Rothbard’s essay ‘What is right –wing populism’ is very interesting in that it demonstrates an understanding the high-low mechanism of De Jouvenel, yet maintains a hard core liberal interpretation in which self interest is the key guide for the motivation of the behavior of the constituent parts. Rothbard states it as clearly as he possibly could:
“The reality of the current system is that it constitutes an unholy alliance of “corporate liberal” Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America. Therefore, the proper strategy of libertarians and paleos is a strategy of “right-wing populism,” that is: to expose and denounce this unholy alliance, and to call for getting this preppie-underclass-liberal media alliance off the backs of the rest of us: the middle and working classes.”
Which is preceded by the following:
“The basic right-wing populist insight is that we live in a statist country and a statist world dominated by a ruling elite, consisting of a coalition of Big Government, Big Business, and various influential special interest groups. More specifically, the old America of individual liberty, private property, and minimal government has been replaced by a coalition of politicians and bureaucrats allied with, and even dominated by, powerful corporate and Old Money financial elites (e.g., the Rockefellers, the Trilateralists); and the New Class of technocrats and intellectuals, including Ivy League academics and media elites, who constitute the opinion-moulding class in society.”
This is all correct to a point, but in all of it there is an assumption regarding the elite that they are cynical and manipulative, and that the presence of “powerful corporate and Old Money financial elites” is a symptom of their parasitism. Reading what they wrote and looking at what they did, this is completely wrong, and De Jouvenel realised this, and Moldbug realised this. Rothbard’s seeking of alliance with every ‘middle’ he could finds makes total sense in relation to the De Jouvenelian analysis, but it is a libertarian response, it is the promotion of anarchy and the rejection of the state, and it is doomed to disaster as Moldbug notes in one of his best post:
“The true rulers of our country are the professors, the journalists, the mandarins. Any feeble twitch of resistance from the continent squirming in their talons is promptly magnified, through these exquisitely sensitive and powerful information organs, into the most hideous and awful oppression.”
If the high is utterly, utterly all powerful, then weaponising the middle in conflict has one outcome –you are going to get diversified, multiculturalised and toleranced up the ass. The only solution is to take side with the state on different terms. Where De jouvenel, Rothbard and middle weaponisers go left, the reactionary goes… forward (there is no right in a reactionary society, just as there is no left – it’s over.)
The only solution is a reset, and a clean out of the whole thing, it needs shutting down as orderly as possible and a new sovereign structure which is “responsible to no one but God or the Devil” needs to be set up. The structure is run by a:
“a dictator – a single man or woman, who wields absolute and undivided authority. And is not afraid to use it. Of course, our dictator must be prudent. Here is our shortening of the way to prudent government: a prudent dictator. Some things are just simple.
After antiquity, the towering figure in classical political thought is Machiavelli. So don’t take it from me. Take it from the Discourses on Livy:
But we must take it as a rule to which there are very few if any exceptions, that no commonwealth or kingdom ever has salutary institutions given it from the first or has its institutions recast in an entirely new mould, unless by a single person. On the contrary, it must be from one man that it receives its institutions at first, and upon one man that all similar reconstruction must depend. For this reason the wise founder of a commonwealth who seeks to benefit not himself only, or the line of his descendants, but his State and country, must endeavour to acquire an absolute and undivided authority.
Ie, if you want to reboot, you need a dictator. Do Californians want a New California? Then they need to get it together, strap on a pair of balls and hire themselves adictator.
Or if you cling to our modern professors, ponder the oxymoron of phronetic social science. As I suspect Professor Flyvbjerg is aware, there is one fast path to phronesis (ie, prudence): a phronetic dictator. Certainly few phronetic committees, processes, “sciences,” etc, are known to history. Thus we might describe dictatorship as the auteur theory of government.”
That man Aristotle keeps appearing. Also, as an aside, prudence does not mean libertarianism and free trade:
“Fourth, you’ll note that libertarianism is a sort of formula for government. To the orthodox believer, whatever the question, free trade is always the answer. I will buy “generally,” but I will not buy “always.” Prudence does conflict with libertarianism, and prudence must win.”
“is a dictator, not a clerk. She is responsible to the Foundation, to her own conscience, and to no one else’s rules or regulations. This is the whole point of sovereignty.”
The dictator as such while not immune to elemental forces, is not beneath the economy to which the charge of elemental force is ascribed by libertarians and liberals. And, as Moldbug even spells out, the idea of the CEO and sov corp is primarily a case of metaphor:
“Note that we could use a euphemism. We could say that California needs a “CEO,” or that it should be “run like a startup,” or that it should report to a “single plenary administrator.” All of these would mean exactly the same thing. But this is where you get into creepy, because you’re sugaring the pill. A dictator is a dictator. You have to just suck it up and take the punch. California needs a dictator – a prudent, responsible dictator, of course.”
Having achieved the creation of a dictatorship (sorry CEO sov corp…) the allowance of liberty can be made because the high (the dictatorship) is not in any way in conflict with society. The battle is over, there is no right and left in the system:
“But freedom is not a function of “rights.” (It is certainly not a function of your political power.) It is a function of your actual personal independence. Similarly, privacy (which is a form of freedom) is a function of your actual personal security. If the Dictator will not tell you what to do, if she will not snoop into your desk drawer or your car or your computer, in what sense is it an injury to you that she could tell you what to do, she could snoop? Isn’t your skin a little thin?
Thus we see the paradox of the Dictatorship: freedom achieved through authority. This is a paradox quite alien to Anglo-American political thought, but well-known in the East. “Confucius compares a virtuous prince to the North Pole in which he finds himself: he does not move, and everything turns around him.” Our Dictator is of course that virtuous prince – or princess.
This simple principle of wu wei is the instinctive spirit behind libertarianism. Once we understand it as the pinnacle of the sovereign’s pyramid of needs, we can see the easy but fatal mistake the libertarian makes.
Quite simply, (policy) libertarians mistake disorder for freedom. They believe it is possible to make government smaller, and achieve wu wei, by weakening and dividing sovereign authority.
While this is in some senses true – disorder can certainly be quite a liberating experience – it never lasts. In the short term there can be such a thing as benign anarchy, but in the long term never. And since power is easy to divide, but hard to unify, the long-term result is always more duplication, less unity of authority and responsibility, and a bigger, nastier government. Thus the attempt to quash the monstrous Megatherions is the exact food on which they thrive.”
Weaponising the middle is a foolish path, and it is libertarianism.