Re: Thoughts on Individualism (Why Libertarianism is Wrong)

William Pierce, who according to Wikipedia, was a white nationalist and founder of Cosmotheism, “a religion based on white racialism, pantheism, eugenics, and National Socialism.” Until his death in 2002, he was probably most well-known as the author of “The Turner Diaries,” which depicts a violent revolution leading to the overthrow of the United States government and extermination of non-Caucasian people.

In the vast majority of political circles, he has no credibility, except to say that his arguments append pretty smoothly to arguments for generic statism. Both incorporate the same premises, only Pierce believes the white race is the standard of moral value, not society as a whole. First notice that Pierce in the video (above) did not deny that he was a collectivist in this 1998 broadcast; he was rather pointed that he thought “that all of us have a responsibility for the future of our race, that we should put the welfare and security of our people ahead of personal considerations.”

That certainly is an assertion. To substantiate that assertion, he would have to demonstrate how he bridged the is-ought gap from a description of what is (facts of reality) to the prescription of what he claims morally ought to be (me taking “responsibility for the future of our race”). Of course, he has no basis for making such a normative statement. Even if it were possible to validate his claim, it would be meaningless for me to take responsibility for the actions of other people with their own free will since that is an impossible task.

Pierce continued, “What happens to our people is more important than what happens to any individual.” Later he added, “Perhaps some of our own individualists will realize their own lives can have no lasting value or meaning, no matter how rich or famous they become, unless they are a part of something larger and more enduring than themselves.” This is the epitome of collectivism.

I have to say that Pierce was pretty accurate in his portrayal of normative individualism (as opposed to methodological individualism) in the scenarios he gave, except when he said that individualism promotes selfishness and irresponsibility. Admittedly, the logical rubric for individualism, which is based on the idea that the concept of moral “value” is derived from and contingent upon the concept of “life,” which only exists in individuals, is the basic foundation for individualism. While individualists can practice crass or myopic behavior sometimes, it is empirically the case that being free to act in one’s rightly understood self interest promotes the interest of everyone in society. It could be summed up by the rational egoist phrase “Doing good by doing well.”

That is not to say that egoism and individualism are not necessarily synonymous. One could support normative individualism on the basis that people ought to be free to practice altruism (or self-sacrifice). Until which time as people are free to practice self-sacrifice without being compelled to do so by the government, then a person cannot freely express his own will to make moral decisions.

The reason Pierce supports using collectivism to accomplish his racist agenda is because he does not trust other whites to abide by his creed. The collectivist’s final salvation rests with authoritarianism, that is, aggression and indoctrination. That is telling. Maybe I am wrong, but Pierce would have likely agreed that I would have no obligation to “take responsibility for our race” if I had no means of taking responsibility for myself. For example, a newborn baby would have no such responsibility, I presume. So really, this obligation of Pierce’s is contingent on people who have earned their wealth or talents to share it with the race. Such a system would mean that a person can only act to the extent it serves his or her race, that individuals are the property of the race. The whole idea is self-defeating and stands in opposition to freedom, for it is nonsensical to be responsible for something which owns you, as if ontologically that were even possible.

Pierce was correct to be alarmed by the explication of individualism. It threatens the deepest recesses of his collectivist charade. Throughout the video, Pierce never bothered to address — and for good reason, there is none — how it came to be that white people ought to take responsibility for “our people.” All he had to offer were empty assertions, which appropriately enough is what his life and ideas have amounted to. Pierce has long past; may his premises and presuppositions soon follow.

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