Rise of the Anarcho-Statists Part III: Augustus Sol Invictus, the Unconquerable Sun God

(Originally published July 16, 2017 at johnmhudak.wordpress.com)

Before I begin, I feel it’s necessary to point out that the man I’ll be focusing on in this article is not (and has never claimed to be, that I’m aware of) an anarchist. He instead identifies as a classical liberal and a “small L” libertarian. Nevertheless, I found it appropriate to include him in my Rise of the Anarcho-Statists series, as he espouses many of the same values and policy positions (as well as being in many of the same circles) as those who I have profiled previously.

Augustus Sol Invictus sprung into the public eye in 2015 during his unsuccessful campaign for the Libertarian nomination for a Senate seat in Florida. His unique name, which is not the one he was given at birth, translates roughly from Latin to “Unconquerable Sun God” (other commonly-seen translations are “Majestic Unconquered Sun” and “Invincible Sun Emperor”.) He drew mainstream attention in October 2015 when then Libertarian Party of Florida Chairman Adrian Wyllie resigned from his post in protest of Invictus’s candidacy.

Wyllie alleged in a Facebook post that Invictus was a fascist with neo-Nazi ties who supported eugenics and was hell-bent on sparking a second American Civil War. Wyllie also accused him of being “ejected from Ordo Templi Orientis [a Pagan organization] for brutally and sadistically dismembering a goat in a ritualistic sacrifice.” Invictus insisted that much of what Wyllie alleged was false and politically-motivated, although he admitted to sacrificing a goat and drinking its blood as part of a religious ceremony.

Regarding the eugenics allegation, Invictus conceded that he had written a paper supporting eugenics several years ago, but claimed that he no longer believed in the idea of state-sponsored eugenics. A post he made on the website for his 2016 Senate run entitled “A Declaration of the Failings of the Federal Government”, however, seems to tell a different story. In it, Invictus lists his issues with the United States Federal Government. Number 25 on the list as is follows: “It has abandoned its eugenics programs & elitist mindset in favor of a decadent ideology that rejects the beauty of strength and demands the exponential growth of the weakest, the least intelligent, and the most diseased.”

To say that one doesn’t support a practice while simultaneously stating that one of the U.S. government’s biggest problems is the abandonment of said practice seems to be absolutely contradictory. If I were to say that abandoning the practice of “X” is a failure of government, it would be logical to believe that I support the practice of “X”. For Invictus to say that he does not support a state-sponsored eugenics program, while also saying that he doesn’t believe the government should have abandoned its eugenics program, seems awfully disingenuous.

Invictus has also repeatedly denied the allegation that he is a fascist, a denial in which I have no faith. While his common use of fascist imagery (his 2016 campaign logo was almost identical to the war flag of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic), this alone is not enough to prove that someone is a fascist. While he often fetishizes about power and strength (he has inferred that he is proud of the fact that “our forefathers came as conquerors”), this too is not enough to definitively say that he is a fascist.

Proof of Invictus’s support for fascism instead comes from the fact that he has called himself one. On November 20, 2013, Invictus uploaded a video to his Youtube channel entitled “Ezra Pound, ‘Salutation the Third’”. The description of the video, in which he refers to Pound as his “fellow American fascist”, is pictured below (the red box around the specific phrase is mine.)

fellow american fascist

Invictus was asked about this description in a 2015 “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. In response, Invictus said, “You are referring to a description of a poetry recitation on YouTube… I refer to myself as many different things in poetry recitations, and none of them are intended as statements on my political positions.” This half-baked response seems to make little sense, especially given that there are no other poetry recitations on Invictus’s Youtube channel in which he refers to himself in the description as something that he does not claim to be.

Notice that Invictus does not say that his views have changed (as he did with eugenics), even though it is extremely difficult to believe that he was trying to make some sort of poetic statement; he simply denies that he was actually calling himself a fascist. His answer reads more like the words of someone who has unwillingly had a past statement exposed than someone who is making a coherent argument.

Adding to the oddity of this situation is Invictus’s apparent delusion of grandeur. In a 2013 letter in which he also boasted about the things he had so far achieved in his life, he wrote: “I have prophesied for years that I was born for a Great War; that if I did not witness the coming of the Second American Civil War I would begin it myself. Mark well: That day is fast coming upon you. On the New Moon of May, I shall disappear into the Wilderness. I will return bearing Revolution, or I will not return at all”.

