Richard Storey LL.M is a Catholic traditionalist, sometimes described as a medieval libertarian. His writing spans law, history, theology, and cultural criticism, and he is the author of The Uniqueness of Western Law: A Reactionary Manifesto. He lives in England with his wife and three children.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Ayn Rand’s notion that scientific racism is the worst form of collectivism has virtually reached the whole libertarian spectrum. How do you conciliate libertarian individualism and race consciousness?
Richard Storey: Well, at once we need to first understand what we mean by libertarian. Most libertarians would believe they are libertarians because they are Austrian economists or because they are extremely individualistic, I would say, “hyper-individualistic”. That is not libertarianism. Libertarianism is only a theory of law, that’s it. What kind of law is that? Well, it is the rule of law – a deontological theory of law. The law rules above everyone. The law is king of kings, if you want to put it that way. And so I think most libertarians do not even understand what the word means themselves.
So, where does this more modern, secular libertarianism, which we are more familiar with, come from? It emerged from an Anglo-liberal, classical liberal background, inspired by figures like John Locke. It is very individualistic, of course, as anyone with a passing knowledge of Ayn Rand can see full well. And yet, even figures like Murray Rothbard, Jeff Deist, who is of course the current President of the Mises Institute, recognize and speak very openly about the necessity of family and of the groups into which we are born; they speak about culture, they speak about religion, and of course nationality – your territorial, ethnic group if you like. That is something you are born into as much as your family, your immediate family. Or at least it used to be.
Of course, in cities, in the artificial environments we have been created for the past 2000 years, the situation is very different. Your family, or what you might call your family might just be a group of loose friends that you have, maybe who you meet at the café, or some people you see at work and, really, you do not have a great deal of interaction in your community, in your neighbourhood. So, many libertarians are now realising, through my writings, those of Frank van Dun and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, that the former intermediary institutions and communities between the individual and the state, which formed medieval society, were essential in preventing the rise of centralised, coercive states among European civilisations.
Now, to answer the question, how can I believe that ethnic groups exist, that they are important and perfectly compatible with libertarianism? Well, the top libertarians say so! In my book, The Uniqueness of Western Law, I discuss this and I have favourable reviews from some of the top academic libertarian names. Even figures who are so individualistic, such as Walter Block, have reviewed it favourably. I see absolutely no contradiction with having a consciousness of your ethnic group and feeling proud of that and wanting to support that as an extension of your immediate family. What could be more natural? And it so happens that m libertarianism comes from the fact that my ethnic group happens is European and historically Europeans have developed what we call Western law, which is nothing other than libertarianism, as it correctly defined it. And so in fact my libertarianism branches out from my awareness of the culture that I have grown up in and especially the legal tradition of my cultural/ethnic group.
Grégoire Canlorbe: It seems the priests of the Conciliar Church do not only abuse our children in a sexual sense; they instilled in them the cosmopolitan mindset and ethno-masochism. Do you agree that the rape is a mental no less than a physical one?
Richard Storey: I would concur entirely with the very recent essay, which was produced by the Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Ratzinger. I would agree with his statements which some have found controversial, but I do not think they are controversial at all. He says that the general moral landscape has changed since the 1960s, when we had the sexual revolution. The popular understanding of the family, marriage, sexuality has changed from what was considered traditional, let’s say for the past 2000 years in European civilisations. This had an impact within the Church as well.
Historically the Church has not been absolutely isolated from changing perceptions in morality, changing philosophical ideas and certainly not secular ideas either. The Church has been affected and this is why we see a very large amount of pederasty in the Catholic Church; there was a recent book which suggested the figure may be as high as 80% of priests, perhaps, who should not be priests, if they were to follow the warnings and suggestions of the recent popes regarding their sexual preferences. As a result, the Church is now promoting ecology and a lot of what we would call today left-wing ideas.
