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Forced to be Free:
The Case for Paternalism


Jean-Jacques Rousseau

626 words

Spanish translation here

Paternalism means treating people like children. Children lack the maturity and wisdom to make their own decisions. Thus they need parents — or people playing the paternal role — to tell them what to do and, on occasion, to force them to do it.

Most people have no problem with paternalism when dealing with actual children, as well as the retarded, the senile, and the insane. But normal adults bristle at paternalism, even though we all act like children from time to time. Paternalism, they think, is incompatible with freedom.

I wish to argue, however, that there is no conflict between paternalism and freedom, provided that both terms are properly understood.

First of all, real paternalism has to be “for your own good,” i.e., in the actual interest of its object. People might claim to be abridging the liberty of others to help them, when in reality they are concerned to benefit only themselves. But that is fake rather than real paternalism. Real paternalism must be in the interest of its objects. Real paternalism is a kindness. Fake paternalism is merely a crime.

Second, there are true and false forms of freedom as well. Most people will agree that freedom is doing what you want to do. But what do we want to do? On this matter, I follow Plato and Aristotle, who argued that we all want basically one thing: the good life, happiness, self-actualization, or well-being (eudaimonia). That is the ultimate aim of every particular action. Every choice, whether we know it or not, is made in pursuit of the good life as we see it.

Thus if freedom is doing what we really want, and we all really want a good life, then living a good life is freedom. This implies that if we choose to do things that are not conducive to the good life, we are not acting freely, for doing things we don’t really want to do is unfreedom.

In other words, not every voluntary act is a free one. We are free when we pursue the good life (what we really want). We are unfree when we fail to pursue the good life (which we don’t really want to do).

There are two basic causes of unfreedom. First, there is ignorance of what is really conducive to happiness. We might think that smoking 20 cigarettes a day will make us happy, but it won’t. Second, there are occasions when we know perfectly well what will make us happy but we fail to do it because we are overcome by our emotions. We fear doing the right thing, or we find doing the wrong thing too pleasurable to resist.

We might choose to act out of ignorance or passion. We might even feel free when doing so. But if such actions are not conducive to the good life, they are not free, they are a form of bondage. Paternalism, therefore, can restore freedom by forcing us to stop throwing away our happiness out of ignorance or passion. Since freedom is doing what we really want, and we can be forced back onto that path, man can be forced to be free, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau put it so memorably.

This means that libertarianism, which claims that freedom is incompatible with paternalism, and that force is always the opposite of freedom, is simply wrong. If you really care about freedom, then the state should, in principle, have the power to paternalistically intervene when people are throwing away their freedom out of lack of knowledge or excess of feeling. One can debate the grounds and scope of such paternalistic interventions. But the principle is clear: paternalism is not an enemy of real freedom but one of its necessary guardians.


  1. Jerry LaRue
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    This article couldn’t have been more timely. This is a topic that has been on my mind as I’ve grown out of libertarianism recently and have been dealing with the “life-time audit”, as you put it. I long for the days when I could say, “let them do whatever they want bro, it’s their life, whatever makes them happy”, that way I didn’t have to think of solutions to social problems.

    But increasingly I see people throwing their lives away with partying, recreational drug-abuse and alcoholism and I can’t help but wonder if it’s really in their interest to be allowed to act this way – let alone if it’s in the interest of society in general.

    I wonder if the Conservative Revolution had much to say about this topic or whether I’d be better off returning to Aristotle and Plato (who I haven’t read since I was a young man)? Any recommendations Greg?

    Make sure to keep up the great work with the debates!

  2. Nancy
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    In response to this well-argued essay, I have a cynical response: First, all societies are oligarchies, with the few controlling the many. I disagree that there is a “we”, as in a group of “us humans” that desire the same things. For Europeans, there are 2 levels of humans, “us” and non-Whites, who are essentially different species that belong elsewhere and should have minimal contact with us. What they want is diametrically opposed to our survival.

    Within the European population, there is another level, patriarchs (the “adults” who have maturity, wisdom, intelligence and capability) and followers (youth and man-children who lack those attributes to a large extent). Followers pursue primarily need gratification and fun, and have low attention spans, operating on very short time horizons. They usually choose “what makes me feel good now” (whether its having chocolate cake for dinner or if for policy, legalizing drugs and porn) rather than what will lead to long-term health (eating vegetables or for policy outlawing “fun” things that decay the society/gene pool). Perhaps 10% of the population are patriarchs, those with leadership potential, and 90% are followers, short-sighted need-seekers.

