What Explains the Brutalism Uproar?

Trellick Tower iconic sixties new brutalist architecture

“Best article I’ve read in decades.”

That’s the message I received from so many people when my article “Against Libertarian Brutalism” first appeared.

A day later, I started to receive a different message.

“This article is evil and you are evil for having written it.”

Actually, the critics didn’t quite say that in those words. Mostly the language of the article’s detractors is unprintable. If I had any doubts that my piece was necessary, the reactions, some of them give new meaning to the phrase “violent prose,” removed them all. In fact, many people said that they had no idea that brutalism was a big problem until they saw the egregious responses to my piece. Thus did the persistent and non-relevant question regarding against whom this article was written answer itself.

There was another reaction that I found amusing. It came down to: heck yeah brutalism! This reaction mostly stems from the coolness factor of the word. I can only assume that the people who said this didn’t really read the piece and hadn’t entirely understood just how precise, authentic, distorted, and fundamentally awful the brutalist worldview really is.

In general, I find the debate and frenzy to be great. A writer aspires to write a piece that achieves that.

Still, I’m still not entirely sure why the article excited such controversy. What worried me at first is that I had actually underestimated the influence of the brutalist perspective. But as I think about it, and look carefully at the opposition, it really does come down to about half a dozen people. They felt accused, from which I can only conclude that my description of the brutalist mind was more evocative than I knew.

This article began as a private study, a memo to myself, a reminder of why we are in the liberty business. We’ve all felt that need to tell the hard truth. Assert the raw and unadorned core repeatedly and dogmatically. React with righteous anger and fury, even without elaboration, to the point of being downright offensive. There is a role for this. Injustice in our midst — and there is so much of it — cries out for it.

I wouldn’t call this brutalist. I would call this righteous passion, and it is what we should feel when we look at ugly and immoral things like war, the prison state, mass surveillance, routine violations of people’s rights. The question is whether this style of argument defines us or whether we can go beyond it, not only to lash out in reaction — to dwell only in raw oppositional emotion — but also to see a broad and positive alternative.

What is the right balance? How can we cling to and rally around fundamental rights, even when the conclusions are discomforting, and, at the same time, maintain a broadness of mind to see the larger goal and dream of liberty itself?

I came to be intrigued at the analogy between a deeply distorted, but still interesting, school of architecture and certain trends and intellectual tendencies you see in the libertarian world.

It fascinates me because there are often parallels between the world of art and the world of political ideology. This was better understood in 19th century European politics, when political parties tended to rally around certain composers: in Germany, for example, whether you preferred Brahms to Wagner told you something about a person’s view of German territorial disputes.

In the case of brutalist architecture, a school of thought that lived for 20 years after 1950, we had an edgy ideology at work, one based on a truth gone mad. That truth is that a building serves a function. It exists mainly to serve that function. The brutalists believed that everything beyond that function is a distraction, an invasion, a corruption. A building should not be art. It is not marketing, it is not for human delight. It must only tell one truth and never elaborate on that one truth. Of course this view represents not only an attack on modernity but all of history. It is affected in the extreme. Even the caves had art.

That brutalist tendency can exist within politics too. You see it in every election season. Forget all subtlety, all reservation, all mental questioning: just vote for X because that will cause all wrongs to be righted. In this way politics is brutalist.

But as I read about brutalism, I couldn’t help but wonder if this tendency is alive in the libertarian world I know so well. This is why Ludwig von Mises addressed this problem at length in his 1927 book Liberalism. He was emphatic that the foundation of liberalism is private property. But he doesn’t stop there. With that comes peace, tolerance, prosperity, and the flourishing of the common good. These are foundational ideals. He says that liberalism is the only ideology that can consistently and correctly state that it is not a party, a faction, a special interest, a narrow concern, or a private bias. It genuinely believes in the whole: liberalism speaks to the destiny of humankind..

This is the spirit I sought to evoke in this piece. I recall when I first read this book, how it inspired me. Yes, it sought to defend the rights of people to do nonviolent but still ghastly things. That’s important. More than that, however, this book conjured up for me a vision of global order ruled by no one but participated in by everyone. The book has haunted me in so many ways. It was the last statement of the old liberal worldview, a glimpse of a vision that once was but could be again. It’s big, high minded, beautiful.

