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Capitalist radicals will shatter the world Fragmentation is the new frontier of liberty

Peter Thiel speaks for an alternative zeitgeist. Marco Bello/Getty Images

Peter Thiel speaks for an alternative zeitgeist. Marco Bello/Getty Images


March 25, 2023   7 mins

“We are back to the enigmatic pulse-beat of the messianic,” wrote the literary critic George Steiner a few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. “No economist-pundit, no geopolitical strategist, no ‘Kremlinologist’ or socio-economic analyst foresaw what we are living through.” The surprise ending to the Cold War was followed by a period that many remember as one of global consciousness: a time of capitalist triumphalism, human rights talk, and corporate extension across borders, oceans, and continents. President George H. W. Bush gave the complex a name in 1990 when he praised the “New World Order”. The decade is marked in historical memory by a trend towards the scaling up of institutions: the World Trade Organisation, the European Union, NAFTA — new encasements for planetary supply chains.

But there were signs of an alternative timeline if you looked closely, one marked by fragmentation as much as unity. Cultural events rippled in the consciousness; there were traces of the possibility that the apparent age of integration might actually be one of fracture.

The two Germanys unified in 1991 but the Soviet Union dissolved the same year. Mikhail Gorbachev was dubbed a “hero of deconstruction”. Yugoslavia began its disintegration shortly afterwards. In late 1991, the Somali state descended into a civil war and would have no central state for over a decade. The Swiss People’s Party racked up supporters as it drafted people against membership in the UN. The Freedom Party in Austria sought to revive nationalism along with the Vlaams Blok in Belgium, and the National Front in France. In Italy, the Northern League called for the secession of Lombardy. Many of the mainstream press’s post-2016 “populist” villains appeared on the stage in the early Nineties.

Pundits were hard on the trail of this alternative plot. In The Atlantic in 1994, Robert D. Kaplan warned of “the coming anarchy”. “Most people believe that the political earth since 1989 has undergone immense change,” he wrote, “but it is minor compared with what is yet to come. The breaking apart and remaking of the atlas is only now beginning.” Kaplan foresaw “an epoch of themeless juxtapositions, in which the classificatory grid of nation-states is going to be replaced by a jagged glass pattern of city-states, shanty states, nebulous and anarchic regionalisms”.

How to envision this world? Francis Fukuyama had borrowed “the Last Man” from Friedrich Nietzsche. Kaplan proposed a “Last Map”, three-dimensional and holographic:

“In this hologram would be the overlapping sediments of group and other identities atop the merely two-dimensional colour markings of city-states and the remaining nations, themselves confused in places by shadowy tentacles, hovering overhead, indicating the power of drug cartels, mafias, and private security agencies. Instead of borders, there would be moving ‘centres’ of power, as in the Middle Ages.”

“This future map,” he concluded, “will be an ever-mutating representation of chaos.” Of course, the goal of Kaplan’s map, appearing in the house journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, was to contain and control the chaos. It recalled the oversized maps of Cold War thrillers from Dr. Strangelove (1964) to WarGames (1983). Bruce Sterling’s novel Islands in the Net (1988) also featured a global simulation called Worldrun, used “as a forecasting tool for development agencies” and also as a game. In the interface, “long strips of the Earth’s surface peeled by in a simulated satellite view. Cities glowed green with health or red with social disruption.”

The Last Map’s vision of anarchy was dystopian — a future to be avoided at any cost. This is the dominant perspective one gets from the airport bookshelves and magazine racks: the anxieties of those who perceive themselves to have access to the levers of power, the mapmakers, those who need to figure out how the dials can be tweaked to return order from disorder. Implicitly and often explicitly, this is a story about the reassertion of American overseas power. In a phrase he would repeat variations of for decades, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in 1988 that “the only alternative to America is anarchy”.

But there were others who saw the crack-up coming and cheered it on. After the Cold War’s end, they surveyed the globe and thought: now that capitalism had won, why not go all the way? Fragmentation, they believed, was the new frontier of liberty. Paleo-libertarians like Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe and conservatives like Charles Murray and Paul Craig Roberts opposed the moves to greater integration that marked the Nineties, cheered the hardening of borders and called for the revision of immigration laws to discriminate against people from blacker and browner countries, revived race science to support their claims. Some dug deep into medieval history to claim that segregation was good and small collectives should protect their own. They promoted, in other words, many of the principles associated now with the far-Right.

Yet they all had something in common: they were market liberals and libertarians. How did people from the supposed camp of open borders become champions of higher and thicker walls? How did adherents of an ideology supposedly built around the universal figure of homo economicus embrace hoary theories of genetically determined intelligence and ignorance? When did zealous advocates of global markets turn against what one called “the beast” of the “New World Order”?

When people think about the direction of global capitalism over the last century, they usually look upwards and outwards: to the supranational and the international level. After the Second World War, America assumed the role of conductor in the world financial orchestra it had declined after the First World War. National economies were layered over with private circuits of trade and inter-state agreements in the form of treaties, regional compacts, and shared membership in international organisations. After the Seventies, when the term “globalisation” was coined, the volume of cross-border flows of goods and money increased steadily before being turbocharged in the Nineties. The graph of global exports shows a steep climb up to the eventual slump of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and later the Coronavirus Crisis of 2020.