But, this is not the first time that the Church has been filled with thinkers who should not have positions of influence in the Church. The history of the Church has been one of constantly combatting heresy from within and debauched behaviour with it and I see today as just another battle in the long war that the Church faces. Really, I am not as worried about it as some because I see that the system of hierarchy, the three legs of the stool which hold up the Catholic Church: scripture, tradition, and this system of hierarchy, this magisterium. These prevent things like degeneration which we have seen in the Anglican Church or other Protestant innovations, such as female priests, clergywomen and other problems like this. I feel confident that the tradition of the Church will enable her to tackle this problem or the potential problems that may come along in the future, perhaps even far worse.
Otherwise, in terms of the numbers, the figures, is the Catholic Church the pinnacle of paedophilia or pederasty, as it is portrayed? Well, actually, the figures for the Catholic Church, in terms of the number of youths who are affected, is actually relatively good. Other organisations such as the Salvation Army, the Scouts, or just uncles, have far worse stats. So I think, as a Catholic, the focus should be on promoting those institutions, those individuals and community interest in this matter, which are keeping the numbers down and to do the very best to tackle this problem. It is not just going to be a top-down solution; there will also have to be a bottom-up solution. The whole Church will have to work together as one to resolve this issue.
As far as ethno-masochism in the Church is concerned, for answers, one need look no further than my writings on the matter. Recently, I wrote an article titled, ‘Catholicism and White Guilt’, in which I defend the traditional and ordinary teaching of the Church regarding ethnicity and ethnic division, from the writings of the New Testament and the early Church until the mid-twentieth century. Christianity affirms that there are ethnic differences and that these differences are a sacred inheritance which can be actively preserved through the controlling of borders etc. The Church gives its blessing for all such projects because the ordinary teaching of the Church is that separate and separated ethnic divisions are perfectly natural, and kinship is an important part of social order and subsidiarity, just as the Christian family unit is.
The infiltration of the Church and all our institutions with these “mind-viruses” is indeed rape.
Grégoire Canlorbe: It is not uncommon to hear that the Gospel, far from forming a defense against doctrines inimical to private property and “catallactic” cooperation, has been the main historical force de-immunizing the Western masses against the virus of socialism. This is how Ludwig von Mises—in his 1922’s treatise Socialism: an Economic and Sociologic Analysis—came to write the following:
“One thing of course is clear, and no skillful interpretation can obscure it. Jesus’ words are full of resentment against the rich, and the Apostles are no meeker in this respect. The Rich Man is condemned because he is rich, the Beggar praised because he is poor. The only reason why Jesus does not declare war against the rich and preach revenge on them is that God has said: “Revenge is mine.” (…) Up to the time of modern Socialism no movement against private poverty, which has arisen in the Christian world has failed to seek authority in Jesus, the Apostles, and the Christian Fathers, not to mention those who, like Tolstoy, made the Gospel resentment against the rich the very heart and soul of their teaching.
This is a case in which the Redeemer’s words bore evil seed. More harm has been done, and more blood shed, on account of them than by the persecution of heretics and the burning of witches. (…) The Church as an organization has certainly always stood on the side of those who tried to ward off communistic attack. But it could not achieve much in this struggle. For it was continually disarmed by the words: “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the Kingdom of God.”
The Gospels are not socialistic and not communistic. They are, as we have seen, indifferent to all social questions on the one hand, full of resentment against all property and against all owners on the other. So it is that Christian doctrine, once separated from the context in which Christ preached it—expectation of the imminent Kingdom of God—can be extremely destructive. Never and nowhere can a system of social ethics embracing social cooperation be built up on a doctrine which prohibits any concern for sustenance and work, while it expresses fierce resentment against the rich, preaches hatred of the family, and advocates voluntary castration.”
As a libertarian Catholic, what do you reply to Ludwig von Mises?