What if the theme of liberty becomes the slogan of sectors of life that are fundamentally anti-social? That is part of the price of liberty itself. Liberty can deal with it. But what if we take it one step further and the intellectuals who defend liberty become exclusively celebratory of such elements? What if the racists, sexists, and anti-semites become heroes in their minds because, for whatever is wrong with their view of the world, they are defying what they see as the prevailing regime? What if libertarianism becomes the great gloss to cover up the hidden desire to achieve personal power, malevolent longings, antisocial urges, and authoritarian ends? I view this as a distortion and a problem, one against which we need to steel ourselves.

The most persistent response to my piece was the demand to know about whom in particular the article was written. Of course my piece did not name names because no one fully embodies brutalism. The real point was to draw attention to a tendency or archetype that keeps rearing its head. It has done so in my own writings variously through the years — as if I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed. None of us is immune. This is the whole point of demons and ideals: not to describe perfect exemplars but to urge everyone to avoid the pitfalls and long for the best that is in our hearts.

We all need reminders of why we are in the business of studying and promoting the ideas of liberty. It is not really about hating the state, even if that is something we must do. It is not really about celebrating the rights of malevolent forces in our midst, even though they deserve a defense. Hate is not the theme. (When Murray Rothbard used to say that “hate is my muse,” he was being facetious; that man loved liberty like life itself.)

The reason to believe in liberty is actually benevolent, humble, and rooted in love: we believe in the possibilities of humanity. No state — forever freezing the world in place, presuming to know the unknowable, brutally suppressing dissent, regimenting behavior and ideas, robbing and murdering to realize its goals at the expense of society — can unleash the creative and service-oriented possibilities of the human mind. On the contrary, states, like all expression of power in society, cut off and destroy what society tries to create and self-correct.

The brutalist mind samples that of the state. It believes in its infallibility, separates the world into those who comply and those who do not, admits no error, sees no coloration, opposes all elaboration and emendation, rules through intimidation, tolerates no diversity, recoils from intellectual struggle, stamps out all uncertainty, opposes innovation, never admits error. You see this in the buildings that brutalist styling produced, and you see this in the ideological world too. You feel it when you wince at what they produce.

We need liberty for civilization to emerge, to be sustained, to improve. There is absolutely nothing brutalist about that goal. On the contrary, the longing for liberty is rooted in our most wonderful dreams for ourselves and everyone.

37 comments… add one

  • The grand vision isn’t just the NAP and that’s that. The NAP is a means, but its underpinning presupposes tolerance, humility, acceptance. It does. I very much appreciate this debate, and it is key to wield liberty toward pananarchism, removing its seemingly sole grasp from the hands of white American males. Nothing wrong with white American males, but there’s more to the world, more to anarchism, than your scary missives on the evils of minimum wage (I am sure the government tosses and turns at your every update). There’s more to anarchism than smoking indoors. Anarchism needs a broad, flowing coalition. It must. Racists, sexists, ists and isms of all stripes are welcome, tolerated. But they must’n’t carry the day, they cannot be allowed to DEFINE liberty. Tucker is pointing the way, and he’s just big enough in our circles to curate this discussion. Anarchism has to leave behind doughy white dudes who listen to Rush and download Asian porn; it has to reach the rest of the world — not all of it, but more than our provincial dozen or so fraternity bros. Women require a greater voice, and I find them making the deepest contributions of late. Nonwhites, non Americans are also making a charge at anarchism. These sectors need our support.

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  • Mr. Tucker, you asked me once what you could do to impress me. You have just done so.

    Great piece, both this and your original.

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  • Of course my piece did not name names because no one fully embodies brutalism. The real point was to draw attention to a tendency or archetype that keeps rearing its head. It has done so in my own writings variously through the years — as if I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

    I think it would be clarifying if you offered an actual example, from your past writing, of what you take to be an expression of the ‘brutalist’ tendency. To me this idea is still extremely vague.

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    • oh I’ve done some book reviews where I decided in advance that I would trash it even without having read it. Then I cherry picked passages to jump on and denounce. That’s kind of stupid actually. Accomplishes nothing.

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      • I seriously would like you to be more specific in your writings. You keep throwing these vague messages out there, and then you have to write explanations.

        I learned this idea of writing clearly, focused and coherently from YOUR book(Jetson’s world). Yet your recent articles(especially since you came on board with liberty.me) are highly unfocused, and muted. This is precisely why the initial reaction of your article was positive, but when people read it more, they read whatever they wanted to read into it.

