things I don’t get

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Freddie

Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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  1. Avatar Sam M
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    says:

    I have a hard time seeing how Reason’s coverage of the tea parties amounts to hagiography. Even more, I can’t see how it is evidence of some anti-Democrat bias. Here’s Nick Gillespie on the DC event:

    “First, the crowd was truly huge. Second, the crowd was from all over the place (both geographically and ideologically). And third, the crowd, well-behaved and stunningly normal in the main, was genuinely pissed off at out of control spending and government policies. “Stop spending,” was the basic answer to any questions about what Congress and the president should do come tomorrow. Throw the bums of either party out come next fall was the second most-common answer.”

    The coverage I saw at Reason REPEATEDLY identified the events as anti-incumbent. Repeatedly identified Republicans as co-villians in profligate spending. etc. Perhaps you object because Gillespie said the event was huge? It’s worth noting that he called estimates of 2 million marchers “a huge stretch.” Or perhaps you are upset that he called them normal?

    Which takes me back to this post’s final point:

    “When you presume that a certain kind of social engagement going on around you is ideologically situated, and when it annoys you, it becomes natural to defy that environment with a loudly antagonistic political philosophy.”

    Perhaps you are correct, and this applies to the way libertarians operate in opposition to things like mainstream politics. But I think it applies at least as much to the way you are viewing libertarianism and the tea parties.Report

  2. Avatar zic
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    says:

    many libertarians care far more about resisting what they perceive to be a dogmatic or empty liberal agenda far more than they care about implementing their own agenda.

    Sounds like Libertarian=anti-agenda. Perhaps Libetarians fear planning and implementing an agenda would transform them into the thing they fear most.Report

  3. Avatar Tim Kowal
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    says:

    The confusion is in identifying Republicans and Democrats as ideological opposites, and thus that Libertarians who are “neutral” should be somehow in the middle. Or perhaps that the three parties are the points on an isosceles triangle. That is to misunderstand the nature of the parties and the current political struggles. Republicans and Libertarians share a near identical economic conservatism and antipathy for progressivist state intervention. As for Dems/progressives, the only thing Lib’s share with them are certain individual freedoms. But even these they share for opposite reasons: Libs want individual freedoms because they want the state out; Dems want individual freedoms because they are part of a grand social engineering scheme.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Tim Kowal
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      says:

      great stuff tim. libertarians and R’s share these wonderful ideas. but to be fair liberals and libertarians also share ideas. If only your post wasn’t based on a outrageous strawman/BS it might mean something.

      the belief that everything liberals want to do is part of some sort of social engineering is tea party/limbaugh paranoia. now i will admit that kind of crap has been around for a long time but it doesn’t make it any less silly. you seem to be proving Freddie’s thesis, even when liberals agree with something you do, it is still tainted.

      Social engineering is simply a malleable phrase used by conservatives for anything they don’t like done by liberals. it has no other meaning, since it doesn’t ever seem to apply to any action done by any sort of conservative.

      You might also consider that people who disagree with you on politics (liberals in this case) might still be able to believe in noble thoughts and love freedom just for its own sake.Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to greginak
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        says:

        Of course it would still be tainted. As far as the purely political aspect, sure, why would it matter. But to the extent one is concerned with principled ways of organizing political and legal thought, it matters little if at all that two people arrive at the same conclusion when from completely antithetical routes.

        If one does not accept that point, it is little wonder they might think “social engineering is simply a malleable phrase used by conservatives for anything they don’t like done by liberals.” Conservatives ought to shudder if their policies are effectuated at the expense of states’ rights or constitutional restrictions. For liberal progressives, they are too often considered antiquated roadblocks on the way to the great society.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Tim Kowal
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          says:

          well i don’t think liberals and libertarians arrive at the same destination, on things like the drug war, gay marriage or a variety of social issues, from different destinations. I, and i think many libs, think gov should butt the hell out of many things based on the constitution and the freedoms enshrined there in. The belief, that i think you are expressing, is that every liberal idea is part of some grand scheme to create some utopia is wrong. if there is any part of that idea that is correct it is no different from every other political belief that suggests if you run a gov a certain way it will lead to good things.Report

  4. Avatar Valentine Joseph
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    says:

    I have been pondering the same while perusing libertarian blogs such as Cafe Hayek, Megan’s and Cato. There is the underlying hate of the Democrats that is so pervasive in their writings, that it literally turns me off from their message. I would definitely agree with them if they did not use the same tactics as the Republican pundits, unfortunately, that won’t happen I fear. I think the reason why I like the League and Andrew is your balance viewpoint that weighs both side of the coin beautifullyReport

  5. Avatar nj
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    says:

    I agree with the analysis about McArdle ( speaking as a libertarian). Frankly, I don’t understand her appeal.

