Death, Dictatorship, and Liberty

Death. Death is something that we all must face at some point. It is inevitable. However, not all deaths are natural. Murder, whether done by the individual or the state, is less an organic issue and more of a philosophical one.

 

For libertarians and conservatives, the idea of state-directed death can be an unswallowable pill. After all, the U.S. Constitution, in Amendment VIII, condemns “cruel and unusual punishment.” Sticking an individual in a room and shoving a drug-laden hypodermic into their veins certainly qualifies as “cruel.” Botched executions are even crueler.

 

However, bleeding hearts have no place in an anarcho-reactionary society. Some people — criminals, pedophiles, and communists — are threats to a free commonwealth. As such, they should be “physically removed.” This means outlawing them, exiling them, or, if they remain intransigent, killing them. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe says, “There can be no tolerance towards democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society.” [1] Quite simply, if we want to live our vision, then much driftwood has to be cleared first.

 

The only question, therefore, is: how does one carry out capital punishment in a liberty-driven society? How can one simultaneously provide a punishment regime without creating a self-perpetuating penal regime?

 

Capital punishment in an anarcho-reactionary order is possible, so long as one major misconception is cleared up first. 

 

“Human Rights”—the God That Fails

 

The concept of “human rights” does not exist outside of the state. It is the state that dictates the path, the substance, and the contours of human rights within the national body that exists within that state. The state also displays its respect for human rights by using military force, either to further those rights or to protect them.

 

There are major problems with state-derived rights, however. First of all, as the twentieth century has shown, those states which purport to protect human rights universally are often those states which are the quickest to deny the human rights of “enemy” populations. For instance, French scholar Alain De Benoist points out in Carl Schmitt Today that American-led humanitarian missions always privileged one group’s rights over another.

 

“[I]t is no coincidence that the epoch in which human rights have been proclaimed most forcefully is also that in which the wars fought have proved to be the most inhumane. This observation, according to Carl Schmitt, is not at all paradoxical since it is when fighting in the name of humanity that one is justified in considering one’s enemies as inhuman. Proclaimed humanism ends in actual dehumanisation [sic].” [2]

 

All one has to do is look at the wars in Yugoslavia and Kosovo during the 1990s, or the illegitimate invasion of Iraq in 2003 for the confirmation of the Schmitt worldview. In these wars, massive bombardments killed civilian and soldier alike. In the Balkans, Albanians, many of whom had outright ties to Al-Qaeda, destroyed ancient Serbian history at the behest of post-modern masters in Washington and Brussels. In Iraq, the initial “war of liberation” lead to subsequent wars of ethno-religious “liberation,” with Shi’ites killing Sunnis, Sunnis killing Shi’ites, and Kurdish Yazidis and Assyrian and Arab Christians suffering genocide at the hands of both. Round and round the bloody gyre widens.

 

This gore-soaked humanism is a result of illegitimate states. Yes, states produce human rights, but if that state is illegitimate, then those rights are null and void. In order to make true human rights, valid states must be created instead of invalid ones.

 

What makes a state invalid? Democracy and all of its permutations (communism, democratic socialism, fascism) is illegitimate because it deifies the individual voter. The man wielding the secret vote replaces God, the ultimate judge of all things. This is the runoff of the Enlightenment, which glorified the cardinal sin of seeing human actors as rational and smart enough to properly interpret God’s law (i.e., the Ten Commandments and the Bible). Reactionary Catholic theologians have long pointed out the sinful fallacy of democratic liberalism, noting that liberalism promotes “the absolute independence of the individual and the social reason, that it denies all Christian dogmas in general.” [3] Liberalism denies the “universal truth” of God in favor of the individual truth of the collective demos.

 

For Protestant theologians, sola scriptura is only possible if the catholic body of Christians is well-versed in not only the Bible, but also the morals of God’s law. Today’s secular world disparages both and does everything in its power to remove the sacred from everyday life. Faithful Protestants recognize that their religion is incompatible with modernist democracy.