Richard Storey: I think this is typical of a modernist libertarian attack on Christianity and it is a shame because it was the flowerbed of Christendom from which what we call libertarian law grew. It is not surprising that Mises would level an attack like this due to the Church’s historical wariness of the centralisation of power, which can come about through economic means, not just through political means. Libertarians are really good at focusing on how the political means are used to accumulate power and they might even talk of it in as being at the expense of economics, calling it cronyism, crony capitalism, that sort of thing. However, economic means can be used to accumulate power – this is how Christendom was destroyed in fact, it was destroyed by the bourgeoisie, through banking institutions in large part. Various historians would back me up on that.
True, Christendom was destroyed by kings accumulating legal and therefore military power, but then also getting themselves into a tremendous amount of debt as a result. So, it is not surprising that a free-marketer, such as Mises, would make this attack: ‘More harm has been done, and more bloodshed, on account of [Christ’s anti-capitalism]’ than against ‘witches’ – what ahistorical gibberish! Whilst Mises recognises that ‘The Church as an organization has certainly always stood on the side of those who tried to ward off communistic attack’, he flops, claiming ‘it could not achieve much in this struggle.’ Yet, it was Christian figures largely who were at the forefront of the ideological downfall of the Soviet Union. One we immediately think of is Solzhenitsyn or of course St John Paul II. These figures are historically so prominent in one’s mind, when one thinks of the inner turmoil in the Soviet Union and the reaction, and of course its subsequent downfall. Do any other names come to mind? Only denim jeans or Reagan’s eleventh hour speech can come close. I think the argument speaks for itself; I don’t need to say much more on that to rebut Mises there.
As for a hatred of the rich, the Gospels do not teach hatred of anyone or any group of people at all – neither explicit nor implicit. Certainly, there are different ethnicities and all those in the in-group have their differences in ability, appearance etc. etc., but a corporate, loving attitude is to be maintained. You are supposed to have Christ in your heart at all times and this God is supposed to be living in you and is supposed to be inspiring everything that you do and everything you say – the whole society is aiming towards the perfection and salvation of souls through the mirroring of God. This God of course is defined as love in the New Testament, what we might otherwise define as charity. So, not only is hatred of the rich not even on the radar, but the very ideas of the libertarian definition of private property, capitalism, socialism do not even exist from Christ into the Middle Ages. The Greco-Roman concept of property, according to Cicero, was that of seats which individuals might acquire for use at the publicly owned theatre. Private property rights were in matters such as discovered treasure troves or game caught by oneself. The traditional Christian teaching regarding property is that the body of Christ, being a corporate thing, is to positively use one’s property for the Greco-Roman end of “the common good”. Thus, we are supposed to have a reasonable wariness of the accumulation of power that comes from accumulating money. The New Testament tells us that the love of money is the source of many evils, some translations even render it the root of all evil. The New Testament presents a clear dichotomy, either we have God, who is love, or we have a god, which is Mammon.
This is the dichotomy that the Christian is presented with: you can either go that way, which is the way to worldliness and which is against Logos or reasonable interpretation of the world, or we can go the other way, which is Love. It was this redefinition of love by Christianity which really brought to life what the Roman Empire was attempting to achieve: having international law between warring ethnic groups, so that there would be peace and honest trade between the distinct ethnic groups of the Roman project. In fact, it was the Law Merchant, the lex mercatoria that grew out of Medieval Christianity, this group that Mises declares so anti-market and anti-rich people etc. Commerce grew out of Christendom and it was because of the living peacefulness in people that was inspired by the Gospels. So, you see, it is the use of property rather than the ownership of property itself which Christianity is concerned with. I think Mises obviously had a very personal reason to attack Christianity but I am afraid, it is just ahistorical.
Grégoire Canlorbe: According to another popular opinion, Christianity has nothing to do with the philosophy of the Old Testament; instead it is a Greek religion built around a Jewish story. How do you assess this line of thought?