The above quote seems to indicate that this is not simply a situation of a person who is a strong proponent of fascist ideals. It goes far beyond that; this is someone who has said that he was born for the purpose of starting a civil war. There is an inherent danger in someone who believes that their purpose in life is to commit violence, whether that be in the name of a cause or in the name of a religion. Those who are followers or fans of Invictus should keep this in mind.

Since losing in the Libertarian primary to Paul Stanton, Invictus has left the Libertarian Party to become a registered Republican. He has been on a crusade against those who wish to remove Confederate monuments in the South, which he has referred to as “The Great Southern Genocide.” Invictus has also made videos arguing for the existence of white genocide, using things like European commercials frequently having mixed race or minority couples as proof. In the same video, Invictus said that the promotion of race mixing is additional evidence of this genocide. Regardless of what one thinks about the removal of said monuments or the political correctness culture of the modern world, to compare the things that Invictus is talking about to actual genocide (such as what has occurred in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, or Armenia) is downright absurd. No one is being murdered by interracial relationships, the removal of statues, or politically correct commercials. To use the term “genocide” to describe these situations seems like pandering to white nationalists, at best.

Although I’ve never directly interacted with Mr. Invictus, I have seen him make what seemed to be an indirect threat toward myself and a group I was working with. In early June of this year, I was asked to help with a Facebook page entitled “Fakertarians” whose purpose is to call out so-called libertarians who pander to fascists and authoritarians. Chris Johncox, a writer for a right-wing libertarian site called Liberty Hangout who also writes for Invictus’s The Revolutionary Conservative, made a Facebook post criticizing the page shortly after I joined. A portion of the comment thread is pictured below.

Doxx

Ignoring the fact that Invictus seems to be using the common alt-right tactic of referring to everyone he doesn’t like as a leftist, he seems to be calling upon others to “doxx” us, a process in which a person’s personal information (phone number, address, etc.) is posted for others to harass and/or threaten them. This childish tactic should have no place in the libertarian community. Ironically, Missouri Senate candidate Austin Petersen (AKA Austin Wade), who also just left the Libertarian party to become a Republican, was active in the comment thread. Although he did not respond to Invictus’s comment, it would be fair to assume that he might have seen it. If he did, I am curious about whether he still believes Invictus is “a gentleman and a scholar”, as Petersen said in November of 2016.

Scholar and a Gentleman

It is my belief that Invictus’s departure from the party is a step in the right direction, although we must do more as a movement to ensure that those who do not represent our ideals do not gain power within it. We are not a movement of fascists or eugenicists, but of people who believe in self-ownership and freedom for every individual. We must be loud in denouncing those who state otherwise.

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Rise of the Anarcho-Statists Part II: Jared “The Drug War Isn’t a Priority of Mine” Howe

(Originally published July 8, 2017 at johnmhudak.wordpress.com)

As many in the liberty movement are aware, the rise of Donald Trump has resulted in an influx of alt-right ideology into libertarian circles. I discussed this extensively in my recent article, Trump Libertarians: Rise of the Anarcho-Statists, but this time I’d like to focus on one individual in particular. This individual so perfectly exemplifies the problems brought on by the recent trend of anarcho-statism: a perfect storm of fascism, general authoritarianism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism. His name is Jared Howe.

Howe, who calls himself an “austro-libertarian”, was once a run of the mill anarcho-capitalist who even supported open borders. However, a look back at his work from the past few years shows a gradual descent into the dark corners of authoritarianism, a label which he no longer rejects. He has even gone as far as to advocate for fascism as a means of bringing about a libertarian society, an idea ludicrous to anyone who understands the true nature of government.jared fasc

As evidenced by the growth of the United States government over the past hundred years, once you give a government the power to do something, it is almost impossible to turn back the clock. When thinking about granting a new power to a government, one must always remember that social security was supposed to be a temporary measure. Today, it has morphed into what most in politics view as a sacred cow that cannot be taken away, even if many believe that it is completely unsustainable. The idea of giving government, a group of people that most libertarians would not trust to babysit their kids, the absolute power that accompanies fascism is frankly absurd. Those in power, especially those engaging in totalitarian rule, are not typically apt to relinquishing it. Just as we rejected George W. Bush’s idea that we must abandon free-market principles to save the free-market system, we must reject Howe’s idea that we must abandon our libertarian ideals in order to bring about libertarianism.

