If you grew up in middle-class white America in the 21st century, chances are you know some “Internet Libertarians”. The type, usually a somewhat socially maladjusted young man, who spends a lot of time playing video games and on youtube. For most of their life they’re apolitical, or maybe have a vague sympathy for Ron Paul. Or maybe they have a cynical view of politics from watching South Park. One day they stumble onto a Sargon of Assad or Stephen Molyneux video, and it speaks to them. Hell, maybe you are one, or were one. But over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that these people drifted in another direction, away from atheism and libertarianism and towards open fascism.
At first, this seems completely improbable. If you take them at their word, these people stand for individual liberty, and freedom above all else. Wouldn’t fascism be the polar opposite of that belief? How does a “classic liberal” end up defending Nazis? How does a self-proclaimed rational skeptic end up promoting disproven racist eugenics?
There are deeper connections and affinities between online libertarianism and fascism that makes such a drift less improbable, and maybe even inevitable.
Part 1 – Private Power
The proliferation of the “political compass” also has something to do with this line of thought. It obscures the potential difficulties of political choices, and makes it seem like one axis – the authority vs. anarchy one – is the be all end all of political ideas of freedom. The very words “free market”, combined with the allure of the political compass, draws people towards that bottom right square. Who wouldn’t want to be pro-freedom? It’s got sex appeal.
That authority-anarchy axis makes it seem like anywhere at the bottom takes a strong stance on individual rights, but the left-right axis changes what those rights mean. In a society where individuals are allowed to accumulate wealth and, unconstrained by regulations, are free to influence the direction of society, that means that the political power of an individual is diminished, dwarfed by the power of the rich. The freedom promised by the classic liberals came during a time when the power of the aristocracy was waning – now, some individuals have so much wealth that “classic liberals” are arguing for something more akin to Nietzche’s defense of the rights of the aristocracy. Check out Corey Robin’s piece on Hayek and Nietzche for further examination of this point ( thenation.com
The libertarian worldview then, is one where individual rights exist only in a technical sense. The actual ability that person has to exercise their rights depends entirely on their economic standing. The libertarian world is one of hierarchy – of righteous hierarchy. These people are not classic liberals but corporate nietzcheans.
Part 2 – When The Market Fails
But what happens when the promises of the market fail? What happens when certain minority groups are still way behind? What happens when the wage gap lingers even as decades pass? What happens when an entire generation of their peers loses faith in the free market?
Instead of losing faith in the market, the internet libertarians lose faith in their peers. And women. And minorities.
Look at the latest controversy – if you actually read that google employees memo, he basically claims that the lack of women in tech is due to essentialist differences in biology between the sexes. The market could not possibly have failed – the market is pure, it does not see race or gender. Ideas of oppression, which might suggest fixes that go against the libertarian ethos of nonintervention in the market, must be wrong. He lays this out almost word for word:
And where was his first stop after being fired? Stephen Molyneux’s youtube channel. But what about everything else that goes on in the world? How do you explain those things that the left points to, the endless stream of current events that seem to portray a world where market forces have only brought instability and absurdity? This is when the rational™ mind goes fully irrational. They turn to conspiracies, or flirt with them, to explain the way the world is. Remember, it can’t be the market. So all those bad things that happen, they can’t possibly be symptoms of capitalism, they must be caused by sinister forces behind the scenes. Drawing direct cause and effect relationships between current events and capitalism can't be allowed, so instead they depart on conspiratorial "flight of ideas", as Adorno describes:
This perfectly encapsulates the conspiratorial thinking of places like Holla Forums and The_Donald, the kind of thinking that draws connections between things and can satisfy and trick those who dress their ideology with the window dressing of rationality and logic. It also explains, to some degree, why the pedants on youtube create streams and videos that ramble on for hours and hours, wearing down the users ability to discern where arguments clearly begin and end, sweeping them along into "a stream of words in which he swims".