Richard Storey: I would look at it the way that Saint Justin Martyr, of the early Church, looked at it. He saw that the Greeks themselves, being an Indo-European people, were, or certainly their nobility were, very rationalistic and of course obsessed with philosophy. They looked to the East, they looked to the Phoenicians and these other groups and they said “No, no, this is not how we are going to do law, this is not how we are going to interpret the world, just having one oriental despot who would tell us how things are, and tell us what we are supposed to do. No, we can use our own minds to ascertain certain things about the world, about the cosmos, the order, that we all live in.” They were reaching out further and further to get to grips with the Nature of this world, and the big questions as to why we are here etc. And so of course they arrived at the idea of Logos, of rational order, an ordering principle, which causes this world around us to be comprehensible in the first place. They were reaching outwards, from the bottom-up we might say.
Saint Justin saw that the Jews were quite the opposite, they were from this oriental background but they had something from the outside; they had a God, which was utterly transcendental of the natural world, reaching down and reaching in towards them in the opposite direction. Did they obey this God, were they good? Well, the Old Testament is constantly showing, one story after another, God trying to bring this “stiff-necked” people, as they are described in the Bible, in line, trying to get them to actually obey the laws that he has given them in this oriental despotic style, laws which nevertheless are perfectly reasonable and one should clearly want to abide by.
What we see, following the conquests of Alexander the Great, is the tremendous colonisation of Jerusalem in particular. Even if we are being very conservative in our estimation, Jerusalem was massively Hellenised: you had street names written up in Greek, you had Greek on the coins, if you wanted to be educated, if you wanted to conduct business, you had to speak Greek. Saint Paul himself, writing in the New Testament, is obviously very well educated in Greek. At the school where he would have gone, he would have been, when it was time for sports, getting naked and wrestling like everyone else. They had the Academy, they had the theatre. It was a very Hellenised world. They had imbibed a lot of this culture and a lot of these ideas.
It is out of that world then that, suddenly, this martyr/hero figure, this king, this Messiah, this Christos emerges and declares himself to be the Logos incarnate, this idea which the Greeks were reaching out towards, and which the Jews, fascinatingly to the rest of the world, seemed to have reaching down towards them. The synthesis seems so obvious, so inevitable even, certainly as it did to Augustine, and even a very critical figure like Albert Camus could say that it seemed almost miraculous that these two would synthesise so well in a way that say, rival movements of the day, such as Neo-Platonism, stoicism, could not hold a candle to.
For Saint Justin, it was apparent that the Greeks had been led on, as if from their heart, from their mind, to seek out one supernatural god, the Logos as being a person or entity. Thus, this strange situation where the Greeks accepted the Messiah and in turn have tried and still are trying to get the Jews to accept their Messiah.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Praxeologists and economists tend to envision human beings as universally endowed with “rationality,” in the sense of an evolved ability to master their impulses—on the basis of an assessment of costs and benefits—and to sacrifice short-term goals for long-term ones; from this angle, no human action can be truly “irrational,” in that even those of our acts which are impulsive at first sight remain freely decided—in the aftermath of an evaluation of the costs and benefits linked to yielding to the impulse of the moment.
That view is opposed by the finding that individuals and races exhibit significant differences in rationality—and therefore, in self-mastery, determination, and time preference—depending on whether their biology meets the selection criterion of “fast life history” or “slow life history.” As writes philosopher Michael Levin, both a long-time contributor to the Mises Institute and to American Renaissance, “The white advantage in intelligence and self-restraint implies that, on average, whites are more autonomous and responsible for their actions than are blacks (and Asians more autonomous than whites.)”
How do you think Ludwig von Mises would have taken account of that empirical datum in designing his epistemology and his comprehension of history?