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      • That certainly doesn’t sound like a respectable or intellectually honest way to approach creating a book review. But it doesn’t get me closer to feeling like I understand what you’re getting at when you talk about a ‘libertarian brutalist’ tendency exactly. Do you have anything online that exemplifies it in your writing?

        Full disclosure: I currently have the feeling that this is a very woolly concept. The lack of concrete examples strengthens this impression. I share Renegade’s opinion that this vagueness has lead many to project their pet likes/dislikes onto the term already. Because of the lack of rigour so far in defining what it is you’re talking about I don’t think this has been a helpful exercise in terms of advancing understanding. Instead I think it’s proving to be unnecessarily divisive.

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        • Maybe “brutalism” simply means fundamentalism: a combination of unswerving advocacy of what one sees as basic principles (often as-given by a particular Great Mind), and denunciation of those who adhere to other (“deviant”) basic principles. That describes the buildings, too.

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    • I am not a JT, so I cannot speak for him, but what I get from this division into “brutalism” and “humanitarianism” is that it describes an approach to liberty or maybe even talking about the liberty. From what I understand, you could sum this up with two sentences:

      brutalism:
      Liberty is super, because you can discriminate against jews, blacks, whites, non-jews, women, men, gay, straight and so on as much as you want. If you hate someone, you can exclude them from the society as long as you don’t violate the NAP.

      humanitarianism:
      Liberty is super, because you can engage in peaceful cooperation with other people. You can trade, serve them, invent, and everything in a peaceful manner. If you see an opportunity, you can take advantage of it as long as you don’t violate the NAP.

      Everyone has a “humanitarian” and a “brutalist” inside, and it is only up to us, to feed the “humanitarian” side and not the “brutalist”. Focus on the “positives” and not the “negatives”. This of course doesn’t mean you have to accept everyone and everything. You can even hate some people and that is something you have a right to. That is one aspect of the liberty, but it is not all that it is all about.

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  • I propose, instead of “Brutalist and Humanitarian”, we use “Absolutist and Contextualist” and in so doing, remove evaluation and moral judgement and recognize the values held most dear to each of these two libertarian subtypes:
     
    Absolutist: Autonomy, Integrity, Clarity, Certainty, Structure
    — vs —
    Contexualist: Autonomy, Community, Connection, Choice, Fairness

    I believe Jeffrey Tucker is making a distinction between “law/rules” and “culture/intent/spirit”. He’s saying yeah, of course we want to build a world where the “rules” support choice to discriminate AND “at the same time” let’s build a culture that encourages acceptance. These are not mutually exclusive ideals.

    Example: restaurant owner chooses to ban blacks from his restaurant. Contextualist libertarians might either boycott or talk to the restaurant owner in a nonviolent attempt to convince him to not discriminate in this way. Absolutists, even though not racist, might openly support the restaurant owner by eating at his restaurant and/or verbal attacks on the Contextualists. Both types of libertarians would support the restaurant owner’s “legal” right.

    Both also support the same principle underlying that “legal” right. It’s just that the Contextualists are considering nuances of intent and interpretation, wanting people to be sure they know they have a CHOICE to be cool, even though they are not forced to be cool.

    The Absolutists worry that the principle might be forgotten or misinterpreted, so they may be less likely to acknowledge the existence of that choice to be cool. Saying, “Hey be cool to black people” comes across to an Absolutist as a weakening of an important principle of liberty because some may interpret this as a decree, rather than a suggestion. In a Absolutist’s mind, this could lead to an altogether abandonment of the important underlying principle of free choice.

    It might be fair to say the Absolutists see the world more in terms of black & white than the Contextualists. Too many shades of grey can appear “muddy” and not meet the Absolutist’s need for clarity.

    It’s like the difference between “can” and “do”. I’m picturing a parent teaching a child:

    (1) The Absolutist to his child: “If you see kids shunning another kid, that’s fine. It is their right. And your RIGHT to not get involved.” Here the Absolutist might worry that if their child got involved, it would not only cause potential harm to their child but also to the principle of it being OK to choose not to help others in distress.

    (2) The Contextualist: “If you see kids shunning another kid, that’s fine. It is their right. And your right to not get involved. Do you wonder if the shunned kid is lonely? You are as free to talk to them as not to. They might enrich your world. Your CHOICE.”

    (3) The Liberal: “It is your DUTY to talk to the shunned kid.”

    Finally, why do I absolutely LOVE the idea of making this kind of distinction between types of libertarians? I think the ideas in this article have the potential to 

    (1) Help Absolutist and Contextualists better understand each other, via looking at the underlying reasons for their perception and actions.

