Libertarians and the Nation

The Irrepressible Rothbard

Murray Rothbard, writing at the time of the collapse of communist Eastern Europe, addresses the issue of the suppressed nationalities:

…it is a chance in Europe at long last, to begin to reverse the monstrous twin injustices of Sarajevo and Versailles

One wonders why Sarajevo and Versailles would need to be addressed if nationality was irrelevant to humans. After all, one border is just as good as the next; no one really cares with whom they make political bond. Isn’t that right?

There are several groups hostile to this idea of “nation.” I will touch on a few of these:

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The Marxists-Leninists

…Leninism, while giving lip-service to the right of national self-determination (enshrined on paper in the Soviet Constitution but always ignored in practice), was a centralizing universalist creed transcending nationalities.

Communists like to ignore “nation.”

…deracinated intellectuals (often colonials educated by Marxist-Leninist professors in the imperial centers of London, Paris, and Lisbon), who were generally ignorant of, and contemptuous or hostile toward, ethnicity, religion, and culture.

Intellectuals like to ignore “nation”; they are even contemptuous of the idea.

The Global Democrats

The concerns and demands of nationalities are dismissed as narrow, selfish, parochial, and even dangerously hostile per se and aggressive toward other nationalities.

Rothbard forgot xenophobic.

The Libertarians

Libertarians are, by and large, as fiercely opposed to ethnic nationalism as the global democrats, but for very different reasons. Libertarians are generally what might be called simplistic and “vulgar” individualists.

Out of politeness, I would have said simplistic or vulgar individualists. I am not a big fan of piling on.

…we must not fall into a nihilist trap. While only individuals exist, individuals do not exist as isolated and hermetically sealed atoms. …all individuals grow up in a common culture and language.

It is almost embarrassingly banal to emphasize that point.

While the State is a pernicious and coercive collectivist concept, the “nation” may be and generally is voluntary. The nation properly refers, not to the State, but to the entire web of culture, values, traditions, religion, and language in which the individuals of a society are raised. It is almost embarrassingly banal to emphasize that point, but apparently many libertarians aggressively overlook the obvious.

Yes, they do. Like the obvious point that humans are…human.

…one may be a true patriot of one’s nation or country while – and even for that very reason – opposing the State that rules over it.

Do you mean just because a libertarian supports something other than “open borders” that are destructive of the nation, he need not at the same time support the state?

…nationalism has its disadvantages for liberty, but also has its strengths, and libertarians should try to help tip it in the latter direction.

What? Nationalism isn’t a simple either / or, the way every issue is portrayed by most libertarians?

The more common the culture the less demand for “government.” Why do you think western governments work so hard to destroy culture?


When so many libertarians are philosophically aligned with Antonio Gramsci, one might wonder what is really going on.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

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