Richard Storey: In answer to that particular question, I think Mises may have had some qualms in dealing with a question like this because of course Mises left Nazi Austria and so I believe his view of differences between ethnic groups would have been largely coloured by that historical background and thus he would have been in reaction to states acting upon science related to ethnicity, if not against that area of science itself. I do not have any difficulties accounting for those things, not least of all because we are rapidly entering a postmodern stage in the West. Allow me to explain what I mean by that:
Various modernist ideas that Mises took for granted are all being questioned: our conception of man, for instance; what is man? Is he just some economic actor? Is he, in the Hobbesian sense, “red in tooth and claw”? If we are questioning our conception of man, we are questioning our conception of society, of how we are supposed to create social order. All modern assumptions are being questioned in some way or other. For me, my conception of man is obviously a Christian one, and that would differ from Mises’ conception of man and obviously most modernist libertarians’. I see man in much the same way as St Augustine did — as being, not just capable of charity, but as fulfilled by acting in accordance with the common good, the summum bonum aimed at by the political projects of the Greco-Roman world. So, I cannot agree with Mises’ modernist and hyper-individualistic conception of man to begin with, let alone a dismissal of differences between the various ethnic groups. As I said, this recognition is a traditional Christian belief and is not something to reel away from; it is actually beautiful to see the fascinating plurality of ethnicities in the world.
Africans have a totally different general character to East Asians, and so their cultures are different and the way they conduct economics, the things that they value, are different. I am a European man, of course, but there is more to it than that; you cannot just say, “I am European man”, because I am part Italian, part British and part Irish as well. Of course, Europeans are all close cousins and we share a lot more with each other than with other disparate groups, but there are still more localised cultural differences in Europe to be recognised and celebrated.
I feel very Italian, it is a difficult thing to explain but I live in England and there are certain things about British culture which annoy me and then there are things about the Italian culture which I cherish, things which perhaps the British might find a bit silly. For instance, in Italy, if I were to go into a Starbucks at lunch time to have some kind of Latte or whatever concoction the Anglos are drinking these days, to most Italians this would be blasphemy, awful! This is not how coffee is supposed to be and so they greatly value their culture over and above merely pecuniary concerns.
Economically speaking, Italians are not just going out and trying to find the cheapest delivery of caffeine to their body, to their bloodstream, that they possibly can. These people are not mere economic units whose individual values and economic decisions are mysterious or relatively inconsequential; their culture is informing what coffee they will buy. Italians go to the local café, run by a local family, and buy an espresso because breakfast has past, and so they should only drink an espresso. Moreover, they would pay more for it to sustain their culture. What’s more, in Italy, the family is extremely important, and this is why Italians, especially in the South, can appear to be so nepotistic when compared to other parts of Europe; they are even considered to be very racist, but for them this is very natural behaviour: they want to protect their family, they want to protect their local culture and they want to maintain their local distinctness.
Even within Italy, you can narrow it even further, between the regions and their distinct dishes and dialects; they are very proud of all this and they would be willing to sacrifice more economically in order to sustain this. To arrive at the crux of the matter, libertarians, including Mises, think too much in terms of the freedom of the economic actor to choose, but with little concern about the way the economic actor’s desires are moulded by culture from without or genetic dispositions from within and the dance between these factors which we broadly call a culture or a people.
Grégoire Canlorbe: It has been argued that individuals who can be classified as geniuses have their brains wired differently—and programmed to be unable to manage “normal day to day affairs”—; what’s more, they tend to exhibit “modestly high levels of psychoticism” and asexuality. Another claim—one which you assuredly embrace—is that Europeans exhibit moderate levels of “psychopathy” leading them to live according to a Faustian ethos.
How do those psychological modelizations come to enrich the economic comprehension of the Faustian businessman—the Aryan empire-builder entrepreneur exemplified by Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, John Davison Rockefeller, Elon Musk, or Donald Trump?
Richard Storey: I was talking about celebrating differences in people, so what makes Europeans so different? Depending on who you ask, it does seem that, on average, IQs are a bit lower in some European countries than in, say, some Eastern Asian countries. It could thus be argued that the Europeans are not necessarily the smartest people on the planet even though, perhaps, we do have a higher proportion of those in the outlying very high IQ deviation. So, what is it? What do we have? What is making us a bit more creative? In China they had been speaking for years about the creativity deficit that they have. The government is trying to look for ways to assess that problem.
