The German liberal-conservative magazine Junge Freiheit (Young Freedom) published a survey in 2018 about how the Germans see themselves politically on the left-right scale. The survey goes from ‘one’ (very far left) to ‘ten’ (very far right). The statistically calculated average number was 4.7 – slightly left of centre.
Followers of far-left parties dared to put themselves far left on that scale, but even followers of the AfD – Aktion fuer Deutschland (Action for Germany) positioned themselves around six, a very moderate right. The AfD is actually quite a normal right-wing party, with a mix of conservative, libertarian and patriotic ideas and followers. Until the 1990s, this political position was mainstream in Germany. It was the natural position among the liberal and Christian democratic parties. Even the Social Democrats then possessed a strong patriotic wing. But today the mainstream media and the publishers of politically correct opinion consider this as extremely right – ‘Nazi’ and all that jazz.
As we know, the Germans and especially the grandparents of all the followers of this politically correct cult had Hitler. The followers of the AfD are surely correct in classifying themselves as centre right, but then we have to ask how far left has the political spectrum moved if that is seen and denounced as extreme right?
That leads to the question: What is, by rational analysis, actually right and what is actually left?
I’d like to give examples for left and (right) attitudes and positions. The benign reader is invited to look for more and add terms.
the devil (God)
the collective (the individual)
manipulation (respecting free will)
moral emptiness (moral consciousness)
rentseeking (readiness to work)
no border, no nations (fatherland)
people’s courts (independent judiciary)
revolution (constant reforms)
command economy (free economy)
high taxes (low taxes)
expropriation (secure property rights)
lumpen-proletariat (people living and enjoying rich traditions)
arbitrary rule (the rule of law)
demagogic rule/tyranny (constitutional regime/monarchy)
barbarians (Greek/Roman/Christian traditions and values)
finger food (fine restaurants)
couch potato (reading and studying books)
sloppiness (style and form)
rap/hip-hop (classic music)
theoretic calculations (ongoing pragmatic reforms)
atheism (faith or a sense for the metaphysical)
corner boys (hierarchy)
brutal concrete bunker architecture (classic architecture up to art nuveau)
adoration of the masses (respect for the person)
corruption of law (fundamental rights and duties)
propaganda (scepticism, according to Popper)
blind belief in a cult (method of falsification)
Among all the eminent thinkers who tried to sum up what is left and what is right, two are worth quoting. The first is the American philosopher Russell Kirk, who defined six elementary positions of a conservative mind:
A free society with a limited government and a free economy with independent stakeholders can easily be founded on and justified with these fundamental principles.
The second one was William S Schlamm. When questioned about his political program, he quipped “it is the ten commandments, basic calculation and Mozart.” This meant standing for a metaphysically-founded order, rules, freedom, common sense, elegance and beauty.
I achieved a ten on the political survey’s scale. This is no surprise, as we knew right is right and left is wrong!
How incentives and the hierarchy of human needs have diluted the Church's desire to act on its core beliefs.
The other day I was handed an article from World Magazine called “Silent Crossings.” The article discussed the new abortion bill, S.311, the Senate blocked that would criminalize healthcare professionals who failed to give life-saving care to infants born alive during an abortion procedure. The article summarized how little attention this bill seemed to receive and how, by and large, people’s actions seem unfazed by it. What struck me most was the article’s comment on how no changes in church sermon series occurred. Life even seemed to go on as normal for the church, and this struck me as particularly odd and surprisingly true.
You see, I grew up in the church, and while my family was Protestant, we also had many extended family members who were Catholic. I also had been a member of several churches in my youth and visited dozens of others. Throughout my whole church experience I never once ran across a belief that abortion was morally okay. It was always talked about in the same light as murder. From as far as I can tell the Catholic church still holds to the sanctity of life, from conception to birth, and so does the majority of other denominations. After reading this article I started looking around at how churches were operating and what their members were discussing as issues. I have yet to hear abortion or this bill mentioned.
