Two different approaches to libertarianism have emerged over the years. One is an open and welcoming philosophy, a universalist philosophy. It is a positive philosophy promoting liberty as a value for all. Liberty is a universal longing. The freedom to live your life as you please, pursuing your livelihood without arbitrary restrictions, practicing your religion if you have one without persecution by authorities, freely expressing your beliefs without fear of censorship or persecution by the state.

Ayn Rand did not call her book on politics, Socialism: A Nefarious Creed. She called it Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Ideal! Capitalism is not just a system of economics – it is an ideal. Something positive. Something liberating and rewarding.

She certainly criticized statism in no uncertain terms, but her focus was on positives – objective reality, reason, individualism, enlightened self-interest and capitalism. She played a huge role in the development of the early libertarian movement in the sixties, a debt many now pooh pooh or ignore.

This disavowal stems from the second path libertarianism took. A negative path whose focus has become the evil of the state rather than the value of freedom. A philosophy searching for demons rather than ideals. In Greek mythological terms, a philosophy focused on Hades rather than Mount Olympus. On Cerberus and Erebus and horrific creatures like Medusa rather than Apollo, the God of Light or Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt and this Earth.

Instead of a philosophy of freedom for all, a philosophy to be spread around the world to create a harmonious and peaceful world of trade and commerce, of production and enterprise, a world where everyone can strive to reach his own potential, we have this counter-philosophy of us versus them – a philosophy built on demonizing an enemy rather than emphasizing the good.

And lately this philosophy has taken a very dark turn. One offshoot has become a philosophy of tribalism and hatred, a philosophy based on group think and collectivism, a philosophy based on fear.

When Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote Democracy: The God That Failed, he railed against immigration lauding absolute monarchs of yore who not only kept out riff-raff but also got rid of them, something he opined was lacking with democracy. “Unlike a king, a democratic ruler undertakes little to actively expel those people whose presence within the country constitutes a negative externality (human trash which drives individual property values down).” Human trash!

In a comment on Facebook, one of Hoppe’s acolytes wrote about “shit tier people”. Others have gone to great lengths to demonize Muslims.

One post actually listed a bunch of statistics supposedly confirming the worst fears about Muslims. While acknowledging that some Muslim immigrants are decent people, many, the post said, are not. The stats:

  • A full 20% of British Muslims sympathized with the London subway bombings. [ICM Poll]
  • 31% of younger British Muslims say the London bombings were justified compared to 14% of those over 45.
  • Pew Research (2007): 26% of younger Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are justified.
  • 35% of young Muslims in Britain believe suicide bombings are justified (24% overall).
  • 42% of young Muslims in France believe suicide bombings are justified (35% overall).
  • 22% of young Muslims in Germany believe suicide bombings are justified.(13% overall).
  • 29% of young Muslims in Spain believe suicide bombings are justified. (25% overall).

“The only way Muslims can dissociate their faith from acts of atrocities is by apostasy – a total disavowal and rejection of one’s religion,” he averred. “This is NOT the majority of Muslims.”

But the converse is also true.

  • A full 80% of British Muslims did not sympathize with the London subway bombings
  • 69% of younger British Muslims say the London bombings were not justified compared to 86% of those over 45.
  • 74% of younger Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are not justified.
  • 65% of young Muslims in Britain believe suicide bombings are not justified (76% overall).
  • 58% of young Muslims in France believe suicide bombings are not justified (65% overall).
  • 78% of young Muslims in Germany believe suicide bombings are not justified.(87% overall).
  • 71% of young Muslims in Spain believe suicide bombings are not justified. (75% overall).

Clearly the majority of Muslim immigrants in these countries reject violent extremism. But the demonization of all Muslims continues.

 These critics are woefully ignorant of the history of Islam. Rose Wilder Lane, one of the three women considered the godmothers of libertarianism (along with Isabel Patterson and Ayn Rand), wrote in The Discovery of Freedom, Man’s Struggle Against Authority that the Muslim empire Mohammed created was one of tolerance of other religions and open to science and progress. While Europe was mired in the Dark Ages, an era of superstition, mysticism, and feudalism with serfs and masters, an era that stifled free thought and commanded orthodoxy, Saracen Spain became a hallmark of scholarship and learning, an open society where freedom reigned.