    Most societies have been this way for a long time, especially after neolithic farming and larger communities were possible. It is simply the nature of Europeankind, we were made this way. Also part of our nature is to have strong allegiance to the adults/leaders of our tribe, which have taken the form of (MALE) patriarchal groups that usually held land and power and controlled society as oligarchs. Usually European societies had large numbers of these patriarchs, such as the thane of the Nordics or pater familias of Rome, as opposed to the relatively small group of oligarchs of the orient, aligned with a supreme ruler.

    This is the ideal structure for our societies. A single autocrat is very dangerous, as all humans are prone to faulty structure and decay over time. A capable ruler is often followed by a madman or fool. A large group of patriarchs, when on average they are capable, helps keep the occasional idiot or madman from destroying the nation. Paternalism is natural, normal and necessary.

    “On this matter, I follow Plato and Aristotle, who argued that we all want basically one thing: the good life, happiness, self-actualization, or well-being (eudaimonia).”

    This may be true, but in most instances, adults or patriarchs will not have the same desire as followers or man-children. For the latter, eudaimonia is candy now, while for the former eudaimonia is that same child having a healthy strong body 20 years from now.

    In enacting a paternalistic society, there are some major challenges. Much of the potential patriarch population is decadent, distracted and/or subverted, and those that are healthy are disunited, in competition with a predatory group of oligarchs whose perceived interests are the destruction of Europeans.

    • Jaego
      Posted January 20, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes to all of the above. Social Wisdom is the recognition of innate inequality and to make peace with the idea that most people are followers and shouldn’t be voting. Control the worst vices and let people have some fun with the lesser ones. Always look for potential is the young and be eager to raise up the worthy – no matter what class they come from.

      Everyone voting? Porn available to kids of all ages 24/7. As the Comedian in “Watchmen” said, What happened to the American Dream? You got it. This is it.

  3. Peter
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Well… isn´t the “Right” so big in postulating that … comfort!…. satisfaction!… etc., is all so un-“Right”? Because… the “Right” is about… fighting!… and overcoming!, not avoiding suffering. Not avoiding suffering: that is a strong self-proclaimed point of the Right. So: someone is qualified to decide which self-imposed suffering is good, and which is bad? Starting a fight against the authorities is… good? Or bad? Extreme-sports? Cage-fighting? Climbing the Mount Everest in nothing more than a pair of shorts à la Wim Hof? Crossing the Atlantic on a raft? Having drug-experiences? Meditating for 6 months in a row? Doing BDSM? As a woman, wishing to be dominated, “manhandled” by a man: right, or wrong? And there is really someone who is qualified to decide which is ok and which is not?

    Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain: “There are two paths to life: one is the regular one, direct, proper. The other is bad, it leads through death — that is the ingenious way.” Right, or wrong?

  4. F. Roger Devlin
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Libertarians assume there is no objective good, only preferences. So guiding others toward eudaemonia is merely substituting your preferences for their.

  5. Madden
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “Most people have no problem with paternalism when dealing with actual children”

    That is unfortunately true, and more often than not to the detriment of children’s well-being.

    It’s disturbing to think how many children’s lives have been permanently scarred by the idiocies imposed on them by their parents.

    On the evidence of existing and historical paternalistic societies, I have to believe that paternalism at the societal level is bound to have similar effects.

    Perhaps the most compelling, or at least the most easily comprehensible, argument against paternalism is the elation people feel when they are loosed from paternalistic strictures and feel that they can now ‘be themselves’ – words that no paternalist in history was ever glad to hear.

    The author of this piece has craftily left himself an out: that real paternalism must indeed be for your own good. This is a very convenient way of excusing the harm that ‘false’ paternalists will assuredly cause. ‘The road to hell is paved with paternalistic intentions,’ one might even say.

    That said, paternalists are quite right to note that precious few people know what they really want or could give a convincing account of why they’re doing what they’re doing – that is to say, have any idea of how to go about achieving the eudaimonia that is the ultimate goal of all of us.

    But are paternalists themselves any different? Are their lives a model for the rest of us? Do they really have it all worked out – and shouldn’t they have, if they’re to claim a right to dictate to others how to live?

    • Jaego
      Posted January 20, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Great point at the end and one I tried to make in most first post. Paternalist vary tremendously in quality and level of being from People who really have found Happiness in their lives and want others to do likewise to crotchety, miserable fools whose chief joy in life is suppressing the lives of others. THEY would love a paternalistic society. Whereas those who have really attained know there is no simple answer or road to the heights. And that freedom must mean the freedom to fail.

