal with physical violence. Peterson did not ever stoop to this level and it was obvious he treated Zizek with basic respect. But as in the Vidal – Buckley debates, his conservatism was exposed as arrogant and intellectually unsustainable. He probably will not get another chance to redeem his image to many of the casual observers that tuned in. For three years, Peterson remained unsurmountable in interviews, discussions and debates. Finally facing a credible opponent, he was dismantled and shown to be out of his depth. It makes you wonder – how did journalists and academics allow the Peterson phenomenon to go on for as long as it did? Unfortunately, he has probably learnt his lesson. Don’t expect him to again show up on another debate stage with an intelligent, trained philosopher anytime soon.

Zizek and Peterson: A Waste of Time?

Philosophy, Politics

Sam Adams

Almost all the analyses I have seen of the much anticipated Peterson-Zizek debate have been from the point of view of people who were unsatisfied with it, claiming that it was either a rehashing of played out ideas or even a poor performance by bad actors. Personally I’ve found this a little bit depressing. It seems like just another example of the old problem of how two people could see the same thing and come away thinking very different things about it.

I’m not saying the criticism isn’t warranted; Peterson was ill-prepared and offered a shallow reading of Marx while Zizek’s rebuttal was a conglomeration of disparate ideas only tangentially related to the topic and not at all related to what Jordan had said. However, I still enjoyed it. Is that because I am somehow the only person on earth who didn’t expect there to be any real solution to the world’s problems at the end of the show? Somehow I doubt that.

It seems to me that a lot of the disillusionment that has been expressed comes from people who already had an axe to grind. Of course Peterson’s critics were on the lookout for anything he might say that could be construed as foolish and those detracting from the debate as a whole obviously didn’t get what they wanted out of it.

So, is it up to me to tell people what they should have wanted to get from watching Jordan Peterson debate Slavoj Zizek?

Obviously anyone displeased that there weren’t any real solutions to global issues was expecting too much. Then there are those who were eagerly hoping to witness someone get “destroyed” by their idol; I would suggest that they, too, were misled. Of course there are the critics who simply try to make themselves seem intelligent by insisting that other intelligent people are dumb – but the less said about them the better.

What I want to say to people who are displeased, disappointed or disillusioned by the debate is something that I read in a book whose title I can’t remember during a time in my life that I’m trying to forget and that is this: “Assembly of Japanese bicycle requires great peace of mind.”

This eccentric statement first appeared in the owner’s manual of bicycles sold in Japan during the 1950’s and the point of it is pure Zen; if you put your bike together and it doesn’t work, then that is your problem. The bicycle is merely a collection of atoms arranged in a certain way and a collection of atoms isn’t the sort of thing that can be right or wrong.

Now, clearly the same can’t really be said of a debate, which is a collection of statements; and statements are exactly the sort of thing that can be right or wrong. However, my point might come into focus if you view the thing in the appropriate way. I, for one, viewed the meeting of Jordan and Slavoj as an opportunity to try and learn something, to engage with public discourse and attempt to gain a more sophisticated appreciation of the world.

In that sense, no statement, series of statements or discussion of ideas is right or wrong, they are just parts making up a greater whole. Having the opportunity to watch two intellectually honest people engage in authentic dialogue should never be seen as a waste of time, and anyone who would like to consider themselves intellectually honest or authentic should relish that opportunity.

An Ecological Home

Environment, Philosophy, Politics

Lachlan Green

In today’s world of urbanised humanity, homes are commonly thought of as a building, or a piece of land to be bought and sold. It’s a common concept to “own a home.” In a university you’d be more likely to hear millennials despair at never “owning a home”. Yet, Arne Næss (renowned mountaineer, activist, environmental philosopher and founder of the Deep Ecology movement) wrote of home in a very different sense. He referred to the concept as one’s Place, where a person belongs and connects to the environment as a “delimited, ecological self”. Lot’s of interesting terms and strange ideas … What does it mean, and how does it apply to a modern-day Queenslander?

