Between Two Lampshades
Michael Enoch Interviews Greg Johnson, Part 3
Part 3 of 3
GJ: There’s another argument that I want to make about laissez-faire capitalism: just as it presupposes the social capital high trust society, which it cannot preserve without flipping over into statism and collectivism, it also presupposes the social capital of a pre-individualistic, non-voluntary society and tradition.
What I mean is simply this: The Randian sort of individualist reads Atlas Shrugged. He’s 14 years old or 16 years old, or he’s 18 years old like I was, and he says, “Damn it! This is right! From henceforth I am only going to enter into relationships that serve my interests.” Well, if you really stick with that, you’ll be 39, and you will have never entered into any relationships that challenge the values and outlook and maturity of a 19-year-old. That means you’re going to be a 19-year-old when you’re 39 and when you’re 49 and when you’re 59.
The point is that human spiritual growth and maturity often require that we take harder roads, and instead of satisfying our “given preferences,” we learn that they’re inadequate, and we learn to give them up. That requires that we approach social institutions and other human beings not just as ways of satisfying our given preferences, because that just makes us 14 forever or 19 forever, but rather as something that has the authority . . .
ME: 14.88 years forever. I’m just kidding. That was actually a bad joke. Sorry.
GJ: Well, when you put it that way . . . But yeah, it means that we have to have this attitude where we can approach other people, other institutions, as things that can challenge who we are. We’re not good enough.
When I was teaching in college I would say things that would shock my students. I would say to them, “You know, the reason why you’re here is that you’re not good enough.” And they’d go, “Wah! What are you saying!?” They’d been told that they’re wonderful in every way. And I’d say, “You’re not good enough, because you’re ignorant, and you need to learn things! You’re not good enough, and you’re going to get better through this educational process. If you believe you’re good enough just the way you are, then close the book.”
ME: Why not just leave?
GJ: Why not just leave? Yeah. There’s something about a strong individualist, egoist ethic that I think undermines what Hegel calls ethical institutions. He has this distinction in his Philosophy of Right, which I think after Aristotle’s Politics and Plato’s Republic is the greatest work of political philosophy. He has this notion of abstract right. Abstract right is like libertarianism. He says it doesn’t work. It requires other things to function. One of the things it requires is what he calls ethical life. These are actual concrete institutions that do not service the given preferences of each individual but challenge and reject and replace the preferences of the individual with more mature preferences and therefore help us to grow as human beings.
I do think that individualism tends to freeze people. If they really are strongly individualistic, it will freeze them at whatever level of immaturity and ignorance they started out at.
ME: If you’ll allow me to run with this for a second . . .
GJ: Sure, yeah.
ME: I’ll even challenge the individualist notion by bringing in the concept of time preference where, say, you become a Randian or Rothbardian or whatever at age 19 or 20 as we’ve been discussing, and your preferences at that age are you want to make money and have sex or whatever you want to do, and you engage in the mutually beneficial, voluntary relationships which have allowed you to make the most money and have the most sex. If you continue those relationships, your individual interests, by the time you’re 40 you’ll be empty and hollow.
ME: I was a Rothbardian or a Randian, more Rothbardian. To some people there’s no difference. I see the difference, but it doesn’t matter. When I was in my early 20s that’s what I was. Rothbardian, mutually beneficial, voluntary relationships, etc. I could have continued to just smoke weed and go to parties, you know what I mean? But my long-term actual self-interest, if I was still doing that at age 40 — which I’m not yet but close — instead of finding a wife . . . You know what I mean?
GJ: Yeah. Exactly.
ME: At some point I innately recognize this, “Oh, I want a wife. I don’t want to smoke weed and party.” Right now, the idea of smoking weed and going to a party . . . I don’t know. I would reject it. I would rather stay home with my wife. Because you change.
Inject the libertarian concept of time preference into the libertarian concept of individualism and freedom of action, and you’ll understand that your individual goals will be better met by taking a longer-term view, and that longer-term view will lead you ultimately to, I hope, the view that both Greg and I, I think, are sharing, which is that you want to have your market activities protected by a bubble of force that protects the ethnic group.
GJ: Yeah, and the longer-term view that you’re talking about, I would put it in terms of a model of self-actualization. If you’re just allowed to satisfy you’re given preferences that means that you’ll always find a way of being comfortable at whatever level of maturity you’re currently at.