    • Lexi
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Paternalism is a last resort. I always try to help my children think through the consequences of their actions so they can make good decisions for themselves, but the truth is that sometimes people just lose control. If my efforts at raising prudent adults are not entirely successful, and one of them winds up in trouble with drugs, I would absolutely lock them down like the parents in Trainspotting if it came down to it.

      I hear one father actually attempted to rescue his daughter from one of the Rotherham predators, only to wind up arrested himself. This is clearly an insane situation. The government wouldn’t use force to protect vulnerable girls, but then decided using force to protect her “freedom” to be abused and degraded was perfectly acceptable. What can you say about that? If that is what a liberal government looks like, I’ll take paternalism. Indeed, no government at all is almost better than that.

  6. Posted January 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink


    That’s the problem. It’s costly. And people want to free ride on the agency of others whenever possible.

  7. DissidentRight
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Compulsory “virtue” is fake virtue. The only person who can keep you off of drugs, alcohol, and porn is you. People who fail to choose virtue play an absolutely essential role in society: they are living, wretched examples of what happens to fools. Parents can point to them and tell their children, “You don’t want to end up like that.”

    Therefore, coddling fools is harmful to society. We must permit socialists to starve. We must permit the sexual marketplace to crush thots and feminists. We must permit Christian pacifists to be robbed and enslaved. We must permit drug addicts to suffer. We must force liberals to live in the societies they ruin. And we must force paternalists to lay in the beds they soil.

    Paternalism is a crutch. Paternalistic societies cannot survive competition with free societies any more than socialist societies can. A society does not have the right to survive being out-competed.

    At any rate, the American Right has been fighting against liberal social engineering from day one. All forms of paternalism are anti-American, and will be destroyed.

    • Peter
      Posted January 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      There is one thing that I don´t get: why is libertarianism considered to be… coddling, “liberal”, leftish? Libertarianism means: BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES of your actions! This is the central point ! Only that way, the freedom-idea makes sense. ONLY that way, of-course! Not… others pay for the consequences of my actions… that is complete nonsense. The whole idea is to experience the connection between cause and effect. It is the way of empiricism.

      I would also like to ask:
      which paternalism has enforced the fitness movement?
      Which paternalism has enforced the health movement, all that organic food stuff etc.?

      People do it on their own! You don´t have to force them! Nobody needs paternalism! Just remove the LIES of the deep state and people will gravitate to… “eudaimonia”. All on their own!

      • Greg Johnson
        Posted January 20, 2018 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Obesity and other forms of ill-being are at epidemic levels. So leaving fitness to the free market, in which makers of poisons compete on a level playing field with advocates of healthy life styles seems to be a losing proposition. We need fascist medicine, as I outline here:

        • Jaego
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:02 am | Permalink

          Agree completely about this – control and regulation at the macro level. Let the Corporations play ball with the nation for the good of all. Or they can take their profits and go elsewhere. Other Corporations would be eager to take their place, Europeans ones for example who are used to this kind of relationship and are already producing much higher quality food.

      • Madden
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        “There is one thing that I don´t get: why is libertarianism considered to be… coddling, “liberal”, leftish? Libertarianism means: BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES of your actions!”

        Well said. Libertarianism is indeed an austere, ‘tough love’ doctrine far removed from the coddling and excuse-making characteristic of contemporary liberalism. Similarly, libertarianism’s non-aggression principle is wrongly seen as soft and utopian, but it only attempts to prevent individuals initiating violence against each other. In principle, there is nothing preventing the state from arming itself to the teeth and condemning to death those who initiate violence, regardless of the degree of violence they initiated. Nothing mushy about that!

        However, I’m too much of a statist to call myself a libertarian, despite my respect for certain libertarian precepts. I believe state intervention can improve upon the outcomes generated by strict individualism. Even the economics profession – long shot through with methodological individualism – has warmed up to the idea of ‘externalities’ – ie social costs and social benefits – which require state intervention to diminish/enhance. By ignoring this, libertarians are only arguing themselves into irrelevance.

        • Lexi
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          The problem with libertarians is that they are like a photographer who zooms in on one person, snaps the photo, and then effectively drops the social context from existence. A drug addict who dies of an overdose harms not only himself, but leaves a legacy of broken hearts as well. From what I hear, men who lose their sons to thopioid epidemic are prone to drinking themselves to death to dull the pain, leaving the mother alone to cope with her own misery. No person has a right to impose that on their elders.

    • Buttercup
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Why your sociopathy has been allowed through comment moderation mystifies me.

      Your assertion that “paternalistic societies fail in competition with free socities” is hot air and baloney.

