Earlier this month I wrote an article to noted edgytarian Christopher Cantwell. In it I offered my post-ancap perspective on his supposed intellectual tension regarding the use of force. Turns out he just wanted to be okay with shooting chicks in his mind; in retrospect, I should have done more research prior to publishing that article.
Chris responded the next day, circling his wagons around the Non-Aggression Principle and shutting down my arguments in a very ham-fisted manner.
Unsure how to respond I choose to lurk at both Cantwell’s website and the “Libertarian Brutalist” (NSFW) facebook group he moderates. I bore witness as Cantwell cheered for Borque, as he cheered over some other dead cops. Recently, I watched Chris fume after Cop Block washed their hands of him in response to his writings (Cop Block article here).
I dallied on writing this response. I honestly considered not responding at all. While I was able to initiate the conversation in a very open and polite manner (evidenced by Cantwell reading a market anarchist in my words), I concede that I cannot find a means to continue that approach now. From what I’ve seen, there is simply no common ground between the two of us, besides an enmity towards the same personalities and groups. Even that overlap has led me to reconsider things.
Bluntly stated, I am disappointed because my desire for a dialog with a notable anarcho-capitalist blinded me to the person I am dealing with here. I hate being an optimist, sometimes.
Despite the wasted time and effort, I do see some merit in responding at this point. I see this as an opportunity to assist those out there who may be tracking my trajectory as a writer for TRS.
I have mentioned in previous articles that I was a hardline Rothbardian prior to a very rough shift into edgy-rightism. My earlier writings certainly do not lack for vitriol toward the beliefs I had abandoned. For the most part I have abandoned the anger, and am focused on reconciling past with the present as I continue my drift towards the edgiest political position one can have.
So, am I willing to concede I was wrong on the subject of anarcho-capitalism? Well, yes and no. It was certainly wrong to try and write off the whole thing as pot and roads. It is not wrong to see it as kind of goofy and ineffectual. Because, well, it kind of is.
At best anarcho-capitalism is inoffensively utopian. These are the ones who embrace capitalism and geld anarchy, reducing revolution to an edgy opposition to the status quo. The result tends to resemble the hippies of old, though typically with better hygiene and steady jobs.
They can be annoyingly optimistic, sometimes outright childish in their social views and moral posturing (see Doug Casey above). They tend to be overly pedantic and detached in their arguments and assertions. Their aesthetics are a silly kitsch.
Overall though, they aren’t horrible. Sometimes they can even be pretty cool. Embracing the more pragmatic side of the hyphen makes them reasonable and receptive to a degree. Some outliers even come to embrace and incorporate “alternative” and/or “mainstream” ideas. Adherents also seem to age like wine: the older the ancap, the less ridiculous their ideals and more approachable their rhetoric (college-aged ancaps are miserable children, though to be fair college politics are garbage in general).
At worst, the ideology can become a self-destructive totalitarianism. These are the ones who embrace the anarchy side of the hyphen, reducing capitalism to the law of the jungle. Anarchy serves as a bridge for a lot of left-wing revolutionary thought. Such thought is not very high-trust, it discourages moral behavior and tends to have an extremely negative opinion of humanity and it’s systems. Thankfully, the ideology has always tended to repulse left-leaners, and these sorts of ancaps are rare.
Anecdotally, the majority of anarcho-capitalists I have dealt and continue to deal with tend toward the “best” side of the spectrum. Though we sometimes butt heads over things, at TRS we’ve always had ancaps both among our readers and in the Inner Party; I don’t foresee that changing any time soon.
*AS AN ASIDE: It should also go without saying that, in a milieu that tends to encourage special snowflake-ism, I am certain there exist miserable and excellent examples of both extremes I have described above. I am certain no individual ancap fits these descriptions perfectly, it wasn’t my intent to pidgeonhole anyone. I’m also certain I haven’t perfectly described you. Yes yes, NAxALT, I know. Thanks, bro. Shut up.*
While no longer as disdainful or dismissive, I continue to assert that anarcho-capitalism is insuperably flawed. Mixing anarchy with capitalism is mixing low-trust and high-trust, conservative and revolutionary, productive and destructive means and ends. The two ideals could not be more contradictory; I’m sorry to break it to you, but Rothbard’s Hyphen didn’t fix this.