I remember these ads I saw on TV: “Bad credit? No credit? No problem!” The point is there will always be people who will find a niche in the market to accommodate whatever level of vice or immaturity you might be frozen at. The market is not going to push you outside that comfort zone. The market is all about servicing that comfort zone, and so you’ve got to have other kinds of relationships.
ME: If in the moment you have the goods or the resources to trade for satisfaction, the market will do it. For most, it’s neutral morality. Libertarians consider it to actually be a positive morality. I just think it’s neutral. If you service your whims in the now, then okay. I’m not going to condemn it, but it’s not a higher good. Libertarianism has perverted, I think, the idea of good to the idea of that is the good. People voluntarily transacting to serve their desires right now is the good.
GJ: Especially if it involves marijuana.
ME: Yeah! Particularly with marijuana.
GJ: It’s one of my pet peeves. I have to say from the point of view . . .
ME: I dislike marijuana culturally, viscerally. That’s just a personal preference. I’m sure many of our listeners smoke marijuana. Do your thing, but . . .
GJ: Guys, put down your bongs and listen to me for a few minutes. From the point of view of long-term self-actualization, I think marijuana is one of the worst, most insidious substances.
ME: I’ve got to agree.
GJ: I’m going to write an article about this before I go to bed tonight. You’ll read about it on Counter-Currents.
ME: I’ll link to it from our site, because I completely agree. Marijuana culture is ovens.
GJ: When I went off to college my first year, I fell in with some stoners and they gave me a little bit of their pot, and it didn’t have much of an effect. So, I said, “Fine. I don’t like smoking at all.” I went off, got my PhD, ended up teaching, and a friend of mine during my first year of teaching visited me and said, “Do you know where I can get some pot?” I said, “Well, there’s this place down by the record store that says ‘Drug-Free Zone.’ I bet you could get some there.”
So, anyway, we went there and I went into the record store and bought a Marianne Faithfull CD, and I came back out and he had scored some marijuana. We went back to my place and I tried it again. We were watching television, and we were watching that shitty show Alias, I remember. Then there was this commercial for this laundry detergent that came on, and suddenly I felt this commercial was this epic. It was this vast space where there was this woman who had the most compelling struggle of all. Namely, to get her laundry as white as possible. I was experiencing this commercial with all the intensity that I would experience an epic drama and I thought, “Wow! This is really something.”
So, my friend and I went out to the symphony. We went to the symphony the next day. We ate at my favorite restaurant before we went, and the food tasted better than ever. We got high. We got high and had food. Food tasted better than ever. We went to this symphony. It was Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. It was the second part of the concert. Suddenly, I was in the music, and I totally understood what was going on. It’s a tone poem. It tells the story of Strauss and his wife and his romance. I was totally inside it. I knew what he was getting at. It was the most profound musical experience I had ever had and I said, “This stuff is fantastic.”
On the way home, we’re listening to the radio and it’s some shit-tier pop song, and I was thinking, “This is the most profound musical experience!”
ME: Yeah, I know exactly what you’re saying.
GJ: Then on the way back to the house, I said, “I’m really, really hungry.” So, we stopped in and we got some doughnuts, and they were really old crusty doughnuts. I started eating them, and this was the most profound culinary experience I had ever had. By the time I got home, I realized this was why pot is so insidious.
Because if Britney Spears is just as profound and pleasurable as Richard Strauss, and this day-old doughnut is as pleasurable as this great meal I’d had earlier in the evening, then why not just stay at home in your pajamas and eat cereal out of a box all day, and life will be fantastic with this stuff? I thought, “This is the most insidious stuff that’s ever entered my life, because I can see how this would totally destroy me in terms of my ability to create and grow as a human being.” Look around at the potheads I know. Bingo! That pretty much describes them.
ME: No, you’re right. And that effect does wear off. I mean, I know exactly what you’re talking about where I would think that I had discovered . . . And I even had experimented with other drugs and even other hallucinogenics. It’s been years since I’ve done any of this stuff. With LSD or something, we’d be outside and on LSD and you’d feel like you’ve discovered some profound truth, and a couple days later you’d think about it, “Oh, we were just thinking about this trivial bullshit.” You know? And you thought you had broken some code to the universe or something.