Why is it that Europeans have this idea of “we’ve got to go to the moon”, “we need to explore the bottom of the oceans”, “we need to explore the depths of the soul and we need to philosophise about our existence” even at the expense of creating a more industrial society, as the Ancient Greek were doing. They were not trying to create an industrial revolution, they were trying to understand what they were doing there in the first place, what being was.
So, why are Europeans like this? Well, I think Ricardo Duchesne, who wrote the afterword for my book, has by far the best argument. We are descended from Indo-European nomads who seem to have come from the Pontic-Caspian steppe, around the Black Sea somewhere, and these people were clearly psychopathic. They would strip naked, paint themselves and they would fight in a berserker style of warfare. They would totally flout their safety. I will not go into reasons why this may have evolved, it is not necessary to, but this was their psychopathic behaviour. But, as Richard Lynn pointed out in an interview I conducted with him, psychopathy isn’t necessarily a good thing – the East Asians do well by having the lowest degrees of psychopathy in the world; it is no surprise that they have the lowest levels of crime.
However, whilst researching the matter of psychopathy for my book, I got in touch with the notable neuroscientist, Professor James Fallon, who pointed out that are two levels of psychopathy – level 1 psychopaths are charming, charismatic and typically found among the ranks of CEOs; level 2 psychopaths tend to have degrees of criminality and sociopathy. So, the mid-range of psychopathy actually presents us with risk-taking and creative personality types.
These personalities seem very unaffected by certain traumatic events, events which would really stir up a great deal of negative emotion in others; they tend to push the boundaries wherever there are boundaries, whether of understanding, physical ability etc., these personalities seem to want to push-pass them. Because of course we are descended from people who desired above all glory. The reason they stripped naked to fight was because they wanted as much kudos as possible from their peers, from other warriors. This explains why Europeans would be fighting to be the first one to the North or South pole, or the moon even! Why would they do this? There is no earthly economic reason to want to do this. Seemingly, it seems to defy evolutionary theory that someone would want to do that. The only thing that explains it is that these are people, who are descended from psychopaths, would risk their lives quite happily if they thought that, in their death, they were going to be remembered, that they would have some immortal fame and eternal glory.
I think it is this personality type which we see at work in the founders and leaders of large international corporations, that is, in the area of non-violent, at least not directly violent, global, universalistic capitalism. There is a strong spiritual aspect, so to speak, which is at play here. When someone like Elon Musk is trying to be the first person to develop a space rocket which can land and take off again, we see the European libido dominandi which grew out of the secular modernist movement, following the collapse of Christendom and the rise of what we would call the modern state. This is the manifestation of the psychopathic personality of the Europeans; it cannot just be explained away through incidental psychological explanations, and certainly cannot be explained away through the currently popular environmental theories.
Sociologists today want to explain everything in terms of environment. Yes, of course decentralisation was fundamental to the economic success for Europe and that sort of thing but it does not explain everything. We must understand how Europeans became decentralised in their ancient political systems in the first place. It is because the kings of old were so very concerned with how the other kings viewed them, how their peers viewed them, because they were seeking this immortal fame. They did not simply just exterminate all competition like an oriental despot would. That was what was happening everywhere in the world: all competition, everyone who stood up there was squashed down.
In Europe, no: they wanted other Lords, they wanted other warriors, whom they respected and whom they wanted reciprocated respect, so they welcomed the existence of their fellows. This is why Europe was so decentralised. And it is from that decentralisation, which was fostered and maintained by Christianity, that all of the lovely economics and all of the lovely law, that libertarians celebrate, comes. That is very much the flowerbed from which the seeds of European man grew into the garden of Western civilisation.
Grégoire Canlorbe: The Spencerian theory of evolution (which would inspire Hayek) claims the emancipation of the individual from the tribe—the rise of the individual’s consciousness of himself as singularized and differentiated within the wider group, and as entitled to enjoy property rights and legal autonomy—was the product of commerce… and of an effeminate ethos breaking with the martial spirit of the tribe lifestyle of early humanity. What do you reply in favor of the thesis that this emancipation actually originated in the aristocratic-warlike culture of the proto-Indo-European people?
