A Conservative

Why I Am One

The bizarre bohemian bilge that plagues conventionally left-wing schools of thought, whether from Marx or Rawls or Chomsky, is just not for me. For the most part anyways. Since I’ve become more (this is an understatement; I have gone much farther than, say, Glenn Beck) of a libertarian (a classical liberal while socialists are usually just reverse reactionaries), I’ve learned to make some exceptions. This has tended to be more on the level of semi-reluctant tolerance than on that of open-armed embrace.

As you can see, therefore, I am a conservative because my cultural values and my outlook on life are certainly not (socially) liberal. I find that the libertinism and relativism of most left-wing ideologies, to say nothing of the economic ignorance and denial that accompanies them, were they commonplace, are incompatible with the maintenance of a free society. Generally, the only commendable quality I find in left-wing ideologies is compassion. And then only where it is sincere and/or reasonable, the latter being far more rare than the former. A moral people, as per conservatism, and yet a compassionate people, as per liberalism, is what is needed in order to establish and then preserve a free society. That is not to say that immoral or indifferent people should be given less rights or that they should be driven forth into the wastelands (although, and I think Hans-Hermann Hoppe is absolutely correct on this, they could be excluded from covenant communities without violating anyone’s rights).

Why I Am Not One

Conservatism is about conserving things. But what if the thing being conserved is a tradition of liberalism? Can not then a conservative also be a liberal? Liberalism is about freedom of thought and action. But what if the thoughts or actions are conservative? Can not then a liberal also be a conservative? The dichotomy and at times mutual exclusivity between the two is merely the result of certain factions that were never interested in (or at least not consistent in their solutions towards) conserving freedom or the freedom to conserve in the first place, but because they had one or two important (and perhaps only at the specific point in history that certain factions coalesced) things in common, the labels were adopted. This was then compounded by certain pseudo-liberals falsely characterizing all conservatives as illiberal or intolerant, and certain pseudo-conservatives falsely characterizing all liberals as intemperate or nihilistic. In the United States this was made even worse, at least for the realm of national politics, by the electoral college, which mathematically favors a two-party system because having three or more major parties would necessarily prevent presidential nominees from garnering the 271 electors necessary to win.

So, to the degree that the word is synonymous with protectionist, corporativist, mercantilist, colonialist, imperialist, reactionary, warmonger, nationalist, exceptionalist, Bull Moose Progressive, supply-sider, Federalist*, Hobbesian, Straussian, Old Hegelian, etc., I am not a conservative. If these schools of thought which are what pass for conservatism in America these days I’ll gladly distance myself from that term in everyday discourse, with only the briefest of hesitation. Still, cultural conservative (this is rooted in my faith and the way I was brought up) that I am, I will with equal gladness pay homage to the term in specific instances, where it suits my purposes. As I have just done.

*I chose to capitalize the term because I am indeed favorably disposed towards federalism, unless of course it is the conventionally accepted variant which is more akin to nationalism, à la Hamilton, Clay, and, yes, Lincoln. The Anti-Federalists, who are much more to my liking, and even Thomas Jefferson who was not firmly in either camp, were technically also federalists. Arguably more so than Hamilton or Madison or Adams. But history comes down to us by way of the victors, so the subverters of the American Revolution and the Original Constitution got to lay hold of the term.

[Over at my own blog I’ve got a list of a few related articles on this subject, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, they offer some interesting points of view.]

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7 thoughts on “A Conservative

  1. From Hoppe’s book Democracy: The God that Failed:

    There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They – the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism – will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order (218).

    Hank: from what I can tell, this guy isn’t much of a libertarian. Perhaps we would all benefit from an elaboration – on your part – of how expelling people you don’t agree with from your community is compatible with a free society.

    And what exactly does “libertarian order” mean?

    • Brandon, if you read the preceding paragraphs Hoppe was never not talking about either non-aggressive social ostracism or private covenants established for the purpose of separating from advocates and practitioners of ideas deemed undesirable to be around. Nor was he talking about denying anyone their [equal, negative] rights.

      The reason he thinks the elements he mentioned are undesirable, at least once they are widespread or large scale, is not irrational at all. It is based on the idea that egalitarianism and relativism undermine private property, and that such elements, though perfectly legitimate in their rights to do whatever the heck they want without violating someone else’s rights, should be downplayed by anyone who values the integrity of a libertarian order more than he values the feelings of a minority or even his reputation as a tolerant, open-minded individual.