    I view reason as taking a more anti anti-tea party tone when it comes to the tea party coverage. The tea party movement is far more complex and diverse ( ideologically) than many establishment liberals and leftists are willing to give it credit for.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to nj
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      says:

      The tea party movement is far more complex and diverse ( ideologically) than many establishment liberals and leftists are willing to give it credit for.

      I disagree. People on the left are used to the cacophony of voices; we expect it as a normal, organic part of the political process. It’s something conservatives made fun of for years, in fact.

      I don’t think anyone on the left is surprised that the Republican/Libertarian party is shattering into tea-baggers, deficit hawks, defense hawks, religious extremists, and anti-taxers; with many conservatives/libertarians having views that jibe with two or three groups but not all groups.

      The only unifying point is liberals in charge.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic
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        says:

        Additionally, this liberal finds a great deal of humor in watching Republican’s fumble about as they try to deal with the fractures in the party; they’ve become the un-led mob they used to accuse Dems of being, purity tests and all.

        And libertarians stand on the side, agreeing where it suits their fancy, taking pot shots at everyone when they please. Independent; each man has his own rules. They thrive on obscurity, part of their anti-agenda agenda.Report

  6. Avatar Gherald L
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    says:

    Being anti-leftist (or more positively, pro-free enterprise) is a unifying feature of most libertarians and US conservatives. But this is not to say libertarians don’t care about other things, such as opposing social and national conservatism.

    Megan and I, for instance, both supported Barack Obama over John McCain. It wasn’t because we forgot we oppose Democratic leftism–it was because we opposed Republican foreign policy (primarily), as well as Palinesque social conservatism.

    The reason Megan’s writing makes it seem like she primarily hates Democrats is that her area of expertise is economics. She does in fact disapprove of most Democratic initiatives in this area. I’m not sure why Freddie doesn’t understand this–it ain’t rocket science.Report

  7. Avatar adolphus
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    says:

    I noticed this same thing awhile back in the comments threads of some libertarian blogs and it was especially acute at Radley Balko’s place when Gates was arrested in his own home. People in his comments thread are borderline anarchists and hostile to anything in a uniform 99% of the time. But Gates was different. Lots of libertarians I know were fine with Gates’ arrest. I think they bristled against who he was or perceived to be in terms of liberals and/or a knee jerk reaction to the charge of racism and who his most ardent defenders turned out to be. I don’t think it was rascism per se. If this had happen to a poor black man or old black woman, they would have been all over the police for arresting someone in their own home for disorderly. But because Gates was perceived as a part of the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton A-A leadership too many libertarians and pro-civil rights conservatives (yes they exist) seemed all too happy to defend the cops’ right to “maintain order.”

    This isn’t 100% of course, and many libertarians were strongly opposed to the policeman’s actions. But too many seem willing to excuse the excesses of the state when the victim is a liberal or Democrat. (Same goes for Reps and Dems of course, but I expect them to be partisan)Report

  8. Avatar Reason60
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    says:

    I have only sporadic agreement with the glibertarians; often they are nothing more than Republicans who support pot and abortion rights, at their worst they are Ayn Rand cultists.
    Tim Kowal identifies part of the problem; for the entire living memory of anyone reading this, our national political dialogue has been framed by the Socialism/ Capitalism debate.

    It framed and underlay ever single debate of most of the 20th Century, whether it was global politics, or a local municipal bond. We identify parties and ideologies based on an outdated continuum from total state ownership of the factors of production on the left, to Objectivist lassaiz faire capitalism on the right.

    But no one anywhere is arguing for true Socialism anymore; Chavez and Castro are revanchists, and irrelevant.
    Instead, the debate to me seems more correctly identified as a struggle between a dispersal of power, and concentrations of power.

    This is the debate which occupied the minds of the Founders; they deliberately created a system where power was not concentrated in any set of hands. Marxism and Objectivism when seen in this light are not opposites, they are twins; they both allow the concentration of power in few hands- in the government in the case of the former, and corporations in the hands of the latter.

    Likewise, look at Washington today- we have one party that claims to represent the common people; yet that is a lie. the Democrats are heavily mortgaged to special interests and corporations;
    The other party claims to represent free market capitalism; yet that too is a lie. The Republicans represent corporate special interests almost exclusively, and are the enemy of the free market.
    Both parties are content to enrich and concentrate ever more power into private or special interests, at the expense of the People.

    Government bureaucracies and corporations need power to perform tasks that are in societies benefit; but given too much power, they can equally oppress us and destroy liberty. Public agencies and private interests are not opposites, but equally dangerous if blindly embraced.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    There are many reasons for this… but let’s hit the high notes.

    If you look at the so-called “three legged stool” that makes up the Republicans, you have three groups. Hawks, Fiscons, and Socons. Defense Hawks were the guys who stood up against, say, the Russians. Now, however you may feel about Marx and whether Russia was *TRULY* implementing his theories and whether Trotsky would have done it right, the Libertarian impulse is one that hates hates hates totalitarian states like, you guessed it, the one we heard about with Russia. The Hawks and the Libertarians had this in common. While not all liberals defended Russia’s tactics, pretty much the only people who did were liberals. It was difficult to not notice this.