It makes the mundane seem profound and I suppose the effect wears off, but . . . I stopped smoking marijuana simply because I got anxiety from it, and every time I smoked it I would get anxiety, and I think that that happens. But yeah, I agree with you.
If people like it, I don’t think people should be thrown in jail for it, but I just really recommend that you don’t center your life around it. If you’re going to do it, do it only on special occasions and make sure what you’re doing is actually special because it gives you the idea that playing Call of Duty all night and then jacking off is a special event, and it’s not.
GJ: It makes sex great, and it makes masturbation great. Who needs another person? It makes Britney Spears great. Who needs Richard Strauss? It makes doughnuts great. It makes Captain Crunch great. Who needs healthy food?
ME: Who needs filet mignon when Captain Crunch is awesome?
GJ: Yeah, exactly. That really is very destructive.
ME: That’s the reason why they call it the herbal Jew.
GJ: The herbal Jew. I like that. That’s brilliant. Consider that stolen. I’m going to work that in some place.
ME: Yeah, you can work that in. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been known, and people have accused me before, I’m a little bit on the side of the alcoholic, or the liquid Jew as they call it. It’s definitely a vice of mine, but we all get one.
GJ: One of my friends from San Francisco, she said, “You know, I’ve tried every drug, and nothing compares to alcohol!”
ME: Alcohol is the best drug. Because it makes you better in social situations to a point.
GJ: Yeah, I don’t get anything out of it. It doesn’t do anything for me. I’ll order it sometimes because I notice that people who drink feel uncomfortable if I don’t share what they’re doing, so I’ll have a glass of wine, and I’ll sip at it. I just don’t get that much out of it, but I do understand that a lot of people do.
ME: It’s a social lubricant.
GJ: It is a social lubricant, and for me – this is weird – I’m super-psychologically attuned to the people around me, and I notice if I’m with people who are getting a little tipsy, I’ll get sort of sympathy drunk anyway.
ME: Oh yeah. We’ve met in person several times and I was drinking in those situations. I don’t know if you noticed that or not, but I remember we had great conversation that time at — well call it “the mansion” — I had a lot of fun that night.
GJ: Yeah. That was a great time. I don’t think I had anything to drink, but I was just in a room full of people who were very convivial, and I felt great. I get that way. One time I had dinner with Mark Dyal and a few friends in Atlanta. This was back in March. I realized that I was getting sympathy drunk just hanging out with them over dinner. So, when the dinner was over I ordered a dessert wine just to keep the buzz going for a couple more hours.
But yeah, it just doesn’t do that much for me, but I totally get why.
ME: The thing is also the atmosphere of those parties was also like, “Hey! We’re here. We’re in person together. We can talk about whatever the hell we want.” At some level, alcohol reduces inhibitions, but just being in that atmosphere reduces inhibitions. We’re in a room with 20 or so people and I can so whatever I want. How often do I experience that?
ME: That’s the feeling I always sort of played on at those gatherings and it’s really only those gatherings where I felt that. In a way, it’s a level of freedom that you’re not used to, that we’re not used to.
I really just wonder about potheads. Had I smoked pot in that situation I would have just withdrawn into myself and maybe been paranoid. But whatever. Enough about pot.
GJ: Well, one of things about the NRx gathering that I went to that struck me immediately is what a high trust group of people, because these people gave their address to a bunch of people they knew from Twitter, or people who knew people that they knew from Twitter.
ME: Oh yeah. Mhm.
GJ: Boy, oh boy! In the White Nationalist world, I would never do that! I would never do that because I’ve just gotten stung. I went there and though, “Wow, this is a very high trust group of people and a high caliber, highly intelligent, highly articulate group of people.” My feeling is that the NRx crowd that I’ve hung out with is on average about a standard deviation smarter in terms of IQ than say the people who go to the Amren conferences. Bless their hearts! They’re a bunch of bright people, but the NRx thing is even more IQ-loaded.
ME: It self-selects for that, if you will. In a way, I get what they’re doing and I fit in with them and I enjoy their company, but I also get why . . . I mean, I’ve read Moldbug. They’ve all read Moldbug. I think that they, to some extent, are maybe too into it or it’s like you’re into Rothbard, and now you’re into Moldbug. I get it, but let’s also take another perspective on things. There’s some wisdom there, but . . . I don’t know. I can’t really articulate what I’m trying to get across.