Richard Storey: I quite agree that the modernist libertarians idealise the bourgeoisie and they say, « Well look, we have trade between countries and that kind of fosters peace and in bourgeois society there tend to be lower levels of criminality and also, now we have mobile phones, we are all walking around with supercomputers in our pockets, and we have modern medicine… So what’s wrong? This is a win-win, an ideal situation.” I would agree with Spencer, however, that the rise of the bourgeoisie to every level of influence, every level of power is certainly not to be idealised in society – the bourgeois man, and woman, both stuck in the same rat race, just turning the wheels round in an accidental economic machine. This is what is idealised by the libertarian.
However, this is not how you maintain freedom. To maintain freedom, you need to have a certain quality of men in your society and I would want to clarify what Spencer means here by saying that the effeminizing, emasculating, bourgeoisification, if I can say that, of the West has weakened us in the face of more masculine cultures, which are now coming into our countries, such as Islam for instance, and how we are just totally ill-prepared to face threats from terrorism and that sort of thing. In a sense, we are almost asking for it, we are almost asking to be invaded by societies which are more masculine than we are.
In Christendom, the threefold division of society was the warrior/aristocratic class, which obviously included the king, the priestly class which maintained the culture and values in society, and you had the commoners, comprised of merchants, peasants and workers in general. The bourgeois man, the merchant, let’s say, was not idealised at all – much less the usurer. This has led some, such as Professor Deirdre McCloskey, to say that, following the Protestant Revolt, the bourgeoisie were able to acquire for themselves certain freedoms and make a good name for themselves, and this is how the West was able to produce the industrial revolution and to become empirically successful.
The modern world and modern state are largely the product of the rise to power of a single, bureaucratic class, replacing the societal tiers of the aristocracy and the priest. To maintain this liberal, artificial order, the hyper-individualisation of has been brought to extremes – first, the Lutheran separation of the individual from any spiritual institutions made any intermediary bodies, between the individual and the state, obsolete; and, since then, all remaining institutions and even organic divisions have been and are being eliminated until all that remains is the dissonant individual, demanding ever more rights from a Leviathan state which acts as middle-man to all human interactions.
Grégoire Canlorbe: As uncovered by Robert Ardrey, the natural law of vertebrate societies (including in the case of humans) expresses itself through inequality (in the broad sense: income inequality but also inequality of juridical and social ranks) and upward mobility, or free competition for access to juridical, social, and economic positions.
Is therefore doomed any ideology advocating some form of egalitarianism, be it libertarianism (dreaming of a society without juridical castes) or socialism (dreaming of a society without economic classes). It is hardly surprising, from this perspective, that egalitarian ideologies often constitute mere pretexts for justifying systems that are veritably unequal in economic, social, and juridical terms. Is similarly condemned any society plagued by the dysfunction of the “social elevator” and by a sclerotic situation of classes and castes.
What do you reply in defense of understanding anarcho-capitalism as the true visage of the natural order?
Richard Storey: I would say that libertarianism in terms of the traditional system of law that we have had in European civilisation for thousands of years now, is not egalitarianism and it is not even equalitarianism, it is nothing like that. When we talk about equity, we are referring to the principles we can determine, and should apply in certain situations, which can rationally ascertain.
The difference is that, in the East, law was imposed from the top by one man and he would just say what went and it did not matter if it was rational or not – it was fiat, an imposing of will. In the West, however, we had competing jurisdictions because our people just happen to be very rationalistic and they were able to determine what would be objectively suitable for all the interactions, between all the people. By its very nature, therefore, that law that resides over all and is imposed, not top-down, but from the outside-in, from God even, on all of the members of society, in all the competing hierarchies and competing jurisdictions.
As such, I think that neither certain traditionalists on the right, such as the followers of Evola, nor modernist Nietzscheans could find in this project of Western law anything resembling egalitarianism in all its Procrustean horror; rather, it grew out of the very hierarchical world of Europe, not least of all Latin Christendom.
