UPDATE II: The Paleo Problem: Intellectual Dishonesty Or Senility? (A Form Of Logical Fallacy)

Ilana Mercer,IlanaMercer.com,Intellectualism,Paleoconservatism,Political Philosophy,Reason


Since 2001, I’ve penned a weekly, paleolibertarian column on WND.COM (ranked 1759th globally by Alexa, and 388th in the US).

Before that, the weekly column—expatiating on, as one wag put it, everything from “trade and terrorism to Microsoft [the SEC and antitrust law], Medicare, and Eminem“—was a fixture in Canadian newspapers, starting in 1998.

“The Paleolibertarian Column,” so titled, now features on RT too, the large website of the Russia Today TV network (ranked 947th globally).

The exposure is limited, for sure, but it’s not quite a small “pond life.”

Yet John Derbyshire writes the following in “Hans-Herman [sic] Hoppe–The Last Paleolibertarian” (on VDARE, ranked 128,883th globally, 44,603th locally):

“We haven’t heard much of the paloelibertarians since Lew Rockwell joined La Raza, and even persons knowledgeable about the pond life of dissident conservatism might pause when asked to name a current paleolib.”

Really? Given that there are so few paleolibertarians, I would think that a writer on mathematics and his “knowledgeable” sources ought to be able to count us.

As mentioned, I’ve written hundreds of weekly, paleolibertarian columns since 1998, covering almost every topic under the sun (cataloged here.)

To these hundreds of weekly columns add two books. Hardcore paleolibertarian both. First came “Broad Sides: One Woman’s Clash With a Corrupt Culture” (2004). Next was “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South” (2011).

Derbyshire’s editor, Peter Brimelow, ameliorates his “omission” somewhat with a hyperlink to a 2008 paragraph giving imprimatur to one of my columns. He writes: “Illana [sic] Mercer … combines libertarianism with an appreciation of the nation and the dangers of immigration in a recent WorldNetDaily column …”

However, Brimelow’s partial qualification fails to mention that all said columns—and not just the one referenced—are the work of a writer, in the words of Prof. Clyde Wilson, “who knows that the market is wonderful, but it is not everything.” (In addition, while some libertarians tend to cover their ears and hum loudly, refusing to address real-life issues or matters of politics and policy, all to preserve their libertarian virginity (or out of a lazy habit of mind), this column applies paleolibertarianism to almost every issue conceivable.)

The omissions aforementioned: Do they amount to a momentary lapse of reason or a pattern of intellectual dishonesty? Who knows? Suffice it to say that VDARE’s title amounts to an assertion that there is but one remaining paleolibertarian, and Derbyshire’s subsumed statements in support of this assertion are as declarative and conclusive.

In any event, VDARE’s practice in this case of ignoring reality does nothing for its credibility (always a touchy subject).

You lose credibility when, in contravention of reality, and from small, atrophying intellectual enclaves—you proclaim on who counts to the paleolibertarian tradition, and by default who doesn’t. As a paleolibertarian who shall not be named once wrote, “Reality is the rational man’s anchor.”

I treasure fond memories from the early 2000s of sitting (and, yes, imbibing) at an Auburn tavern with Hans-Hermann Hoppe, the sui generis paleolibertarian discussed by Derbyshire, and with other Mises-Institute paleolibertarian pals. (And I have just received Dr. Hoppe’s latest book from assistant publisher at LFB, Jeff Tucker.)

In the interest of intellectual honesty and full disclosure; and lest I too adopt the habit I am here criticizing—and thus fall into what Hans Hoppe would call a performative contradiction—here is the quorum of paleolibertarians that right away comes to mind, other than this writer:

WND colleague Vox Day (he is, however, skeptical of free trade per se)
Facebook Friend Prof. John Hospers (Read his “LIBERTARIAN ARGUMENT AGAINST OPEN BORDERS.”)
Jack Kerwick, a young, new, much-needed arrival—a philosopher, who, I believe, tends more to paleolibertarianism than paleoconservatism in his antipathy for statism.

UPDATE I (9/30):

Other notable paleolibertarians:

Thomas DiLorenzo. When the left and the “right” dismiss you as a neo-Confederate, and Sons of the South consider you a son of theirs—I’d say you are a thoroughbred palelibertarian. Tom DiLorenzo’s name is synonymous with secession.
Thomas E. Woods Jr.: Tom is an intellectual machine gun when it comes to States’ Rights, for example. Can there be a more central issue to paleolibertarian sensibilities than the devolution and decentralization of power? The passion for “the Old Republic of property rights, freedom of association, and radical political decentralization,” as Lew Rockwell once wrote, is the soul of the subject; the very thing that animates paleolibertarianism.
Nebojsa Malic, columnist for Antiwar.com since 2000. Having lost his homeland of Serbia in the Bosnian War, Nebojsa understands liberty’s indispensable framework (to borrow Murray Rothbard’s expression).

UPDATE II (10/3): A FORM OF LOGICAL FALLACY. Does the paleo practice of ignoring reality, highlighted in the current post (“The Paleo Problem: Intellectual Dishonesty Or Senility?”), amount merely to a child covering his ears and humming loudly, in the hope that reality will magically change?

Yes, and worse.

In his Foreword to Nonsense, Robert J. Gula’s handbook of logical fallacies, Hunter Lewis cautions that it is, in “a broader sense” (“broad” being Gula’s genius and sensibility), a logical fallacy to inject information or arguments that are … incomplete, or to omit some important fact, point, or perceptive, … whether intentionally or unintentionally.