GJ: I look at it as an opportunity. Obviously these people are pulling in some super-bright people, and they’re giving them permission to think some really heretical thoughts, and I want to insinuate myself into that process. I want these people to know me. I want these people to read me. And I want to help finish the thought. For me — I don’t want to sound like a monomaniac or a bore — but the thought they need to finish is, basically, they need to get their heads wrapped around the Jewish problem.
They need to do that desperately, because when I read The Culture of Critique . . . Going back to my education. I wish I could get back all the hours I spent reading people like Jacques Derrida and Lyotard and Foucault and Deleuze and all this Left-wing postmodern stuff.
ME: Oh jeez.
GJ: And I always felt that these bastards weren’t putting their cards on the table, that there was something that I just wasn’t getting, there was some little agenda here that was off, because it wasn’t really Leftist. It’s not Leftist, but something else. I read The Culture of Critique, and suddenly the scales fell from my eyes, and all of those paradoxes and puzzles just fell together. It was like, “Oh my God, words are weapons for these people, and they are weapons in ethnic struggles against Whites.”
ME: I even sometimes have wondered – and you comment on what I’m about to say – to what extent is there even a Left and is it not just a Jewish attack on White civilization.
GJ: I think there’s a Left. I mean, there’s a Gentile Left, and they want walkable communities and zoning laws and kindness to animals and things like that.
ME: I almost don’t even think of that as Left anymore. Maybe it’s my own sort of twisted view on things now. Because after reading Culture of Critique I had a moment where I was like, “Holy shit. Every idea that I’ve — not even on an intellectual level, but on a visceral level, on a gut level — that I’ve felt like has been an attack on me and on my people, it’s come from this.”
GJ: Yeah. I think it is. I think there’s a Gentile Left, and I think that it’s not a bad thing for the most part. I wrote this piece called “West Coast White Nationalism” because I’ve noticed these people out on the West Coast who were objectively in every possible way, they were Leftists. It’s just that also they were reading Mein Kampf along with their Lord of the Rings, and they really were aware of race and the JQ, and yet they were kind of West Coast hippy types and, you know, organic and crunchy and Birkenstocks and all that stuff.
I’m as Left-wing as I can reasonably go in some ways. The people I hang out with, the stuff I like to do, most people just assume I’m a liberal, and I’m going to art museums and sitting in independent coffee shops and going to independent used book stores and walking dogs. All that kind of stuff. It just fits.
ME: See, I see that as just a White culture thing. I don’t see that as a Left thing.
GJ: That’s right. You’re right. One of the ways that I sort of look at it . . . Josh Buckley told me about some bumper sticker I think he saw at a farmer’s market in San Francisco. It said, “Organic food: What our ancestors called food.” And I think of all this stuff that’s organic and SWPLy and hipsterish. Let’s say, “Gentile Left: That’s just what our ancestors referred to as White Civilization.”
ME: Yeah. And I’ll be honest with you, I identify more with the redneck kind of thing. You know, “my property and I’ve got a bunch of guns. Screw you!” Not “screw you!” You know what I mean. Not all White people are the same, and in fact one of the funny things is, one of the keywords we were taught is “diversity,” right? But there’s actually, I think, more diversity amongst White people than there is outside of that. My cultural sympathies don’t necessarily lie with SWPLdom. They’re more towards the guy with the AR-15, and we go shooting, I drive a huge SUV, whatever. But ultimately these are all just different expressions of White identities.
GJ: It’s peculiar. There are certain places in America where the Right-wing survivalist, “redneck” culture and the Leftie hippy culture fuse totally together, where you get these guys who are cleaning their AR-15s and talking about the meaning of the rose quartz crystal. How did this strange confluence happen?
ME: Yeah, but that’s our people though.
GJ: That’s our people, and God bless them. I love them. We have these Hobbit-like traditions that people are getting honestly, either because they grew up with it, or because they’re sort of feeling their way back towards it as urban flannel-clad urbanites who want to keep bees and make their own beer.