Those that are not paralyzed by the inherent tension between anarchy and capitalism inevitably pick one ideal, serve one master over another (lol scripture). Even then, most choose to continue believing they can be a consistent and rational combination of an ideal and it’s polar opposite. This inevitably creates dissonance and bizarre, sometimes destructive ideas, justification, and actions.
This reads a hell of a lot worse than it amounts to in reality. Ancaps seem to deal with the crossed wires of their ideology well enough. There are certainly more destructive things one can believe in or advocate for.
Which brings us back to Cantwell.
Chris wishes to assert that the science is in on the non-aggression principle as he sees it. According to him the concept stands on it’s own, it is objective reality, A is A and all that. I would point out that the Free State Project and now Cop Block justifying their excommunication of Cantwell with this very same principle is proof enough that the reality here isn’t quite so objective and absolute.
Except the argument really isn’t about the intricacies and application of NAP; the concept amounts to a busted circular argument and I have a hunch it was always meant to be that. Instead, one should ask why Cantwell needs his particular application of NAP to be the perfect and absolute one.
I assert that what Chris is really doing here by invoking “objective reality” is to brazenly project his own intellectual faults on others. Consider Cantwell’s utter lack of reflection in his tirades. The police officer holds superstitious notions of authority; what of the totalitarian individualist? The subjective reality feminist decides a penis makes her a victim from half a country away; what of the subjective reality anarchist who feels victimized and threatened by police officers who could care less from a mere county away? The child must be constrained because he/she lacks the capacity to act without harming itself; what of the adult requiring constraint because he/she lacks the capacity to deal with busy intersections, nuclear waste, people he/she disagrees with?
This being the internet and free speech somehow existing despite rampant authoritarianism (lol), one is certainly welcome to assert their perception is absolute objective truth. There is a decent audience for that sort of rhetoric, such an audience can generate ad revenue and they may even buy stuff. But to anyone besides the most ideologically-blinded and weak-willed, the “objective reality” argument comes off no different than the televangelist who heals people with a shoryuken.
Worse still is to you consider what Cantwell’s gospel amounts to. Which is: riding the legal line, playing coy while encouraging violent acts against police and society, disguising a personal vendetta with revolutionary rhetoric
Seeing Cantwell’s actions, I now understand why Jeffrey Tucker would embrace Cathy Reisenwitz and seek to cast off “brutalism.” If thisis brutalism, I would rather read about bitcoin privilege.
Similarly, while I continue to have harsh words for organizations like the Free State Project and especially Cop Block (badges *DO grant extra rights, you retards*), I find myself respecting their choice to wash their hands of people like Cantwell. They recognize when someone is using their ideology and argumentation for obviously flawed, dangerous and psychotic reasons.
Chris apparently has a complicated past, has had numerous and very damaging interactions with the government (mentioned in his Dead Men Don’t Start Revolutions article linked above). He sees government officials and supporter, particularly police as responsible for these slights against him, and he sees death as the only reasonable punishment. Anarchy, revolution, men’s rights, any of the stuff he associates with amounts to a means to settle this personal grudge. Nothing more.
I’m pretty sure Murray “unleash the police” Rothbard would have been appalled at seeing this sort of application of his ideology. I’m pretty sure a better world will not be achieved by inspiring group A to kill group B. I’m even more sure a yellow-black paradise will not be achieved with a red terror.
I’m almost certain that you need to check yourself before you shrek yourself, Chris “Jorge” Cantwell. Not that you will, your persona practically screams “repeat offender.” I am willing to wager that soon enough, you’re going to go too far, trip over yourself on the keyboard or forget the faux-ambiguity. Somebody will notice.
When it happens, I’ll be applauding the loudest when the police finally come to Adam Kokesh your ass.