Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Christian Brutalist?!? A Response to Tucker’s Thick Libertarianism

By Jim Fedako

“Brutalism can appear in many ideological guises. Bolshevism and Nazism are both obvious examples…Religious fundamentalism is yet another obvious form.” Jeffrey Tucker

A brutalist?!? Akin to a Bolshevik or Nazi?!? At least that is how Jeffrey Tucker categorized me[1], and those like me. Why? Because I dare sit at my computer contemplating the libertarian sufficiency of the nonaggression principle during those periods when I am not searching the Internet for a better understanding of the fundamentals of Christianity, all in preparation for a forthcoming discussion with a group of self-sorted, like-minded brethren. Yet, that which I consider a hint of liberty in a world of increasing oppression qualifies me as a brutalist in the mind of Tucker? Really?

Tucker caught me off guard. His essay shocked with
“implausible [and] uncomfortable implications of an idea.” Not my idea of liberty, but his formulation of a notion that is perverse indeed.
I had always thought acceptance of the nonaggression principle was sufficient to claim full membership in the liberty movement. But when Tucker “shouted down” those who adhere to that notion, I was shocked. Truly. According to him, those of us who embrace so-called thin libertarianism – and its sufficiency of nonaggression principle – share a similar underlying ethic with Bolshevism, Nazism, and religious fundamentalism.

A Bolshevik and Nazi I am not, but a Christian fundamentalist I am, i.e., one who believes the Bible is fundamental to the understanding of truth. So he brands me a brutalist even before considering my views on the sufficiency of nonaggression principle. And, to read Tucker at his word, there is no means for me shed brutalism save renouncing my faith – shades of Ayn Rand’s demand of Murray Rothbard’s wife. [2]

This attitude defines Tucker’s formulation of liberty, and this form of discourse defines his “civil standard,” which leads me to view the possibility of any instantiation of his utopian dream as both “terrifying and threatening.”

Ironically, Tucker uses brutalism as the analogy to denounce adherence to the sufficiency of nonaggression principle. Who were the Brutalist? They were those who desired an architectural expression for the ideals of socialism and collectivism. Starting some 60 years ago, and proceeding for a period of three decades, the Brutalists used their influence within the state to advocate for government buildings that conveyed socialist utopian ideology. Neither the private sector nor those who adhered to the sufficiency of nonaggression principle adopted brutalism. So, while his analogy is logically weak, it is rhetorically brutal.

Now, the use of an epithet with a vulgar tone like “brutalist” is similar to the indictments liberals make against those who stand against their liberty-strangulating worldview. And it is similar to the vulgarizations coined by Trotsky and Lenin, where every opponent was grouped as an ‘ist’ under some ‘ism.’ It is as if Tucker recently read Lenin’s State and Revolution or Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed and found in their voices a siren’s song of sorts. But if he is drawn to adopt the voice of the Bolsheviki, he needs to understand he is being neither social nor civil.

I can imagine followers of Tucker shouting down a line of thought such as mine, claiming it does not satisfactorily argue against Tucker. But they have not demanded that Tucker define his question begging epithets, such as modernity, antisocial norms, civil standards of values, life well lived, gut level prejudice, and on and on – the verbal building blocks that form the edifice of his system and the essence of the straw man he so valiantly slays.

Even though Tucker argument is nothing more than invectives strung together in a vapid mush, some have defended his arguments as valid and cogent. However, an argument requires the use of terms generally understood by all, yet those definitions are nowhere to be found.

What exactly is this concept of modernity Tucker so wondrously cherishes? By all accounts (except his), that period ended decades ago with the advent of postmodernity, or its subsequent post of a post progeny. What are his characteristics a life well lived? And how is his denouncement of Bible-believing Christians something other than a “stripped-down” example of “gut level prejudice” – lacking any form of finesse, grace, or refinement?

Most importantly, Tucker does not provide examples of his main indictment: that thin libertarians as a group – the so-called brutalists – have “asserted the rights and even the merits of racism and hate.” Nor, do I suspect, will he. Why? The shrill voice of the Bolsheviki – his adopted voice – is not used to argue for truth, it is used to coerce compliance and conformity with its vulgar, raw language.

Maybe Tucker’s supporters can explain it all? Or maybe polylogism allows them to dispel any obvious contradiction and wave it all away.

Are there racists within thin libertarianism? Certainly, just as there are racists within his beloved group of cosmopolitan free-thinkers. One should not be shocked, there are even sinners in the most God-fearing church – in fact, all are sinners, coming short of the glory of God. Additionally, just as there are hypocrites in the church, there are hypocrites in all movements – with Tucker exposing his hypocrisy by asserting his right to a crude and ugly pen, even while indicting others for doing the very same.