Næss spent his adult life writing and postulating about humans and their relationship with the natural world, all while working on his own relationship with nature by spending many years living in a small cabin in the Norwegian wilderness. This cabin, on the mountain Tvergastein, was the centre of his Place. From here, Næss was able to conduct amateur science, observe animal and plant life, engage in his hobby of mountain climbing, and explore the complex needs of humans in their Places. This frames the concept of an ecological home (which Næss refers to as Place), as a place where a person can have an individual relationship with nature. And, as displayed by Næss, a person’s relationship with their Place is not just some abstract, hippy idea of “feeling right” or “getting the right vibes” – although there may be some level of these unknown elements, it is a tangible relationship defined by what a Place can do to fulfil us. We’ll go through some possible criteria for finding our own Place shortly.

From the idea of the ecological home comes the idea of an “ecological Self”. Many of us restrict our idea of the Self to what is directly linked to what makes us individual, for instance my narrowest definition of my Self may include my job, my university degree, and where I currently reside. Sometimes, when we really reflect, we can define our emotional Self by identifying what causes our common moods, and how we’re commonly perceived by others. The ecological Self extends the definition even further. While thinking of ourselves in the narrow way explained above, we allow ourselves to relate with other humans. But, by locating our Place and extending our idea of the self to include our place in the ecosystem, we can identify with all living beings. Næss follows this up by stating that an understanding of one’s ecological Self could lead to an understanding of our meaning on Earth. Rather grandiose claims that I won’t delve into, but it further frames what Næss set out to achieve through his time in his Place.

So, with this brief understanding of Næss’s work, how do we go about finding our Places? We must first define what we’re looking for, and already we’ve hit a pot hole. It’s, unfortunately, quite impossible for me to layout exactly what each of us should look for in our Place. While our basic needs as humans can be quite easy to define (it’s recommended that someone’s Place should have relatively easy access to food, water and shelter), the fulfilment of our social and emotional needs vary greatly. While I may go looking for a place in close proximity to the ocean with a thin spattering of human contact and plenty of trails to feed my desire for hiking, a hydrophobic, extrovert with a passion for golf would have a very different set of criteria. Those of us that find great value in biodiversity and have a good understanding of our place in an ecosystem may use an ecocentric lens, searching for an ecosystem that can house us comfortably. Yet for others, it may be important to identify ourselves in the narrower definitions of Self outlined in the previous paragraph. Essentially, we need to identify what we require from life in order to be fulfilled individuals, a daunting task to say the least. No matter what other criteria we’ve decided upon, the crucial decision can be made by asking the final questions, “Can I see myself spending lots of time here?” and “Will I be fulfilled here?”

Armed with this knowledge we can venture out in, what I deem to be, the most exciting step; searching for our Place. Where do we start? Now, we’re all on our own. It may be best for us to start local, revisit places that we already feel a connection to. Or, it may be best for us to jump in somewhere completely unexplored, journey somewhere brand new so we can apply our criteria to a clean slate. No matter where we begin, we need to be critical and analytic in our approach. We can use our decided upon criteria to create a lens through which we’re able to analyse whether a place is suitable to be our Place.

To give a brief example, I’d like to share one of my experiences in Queensland. My personal search recently took me camping in Springbrook National Park, a rainforest site in the Gold Coast hinterland. My first checkbox was ticked before I even arrived – the site was only 40 minutes from the beach. On from that, the ecosystems varied immensely. I had the ability to explore eucalypt forests in one direction and sub-tropical rainforests in the other. The bird life was plentiful – a Tawny Frogmouth made itself at home nearby and our campsite was frequently visited by Fairy-Wrens that dutifully hopped about collecting insects. The two days of walks barely scratched the surface of the trails that weave their way around the mountain, leaving plenty to be explored. I can definitely see myself spending more time there, but I’m unsure as to my level of fulfilment.

Our analysis of each place we explore doesn’t need to be anywhere near this formal, it doesn’t even need to be written down. We may even be able to make the Place critique a subliminal process. Yet, it can be applied wherever we go in order to get a sense of how we can connect to a location’s natural world.