      That some would seek to not only downplay but combat (nonviolently, of course) these elements because they were particularly frightened by them or mistrustful of them has nothing to do with bigotry, but just reflects a slightly higher value placed on the integrity of, if not necessarily the fruits of, a libertarian order, than those who are merely content to downplay.

      This is really no more controversial than the Catholic Church excommunicating (but not burning!) a heretic or some kid’s father saying his friends can’t come over anymore because they are too obnoxious or they have bad habits.

      And as far as whether admitting any of this is a good strategy for libertarians or not, for what it is worth, here is what Murray Rothbard said in a private letter:

      It seems to me that a lot of our literature is geared to ‘free spirits,’ to people who don’t want to push other people around, and who don’t want to be pushed around themselves. In short, the bulk of Americans might well be tight-assed conformists, who want to stamp out drugs in their vicinity, kick out people with strange dress habits, etc. And, if so, we won’t win if we make our pitch exclusively to a minority of free spirits whom we ourselves may culturally or esthetically agree with, and thereby lose the tight-assed majority.

      I don’t think he meant, “water down the message so the cultural right can accept it.” I think he meant, “be honest about the message and don’t water it down for the cultural left and maybe you’ll see that even some right-wingers are receptive.”

    • Hank,

      I read through two preceding (and rather long) paragraphs. I think you’re dodging the question. Here, again, is what Hoppe proposes:

      There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society.

      I don’t see any bigotry here. All I see is Stalinism. For example, watch what happens if I switch two words around in Hoppe’s argument (the two words will be in bold):

      There can be no tolerance toward democrats and libertarians in a communist social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society.

      What are the implications of this argument Hank? Have we not seen this line of reasoning before? With these two humble questions in mind, consider another line of reasoning for Hoppe’s “libertarian” social order:

      [In Hoppetopia] no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant of preserving and protecting private property.

      Liberalism’s strength, Hank, lies in its ability to tolerate intellectual attacks upon its most fundamental tenants. Without critiques, and without room for modifications from time to time, liberalism would be as decadent and as authoritarian as those philosophies that have preceded us, challenged us, and ultimately fallen to us on the field of intellectual battle.

      Murray Rothbard was a first-rate economic historian (educated at Columbia), but he was an awful activist. Libertarianism has never been about appealing to the majority. It has always been about defending the rights of individuals from the whims of the mob and monarchy alike. I have become disturbed over the past couple of years by what I have seen develop within certain segments of the libertarian quadrant. As a former hard-line Leftist who was active within various cells, I cannot help but feel – as I read through some of the arguments put forth by individuals purporting to be libertarians – a foreboding sense of deja vu.

      Thanks for such a thought-provoking piece Hank. I hope you will continue to write your thoughts here at the consortium. Nothing could be more vital for freedom.

      • Update: My first sentence should read like this: “I read through two preceding (and rather long) paragraphs in Hoppe’s book – just as you recommended.”

        I just noticed that my unfinished sentence looks like I’m bagging on Hank’s argument, rather than Hoppe’s…

    • Evening 4/13

      In response to Brandon’s comment that he read and interpreted the quote in a broader context (two more paragraphs!) than he had before, but still ended up with the same objections:

      Brandon, those are the exact paragraphs I wanted you to read as well as the earlier part of the one you quoted. Perhaps reading them, as you did, and re-reading them again here won’t make much difference to you since my attempt at distilling those paragraphs didn’t work either.

      From Democracy: The God that Failed pp. 217-218, immediately preceding the paragraph initially quoted by you:

      Late Afternoon 4/11

      In this regard a community always faces the double and related threat of egalitarianism and cultural relativism. Egalitarianism, in every form and shape, is incompatible with the fundamental—indeed foundational—fact of families and intergenerational kinship relations. Families and kinship relations imply cultural absolutism. As a matter of socio-psychological fact, both egalitarians and relativistic sentiments find steady support among ever new generations of adolescents. Owing to their still incomplete mental development, juveniles, especially of the male variety, are always susceptible to both ideas. Adolescence is marked by regular (and for this stage normal) outbreaks of rebellion by the young against the discipline imposed on them by family life and parental authority. Cultural relativism and multiculturalism provide the ideological instrument of emancipating oneself from these constraints. And egalitarianism—based on the infantile view that property is “given” (and thus distributed arbitrarily) rather than individually appropriated and produced (and hence, distributed justly, i.e., in accordance with personal productivity)—provides the intellectual means by which the rebellious youths can lay claim to the economic resources necessary for a life free of and outside the disciplinary framework of families.