    (2) Convert more liberals to libertarianism. Absolutists are easier for liberals to misunderstand and may often give libertarianism a bad name. As we have all seen, many liberals judge libertarianism based on intent and spirit, rather than principle and long term consequences. The Absolutist’s high value on individualism and certainty come across as “republicanish” to the average liberal because the values of community, connection, and choice are higher up on the average liberal’s scale. Showing liberals that their values can actually fit within the libertarian framework can go a long way by meeting needs for understanding, meaning, and acceptance.

    From the liberal perspective, there is this caricature of the libertarian as “selfish, greedy, and cold”. Most libertarians, being human beings, see ourselves as generous and warm. But until we put ourselves in their shoes to truly understand and listen to what liberals are saying and where they are coming from, winning them over to our cause will continue to be a dream.

    Note: I’m using “libertarian” to include “Libertarians, Minarchists, Anarchists, Voluntaryists, etc.”

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  • I believe the biggest danger of Libertarian Brutalism is that the Brutalist version of libertarianism is often used by statist opponents as a strawman diversion in response to any smaller-state argument. Short example: If your disapproval of the NSA or of Empire is perceived to have roots in libertarianism, you’re accused of being a neo-confederate racist through free association. If one slips into “Brutalist Mode” in defense, the battle is already lost.

    Statists use “All libertarians are Brutalist Libertarians” as an argument against libertarianism all the time, although they never state it in those terms. And most libertarians, myself included, have an ingrained tendency to slip into “Brutalist Mode” in defense.

    That’s perhaps the biggest hindrance to the spread of the message of liberty.

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  • To be honest, I didn’t quite understand your distinction.

    You wrote about brutalists “taking over a town”. That’s impossible. No “brutalist” would ever consent to “taking over” anything, except their own private property. Or if they did, they would not be in accordance with their strictly “brutally” held values. (Imagine a brutally designed property that does not fulfill the function to which it’s design is supposed to brutally adhere. Surely other brutalist architects would mock and dismiss it, right? It would be called “purposely offensive”, which is something different than “brutal”.)

    The rest of your article could be summed up “be nice,” which works to convert some people, but not all. You run a risk of pandering to your interlocutor’s good opinion of you. “I really, really, really want you to like me! Please like me, and listen to my carefully crafted words.” etc. (Extending the metaphor – you could imagine a building which striving to impress and win awards, actually compromises its structure or purpose to do so. It makes headlines, is known as “beautiful”, but it doesn’t perform it’s proper function.)

    Personally I think we should support everyone who works peacefully to advance liberty, regardless of method, including those you call “brutalists.” They do good work too, and deserve admiration.

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  • “Once you label me you negate me.”

    For a group that seemingly professes to oppose “factionalism,” you keep coming up with more, and more, and more sub-genres and classifications into which to put people for the purposes of criticism, rejection, and, ultimately, and ostracism. I find the hypocrisy absolutely stunning and I think that was one of the main reasons so many people either went off the deep end on this or were already there and finally fell off. Some all-inclusive, big-tent movement you’re working for. Good luck with that.

    Oh, and the appeal to Rothbard was shameful and disgusting.

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    • For a group that seemingly professes to oppose “factionalism,” you keep coming up with more, and more, and more sub-genres and classifications into which to put people

      I was struck by this too. It seems like quite a blind spot.

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    • This distinction of brutalists and humanitarians is not a disctinction of libertarian factions. It is a distinction of views that people hold and the people. Everyone of us has a humanitarian and a brutalist inside. We are both of them at the same time. The point JT is trying to make is to focus on the “humanitarian side”, and so put more weight in arguments for a liberty, for ability to cooperate without coercion and so on. On the other hand, he discourages libertarians from taking on more “brutalist” approach, like putting more weight on all the exclusions that liberty makes possible. It is not a factionalism, it is an identification of human features.

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  • “But as I think about it, and look carefully at the opposition, it really does come down to about half a dozen people.”

    See, i have a hard time believing you wrote an article just to address “about half a dozen people” as if they are a potential problem for the advancement of libertarianism.

    And the fact that the vagueness continues, as other commentors have noted, is not doing the discussion any favors either.

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  • I think the term Brutalism simply skirts the issue of a subset of libertarians who believe that the non-aggression principle is simply a political idea and not a guiding principle for personal conduct. The hatred of another man because of the color of his skin is fundamentally a violation of the non-aggression principle. It signifies an aggressive intent and it should not be surprising when those so hated will reject any ideas that excuses this mindset.