You know, I think that’s all well and good. I think we’re all tunneling into the same mountain from opposite sides and we’re coming back to who we are. Again, if we can really get over this wound — I call it the wound in our body politic, and that’s where the maggots are feasting — between us “good” White people and those “bad” White people.
ME: Yeah, that has to stop and, as you said, that has been created by a group of outside agitators.
GJ: I don’t think it’s necessarily created. I think it’s been exploited.
ME: Yeah, it’s been exacerbated.
GJ: America being a colony, a settler society, a society where basically everybody’s a bourgeois individual, it doesn’t have a past or class like Europe does.
ME: In some ways, I don’t know if I’d really be able to fit in another kind of place, but I get why that’s exploitable.
GJ: Because people need status, and because we do not have inborn status, even humble inborn status, we’re all fluid and mobile, we constantly have to renegotiate our status every moment of our lives.
Tocqueville got to the heart of this, I think, in Democracy in America nearly 200 years ago. He was traveling around America and he said, “It’s odd. Americans are the most individualistic people in the world and the most conformist people in the world.” But the connection between the two is very simple. If we are all individuals and we all make our own way in the world, that means that the only way we can have any peace, if you will, any respite from constant insecurity is to reliably attain the approval of our peers.
ME: Yes. Exactly.
GJ: That means we have to be super-conformist. Super-conformist so we can maintain whatever little bit we’ve gotten for ourselves. I think another implication of that is in the struggle for status we look for other White groups to look down on because White people on some level, no matter how liberal, only think other White people really matter.
ME: Yeah, I know. You’re definitely right.
GJ: Feeling superior to Blacks, well . . .
ME: It’s . . . a given.
GJ: Yeah, so you have to have other White people you feel superior to, and so we have this very poisonous snobbery amongst the middle and upper classes in America. It’s mostly the middle classes, because upper class just means rich middle class people.
ME: It’s true. I don’t think their attitudes are that different. They just have a lot more money.
GJ: Yeah, exactly. I think that snobbery is a bad thing, and it’s got to go.
ME: To sort of bring it all back around and we can kind of round out the discussion: We were talking in the beginning about the prospects for nationalism or the different views of nationalism, and you were talking about how you didn’t think it necessarily, you know, we can get past nationalisms of the past, the stereotypical view of nationalism of a sort of National Socialist thing, and I don’t think that fits in the American context, but I think that ultimately we have to get back around to getting away from this class derision where the oven middle class . . . Even the term “oven middle class” in and of itself buys into it, but that’s sort of our way of reversing the paradigm where it’s always the upper middle class looking down on the rednecks. This is a way for the rednecks to reverse it, you know what I mean?
The funny thing is I’m oven middle class and I think you are too, and I’ll embrace the term.
GJ: Oh yeah, and I will go so far to say I am a self-hating WASP because I’m 100% WASP, and I see especially in my family the horribly dysfunctional snobbery and also grandiosity and unearned guilt.
ME: I know exactly what you’re talking about.
GJ: It’s breathtaking to me to be in the presence of this stuff. There’s no group of people who is more capable of exulting themselves through ritualistic self-abasement. We’re responsible for all the evil in the world, which means we’re the only people who matter.
ME: And there’s a Christian element to that too.
GJ: Oh, definitely.
ME: We’re about an hour and 45 minutes into this to even start on this question, but yeah there’s a Christian element to that and we’ve talked about that, and I’ve had guests on. You’re friends with him as well, Graaagh. We’ve discussed this and the Mosaic distinction and all this. This might be more than we can even go into in this conversation, but certainly my mic is always open. We can always talk about these things further.
TRS has had kind of a not necessarily solid narrative the whole way, but one of the things I think we were onto very early was this idea of signaling moral superiority through self-abasement. Nietzsche called it slave morality, I believe.
GJ: Yeah, I’d love to talk about that. Maybe we can do this in another conversation.
ME: We’ll do this again. This has been a great conversation. This was one of my favorites.
GJ: Well, good. This is one of my favorite interviews I’ve done so far. So, I’ve really enjoyed this, and it’s not really an interview, it’s just a conversation.
ME: Yeah, we’re really just having a conversation. We’re at now an hour and 50 minutes. Do you want to have any closing thoughts? I don’t know. Maybe I’m closing this off too early. We could probably do this for 5 hours, time allowing.