Between the lines, Tucker argues as if those adhering to the sufficiency of nonaggression principle advocate for the state to legalize and justify the aggression of one group over another, hence the inferred claim that only his form of libertarianism has led to improving social conditions. Nonsense. Pure nonsense.

But here’s the real irony in all of this: my view of liberty allows both Tucker and his clique to argue against my faith and other ideas, even while their view condemns me, and those like me, as anathema to the liberty movement. So, who are the real intellectual brutalists here? I think that answer is self-evident.


1. Of course, Tucker’s article was not a direct attack against me personally, though it was an uncivilized and rude indirect attack against me and those like me.

2. Keep in mind Tucker is referring to the ideas central to Christian fundamentalism, not necessarily instances where folks looking to use the state for their benefit perverted those ideas.


  1. Very well said. Bravo!

  2. Yes, nicely done indeed.

    Of all the things to worry about, Tucker worries about Christian libertarians, scurrying between their horrifying weekends at Bible College and their despicable late nights with the NAP.

    Now if he was worried about a resurgent theocratic state, whether Christianist or Zionist (or some combo thereof) - not to mention Islamicist - then of course he has every reason to worry.

    But those groups are specifically not libertarian. And if he is worried about them, then why does he speak well of Rand Paul, an advocate of military violence AND much closer to theocracy than any libertarian, alive or dead?

    And finally, why raise all these concerns about theocracy on a libertarian forum that no theocrat would ever read?

    He can scarcely be afraid of an incipient Dark Ages brought on by this blog - it is cheerfully secular....

    It follows that Mr. Tucker is not playing defense, as he claims; he is playing offense.

    And his offensive is directed at Christians not because they are coercing anyone, but because they are persuading some.

    1. No, I think his writing is directed at specific individuals, but Tucker is too much of a coward to specify who they are.

      Also, Tucker himself is a traditionalist Catholic by conversion, which throws the whole mass of his drivel into delightful hypocrisy.

  3. @JFF

    Yes, it's clear it's directed at some individuals. But who could they be?
    There are no libertarian Christians who are so influential that they might alarm Mr. Tucker's right-to-be-free -of-hearing-anyone-who-disagrees-with-him.

    Tucker has fought with Wenzel, but Wenzel is only culturally Catholic. He's largely focused on financial matters, and his ethos is secular, masculinist, and somewhat hedonist. Torquemada is not hiding out on this blog.

    Also, EPJ simply isn't that big (with no disrespect intended). HuffPo and other blogs are much more powerful and they do nothing but support Mr. Tucker's preferred "humanitarians." Isn't that enough for him and them?

    The Christians at LRC (Vance and others) never tire of renouncing the state and spend more time cursing theocrats than anyone else.

    Indeed, as a matter of justice, they are positively unfair to them.

    There is far less love among the LRC Christian Libs for Rand Paul, a Zio-Christian Israel-firster, than there is among Tuckernaks.

    Is it Hoppe? But is Hoppe such a mainstream figure? Even if he is, doesn't he advocate voluntary communities with covenants?

    That is not Nazism, surely.

    But if Hoppe, why did Tucker go after fundamentalist Christians? Is Hoppe a closet fundie?

    And if Hoppe, Tucker should take it up with his close friend Kinsella, who's the Hoppe cheer-leader. But no Kinsella qualifies as a winsome humanitarian, not a hunch-backed brutalist.

    Sorry, I just don't buy the piece as honest-to-goodness dissent.

    But in the spirit of being "nicer," I'll leave it at that and let people do their own speculation.

  4. Christianity is not the proper religion for Libertarians, but rather Zoroastrianism. If you study it, the only conclusion a reasonable student can come to is that either Ahura Mazda is the one true God or there is no God. Behold:

    Zoroastrian Creed
    "On three noble ideals be ever intent:
    The good thought well thought,
    The good word well spoken,
    The good deed well done."

    Zoroastrian Way, Purpose and Goal of Life
    Way of Life
    Amesha Spentas
    Eternal Enlightenment - Ageless Wisdom
    • The way of life suggested by Zoroastrianism is based on achieving six ideals:
    ‥ a good mind: a positive attitude and gaining wisdom
    ‥ principled living: honesty, honest work, helpfulness, moderation and balance
    ‥ independence: self-reliance and leadership
    ‥ serenity and happiness
    ‥ wholeness: healthy and holistic living
    ‥ an undying spirit.
    • Included in the ideal of independence is autonomy: not being beholden to anyone, not being a slave to any dogma, and having the sovereignty to make free and independent decisions - all within the self-elected bounds of ethical values, goodness, and not causing harm to others. The ideal of self-reliance is balanced with helping the less fortunate maintain their independence and dignity.
    • This way of life gives effect and meaning to the creed: to commit to a life based on good thoughts, good words and good deeds.
    • The effectiveness of a person's beliefs is demonstrated in one's deeds. While praying helps to reaffirm beliefs, a life based on good deeds is prayer in action. Our lives are the temples of our souls.
    In short:
    • Zoroastrianism lights the path towards an active, meaningful life grounded in wisdom, goodness and wellness


  5. Tucker's targeting of Christians reminds one of the main organization targeting Christians as haters - the ADL

    Coincidence or more evidence of what's really behind the whole business?