The term people often use for the period from the late Seventies to the early 21st century is “neoliberalism”. Conservative leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the Eighties were followed by centre-Left leaders such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Gerhard Schröder in the Nineties, who consecrated free trade and deindustrialisation as natural, inevitable, and, despite increasing inequality, ultimately a net win for all. Today, it is common to hear all the policies of the Nineties and 2000s — from the transformation of welfare benefits and the move to precarious employment to the privatisation of state-owned assets and the enforcement of austerity — as “neoliberal”.

To some, neoliberalism means a kind of hyper-capitalism and the commodification of every last aspect of existence. To others, it is a package of policies that involves deep scepticism of states but is still committed to using states to safeguard capitalism against threats — often from democracy itself.

The term neoliberalism itself was coined as self-description by a group of intellectuals in the Thirties who reconvened after the Second World War in the Mont Pelerin Society established by Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and others. “A voluntary community of individuals who share a dedication to the principles of a free society,” according to the Encyclopaedia of Libertarianism, the MPS meets regularly for the exchange of papers-in-progress and response to current events. Its membership includes eight winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics including Hayek and Friedman alongside George Stigler, Gary Becker, James M. Buchanan, Maurice Allais, Ronald Coase, and Vernon Smith.

What is fascinating to observe is that even as many commentators saw neoliberalism as triumphant, neoliberals themselves sang a different tune. On paper, it appeared that battles had been won. At first, free-market intellectuals responded to the fall of the Berlin Wall by putting up busts of Mises and Hayek in libraries and public squares across Eastern Europe, as the region bathed in what the National Review called a “neoliberal zeitgeist” in 1990. But victory proved illusory.

Very quickly, neoliberals concluded that the supranational institutions which had once looked promising were socialist Trojan Horses. “Socialism was dead but Leviathan lived on,” as MPS president James Buchanan put it in 1990. Communism had changed shades from red to green. “It is fitting that the MPS, the world’s leading group of free market scholars, was meeting the week that communism collapsed in the Soviet Union,” the Wall Street Journal reported in 1991. But those gathered saw that as “Communism exits history’s stage, the main threat to liberty may come from a utopian environmental movement that, like socialism, views the welfare of human beings as subordinate to ‘higher’ values”.

Interviewed by Peter Brimelow in 1992, Milton Friedman expressed a similar sentiment. Asked about the Cold War’s end, he responded:

“Look at the reaction in the US to the collapse of the Berlin Wall
 There weren’t any summit meetings in Washington about how to cut down the size of government. What was there a summit meeting about? How to increase government spending. What was the supposedly Right-wing President, Mr Bush, doing? Presiding over enormous increases in paternalism — the Clean Air Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the so-called Civil Rights quota bill.”

At the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society after the wall’s fall, the president, Italian economist Antonio Martino, hit similar notes when he announced: “While socialism is dead, statism is not.” The three biggest threats he saw were environmentalism, continued demands for state spending, and the European Community. The comedown was intense. At a meeting of the Cato Institute in Moscow in 1990, ice sculptures of hammers and sickles dissolved into puddles as Paul Craig Roberts, the author of a book on the end of communism called Meltdown, beamed for the camera. Just a few years later, Roberts warned of an “alien future” in which “whites are turning over their country to Third World immigrants” and will soon have to worry about being targets of “ethnic genocide”. Crack-up capitalists fed on fear of what they saw as the “mutated” socialism of environmentalism and “alienism”.

In the Nineties and beyond, neoliberals began to focus ever more on the vision of decentralisation, dissolution, and even disintegration. Polities must become smaller. Fragmentation was the new frontier of liberty. When the map shattered with the end of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, they thought: let it shatter more. In 1990, MPS president Becker wrote that “small fry nations” were entirely viable and perhaps even preferable as they were more dependent on the world market and thus driven to more adjustment. The immediate context he was responding to was campaigns for secession in Quebec from Canada, provinces from Spain and Ethiopia and Lithuania from the Soviet Union.

This post-Cold War period was a historically sublime moment: capitalism had won but what capitalism meant was still undecided. Libertarians were among the most active in this process of re-imagination, with solutions from designing boutique polities and bespoke states to rehabbing existing zones, colonies, and city-states. For these thinkers states should dissolve into platform polities and “start-up societies” offering customised services to customers instead of securing rights for citizens.

For decades, these capitalist radicals surveyed the world for experiments in anarchocapitalism comparable to existing favourites, such as the Wild West or medieval Iceland. They started their own experiments in “micro-ordering” and sparked wide-ranging discussions about the basic requirements for building collective life and the foundational facts of human nature. When Silicon Valley prophets such as Peter Thiel said in 2009 that “if we want to increase freedom, we want to increase the number of countries”, he was speaking out of this alternative zeitgeist. Anyone who thinks globalism is the only way that capitalist radicalism manifests itself should acquaint themselves with those less interested in scaling up than scaling down and opting out.


Quinn Slobodian is a historian of modern Europe and the world. He is the author of Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World without Democracy, out on 4 April 2023.

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Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

I stopped reading rihgt here: “Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Charles Murray and Paul Craig Roberts revised the science of racism and called for the revision of immigration laws to discriminate against people from blacker and browner countries”
This progressive trope that Charles Murray is a racist is so tired at this point that I’m not going to bother with anyone who trots it out anymore.
If you call people racists just because you don’t agree with them… you you demonstrate your own foolishness and should be ignored.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Can i print this article on paper in soft rolls? It will then at least have a purpose….