This was strange and foreign to me. An institution so dedicated to the sanctity of life has remained eerily quiet over what seems to be an obvious breach of that sanctity by their own definition. Now I am sure there are plenty of church members who do not consider a baby as human life in the womb. I am not here to address that debate. However, if we are to ignore the debate of when a baby in the womb becomes a human life protected by the law than we can better focus on the issue of the Senate bill. This issue directly relates to already being born after a failed abortion. By my understanding of even some of the more liberal church ideas, any infant born is human life and the termination of such life is a significant, moral injustice.
Recently, I have been studying praxeology and economics. I find how humans act and what incentives drive them to act in order to meet needs is an interesting topic and it has become a hobby of mine. As I thought about the church’s silence on this issue, I could not help but put it into a praxeological perspective, and I realized that the American church has become complacent and lazy in its beliefs. From this praxeological approach, I realized that there did not seem to be much incentive for church members to oppose this bill and act against abortion. In order to act, people first need to have an incentive to act, and the benefits must outweigh the risks. Also, a common reason people act is to fulfill a need, and Maslow outlined a hierarchy of human needs: 1) physiological needs 2) safety needs 3) love and belongingness need 4) esteem needs 5) self-actualization needs.
In my experience, western culture and capitalism have established and created such wealth that the first two needs are already met for most American church-goers. The church itself, if you have gone to one recently, tends to feel more like a social club rather than an instrument of change. Quite often just by being a part of this “social club” one can fulfill the need for social belongingness. Thus, I suggest that by being an average or consistent American church attendee you likely have your first three needs met. This means the last two needs are more self-focused in nature. The pursuit of changing abortion laws and living out verbal convictions for the benefit of others tends to be put on the backburner and gets in the way of accomplishing these self-focused needs. Why leave your cozy job and income, Netflix, and couch to go protest? Why risk one’s reputation and prestige arguing an increasingly unpopular mainstream opinion? Acting in this manner would likely contradict the pursuit of fulfilling the final two needs. In extreme cases, it would even mean risking already established safety needs.
If abortion truly is murder on a large scale and the church cannot prevent it through peaceful measures, than the only other option is forceful measures if a change is truly desired. The fact is that this is not even an option that crosses people’s minds. Even if it did, they would not dare vocalize it for fear of seeming like a radical and potential domestic terrorist by insinuating potential violence. Can you imagine church members protesting or doing sit-ins and risking safety issues that come with some protests? Some yellow-vest protesters in France got arrested and dealt with other safety issues when clashing with law enforcement. It is almost unthinkable to imagine a few church groups risking anything near what the French people risked over a tax dispute in order to stand up for what they say the church believes in when it comes to moral issues.
The simple take away from this is that the church and its members value their reputation and pursuit of self-interested goals over pursuing change that might negatively impact their image. It will act like this even if the change is something they claim to be a high moral value, such as abortion. If the church will not risk needs 3-5 than they would never risk the first two needs either in pursuit of a verbal and written moral belief.
This brings me to my conclusion. If the church will not act to protect what it deems life, than why would it act to prevent corruption, other “lesser” moral evils, or even to help the poor and just be a consistent living example of Christ. The church, after all, is supposed to be the body of Christ. Therefore, I claim the church is dead and its beliefs so diluted by social pressures and self-interest that no significant incentives, strong enough to create action, remain for the body of Christ to act as a meaningful agent of change in the world today. It will continue to act as your feel-good, friendly neighborhood social club for the immediate future, but there is no foundation or substance to hold it up for long.
I am in no means encouraging violent action to address this issue. I am merely stating what humans typically do to enact the change they highly desire and cannot achieve by other means. For example, Americans risked all five basic needs to free themselves from British rule. Here, incentives were high enough and the risking all five basic needs for the rewards of being free was deemed worth it. The church will not even change a sermon series or organize a protest to argue with the recent Senate bill being blocked.
Also, while this article was inspired by a recent article on abortion, its premise can be applied to almost any major church belief with ease. Adultery? No biggie! Lies? Meh! The rest of the ten commandments? They look nice in stone, but do not hold them to it, that takes incentivized effort, and who needs that!
Yesterday, millions of Americans cheered on as John Bolton was forced to resign from his position as National Security Advisor in the Trump cabinet. Bolton was considered by many to be hawkish and has even been called an outright warmonger. Today honors the memory of the famous attack against the United States in New York that kicked off the War on Terror that we are still fighting today.