We are privileged to live in a place where ecological wonders are commonplace. Where, even in this world of rapid urbanisation, we have access to undisturbed wildernesses within an hour of driving. Australia is a precious place in the modern world, and Queensland even more so. So, get out there, do some exploring, find your Place. Who knows if we’ll ever be able to buy a home. We can definitely find one.

Author’s note: This article only aims to give a brief and broad overview of Arne Næss’s writings in an applied sense. For those interested, I highly recommend his works included in Ecology of Wisdom (the bare basics of which create the foundation of this article).

Feminism in the Corporate Age

Economics, Philosophy, Politics

Tori Holliday

In 2006 The Economist proclaimed, “Forget China, India and the Internet, economic growth is driven by women.” Presenting a trifling new ideology to its readers, editors of The Economist echoed sentiments of a fresh feminist ideology, one which positioned women as the ultimate arbiter of neo-liberal society in its capitalist form – ‘womenomics’ – an untapped resource that identifies women as both conscious consumers and equitable distributors. The supposed “healthy dose of estrogen” required to heal the global political economy post-financial crisis provoked a new wave of feminist literature, one which attempts to interrogate the hegemony of neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism and feminism have become intertwined in a complex relationship of reciprocity, co-optation; exploitation and servitude, a mutual exchange of normative values in order to arrive at a shared platform of power. A platform which places gender equality as a foundation of accumulation and mechanization. Such a platform finds itself premised in contradiction. Neoliberalism requires the subordination of that with which it is partnered – its ideological foundations of self-interested extraction of available surplus, of the amoral utilization for, require nothing less. And so, why does feminism, as the path to emancipation, to freedom, to any normative something wherein the existential condition of women is bettered in the world, find itself so readily partnered with such an ideology? To paraphrase Wendy Brown: “ostensibly emancipatory or democratic political projects problematically mirror the mechanisms and configurations of power they purport to oppose.” Thus, feminism is not merely haunted by the spectre of neoliberalism: in its modern conceptions, it tacitly invokes the very values it seeks to deconstruct, becoming warped, shaped and defined by the ideology from which it is, by opposition, begotten.

In order to interrogate feminism’s shift into a neoliberal political space, it is necessary to consult the literature which provides potential explanations for such a phenomenon. Wendy Brown, formulating her intellectual prowess from Nietzsche, Marx, Weber and Foucault, presents an argument which attempts to address a myriad of problems that have grown out of the post-structuralist, postmodern, anti-foundationalist discourse of feminism. Brown’s States of Injury (1995) examines those who have become paralyzed by the postmodern feminist critique of the “subject” which decenters conceptions of “identity”, by positing that feminist scholars are infatuated with a subject which remains inherently masculine and liberal. Utilising aspects of the Nietzschean narrative, Brown suggests that a large proportion of American feminist academia is centered around “[an] epistemological spirit and political structure of ressentiment…” which constitutes much of the anxieties associated with an analysis that can balance the skepticism of postfoundational truth. She argues that feminists should transcend moral high grounds, if they intend to engage with a feminist politics which disrupts the possibility of ressentiment. In this sense, Brown advances an argument that attempts to solve the root causes of contemporary feminist theory’s “problems”: how does feminism avoid slipping into an epistemological space stripped of stability and rationality and replaced with a paralyzing, groundless feminist in-activism? More importantly, how can we, as social movement, aim to improve the lives of women both locally and globally, yet continue to pursue an emancipatory course of action which imitates the contexts they seek to interrogate? How can we critique – let alone reformulate – these conditions with a feminist political theory which lacks normative direction and value sets? Reflecting upon this argument by Wendy Brown in States of Injury, I will now attempt to analyse and critique Elisabeth Prügl’s recent work concerning neoliberal feminism.

