Nice to Meet You, I’m a Libertarian

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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42 Responses

  1. Rufus F. says:

    I suspect the emphasis in that sentence was on the latter half- in other words, if they just didn’t talk about the contrarian economic analysis, particularly in a smug way, they’d be more palatable, in his opinion. Of course, I’m not sure they’d still be libertarians.Report

  2. The Warning says:

    The function of the Libertarian Party is primarily to create awareness of libertarianism.

    It is not about winning elections, or becoming a viable third party; because our majoritarian electoral system prevents it. It is about making people see the tyranny that men exert over others. What Cole sees as “smug bullshit” is simply a refusal to compromise with that tyranny.Report

    • Simon K in reply to The Warning says:

      @The Warning, I though the function of the internet was to create awareness of libertarianism. The function of the libertarian party is to have an old white guy with a beard stand next to poster apparently designed by a grade-schooler at county fairs giving the Nolan test to confused passers-by.Report

      • Simon K in reply to Simon K says:

        @Simon K, PS. the old white guy is usually pretty pleasant to talk to. This is how you tell the difference between libertarians and Republicans. The Republicans are a lot more angry. Also, no beards.Report

  3. coonsisabeaderedmarxist says:

    As I understand it, my libertarian friends want a drastic change in the structure and the scope of the government. In as much as they seek a political institution to bring about this change, do they throw their lot in with the Republicans? I suspect principled ones recognize that both Republicans/Democrats spend their way to victory. So, instead we should just raise the profile of libertarianism? That’s it? How is that more than just smug bullshit? If libertarians cared about the practicality of implementing their vision of the world, they would care about elections. But, wait, that’s right. No voter would ever vote for them. Case in point: Rand Paul’s flight from his principles.Report

    • Simon K in reply to coonsisabeaderedmarxist says:

      @coonsisabeaderedmarxist, If you actually want to influence public policy, running in elections is not a particularly good way to do it. You inevitably find your positions pushed first to match your party’s activists and then to match some coalition of voters who’ll turn out for you on election day. Its a very rare politician, especially in the US where turnout is low and constituencies are gerrymandered, who can actually lead public opinion to a new place.

      Its far better, if you want to change things, to talk to the public and try to persuade them of your position, which will then influence their voting behaviour. I don’t believe Karl Marx ever ran for office, after all …Report

      • coonsisabeaderedmarxist in reply to Simon K says:

        @Simon K,

        I think that’s a very naive view of how democracy actually works. We engage in a great battle of ideas? Is that so? People’s real life experiences or folksy understanding of the world don’t matter? So perhaps Democrats should run on the success of TARP. Possibly the most successful piece of public policy in the 21st century. Let’s all take to the pages of the NYT to make our case. Pfft. The reality is that people do not develop sophisticated views of the world–they develop moral presuppositions which guide their actions, including political beliefs. Candidates speak to those values. Institutions like social security or medicare become legitimated as part of practical experiences. How many old people could show up at a Glenn Beck rally if the government was paying for their medical bills? Three?

        n.b. Marx believed in a violent uprising. Not exactly a great point of comparison.Report

        • Simon K in reply to coonsisabeaderedmarxist says:

          @coonsisabeaderedmarxist, Some libertarians believe in violent uprisings too, and actually that’s not completely true about Marx. He thought a violent uprising might be necessary, but he also though than universal suffrage would make it unnecessary. Either way you have to persuade, people, though, right?

          I’m not sure where I said the public needed to develop a sophisticated view of the world? I just said talking to people is more effective in changing things than running for office. I don’t think you answered that.

          It would indeed be naive to propose that the public needs to develop a sophisticated view of the world. But I didn’t say that, and I don’t actually think that they do. There’s a complicated
          interaction between opinion formers, elite opinion as a whole, popular views, and electoral politics. If I understood it completely I’d be running for office, so you can take it for granted that I don’t, but there is some relationship between ideas and what ultimately persuades the marginal voters – see Reagan, for instance.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    I’m sure that Somalia has all kinds of trees that John Cole would like.Report

  5. Lyle says:

    I suspect the guy did not know that there was an easement to provide service required to get the service. So the water company agreed to provide service if it had the right to do what it had to to maintain its lines. Electric and other utility companys typically have the same rights. Of course if the guy does not want service …Report

  6. Rachael M. says:

    I’ve noticed in my own interactions that many people who are effectively libertarian do not identify as such, because too many people identify small-l libertarian with the Libertarian Party. At the local level, a lot of members of the Libertarian Party are, in a nutshell, crazy.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Rachael M. says:

      @Rachael M., aren’t we all crazy?

