Kevin I. Slaughter, Satanic Reverend and owner of publishing house Underworld Amusements, expressed this sentiment not-so-long ago:
I don’t adhere to any specific political party or platform, but reading comments on the internet underlines the folly of any political system that involves “the people” making informed decisions. I skew “libertarian” not because I think people are “rational actors”, but because I want them to have as little say in what I can and can’t do (i.e. political power/influence) as possible… because they are fucking morons. Conversely, I don’t think any “cognitive elite” can necessarily do better; they’ll just be smarter about how they’d go about fucking me and mine over.
Such serves as a good description of the imperative behind my own political preferences. While I certainly see the value in aspiration and improvement, the existential pessimist in me keeps in mind the resilient habits and tendencies that generally limit our species. Our evolutionary inheritance constrains us in ways not often accounted for by utopian dreamers, highfaluting demagogues, and paternalistic social engineer wannabes.
That said, I think Slaughter’s point about “rational actors” needs addressing. Though it’s certainly true that most folk don’t conform to the Enlightenment-derived templates of New Rationalist Man, they nevertheless employ rationality as an instrument to meet their subjective goals, no matter how herdminded, “whim-worshipping”, self-destructive, invasive, or predatory such goals may be. Thus, it can be argued that those who hold the rei(g)ns of power, in the interest of their own sustenance and supremacy, act rationally by encroaching on civil liberties, extorting the populace, and maintaining their monopoly on violence, whilst the mass populace, valuing security and stability above all else, act rationally by accepting, often endorsing, such measures, offering up their approval at the altar of durr–mocracy.
In short, the wolves prey and the sheep obey, each party deriving gratification from the sadomasochistic entanglement. Those who’d rather not paint the world Fifty Shades of Grey find themselves distinctly outnumbered in the general scheme of things.
Moving onto the matter of the “cognitive elite”, one thing that always strikes me as rather myopic about technocrats, managerialists, and many eugenicists is their tendency to indulge in IQ reductionism. While I don’t agree with the Left’s dismiss-when-inconvenient approach to IQ, and prefer crude IQ reductionism to the racial equivalent, I do think it an overreach to treat IQ as the beginning-and-end of cognitive capability, let alone personal merit. In both mine and Rev. Slaughter’s eyes, a high IQ can simply mean the capacity to fuck things up in a more interesting way. (Recent U.S. presidential estimates attest to that!) I recently had a few back-and-forths with some generally smart “rationalist” atheists who defended dress codes and smoking bans with appeals to “respect”, “the black community”, “decorum and dignity”, and “protect[ion of] individuals against themselves”. I certainly wouldn’t appreciate such busybodies policing my conduct any more than I do their less cerebrally capable counterparts. I find myself very much in sympathy with Albert Jay Nock when he scribes in his Memoirs,
One of the most offensive things about the society in which I later found myself was its monstrous itch for changing people. It seemed to me a society made up of congenital missionaries, natural-born evangelists and propagandists, bent on re-shaping, re-forming and standardising people according to a pattern of their own devising—and what a pattern it was, good heavens! when one came to examine it. It seemed to me, in short, a society fundamentally and profoundly ill-bred […] The attempt is relatively immaterial, perhaps, for it is usually its own undoing, but the moment one wishes to change anybody, one becomes like the socialists, vegetarians, prohibitionists; and this, as Rabelais says, “is a terrible thing to think upon.”
In summation, I want despots, demagogues, and democratards of all stripes and IQ levels to fuck off and leave me be. Toward such types, my general sentiment remains: “Paws off the wine and step out of my sunshine!” Better one of modest mental endowments who observes such a sentiment than a mastermind who does otherwise.
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I find most libertarians have a huge blind-spot for evolutionary psychology. As Keith over at Attack-the-System has said, converting people to libertarian values is not going to happen. It is difficult to explain to an individualist nerd what H.L. Mencken knew well: most people care more about fitting in than being right, and the values and habits that allow you to fit in are not conducive to individualism or a respect for the property of unpopular people.
My attraction to libertarianism is really not – the more I interact with libertarians (and other anarchist-types) the more I see that their fixation with political systems is just another manifestation of evolution’s dead hand: let’s all parade around, even though nobody listens to us or cares! The fact that people are congenitally disinterested in liberty is something they’re not allowed to believe, the same way that most liberals can’t accept that some people are born stupid and untalented.
I agree with the Austrian economists overall, but I think that caring about politics is basically unhealthy, from a psychological point of view. The fact that energy could be much better spent improving your own life is also lost on them, and this itself is probably the exact evolutionary bias that they are blind to: for them, being in the Libertarian Movement and convincing themselves that they’re virtuous and making a difference is more important than actually making a difference or actually being the individualists they claim to be.
Have you ever considered the Epicurean approach: tend your garden and let the world burn?