As mentioned previously, over the last decade, a spate of articles has deliberated the concept of a ‘transnational business feminism’ or neoliberal feminism, a transition which has prompted much debate over its legitimacy. Feminists have become divided over whether this brand of feminism is a “genuine form of feminism” (Eisenstein 2017) or a case of co-optation at the hands of capitalism’s political figureheads. In her article, Elisabeth Prügl explores examples of TNCs, MNCs, NGOs and IFIs utilising feminist projects of empowerment, and coins this process as the neoliberalisation of feminism. Prior to her analysis of the neoliberal rationalisation of feminism, Prügl criticises feminist scholars for being highly invested within a narrative of co-optation, and instead encourages them to interpret these transnational and public development initiatives as a way forward for feminism. She interrogates what is lost and gained in the incorporation of gender in the global political economy, and implies that feminist intellects hold a naïve viewpoint dominated by a sense of theoretical nostalgia:

“…critics differ in what they do not like about this transformed feminism, but for all it is somewhat suspect, far removed from the challenges of power that underlies the contentious politics of feminist movements” (Prügl 2014).

Here, Prügl refers to a particular form of feminism – a pure radical socialist feminism – that tends to pervade arguments generated by the critics of neoliberal feminism. The lost world these feminists are yearning for, Prügl argues, is far removed from the current globalised form of governance that operates with and incorporates NGOs, International Financial Institutions, the state, and the private sector.

Prügl certainly does not assert that feminism ever was a singular ideology or practice, rather it has become a shared project, based upon the plurality of methodological assumptions, principles, and premises, that at times, hold deep-seated differences. Therefore, how can we declare neoliberal feminism to be a reactionary movement or an actual feminist ideology? For Prügl, the critiques of neoliberal feminism may be somewhat forthright, but scholars are yet to arrive at a compelling conclusion that goes beyond recycled historical utopias. Wringing our hands over co-optation, she argues, is the real potential risk that threatens the derailment of the revolutionary worldwide women’s movement. By analysing transnational business feminism projects, we can begin to find places for potential improvements for both the individual and women’s collectives. Indeed, Prügl presents a sensible proposition, one that echoes sentiments of a form of neopragmatism, inspired by Richard Rorty and many contemporary feminist scholars, namely, Iris Marion Young and Nancy Fraser. Yet, without dismissing the positive impacts these neoliberal projects of empowerment have had for women and girls in recent years, it is difficult to conceive the motives of Unilever, Nike, Goldman Sachs, and other global businesses as being as sympathetic as they suggest.  It is therefore difficult to harmonise with Prügl that neoliberal feminism is a benevolent development, unless one was prepared to advocate for a type of quasi-feminism that attempts to exploit the voices of the marginalised for the purpose of bolstering an already pervasive form of globalised capitalism.

Moreover, Prügl seems to bypass a critical aspect of this neoliberal co-optation that she is so readily able to dismiss. Scholars may be nostalgic, but we must question why. This nostalgia is the precise example for the current state of the feminist condition – there is a lack of vision, a normative vision. The majority of feminists may be critical of the current mainstream, neoliberal feminism, and may be nostalgic for the history of the feminist movement, but they are unconscious, discontent with the lack of belonging or motivation that is supposed to exist. Here, co-optation becomes two-fold: feminists can acknowledge its co-optation by the neoliberal capitalist juggernaut, but they cannot explain why. Reflecting upon Wendy Brown’s analysis of the postmodern condition, the non-foundational epistemological political theory has failed to provide feminist scholars with the certainty they need to continue the advancement of the feminist agenda.

Undeniably, feminism has spread itself into the far cruxes of contemporary society, and undeniably women established those existences through the fight of legitimating a cause. However, the methods and aspirations that carried feminism into fruition and implemented those changes throughout history have not necessarily remained the same, nor will they stay withstanding in our future movements. We must ask ourselves whether these practices can continue to foment an intellectually rich vision, or whether they work against the very currents we insist on riding. Considering feminism’s deep historical connections to the Age of Enlightenment and liberalism, as well as the current relationship formulated on the basis of arguably, co-optation, perhaps feminism is inextricably linked to the political ideologies it seeks to dismantle. Combining feminism’s neoliberal repurposing in its already paralysed temporality, emancipatory objectives transcend their initial collectivised localities and become resources exclusive to the individual.