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    • Nonsense. Hating someone for some non-valid reason is not a violation of the non-aggression principle. Aggression is an overt physical action or a plan to commit such an action. Furthermore, if hatred of otherly-pigmented humans is a violation of the NAP, then all hatred would also be a violation, unless the other person hated me first. This sounds like a kindergarten argument. Even further, if hatred is a violation of the NAP then other people would have a right to use coercion to stop haters from hating.

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      • Submit empirical evidence where the widespread hatred for another based on their skin color has not lead to the violation of such people’s rights (the right of self-ownership and the right to property)? It is called the non-aggression principle, not the non-violence principle. I submit that your vociferous defense of racial hatred is quite instructive of your ethical predisposition.

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        • You seriously believe that you know my ethical disposition? Unbelievable. By defining aggression as an emotion you have completely eviscerated libertarianism of any connection to free speech, free association, or anything having to do with personal rights. It is astounding that you turn me into a vociferous defender of racial hatred. Your reaction is so out of bounds that I almost think you are trying to sound as irrational as possible in order to help me prove my point.

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    • Absolute nonsense.

      Hatred is an emotion, a thought, and an attitude. There is nothing aggressive about it unless these things are turned into physical actions that violate property rights and the NAP.

      More and more i am starting to believe that the P.C. wing of libertarianism consists of people who would like to form a thought police that wants to root out undesirable thought and speech. Yet we are to believe they are champions of “liberty”. There is no such thing as a “right” or a “liberty” to be shielded from hatred or any other bigotry in its verbal or emotional form.

      So let us suppose i am the one hating someone for the color of his skin. My hatred is MY thought, MY emotion and MY attitude to have, and none of your business. You don’t make decisions regarding these, as you don’t own my body. You only make decisions regarding your own.
      When people cannot even agree with what Voltaire said about this (freedom of speech in particular), they can hardly be called libertarian.

      The fact that this has to be explained to alleged libertarians only fuels my suspicions that the “movement”, for lack of a better word, is being infiltrated or co-opted by P.C. liberals masquerading as libertarians.

      Renier Maritz is, in my opinion, precisely the kind of example that shows why many libertarians insist that libertarianism ought first and foremost to be viewed as a philosophy about *legally* acceptable behavior, and a loose guideline for preferable behavior second.
      Because like some others he is trying to smuggle non-aggressive but undesirable behavior into the set of behaviors that are supposedly in violation of the NAP.

      We don’t even have a libertarian society yet, and yet Big Brother is already watching us.

      If this makes me a ‘brutalist’, i’ll wear that label with a badge of honor.

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      • Once again, submit your empirical evidence where hatred of others based on race has not lead to widespread violations of the rights of people (i.e. self ownership and property). If you can not give me such evidence, you have to submit that as a proponent of the non-aggression principle you would be obligated to denounce racism on the basis of the empirical evidence alone. It is pretty ironic that you call yourself an individualist and then not apply the non-aggression principle to yourself personally as a standard of ethics, but rather apply it to the collectivist concept of “legally acceptable behavior”.

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        • My father is a racist. Has been all his life. But in the 40 years that he ran his company, I saw him do business with the same people he privately resented. He never put his hands on anyone.
          In fact, I grew up around many privately racist people (I would guess more than a hundred…). They’re bigoted for sure, but I’ve never seen one of them hurt anyone… And that detonates your argument. There was no “widespread violations of the rights of people”, only privately held opinions. Ethnic individuals (also human) had theirs as well (I knew a few). The NAP stayed intact…
          Does my experience not fit your “empiricism”…? Does individual experience not hold weight in your world view? Do you call yourself an individualist?
          …And yes. I denounce racist behavior… (in case you were about to pull your race card) …but that has nothing to do with your misunderstanding of the Non-aggression principle…

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        • By asserting a positive statement that something “is” for instance, (thoughts are aggression and therefore violate a principle) you must be the one to give evidence to prove this. What is your “empirical” evidence that thoughts violate the NAP? To hate someone does not imply intent, just as someone might hate their neighbor, but they never interact negatively towards them. You’re also mischaracterizing the term aggression, which implies an overt action.

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    • “The hatred of another man because of the color of his skin is fundamentally a violation of the non-aggression principle. It signifies an aggressive intent and it should not be surprising when those so hated will reject any ideas that excuses this mindset.”