    The fiscons and the libertarians have a great deal of overlap as well. I doubt I really need to explain that one.

    Which brings us to the socons: The libertarians and the socons tend to hate hate hate each other. They’d vote for a democrat before they’d vote for a socon. They’d vote for a wobbly before they’d vote for a socon. Friggin’ puritan busybodies thinking they can legislate morality.

    Now the democrats do not have a three-legged stool. There are a lot of different little coalitions that make up the democrats but they tend to all have one main thing in common… Paternalism. Is there paternalism within the Republican party? Of course there is. Look at the socons. Is there also a corner where people say the government ought not interfere? There actually is. Or was, before Bush and his folks purged them.

    In any case, what about the areas where the democrats (or, liberals actually) overlap with the libertarians? Gay marriage, stopping the drug war, ending DADT, so on? Well, they do so for different reasons, mostly.

    Liberals support gay marriage because (and this is a sweeping generalization) marriage is a good thing that gays should have access to and they ought to have civil protections and so on and so forth.

    Libertarians (and this is a sweeping generalization) support gay marriage because they don’t think that The State should have the right to deny marriage to two people… and this leads to a discussion of the onerous tax laws that intrude on every aspect of life and how marriage provides a small umbrella from that intrusion and people seem to think that the intrusion is normal when they should be fighting against that level of intrusion in everybody’s lives and not just giving a tiny bit of relief to people who sign a piece of paper, which leads to a different discussion, which leads to another one.

    And, at the end of the day, while libertarians and liberals both support gay marriage, they do so for very, very different reasons.

    When it comes to ending the drug war, liberals (and this is a sweeping generalization) want the government to regulate the drug, tax it, distribute the taxes collected to causes that need it (maybe DARE programs!), cease arresting disproportionate numbers of black males, and make sure that, for example, Angel Raich can get the medication that would ease her pain somewhat.

    Libertarians tend (and this is a sweeping generalization) to say “it’s none of the government’s business if I plant a seed in a cup, put water on it, then do something with the plant when it grows. None.”

    They both believe in ending the drug war but for very different reasons.

    The liberals believe that the government has the right to do a lot of things and it ought to do the right thing. The libertarians believe that the government does not have the right to do these things, even if they are the right thing. The liberals believe that the government ought to do something else. The libertarians believe that the government ought just stop doing it.

    The republicans are the closest thing to a national party that says “the government shouldn’t be doing this” when it comes to domestic issues. As such, they draw less ire from the libertarians than the democrats do… because the democrats think that the government should be doing it and if the government is doing it wrong, it’s because the republicans messed it up in committee, or filibustered it, or are wrecking on some level.

    There is some overlap in goals and philosophy when it comes to libertarians and republicans. Not a lot, of course… but some.

    There is some overlap in goals when it comes to libertarians and democrats. Not a whole lot of overlap when it comes to philosophy.

    And since libertarians have approximately zip, zilch, nada when it comes to influence, we’re stuck arguing philosophy… which means that we have more to disagree with when it comes to democrats.

    Every libertarian is different, of course (as is every republican and democrat and wobbly). The above is full of sweeping generalizations… but taking that into account, I hope you understand that dismissing a lack of 50/50 complaining about both parties equally as “glibertarian” actually has philosophical underpinings. In some cases, anyway. Some people are glibertarians.

    But I’m sure you’d agree that one shouldn’t judge the many based upon the acts of the few.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      not bad Jay but your admittedly sweeping generalizations still miss a bit. i think there a bit more overlap between ( sticking to your examples of gay marriage and the drug war) liberals and libertarians then you see. Liberals tend to make more technocratic arguments about how policy should be done, while Con’s and Libertarians tend to make more statements of ideals. So as a Licensed Liberal who is against the drug war i tend to say how the policy hold be constructed instead of beating my chest that people should be able to ingest what they want. I do agree that people should be able to ingest what want. however if i am looking (as us EVIL LIBERALS) at not only the ideals but how something should be done, there are just far more details. so while if you want a pot plant that is fine, nobody should tell you what to do, but it is not fine if you want a meth lab in your apartment. since i think taxes are how we fund the gov, then drugs seem to be something that can be taxed, especially since things like drug rehabs are typically underfunded and to not have enough beds.