Conspiracy theories aside for the moment, the attack demanded action from the U.S. and its allies to take down the terrorist organization that planned and carried out this horrific attack that will live on in infamy. The problem is that it should have been over by now, and should never have shifted the ways that it did. The U.S. had a simple mission with the war on terror: Take out Al-Qaeda. That simple mission had nothing to do with the “weapons of mass destruction” that were “found” in the possession of other states. It had nothing to do with Yemen, or Libya, or Syria today. What was sold as a mission in the name of justice became little more than another justification for continuous war.
One of the biggest issues with the war on terror is the cost. On the financial side, the “war” has cost the U.S. taxpayer approximately 5.6 trillion dollars as of 2017 according to the Watson Institute. This accounts not only for the general costs of pay and equipment, but also the additional resources taken by Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the DoD. More importantly, in my opinion at least, is the cost in human lives. Approximately 480,000 to 507,000 lives were lost, and the lions share of them were civilians.
We can also look at the damage to domestic citizens as well. The Patriot Act, the Protect America Act, NSA’s surveillance programs, the TSA in general. After the war of terror began the civil liberties began to be eroded at a never-before-seen rate, and the public ate it up and allowed it with next to no resistance. On top of the invasion into the privacy and damage to our rights these pieces of legislature allowed, it also set the precedent for what the government can get away with against its population.
Lastly, I would like to point out the unintended consequences that the war on terror has had. Former President Barack Obama was on record as saying the ISIL’s formation was a result of the invasion of Iraq.
Looking further, we can see how terrorism expands not solely from religious extremism, but also as a direct response to the military actions in their countries. The IRA is a prime example of this, but keeping with the Middle East theme we can see Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which formed in 2007, was a direct result of NATO actions in the area. Al Shabaab in Somalia could, and has, been interpreted as a response to Kenyan and Western-supported African Union’s forces entering the country. The argument has also been made and reinforced by Robert Pape, director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, in his book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism that suicide bombings, and terrorism, in general, is largely increased when a local populace is faced with ever-increasing military occupations.
This is the 18th anniversary of the attack against America, and it marks an equal amount of time spent in perpetual war. As we’ve seen above, the war on terror has costs more of our freedoms, our tax funds, and human lives than it ever should have, all while contributing more to further terrorism than it cures. This is not how we should be honoring the victims of this monumental tragedy, and there is truly no argument left that can justify our further participation in the bloodshed.
Watching or reading anything in society is a chore. Between the left crying racism and sexism on anything and anyone they don’t like, and the right always railing against political correctness and identity politics, it is downright exhausting living in the western world right now. The two ends of the traditional political spectrum appear to be more polarized with each passing day. As they both seek to crush the other side, their extremism only gets worse, and we all suffer as a result.
The left’s influence on the media and film is increasingly obvious. How many films have been remade with an all-female cast and yet deliver a mediocre rehashing of the original movie? Or how often do we see the race card being played in society? This doesn’t mean that sexism and racism don’t exist, but the ferocity with which the left seeks to find them under every rock looks more like McCarthyism and virtue signaling than true care for minority groups.
The right isn’t much better. Anytime the left angers them, they are quick to shout them down and decry the left’s actions as political correctness and identity politics. Even when the left has a legitimate reason to be outraged (perhaps over indisputable evidence that a cop shot a young, black man without just cause), far too many on the right play down the justified anger towards that injustice. As a side note, it is interesting to note that many left-leaning comedians also denounce the political correctness of the left because it has ballooned out of control and has become anathema to free speech in its supposed moral crusade against anything the left doesn’t like or want to hear.
As both sides become more extreme, or at least have their collective voice overtaken by the more extreme elements on their end of the spectrum, we see them becoming more militant. Violence against those you oppose is starting to become more common. Antifa is only one example of this extremist militancy. What’s interesting about them, and other more militant elements on both sides, is that they adopt the rhetoric and tactics of the very types they claim to oppose. Antifa is all about being anti-Nazi (a term losing all meaning with its overuse), and yet, using tactics that Hitler would have approved of (*see Mein Kampf). Despite not using such militant actions themselves, many on the left and right seem to openly approve of the chaos, or offer consent through silence.
