For the earlier half of my college years, I identified as a libertarian of sorts. In hindsight, I think a lot of my libertarian sympathies were largely emotive. Then again, my libertarian days feel like such a long time ago and I’ve gone through so many ideological changes over the years that I hardly remember what many of my motivations for pursuing liberty were. Eventually, I stumbled on radical traditionalist thought and HBD, which led me to identify as a neoreactionary. For the most part, I’ve left all but two libertarian-esque beliefs behind; I prefer liberty over equality and I just can’t help but advocate for those pesky free markets. As a result, I’ve found myself sympathizing most with the techno-commercialist wing of neoreaction.
Libertarians are some neoreactionaries’ favorite whipping boys, and rightfully so. Far too many libertarians concern themselves with progressive notions of “social justice.” The libertarian economist Bryan Caplan is notorious for advocating an open borders policy for its potential humanitarian benefits. Too bad that if such a policy were implemented in America, libertarian principles would have no hope of surviving its demographic impacts. Murray Rothbard, an otherwise brilliant economist, has an infamous piece on ownership of children that illustrates just how abhorrent the logical conclusions of libertarian ethics can be. Indeed, the libertarian idea of reducing the basic social unit of civilization down to the individual does not make for a stable society because the relationship between society and an individual is nearly always adversarial. Traditionalists generally have no problem with liberty so long as it’s reserved for a select few and not granted to everyone at the expense of tradition. Hence their hostility to libertarianism.
Nevertheless, neoreaction’s ideological origins are essentially libertarian. Mencius Moldbug was heavily influenced by the Austrian School and Hans Herman Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed has been instrumental in providing neoreactionaries a framework to critique democracy. In short, some of the best critiques of democracy and egalitarianism have come from libertarians. If anything libertarianism has served as an ideological ladder that we kick down once we reach a certain point of neoreaction.
Ever since joining in on the Dark Enlightenment discussions on Twitter, it seems that most of the people involved in neoreaction are primarily traditionalists, while those of a more capitalistic ideological bent are in the minority. Of all the techno-commercialists I know of I can count most of them on one hand. The number of traditionalists however, is innumerable. To an outside observer, it may appear the techno-commercialists have no place among neoreactionaries since they seem so inextricably tied to libertarianism.
This has led me to wonder, what is it that separates the techno-commercialist from the run of the mill libertarian? Perhaps I’m being too bold here, but I would say that the only two things the commercialists have in common with libertarians is their advocacy of capitalism and their preference for natural hierarchies emerging from market forces. What separates them is what they consider to be the higher (or dare I say, moral) end of capitalism. Libertarians like capitalism because they believe it is the only economic system that allows for individuals to maximize their own preferences without interference from a coercive state. They advocate absolute liberty for all people, whether they are hard workers or degenerates. The techno-commercialist looks at the capitalistic system and all of the innovations in its wake of creative destruction and says that there may be an end to capitalism other than individual flourishing. All of the technological advances we’ve seen through capitalism have made our lives better, our customs more efficient: more intelligent. As such, intelligence optimization is the end of capitalism itself.
Libertarians may rejoice at the idea that all people being given the freedom to pursue libertine sins of the flesh, even if they themselves don’t wish to. But techno-commercialists place a greater emphasis on intelligence optimization. Sure, we may have more orgasm machines available to us when we let the free market do its thing and the traditionalists might get their underoos in a bunch about that, but either the potential for experimental politics or the possibility of a technological singularity is just too good to pass up. Let the libertines wallow with pleasure in their perverse, degenerate sewage dump they call a society. And if libertarians want to enable the libertines and promote open border policies, then let them. If they get swept up by the tides of demographic displacement, then they brought it on themselves. The techno-commercialists will explore space, mine asteroids and build an AI which may or may not destroy humanity. As the planet becomes desolate with degeneracy, we will provide rapture for those with the resources and thereby the liberty to pursue it.
This is what I gather separates techno-commercialism from libertarianism. I can honestly say I prefer the former over the latter.