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

That’s exactly where I stopped. I find the use of “black and brown” to describe people as offensive as yellow or red. My immigrant husband’s family were required to go through every legal step – a process that took years – just to get their Green Cards. After being allowed to immigrate to the US, they had to have jobs and sponsors, be healthy and vaccinated (with real vaccines that actually prevented diseases), and had to report in every month to the local police station for a status check. This went on until they became naturalized citizens. It wasn’t “racist”, it was sensible.
And pretending Charles Murray is a racist because he dared to do in-depth scholarship on intelligence with regard to wealth and class is why no one can ever speak honestly about it. It is why we now have the odious neo-Marxist equity industry that pits everyone against the other – and makes a fat pile of cash for those perpetrating the scam.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Oh! Restored! This didn’t appear for hours until I wrote to UnHerd’s tech support. What is going on with their comment section? Please don’t tell me they’ve hired “sensitivity readers”.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

three of my last four posts were held back pending “approval”. Pending why, and by whom I do not know.
I have cancelled my subscription and requested a refund.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

three of my last four posts were held back pending “approval”. Pending why, and by whom I do not know.
I have cancelled my subscription and requested a refund.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Oh! Restored! This didn’t appear for hours until I wrote to UnHerd’s tech support. What is going on with their comment section? Please don’t tell me they’ve hired “sensitivity readers”.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago

Also seems to ignore the effective coalition between the sex/gender permissive/indifferent hard market liberals (e.g. Koch foundation) and radical progressives..which is now default position of social democrats/Labour…. who want open borders and free flow of people (free labour markets). AOC is a Neo-liberal for all intents. That she claims to want a welfare state also just shows she’s stupid and cognitively dissonant. The opposition to all of this is now the right which comes in two stripes (1) Christian, conservative, civic nationalists who want a society of individuals leavened by communitarian solidarity below and a protective nation-state above; and (2) Ethno-nationalists who want a strong state… Either way the working class are drifting to the right because that is the only force now willing to embrace the exclusive solidarity of the nation-state. Neo-liberals/neo-cons and never trumpers can’t stand it…They are increasingly homeless and will look to do deals with the Blairites, Clintonites ,,,,people at the slightly less end of the woke spectrum.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

Liberals who hated the “religious Right” in the 90’s may pine for the good old days when they meet his younger brother… the “non-religious Right”. Heck, we all may.
Left and Right are turning into mirrors. Left-wing, woke race essentialism and right-wing ethnonationalism are two sides of the same race essentialist coin.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

Liberals who hated the “religious Right” in the 90’s may pine for the good old days when they meet his younger brother… the “non-religious Right”. Heck, we all may.
Left and Right are turning into mirrors. Left-wing, woke race essentialism and right-wing ethnonationalism are two sides of the same race essentialist coin.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

You mean the unmistakeable sound of an axe being ground at the bottom of a barrel.

Vyomesh Thanki
Vyomesh Thanki
1 year ago

Immigration from blacker and browner countries: “He [Charles Murray] complains that “the nation’s political ground rules have yet to accept that the intelligence of immigrants is a legitimate topic for policymakers to think about” and eventually concludes “the kernel of evidence that must also be acknowledged is that Latin and black immigrants are, at least in the short run, putting some downward pressure on the distribution of intelligence.”

Murray’s intellectual influence on the current trajectory of American immigration policy is obvious. His warning about the dysgenic impact of Latin American and African immigration is echoed by President Trump, who recently remarked that there are too many arrivals from “shithole” countries, and in the Republican Party’s ongoing conversion to the cause of sharp cuts in legal immigration.” Quote from: ‘The Bell Curve is about policy. And it’s wrong.’ https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/4/10/17182692/bell-curve-charles-murray-policy-wrong

Last edited 1 year ago by Vyomesh Thanki
Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago
Reply to  Vyomesh Thanki

“Murray’s intellectual influence on the current trajectory of American immigration policy is obvious. ”
What? Murray is somehow to blame for our insane open border policies?
Murray may have been motived by bias or maybe his research led to his logical selective immigration policy position, which by the way numerous nations employ.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  Vyomesh Thanki

Our current immigration policy is designed by progressives who have hated Murray for since the Bell Curve was published 30 years ago. If anything, Murray has likely made open-borders progressives more extreme in their policies, in an effort to distance themselves from him.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago
Reply to  Vyomesh Thanki

“Murray’s intellectual influence on the current trajectory of American immigration policy is obvious. ”
What? Murray is somehow to blame for our insane open border policies?
Murray may have been motived by bias or maybe his research led to his logical selective immigration policy position, which by the way numerous nations employ.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  Vyomesh Thanki

Our current immigration policy is designed by progressives who have hated Murray for since the Bell Curve was published 30 years ago. If anything, Murray has likely made open-borders progressives more extreme in their policies, in an effort to distance themselves from him.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
1 year ago

Kindred Spirits


Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Can i print this article on paper in soft rolls? It will then at least have a purpose….

