This from Albert Jay Nock is as pertinent today as it was during Nock's time. Overhaul, indeed. I especially like the distinction he makes between intelligence and superfical cleverness -- I have written about this distinction in reference to the faux-elite in the media and political class which pass for today's intelligentsia. This also reminds me of a Bill Maher segment in which David Carr proclaimed the superiority of MSM writers like himself over bloggers in their underwear. Carr didn't have to say too much to make it apparent that his opinion of himself and those like him is a tad delusional.
Entries in Albert Jay Nock (7)
I started this off a few days ago writing about the Old Right which was mostly libertarian. The Old Right came about from around 1920 to 1950 and was mostly an opposition movement fighting against American intervention in Europe, then opposition to the growing statism which culminated in the New Deal. Albert Jay Nock was probably considered the father of the Old Right, although at first Nock was considered on the Left, before the Left embraced the State and war as the progressive routes to equality and social justice, and as a reaction to the Depression which was erroneously blamed on a non-existent free market.
I said in the first post that we need radicals for freedom. The current political fashion is to dull differences and pretend that we're not that far off in our political beliefs, and that compromise and unity can create the world the technocrats intended. The far Left understands the differences between their agenda and the agenda of proponents for limited government and a free market, but the liberals on the Left are pushing for compromise now that statism has shown the serious flaws of which many of us have warned. The far Left honestly wants to destroy capitalism and redistribute the wealth in an American-style statist system. The liberals cannot let go of their worldview built on the platform of the Democrat Party, but they realize that the libertarian Right has been correct about many economic matters. So, now, revisionists are busy at work blaming the extremes for upsetting the modern liberal vision of technocratic, genteel, polite management from smart, progressive and compassionate leaders.
Liberals and moderates are still convinced that the technocrats can do it right if the extremes don't pressure their representatives into battles and stand-offs. This is basically what the Old Right fought against to start with when the Left and many who before fought against State power then capitulated after WWI when the vision of Great Accomplishments in social engineering and central planning got their attention. They knew that Hitler and Stalin were extremists and did it all wrong, but they embraced the idea of central control and social engineering done with American style intelligence and compassion.
The fascist ideas were especially pushed behind the scenes by Big Business, because industry captains knew the value of protection from competition. It was the intellectuals, though, who made fascism respectable by giving it another name and claiming grand societal benefits. Almost everyone who realized the benefits of using State power for influence, prestige and protection jumped on board, and, of course, they all had virtuous reasons for doing so.
Many of the liberals going forward were successful upper middle class whites who sincerely saw social engineering and central planning as a way to attain social justice and help those blocked from opportunity. What the liberals didn't realize is it was statism that blocked opportunity, and that statism had been creeping forward since the beginning of America. However, the political class succeeded in framing capitalism as the culprit for inequality and injustice. During the early American years of capital formation, there were many problems in the market, and most of these problems were worsened by government intervention, yet a "free" market received the blame. This path led to the idea of a mixed economy and everyone accepted it as the normal progression of a civilized society -- Europe told them so.
It has only been the Old Right, the libertarians, and limited government conservatives today who've consistently pushed for a limited government and a truly free market. It's been libertarians fighting against overseas interventions, the Fed, monster creations like Fannie and Freddie, regulations which cripple small and medium size businesses while protecting the corporate behemoths like GE and GM.
We don't need luke-warm compromisers and another round of libertarian capitulation, as the liberals want in order to cover up the damage -- no, we need radicals for limited government and a free market. We need to make whatever changes are necessary to destroy statism once and for all, because all that's left is power protection, and efforts to maintain State power are savaging this country's economy and spirit.
Liberals have to return to their roots in classical liberalism and realize they've been mistaken. Many liberals claim we've come too far with statist practices to turn back time, so we have to make small, incremental changes and tweak the system through smart compromises. Even if this is a sincere position, it's impossible, because it's been tried over and over, and all that happens is that the State grows in power, the private sector becomes weaker, and the un-connected lose more freedom.
Whether the libertarian Right loses or not, there should be an opposition, and it should not waver on principles.
The old right, made up of writers like Frank Chodorov, Roy Childs and Murray Rothbard, is the enduring soul and intellect of the right, which has been perverted through the years by several forces: moderates, neo-cons, Big Government/statist Republicanism and social conservatives bent on moral coercion. I prefer to call the old right individualists and libertarians, but even libertarianism in 2010 needs to be distinguished from the new libertarian/modern liberal/left mongrel mindset. I really don't know what conservatism is anymore, since the tradtion of the last 75 years has been a modern "liberal" tradition. The right today, the limited government/free market faction, represents a new radical dynamism, not conservativism. If anything, the statist, modern liberalism starting at the end of the 19th century was a conservative reaction to a temporary libertarianism that was never allowed to flourish, even from the beginning of the nation, as Albert Jay Nock and Murray Rothbard wrote about years ago. America's conservative force has been the maintenance of an ancien regime political philosophy of the few over the many going back to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire -- there has been nothing liberal about modern liberalism, except a call for certain civil liberties that have been hypocritically championed.
Franz Oppenheimer wrote in The Stateabout the dissolution of Pericle's Athens, Greece, due to slavery and the primacy of political means, and predicted a "resurrection" from "war to peace, from the hostile splitting up of hordes to the peaceful unity of mankind, from brutality to humanity, from the exploiting State of robbery to the Freemen's Citizenship." This has been the vision of the Old Right -- all other versions of a coercive right today utilizing political means to order society are merely forms of statism undeserving of any other designation. Until we can clearly delineate left and right, the pursuant confusion enables the State of robbery to thrive.