      Part of the disconnect is (alert alert sweeping generalization ahead) liberals tend to look at the morality of an action by what it does, where it seems libertarians and modern conservatives seem to say “these ideas are right” without a connection to what actually happens. ( but its early here so i may disagree with that statement after breakfast)

      Since libertarians have no power, they get to make a lot of grand statements of ideals and how things should be, without having to deal with the consequences. i would love to see a good honorable libertarian as a Governor deal with the immanent closure of schools, drug rehabs, libraries, free clinics, etc.Report

      • Avatar Reason60 in reply to greginak
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        says:

        You make a very good point that actual governance (as opposed to ideal theorizing in think tanks) tends to blunt the edges of glib abstract ideals.
        Picking up the trash, municipal septic systems, and dealing with the homeless are things that absolutely positively demanded by voters of every stripe, and don’t lend themselves to grand statements from Ayn Rand or Friedrich Hayek.

        By the way, I am kicking myself for selecting this screen name on multiple blogs- I hadn’t considered the similarity to the Libertarian magazine of the same name.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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        says:

        Sorry, had a birthday party and associateds to go to yesterday and couldn’t get back to this until now.

        “So as a Licensed Liberal who is against the drug war i tend to say how the policy hold be constructed instead of beating my chest that people should be able to ingest what they want.”

        While Libertarians pretty much take the attitude that Liberals can’t put out a fire would first discussing what will replace the fire. You don’t have to replace the fire with something. Just put it out.

        “Part of the disconnect is (alert alert sweeping generalization ahead) liberals tend to look at the morality of an action by what it does, where it seems libertarians and modern conservatives seem to say “these ideas are right” without a connection to what actually happens.”

        That’s the wacky thing about stuff like “Rights”. If you start thinking about “what it does”, you can easily come to the conclusion that we need some reasonable restrictions on our free speech and free press. Look at the 8th Amendment. “Cruel and Unusual punishment”. What if there were going to be a terrorist attack… a ticking bomb, if you will, and you could only find out where it was by torturing a terrorist. Would you scream about “rights” when innocent people might die???

        And the second you say “well, of course, we need reasonable restrictions” you’re haggling.

        I’m not a fan of haggling… but let’s say that I was, which brings us to the next issue:

        “Since libertarians have no power, they get to make a lot of grand statements of ideals and how things should be, without having to deal with the consequences. i would love to see a good honorable libertarian as a Governor deal with the immanent closure of schools, drug rehabs, libraries, free clinics, etc.”

        Most Libertarians (and let’s just use the last couple of years for brevity) have been screaming about the bailouts and universal health care. There is a line of argumentation against Libertarians that tends to avoid the bailouts and/or health care entirely but tends to be something to the effect of “but you don’t believe in public libraries or public schools or public parks!!!” Once it’s established that Libertarians are opposed to the downtown public park, everyone can point and laugh and get back to discussing how we just didn’t spend enough money on the bailouts.

        Republicans do this too, of course. “You libertines think (insert thing that libertarians don’t tend to think here)!” It’s mostly the socons that do this, in my experience, though.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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        says:

        But, to deal with the fundamental issue, I’m just trying to explain why the libertarians tend to disagree with democrats and republicans to different degrees.

        Whether libertarians really *SHOULD* agree more with liberals (is there any group that should not agree more with liberals?) is a fun question, of course.

        But I tried to tackle the ungotten issue at the base with this essay.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Isn’t any conception of libertarian that make sense dependent on the idea that the individual should be left as free as possible by the state that has power over him? Wouldn’t it be anti-libertarian, then, to have an agenda with respect to how individuals are treated by states who don’t have power over you, and thus for the most part don’t treat you in any way at all? It seems like the only thing that could be less libertarian than the idea of a totalitarian state would be the idea that the opinion of someone not involved in the relationship between the individual in question and the state in question (in this case any given Russian and the CCCP) could be legitimate. It seems like liberty would demand that those under the thumb of communism be free to resist it or not as they see fit, but perhaps I am missing something.

      The one way I can see that your freedom could have been restricted by the Soviet Union was that as it expanded it took away your ability to do business with people in its control. That may be a legitimate response.Report

      • Avatar Jivatman in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        “I would love to see a good honorable libertarian as a Governor deal with the immanent closure of schools, drug rehabs, libraries, free clinics, etc.”

        If you are going to make statements like this, then you must accept it is fair to call liberals Communists. Or, if you want to actually take a look at how things work in practice you can look at the amazing tenure of former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.

        As an aside, it took years for government to get involved ans successfully destroy the civil society that used to provide widespread functions such as free hospitals, and it would likely take years to restore it.

        “liberals tend to look at the morality of an action by what it does, where it seems libertarians and modern conservatives seem to say “these ideas are right””

        You’ve actually hit upon a fascinating philosophical point here, liberals tend to use philosophical Consequentialism to justify their points. Interestingly enough, most Austrian economists such as Mises also did this (Advocating the free market because it produces the most wealth).
        It wasn’t until Murray Rothbard consolidated libertarian philosophy into the non-aggression principle that this moral argument largely began to replace it in primacy.

        Interestingly enough, in this post you seem to concede a point to an above commentator, that liberals largely do, in fact, wish to engage in “social engineering” that is, to remake society through the actions of the state.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jivatman
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          says:

          well Jiva, you got me, I’m stumped, I’m just not sure how to answer what you said, since i can’t figure what the hell you are talking about.