The existence of people like Jared Howe in the dark corners of the internet is not new, nor is it surprising. What is special about this situation, however, is his presence in mainstream libertarian circles. Howe contributes to Liberty Hangout, a popular right-leaning libertarian website. Until recently, he was the assistant multimedia director for Being Libertarian, one of the largest libertarian websites on the internet. Calls for his removal from his position became louder recently after what can only be described as his rampant anti-Semitism seemed to intensify, or at least become more public.

One does not have to look far to find an example of this; in his letter announcing his resignation (which he described as a decision that “wasn’t exactly mutual”), Howe called out his critics for using “out of context screenshots” of his social media posts in order to damage his reputation. Ironically, he showed his true colors only two paragraphs later, when he accused his detractors at Being Libertarian of silencing “right-wing perspectives” on “the Jewish question.”

This, of course, is far from the only recent instance of anti-Semitic rhetoric from Howe. His social media accounts feature frequent disparaging remarks toward people of Jewish origin, as well as the use of the “three parentheses” used by neo-Nazi groups to identify Jews.         jaredparentheses

Jared’s hatred does not extend only to Jews; he has also expressed a preference for racism in general. In a Facebook post on March 10, Howe wrote “Being a leftist is worse than being a racist.” When pressed by one of his followers who contended that there is nothing wrong with racism, Howe wrote, “Being a rapist is worse than being a husband. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be a husband.” Howe also frequently complains of immigrants from Somalia living in his home state, writing “These people need to be deported.”

This hateful collectivism is everything the liberty movement is supposed to stand against. People are to be judged as individuals, not for the actions of others who may have the same skin color, religion, or national origin as them. As the great libertarian Ron Paul once wrote, “Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans only as members of groups and never as individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike; as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups.”

Howe and others who share his worldview would dismiss my critique of judging people collectively instead of as individuals as “virtue signaling,” although Howe himself is often guilty of virtue signaling to the right. Instead of saying that it’s wrong to judge people based on the color of their skin, Howe’s virtue signaling is based upon cultural conservatism, such as his incoherent Facebook status below:ohjared

The idea that the cultural conservative (i.e. heterosexual) version of the “monogamous, pair-bonded family” is the “first and last defense” of private property is nonsensical and only serves to throw a bone to the far-right groups he attempts to appeal to. There is no reason that a homosexual couple or two (or more) people living together as roommates would not be able to defend their private property as well as or better than a traditional heterosexual family. This is not to disparage monogamous heterosexual relationships in any way; I’m in one myself, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But to say that having a preference for traditionalism is inherently libertarian is incorrect; this would be the case even if Howe’s statement above about defense of private property was true. Having a preference for something that you believe will create a better outcome is not inherently libertarian, nor is the opposite true. There’s nothing “inherently libertarian” about supporting any type of consensual relationship between adults over another; it is simply a preference. What is libertarian is believing that consenting adults should be able to do as they please, as long as they are not aggressing upon anyone else.

I sincerely applaud those at Being Libertarian who were involved with Jared’s removal from the leadership of the site, and I believe that the rest of the liberty movement should follow suit in condemning his beliefs and actions described above. I hereby call upon Justin Moldow and the rest of the Liberty Hangout team to speak out against Jared’s more incendiary and hateful beliefs. I ask the same of anyone who cares about liberty. When I started doing the research for my original Anarcho-Statists article, it hit me that I did not want prospective libertarians and the rest of the world to think that our movement is about hate, collectivist thinking, and pandering to fascists. I feel the same way today. We are a movement of people who share a common belief in self-ownership, non-aggression, and freedom, and we must never forget that.

Trump Libertarians: Rise of the Anarcho-Statists

(Originally published February 17, 2017 at johnmhudak.wordpress.com)

I would like to preface this by saying that I have nothing personally against the people that I’m about to discuss in this article. All of them have contributed to spreading the message of freedom to various degrees, and for that I am grateful. One of them, Stefan Molyneux, was a strong influence on me personally when I was first exploring the concepts of self-ownership and voluntary interaction. Without him, my views might not be where they are today.

