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Friday, May 19, 2017

Liberty Is Essential But Insufficient

I recently saw a video by a libertarian commentator named TJ Brown, also known as That Guy T, on YouTube making a tongue-in-cheek thought experiment that the liberty movement would do well to consider forging an alliance with fascism to effectively protect Western culture from the left’s violent domination.

I understand he was not being literal and so I am not going to grand stand against fascism. To do so is too easy and obligatory these days. I consider the ideology “small potatoes” as a cultural force. Of course, it is immoral. So is Pharaohism. Neither will be a viable cultural force in the West. Suspending all moral considerations, appeals to pragmatically align with its small band of Internet advocates are a dead-end outreach strategy for liberty.

I agree with Brown’s larger point though: the liberty movement is not a culturally effective force because liberty is never a transcendent end around which to develop culture. Liberty is a means to an end. The end, the driving force of communities, is ultimately virtue. Virtue, values, morals, ethics, these are the domain of systems thinking. Systems thinking is about establishing a common vision that animates and orients human beings’ passion and sacrifice.

An ethic of virtue is what must be the cornerstone of a lasting culture. I’ll go one step further, a common ethic, not rules, is what makes a cultural body antifragile, as Nassim Taleb would say. An antifragile structure is one that gains strength through stress and adversity. Such a body does not simply survive difficulty but becomes better through it.

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