 

In order to have liberty rather than shallow and mutable “human rights,” a proper state must first be established. This state would recognize God’s law as supreme, and it would similarly recognize the simple truth that the right to private property and the produce of one’s labor are the highest of all secular laws.

 

This does not mean that America should become a theocracy, whether Catholic or Protestant. As St. John of Chrysotom once said, “The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.” Priests should not be our politicians, but God’s law, otherwise known as “natural law,” should be the state’s sole guiding principle. The right to life, property, and worship are from the divine, not any state or piece of paper. A state based on natural law is a healthy state and a limited one. That which is not connected to natural law should not be legislated by mere mortals.

 

Unfortunately, given the sickness known as modernism, extreme measures might be needed in order to bring about a true state.

 

Capital Punishment and the Commissary Dictatorship

 

Once this true state of limited government and private property rights is established, then the issue of capital punishment can be handled correctly.

 

As I previously noted in “The Case For Judicial Punishment,” pre-modern expressions of punishment, including capital punishment, are preferable to modern judicial methods. In the liberal, illegitimate state, billions of tax payer dollars are wasted every year to clothe, fed, and house death row inmates, many of whom wait decades before meeting their maker. The government makes a pretty coin off of this policy, which explains why the penal state in America is so large.

 

Rather than waste money on lengthy trials or suspicious “rehabilitation” programs, communities can choose to brand criminals as “outlaws” and force them into exile – or they could simply hang ’em high.

 

Here’s how it could look: a criminal, let’s call him Amos X., commits a crime against the property of Theodore B. Theodore petitions his town’s court and receives a hearing from a judge corps made up of both trained lawyers and local property owners. The judges then tell the sheriff to deputize local citizens for the purpose of apprehending Amos X. If the crime is not too serious, then the judges can send Amos away and tell him never to return. If it is very serious, then the judges call on the hangman or public executioner. This state has no need for hidden, behind-closed-doors deaths; it commits its dark deeds out in the open.

 

Such a system not only decentralizes justice, but it also returns America back to its Anglo-Saxon roots, for it has all the hallmarks of the folkmoot. To break from the modern world, societies must look to the past. For us, as Americans, that means going further back into our cultural memory in English Common Law.

 

Now, such a scenario represents a “perfect crime,” i.e., the case is pretty cut and dry. Such cases are lacking in the modern world. Urban America is especially rife with drug pushers, pedophiles, sexual sadists, and others who cannot be members of an anarcho-reactionary community. Again, like Amos X., these individuals should first have the option of leaving. If they refuse, and if they refuse in great numbers, then communities should have the right to nominate a dictator.

 

These dictators will be highly circumscribed leaders who must adhere to the legal strictures set forth by the community they serve. Carl Schmitt called such dictators “commissary dictators.”

 

“A dictatorship that, despite all its extra-legal authorization, remains within the prescriptions of a constitutional order and in which the dictator is constitutionally mandated.” [4]

 

Schmitt’s other kind of dictatorship, the “sovereign dictatorship,” tends to work through the democratic process only to ultimately destroy that process by ripping up charters and constitutions before producing new, more regime-friendly articles.

 

A sovereign dictatorship should be avoided at all costs, while a commissary dictatorship, if limited, could justifiably create and sustain the conservative ethos in face of modern mass democracy. With legal powers granted from the communities, a commissary dictator would be given legal authorization to carry out executions (again, always public) against all those criminals deemed guilty of crimes against the citizenry, their property, or their communities as a whole. Once this dictator has proved his duty, then they would be induced to step down so that sovereign communities could go back to managing their affairs independently.

 

If a dictator goes “rogue” and refuses to relinquish power, then a well-armed citizenry would be at liberty to dispose of said dictator.

 

One Pertinent Example

 

Chile in the early 1970s tilted towards revolution. This was no accident. The country’s first democratically-elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, wanted his country to become a single-party state based on communist principles. Allende had support from the Soviet Union and Cuba. The international left (see: useful idiots) lionized Allende, and many still do.

 

However, a Marxist-Leninist revolution was not in the offing. What actually happened in Chile is that the long-suffering people had become fed up with food rationing, high unemployment, and rising domestic prices. Transportation workers went on strike, and thousands of Chileans took to the street against the economic depression caused by Allende’s socialist policies.

