August 18, 2022

Toleration Does Not Require Calling Wicked Good

Bombing private property is a bad point

In the early morning of July 6, an  explosion damaged   the Georgia Guidestones.

Because of the damage, the rest of the monument was demolished for security reasons. At this writing, apparently the explosion was the result of purposeful sabotage.

Writing at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok  even comes close   the willful destruction of the Georgia monument to the Taliban’s destruction from the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan  in 2001.

The  massive buddhas   created into the mountainside were over a millennium old and were a reminder of the once flourishing Buddhist culture in south-central Asia and of the fascinating  fusion   of  Buddhist plus Greek culture that happened as a result of the conquests of Alexander the Great. The damage of these statues, and the beauty and shared eternal facts that they represented, are a reduction to all of humanity.

However , the same cannot be said of the loss of the Georgia Guidestones, and it is an error, and in fact an honte, to compare the two, as Tabarrok has done. This is for the simple reason that while the Bamiyan Buddhas were objectively good, the Georgia Guidestones were objectively bad.

To become clear,   it is without doubt wrong to begin terror bombing monuments because one disagrees with their message. But resistance to bombing things  does not mean that one must embrace what ever has been bombed or identify it as good.

This is especially true in the case of the guidestones, which were erected by private donors in 1980. The particular stones listed ten principles for humanity in multiple languages.   The first guideline calls for the maintenance of a persons population below five hundred million, a level that it has not been from since  approximately 1600   and that might require decreasing the current people by over seven billion.

Other principles  included   “ guid[ing]  reproduction wisely” in order to improve “ fitness and variety, ”   the usage of a new global language, the institution of a world court, and a call for human beings to “ be not really a cancer on the Earth. ”

Such “ principles” are obviously beyond creepy to a regular person  but  throughout the twentieth century   have greatly appealed to some elites, who simply changed their branding from promoting eugenics to promoting “ populace control” after eugenics grew to become a dirty word.  

While it might make sense to be concerned about the politically motivated bombing, it is not clear why Tabbarok would be “ saddened and disturbed” by the destruction of an antihuman monument that advocates for any literal eugenic breeding system, especially because he obviously will not share those values, since evidenced by his function.

There seems to end up being frequent confusion among a lot of libertarians and liberals between arguing for the legal threshold of things and defending said things as always being right and great.

From a Misesian liberal perspective, it was wrong to bomb the monument because terrorist bombings undermine the social order upon which all of civilized life is dependent. The alternative to a liberal order where we hash distinctions out through the political procedure is a Hobbesian world, where the strong rule because they managed to crush and destroy anyone who opposes them. To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war, because the saying goes.

The fact that liberals and libertarians oppose terror campaigns and endorse peaceful social coexistence does not mean that we endorse what exactly is tolerated, nor does it require that we call evil good and good evil.

In his  recent talk   at the Austrian Economics Study Conference, Jason Jewell had some useful insights into the relationship between objective ontological value and subjective value, which has proven to often be a stumbling block for libertarians, including several Austrians who embrace a radical subjectivism, like Israel Kirzner and Ludwig Lachmann  (in contrast to Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard).

While the lecture is full of too many insightful points to explore in depth here, Jewell begins his talk by sketching upon C. S. Lewis’s important work  The particular Abolition of Man . In this book, Lewis defended natural law, which he calls “ the doctrine of objective value, the fact that certain attitudes are really real, and others really false, towards the kind of thing the galaxy is and the kind of matters we are. ” Lewis points out that this central idea is present in almost all historical instances and cultures and brands it simply as “ the  Tao. ”

Because Jewell explains, even Misesian consequentialism, which rejects natural law, is ultimately grounded on the idea of there being an objective good— i. electronic., social utility. Similarly, he points out that Rothbard has been quite amenable to goal value, especially due to his appreciation for Aristotle and natural law, which is the very first thing he discusses in  Ethics of Liberty .

All this is to say that holding a perception in liberal toleration plus subjective economic value does not require one to equate ancient works of art that enrich mankind and literal monuments in order to evil. The loss of the Bamiyan Buddhas is a great loss for all of humanity because they had been objectively good. While politics bombings are bad plus antiliberal, the loss of the Georgia Guidestones is nothing to mourn in and of alone because advocating for eugenics is objectively bad.

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