The more insidious kind [of fascism] is the type being nourished across today’s libertarian movement…
In contemporary libertarianism, there is a similar love of hatred, from the alt-Right libertarian news site Breitbart proudly publishing the UK libertarian writer James Delingpole’s paean ‘In Praise of “Hate Speech”’, to Sean Gabb who, as director of the Libertarian Alliance in 2006, said: ‘[W]e believe in the right to promote hatred by any means that do not fall within the Common Law definition of assault.’ (Gabb said this as he stepped forward to defend David Irving’s expression of Holocaust denialism.) When Breitbart’s CEO Steve Bannon moved to become Trump’s chief strategist, his appointment was cheered by the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, and approved by the American Nazi party.
The character traits applauded by today’s libertarians – ambition, superbia, speed, drive, spin, success and spikiness – are the qualities the Futurists valued. There is fire here but never warmth; appetite but never food. If conviviality has an opposite, it is this: anti-vivial, anti-genial and, in its treatment of the future, anti-generative. UK libertarians call their online magazine Spiked, recalling both date-rape drugs and weaponry (as well as poor journalism that deserves to be spiked rather than published.)
Libertarians’ bullyboy mentality detests the sensibility of liberalism, and torments those they call ‘SJWs’ (social justice warriors). There should be no regulations to protect the weak, they say, and they loathe the vulnerable: the British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart’s star writer, having encouraged the racist and sexist abuse of the American actress Leslie Jones on Twitter, then mocked her, saying: ‘If at first you don’t succeed … play the victim.’ This attitude is proto-fascistic, to despise the victim for being vulnerable, using that weakness as a reason to treat them with contempt. The UK libertarian writer Claire Fox, though supportive of an open-border policy on migration, scorns individual or cultural sensitivity by promulgating the term ‘Generation Snowflake’ to describe people who might ‘melt’ in the heat of hate-speech or who want ‘trigger alerts’ to be issued over material that might traumatise survivors of sexual abuse.
Like contemporary libertarians, the Italian Futurists saw themselves as anti-establishment – opposing political and artistic tradition – and driven, as the name suggests, forward to the future. As Marinetti wrote in the Futurist manifesto: ‘Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute.’ Libertarians, like the Futurists, loathe the past, which they associate with the natural world: the future is artificial, and they want to own it. Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Donald Trump backer, describes himself as ‘way libertarian’, and is heavily involved in the Singularity, a vision of transhumanism that promotes artificial super-intelligence to create the end of natural history.
The Futurist Luigi Russolo championed a materialist idea of music as pure noise: sound should be ‘bruitistic’, exemplified in the noise of technology and the city, as opposed to the music of history or the sound of nature. He sought to brutalise the ear with noise. Language was reduced to shout, the hate-scream that features so heavily in contemporary libertarian discourse. In design, libertarians go for the stark, crude smack of visual noise, not the sensitive subtlety of illustration.
… In taking a deliberately anti-intellectual stance, these libertarians undermine the very idea of expertise, creating the thuggish intellectual atmosphere in which fascism flourishes.
… Such detestation of the natural world, amounting to biophobia, is one of the hallmarks of libertarians.
… The flight from Earth to space: the libertarian off-ground ideology of unlimited, unrestricted freedom.
… Climate-change denialism is the signature deceit of libertarian rhetoric, top trumps in their pack of ‘alternative facts’. But the alt-Right has a host of alt-facts at its fingertips. Politics has always been riddled with propaganda, spin and cover-ups, the difference is that the libertarian mindset relishes its dishonesty; part-trick, part-game, part-combat.
But more: seeking freedom in all things, loathing restraint, the fact of lying becomes an ambition for breaking free of the tethers of honesty, of being ‘bound’ to tell the truth. Libertarians are masters of post-truth misinformation, and their technique is simple. Take a truth (climate change, Rwandan genocide, Serbian concentration camps) and simply declare it is a lie. (A ‘myth’, a ‘hoax’, a ‘scam’, a ‘swindle’.) Sit back and wait a minute, and a very gullible press with little editorial responsibility will happily help you tell the public that they have been conned. No one wants to feel they’ve been duped so, hey presto! You have a ‘war of ideas’. Without evidence, argument or proof. Without expertise or knowledge.
Over and over, libertarians use the notion of ‘free speech’ to vindicate offensiveness and outright lies.
… ‘We will glorify war – the world’s only hygiene’ bawled the Futurist manifesto, in language that Serbia would recall in its ethnic ‘cleansing’ for the sake of militant nationalism. Today’s libertarians follow in the slipstream, supporting the far-Right UK Independence Party (UKIP) with its naked nationalism (‘Believe in Britain’) and cheering Trump’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’.
… ‘We will glorify … scorn for woman,’ said the Italian Futurists, and the libertarians are only too happy to oblige. Breitbart compares abortion with the Nazi Holocaust and yelps its support for Trump’s relentless hatred of women.
… Like Italian fascism’s ‘Il Duce’, libertarians support the ‘strong men’ – the rise of the Übermensch in the giddy upsurge of Trump and Vladimir Putin, with Farage nibbling from their fingers and Marine Le Pen in the wings.
… Tropes of Italian history are cropping up everywhere in the libertarian story: Yiannopoulos arranged for his supporters to carry him shoulder-high on a ‘throne’ to address students like an emperor with his praetorian guard.
… The libertarian alt-Right fits the profile of the psychopathic mindset. It sees people as objects – units, if you like. Viewing speech without consequence, guiltlessly cruel, the psychopathic mind is dishonest, deceitful, power-hungry, lacking in empathy.
… A crucial way in which the human mind practises empathy is in the use of metaphor; not as a literary device but as a stance of psyche, a way of understanding otherness and making stories of connection and relation. Metaphor is weirdly missing in the libertarian screeds: the literalism is choking. Metaphor comprehends the world of spirit and imagination. It deals in pluralities and the unmeasurable. It doesn’t seek to deceive but rather to augment truth. It is essential to all kinds of understanding. Metaphor is the opposite of rhetoric and works like anti-fascism in the human mind.
… If libertarianism has a mythic model, it is Deus Invictus, the god unbound, who loathes any tether, shackle or constraint. Invictus was the epithet applied to the supreme deity Jupiter, Übergott, and to Mars, god of war, and to the empire-building Caesar. It is associated with the triumph of individualism and totalitarianism, as well as solar monism, a sky-god, singular as the Sun, and unbound from – and hostile to – the pluralities of the land.
… Deus Invictus lies behind the libertarian refusal to be shackled by cuts in carbon emissions, behind their demand to fly free and their obsession with anti-natural technology. Deus Invictus is god of the libertarian-supported Singularity. The Deus Invictus complex drives unfettered capitalism and the unregulated industry that allows some to live like gods by making others live like cattle. Characteristics such as kindness, modesty, slowness, generosity, receptivity, pity, honesty and truth are detested by Deus Invictus, for they are the fettered emotions. In honesty you are bound to tell the truth. You are tied by respect, linked to others by love, tethered by kindness to kinship with nature, and restrained by a sense of justice and conscience. Libertarians loathe political correctness because it puts the brakes on bigotry, restricts racism, reins in sexism.