Grégoire Canlorbe: As a proponent of decentralization, do you rather position yourself in favor of Dante Alighieri’s “universal monarchy”—unified by military conquest, and placed under the spiritual authority of the pope—; or in favor of the Hoppean recommendation of a Europe made up of “thousands of Liechtensteins”?
Richard Storey: I think the question for traditionalists, such as myself, comes down to whether we prefer the pre-Christian Roman Empire or the project of the Holy Roman Empire. When we declare that some pre-modern empire is better than the modern nation-state, we have to determine the goals of the society, indeed, what is our conception of society? What is the ultimate goal of us coming together to cooperate? We need to answer all of these questions first.
As a Christian, I favour a situation more like the Holy Roman Empire. I do not think that statist solutions ultimately work, I do not think that they are sustainable. I think that our revival of certain statist Roman ideas was a mistake, as this is not actually native to Europe at all and does not sustainably suit the European mind, all of which I discuss in greater depth in my book, The Uniqueness of Western Law. I would prefer a situation where there was something like the Catholic social doctrine of subsidiarity, developed in Latin Christendom.
In this situation, both the group and the common good, let’s say the imperium of Europe or whatever it would encompass, are taken into account as much as the individual. The individual is obviously considered as what makes up the imperium in the first place. This is a collection of individuals. But the principle of subsidiarity says that responsibility must be taken as locally as possible. For instance, if I am capable of doing something, then no higher order should take that responsibility away from me, indeed it should be laid at my feet. The responsibility must always be as personal or as local to the matter as possible.
In this sense, if we have kings and an emperor, his job is largely ceremonial, as a first among equals, but also to enact a just war. His job is largely diplomatic, more formal, ritualistic in certain way. He is also, most significantly, a member of the Church. In the Holy Roman Empire, if you were baptised that made you a citizen of Christendom. The emperor is just a member of the Church like any of us but he has his obligations, he has his noblesse oblige, he has his privileged position of maintaining the faith, and God’s peace and order in the body of Christ, who are his brethren. Kings are expected to support him in this role and can be rallied against by their fellows if they fail in their culturally mandated duties, as Christians.
Aside from the warrior/aristocrat class, you have lots and lots of different bodies of people coming together: universities, guilds, and other groups like this. Groups of men coming together, banding together to some shared goal, all in-keeping with the common good and, like I said before, the responsibility for that is as local as possible. Far from statism, each of these groups had their own sort of sovereignty; they were making their own laws. So, in a neighbourhood, for instance, I imagine policing would be conducted by individual men who would take the responsibility for actually knowing how to defend their neighbourhood. For example, the Swiss expect their populace to be their army, rather than relinquishing responsibility to some centralised authority – all based on the principle of subsidiarity.
The typical utopia proposed by modern libertarians assumes liberty will be maintained by men who just palm off responsibility left, right and centre to insurance companies. This is hardly different to the modern statist who would see you palm off responsibility to the state. When one studies European history, we learn that either of these is fundamentally anti-European.
The European mindset demands men take as much responsibility as possible and in doing so, they are being very masculine and then the society becomes very patriarchal, very strong, very manly. This was the understanding of certain founders of the US even; it can be seen in Jefferson’s oft pooh-poohed agrarian ideals. The pater familias, the role of the man in everything from the family up to the emperor, must be rendered sacred. Men need to know how to negotiate with each other as brothers in the corporate body of Christ, aiming towards a shared transcendental goal; they understand the importance of reputation, of honour, the significance of making and, yes, breaking an oath. Everything that I am is on the line in a society like that, not regulated by sterile, signed pieces of paper. Taking responsibility, becoming a producer rather than just a consumer, rebuilding the intermediary, patriarchal institutions which once characterised Europe – this is how we will restore our dying civilisation.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add a few words?
Richard Storey: Only to commend my book and my articles to readers. Thank you very much for an interesting set of questions.
That conversation was first published on The Council of European Canadians, in September 2019