          “If you are going to make statements like this, then you must accept it is fair to call liberals Communists. ”
          Ummm why??? This makes no sense. Firstly the tenets of communism and liberalism are different so saying they are the same is dumb. but what does it have to do with my statement. To clarify what is said. I hear and read a lot of libertarians, say how they want this or that change, often without it any way explaining how or what the unexpected, or sometimes completely predictable, consequences of their policies would be. Maybe the NM gov you cited is a good example, beats me, i haven’t heard of him. Feel free to enlighten me.

          This blends into my claim that liberals often do use some consequentialism. i think this is true and aside from the philosophical bloviating we all enjoy on the web, only sensible. various political policies and beliefs have real world affects that we need to understand and , at the least, admit to, if you don’t believe in doing something about.

          “Interestingly enough, in this post you seem to concede a point to an above commentator, that liberals largely do, in fact, wish to engage in “social engineering” that is, to remake society through the actions of the state.”

          again i have no idea what you are talking about and i’m not to sure about your reading comprehension.

          But to clarify, i think the term “social engineering” is as used by most people ismeaningless. it is used as fancy phrase to criticize things conservatives don’t like. Used in that way it is just a way of saying you don’t like a liberal idea, thats fine. It’s silly though, not because liberals don’t have beliefs about how the gov should be run, of course we do. that is the entire point of a political philosophy, to have a vision of gov and society. But conservatives and libertarians also have a vision of gov and society, again that is the point of pol philosophy. Socan desires to have Christian based gov are, by any fair, non biased definition are just as much social engineering. as a matter of fact the libertarian dream of removing most gov functions is just as much social engineering. they want to remake society and gov by changing the gov. just because they want less doesn’t make it any less engineering then anything else.

          So i think the term is either psuedo intellectual poo or a just a term for the banal observation that people have political ideas that affect how the country is run.Report

        • Avatar Nob Akimoto in reply to Jivatman
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          says:

          On the subject briefly of hospitals…

          “Free hospitals”? What are you talking about? The hospital system in the United States was a depression/World War II era phenomenon that was enabled by government subsidization of their construction that eventually led to the enormous mess we have now in health insurance. (Because you know massive capital intensive construction projects need some method of recouping costs, which health insurance as a pay substitude helped provide)

          Hell most Americans didn’t even interact with a hospital until the 50s, and that was all made possible by government intervention and finnagling of tax structures.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        “Wouldn’t it be anti-libertarian, then, to have an agenda with respect to how individuals are treated by states who don’t have power over you, and thus for the most part don’t treat you in any way at all?”

        Would it be anti-libertarian to want to, say, end slavery?

        I don’t know that it would. Could you explain in detail how a “real” libertarian would not oppose, say, slavery in the South?

        Would it be only the totalitarians who would want to free the slaves?Report

        • Avatar Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I’m not sure how to respond to this one, but I think there can be an argument made that the absolute value many economic libertarians place on property rights may in fact trump whether or not the state has a right to declare certain types of people citizens and therefore free them from coercive private contracts of ownership.

          Nevermind for a moment that property ownership (whether slaves, money, or land) is a feature guaranteed only by state power. The fact that emancipation would have been an infringement on the ownership rights of the plantation class could be an argument against freeing the slaves. Afterall the slaves are property, as a socially constructed matter they weren’t people, and the state should have no right to impose restrictions on property ownership and how people use their property.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto
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            says:

            Is there an economic libertarian who has argued as such?

            Or are we in the whole “I could see someone in theory making such an argument” territory?Report

            • Avatar Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              I would say that anyone who takes the neo-confederate “state’s rights” position is fundamentally staking this one vis-a-vis the Civil War, but I’ll concede that this is more a theoretical argument area than an empirical observation of someone making such an argument.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                To be charitable to the State’s Rights position beyond what is warranted, I’d say that the State’s Rights ideal theory is one that says “I don’t have the right to tell the people in (state) how to live”. Taken to an extreme, this can lead to such positions as “we shouldn’t invade Iraq even if Saddam is an awful dictator.”

                At this point you should respond to this argument by asking if they support rape rooms or not and asking if they aren’t, in fact, objectively pro-Saddam.Report

              • Avatar Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The not invading Iraq logic I thought had more to do with the “if we invade we’ll make a bigger clusterfuck of it than it is now” not “we have no right to tell people how to live” sort of thing.

                There’s significant difference between that and how you framed your hypothetical response.