      I know I am.Report

    • Simon K in reply to Rachael M. says:

      @Rachael M., Crazy can be good. Although on a local level I know exactly what you’re talking about. There’s an LP member of the board of a government agency here whose considers the agency’s very existence to be somehow the very epitome of unjustified taxation. Total cost of that agency per household? $11 per year on an average tax bill getting on for 1000 times that.Report

      • MFarmer in reply to Simon K says:

        @Simon K,
        Oh, well, if it’s affordable…Report

        • Simon K in reply to MFarmer says:

          @MFarmer, It just doesn’t seem like the lowest hanging fruit to me.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

          No, it’s not. Principles are funny in that they can make one look foolish, petty and kookyReport

        • Simon K in reply to MFarmer says:

          @MFarmer, There are many equally principled campaigns you could run in our area – you could cut the extortionate sales tax, or wind back the many non-essential services run by the city and county, or force the many tiny fire departments to combine and rationalise their operations. Many, many options. Why choose the $11 property tax reduction? Thats the “kooky” thing, not the principle. And in reality there’s nothing very kooky about it – the specifics would probably confirm some of John Cole’s worse prejudices about libertarians.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

          Yes, I’m sure this example is proof positive that Cole is on to something very truthful.

          The reality is that people like Cole aren’t interested in learning about libertarian principles, if so, like Mark suggests, he would have read the literature and understand by now that although there are kooks of every political stripe, they don’t represent the political movement as a whole. Alan Grayson is a good example. You have to look at a political philosophy comprehensively to get a good understanding, and if libertarianism is looked at comprehensively, it’s consistent and focused on the major issues. Cole would serve himself better if he tackled the ideas involved and worried less about selected personalities, as is true of all of us.Report

        • Simon K in reply to MFarmer says:

          @MFarmer, I didn’t say that. Cole is clearly full of sh*t.Report

  7. Kolohe says:

    I’ve only started reading Balloon Juice again in the past few months on and off after a several year hiatus, but libertarians, particularly straw ones, have these days consistently been the bete noire for him and many of his colleagues on the site these days. (but he also has a specific antagonism toward the entire reason gang – and of course the Kochtopus)Report

    • MFarmer in reply to Kolohe says:

      Statists have always feared libertarians. There’s a guilt that goes with it. Many on the left, deep-down, understand the illiberal nature of statism, yet they desire security, and although the State, once it becomes too powerful and detrimental to the economy, is geared for destruction, as Europe is discovering, the left can’t seem to believe in social power, so they are caught in an indefensible position supporting their own destruction through State power — the guilt they feel is uncomfortable so they attack the “utopian” schemes of libertarians and partially alleviate their guilt by pretending that statism is the only possible solution — it’s an emotionally-confused fatalism that originates in an unrealistic expectation of security provided by authority.Report

  8. Leonidas says:

    What liberals like Juan Cole don’t get is that most Americans consider themselves libertarian, at least according to a Rasmussen poll I saw recently. I also have to wonder: what does a guy who mostly writes pro-Palestinian pap about the Middle East know about American libertarianism.

    Does he not even know that great Americans like Drew Carey and Steve Pinker are libertarians? He sure never talks about them on this blog.Report

    • greginak in reply to Leonidas says:

      @Leonidas, FWLIW Juan Cole is a lefty academic who blogs on many matters relating to the mid-east and international relations. While I understand people disagree with his views, it would have a bit more weight if they actually spoke the languages, such as Arabic and Persian, that he does.

      John Cole is the proprietor of the blog Balloon Juice, who is frequently profane, can rip a righteous rant and the subject of Mark’s post, not Juan Cole.

      Wow Drew Carey, i guess that is game, set and match for you if he is on your side.

      not a real muricanReport

  9. brantl says:

    The problem with libertarians on a national level is that your standard-bearers (by THEIR choice) seem to be Rand Paul and Ron Paul, with the elder probably in the lead. And they are both batshit crazy.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to brantl says:

      @brantl, bullshit.

      The problem with the libertarians is that their standard-bearers are Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root.

      The former is dreadfully sane and the latter is dreadfully nuts.Report

  10. Jason Kuznicki says:

    May I just say it’s bizarre that DougJ at Balloon Juice singles out Nick Gillespie as being one of the “bad” libertarians? He’s shown more regard for the liberties of ordinary people — not corporations — than almost any other self-described libertarian I can think of. If he’s not one of the good guys in this story, no one is.Report