      Black Americans murder white Americans at a rate many times higher than vice versa. Yet white-hating blacks is not what’s implied when quasi-leftists like Tucker deride ‘racism’. The legal system in America is fundamentally biased against men and fathers, with men serving something like twice the sentences for the same crimes as women are, and fathers only receiving custody of their children in around 15-20 percent of divorces. Yet misandry, discrimination against men, is not what’s implied when he derides ‘sexism’. This is why we reject the notion that not subscribing to cultural Marxist ideology is somehow ‘brutalism’. Because according to P.C. beliefs, some groups are less deserving to be free from aggression than others and that is not right.

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  • There is no “humanitarian libertarianism” nor “brutal libertarianism”. A “brutalist” house would be adorned, decorated, painted, modified, updated, plastered, added-on and generally improved to beautiful by the people living in it. OR NOT. It’s up to them. There is nothing at all wrong to working with the sheer essence of things. Mexican companies build massive tract houses that are quite pretty and very attractive and cheap. But they are also impractical, tiny, broken up and lack the QUALITY that you would consider “brutal”. They are difficult and expensive to improve and then require the person to sell and start all over. “Brutal”, by nature, has a good starting point, that can be lovingly improved, if that is the wish, but only within the bounds of not harming others.

    IOW, YOU’RE JUST WRONG. But don’t let that stop you. You think you can improve libertarianism. You can’t. Better people than you have tried. And failed. Libertarianism isn’t brutal, it’s CLEAN. Free of distortion and hash. Of bias and motivation. Of control and tyranny. You can’t make that any better and calling it names is just juvenile and petty.

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    • That was VERY well put, John. Every word of it.

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  • It seems I understand the concept of essential “brutality” in much the same way you do, Jeffrey. In your original piece, you described it in what I think I may call biological terms, leading me to the conclusion of an erect male phallus as a pretty accurate symbol of primitive brutality, just without the hostile overtones the word has taken on in modern English usage. It would be more the “raw, unadorned, undistracted”. It is only in certain social situations an erection would be considered hostile, inappropriate, threatening. For a significant portion of human interaction, it would be considered an indispensable aspect of the highest human aspirations, and I believe it could not fail to be reflected in noble forms in the outward expression of our architecture, literature, and other arts. Perhaps, because many people have qualms about such imagery, most uses would have to remain subtle to enjoy any widespread acceptance, and I’m not foolish enough to advocate wholesale display of explicit images. But in the broader scheme of life, I think there is a place for brutal expressions, just as I believe a phallus adorned with a pink bow would be an abomination, and pretty useless for its natural purpose.

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  • This piece by Steven Horwitz also got a lot of outraged responses from brutalists in the comments: “Don’t Leave Me Alone.”

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    • I assume those were all scrubbed, then, as is usual with these kinds of articles. Say ridiculous things, then complain that people call it ridiculous, then delete the comments and ban anyone that disagrees with it. All very nouveau libertarian.

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  • I don’t feel accused, yet I don’t agree. The “against” mentality is counterproductive and inappropriate in free markets. My reaction to “against blacks,” “against gays,” and “against IP” is the same: evolutionary processes of free markets will weed out what is nonsensical, and probably more quickly, without any active “againsting.” Libertarian elitism is unnecessary to extinguish libertarian brutalism.

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  • Jeffrey, I think you hit a nerve (or a sore spot?).

    Your essay is very complex and raises many difficult questions that even great philosophers would be hard pressed to answer.

    One thing that you seem to be driving at is the possibility of enemies of Libertarianism co-opting Libertarian terminology, and, possibly even derailing or splintering the movement, thereby weakening it.

    In this regard, recently, I have noticed the word Libertarian popping up in the speeches and writings of conservative/neo-con authors. I presume that much of this is part of a disinformation campaign meant to confuse the public’s understanding of the term. This is an old trick, tried and true, of political hands going way back in time. This may be a power elite reaction to Libertarianism’s growing popularity.

    In any case, Statist propagandists and agents provocateurs now have some great opportunities for interjecting themselves into the Libertarian debate and causing lots of trouble, division, and confusion. Their goal is obviously to turn the general public against us and to divide us from each other. To a significant extent, they have succeeded with their mantra, “Libertarians are kooks” (or “brutalists”)?