                As for the original argument about slavery and libertarianism, I still posit that the fetishization of private property ownership by some economic libertarians does provide a theoretical grounding for opposing emancipation on state power vs. private ownership grounds.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                it was actually the province of conservatives to make the “states rights means they can control the lesser races” argument in the from of billy buckley and the NR.Report

              • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Shouldn’t we use our military might when anything untoward happens around the globe? One other aspect of States Rights is that military would likewise be fractured. The presence of Canada attests to the value of having militia that question whether it’s actually in their interest to take part imperialism vs. self defense.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      The thing that strikes me is that you still reference russia. I’m 28, 20 years ago the berlin wall fell. I was 8. I wonder if I am the only one here that has never seen the soviets as a threat.

      So this means that as far as my life has been concerned communism has always been dead and pathetic. When people talk about it, it sounds so old and out of place that they might as well be discussing feudalism. Hearing people discuss this sounds like interesting yet irrelevant history.

      In the same vein as i grew up in the south I don’t think I have been exposed to strong liberalism, but I have been exposed and repelled by strong so-conism. So in my short lifetime I have gathered the following skewed and perspectives. This is more how it feels to me. It in all probability does not resemble reality.

      Liberals: Want the government to stop messing with peoples personal lives. Also want non-government entities to leave people alone as well. Have way too many crazy hippies/anti-vaxers in the tent. Needs to keep embracing the ACLU wing like their life depended on it if they want me to keep supporting them.

      Conservatives: Crazy people who want the government to shove their religion down the throats of school children. They also want the government, churches, and businesses to tell people what to do with their personal lives. Terrible for the economy and people in general. Supported torture as state policy.

      Libertarians: Interesting people who want the government out of everything. They seem to have just enough economics knowledge to be dangerous. If they were in charge I would be living in great depression 2.

      These are the stereotypes that roll around in my head. I know several people who they don’t apply to and that they are likely very un-fair, but who said stereotypes were fair.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy
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        says:

        When I was in college, people were still debating the whole “it’s never been properly applied” thing. I had a professor who sang The Internationale for us (awesome guy, by the way… odious political views).

        I grew up when Communism had just died and the discussion in academia was split between “shoot it again, just to be sure” and “get the defibrillator, we know so much more now, we know what pitfalls to avoid!”

        The latter argument came, primarily, from The Left.

        Indeed, you can still find pockets anywhere where a discussion of Marxism will lead to someone saying something to the following effect: “You’re just displaying your ignorance of Marxist theory. If you had actually *READ* Das Kapital, you’d see that Marx is the quintessential classical liberal. He isn’t telling people to kill each other! Lenin/Stalin/Mao twisted his vision! Judging Marxism by ignoring it and instead critiquing Stalinism is Intellectually Dishonest and I don’t see any point to having a discussion with someone so obviously Intellectually Dishonest as you.” (Bonus points for this discussion happening within a couple of days of this person criticizing Christianity because, for example, Christians bomb abortion clinics.)

        That said, the Socons suck. Friggin’ puritan busybodies.

        I can totally see how someone under the age of 30 would see Socons as far more relevant than the Commies.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Liberalism should be seen as an unmitigated failure by anyone under 30.

          To the extent that it isn’t, part of the reason is that American prosperity seems to them as a fact of nature. For anybody with any historical consciousness of the modern industrial state for the last thirty years or so, the rules are pretty simple: low taxes/free markets = prosperity, bloated welfare state = corrupt dependence on the state.Report

          • Avatar Gherald L in reply to Koz
            Ignored
            says:

            Koz, I deplore welfare and love myself some low tax rates and free markets as much as the next libertarian–but you should note that Western Europe’s welfare states are doing quite well, in no small part because their governments (parliamentary: executive makes policy, legislature approves) and tax systems (consumption tax: VAT) are more efficient than the American model.

            You ought to check out Bruce Bartlett’s The New American Economy; he offers some good clear-headed explanations of the economic side of things.

            My own thesis, in a nutshell, is that the better governance and taxation in Europe is what makes their welfare states politically palatable and attractive to their peoples. Whereas America’s bad governance and absurd tax system are what make higher rates and more welfare politically unpalatable and unattractive to Americans.

            I believe that if America kept its relatively-low welfare and tax rates but improved its governance and tax system, it would be better off.

            And I believe that if Europe kept its good governance and tax system but reduced its welfare state and taxation rates, it would be better off.

            Alas, the politics don’t seem conducive to either outcome, because good governance/taxation seems to make people tolerant of the welfare state, whereas maintaining enough popular outrage against state expansion seems to depend on having inefficient governance/taxation like America’s.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Gherald L
              Ignored
              says:

              “Koz, I deplore welfare and love myself some low tax rates and free markets as much as the next libertarian–but you should note that Western Europe’s welfare states are doing quite well, in no small part because their governments (parliamentary: executive makes policy, legislature approves) and tax systems (consumption tax: VAT) are more efficient than the American model.”

              Forgive me for being dense, but I really don’t get what you’re trying to say here. I can’t think of a way the Euro welfare states are doing well.

              “You ought to check out Bruce Bartlett’s The New American Economy; he offers some good clear-headed explanations of the economic side of things.”