What is the solution to the increasing madness? Those of us outside the traditional spectrum know what the answer is. Libertarianism offers a mindset and way of life that doesn’t lend itself to extremist beliefs and militancy. With a belief in non-aggression, the militancy of groups like Antifa is never considered acceptable. Civility and peaceful solutions to society’s ills are the way of liberty. Aggression is only acceptable when someone has aggressed against you first. This is not the case with these militant factions.
Collectivism allows for the “us vs them” mentality that makes the moral outrage of the left and the right possible. It is what makes increasing polarization and militancy possible. Libertarianism focuses on individuals and their property rights. Libertarianism doesn’t get caught up in tribalism and collectivism. A liberty-minded worldview seeks justice without virtue signaling. It calls out inequality without force and militancy. It allows free speech even if that speech is offensive. Liberty is neither vindictive nor is it about moral crusading. Liberty is the only answer to the extremism being offered by the left and the right in our society.
When we first start reading into libertarian philosophy, we see examples of how things currently are, and the benefits, both practically and morally, that come from removing levels of state interference. We see arguments for the reinforcement of our rights, and clearer definitions of what rights we do and do not have. One of the most influential and reused examples is the Crusoe thought experiment. Time and time again, this particular example is used as the basis and backbone for many anarchist arguments as it serves well in its role of explaining how libertarianism works both with regard to human nature and to baseline economics. This doesn’t leave the argument without issues though.
For those that haven’t seen this argument used before, allow me to explain. Robinson Crusoe is a character, from a book of the same name, who had been stranded on a deserted island. In economics, we use this particular example to scale down our economic analysis to a single actor, then extrapolate from there. In situations where we need to analyze trade we, then, add his friend (a servant in the book) Man Friday. The inclusions of the second person also helps with reviewing how we establish trade rules, what happens with imbalances with wealth, and how we can potentially create ownership systems/which systems are better.
The best use of Crusoe examples is to simplify economic calculations for experimentation and modeling, however, this is not the only way they’re used. Often in libertarian literature, the arguments go into “what makes sense to do” or other a priori arguments about what Crusoe would do and how he would act if acting as a perfectly rational actor. Therein lies two of our issues. Basing key arguments on what we think someone alone on an island would do fails to account for how multifaceted and complex our interactions with each other are. Furthermore, having an a priori argument built on the idea of a perfectly rational actor rarely, if ever, accurately resembles how things play out with real people.
Reliance on the Crusoe example also ignores the concept’s history. While primarily employed by Classical, Neoclassical, and Austrian economists, the open concept of a single actor outside of our regular economic situations can be employed just as easily to discredit the free-market economics that it’s supposed to support. In the Crusoe example, when we add Friday, it’s usually used to show the benefits of trade. What if we reviewed this two-person economy, but as a communistic gift economy? Surely, these two would have a greater quality of life simply sharing the land, workload, and fruits of said labor communally rather than hoarding what they produce for the sake of measured trade over imaginary lines they’ve established. I’m sure arguments of similar weight could be drawn from Crusoe for several other economic models; each of which would stray further from the original pro-capitalist argument.
The Crusoe example can be a great tool for simplifying models for the sake of mathematical exploration or to make explaining a concept simpler as well. That said, we cannot treat it as an argument on its own lest we wish to find ourselves stranded.
Kim Ruff is a candidate for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president in 2020. Her campaign is dedicated to focusing on local elections and to impassion people to be the spark to reignite liberty. Following the 42 libertarian victories on November 5th, 2019, Ruff released the following statement:
“What a momentous night for Liberty! Following on the heels of the South Carolina Presidential Debate this past weekend, the Libertarian Party’s down ballot candidates have currently secured a whopping 42-seats, experienced record percentages in countless more, and almost all of them were in hotly contested, partisan races, reinforcing two major points libertarian activists have been driving home repeatedly in recent years:- Focus Local- Be Fearless and Unapologetic. We are so incredibly thrilled to experience this socio-political sea change with all of our friends and colleagues, and so deeply humbled to march alongside them. Bravo! This is only the beginning!
Over the coming weeks, we will be showcasing these incredible candidates to discover what they did to #BeTheSpark and what you can do to help #ReigniteLiberty.”