What does this mean for the existence of feminism in its current analytically impoverished state? We must first ask the question of what feminism is and what feminism does. From a generally reductive standpoint, regardless of school of inquiry, philosophical background, practice, methodology, theory, praxis, feminism possesses a characteristic goal. A goal based upon the idea of emancipation, freedom, empowerment, liberation, equality of opportunity, equality of outcome, to be free from the shackles of oppression. Whatever word or phrase speaks to the place in which one stands within this body, feminists hold this characteristic to be true. A goal, however, is inevitably unsustainable. A goal cannot remain concrete. A goal is fluid, and reality is fluid, and therefore, the goal that attempts to live within or confront this reality cannot continue to remain within the skin in which it was born. It must continue to shed many skins – an act which in turn is regressive and self-destructive to the objective which was created by and for the social movement (feminism).

Here I offer a self-help guide for feminism. Feminism must therefore separate itself from the idea of a normative vision. But must be careful not to do so in such a way that it destroys itself as an idea, movement, theory, practice, and potential future. It must completely and wholly embrace its existence as a practice. It must reformulate its objectives into a set of negotiable, intangible, reflexive processes. As a social movement, feminism must acknowledge the importance and privilege these processes hold, so that it can continue to enact the movement it so readily desires to be. Without allowing itself to deconstruct the symbolic meaning of that ‘goal’ or even the attitudes and practices which proceed attempts to achieve that ‘goal’, feminism wades in the water. It stagnates in such a way that it becomes co-opted. Ironically, it could be said that there are no waves in the current for feminism to ride. Or that at any given moment, the possibility of apprehending the ramifications of not possessing an agenda or goal submerges feminism into murky waters.  And from within, feminists begin to watch it build, and become a crashing tidal wave, a tsunami of its own inevitable defeat.

Perhaps feminism should embrace the idea of a normative vision? If we consider the anti-foundationalist groundless political ground discussed by Wendy Brown, and the metaphysical skepticism implied within Prügl’s neopragmatic critique of neoliberal feminism, we arrive at a feeling the resembles one discussed in Vermeulan and Akker’s essay, Notes on Metamodernism (2010). They describe this current structure of feeling to be “characterised by the oscillation between a typically modern commitment and a markedly postmodern detachment” (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2010). Thus, looking within, between and beyond modern and postmodern conceptualisations, I encourage feminists to consider metamodern ideas of negotiation as the foundations of endeavour: a way of balancing political skepticism and relativism without becoming politically unbound and inactive. Feminists should see value creation and engagement with normative goals as the privilege that comes with emancipation. The decision to engage sincerely with goals, whilst acknowledging their construction, is what feminists ought to do. For the power of symbols – goals and values too – comes from the sincere engagement with them, not their inherent defensibility. In this way, feminists, and social movements more broadly, can continue to follow a vision that is repeatedly fading into the distance.

I propose that feminism should begin to reformulate itself as a political body by incorporating metamodern feelings and negotiations into its practices. In doing so, the integration of metamodern conceptualisations allows feminism to not only remain committed to the temporal orderings of liberalisms, and the spatial disordering that follows its postmodern characteristics, but it also allows feminism to pursue a destiny that remains within, yet unbounded by its past, present and future. I hope that this self-help guide can begin to close the old wounds of women’s studies, allowing feminism to affirm its errors in a moment silence, and then again, we can begin to cut deep and interrogate with a freshly hatched, normative emancipatory agenda.

Neo-Liberalism, Democracy and Lone Wolf Terror

Philosophy, Politics

Tori Holliday

In the wake of Anders Behring Breivik’s terrorist rampage in Norway on 22 July 2011, lone wolf terrorism has catapulted to the top of the international relations and security studies agenda, as scholars attempt to reformulate questions and perspectives which address the rise of lone wolf terrorism in the Internet Age. The concept of a ‘lone wolf’ is highly contested amongst scholars and there remains not a singular definition, however, for the purpose of this essay, I will adopt the definition proposed by Feldman which claims that lone wolf terrorism is “self-directed political or religious violence undertaken…by individuals—typically perceived by its adherents to be an act of asymmetrical, propagandistic warfare—which derives from a variable amount of external influence and context.’’

