Defending Jeff Deist From The Politically Correct Libertarians

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Certain quarters of the libertarian universe are in an absolute tizzy because Mises Institute President Jeff Deist invoked “blood and soil” in a recent speech. In the minds of some PC brain-addled libertarians, this is clearly an indication that the speaker was dog whistling to Nazis. This is both profoundly clueless and shameless PC grandstanding.

Proof that “blood and soil” can only be some sort of cryptic reference to Nazism is supposedly supplied by a Google search of the term which brings back a lot of links to “wrongthink” websites. I respect many libertarians. I have many libertarian friends, both real and virtual, but too many modern libertarians inhabit a world that exists only in their heads, and they can be grossly unfamiliar with the intellectual (and real) world outside the echo chamber that is their segment of libertarianism.

“Blood and soil” is, in fact, a rather mundane formulation that is used to express an undeniable aspect of reality. To deny that attachment to blood and soil is a fundamental aspect of the human condition identifies someone as intellectually unserious, but that is what ideology can do to people. It makes otherwise smart people stupid as they try to force reality to conform to their tidy theories, rather than letting reality inform their theories.

Man has been attached to blood and soil, hearth and home, kith and kin, for the entirety of human history. In fact, much of human history is a tale of blood and soil. Such is certainly hardwired into our DNA, which makes perfect Darwinian sense. Attachment to blood and soil is very logical from a survival standpoint.

For making a statement similar to this during a Facebook debate, I was accused of peddling “baseless pseudoscience.” Huh? Because other primates do not demonstrate attachment to kin and territory? Because no other mammal does? You cannot penetrate this sort of ideological blindness.

Far from being some exclusively Nazi code, blood and soil have long been invoked within American conservative circles, for example, as part of the long-running debate between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives over the nature of America. Paleocons assert that these United States are a continuation of old Europe in the New World, not some radical new departure or experiment. Neocons on the other hand assert that the U.S. is instead an idea or proposition nation unlike the “blood and soil” nations of Europe. I certainly side with the paleocons in this debate because an idea nation is an ideological conceit that is inherently leftist. It is also important to note that other countries that claimed to be idea nations were the old Soviet Union and post-Revolution France. Not exactly stellar company.

But even if you concede that the U.S. is an idea nation, the claim is that it is uniquely so. Therefore, by implication, other nations are not and follow the model. Arguably, every nation on earth is a nation founded on blood and soil to a greater or lesser degree, and the degree to which it is lesser is largely dependent on how many differing blood and soil groups it is attempting to make coexist under one national roof. The only nations that are arguably not based on blood and soil are the modern nation states that were artificially cobbled together by others, such as Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, and we saw how well those little experiments worked out. They were led by strongmen and held together by force, but when that fell apart, they naturally separated into their blood and soil constituencies with much messiness. So Iraq is not a natural blood and soil nation, but Kurdistan within Iraq is. So, according to the PC libertarian thought police, is Kurdistan inherently a Nazish country? Are all Kurds therefore Nazis?

I asked one of the “Rightthink” Enforcement Brigade in my aforementioned debate if he considered a Cherokee Indian Reservation to be a manifestation of blood and soil Nazism? Are the Cherokees who live there therefore Nazis? Needless to say, I didn’t get a straight answer. Off course, Nazi-esque Indian Reservations would be a bit of a difficult thing to pull off since the Reservations predate Nazism, but history has never been the righthinker’s strong point seeing as how they are peddling a laughingly novel intellectual formulation.

Aside from all of this ridiculous hoopla, I highly recommend that you read the Deist speech. Far from a dog-whistling screed as the PC libertarians have characterize it, it is actually eminently reasonable and a much needed counterbalance to the detached-from-reality brand of libertarianism being peddled by the hypersensitive PC-obsessed new breed.

The speech is very well done, and comes at a very important time as many libertarians are going astray. The Anarchist Notebook calls it “probably the most important libertarian speech made in the last decade.” What Deist is essentially doing in his speech is defending a concept that, while some will object to the term, used to be called paleolibertarianism. I do not intend to diminish Deist’s speech in anyway, but what he articulates is not new or groundbreaking. He makes some observations that are really truisms–that people value family, faith, culture, place, and so forth–and then makes some arguments that men and women of good will could have an honest debate about, such as the relative role of universalism vs. self-determination.

Early on in his speech, Deist describes and defends orthodox Rothbardian libertarianism. What he defends in theory is a stateless form of libertarianism. It isn’t even minarchism that he is defending. He goes on to defend the paleolibertarian belief that the institutions and sentiments that undergird civil society such as family, faith, culture, tradition, attachment to place, etc. are essential components that will hold society together in the theoretical absence of the state, rather than impediments to liberty as many of the new breed libertarians see them. He defends decentralization, secession, and self-determination as political ends that libertarians should strive for rather than the imposition of a universal moral ethic.

Deist concluded his speech with a call to action. “In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance,” he said. This statement is true on its face. These things do manifestly matter to people and libertarians certainly ignore them at the risk of their own irrelevance, but it is apparently this line more than any other that has the PC libertarian thought police so hysterical.

There is something not normal about a person who can read a defense of the stateless society and decentralization, secession, and self-determination as means of achieving it and immediately think Nazi because of a reference to the obvious reality of blood and soil. This is a sorry attempt by competing power centers in the libertarian orbit to marginalize a mindset that they disagree with at the expense of the greater movement as a whole. Perhaps some of the not-too-bright spear carriers arguing over this really are ideologically brain addled, but I simply cannot believe that people like Steve Horwitz, one of the main ringleaders of the PC jihad, are really that stupid. They’re not. They are arguing in bad faith by exploiting the reigning PC zeitgeist rather than have an honest debate. Shame on them.

Dan E. Phillips, MD is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. His work has been featured at sites such as Lew Rockwell, Intellectual Conservative, OpEdNews, The Fleming Foundation and many others.

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