      I guess the National Socialists just failed miserably to curb the excesses of the Weimar Republic!! As for the East Asians and their emphasis on strict parenting – Poor, deluded fools? Don’t they know that their kids will fail against Western brats who are simply left to their own devices?

      You’re exactly the kind of person this movement needs – Someone who wants whites who are victims of deceit to remain hoodwinked and addicted to lies until it ultimately robs them of their lives.

      By your logic, running a White Nationalist website to educate others is a waste of time. Whites should just learn the hard way, all the way to racial extinction.

      You have been bamboozled into hating your fellow whites and seem to have no compassion for them whatsoever. Sickening and sad. With friends like you, who needs enemies?

      • Arthur Frayn
        Posted February 6, 2018 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        From my understanding, freedom in antiquity was understood to be self mastery. In other words, we’re born into un-freedom and it’s only a rare breed which can fully master the self. If you accept this idea, you’re jettisoning the basic assumptions of liberal democratic and capitalist modernity in which freedom is understood to be self expression, the highest form of which, apparently, is consumer choice. To recognize the free man as the master of himself is also to recognize that most men, by default, require masters. In my opinion, being able to accept this this is what truly separates the left from the right.

  8. Rob Bottom
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I take this is somewhat of a addition to your conversation on Andywarski’s livestream from Jan 15th. It was quite interesting to see your opponents arguing that banning vices like hard drugs, gambling, alcohol, porn, etc. would be an affront to liberty.

    None of these people have experienced the depths of depravity of an addiction to any of them in their personal lives, either personally or through a loved one. If they did, they would almost assuredly have sided with Greg. To argue that one should have the liberty of using heroin or to gamble away their life’s savings is to argue that we should be allowed to choose to have cancer because to deny someone that choice would be to limit their freedom and liberty.

    The porn issue is interesting because Israel has been tamping down on it. Apparently Israel is a Stalinist central planning nightmare because it wants to avoid the negative social impacts. Perhaps the guests on that show are too young to know that hardcore pornography was not available within the home at a click of a button up until the advent of the internet.

    Warski mentioned some of the pitfalls of porn addiction but no one seriously weighed the effects of ubiquitous porn on society and children, a situation we now found ourselves in. We’re so far removed from what society was like not even 30 years ago that it’s hard to imagine that most men didn’t even have a subscription to Playboy, and if they did they typically kept them in a safe or hidden.

    I guess aspiring to a healthy life, and encouraging good habits in education or through social ostracism is “the root of all evil” now, at least according to that Academic Agent guy.

  9. Jaego
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    So what do you do: put a meter on people’s partying? Hold everyone to the same standard and time table of growth? Letting people make the mistakes they need to make is an essential of growth and therefore freedom.

    I agree with the basic ideas put forward, but the devil’s in the technics of implementation. And broadly, how does one distinguish Leaders who really care and those who would use the same arguments for their own power? I mean should everyone be in bed by 9 like George Bush? Or 10 like on Indian teacher I used to read said? Or 12 at the latest? And enforce one of these with curfews? It would certainly cut down on crime and traffic accidents but it’s a nightmare and I don’t blame the Founders for throwing all of this out and hoping that a strong civic and religious culture could take up the slack.

    Btw, George Bush Jr was right according to Ayurveda: every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two afterwards.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 20, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      The heritage we receive from our civilization is a repository of the experiences, including the trials and errors of previous generations. This heritage spares every new generation of the necessity of literally reinventing the wheel, freeing them to do new things that add to the heritage we pass on to the next generation.

      The liberal/libertarian cliche that people should be left free to make catastrophic mistakes like getting hooked on opiates is the moral equivalent of having to reinvent the wheel every generation. Our elders make moral and social mistakes that, if we learn from them, spares us and future generations from making them. IF we have the sense to be good paternalists and remove proven wrong choices from people’s range of options.

      • DissidentRight
        Posted January 20, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        “if we learn from them, spares us and future generations from making them. IF we have the sense to be good paternalists and remove proven wrong choices from people’s range of options.”

        People who prefer vice over virtue and choose paths that have already been proven wrong are spitting in the face of our heritage, are unfit to participate in our civilization, and must be permitted to remove themselves from the gene pool.

        Statist paternalism is nothing less than active malgenics and is guaranteed to weaken and ultimately destroy our people. It is not in the long-term interests of our nation, culture, or civilization to prevent our idiots from destroying themselves, particularly since they serve as an example to everyone else.

        “The heritage we receive from our civilization is a repository of the experiences, including the trials and errors of previous generations.”