Adopting a mimetic approach to lone wolf terrorism, I argue that the lone wolf terrorist ‘threat’ is inextricably linked to the mimetic relationship between liberal democracy and its citizens; globalization has thus manifested a form of resentment upon its constituents in such a way that violence becomes paradoxical, two-fold, and inevitable. Terrorism thus arises as a product of liberal democracy, and the violence that ensues serves to confront liberal democracy with its own failings. Moreover, I argue that, by adopting a mimetic understanding of this paradox, scholarship can begin to reformulate preventative solutions. In the first section of my essay I will introduce Girardian mimetic theory and outline the main elements of conflictual violence. I will deconstruct multicultural democratic society and attempt to identify the ways in which it has become an object of mimetic desire. Following from this analysis, I then examine the relationship between liberal democracy’s mimetic desire and the individual, and argue that the moral economy constructs the foundations of a lone wolf. In the second section of this essay, I will focus on lone wolf terrorisms’ modus operandi and the recent upsurge in internet usage to demonstrate the paradoxical nature of counter-terrorism operations and democratic integrity.  In the final component of my essay, I argue that a mimetic analysis of liberal democracy and lone wolf terrorism facilitates the redefining of ‘threat’ in terrorism discourse, and can potentially re-conceptualize mitigation and preventative measures.

 For Reńe Girard, human culture and society are interconnected with conflictual violence and war. This intimate relationship forms the basis for the theory of mimetic rivalry and desire, where mimesis is defined as “imitation”, a shadow, a triangular relationship between the desires of two actors and the value of an object. The concept of human desire is not defined by a direct desire for a particular object, thing or place; rather it is defined by the need to imitate the object.  In this sense, human rivalry is considered social and mimetic in nature, in that it forms a triangular relationship: in the context of terrorism, this is can be seen through the existence of victims, targets and perpetrators. As the experience of rivalry intensifies, the object is deemed irrelevant and the process of mimesis of antagonism begins to take shape. For Girard, this process is a critical shift for both rivals as they begin to recognize that they are no longer divided by the object they once desired. Instead they become homogenous and it is at this point of the mimetic conflict where both actors will claim their objectives are the same, and that their ideologies are fueled by the same values. Girard’s mimetic philosophy provides a theoretical understanding of desire and rivalry within a human context, highlighting the inevitable potential for paroxysmal conflict.

Expanding upon Girard’s theory, late modernity, at a time of rampant neoliberalism, is a socio-political entity that produces a globalized form of resentment on the basis of mimetic desire and rivalry. At the centre of this globalized resentment lies the mimetic desire for identity, the ability to define oneself against an Other for the purpose of being another. A mimetic analysis of late modernity emphasises the ways in which its economic, political and cultural discourse engenders conflict and violence. Neoliberalism’s promotion of freedom, equality and individualistic values has paradoxically manifested itself through a doctrine of free market economics where competition and the consolidation of wealth formulate the basis of conflict and globalized resentment. The mimetic crisis transcends cultural, racial, and religious differences, and instead creates an inescapable and impossible competition of imitation which necessitates the emotions of failure and disaffection. It is at this point where late modernity’s triumphant values of individualism, equality and freedom collide with free market values of competition and expansion to generate a threat to democratic society. The failure that is associated with this democratic mimetic rivalry can be understood through the ways in which individuals, specifically lone wolf terrorists, impute liability and blame, contain their embarrassment and indignity, and project their resentment onto society. Thus, the complex nature of mimetic rivalry and desire that has manifested from late modernity, submerges constituents of liberal democracies into a form of globalized resentment; a paradox which explains the creation of a lone wolf terrorist and the motives behind their acts of violence.