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

That’s exactly where I stopped. I find the use of “black and brown” to describe people as offensive as yellow or red. My immigrant husband’s family were required to go through every legal step – a process that took years – just to get their Green Cards. After being allowed to immigrate to the US, they had to have jobs and sponsors, be healthy and vaccinated (with real vaccines that actually prevented diseases), and had to report in every month to the local police station for a status check. This went on until they became naturalized citizens. It wasn’t “racist”, it was sensible.
And pretending Charles Murray is a racist because he dared to do in-depth scholarship on intelligence with regard to wealth and class is why no one can ever speak honestly about it. It is why we now have the odious neo-Marxist equity industry that pits everyone against the other – and makes a fat pile of cash for those perpetrating the scam.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago

Also seems to ignore the effective coalition between the sex/gender permissive/indifferent hard market liberals (e.g. Koch foundation) and radical progressives..which is now default position of social democrats/Labour…. who want open borders and free flow of people (free labour markets). AOC is a Neo-liberal for all intents. That she claims to want a welfare state also just shows she’s stupid and cognitively dissonant. The opposition to all of this is now the right which comes in two stripes (1) Christian, conservative, civic nationalists who want a society of individuals leavened by communitarian solidarity below and a protective nation-state above; and (2) Ethno-nationalists who want a strong state… Either way the working class are drifting to the right because that is the only force now willing to embrace the exclusive solidarity of the nation-state. Neo-liberals/neo-cons and never trumpers can’t stand it…They are increasingly homeless and will look to do deals with the Blairites, Clintonites ,,,,people at the slightly less end of the woke spectrum.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

You mean the unmistakeable sound of an axe being ground at the bottom of a barrel.

Vyomesh Thanki
Vyomesh Thanki
1 year ago

Immigration from blacker and browner countries: “He [Charles Murray] complains that “the nation’s political ground rules have yet to accept that the intelligence of immigrants is a legitimate topic for policymakers to think about” and eventually concludes “the kernel of evidence that must also be acknowledged is that Latin and black immigrants are, at least in the short run, putting some downward pressure on the distribution of intelligence.”

Murray’s intellectual influence on the current trajectory of American immigration policy is obvious. His warning about the dysgenic impact of Latin American and African immigration is echoed by President Trump, who recently remarked that there are too many arrivals from “shithole” countries, and in the Republican Party’s ongoing conversion to the cause of sharp cuts in legal immigration.” Quote from: ‘The Bell Curve is about policy. And it’s wrong.’ https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/4/10/17182692/bell-curve-charles-murray-policy-wrong

Last edited 1 year ago by Vyomesh Thanki
Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
1 year ago

Kindred Spirits


Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

I stopped reading rihgt here: “Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Charles Murray and Paul Craig Roberts revised the science of racism and called for the revision of immigration laws to discriminate against people from blacker and browner countries”
This progressive trope that Charles Murray is a racist is so tired at this point that I’m not going to bother with anyone who trots it out anymore.
If you call people racists just because you don’t agree with them… you you demonstrate your own foolishness and should be ignored.

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

“conservatives like Charles Murray 
 called for the revision of immigration laws to discriminate against people from blacker and browner countries, revived race science to support their claims.”

Surely Charles Murray could sue for libel for this sentence. An utterly false defamation of a good man!

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt M
Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Yes completely stupid. Could do with a little editorial moderation

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

I read The Bell Curve when it was first published. I was a new mother to a daughter and a son. I wanted to know what to expect from the schools available to us, and, given my own experience as an adjunct at a teaching college (a mediocre school, it turns out, that still produces drones), my husband and I opted for parochial school (no “country days” were available where we lived).
Murray and Herrnstein were utterly “de-personed” before cancel culture was a thing – for analysis. Because to examine why some cultures didn’t embrace exploration or writing or even the wheel – despite being exposed to it – was and is considered racist. It’s all theater at this point, not unlike the Cold War USSR claiming everything ever invented was Russian.
Isn’t it interesting that BLM got $83 billion from corporations over the last three years? Post-Civil War Americans were warned this would happen – by Frederick Douglass.

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
1 year ago

It’s Arthur Jensen (1923-2012) who has faced the most determined cancellation despite/because of his intellectual stature, This started in 1969 with his paper, How Much Can we Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement and lasted for the rest of his life and beyond.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Christian Moon

I just looked him up (and thank you for the reference). The odious, racist, disgusting Southern Poverty Law Center calls him, in their very first sentence, the father of “modern academic (!) racism”. Well, if the SPLC makes a claim, we all know that we should laugh and laugh, and then dismiss it as utterly lunatic. We all know academia is filled with credentialed morons in search of tenure (Pirandello skewered them with six characters in 1921). I was an adjunct at a local teaching college. I have never, ever met such defiantly stupid people – faculty and student body. Few could write a simple grammatically correct sentence, and they were bored by everything. That was in the mid-2000s. I’d trust the guy who cleaned my AC to give me the facts over everyone at Blank State College (small city in SWNH).

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Christian Moon

I just looked him up (and thank you for the reference). The odious, racist, disgusting Southern Poverty Law Center calls him, in their very first sentence, the father of “modern academic (!) racism”. Well, if the SPLC makes a claim, we all know that we should laugh and laugh, and then dismiss it as utterly lunatic. We all know academia is filled with credentialed morons in search of tenure (Pirandello skewered them with six characters in 1921). I was an adjunct at a local teaching college. I have never, ever met such defiantly stupid people – faculty and student body. Few could write a simple grammatically correct sentence, and they were bored by everything. That was in the mid-2000s. I’d trust the guy who cleaned my AC to give me the facts over everyone at Blank State College (small city in SWNH).

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
1 year ago

It’s Arthur Jensen (1923-2012) who has faced the most determined cancellation despite/because of his intellectual stature, This started in 1969 with his paper, How Much Can we Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement and lasted for the rest of his life and beyond.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Yes completely stupid. Could do with a little editorial moderation

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

I read The Bell Curve when it was first published. I was a new mother to a daughter and a son. I wanted to know what to expect from the schools available to us, and, given my own experience as an adjunct at a teaching college (a mediocre school, it turns out, that still produces drones), my husband and I opted for parochial school (no “country days” were available where we lived).
Murray and Herrnstein were utterly “de-personed” before cancel culture was a thing – for analysis. Because to examine why some cultures didn’t embrace exploration or writing or even the wheel – despite being exposed to it – was and is considered racist. It’s all theater at this point, not unlike the Cold War USSR claiming everything ever invented was Russian.
Isn’t it interesting that BLM got $83 billion from corporations over the last three years? Post-Civil War Americans were warned this would happen – by Frederick Douglass.