        And that heritage is worthless unless embraced freely and willingly.

        “This heritage spares every new generation of the necessity of literally reinventing the wheel”

        Generations aren’t monoliths. If educated properly by their parents and encouraged by society at large, the vast majority will choose the good. But there will always be fools, idiots, and rebels. Those who cannot be educated should be given the opportunity to literally reinvent the wheel. Failing that, they should be permitted to destroy themselves.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted January 20, 2018 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

          Here were are in a racial fight against extinction, and you are engineering ways in which we can kill off our own population out of some sort moralistic attachment to devil-take-hindmost individualism, worship of choice, and excessive of punitiveness. These attitudes needs to be extirpated from our movement if our race is to survive.

          Why not remove the covers of manholes and eliminate seatbelts while you are at it?

        • Proofreader
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

          “If educated properly by their parents and encouraged by society at large, the vast majority [of people] will choose the good.”

          True enough, but there are two problems with this statement. First, it is extremely questionable that this “if” is true of contemporary society. Second, libertarians think that subverting healthy social mores and undermining the social fabric is perfectly acceptable, provided it’s done by means of the market rather than the state. They think it’s perfectly kosher to monetize and democratize folly and vice, and to engage in predatory, deceptive, and exploitative behavior. Indeed, don’t libertarians regard Defending the Undefendable by the Jew Walter Block as a classic?

          “DissidentRight” sounds like someone who would effectively take the side of the Jews responsible for the opioid epidemic, casually dismiss its victims as “fools, idiots, and rebels” who deserve what they got, and no less casually discount the cost for society at large. Such a person turns an indulgent eye to the first, a scornful eye to the second, and a blind eye to the third. They fail to account for the distribution of agency and the distribution of costs and losses involved here in any comprehensive, balanced, and intelligent way.

          • Greg Johnson
            Posted January 22, 2018 at 4:05 am | Permalink

            Yes, there’s strain of Protestant moralism that joins hands with Social Darwinism to claim that the victims of capitalism are losers who deserve their fates. If we resolve eliminate these people, will they go along with it on the grounds that they are losers who deserve their fate?

        • Lexi
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          I will educate my children about the terrible consequences of drug use, but if there were no drugs on the streets, I wouldn’t need to use some other mom’s unspeakable tragedy as a teachable moment.

        • Arthur Frayn
          Posted February 6, 2018 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

          I don’t disagree with the principle of social Darwinism, but it’s a mistake to employ a purely individualist social Darwinist model for evaluating fitness or value. It isn’t the individual that competes, but the group which is divided in its labor and therefore interdependent. An individualist conception of social Darwinism threatens to destroy social trust, arguably the single most important mechanism which enables us to form cohesive groups and thereby compete in the first place.

          Social trust translates into social capital because it enables us rely on one another so that we can specialize tasks. The group that can do this more effectively can achieve ever finer specializations and more complex division of labor and thus win out in the race for resources against groups that can’t do this as effectively. What possibility of it is there if we’ve decided we have no obligation to our untalented 10th? And how realistic is it to expect them to quietly shuffle off to a field somewhere to die because we’ve decided their existence is inconvenient for us?

          By your reasoning we could also argue that we should do away with monogamous marriage. It’s essentially sexual socialism but the reason it works is because it engenders social trust in that it gives all men a shot at reproducing and therefore an investment or stake in our community’s success. It’s nothing to scoff at since it’s that social force channeled into socially beneficial activity which built virtually everything around us. It was just average guys showing up to work every day so they could take care of families or because they aspired to have families someday. What good is the chief if he has no indians? What you’re suggesting is that we stop giving the indians any incentive because they aren’t as fit as the chief.

          It’s impossible to create a cohesive tribal group capable of working together if we’ve decided we have no obligation to make use of the untalented 10th. And even if we can’t make use of them, we could simply employ a cost/benefit analysis and conclude that we’re better off carrying them than we are destroying any possibility of social trust by refusing any obligation to them. Social trust is arguably the single most important mechanism which determines fitness of the group so any policy which might threaten it should be carefully considered.

          Furthermore, it isn’t as if there is some objective standard of value with respect to heritable traits. A trait that may be advantageous in one scenario may be disadvantageous in another. For all we know, the same traits which might make somebody a raging heroin addict given in one socio-economic environment may make him a compulsive, focused workaholic who achieves something valuable in another.

      • Jaego
        Posted January 20, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        That’s makes sense but again what does it mean in terms of policy? Lights out by 10, since that will let you be fresh for the next day’s work of contributing to society? Officials or semi-official “block watchers” patrolling outside to see who is complying?