Mohammed’s philosophy, she notes was liberating and based on the Abrahamic faith – Judaism. She quotes the Koran – a passage from the 19th Sura – “Use no violence in religion. Fight for the religion of God against those who fight against you, but transgress not by attacking them first.”

Bet you did not know this libertarian passage which invokes the non-aggression principle was in the Koran.

“During the stagnation of Europe that is called the Dark Ages,” writes Lane, the world was actually bright with an energetic, brilliant civilization, more akin to American civilization and more fruitful today for everyone alive, than any other in the past.

“To them the world owes modern science – mathematics, astronomy, navigation, modern medicine and surgery, scientific agriculture.

“To them the world directly owes the discovery and the exploration of America.”

The Moslem world created the first universities, she says. The Saracens discovered the concept of zero and created the ten base number system we know so well, a system they adapted from the Hindus. “The Saracens developed arithmetic and added algebra and quadratics. To Euclid’s geometry they added plane and spherical geometry.”

They went on to develop astronomy and invent the sextant and magnetic compass. The Saracen advances in medicine were not surpassed until the advent of America.

“In Spain,” continues Lane, “the Saracens built great centers of science and art and production and commerce, Cordova, Granada, Seville. Out of the Spanish cities poured “an increasing wealth of goods, woollens and linens and cottons and silks, mosaics, enamels, porcelain, glass, gloves.” Commerce boomed.

But then the Christians of the Dark Ages launched the Crusades. Lane’s description sounds very like today’s description of the fundamentalist Muslims of ISIS. Pope Urban II “summoned all the barons to a great council and made a speech that roused them to a frenzy. He called on them to save the tomb of Christ from the children of the Devil, and he gave complete forgiveness of all sins to every man who would go, and instant entrance to Paradise to any man who died on the way to kill infidels.” How’s that for an interesting historical wrinkle?

During the 500 years the Moslems held the Holy Land, writes Lane, they reverently guarded Christian shrines which were also Muslim shrines. “Jerusalem,” she writes, “has always been a Holy City to Moslems who revere Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Samuel and Christ as prophets of God.”

How ruthless were the Crusaders? Lane writes, “They took Jerusalem and for two days and nights they slaughtered men, women, children, babies, in the houses, down the alleys, over the roofs. Around the mosque of Omar where the pavement is flat, their horses charged fetlock-deep in blood.”

But these invaders marvelled at the achievements of the Saracens including their standards of cleanliness. And they adopted Saracen ways even as they set out to destroy these infidels.

Lane continues “Americans owe directly to the Saracens our southwestern and California architecture, our cotton industry, our asphalt paving, and a long list of things such as beds, table and bed linens, small occasional tables, strawberries, ice cream. Americans speak Arabic when they say mattress, sofa, cotton, talcum, sugar, coffee, sherbert, naptha, gypsum, benzine. Our cars run, our streets are paved, our houses are furnished, and our bodies clothed with things that the Saracens created.” Indeed, most fine sheets and linens are still Egyptian made.

The Crusades decimated Saracen Spain, the center of learning, art and commerce in the world. And they sought to forcibly convert the heretical Moslems. Two million of them. Many converted but secretly kept up their infidel ways – reading Arabic books (despite book burnings which devastated Spain’s libraries). The public baths were abolished and many of the Moslems continued to bathe privately in secret.

And so the Catholic Church launched the Spanish Inquisition to root out heresy. Torture was institutionalized. But all for a good cause, to save these heathen souls from hellfire. The Inquisitioners were paragons of virtue. “Obstinate heretics who insisted on being responsible for their own opinions must be burned alive,” writes Lane, “but Charles the Fifth ordered that every one of them who repented and submitted to Authority must be killed mercifully.”

These Moriscos, former Moslems suspected of heresy, were all driven from Spain or killed.

Not only were populations depleted, economies were ruined. Even the coffers of the tax man dried up. “For almost eight hundred years, human energy in Spain had produced such an abundance of food, comforts and luxuries as the world had never before imagined, ” writes Lane. “After Granada fell, human energy continued to operate in Spain and through Spain upon the New World and Europe, for two more generations. The third generation no longer knew that men are free and energy weakened in Spain. The fifth generation could no longer support the government, and their children died of starvation. (By 1699) Spain had practically ceased to exist.”