The right today, in a non-partisan way, should reclaim the early 20th century distinction of promoting a truly limited government and a laissez faire free market. Even if it takes the establishment of an alternative political route to eliminate State exploitative power, if this distinction is not made, then both major parties will simply continue to shift power back and forth, and the Freemen's Citizenship will never materialize. "Capitalism" has been destroyed by the State, but its basic economic principles are still relevant to a Free Market -- however, Free Marketism is more than an economic system, it's a way of life and the avenue to creative diversity, the peaceful co-existence of various lifestyles and the blooming of creative social co-operation. The right has to rise above the original "right" of landed aristocracy and wise rulers, and above the perversions of religious fanaticism and militaristic fury on the international stage, and above the cartoon version of racism, homophobia, unthinking chauvinism, misogyny and corporate cronyism.
If statism is to be defeated, then the intellectual soul of the Old Right needs to be nourished, fully understood and championed as the original American vision infused in the language of the Declaration of Independence. We can't selectively choose who is allowed to be free and who stays in chains. Even the most distasteful forms of freedom should be diligently defended and protected, or no freedoms will survive.
I admire what Glenn Beck is doing. He's one of the only popular commentators taking on the status quo and searching for the truth among a lot of propaganda. But, sometimes Beck talks as if he alone saw beforehand what is now happening in politics and the economy. In many ways, Beck is a Johnny-come-lately. I grant that not many people were predicting the consequences of statism, but there have been a few courageous voices sounding these warnings for a long, long time, like Frank Chodorov, Ayn Rand, Albert Jay Nock, Roy Childs and Murray Rothbard, to name a few, and they should be given credit for predicting these consequences as far back as the turn of the 20th century.
Even in more recent times, many of us libertarians/classical liberals have warned about the dangers of statism before Beck woke up and saw the light. I would just like to see Beck crow less about what he has predicted, that others are now seeing, and give more credit to the thinkers who've been fighting statism for a very long time, and at times when it was very unpopular and not financially rewarding to do so.
Although Albert Jay Nock didn't write history as a patriotic hoorah historian, he had a very realistic approach, and he understood that a few in the beginning of America, like Thomas Jefferson, believed in the vision of natural rights and popular sovereignty and were appalled at the development of the Merchant-State. Nock also made it clear he was not disparaging the Founders and the subsequent developement -- he stated it was all they knew from watching England's merchant-state development, and many of the financially powerful individuals at the time wanted their control of the growth, so they chose what they knew -- the political means. Not everyone could be a great visionary like Jefferson, and the lure of an undeveloped nation waiting for the strong to make it into something profitable and useful was too great. The idea of using economic means and allowing competition from anyone at any time must have seemd too chaotic, slow and risky, so the stronger interests used government coercion to ease the way for development and they led the American, Jeffersonian vision astray.
Do we now, after years of powerful interests exploiting the nation, just take the realist approach and accept that powerful economic interests will always apply political means, and we are destined to suffer exploitation of one class over all others? I can't accept that kind of cynical inevitability. However, for all the realistic acceptance of our beginning, the current group of modern liberals who've idealistically supported the beneficient State to stop exploitation by powerful economic interests should be just as disillusioned as Jefferson as he witnessed the emergent merchant-state, because Democrats as well as Republicans have kept that type of State going strong.
The illusion is that new special interests, such as minority organizations, environmetal groups and unions, are the main influence on liberal government, and that this type of special interest influence is necessary to keep capitalist interests from gaining control. However, behind the scenes are the same rent-seekers using political means to gain power and control -- look at all the rent-seeking influence involved in writing the healthcare bill, from hospitals to drug companies to physicians to insurance companies, each trying to situate themselves with an advanatage and to block competition. In the financial reform, Big Banks will win, and small and medium size banks will be shackled. Companies and rich individuals are lining up for clean energy and the cap and trade scheme -- Gore, Goldman Sachs, GE, etc. Follow the money and do a little research and you'll find rent-seekers throughout the process. This has been done by others, and I dont get paid to do research, but I've read the research and there's no reason to think that the State system has changed overnight just because liberals are excited about Obama and a new, smarter government.
What I would like to consider is how do we end the Merchant-State, or State Capitalism, if you prefer. The limitations first placed on government were vulnerable to interpretation, or simply power taken by executive order. The problem is that too many people still believe that the political means to organize society are superior to economic means. There has to be a generalized psychic change regarding the use of political means.
First of all, and it's happening already, we have to wake up to where political means have brought us. Some have done well -- when Obama told the middle-class lady at the town hall meeting that WE are still hurting from the stagnant economy, what he meant is that a lot of people are hurting, but those who have connections and protection always do well. There are also honest, hard-working people who've succeeded and have done well, but they will soon be punished by higher taxes to pay for the State's spending binge and power-grab. If we continue in the direction we're headed, which Obama amazingly assures us is the right direction, the entire nation will collapse. These are practical reasons to find a way to transition from political means to economic means.
Secondly, we have to ask ourselves if we still value individual rights and popular sovereignty -- if we do, then it's obvious that the political means will only empower a relatively rich and powerful few, and that this ogliarchy will enslave and exploit everyone else -- anyone without protection and connections will be used as slaves to support the powerful at the top. The State is not benficient, it's self-serving and anti-social. We can't continue in the direction of everyone fighting for advantage and protection -- it will tear the country apart and will eventually destroy us, with years of suffeing in a modern form of slavery before the total collapse. Is this melodramatic? Only if you think history is irrelevant, and we've found a way to defy reality.