        Here we have the Procrustean bed indeed. There can be no single standard because there is not one single kind of man. Many intellectuals do their best work after the “world” is asleep. Are they hurting their bodies? Of course! But only their physical bodies. The intellectual body is exalted to an equal extent, Ayurveda and Sleep Hall Monitors be damned.

        Challenge yourself and get specific – it all falls apart. We could and should have public rituals and norms – like the TV signing off at 12 with the Great Leader looking off into the Sunset, his hand on his dog a la Woody Allen’s Sleeper. Or the old Blue Laws of stores closed on Sunday. But enforcement on individuals who don’t conform is another matter. You didn’t say anything about that, I know. But how would you have what you endorse without it?

        • Lexi
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

          The problem here is that you are assuming zealous micromanagement for its own sake. There would never be any thought to endorse a national bedtime unless there was a national sleep deprivation crisis. If, after thorough consideration of the facts and exchange of ideas, there was an elite consensus that a national bedtime was necessary and appropriate to resolve the crisis, only then would there be such an initiative. In that case, the national bedtime would enhance the people’s quality of life.

      • Madden
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        “The heritage we receive from our civilization is a repository of the experiences, including the trials and errors of previous generations.”

        There is a danger in relying upon this heritage too much, since we are facing problems and dangers that our ancestors never experienced. Attempting to shoehorn contemporary issues into models derived from the experiences of past generations – “The obesity epidemic is just like…” – seems a dubious idea to me, and yet by excessively exalting “white civilization” this is exactly the kind of risk we’d run, for anyone who could be portrayed as being insufficiently respectful of white heritage could then be safely ignored, regardless of the quality of his ideas. Isn’t this pretty much the same kind of attitude that got China into so much trouble during the 19th century?

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 4:07 am | Permalink

          Sure, an excessive unthinking piety toward the past will lead to the stagnation of civilization, which is something that we should not simply receive gratefully but should strive to improve and pass on.

  10. E
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    This entire argument hinges on the belief in the possibility of human happiness in this world.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 20, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      No, it is a matter of fact.

      • E
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        I’ve spent the afternoon listening to The Pursuit of Happiness and now I’m shrieking like the Munch painting.

        (No, seriously, it was wonderful. I wish someone gave this to me when I was 18.)

  11. Claus Brinker
    Posted January 20, 2018 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    It should be pointed out that paternalistic policies would be easier to execute and more effective in an ethnostate where people are better oriented to collective identity and less inclined to be self-indulgent.

  12. Bob
    Posted January 20, 2018 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    So if the state decide that beer is bad for you, because some scientists said so, then can prohibit the consumption of beers? The problem with modernists such as WASP nationalists, liberals, communists etc, is that they observe human behaviour as if it is an experiment. Scientifism believes that human behaviour can be re-institutionalised by a secular state that is driven by a «scientific ideology». Human tribes, races and nations are by-products of nature and free will, thats why they created their civilizations based on philosophy and not on political ideologies. Political ideologies want to enforce their worldview, philosophy and metaphysical theories/religion, want to guide you, not enforce you. Family, church and community are by far more effective institutions compared with the «ideologicaly orientated state». The state has a moral responsibility to inform you and guide you, not to enforce you to be free. If the state impose a law that prohibits smoking, then it really says: «our nation is a bunch of kids and morrons so we will tell them how to live their lives». It is exactly what leninists did.

  13. Limbaughs Cyst
    Posted January 20, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Every day in the West men and women are found dead of heart failure, complications from type 2 diabetes, or stroke because they weigh over 400 pounds. This is a far more serious crisis than the opoid epidemic, and cries out for paternalistic intervention.

  14. OMC
    Posted January 20, 2018 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    I suppose the objection to paternalism is that it doesn’t really eliminate or reduce the behavior it is designed to, it just pushes it underground or creates entirely new problems. Prohibition may have reduced drunkenness, but it enriched organized crime by giving them a market for which there was abundant demand. It made Al Capone a rich man who was able to buy off corrupt public officials. The main issue with making alcohol illegal is that it would set a precedent for making private gun ownership illegal. It may be guaranteed by the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be negated by a SC ruling. Making everyone safe could cascade into nanny statism.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 20, 2018 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Organized crime already existed in America. And organized crime could be completely crushed in any serious society.

      • OMC
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 12:49 am | Permalink

        But they weren’t wealthy bootleggers until the Prohibition era. Once alcohol was criminalized, Capone stepped in and made a fortune. He made over 100 million dollars a year and bought off every politician, judge and cop in Chicago. Same thing happened after the Controlled Substances Act. Cocaine lords popped up in South America and made millions.