 Lest you think this is abject nonsense that Lane made up, let’s look at a scholarly history of the Jews – Max Dimont’s best selling Jews, God and History. Chapter 5, entitled Mohammed, Allah and Jehovah, starts, like all the chapters with a short summary and an historic timeline.

The summary reads “the improbable but true tale of a camel driver’s establishment of a world empire in the name of Allah, wherein the Jews rose to their Golden Age of creativity, only to be plunged into a Dark Age with the eclipse of the Crescent and the ascent of the Cross”.

The timeline for the years 700-1000 reads “Golden Age of Judaism. Period of great religious toleration; Jews rise to posts of great eminence.”

The period of 1000-1500 is described as the “end of Islamic Empire” and not coincidentally the “end of the Golden Age of Judaism.”

Within the chapter, Dimont tells of how, before the advent of Islam, Jews “joined the Arabs in defeating invading Christian armies which came to proselytize and to plunder.” They found common cause and, he notes, “many pagan Arabs” came to admire the Jewish religion for “its ascetic monotheism and the devotion of the Jews to family life and education”.

Then along came Mohammed. By the “eighth century they were masters of an empire that made the Mediterranean a Mohammedan lake, and in the ninth century they were the standard-bearers of a dazzling civilization, leaders in art, architecture, and science, while Western Europe was sinking deeper and deeper into a dark morass its own making.”

“The Mohammedans,” writes Dimont, “were even more tolerant of other people’s religions than the Romans.”

He writes that a key influence on this civilization was Hellenism – Greek philosophy. It was a complete revitalization of Jewish culture from ascetic mysticism to Hellenistic worldliness. Christians had rejected Greek philosophy and its works remained buried “in Syriac translations and in the libraries of wealthy and cultured Jews and unconverted Roman pagans. When the Arabs heard of this wealth of knowledge, they encouraged its translation into Arabic and the task fell mainly to the Jews, the cosmopolitans of that age, who spoke Hebrew and Arabic, Greek and Latin, Syriac and Persian, with equal facility.”

You might say Mohammedenism saved Greek philosophy!

 In his book, My Isl@m, Amir Ahmad Nasr writes of his struggle to understand the repressive and regressive elements prevalent in modern Islam. As I noted in my review of that book, ” there were once two contrarian Islamic traditions – the Mecca and the Medina verses. And two contrary philosophical offshoots – the Ash’ariyya and the Mu’tazila. The latter were a rationalist group that “held philosophy in high esteem, emphasized free will, and believed that the interpretation of the Qur’an and the Hadith are subordinate to human reason”. The former group were traditionalists “emphasized predestination, were more literalist in their interpretation of the Qu’ran, and insisted that reason should be subordinate and subservient to revelation”.

The rationalists ushered in an “Islamic Golden Age – a period of science, progress, and discovery, which affirmed independent reasoning and empiricism”.

The traditionalists, unfortunately, held sway as the Islamic Empire collapsed, possibly as a reaction to the repressive and bloody nature of the Crusades.

Most Islamists in western countries, as noted, are peaceful and oppose violence. They are liberal in the best sense. But the anti-reason faction still has a strong toehold and needs to be countered. Demonizing Islam as a whole is not the answer. Western culture needs to reach out to the rational elements of Islam, remembering its pro-science roots and its history of tolerance and peace.

But let’s get back to Hoppe and friends and their smear of elements of our society as “human trash” and “shit tier people”.

 The brilliant, self-taught longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer, in The Ordeal of Change, writes of being an itinerant farm worker in the mid-1930s. The concluding chapter is called The Role of the Undesirables. While in a federal transient camp for single, homeless, unemployed men at the height of the Depression, he noticed their constant whining and belly-aching and then he noticed something else – handicaps of various sorts. He set out to catalogue the 200 men in the camp – only 70 were apparently normal. 30 were cripples, 60 were confirmed drunkards, 50 were old (over 55), 12 were youths under twenty, 12 had chronic diseases, 4 were mildly insane, 6 were constitutionally lazy, and 4 were fugitives from justice.