    I have heard some authors speak of Libertarians as heartless and cruel, including some who should have known better. For example, and since we are on the subject of architecture, the late author Jane Jacobs, though not a Libertarian, said and wrote a lot of things distinctly Libertarian in nature, e.g., on spontaneous order, that you can’t plan economies, etc. But when interviewed some years back and asked whether she was a Libertarian, she strongly denied it and repeated some of the stereotypes about Libertarians being uncaring and cruel, or something of that nature, I don’t recall exactly what. But I was fascinated with her response and asked myself where she got that idea from. What a shame it was that she did not get acquainted with the great Liberal thinkers like Mises, Rothbard, etc., and that she never realized that they were both saying many of the same things, and that Libertarianism was not the “brutalist” philosophy that she thought it was!

    I wonder whether some of the reactions to your essay have anything to do with Hans Herman Hoppe’s views on exclusion, etc.?

    Hoppe wrote in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, p. 219:

    “true libertarians must visibly and ostentatiously dissociate themselves from the false multi-countercultural and anti-authoritarian egalitarian left-libertarian imposters.”

    Hoppe goes even further (Ibid.):

    “Libertarians must distinguish themselves from others by practicing “as well as advocating) the most extreme form of intolerance and discrimination against egalitarians, democrats, socialists, communists, multiculturalists, environmentalists, ill manners, misconduct, incompetence, rudeness, vulgarity, and obscenity.”

    Do you agree with Hoppe’s thinking? Do you think that Hoppe is a “brutalist”? As for myself, I do not think so.

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  • Jeffrey, I think you hit a nerve (or a sore spot?).
    Your essay is very complex and raises many difficult questions that even great philosophers would be hard pressed to answer.
    One thing that you seem to be driving at is the possibility of enemies of Libertarianism co-opting Libertarian terminology, and, possibly even derailing or splintering the movement, thereby weakening it.
    In this regard, recently, I have noticed the word Libertarian popping up in the speeches and writings of conservative/neo-con authors. I presume that much of this is part of a disinformation campaign meant to confuse the public’s understanding of the term. This is an old trick, tried and true, of political hands going way back in time. This may be a power elite reaction to Libertarianism’s growing popularity.
    In any case, Statist propagandists and agents provocateurs now have some great opportunities for interjecting themselves into the Libertarian debate and causing lots of trouble, division, and confusion. Their goal is obviously to turn the general public against us and to divide us from each other. To a significant extent, they have succeeded with their mantra, “Libertarians are kooks” (or “brutalists”)?
    I have heard some authors speak of Libertarians as heartless and cruel, including some who should have known better. For example, and since we are on the subject of architecture, the late author Jane Jacobs, though not a Libertarian, said and wrote a lot of things distinctly Libertarian in nature, e.g., on spontaneous order, that you can’t plan economies, etc. But when interviewed some years back and asked whether she was a Libertarian, she strongly denied it and repeated some of the stereotypes about Libertarians being uncaring and cruel, or something of that nature, I don’t recall exactly what. But I was fascinated with her response and asked myself where she got that idea from. What a shame it was that she did not get acquainted with the great Liberal thinkers like Mises, Rothbard, etc., and that she never realized that they were both saying many of the same things, and that Libertarianism was not the “brutalist” philosophy that she thought it was!
    I wonder whether some of the reactions to your essay have anything to do with Hans Herman Hoppe’s views on exclusion and other things?
    Hoppe wrote in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, p. 219:
    “true libertarians must visibly and ostentatiously dissociate themselves from the false multi-countercultural and anti-authoritarian egalitarian left-libertarian imposters.”
    Hoppe goes even further (Ibid.):
    “Libertarians must distinguish themselves from others by practicing “as well as advocating) the most extreme form of intolerance and discrimination against egalitarians, democrats, socialists, communists, multiculturalists, environmentalists, ill manners, misconduct, incompetence, rudeness, vulgarity, and obscenity.”
    Do you agree with Hoppe’s thinking? Do you think that Hoppe is a “brutalist”? As for myself, I do not think so.