An individual’s failure to assimilate and engage with multicultural dimensions of liberal democratic society, subsequently fosters a highly resentful relationship towards global politics. As liberal democratic societies individualise the political arena, their monopoly over the legitimate use of violence is deconstructed, and in its place, constituents of the state begin to synthesise their ubiquitous resentment and mimetic frustrations with contemporary forms of violence.  This personal resentment is reverberated through the 16-year anti-technology campaign established by Ted Kaczynski, a lone wolf known as the Unabomber. Kaczynski’s bombing campaigns, accompanied by a 35,000-word manifesto, emphasise the ways in which social isolation and a loss of identity transform into a violent pattern of resentment. A lone wolf’s obsessive repulsion for late modernity can also be determined by their social context: lenient gun laws, technological innovation, parental pressure, violence promoted within the media, lack of social connections, economic hardship amongst minority groups, negative classroom environments, and the diagnosis of an individual’s psychopathology. Scholars Clark McCauley and Sophia Moskalenko recently established a two-pyramid model that determines the profile of a lone wolf on the basis of opinion and action. Their research indicates that lone wolf terrorists can be categorized into two potential profiles: the first being disconnected-disordered where individuals possess mental health issues and hold a sense of social exclusion. The second profile – caring-consistency, relates to lone wolves such as Zasulich, Waagner and al-Balawi, where these individuals possessed strong social ties, no history of psychological illness, and a perceived obligation to reduce the suffering of others. Therefore, lone wolf attacks formulate an idiosyncratic thread, where individual resentments are entrenched within contemporary global political narratives. Similar to violence, resentment is both creative and destructive in nature, a binarism of function and dysfunction. In this sense, a lone wolf’s mimetic desires and resentment become parallel to democratic progress, a countermovement emerging from its very failures.

The mimetic rivalry between the individual and the democratic state increases as the lone wolf devises or conducts an act of terror upon society’s constituents. To carry out their resentful acts of violence, lone wolf terrorists exploit the democratic rights and freedoms granted to them, whilst challenging the integrity of liberal democracy. The lone wolf’s iniquitous use of liberal democratic laws thus presents a dualistic challenge for the state: Western democratic society’s obligation to protect and offer security to its citizens is contradicted by the necessity to restrict its citizen’s rights as a means of safe-guarding its national security. Furthermore, security scholar Jason-Leigh Striegher, argues that lone wolf terrorists can utilise and manipulate legal systems, particularly court trials, as a platform for their cause. The expectation for governments and media outlets to remain transparent whilst dealing with the threat of a lone wolf, illustrates the difficulties counter-terrorism agencies face when implementing policy. The mimetic desire and rivalry paradox which underlies the relationship between lone wolf terrorists and democratic society is thus submerged into a double-bind of terrorism and counter-terrorism operations. The American Civil Liberties Union’s criticism of the lone wolf amendment of the 2004 USA Patriot Act, demonstrates the potential concerns this double-bind presents to liberal society. A constituent’s democratic civil liberties are eroded under the USA Patriot Act, as it fails to incorporate civil liberty and privacy safeguards. Liberal democratic states adopt measures which enable counter-terrorist agencies to practice invasive surveillance, interrogation, torture, secret arrest and potentially execution. The state’s intention to uphold democratic values is ironically violated by the legal liminalities and physical restraints they place upon citizens. Thus, Girardian theory’s mimetic antagonism is exemplified by counter-terrorist initiatives of liberal democracies; although the lone wolf’s modus operatus destroys the symbols of democracy, it is the faithlessness of the state that destroys democracy.

Due to the pre-eminent nature of the internet, the double-bind associated with terrorism and counter-terrorism operations is reinforced by the mimetic processes of re-differentiation and de-differentiation. In contemporary times, the internet has facilitated the propagation of lone wolf propagandistic rhetoric, subsequently rendering media outlets as a weapon of choice for radicalisation. As a result of globalisation, the internet has created new opportunities for individuals to share their radical opinions, ideologies and intentions on an online community of resentment. The incorporation of technology into lone wolf operations poses an even greater threat to liberal democratic societies, as counter-terrorism efforts risk violating constituent’s privacy and civil liberties. Communications theorist, Bryan Taylor, highlights the effects liberal democratic counter-terrorism operations place upon citizens, when he asserts, “the citizens of counterterror regimes must simultaneously bear the burden of official suspicion, and officially delegated responsibility to redeem that suspicion through their assimilation of neoliberal scripts.” This phenomenon is elucidated through the politics of the media, where a mimetic dichotomy of de- and re-differentiation emerges: de-differentiation is the imitation of the actuality of reality, whereas re-differentiation is the unveiling and deconstruction of this replication. This form of mimesis is embodied through Anders Breivik’s lone wolf attacks in Norway, where he utilized social media platforms to promote his 1,500-page anti-multiculturalism manifesto and engage supporters through YouTube videos. Due to the absences in acts of terror in Norway prior 2011, Breivik’s use of the internet as a form re-differentiation, consequently rendered Norway’s de-differentiated counter-terrorism narrative obsolete. Nevertheless, not only does a mimetic rivalry manifest a globalized resentment between liberal democracies and its constituents, but it also establishes a mimetic dichotomy of de- and re-differentiation, where an actor attempts to seize control over the representation of a narrative