  6. 2006. ADL persuaded Congress to create its Global Office of Anti-Semitism in the US State Department. Every year this ADL front reports on an "epidemic" of anti-Semitism gleaned from ADL statistics gathered worldwide. In last year's report to Congress, it accused Christians who believe the New Testament account that Jewish leaders had Christ crucified of being "classic anti-Semites"-as was Adolf Hitler. (7) In Canada, any public statement that Jewish leaders killed Christ is considered the hate crime of anti-Semitism, punishable by a minimum $5,000 fine and prison if repeated.

    2007. The ADL-inspired Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act was introduced into Congress. It would set up a federal commission to study and make legislative recommendations to Congress on how to end Christian, conservative, and far right "hate speech" that streams the internet, possibly inciting violent hate crimes. It was unanimously passed by the House. (8)

    2008. ADL, through Jewish lesbian activist and state Rep. Sheila Kuehl helped pass California's SB777, banning criticism of homosexuality in public schools. If any child now criticizes sodomy, he will be expelled. If a teacher or administrator does, they are fired. (9) At the same time, ADL submitted an extensive amicus brief to the California Supreme Court in favor of same-sex marriage. (10) It undoubtedly influenced the Court's pro-homosexual decision.

    2009. With another Jewish activist group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, ADL directed Missouri state police to consider white Christian conservatives, Ron Paul supporters, tax and immigration protestors, pro-lifers, etc., as possible domestic terrorists. (11) Soon after, Janet Nepolitano, who recently delivered an extensive and flattering speech to an ADL convention, issued a very similar directive from the Department of Homeland security, warning America of this threat from the Christian conservative right. (12)

  7. @ Lila Rajiva

    In regards to libertarians who want to create a theocracy google Gary North/libertarian theocracy and see what pops up.

    Fundamentalists Christians in the U.S. are rather a benign group but in Africa we have the Christian government of Uganda imprisoning gay men and in Nigeria Islamic fundamentalists kidnapped high schools girls and auctioned them off as concubines.

    Historically the sectarian violence between Christian Protestants and Catholics in Europe was the main reason our "founding fathers" wanted separation of church and state.

    1. How exactly does imprisoning gay men make one a fundamentalist Christian? A necessary component to being a Christian is following the teaching of Jesus. Is homosexuality wrong? Yes. Are homosexuals going to hell if they don't repent? Yes. Does Jesus tell me to imprison homosexuals? No. I can tattoo crosses all over my body, wear cross-shaped jewelry, plaster my car with bumper stickers, and claim to be a Christian all day long, but if I don't follow Jesus then I'm simply not a Christian.

    2. Gary North, who besides being an incredibly prolific author, engaging speaker, and really interesting guy, is no danger to anyone. I don't care if he's a Christian reconstructionist, especially as a non-believer. In fact, I'm probably more inclined to give Dr. North a hearing than your stereotypical modern, secular, cosmopolitan "losertarian" who is devoid of principle, philosophical foundation, or even the most basic understanding of logic, reason, etc., etc.

      Let the guy believe what he wants. Why is this so damn hard to understand?

  8. @Mike

    Yes, I'm aware of Gary North. So why didn't Tucker just come out and say so?
    And if it's Uganda he worries about, why not address Ugandan Christians instead of American Christians.

  9. @Anon at 11.32

    Sounds like No True Scotsman to me.

    Jesus never told people to arrest gays. He also never told people to defend themselves with guns. He also told (some) people to give away everything except the shirt on their backs.
    He told people not to make an absolute claim to their property but leave some part of the harvest for others to gather.

    If American libertarians can defend themselves with guns, keep more than their shirts, assert absolute property rights and still call themselves Christians, Ugandan Christians can arrest gays and still be Christians.

    The Western understanding of Christianity is not the only one nor the most accurate one necessarily.

    "Progress" is sometimes only devolution.

    Besides which, the Ugandans only got stirred up about gays to that degree because of an American Christian, whose book the Pink Swastika claims they led Nazism.

    I think Lively may well be a propagandist myself, trying to distract from more powerful revisionist history.

    But, whatever he is, once again, it's the empire and its agents meddling and co-opting any stream of resistance.

  10. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/scott-lively-anti-gay-law-uganda