However, I would be remiss if I were to ignore the problems with the worrying trend that they’ve been a part of. Along with the rise of Donald Trump has come a strain of the liberty movement that looks more like a cousin of the alt-right than a philosophy based on freedom. Between the call for greater border enforcement and even a wall (more on that later), to the cries for “God Emperor Trump” to come down with an iron fist on those on those deemed to be degenerates, those involved often sound more fascistic than libertarian.

Whether it is a deliberate move to attract a bigger audience, a shift in philosophy, or the product of the conservative-minded side of the movement, these “anarcho-statists” have become a vocal and very real part of the libertarian and anarcho-capitalist community. Central to their thinking is that those on the left are the true enemies of freedom, while those on the right are the lesser evil (if not an ally in the fight against liberalism.) They are not necessarily ardent supporters of Donald Trump (although some are), but they often incorporate parts of his message.

Justin Moldow, self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist and founder of the libertarian website Liberty Hangout, is a prime example of this. As I stated in the first sentence of this article, the specific individuals discussed herein (Moldow included), have been an overall plus for the causes of liberty and freedom. But this in no way makes him or any of the others immune to criticism.

In recent months, Moldow has written multiple articles about his issues with the left. Before I go any further, I must say that some of the assertions he makes are entirely true. There is a sizeable contingent of leftists who look to shut down speech they disagree with, as he states in “It’s Time to Admit That Leftists Can’t Be Reasoned With.” Yes, leftists do use the violence of the state to impose their views on others. And yes, many of them (at least those in the mainstream) do erroneously believe that the state is ultimately a force for good. We have no disagreement on these points; I would never claim that liberalism is in anyway synonymous with libertarianism.

The problem with Moldow’s assertions about leftists is not necessarily a factual error, although I do believe he often over-generalizes and overstates the contempt that those on the left have for the liberty movement. The problem is instead an error of omission; those on the right can be just as bad, if not worse, than leftists in these areas. In “Libertarians Who Side With Leftists are Tools for Their Marxist Agenda,” he says that “it’s not the alt-right… encouraging the ongoing violence against peaceful people.” Violence against peaceful people is not limited to the left, whether that be on an individual basis or a state level.

To anyone who believes otherwise, I would encourage you to try to peacefully burn an American flag in protest of the United States government in front of a group of conservatives (on second thought, don’t try that unless you’re able to defend yourself.) Needless to say, they would not respond kindly. There have been numerous occasions in which protesters attempting to peacefully burn flags (a constitutionally protected act) have been threatened with violence or even attacked. I have experienced the vitriol of the right first-hand in response to my article “No Thank You For Your Service: The Fallacy of Troop Worship,” and trust me, they were not comments about how they disagreed with me but still respected my right to free speech.

In the same way that the left advocates using the violence of the state for wealth distribution and forced association, the right uses it for their own means. Although there are exceptions (as there are on the left), those on the right-wing are usually more than happy to use violence against peaceful people if it will result in a larger military, the imprisonment of drug users and others who commit victimless crimes, and fewer foreigners coming into the country. Arguing over whether it’s worse to steal people’s money from them or to throw them in a cage for smoking a plant is like arguing whether it’s worse to get punched in the face or kicked in the groin. You might have a preference, but both are terrible outcomes.

This brings me to my next point and a defining characteristic of those discussed in this article: the demand for the state to crack down on illegal immigration. Those who advocate for this often say that being in favor of open borders is an un-libertarian position, as Moldow does in “Open Borders Are Not Libertarian. They’re Communist.” In it, one of the arguments he makes in favor of closed borders is that immigrants might vote to increase taxes and may support Democratic politicians. Effectively, he is arguing that because of a possible bad outcome, an organization that he deems to be illegitimate should use violence against those who peacefully cross an arbitrary line in order to defend territory that the organization does not rightfully own (the irony of this seems to be lost on him).

This utilitarian defense of initiatory violence is completely at-odds with the non-aggression principle and the philosophy of anarcho-capitalism and would result in an authoritarian state if taken to its logical ends. If it is acceptable to use violence against someone based on a hypothetical, the idea of self-ownership is completely thrown out the window. The fact that someone comes from a bad neighborhood is not enough reason to attack them in defense of them possibly attacking you, just as the fact that someone comes from a poor country is not enough to attack them in defense of them possibly stealing your money. Ironically, the same critique of using initiatory violence to stop initiatory violence that Moldow would likely (and rightfully) use to argue against a state is present in his thinking on immigration.