              I’m not really a fan of Bruce Bartlett. See a couple of comments here:

              http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/2009/10/audience-voice-and-direction/

              “My own thesis, in a nutshell, is that the better governance and taxation in Europe is what makes their welfare states politically palatable and attractive to their peoples. Whereas America’s bad governance and absurd tax system are what make higher rates and more welfare politically unpalatable and unattractive to Americans.”

              I disagree. The thing that makes the Euro welfare states less controversial is the ethnic homogenousness of the populations. When this comes to the attention of liberals (as pertains to the US or Europe) it is the occasion of great gnashing of teeth about racism (for me it’s yet more evidence of the essential cluelessness of liberals).Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                Gee Koz, its nice of you to dispense your clear objective truth about political systems. You must be busy with correcting everybody else’s misperceptions and errors. I am so sorry my fellow liberals haven’t understood the truth. Thanks for sharing.

                FWIW it is a misperception that western Europe is all ethnically homogenous.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                “Gee Koz, its nice of you to dispense your clear objective truth about political systems. You must be busy with correcting everybody else’s misperceptions and errors. I am so sorry my fellow liberals haven’t understood the truth. Thanks for sharing.”

                Hey, I try.

                Humor aside, I do think the track record and future prospects of political systems are more objective than you suppose, which is why I try and shine light on them.

                One frustration is the unwillingness of liberals to articulate, much less argue for, the fundamental assumptions of the welfare state and collective control of property that underlie much of their cultural/political Weltanschauung.

                About Europe, btw, the continent is not ethnically homogenous but the member states are to a much greater extent, especially the northern/Scandanavian ones.Report

              • Avatar Gherald L in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                > I can’t think of a way the Euro welfare states are doing well.

                What I meant is that from what I’ve been able to gather, the GDP, employment, and general well-being picture of developed European economies has compared favorably to the United States over the past decade, give or take.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Gherald L
                Ignored
                says:

                “What I meant is that from what I’ve been able to gather, the GDP, employment, and general well-being picture of developed European economies has compared favorably to the United States over the past decade, give or take.”

                I’d like to know how you get that impression, because from where I sit it’s pretty axiomatic that they’re not. Especially from the perspective of the continent as a whole. We as America can “choose” to be Europe much more plausibly than we can choose to be Lichtenstein or some such.Report

              • Avatar Gherald L in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not saying to look at small isolated countries. I just don’t think it’s fair to do a high-level comparison by tossing Portugal, Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, etc. in the same boat as the Balkans and those recovering from communism.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Gherald L
                Ignored
                says:

                The former communist countries are somewhat difficult to deal with analytically. But IIRC, in terms of the big economic picture (growth, unemployment, taxation level, debt level), the US does much better than Europe unless you do some pretty serious cherry-picking like taking Norway, Lichtenstein, Andorra and Monaco and disregarding the rest of the continent.Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Koz
            Ignored
            says:

            That is the thing that confuses me.

            This argument that you can’t have a fusion. That you either have a bloated welfare state or a good economy with that is relatively freeish. To me it appears that my parents worked harder and harder for less and less.

            In the middleclass it hasn’t been thirty years of prosperity, it has been 30 years of growing debt and uncertainty. I see the Scandinavian countries and wonder why I can’t have that. I even consider working fulltime in a small business of my own but this country ties healthcare to jobs.

            Remember I was born during regans term. I remember the following, early 90’s republican after reagan: economy sucks
            late 90’s Democrat: economy picks up and republicans become crazy screamers
            Bush years: My candidate is apparently cheated out of office, we get two wars, Science is trashed, The US begins torturing people, and The economy crashes and burns. Twice. All of this occurs while conservatives are freaking out about gay people.

            Tell me your not suprised by how I might see liberalism-lite vindicated given my life history here.

            I could be wrong about what happened, but this is what it looks like to me. So that is where I am coming from. Where are you coming from?Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to ThatPirateGuy
              Ignored
              says:

              “This argument that you can’t have a fusion. That you either have a bloated welfare state or a good economy with that is relatively freeish. To me it appears that my parents worked harder and harder for less and less.”

              We can have a fusion and in fact we did for the better part of thirty years starting in 1980 or so. What we’re seeing now is the end of that fusion, where the demands of the welfare state are overwhelming private sector growth.

              As a further point, this is a substantial part of the dissatisfaction with those of us on the Right wrt Pres. Obama. I suspect we’re going to need more substantial reform of the welfare state to restore the economy to prosperity. But for now, we can’t even get a time-out on the expansion (which is largely what Clinton did), if Pres Obama has anything to say about it.Report

              • Avatar JosephFM in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                Oy, if that was a fusion, it was a fusion of the worst of both. You really call all this swinging between asset bubbles, and systematic destruction of human capital, enabled by a fundamentally unsustainable monetary policy, prosperity?!