      The enforcement of a covenant is largely a matter of prudence, of course. How and when to react, and what protective measures to take, requires judgment on the part of the members of the community and especially the proprietor and the community elite. Thus, for instance, so long as the threat of moral relativism and egalitarianism is restricted to a small proportion of juveniles and young adults for only a brief period in life (until they settle back into family-constrained adulthood), it may well be sufficient to do nothing at all. The proponents of cultural relativism and egalitarianism, would represent little more than temporary embarrassments or irritations, and punishment in the form of ostracism can be quite mild and lenient. A small dose of ridicule and contempt may be all that is needed to contain the relativistic and egalitarian threat. The situation is very different, however, and rather more drastic measures might be required, once the spirit of moral relativism and egalitarianism has taken hold among adult members of society: among mothers, fathers, and heads of households and firms.

      As soon as mature members of society habitually express acceptance or even advocate egalitarian sentiments, whether in the form of democracy (majority rule) or of communism, it becomes essential that other members, and in particular the natural social elites, be prepared to act decisively and, in the case of continued nonconformity, exclude and ultimately expel these members from society. In a covenant concluded among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism…

      Evening 4/13

      Now, I will attempt to be more precise and comprehensive than I was in my first response to Brandon (in fact, I wrote the next six paragraphs before I wrote what was in that response, though I have made minor revisions since):

      Late Afternoon 4/11

      The book is about the flaws of democracy. As if the title was not a good enough indication. In it, democracy is seen as inherently flawed because egalitarianism (I would opine that this means the variety that is defined by equality of positive rights or equality of outcome) undermines property rights. The breakdown of the family and cultural relativism is seen as the root cause of egalitarianism. This is something Marx and Engels believed and hence why they were critical of the family and tradition.

      If property rights are an integral part of a libertarian social order, then if one does happen to agree that egalitarianism undermines property rights, then one must also see that in order to maintain a system of property rights in the long run egalitarianism and its causes must be combatted or at least downplayed. Hoppe makes clear in the book that things such as ostracism and discrimination and exclusion and small amounts of ridicule and contempt (simply critiquing them may be sufficient to convince others of their undesirability in a family-centered covenant, but something a little harsher might be needed to convince the actual practitioners of the deviations that it would be better if they kept them to themselves) are the best methods to downplay and combat these. It should be plain to any libertarian that actually aggressive egalitarians and relativists can be dealt with using defensive violence, regardless of whether there is a covenant or not. But what about people who are merely in violation of the covenants rules (which is essentially a contract)? They too can be dealt with using defensive violence, because their violation is aggression. There are few if any scenarios where this defensive violence would not be physical removal.

      Whether establishing covenants and kicking people out is a better way to achieve the desired result (defense of property rights and/or defense of the family) than less exclusionary means is immaterial as to whether it is justifiable behavior or not. Establishing covenants and physically expelling violators may ideally be a last resort, but, because the violators have violated property rights, it is ultimately justifiable and consistent with the non-aggression principle.

      Now if it is agreed that these actions can be taken without somehow turning this social order into something other than a libertarian one (because, after all, they are consistent with the NAP), just who are they to be taken against? To rephrase the question, who in a society, for the sake of preserving the integrity of property rights, could be ostracized and discriminated against, and who in a covenant, established specifically to ostracize and discriminate in this way, can be physically removed?

      The answer is democrats, communists, and advocates (as opposed to practitioners, some of whom might agree that though the traditional family is not for them, it is a good foundation for private property) of either destroying the family or competing with the family. It is their right to adhere to and do these things, but it is not their (or anyone’s) right to be treated in a special way, or even as equals in every way. Nor is it their right to do whatever they want in a covenant made up of the property of people who all agreed that certain things were not okay. Both of those things are positive rights.