Reflecting upon the relationship between lone wolf terrorists and globalized resentment, liberal democratic society must adopt a mimetic approach which attempts to demystify the lone wolf terrorist ‘threat’ and re-formulate potential mitigation options. As the lone wolf threat continues to permeate liberal democratic society, citizens of late modernity are plunged into a profound paradoxical bind: the continuous tension between the actualization of an individual’s vulnerability against lone wolf attacks, and the perpetual desire to rely upon persecutory measures. These two contradictory tendencies embody a form of mimesis; a false dichotomy where an individual’s identity is placed in opposition to itself. Liberal democratic society’s ability to function as an institution is therefore hindered by the perpetual compounding of mimetic antagonism. Society’s perspectives and opinions are polarized by the use of violence within the socio-political domain of democratic nations.  Without dismantling the entirety of the mimetic process, the complex nature between mimetic desire and rivalry is destined to generate a paradoxical bind that aggregates within larger parallel formations. Due to the cumulative tendencies of mimetic rivalry, the relationship between lone wolf terrorism and democratic society is contaminated by a mimetic attractiveness; a situation in which human discord and mimesis lay the foundations for their own demise. The heuristic of ‘more’ becomes the instrument of self-harm, of inevitable destruction giving birth to the violence against democracy and the violence required to maintain it; an apocalyptic nightmare whose drama is heightened by its repetition.

The conceptualization of the lone wolf terrorist threat is therefore incorrect. A Girardian mimetic perspective acknowledges that the conceptual category of lone wolf terrorism is “undergoing a process of erosion, with boundaries blurring under the effect…of late modernity.” A mimetic understanding of conflict resolution can enable society to engage more deeply with introspection, to reflect upon societal attitudes and values. Mitigating the lone wolf terrorist threat therefore relies upon eliminating pathological resentment which results in violence. Here, the state has the opportunity to implement a practical solution to the manifestation of globalized resentment. By equalizing the expenditures on national public health, or establishing universal access to mental healthcare, the state rewards its constituents with psychological incentives that prevent the rise of a lone wolf. In comparison to the liberal tendency to govern the effects of failure, universal access to psychotherapy allows individuals to feel more deeply about their failures and discontents; members of society can better understand the moral grievances of others. Liberal democratic society can reflect upon its ontological realities and attempt to deconstruct the mimetic roots of violent conflict. Thus, policymakers, practitioners and international relations scholars should engage further with Girardian mimetic theory and the concept of universal mental healthcare as a means of mitigating the lone wolf terrorist threat.

Resentment is the product of an individual’s perception of the realities of democratic society, and therefore both the individual and the democratic state must be interrogated to address the problem of mimetic violence. Throughout this essay, I have argued that the concept of a lone wolf terrorist ‘threat’ is defined by the mimetic relationship between the individual and democratic society. I first introduced Girardian mimetic theory and outlined the connections between mimetic desire and rivalry, and the potential for violent conflict. I discussed the ways in which liberal democratic society and the individual are plunged into a paradoxical state, where the mimetic rivalry over desire produces a globalized pathological resentment upon its constituents. In the second section of this essay, I examined the ways in which lone wolf terrorists project their globalized resentment upon society, placing particular emphasis on the exploitation of the internet and threats to democratic integrity. In the final component of this essay, I offered a mimetic mitigation approach to lone wolf terrorism, which acknowledges the importance universal access to psychotherapy holds for the prevention of emerging lone wolf terrorists. Girardian mimetic theory therefore highlights the ways in which Western liberal democratic societies preserve the perpetual manufacturing of violent conflict.