                We’re going to need a lot more than a “substantial reform of the welfare state” to restore real prosperity.Report

              • Avatar JosephFM in reply to JosephFM
                Ignored
                says:

                Okay, I’d like to backtrack on that last comment a little. In attempting to be concise, I got a bit overheated.

                I stand by my basic point though that the last 30 years of American prosperity came directly at the expense of today’s, and not just because of the welfare state. Not primarily, even.Report

              • Avatar JosephFM in reply to JosephFM
                Ignored
                says:

                Also, I’m just bitter. I need to watch what I post a bit more closely though, especially at 2 am. Yes there’s been lots of success stories (like, um, the stuff that led to this machine I’m using…) but overall the last few decades of American prosperity have IMO been built on very little actual wealth creation.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to ThatPirateGuy
              Ignored
              says:

              “Tell me your not suprised by how I might see liberalism-lite vindicated given my life history here.”

              Actually I am a little bit, if your parents were in the labor market for any significant amount of time before say, 1982.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                They were except I wasn’t born until 1981. So 1982 was spent terrorizing my parents as an add child going through the terrible twos.

                I suspect I didn’t start paying attention to the money situation until the 90’s or when I was 9.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to ThatPirateGuy
                Ignored
                says:

                Let me ask you this, because it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while. How much, if at all, does the liberal narrative about race issues affect you politically or culturally given that most or all of the relevant events occurred so long in the past?Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                Well since I grew up white in the south and actually know modern-day racists, even love a few of them as they are in my family. It does affect me.

                I went to college at ole miss and I can tell you that racism isn’t dead it is just different. Relevant events are occurring now, but thankfully most of the effects are not like they were in the bad old days.

                I am of the mind-set that there are no good ole days in America’s past. Note that I don’t mean that america is and always has been evil, I mean that America is doing better now as the older culturally conservative forces lose power than it ever did in times like the fifties.

                There is no previous era that I would want to live in, this one is better.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to ThatPirateGuy
                Ignored
                says:

                “I went to college at ole miss and I can tell you that racism isn’t dead it is just different. Relevant events are occurring now, but thankfully most of the effects are not like they were in the bad old days.”

                Could you elaborate a bit more on this? Presumably (or maybe not), you want to leverage some collective power to bring about better race relations in some plausible way?Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to ThatPirateGuy
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think the government can make race relations better except by guaranteeing equal rights. I know it can make them worse by engaging in racist ways with the community but I think the situation is improving and that all that is required is a fidelity to the law, for private citizens to speak out when they encounter it, and time.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy
              Ignored
              says:

              “I could be wrong about what happened, but this is what it looks like to me. So that is where I am coming from. Where are you coming from?”

              You’re absolutely right, it would look that way from where you are.

              There were a lot of dynamics going on, however. They probably deserve an essay in their own right. (Indeed, there are a lot of dynamics going on now.) I’ll write something in my head and when it’s done I’ll try to put it up here.Report

        • Avatar JosephFM in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          But in a way, it’s true that it’s never been properly applied. Just like, you know, a truly 100% free market never has been. Because, you know, it’s impossible. (Of course, this is coming from someone who thinks the biggest flaw in Marxism is its historicism.)

          There are all sorts of economic systems that work great at the village level that are completely disastrous at the nation-state level.Report

  10. Avatar steve
    Ignored
    says:

    The part which confuses me, is that conservatives only TALK about smaller government. What they practice is bigger government that is not paid for. I have long failed to see why the economically literate libertarians find this appealing.

    SteveReport

  11. Avatar Clay Barham
    Ignored
    says:

    The 19th century Democrats, the original organized political party, were libertarians, as cited in THE CHANGING FACE OF DEMOCRATS on Amazon and claysamerica.com.. The 20th century Democrats are in lock-step with Rousseau and Marx, certainly anti-libertarian. Obama ran on the notion that the interests of the community are more important than are the interests of the individual, and all his legislative and presidential actions have proven he believes that promise. I cannot see that the libertarian cause is partisan-avoidance, as that is a custom of the McCain Republicans.Report

  12. Avatar Koz
    Ignored
    says:

    “See, for example Megan McArdle, who very frequently posts about these little analytic posts about partisan politics where she speaks as though we should expect some sort of balance or partisan neutrality. The problem with that pose is that Megan hates Democrats.”

    This is a bad way of putting it, since it seems to imply the antagonism operates at a more personal level than it really does. One of Megan’s strengths is that she’s willing to engage liberal and Democratic memes.

    What’s more she did vote for Obama, which ended up being the worst of both worlds. The plain fact of it works to her discredit, but should provide her some degree of protection against credibility arguments like this point. Obviously that didn’t happen.Report

  13. Avatar aboulien
    Ignored
    says:

    As a fellow fan of big MM, I appreciated your Yglesian short sentence + exclamation point, ‘And that’s okay!’ Keep it up.Report

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