      Whether you agree that egalitarians and relativists will inevitably undermine a property rights-based system or not, to say that someone who starts with that premise and follows through to the logical conclusions is automatically a bigot (as some have asserted) or Stalinistic, or somehow not a libertarian, is absurd. And even if it turns out that Hoppe is wrong that egalitarianism and relativism ultimately undermine property rights, even if it turns out that this sentiment is not rational, it does not mean that people can’t ostracize and discriminate for irrational reasons, or that they can’t establish covenants that prohibit perfectly harmless behavior.

      Evening 4/13

      Here, I would like to address the rest of Brandon’s second comment:

      Early Morning 4/12

      Brandon, I don’t see how I evaded your question. If you meant that I didn’t say what you would like to have heard, I’m guilty as charged. I don’t think that is what you mean. So maybe its just that you still are not convinced, which is fine. But your question was How was what Hoppe wrote compatible with a libertarian society? I answered that. What I did not do was show that it was necessarily conducive to furthering libertarian goals on the intellectual field of battle. You didn’t ask that but I’m tempted to think that’s what you now mean. I don’t see why it would even be necessary to establish this when the assumption is that in a world where such a libertopia exists that intellectual battle would have already been won.

      But I’ll answer that question anyways: No, in my opinion, it is not conducive. Shunning people and expelling them from your property (a covenant is a communal property arrangement, no?) is certainly not the best way to win the intellectual battle for liberalism. But that is irrelevant. Fighting intellectual battles for liberalism is only one aspect of living according to libertarian principles. Even in libertopia. No, especially in libertopia. This intellectual battle is perhaps the bulk of libertarianism today because libertarianism is a minority position. At least where it is consciously or consistently held. But intellectual battles just aren’t everything. Some people like to live free from social upheaval and unrest stirred up by discontents. Some people just like to raise families without unnecessary and disturbing distractions. Others like to be left alone by literally everyone and would probably shoot any trespasser no matter how bad of an intellectual argument they would thereby be making against the act of trespassing. Why wouldn’t your current critique of Hoppe apply equally to the reclusive backwoodsman who shoots a trespasser? Is he Stalinistic too?

      I happen to think there is something to Hoppe’s argument against egalitarianism. I also happen to think that he is right that there is nothing unlibertarian about practicing the freedom of association—and disassociation—or doing what you like on your own property, including combining it with others’ property and establishing some sort of covenant. I do, however, think he is wrong–if indeed it is what he is saying–that the best way to keep ideas we don’t like at bay is to ignore, ridicule, and remove their proponents; and thus I agree with you that advocating liberalism is best done through intellectual engagement, even when and where the ideas of the opposition are essentially already dead (a fair assumption for Libertopia I would think), and even when and where this might be done at great expense to oneself.

      I would be perfectly happy if communists wanted to expel democrats and libertarians from their covenant. And if democrats wanted to expel communists and libertarians from theirs. I don’t see how this is Stalinism. If anything, it is a strawman of communism, which has many non-authoritarian tendencies and varieties. Certainly you don’t think that every communist who would separate themselves from libertarians or democrats is a Stalinist, do you?

      The ironic thing is that if they did all this within a libertarian social order they would simply be exercising their property rights (even if they exist as anything other than a construct), and there would be nothing unlibertarian about it, even if they are clueless about economics or human nature, and even if this did eventually lead them to misguided practices and unintended consequences. Basically they won’t have even really expelled all libertarians, even if they think they did. They will have only expelled the ones that didn’t have democratic or communitarian preferences. And they only will have expelled them from their own property which they agreed to share or have equal rights to. This is the beauty of libertarianism. What other ideology can such things be said about? Could libertarians peacefully exclude communists in a distinctly communist social order and thereby become communists? That is definitionally impossible. But not so the other way around.

      Again, you seem to think there is something controversial about this. You also seem to equate actually living out lifestyles of one’s own choice (including lifestyles that exclude and discriminate), which I kind of thought was the chief end of all libertarians everywhere, with weak attempts at intellectual debate (I thought such debate was merely a means and not an end in itself). When what they really are is an exercise of one of the freedoms we are supposedly trying to advance. So what are the implications of this equation? That the purpose of arguing for individual rights is not so we can practice them, but so we can…argue for individual rights? What were once just means are now the ends?