 

Things got so bad that the National Congress of Chile authorized a military coup to topple Allende.  A military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet took control of the country on September 11, 1973. Allende, who hoped to create a polyester Bolshevik revolution, ultimately took the coward’s way out by committing suicide.

 

The international left immediately raised the bloody shirt. They shouted that the CIA had run the whole show in order to expand neoliberal economics in the form of Milton Friedman and the “Chicago Boys.” Naomi Klein  wrote a book about it called The Shock Doctrine, claiming that the “disaster” in Chile was all part of Friedman’s search for a “capitalist laboratory.”

 

What the left consistently fails to notice is that: 1) the coup was legally authorized by democratically-elected officials; 2) as much as the CIA was involved with Pinochet, the KGB was much more involved in propping up Allende; and 3) there is evidence that more people died under Allende’s regime than under the junta controlled by Pinochet.

 

While the international left has written several books and made weepy documentaries about the thousands who died under the Chilean junta (a fact not disputed by Pinochet supporters), they neglect to mention that under Pinochet, the Chilean economy stabilized and the country now enjoys the highest level of prosperity in all of Latin America.

 

Yes, Pinochet’s government did liquidate left-wing activists. Pinochet also saved a country on the verge of collapse, and after a decade in power, he voluntarily stepped down from his position after losing a democratic vote. Pinochet was the very example of Schmitt’s commissary dictatorship.

 

Objections

 

The objections to a commissary dictatorship or an anarcho-reactionary approach to capital punishment should be manifold among both the left- and center-right. These individuals would likely argue that all human beings are born with rights, and that fact should be respected. The problem here is that these people could not name the source of these “rights.” If they point to America’s democratic government, then they admit that human rights are contingent on the state. If the nature of the state changes, then those rights change. If they are more religiously inclined, then they would say that our rights come from God. That is true, but if they are in support of a secular state that openly defies God’s law, then their argument is meaningless. A state in direct contradiction to divine law essentially repudiates divine law by its very existence.

 

Some may argue that decentralized capital punishment violates the U.S. Constitution. This is not necessarily true, for the Eighth and Sixth amendments promise protection from “cruel and unusual punishment” and the right to a “speedy and public trial.” Both of these laws would be respected in an anarcho-reactionary state.

 

What the “but the Constitution …” crowd really means is that decentralized capital punishment would go against tort law and the current lawyer regime that continues to reinterpret the Constitution as the founding document of twenty-first century progressivism. In this regard they are right, for we believe not in laborious trials consumed by legalese, but in swift justice based on limited crimes and limited punishment options.

 

Conclusion

 

Most objections to this proposal could be solved simply by scrapping the U.S. Constitution altogether. Our nation’s founding document represents the apotheosis of eighteenth century Enlightenment liberalism. Liberalism and the Enlightenment are the enemy of liberty, so a new, liberty-conscious document would be required in a truly libertarian or anarcho-reactionary community.

 

Until that bridge is crossed, right-wing libertarians have to think seriously about embracing extralegal powers and the commissary dictatorship as the first rungs on the ladder towards a decentralized state. It’s painful to say, but it is no less true that more and more Americans have come to love statism. This is especially true among young, non-white Americans. It may already be too late to stop this tide of big government domination. However, big government can be used against itself so long as the proper strongman is installed.

 

Until that happens, capital punishment will continue to be a dehumanizing, mechanized process that only benefits the state.

 

References:

 

1). Hoppe, Hans-Hermann (2001). Democracy: The God That Failed. Transaction Publishers. p. 218.

 

2). De Benoist, Alain (2013). Carl Schmitt Today: Terrorism, ‘Just War,” and the State of Emergency. Arktos. p. 30.

 

3) Sarda-Salvany, Fr. Felix (2012). Liberalism Is a Sin. TAN Books. Digital edition.

 

4) Schmitt, Carl (2015) Dictatorship. John Wiley & Sons. Digital edition.

Benjamin Welton
Ben Welton is a writer from West Virginia.