GJ: No, seriously, I have a Golden Retriever who’s climbing in my lap wanting a trip out, so we should probably wrap it up fairly soon. I’m sure people with sensitive ears are going to be hearing all this dog stuff going on.
ME: Amazingly, I’m not hearing it.
GJ: Good. Anyway, just to wrap up . . . Let’s wrap up on a hopeful note.
(dog shaking) Well, you probably heard that!
ME: I did hear that!
GJ: Let me just let her out. One sec.
ME: Okay, sure.
GJ: You don’t need to edit this out. It makes it real.
ME: So, this is now Greg letting his dog out.
GJ: Okay, let’s wrap it up on a hopeful note. I have never been so hopeful for what we call the movement in general and more broadly for the future of White people. Yeah, objectively, the trends are all bad. Objectively, right now, we don’t have a future as a race. But I’ve never been more hopeful that we can turn this around fundamentally.
Why? Because I’ve been involved in this for a little more than 15 years, and I am seeing so much positive change. I am seeing younger, smarter people getting involved in this. Younger people every year and smarter people on average every year. I am seeing social networks and vistas opening up that I did not think of as possible. I am now in contact with people who are solid White racialists who are one degree of separation, if not zero degrees of separation, from some of the wealthiest, most powerful and influential people in our society.
We’re making progress, and I have never felt closer to getting a handle on the White mind and the liberal mind, because we have to understand the liberal mind and we have to hack it.
ME: We also have to understand how it’s part of our mind.
GJ: Yeah. It’s our mind, too. It’s some of our bad traits exaggerated.
GJ: In terms of nationalism, I do think that there is a controversy within our ranks. There are people who basically believe that the only authentic, real, honest, and courageous form of White Nationalism is something like National Socialism, and I’ve gone through that sort of phase. But the way I put it with a friend who is very much somebody who just wants to stand there like an honor guard by the eternal flame at the crypt of National Socialism is that I’d be right there with you, except I actually think we can win. Therefore, I don’t think this whole thing is based upon the historical contingencies of Germany between the two World Wars.
What we believe is based on nature, on history, on reality that’s accessible to every human being, every nation, all the races of the world. It’s better for everybody to have this basic outlook and this basic system of racial nationalism, making biology part of politics, recognizing that biological differences matter, that there is a common good which is the nation that can overcome in some ways class divisions and heal some of these rifts in our society. Patriotism is a thing that overcomes class division.
ME: I really think that class warfare is an insidious agent in the polity, if you will. Upper, middle and working classes work together to create the nation and all benefit from the actions of each. Class warfare is an insidious, destructive concept and I hate it.
GJ: Yeah, and I think if you really follow the logic of eliminating that I think you can put together the case for a moderate social democracy. For me, I just look at it as not redistribution of wealth. I think the idea of simply redistributing wealth to make people more equal is prima facie unjust.
I do, however, think that basically a kind of paternalism that in a sense requires people to put money into the commons, if you will, to provide, say, a social safety net . . . It’s like forcing people to buy insurance.
ME: Let me just run with this for a second. As a libertarian and a staunch believer in individual rights and free markets, I can compromise with what you’re saying and that is if you talk about this kind of thing right now, social democracy, we all give in for the benefit of the commons, I’m going to feel like I’m going to get ripped off. I’m going to get screwed over. I’m putting in all this effort, I’m contributing, I’m paying taxes, and someone who fucks up is going to get the benefit of that for making shitty decisions. That’s a powerful argument, but now put that in the context of an ethnostate, of a White state. All of a sudden, I’m not balking at that anymore. You see what I mean?
GJ: Yeah. One of the main reasons why Americans are so resistant to these sorts of things is because we all know . . .
ME: It’s because of racial diversity. This has been studied.
GJ: It would be racial redistribution, right?
ME: And this has even been studied by sociologists who are like, “Hey, people in Scandinavia don’t have a problem paying 40% taxes to the common good. People in America balk at that. Why? Well, America is racially diverse and Scandinavia isn’t.” Or wasn’t. That’s what it comes down to. When I think about it myself, I’m thinking, “Hey, if I’m living in a high trust White community . . .” 40% might be a little much, but you get the point. I’m happy to contribute to the commons because I know everybody benefits. Right now in America? I don’t know that I benefit. I don’t know that everybody benefits from my contribution to the commons. I feel like I’m getting screwed.