      Evening 4/13

      Finally, I want to try to get to the bottom of what I think Brandon is missing or ignoring, and recommend to him what he might do to fix this. I already touched on this a little, but want to be more thorough:

      I would very much like to chock up your incredulity as to the notion that Hoppe is against the initiation of force on principle, in spite of his exclusionary opinion as to how rights could or should be used under specified circumstances, to a simple misunderstanding. I would really hate to see you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

      Early Morning 4/13

      Brandon, you seem to have a fear of absolutes that informs your liberalism. We should all be wary of misguided absolutes, especially ones that discard all other absolutes on principle, some of which may be tried and true. Within  libertarianism (at least that which is not at root just utilitarianism) I think there may be different definitions of what constitutes aggression but I hope that we can all agree that aggression being morally wrong or ethically unjustifiable is one absolute we will never relinquish no matter how many other “modifications” we make because we decide one of our previous conclusions or assumptions was mistaken.

      And that if our modifications require us to not only slightly redefine aggression (as has been done on within certain segments of libertarianism on such issues as IP, free riding, paying taxes, and free banking) but to no longer categorize it as always bad that we will drop the libertarian label. Likewise if the opposite is to occur, that is, we are so stuck in a certain mindset, even one that at one time may have been thought to be well within the confines of libertarianism, that we refuse to budge even when our position has been shattered and debunked.

      As it might apply in this case: until Hoppe’s ethical position that people should be free to associate and disassociate as they please, even if it stifles (remember, there is no coercion involved unless you define it as broadly as, say, an anarcho-syndicalist) the furtherance of the goals of liberalism in the free market ideas, and especially if the human actors involved prefer it for their own perfectly valid reasons can be shown to be either left behind by libertarianism or a radical departure from it it is in every way compatible with the same. It may not be conducive to the furthering of the goals of libertarianism in the free market of ideas, that is to win hearts and minds by telling them the truth and sharing information that all of humanity could benefit from, but this, though the goal, was never the motivation behind libertarianism.

      No. The motivation is to live your life as you see fit and let all others do the same, which is precisely what Hoppe is advocating here. Now if doing these things is informed by some misguided assumption, that should be the focus of your critique, but not from the point if view of a libertarian ethicist but from that of an informed individual with his own preferences. If you were right that what Hoppe advocates is indeed akin to Stalinist mini-state then by all means libertarian-ethicize away.

      But if it is more akin to an Amish village or a drug and STD infested hippie commune, which I have attempted to show to be the case, then please won’t you put on a different hat and attempt to show why, though certain weirdos are free to be weird, their lifestyle might eventually leave them in the dark ages, or cause them to lose the benefits of associating with a more diverse crowd. I would argue that what you, Brandon, should do, in your critique of Hoppe, is exactly what Hoppe did in his book in his critique of egalitarianism and relativism.

      Only instead of going after communists, democrats, advocates of homosexuality and extreme environmentalism, as Hoppe did, and instead of going after holdover Anabaptists or carefree promiscuous substance abusers who don’t regularly shower, as I did for illustrative purposes, you could go after hardline absolutist anti-egalitarian family-hierarchy-obsessed homophobes, as I think you probably were on the verge of doing but were distracted by (what appears to be) your unfortunate equation of potentially misguided preferences with calls for the initiation of aggression.

    • Hahah!

      Hank: brevity is the soul of wit.

      I have just two questions for you: 1) Have you ever kissed another man before? Be honest!

      2) Will you please re-read the following quote by Hoppe:

      There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society.

      Let’s focus on the word ‘society’ this time. If Hoppe is using the word ‘society’ to refer to people in a political unit then his ideas are utterly Stalinist.

      If Hoppe is using the word ‘society’ to refer to something else, such as a “covenant,” then we are not really dealing with a political theory but rather with the sermon of a preacher.

      Re-reading Hoppe’s paragraphs, it’s possible that he did indeed conflate ‘society’ with his super-lame idea of an anarcho-monarchist cult (“covenant”) guarding hourly against the encroachment of others onto their freedom. He did the same thing in regards to cultural and moral relativism (these are two very, very different concepts; moral relativism leads to Holocausts, cultural relativism leads to more sex with beautiful foreign girls).

      • Brandon, easy for you to say. You’re the one asking all the questions.

        I was thinking about that brevity quip the whole time I composed that comment. I think if you read it you’ll see it contains plenty of brief, and sometimes witty, statements. I’ll try to keep this reply short, but I’m not making any promises.

        Oh Brandon! Seriously? Kiss and tell? What is it with some people? Anyways, I’m not sure I can decisively say if I’ve ever even kissed a girl! Ask me again if you want a straight answer.