        If you make stuff that people want illegal, you’ll wind up making criminals rich. You can’t completely stamp out organized crime as long as there’s big money to be made.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          You can’t have good things without costs. Drug prohibition is a good thing. Having a black market is just a cost that we will have to bear to avoid a much worse problem. And again, you can’t tell me that the US government could not crush organized crime if it really wanted to.

          • DissidentRight
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            “You can’t have good things without costs. Drug prohibition is a good thing. Having a black market is just a cost that we will have to bear to avoid a much worse problem.”

            Permitting the left tail of the white distribution to learn through suffering is just a cost that we will have to bear to avoid a much worse problem. Namely: the problem of dysgenics. You can’t have good things without costs. And the cost of good civilization is paid for in part by permitting fools to suffer the consequences of their foolishness.

            • Greg Johnson
              Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

              You are obviously a sociopath who feels no real connection with other people of our race. Your type needs to be weeded out of our genepool. I can’t do that now, but I can at least ban you from commenting here further.

          • OMC
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

            I’m not against paternalism per se, but a compromise should be reached to prevent black markets from forming. There should be a province, state or county that acts as a den of iniquity for pornography addicts and substance abusers. If people from neighboring provinces develop an addiction to these things, threaten their livelihoods or fine them. Try to rehabilitate them. But make these things legal somewhere so that criminals can’t get rich and corrupt officials with bribes.

  15. David
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    “Thus if freedom is doing what we really want, and we all really want a good life, then living a good life is freedom. This implies that if we choose to do things that are not conducive to the good life, we are not acting freely, for doing things we don’t really want to do is unfreedom.”

    I bristle when I hear you undefine freedom in this way, Greg. It is not the intuitive meaning of freedom, and is semantically problematic for that reason. Second, it sounds like you are cucking to the “great American” value of “freedom,” which now means whatever one believes to be the “good life,” which is to say (if we are willing to be red-pilled here), any one particular person’s opinion about life and how to live it.

    It is better to do away with the blind coherence to “freedom.” Freedom, intuitively, means libertarianism. We don’t want that. Let’s just be bold and say we don’t buy into this outdated enlightenment concept of “freedom,” which was more pertinent to a day in age where life was simply far far different from the 21st century.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Your reading comprehension is poor. You are completely inverting my intention here. And the idea that freedom is “intuitively” libertarianism is simply your ignorance of the intellectual history of freedom. Or maybe you think that Plato and Aristotle were “cucking” — perhaps you mean “pandering” — to Americans too.

      • David
        Posted January 29, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        My reading comprehension is fine, I got a perfect score on the GRE on the reading section.

        What I am saying is that the history of thought on freedom matters less – for totally pragmatic reasons – than the strict definition that the overwhelming majority of humans use: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

        I personally want to act, speak, and think in a way that furthers my tribal interests. Others don’t. From the intuitive, accepted definition of freedom, neither we nor or enemies can ensure perfect freedom if we coexist in one system. We should instead argue that freedom is best served by creating a diversity of societies on this earth for different peoples.

        That some Greek or enlightenment thinkers started seeing “freedom” as a sacred cow that they could not question, and therefore had to redefine in a way that did not lead to anarchy, does not concern me. In the 1600’s, I imagine freedom was as unquestionable as anti-racism is today, since people in general had less economic opportunity and speech protection at that time, and were in the process of demanding them. Any elite of the time would be terrified to question it.

        But today we can question it directly, and we should.

  16. NoddingHead
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    “The only person who can keep you off of drugs, alcohol, and porn is you.”


    • Pietas
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      In general I am against paternalism, but tobacco is a substance that is so insidious with virtually no upside, that I am strongly in favor of illegalizing it.

      • Lexi
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        I suspect they’re juicing the nicotine levels. Didn’t gentleman used to smoke the occasional pipe with friends without developing a habit?

        It is now insanely hard to quit, but not impossible. Women, of course, have a natural incentive to quit when the time comes to start a family. I imagine it’s harder without that.

        • Proofreader
          Posted January 24, 2018 at 2:31 am | Permalink

          From memory, I think “juicing the nicotine levels” is discussed in Robert N. Proctor’s excellent work, Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition, which definitely does discuss why smoking cigarettes is much more addictive than smoking cigars or pipes. I really should re-read Proctor’s work for its insights on discourse poisoning.