GJ: And most White people are.
ME: We are getting screwed. It’s unequivocal. We’re getting fucking screwed.
GJ: No doubt about it. I wrote this essay called “How About Fascist Medicine?” addressing the socialized medicine thing. I basically said the reason why healthy White Americans who have their acts together don’t like the idea of socialized medicine is because they feel like they’re going to be subsidizing the bad lifestyle choices . . .
ME: They’re going to be subsidizing obese Blacks. Let’s be honest about it.
GJ: Exactly. So, why not fascist medicine? My idea of fascist medicine is if we’re going to be paying for people’s medical care we’re going to send them all to fat farms.
ME: Yes. You go to fat farm, you complete the regimen. You’ll be better off.
GJ: Yeah, exactly. Instead of just subsidizing pathological lifestyles. Maybe the state could actually instead of subsidizing that and making it easy, they could raise the bar and make people healthier here. Anyway, that’s what I threw out there.
ME: Instead of funding someone’s carbohydrate diet that’s obese, fund their fat camp.
ME: No, I’m completely with that. That’s what I’m saying. You know I’m a laissez-faire type guy, but when it comes to this it’s like, “Look, we’re going to pay a tax into the commons. Let’s make that commons in the interest of the individual rather than detrimental.” If they don’t have the time preference, we’ll give them the time preference.
GJ: I believe in a kind of limited paternalism in this sense: When you’re a parent and you’ve got a kid, you’d damn well better be paternalistic because it’s in the interests of the kids. The thing is that every adult at some time in his life acts immature, makes stupid decisions, discounts the future radically in terms of the present, and so forth, and therefore it’s reasonable for “society” to say, “Hold it there. That’s not the right decision. You’d be better off not doing this.” And to provide some nudges down the road to self-actualization.
ME: The worst conceit of libertarians is that nobody knows better for you than you. Actually, no, because . . . Let’s just take an extreme example. Somebody who is a cokehead and snorting $500 worth of coke every day. I know better than that person what’s good for them, you know? So, obviously that falsifies the premise that nobody knows better than you what’s good for you. So, we can collectivize that.
GJ: Yeah, we could be a little paternalistic and say, “Look, there are certain points in everybody’s lives where you are not qualified to make decisions for yourself because it’s harming you. It’s not in your interests.”
ME: And it’s not any one person. It’s a collective wisdom of people that’s doing it.
GJ: Yeah, exactly. Plato in his dialogue Gorgias . . .
ME: Oh, I love that dialogue. I really do.
GJ: Yeah, that has got the most powerful argument for a kind of objective notion of ethics and a kind of paternalism. Basically, Socrates says there’s a difference between what you really want to do and what you think you want to do. What we all really want to do is we all want to be self-actualized in some sense. What we think we want to do is smoke our seventh cigarette of the day. You know? We think that’s what we want, but that’s not what we really want. What we really want is to be healthy and self-actualized, but we’re often mistaken about how particular things that we’re doing contribute to what we really want.
Therefore, it follows — and Rousseau in The Social Contract is presupposing the whole Socratic analysis here — that if we really want to be self-actualized then that’s what freedom is. Freedom is getting what you really want, and that means self-actualization. If there are certain things you think you want that are getting in the way of that, it’s possible for people to paternalistically step in and stop you from doing it by force, and therefore Rousseau’s conclusion is, “Mankind can be forced to be free.”
ME: Yeah and once you overcome that hurdle you won’t be a libertarian anymore, and you’ll come to the view that we have.
ME: I think that’s a good place to end. We’re at two hours now. So, that’s great. This is great. I think our listeners are going to love it. I thought this is an awesome conversation. This is a lot of fun. I really enjoy talking to you. I would love to talk to you for three more hours.
Gotta get back to my wife. Gotta eat my dinner. But, you know, this was a great conversation and we will do this again. We have to do this again.
GJ: Yeah. I’d love to. Yeah, let’s just call this one “Forced to be Free.”
ME: So, down I went to the Piraeus today to talk to Greg Johnson, and this was a lot of fun and really great and we will do this again.
GJ: Thanks very much. It was great being on the show.
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