        Okay, fine! Isolate a specific segment! See if I care!

        If I may be so bold, here’s your interpretation of what he is saying:

        There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists [yes, even ones who voluntarily establish their own communities and don’t particularly care about foisting their vision upon others] in a libertarian social order [that is, society at large]. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society [in order to establish a libertarian world].

        Here is how I interpret it:

        [If you want to maintain the integrity of property rights, t]here can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists [who not only reject private property rights but would even deny that their own exercise of them, only according to communitarian preferences, is even consistent with private property, lest they tacitly admit that they are libertarians] in a libertarian social order [that is, a community or communities established to preserve property rights]. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society [that is, voluntary communities with established rules].

        Question: Why would he even be talking about “covenants” if he thought all of society (interpreted broadly) should be wiped clean of his conception of reprobates and deviants? Perhaps these “covenants” would be mere stepping stones to greater glory!

        I think he uses “libertarian social order” and “society” to mean the same thing in that sentence (as far as I am aware society is a pretty imprecise word, and it is used all the time in many different ways, but apparently this only gets noticed when there is some other controversy). And in both cases he is referring to his little covenant community. All this means is that he thinks that a covenant that is established to prohibit x, y, and z, (no coercion necessary since it is private property) will maintain the integrity of private property, and that any system that does not prohibit these things will inevitably lead to their disintegration, and is thus (no matter how tolerant it is and non-coercive at the present time) is not part of the workable “libertarian social order”. I don’t see this at all as him saying that societies that do not prohibit x, y, and z should be forbidden to exist, only as him saying that embedded within them is the seeds of their destruction (I would argue that this is potentially true of every possible societal arrangement, given human nature).

        If you are interpreting “no tolerance” as “lets kill them all, no matter where we find them”, then I can see where you are coming from. If, however, it has more to do with completely non-coercive actions, from banding together with likeminded persons, to ostracism in all its forms, to, yes, even rational debate, then you are not on firm ground.

        I did take your word for it about cultural relativism versus moral relativism. You are, after all, the anthropologist. But it was worth looking into anyways.

        So I looked up “cultural relativism” on wikipedia. Here’s what I found:

        Virtually all anthropologists today subscribe to the methodological and heuristic principles of Boas and his students in their research. But, according to Marcus and Fischer, when the principle of cultural relativism was popularized after World War II, it came to be understood “more as a doctrine, or position, than as a method.” As a consequence, people misinterpreted cultural relativism to mean that all cultures are both separate and equal, and that all value systems, however different, are equally valid. Thus, people came to use the phrase “cultural relativism” erroneously to signify “moral relativism.”

        So the idea, if taken to be a doctrine actually could, as a consequence, be the same as moral relativism, for all intents and purposes. The fact that it was originally method or “heuristic principle” and may not have been intended to be a doctrine in a strict sense does not change the fact that it was misappropriated (by whom? dissenting anthropologists? critics? the general public?), and became synonymous with moral relativism outside of anthropology. This is unfortunate, but it apparently also is/was mainstream. Perhaps a professor and self-proclaimed intellectual should practice more diligence in this regard, but perhaps doing so would not really make much difference. You understood him correctly, even if he used the wrong term.

        Look at it this way: opponents of intellectual property deny that it is property, but they use the term intellectual property anyways. As per what they think about IP, they are technically wrong to use the term IP. You would think they would want to get it right. But they don’t. Are they being intellectually dishonest or stupid or something? I don’t think so. I think they are just using convention.

        I believe you are misusing the term cultural relativism yourself, even if you are familiar with every aspect of it. Perhaps you did this to liven things up a little. How cultural relativism as a heuristic principle leads to more sex with beautiful foreign girls is beyond me. I can see how it might lead to a mode of thinking that lends itself to tolerance and understanding of other cultures, which itself might lead to more interaction (including sex, I suppose) with members of those cultures. But I suspect the sexual aspect of interaction is far more driven by a combination of natural urges and latent [white] guilt. I’m thinking along these lines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWSiztP2Rp0

        I think you were on the right track when you said this:

        If Hoppe is using the word ‘society’ to refer to something else, such as a “covenant,” then we are not really dealing with a political theory but rather with the sermon of a preacher.

        Well, that was a little longer than I had hoped it would be.

Please keep it civil (unless it relates to Jacques)

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