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

“conservatives like Charles Murray 
 called for the revision of immigration laws to discriminate against people from blacker and browner countries, revived race science to support their claims.”

Surely Charles Murray could sue for libel for this sentence. An utterly false defamation of a good man!

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt M
Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

This article contains a scurrilous lie about the great Charles Murray. Not worthy of a leftwing student magazine and certainly not welcome over breakfast.

(Btw this is the third time I have tried to comment on this article)

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

This article contains a scurrilous lie about the great Charles Murray. Not worthy of a leftwing student magazine and certainly not welcome over breakfast.

(Btw this is the third time I have tried to comment on this article)

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Good grief! What was that all about? I take it to be an anti capitalist and partial view of selected historical events and personalities – but I cannot fathom any purpose in it, other than to provide a negative.narrative. A sign of the times maybe?

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

I don’t think it has an anti-capitalist steer per se, I think the author hopes to highlight the dangers of corporatism, technocracy and utilitarianism (though, strangely, shied away from using those words).

Annest John
Annest John
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

I found it a refreshing and though-provoking read, quite possibly due to the lack of “-isms” you highlight – I had a work a little harder to understand due to lack of “shortcuts”!

Annest John
Annest John
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

I found it a refreshing and though-provoking read, quite possibly due to the lack of “-isms” you highlight – I had a work a little harder to understand due to lack of “shortcuts”!

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

I think it’s more of a review piece. I didn’t take fright at the line about Murray and found the article to be a decent exploration of a complex topic. It’s rare to see reasonable discussion of Rothbardian libertarianism. I’ve spent time around such people, have such leanings myself, and found the depiction to be fairly accurate, although in my case said libertarians are all immigrants themselves and don’t talk about borders or immigration much, their focus is all economics. However, US libertarians I think are keener on borders, albeit not as much as social conservatives.
In particular the interaction between country size, number of countries and global freedom is a topic that is usually “unherd” in the media with people like Thiel largely ignored by mainstream punditry. So I felt it definitely worthy of being published here.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

I don’t think it has an anti-capitalist steer per se, I think the author hopes to highlight the dangers of corporatism, technocracy and utilitarianism (though, strangely, shied away from using those words).

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

I think it’s more of a review piece. I didn’t take fright at the line about Murray and found the article to be a decent exploration of a complex topic. It’s rare to see reasonable discussion of Rothbardian libertarianism. I’ve spent time around such people, have such leanings myself, and found the depiction to be fairly accurate, although in my case said libertarians are all immigrants themselves and don’t talk about borders or immigration much, their focus is all economics. However, US libertarians I think are keener on borders, albeit not as much as social conservatives.
In particular the interaction between country size, number of countries and global freedom is a topic that is usually “unherd” in the media with people like Thiel largely ignored by mainstream punditry. So I felt it definitely worthy of being published here.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Good grief! What was that all about? I take it to be an anti capitalist and partial view of selected historical events and personalities – but I cannot fathom any purpose in it, other than to provide a negative.narrative. A sign of the times maybe?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

States will get smaller not because of ideology but because technology has made large ones obsolete. This is a good thing: democracy works better when political power is dispersed.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Great point! Subsidiarity is essential for human flourishing. Top-down, heavy-handed authoritarianism will always ultimately fail.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

In the long run I agree with you, but it’s worth remarking that the staying power of failed authoritarian political experiments can last a human lifetime, sometimes more.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

In the long run I agree with you, but it’s worth remarking that the staying power of failed authoritarian political experiments can last a human lifetime, sometimes more.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Very true. The most representative govt is the most local. Supra-national orgs like the UN and EU are the most technocratic, least representative and most dangerous.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Great point! Subsidiarity is essential for human flourishing. Top-down, heavy-handed authoritarianism will always ultimately fail.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Very true. The most representative govt is the most local. Supra-national orgs like the UN and EU are the most technocratic, least representative and most dangerous.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

States will get smaller not because of ideology but because technology has made large ones obsolete. This is a good thing: democracy works better when political power is dispersed.

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago

Well that’s a history I don’t recognise. The US beat the Soviets on economics, and leveraged the civil society groups like Solidarnoƛć, with help from people like George Soros https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/uploads/fa141f34-3f1e-43b3-ac95-eff80f39cdc8/george-soros-and-the-fall-of-communism-in-europe-20191106.pdf), fracturing the communist states from 1989,
The general direction from the mainstream was towards more integration, and free movement of capital.
The collapse of the Soviet Union led to big investors moving in to acquire soviet assets on the cheap (and the rise of the oligarchs). Manufacturing was in the early days of outsourcing to Asia with the rise of global supply chains – ultimately benefiting China. International co-operation on the environment, first on acid rain, then on the ozone hole was creating supra-national bodies. Events like Live Aid, and then the arrival of the world-wide wide, made the world seem like a connected village.
EU and UK was pushing towards the Euro with the UK tumbling out of the ERM on Black Monday. Consequently there was a lot of 1990s debate on the level of integration across Europe. The mainstream capitalists and serious money were pushing for more, faster for ever richer pickings.
It wasn’t the neoliberals ringing the alarm bells, or yearning for self-determination. It was more often the left-wingers, worried about factories closing as manufacturing left for cheaper countries, and shop-keepers and local businesses worried about loss of control over the money in their pockets, who wanted to keep things small. “Smallerism” and localism was a thing in environmental circles. The traditionalist right were at odds with the neolib/neocon right, worried about the loss of control, and cultural change. But they were steamrollered into silence by the one-world financiers.It’s only now, after 2008 and the popping of the free-money-for-all bubble, that the little folk regained their political voice. Sovereignty versus economics, and the neoliberals have never been on the side of sovereignty.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Just a small point- ‘ big investors moving in to acquire soviet assets on the cheap’ isn’t quite right. They stole them.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Just a small point- ‘ big investors moving in to acquire soviet assets on the cheap’ isn’t quite right. They stole them.