All of them, including the chronically ill, were able to work. The one-armed man, he notes, “was a wizard with the shovel.”

An idea began to take hold. What would motivate men of this sort? What was at the root of their character? Their restlessness? Their malaise?

He speculated, and the idea seemed absurd to him at first, that these men were like the early American pioneers.

Successful people, he notes, become rooted. They stay where they are. Only the disaffected leave for the wilderness and the unknown. All of them craved change. He notes that ex-convicts were the vanguard of the settlement of Australia. Exiles and convicts settled Siberia. And a large part of the early American settlers were “failures, fugitives, and felons”.

He concludes with a sobering and ironic thought which I quote at length:

“There is a tendency,” he writes, “to judge a race, a nation, or an organization by its least worthy members. The tendency is manifestly perverse and unfair; yet it has some justification. For the quality and destiny of a nation are determined to a considerable extent by the nature and potentialities of its inferior elements. The inert mass of a nation is in its middle section. The industrious, decent, well-to-do, and satisfied middle classes – whether in cities or on the land – are worked upon and shaped by minorities at both extremes: the best and the worst.

“The superior individual, whether in politics, business, industry, science, literature, or religion, undoubtedly plays a major role in the shaping of a nation. But so do the individuals at the other extreme: the poor, the outcasts, the misfits, and those who are in the grip of some overpowering passion. The importance of these inferior elements as formative factors lies in the readiness with which they are swayed in any direction. This peculiarity is due to their inclination to take risks (“not giving a damn”) and their propensity for united action. They crave to merge their drab, wasted lives into something grand and complete. Thus they are the first and most fervent adherents of new religions, political upheavals, patriotic hysteria, gangs, and mass rushes to new lands.

“And the quality of a nation – its innermost worth – is made manifest by its dregs as they rise to the top: by how brave they are, how humane, how orderly, how skilled, how generous, how independent or servile; by the bounds they will not transgress in their dealings with a man’s soul, with truth, and with honor.”

He notes that in Europe, when some lowly person managed to rise to the top, he became one of the elite – he tightened the screws, citing Napoleon as well as Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.

“Only here, in America,” he continues, “were the common folk of the Old World given a chance to show what they could do on their own, without a master to push and order them about. History contrived an earth-shattering joke when it lifted by the nape of the neck lowly peasants, shopkeepers, laborers, paupers, jailbirds, and drunks from the middle of Europe, dumped them on a vast, virgin continent and said: ‘Go to it; it is yours!’

“And the lowly were not awed by the magnitude of the task. A hunger for action, pent up for centuries, found an outlet. They went to it with ax, pick, shovel, plow, and rifle; on foot, on horse, in wagons, and on flatboats. They went to it praying, howling, singing, brawling, drinking, and fighting. Make way for the people! This is how I read the statement that this country was built by hordes of undesirables from the Old World.

“Small wonder that we in this country have a deeply ingrained faith in human regeneration. We believe that, given a chance, even the degraded and the apparently worthless are capable of constructive work and great deeds. It is a faith founded on experience, not on some idealistic theory. And no matter what some anthropologists, sociologists, and geneticists may tell us, we shall go on believing that that man, unlike other forms of life, is not a captive of his past – of his heredity and habits – but is possessed of infinite plasticity, and his potentialities for good and for evil are never wholly exhausted.”

Hoffer is a deep foe of elitism, especially European style elitism. It is elitism that disdains the poor and marginalized. It is elitism that refers to such people a human trash or as shit tier people, as subhumans.

In history, the treatment of some people as subhumans led to slavery, pogroms and persecutions. It led to witch hunts and burnings at the stake for heresy. And it led ultimately to Auschwitz and the gas chambers where millions perished because they were considered subhuman.

This is the sort of perverse elitism that fails to recognize that everyone deserves to be free. That everyone deserves to live “without a master to push and order them about”. That it matters not whether you are black, white, Chinese or Indian, Jew, Christian or Muslim.

What matters is individual character and potential, not the group you were accidentally born into or the circumstances you may currently be in.

Closed borders are cops with billy clubs beating their batons against their shields and shouting “Keep back, scum!”

Open borders is a welcoming handshake. Freedom is for everyone, not for just for some rarified elite. It is the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty –

 Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”