  17. NoddingHead
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I am a nicotine addict with a high IQ and future time perspective. If cigarettes and such had been banned outright 30 years ago by a strong, paternalistic state (not the fake paternalism as Greg mentioned), I would certainly be better off today. At least financially and health-wise. But I get the libertarian freedom argument. Absolute power corrupts absolutely?

    • Pietas
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      Cigarettes are a highly addictive medium that get u hooked when u are young and have less decision making capacity. Even fairly high iq people have become addicted and once addicted only the strongest of mind can break the habit, and even those are haunted by a lingering psychic tug from what I’ve been told.

      Libertarians are in favor of choice when it comes to tobacco and other drugs, but I say no in this semi socialized medical society in which we live. We are all paying for the “personal choices” of smokers through Medicare, Medicaid, and various insurance schemes. You can’t have it both ways, incurring higher medical costs and then expecting us to pay for it.

      • Adrian Lee
        Posted January 23, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        I don’t get it, if the systems of the world prescribe to paternalism, then why do we have such easy access to incredibly addictive habits? Is it because that is what is wanted, to keep us docile and amused whilst the evils of the world pass us by? On a side note (and one I’m sure you won’t agree with me on) I pay more then my fair share of taxes on my purchases, including my tobacco. I live in the UK, so it may be different in the US, but the NHS is funded by my tax money, so basically, by the money I’ve spent on tobacco. If a sedentary, nicotine filled life is the one I chose to lead, why should I pay for those who are injured because of their active lifestyle? An accident at the gym perhaps?

        • Pietas
          Posted January 23, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          I’m aware of those arguments—taxes on tobacco are high in the us as well, but I think the true costs of tobacco can never be covered by small taxes of that sort.

  18. NoddingHead
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    The argument that socially and individually harmful “freedom” vices such as nicotine, alcohol, opioid, and porn addictions serve a useful evolutionary purpose by culling the weak from the herd does make some sense to me.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 4:03 am | Permalink

      So why not eliminate seat belts and manhole covers?

      Why not eliminate restaurant inspections and food safety regulations?

      Why not eliminate education?

      Why not eliminate medicine?

      Aren’t these all “crutches” that allow the weak to survive? Who needs them?

  19. Proofreader
    Posted January 22, 2018 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    If people have a problem with paternalism, perhaps it’s because the American state is a Jewish stepfather and molester.

  20. Oxy
    Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Many commentors question this philosophical discourse with real world examples and I think its important to stress that all governments are paternalistic and you are not living in a free society now. I think one way of putting it is that people don’t have the freedom to ensure their own groups, and by extension their personal, existence. I cant think of a worse form of un-free society.

    Its all about what kind of parent you would like society to be ruled by. The kind that has your best interest at heart, the kind that is indifferent to your well being or the current kind that actively is trying to kill you.

    Can I ask Greg what his position is on autonomous multicultural zones/cities/states within a framework of ethno-states as proposed by de Benoist? Would you “force” lefties and liberals to live in ethno-states or would you be open to giving them the option to emigrate, to say a autonomous multicultural city-state where they can reap the benefits of their multi-culti utopia?

    With the obvious demand that once you go multi-culti state you never go back.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      I am all for allowing multicultural whites to leave. Perhaps we should turn NYC and San Francisco into liberal reservations which would function as abscesses into which we can drain the poisons from the body politic. As long as they had no influence on white America, and have no more right to conduct foreign policy than Indian reservations, this might be a workable solution.

  21. NoddingHead
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I just shake and jitter and my voice goes all weird with emotion when I try to get a word in edgewise against virtually all of my own very white family who only seem to watch the MSM, and otherwise now seem totally brainwashed into a stupid anti-white and pro-shithole-immigrant mindset. Uphill battle to say the least

  22. Leon
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    A question to Mr. Johnson: I understand that you favour paternalism to social Darwinism, and you make good points in favour of the former and indeed, I don’t think many people seriously would want a society with no restrictions at all. But my question is whether this stance against social Darwinism an absolutist one, or simply a rebuttal to libertarian excess. After all, do we not believe in eugenics? Doesn’t this mean allowing people the opportunity to fail in different ways, at least to some degree? It strikes me that this argument of paternalism vs. libertarianism as two discrete options only makes sense in the world of philosophy. In the real world there is no obligation to choose one or the other. The fact is that all states have placed some restrictions on people, while never truly eliminating the possibility for bad decisions. It seems to me that if we don’t want people who are too dependent on the state, and conversely who are more naturally inclined towards the good with every generation, some amount social Darwinism is necessary. After all, what is the opposite of Darwinism but Creationism?

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