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago

Well that’s a history I don’t recognise. The US beat the Soviets on economics, and leveraged the civil society groups like Solidarnoƛć, with help from people like George Soros https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/uploads/fa141f34-3f1e-43b3-ac95-eff80f39cdc8/george-soros-and-the-fall-of-communism-in-europe-20191106.pdf), fracturing the communist states from 1989,
The general direction from the mainstream was towards more integration, and free movement of capital.
The collapse of the Soviet Union led to big investors moving in to acquire soviet assets on the cheap (and the rise of the oligarchs). Manufacturing was in the early days of outsourcing to Asia with the rise of global supply chains – ultimately benefiting China. International co-operation on the environment, first on acid rain, then on the ozone hole was creating supra-national bodies. Events like Live Aid, and then the arrival of the world-wide wide, made the world seem like a connected village.
EU and UK was pushing towards the Euro with the UK tumbling out of the ERM on Black Monday. Consequently there was a lot of 1990s debate on the level of integration across Europe. The mainstream capitalists and serious money were pushing for more, faster for ever richer pickings.
It wasn’t the neoliberals ringing the alarm bells, or yearning for self-determination. It was more often the left-wingers, worried about factories closing as manufacturing left for cheaper countries, and shop-keepers and local businesses worried about loss of control over the money in their pockets, who wanted to keep things small. “Smallerism” and localism was a thing in environmental circles. The traditionalist right were at odds with the neolib/neocon right, worried about the loss of control, and cultural change. But they were steamrollered into silence by the one-world financiers.It’s only now, after 2008 and the popping of the free-money-for-all bubble, that the little folk regained their political voice. Sovereignty versus economics, and the neoliberals have never been on the side of sovereignty.

Barry Dixon
Barry Dixon
1 year ago

Maybe the author does not appreciate the distinction between free market capitalism and corporatism?

Barry Dixon
Barry Dixon
1 year ago

Maybe the author does not appreciate the distinction between free market capitalism and corporatism?

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago

Love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher was against German reunification because she foresaw that a tension must exist to maintain equilibrium and stability in the world, and if that tension was removed on the east-west divide in Germany, it would simply spring up elsewhere. In other words, she felt we were better off with that divide existing a little closer to home than any closer to Moscow. “Not one step further east” was the NATO promise to Russia. Breaking that promise has gradually pushed the “east-west” dividing line so far away from us in Britain that it is almost out of sight and, thus, out of control. The chips are about to fall. In recent years, the majority of “the west” has merely identified as a democracy whilst behaving as a totalitarian behemoth. Let’s hope it hasn’t entirely gutted itself and there are enough traditional tenets left to defend itself with when those chips start raining down on us. One thing is for sure, you can’t change human nature and the natural order of the world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Amy Horseman
Sam Sky
Sam Sky
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

She was against German reunification because she (and Mitterand and Gorbachev shared similar qualms) were worried about the return of Prussian militarism and revanchism as were many others of their generation in Europe. Not any of the elaborate and florid fiction you have posited here that is entirely at odds with her policy in places such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary where she most certainly agreed with Churchill’s grim lament for the iron curtain of tyranny placed over ancient European capitals.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sam Sky
Philip Crowley
Philip Crowley
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

Very well said, Amy Horseman. Your comment on the west behaving as a totalitarian behemoth is spot on target. It has proven it self to be just that. We are not governed, but ruled. My biggest fear lies in not knowing what comes next.

Sam Sky
Sam Sky
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

She was against German reunification because she (and Mitterand and Gorbachev shared similar qualms) were worried about the return of Prussian militarism and revanchism as were many others of their generation in Europe. Not any of the elaborate and florid fiction you have posited here that is entirely at odds with her policy in places such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary where she most certainly agreed with Churchill’s grim lament for the iron curtain of tyranny placed over ancient European capitals.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sam Sky
Philip Crowley
Philip Crowley
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

Very well said, Amy Horseman. Your comment on the west behaving as a totalitarian behemoth is spot on target. It has proven it self to be just that. We are not governed, but ruled. My biggest fear lies in not knowing what comes next.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago

Love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher was against German reunification because she foresaw that a tension must exist to maintain equilibrium and stability in the world, and if that tension was removed on the east-west divide in Germany, it would simply spring up elsewhere. In other words, she felt we were better off with that divide existing a little closer to home than any closer to Moscow. “Not one step further east” was the NATO promise to Russia. Breaking that promise has gradually pushed the “east-west” dividing line so far away from us in Britain that it is almost out of sight and, thus, out of control. The chips are about to fall. In recent years, the majority of “the west” has merely identified as a democracy whilst behaving as a totalitarian behemoth. Let’s hope it hasn’t entirely gutted itself and there are enough traditional tenets left to defend itself with when those chips start raining down on us. One thing is for sure, you can’t change human nature and the natural order of the world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Amy Horseman
Jay Chase
Jay Chase
1 year ago