Rather than being a product of a belief in self-ownership and freedom, Moldow’s words look more like those of someone attempting to sell a conservative position to a libertarian audience. His follow-up article “Open Borders Advocates are Hypocritical Nationalists That Also Put America First” was even more perplexing. In it, he claimed that open-borders libertarians who were criticizing Trump’s immigration ban were actually nationalists, due to the fact that they were not speaking out against Iran’s ban against immigration from the United States.

Even ignoring the fact that Iran’s ban was a direct response to Trump’s, you would be hard-pressed to find a libertarian who believes in open-borders who would also be in favor of the Iranian government restricting immigration. The fact that Trump’s ban is focused on more often is a matter of priority, not an indication of support for the Iranian regime. There are far more people who are looking to immigrate to the United States from the seven countries affected than people looking to immigrate to Iran from the US. Using the logic of Moldow’s argument, someone who criticizes the murders committed by a serial killer does not care about or even approves of a murder committed by a one-time killer. Focusing on the greater evil before attempting to draw attention to a lesser one does not make someone a nationalist; it makes them a sane person following a logical strategy.

Christopher Cantwell is another example of this style of anarcho-capitalist that I find so troubling. When he’s not preoccupied with calling people “cucks,” Cantwell is outwardly racist and is a fervent supporter of Donald Trump. He argues for a strong authoritarian leader to rid the world of leftists, all while claiming to be an anarchist. I don’t plan on saying much more about him within this article, but I wanted to point out that there is a real problem with racism in this “Trumpian” brand of libertarianism. I’m not referring to the accusations of racism made by “social justice warriors,” in which innocent actions are deemed to be bigoted by overzealous college students. The type of racism that concerns me is one in which statements about the superiority of a specific race (in this case, whites) are thrown around.

Although Cantwell and his ilk would dismiss my critique as “virtue signaling,” racism is simply another ugly form of collectivism. A person with black or brown skin does not deserve to be judged by the actions of others with the same skin color, just as all whites do not deserve to be lumped in with the authoritarian megalomaniac some call our President. Cantwell and others who focus on race are only turning off potential converts to libertarianism and contradicting the individualism that we preach.

Although I’ve thus far focused on Moldow and Cantwell, there might be no greater example of this “anarcho-statist” mindset than prominent anarcho-capitalist Stefan Molyneux. He has been around for many years and has been a vital part of the liberty movement. Until recently, he argued against closed-border advocates and said that we had much worse things to worry about than immigrants. Around the time that Trump came onto the scene during the 2016 Presidential Election, he did a complete 180 on immigration and became maybe the most vocal Trump-supporting libertarian. His foray into presidential politics was especially ironic due to the fact that he had considered the presidential runs of Ron Paul (who had much greater libertarian credentials than Trump) a waste of time.

Molyneux uses many of the same arguments as Moldow when discussing his newfound desire for border enforcement. Whether they’re based on the idea that illegal immigrants may leach off taxpayers (even though the fact that these immigrants are fearful of being punished by the state is what forces them to work under the table), typical fear-mongering about Islamic Terrorism (you’re significantly more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist), or preserving what he vaguely refers to as Western culture (which has brought us the same state we decry as evil), his platform basically boils down to the idea that we must sacrifice our ideals to save them. Eerily reminiscent of George W. Bush’s assertion that he “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market,” this Orwellian double-think will never result in the fulfillment of libertarian ideals.

Just as there has been up to now, there will always be another crisis that we’re told requires the suspension of our rights or the rights of others. Although the powers that be typically give us assurances that these restrictions will be temporary, they hardly ever are; one needs to look no further than the aftermath of 9/11 and the advent of the mass surveillance state to see this in action. If the state takes away our rights, even temporarily, it should be obvious to us all that the state (and those who support it) never considered them rights in the first place. In the same vein, if we must sacrifice our principles in order to achieve our goals, they were never really our principles.

We must think long and hard about what we believe and why. Are we the philosophy of fear-mongering, collectivism, and authoritarianism when it suits us? Or are we the ones who will stand up to the state and others who wish to take away the rights of those who cannot stand up for themselves?