Part 3 - Reaction
But to really push them over the edge, to the violent embrace of the far right, it takes a little bit more. The current pushing them down the lazy river of hate is reaction. Literal reaction. Reactions to videos of “SJWs”. Reaction to the growing left. Reaction to day after day of this being blasted into their brain for hours and hours by social media and youtube personalities that cater to their young male anger. This is what primes them to accept the arguments about fun, and eventually accept the notion that certain groups must be removed from society. It starts as a joke, as a video they watch for a laugh. Maybe they enjoy “punching down”, maybe it feels transgressive, maybe they like the memes. Day after day they watch these videos, videos specifically cherrypicked and curated to make them feel the most disgusted and insulted and outraged. And slowly but surely, the hate grows, like a tumor. Whatever happens in their life, whatever personal anxieties and pent-up frustrations they have, whatever feelings of alienation, it only fuels the process. Stuck in a filter bubble of youtube and social media suggestions, they’re carried further and further down into the online underworld of far-right extremism.
Those who truly value liberty are more likely to drift towards libertarian socialism. It's those who are in it more for the proprietarian aspect who are likely to drift towards fascism. In my experience, the latter is more likely.
Also, I forgot to mention, if you read on libertarian fascism, it's actually kind of like a reversed form of Marxism. Where in Marxism, the proletariat becomes the ruling class in order to reach communism, in libfascism, a proprietarian class seizes control of the state in order to reach a stateless proprietarian utopia.
Post this on >>>/liberty/
How can that be? If you have private property thats basically a state anyway. If you enclose a piece of land, charge rent and hire a private security force that's basically a state, all you did was change the names around but you kept the conditions that forms a state.
Where is part 4?
the state will "whither away" over time, i think their theory goes, in the same manner of leninism except with the property-owning class substituting for the proletariat.
Absolutely this. I started as an ancap because I had anarchism explained to me, and I became an ancom because I had property explained to me. Libertarians who genuinely value freedom are not part of the alt-right and probably hate fascists more than communists.
/liberty/ tends to not be those kind of libertarians. They're more market fetishists than authoritarian proprietarians.
It can't be, that's the ridiculousness. "anarcho"-capitalism is really just private-state capitalism and that's precisely what they want to impose.
Rather, they think the public state will whither away and become privatized.
I know, but that's nonetheless what they believe.
quite fitting, both cases are utter bullshit
why wouldn't the state whither away as it becomes unnecessary?
Unnecessary for whom, the working class? The state is already unnecessary for the working class, since it is an instrument of minority rule. The state will never not be necessary for those whose state of existence is entirely dependent on the state.
Why exactly? If the state is an insturment of class rule why couldn't a majority class use it to repress the minority classes?
So, nobody since in Communism everyone is a worker just like everyone else.
Books or what?
Because it's not instrument of class rule, that's a bullshit a priori definition Marxists created to justify keeping it around. It is solely an instrument of minority rule.
And how do you reach Communism? The state must be abolished at some point: are the party members and bureaucrats going to abolish it themselves?
I became an ancap mostly through talking and debating, the only book I really read as an ancap was the Most Dangerous Superstition, which is a pretty decent book on authority and anti-statism even now. Reading through An Anarchist FAQ and asking questions here eventually made me ancom.
Methink dialectical materialism still applies: the ruling class will have to be overthrown by the lower class. There are still class under socialism and communism is not the same as socialism.
Good post, very accurate to what happened to me and others I know. Takes a long time to break out of it.
You can keep saying that but what exactly is special about the use of violence to supress one group of people that it can only be utilized if that group is a minority?
The state isn't "abolished" it withers away.
As soon as the revolution begins the state is smashed and replaced with a workers state. Bureaucrats are replaced with democratically ellected workers subject to recall at any time. They wouldn't be leaders mere book keepers and foremen paid workmens wages. When the state becomes unnecessary as productive forces grow to a point where rationing through labor vouchers isn't needed it simply withers away as its function isn't needed.
Mussolini describes corporatism as "socialism turned on its head." The observation has been more-or-less made about fascism itself by OG fascist himself, I don't think "libertarian fascism" is really distinct - I suppose Mussolini's observation may not have been about Marxist socialism, though. But this is less a distinct fascist ideology and more a symptom of cramming "libertarianism" with conservative/nationalist ideology.
Corporatism in the Fascist sense doesn't mean what English speakers generally think it means.
The Italian "corporatismo" means something more along the lines of "organ-ism". Fascist Corporations were publicly managed entities and not private bodies, similar to more politically endowed syndicates.
Indeed prole. Now get back in the factory. I promise there will be communism any day now.