I like seeing new writers contributing to Unherd but this is another complete dud from an insufferable marxist rabble-rouser and a very unpleasant read, I couldn’t be bothered to finish it. I would love it if Doris Lessing was still around to critique the dude’s writing style.
I am taking it that the evil “fragmentation” he refers to is actually cohesive small-scale societies where people have common values and a strong social fabric. The rise of globalhomo mass culture and the dissolving of borders has been a disaster for humanity, resulting in much weaker social bonds, increasing loneliness and shortened lifespans. The left’s attempt to divert attention from this fact and deny human nature by whining about “zones” in obscure language shouldn’t fool anyone.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
1 year ago

I like seeing new writers contributing to Unherd but this is another complete dud from an insufferable marxist rabble-rouser and a very unpleasant read, I couldn’t be bothered to finish it. I would love it if Doris Lessing was still around to critique the dude’s writing style.
I am taking it that the evil “fragmentation” he refers to is actually cohesive small-scale societies where people have common values and a strong social fabric. The rise of globalhomo mass culture and the dissolving of borders has been a disaster for humanity, resulting in much weaker social bonds, increasing loneliness and shortened lifespans. The left’s attempt to divert attention from this fact and deny human nature by whining about “zones” in obscure language shouldn’t fool anyone.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

I think the criticism of libertarians and free trade is wrong. Free trade is not about open border, it is about no taxation and state control of trade.. The consumer rules.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

I think the criticism of libertarians and free trade is wrong. Free trade is not about open border, it is about no taxation and state control of trade.. The consumer rules.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

“revived race science to support their claims”
“hoary theories of genetically determined intelligence and ignorance?”
Actually race science is like gravity — always there whether one chooses to ignore it or not. Gravity, too, is ‘hoary’ — tired, warn. Evil people ‘trot out’ gravity when they point out that if some kid decides to transition to being an eagle, that’s wonderful, but they’d still better not jump off a bridge. Gravity has no ideology and it doesn’t care what your Way Of Knowing is. Gravity is a System Of Oppression to be sure.
And no, intelligence isn’t ‘determined’ by race, however the bell-curves of the distribution of intelligence are quite different for different races. As for ‘ignorance’ that is determined by what one puts into one’s head. In the case of the author, his ignorance is a deliberate choice notwithstanding his probably superior intelligence.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

‘His ignorance is a deliberate choice
’ – that’s a very modern way of saying ‘I disagree with him’.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

‘His ignorance is a deliberate choice
’ – that’s a very modern way of saying ‘I disagree with him’.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

“revived race science to support their claims”
“hoary theories of genetically determined intelligence and ignorance?”
Actually race science is like gravity — always there whether one chooses to ignore it or not. Gravity, too, is ‘hoary’ — tired, warn. Evil people ‘trot out’ gravity when they point out that if some kid decides to transition to being an eagle, that’s wonderful, but they’d still better not jump off a bridge. Gravity has no ideology and it doesn’t care what your Way Of Knowing is. Gravity is a System Of Oppression to be sure.
And no, intelligence isn’t ‘determined’ by race, however the bell-curves of the distribution of intelligence are quite different for different races. As for ‘ignorance’ that is determined by what one puts into one’s head. In the case of the author, his ignorance is a deliberate choice notwithstanding his probably superior intelligence.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

This article is a load of tat.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Did anyone actually read it? You did not have to go far to see it was lots of words and few coherent thoughts.

Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

And an incorrect date for German reunification.

Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

And an incorrect date for German reunification.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Did anyone actually read it? You did not have to go far to see it was lots of words and few coherent thoughts.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

This article is a load of tat.

Andrew Figueiredo
Andrew Figueiredo
1 year ago

It’s wild to me how everybody here is freaking out about the Charles Murray quote and ignoring the rest of the article. I thought UnHerd was a place for people who could think critically and engage in good faith with perspectives they disagree with…

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
1 year ago

I can explain this for you, dude’s a bitter marxist with nothing interesting to say and uses tortured academic prose. Unworthy of further comment.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
1 year ago

I can explain this for you, dude’s a bitter marxist with nothing interesting to say and uses tortured academic prose. Unworthy of further comment.

Andrew Figueiredo
Andrew Figueiredo
1 year ago

It’s wild to me how everybody here is freaking out about the Charles Murray quote and ignoring the rest of the article. I thought UnHerd was a place for people who could think critically and engage in good faith with perspectives they disagree with…

Don P
Don P
1 year ago

I’d like to see some receipts for the notion that paleo-libertarian and conservative intellectuals “called for the revision of immigration laws to discriminate against people from blacker and browner countries, revived race science to support their claims.” Gimme a break.

Last edited 1 year ago by Don P
Don P
Don P
1 year ago

I’d like to see some receipts for the notion that paleo-libertarian and conservative intellectuals “called for the revision of immigration laws to discriminate against people from blacker and browner countries, revived race science to support their claims.” Gimme a break.