    Reply
  • Jeffrey, I think you hit a nerve (or a sore spot?).
    Your essay is very complex and raises many difficult questions that even great philosophers would be hard pressed to answer.
    One thing that you seem to be driving at is the possibility of enemies of Libertarianism co-opting Libertarian terminology, and, possibly even derailing or splintering the movement, thereby weakening it.
    In this regard, recently, I have noticed the word Libertarian popping up in the speeches and writings of conservative/neo-con authors. I presume that much of this is part of a disinformation campaign meant to confuse the public’s understanding of the term. This is an old trick, tried and true, of political hands going way back in time. This may be a power elite reaction to Libertarianism’s growing popularity.
    In any case, Statist propagandists and agents provocateurs now have some great opportunities for interjecting themselves into the Libertarian debate and causing lots of trouble, division, and confusion. Their goal is obviously to turn the general public against us and to divide us from each other. To a significant extent, they have succeeded with their mantra, “Libertarians are kooks” (or “brutalists”)?
    I have heard some authors speak of Libertarians as heartless and cruel, including some who should have known better. For example, and since we are on the subject of architecture, the late author Jane Jacobs, though not a Libertarian, said and wrote a lot of things distinctly Libertarian in nature, e.g., on spontaneous order, that you can’t plan economies, etc. But when interviewed some years back and asked whether she was a Libertarian, she strongly denied it and repeated some of the stereotypes about Libertarians being uncaring and cruel, or something of that nature, I don’t recall exactly what. But I was fascinated with her response and asked myself where she got that idea from. What a shame it was that she did not get acquainted with the great Liberal thinkers like Mises, Rothbard, etc., and that she never realized that they were both saying many of the same things, and that Libertarianism was not the “brutalist” philosophy that she thought it was!
    I wonder whether some of the reactions to your essay have anything to do with Hans Herman Hoppe’s views on exclusion, etc.?
    Hoppe wrote in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, p. 219:
    “true libertarians must visibly and ostentatiously dissociate themselves from the false multi-countercultural and anti-authoritarian egalitarian left-libertarian imposters.”
    Hoppe goes even further (Ibid.):
    “Libertarians must distinguish themselves from others by practicing “as well as advocating) the most extreme form of intolerance and discrimination against egalitarians, democrats, socialists, communists, multiculturalists, environmentalists, ill manners, misconduct, incompetence, rudeness, vulgarity, and obscenity.”
    Do you agree with Hoppe’s thinking? Do you think that Hoppe is a “brutalist”? As for myself, I do not think so.

    Reply
  • Liberty is freedom of choice of what one does with his mind, persons, and property as e/she see fit as long as he/she does not violate/interfere with other peoples choices. Brutalism in the Libertarian context is liberty to it ultimate conclusion. If people want to be ‘socially uncivil’, rude, brash, racist, sexist, etc so be it he/she is free to do so with she/he mind, persons, and property as long as they are not violating/interfering with others liberty. However, there is consequences to every decision we make or dont make. Someone that is completely ‘brutalist’ would have to live with it and possibly making life hard for themselves. A world like this would be a lot safer and humane cause it would conditon people to think twice how they treat each cause of the implications and people would have degrees of brutalism based on there preferences and outlook on life.

    Reply
  • The article was referred to as a straw man by one commentor. I think false dilemma is more appropriate. Many brought up current cases which very much smack of enlightened totalitarianism like the Christian photographer refusing to participate in a lesbian commitment ceremony and being punished by the enlightened State for exercising her right to dissociate.
    Given the descriptors given to each type, I am more inclined to believe that everything is a situation and bedrock morals require certain responses in defense of liberty. Penn State University could have been spared a great deal of shame had the initial several witnesses and handlers of the transgressions of Jerry Sandusky been brutalists. It is precisely susceptibility to commercialism, acoutrements, nuances and such which allow such catastrophes to occur. There will always be an element of resistance to grand schemes such as transhumanism or new world order within the libertarian community. To borrow a term from Mr. Taleb; the human experience needs not to be “platonized” a priori.

    Reply
  • I like to kind of straddle the area between humanitarian and brutalism, because I agree with Mises in that liberty is so much more than just its foundation of private ownership of property. I believe in reaching out to fellow humans, and being compassionate, and being a staunch champion of nonaggression. At the same time, I also enjoy taking an imaginary baseball bat to the utterly illogical and nonsensical arguments for the use of force against peaceful people, and the blatant, edgy racism/sexism/all-other-which-is-un-PC which marks libertarian brutalism provides the outlet for that. It makes the point that you can *truly* own yourself, your actions, and the results of those actions, and it does so with absolutely zero ambiguity for those who possess the mental wherewithal to truly understand what it is I am doing. Granted, the great majority don’t see the meaning; they just call me a racist/sexist/homophobe/bigot/whatever, but every now and then, I can detect a subtle, “I see what you did there” type of moment.

    I, for one, am glad that the gloves are coming off for some. We need people who aren’t afraid to be themselves.

    Reply

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