Last edited 1 year ago by Don P
Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
1 year ago

Multi-National corporations pit nation states against each other to achieve control. If you think you are living in a democracy you are a fool. Mouthing off on social media gives you the illusion you are free. You are living under corporate tyranny and have been for more than 50 years.
“It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!
ï»żWe no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale.”
Paddy Chayefsky 1976

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
1 year ago

Multi-National corporations pit nation states against each other to achieve control. If you think you are living in a democracy you are a fool. Mouthing off on social media gives you the illusion you are free. You are living under corporate tyranny and have been for more than 50 years.
“It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!
ï»żWe no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale.”
Paddy Chayefsky 1976

Mr. Swemb
Mr. Swemb
1 year ago

Marxist haven’t written anything interesting since 1848. This particular piece could have been written by Chat GPT 4.

Mr. Swemb
Mr. Swemb
1 year ago

Marxist haven’t written anything interesting since 1848. This particular piece could have been written by Chat GPT 4.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

A recent Charles Murray book makes clear just how opposed he is to “tribalism.” The very purpose the the American experiment, he said, is to carve out an oasis in the tribalism forest. That said, Mr. Slobodian’s comments can be hardly all be written off on this score alone. His analysis of environmentalism is bang on, as is his analysis of global supply chains. I recall George the first using the expression “new world order” and immediately getting sick in the stomach. I now know better why that happened.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

A recent Charles Murray book makes clear just how opposed he is to “tribalism.” The very purpose the the American experiment, he said, is to carve out an oasis in the tribalism forest. That said, Mr. Slobodian’s comments can be hardly all be written off on this score alone. His analysis of environmentalism is bang on, as is his analysis of global supply chains. I recall George the first using the expression “new world order” and immediately getting sick in the stomach. I now know better why that happened.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
1 year ago

There are two reasons to fragment the big 19th century nation-state: Either to increase the power of voters, who are more directly connected to political power in a smaller polity; or – and this was the objective of various neoliberals and neolibertarians – to make the state, the only bulwark of voters against the overweening power of multinational organisations (public and private), so weak that the state can no longer resist the multinational.
So the question is not whether big or small is better – the question is to what end. In our modern society, the organised, unideological state is the only remaining power centre capable of protecting the individual, we cannot afford to lose it, too.
Much of the rhetoric of these multinationalists is built on an Orwellian repurposing of liberal political buzzwords, and a deliberate, ideologically informed misconstruction and misrepresentation of the Middle Ages.
Like all ideologically motivated constructs, the New World Order will have a short life, and we are witnessing its self-destruction in real time. The question is whether we can build back better.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
1 year ago

There are two reasons to fragment the big 19th century nation-state: Either to increase the power of voters, who are more directly connected to political power in a smaller polity; or – and this was the objective of various neoliberals and neolibertarians – to make the state, the only bulwark of voters against the overweening power of multinational organisations (public and private), so weak that the state can no longer resist the multinational.
So the question is not whether big or small is better – the question is to what end. In our modern society, the organised, unideological state is the only remaining power centre capable of protecting the individual, we cannot afford to lose it, too.
Much of the rhetoric of these multinationalists is built on an Orwellian repurposing of liberal political buzzwords, and a deliberate, ideologically informed misconstruction and misrepresentation of the Middle Ages.
Like all ideologically motivated constructs, the New World Order will have a short life, and we are witnessing its self-destruction in real time. The question is whether we can build back better.

James Hodges
James Hodges
1 year ago

Great thought provoking essay, sorry for all the strange comments by touchy people. One day, hopefully, people will remember again that pieces of work like this are important to provoke thought , instead of (left or right leaning) snowflakes getting upset you said bad things.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Hodges
James Hodges
James Hodges
1 year ago

Great thought provoking essay, sorry for all the strange comments by touchy people. One day, hopefully, people will remember again that pieces of work like this are important to provoke thought , instead of (left or right leaning) snowflakes getting upset you said bad things.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Hodges
Peter Kettle
Peter Kettle
1 year ago

The author has done some good work – he has persuaded me that his books and articles may be ignored in future. What a chump.

Peter Kettle
Peter Kettle
1 year ago

The author has done some good work – he has persuaded me that his books and articles may be ignored in future. What a chump.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
1 year ago

I quit reading when the author conflated and saddled Charles Murray with the racist musings of others


Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
1 year ago

I quit reading when the author conflated and saddled Charles Murray with the racist musings of others


Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

As a racist-sexist-homophobic insurrectionist I have a problem with “neoliberalism.” I experience it as a pejorative against anyone who isn’t a card-carrying member of the global lefty educated ruling class, the class that believes in World War Climate and World War Anti-racism.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

As a racist-sexist-homophobic insurrectionist I have a problem with “neoliberalism.” I experience it as a pejorative against anyone who isn’t a card-carrying member of the global lefty educated ruling class, the class that believes in World War Climate and World War Anti-racism.

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
1 year ago

Thought the attempt at a grand theme narrative turned very quickly into gibberish..

Last edited 1 year ago by rick stubbs
rick stubbs
rick stubbs
1 year ago

Thought the attempt at a grand theme narrative turned very quickly into gibberish..

Last edited 1 year ago by rick stubbs
LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

I was wondering what happened to the Hayek huns. This analysis,Quinn, rings true, and ties together a few loose ends for thus of us who pay attention merely for the sake of understanding the world, not monetizing it.
However, we should not overlook disastrous impact of that unexpected, non-creative interloper– the self-obsessed power-monger who hijacked that neoliberal platform, and replaced it with his own name brand of pseudo-neoliberal anarchy.
All this American observer can say is: God save the King and Mitt Romney.