'The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life'

Now that John McCain has re-emerged as a Time coverboy and GOP frontrunner-by-acclamation (if not by actual, um, delegates), The Weekly Standard -- the magazine that has historically supplied the maverick presidential contender with hefty chunks of his ideology, historical antecedents and even staff -- has finally decided that the water's warm enough again for some full-throated 2000-style cheerleading. First came a defense of McCain's role in the "Gang of 14" business that some conservatives will never forgive him for, next came a mash note from new New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in which we are dared to love McCain for his manly ability to recite poetry from the Victorian era (ah, the jolly old days of empire!).

Then the cherry was placed on top today in a bizarre yet oddly compelling attack on libertarianism by academics Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey. Here's their two-headed strawman of a thesis:

The ire against McCain contains elements of two of the greatest fallacies of modern political thought: the notion that ideology can replace virtue as the mainstay of a decent regime, and the cynical assumption that virtue is not real but vanity in disguise.

See how that works? If you disagree with McCain's policies, and don't buy into his straight talk, why, you're an ideologue who doesn't believe in virtue!

Let's go straight into the broadside against reason:

The problem with absolute faith in any ideology, including that of the free market, becomes evident with a glance at the flagship publication of the libertarians, Reason magazine. It is no coincidence that Reason publishes hagiographies of Milton Freedman [sic] as well as pleas for drug legalization and appreciations of cartoon pornography: economic libertarianism, elevated to the status of inviolable first principle, leads to moral libertarianism.

The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life. By teaching that 'greed is good,' strict free-market ideology holds out the promise that private vices can be public virtues. Recent congressional history has laid bare the fallacy of this argument. Republicans who proclaimed from the stump that greed was good turned out to believe it when they got into office, amassing earmarks and bridges to nowhere by means of their newfound powers. Why should we be surprised? To expect them to do otherwise would be to expect that men sometimes risk their self-interest for the sake of the public good, which our economist friends tell us is impossible. Conservatives who forget that the free market is properly a piece of policy rather than an ideological end-in-itself not only obscure the importance of individual virtue, they undermine it.

Without attempting to untangle the mess of that second graf -- seriously, read it again -- my question is this: Exactly where and how has libertarianism poisoned "public life"? Certainly not in the modern, Weekly Standard-approved national GOP, which has shot federal spending through the roof, created mammoth new entitlements, rammed through panicky regulatory nightmares, got the feds deep into local education, and lived out the doctrine of pre-emptive war. Of all the many, many things to complain about the party that has run most of the federal government for the past eight years, "dogmatic libertarianism" has to rank somewhere near the proliferation of Esperanto.

It's always flattering that libertarianism -- almost uniquely among strains of modern political thought -- is constantly challenged to defend itself against its most theoretical extremes.  (As a comparative thought exercise, try to take Weekly Standardism to its "logical conclusion" ... National Perfectness, maybe?) But I suspect what's really going on here is a Weekly Standard campaign, more than a decade old at this point (see Walter Olsen's reason take way back in July 1997), to purge principled libertarianism out of the GOP. This crystallized into National Greatness Conservatism, and found a willing vessel in John McCain. As David Brooks wrote, in a moment of McCain euphoria back in 2000, "the Goldwater-Reagan ideological message needs to be overhauled."

After the maverick insurrection hit the rocks, National Greatness dwindled to a movement of four or five members and flirted openly with bolting the GOP altogether, before finding a new audience in the Bush White House post-Sept. 11. By the 2004 presidential election, David Brooks was celebrating the "death of small-government conservatism" as we know it. While Storey & Storey fret that conservatives are "marginalizing anyone who does not toe the doctrinaire line of their free market ideology," four GOP presidential contenders are busy trying to out-stimulus package one another and dole out welfare to energy companies and homeowners, while a marginalized fifth guy gets the eye-rolling treatment for talking about aggressively slashing the scope of government. Thank God the culture is significantly more libertarian than the Kristol/Brooks GOP.

As for reason's particular flavor of poison, I looked in vain for an "appreciation of cartoon pornography," and the only thing that came remotely close was Tim Cavanaugh calling a graphic porn novel "flaccid" and "as subtle as a Ron Jeremy money shot." Turns out there's a pretty important difference between wishing the government out of people's free transactions, and assuming those transactions are wonderful (let alone wanting to force them upon the rest of society). There's a similar difference between preferring free markets and being some kind of libertarian People's Cultist. As Cavanaugh wrote just today, regarding a completely different matter:

I love all attempts to imply that belief in a free market is some kind of revealed religion, unmoored from any ocular proof. Sure, a member of the irrational capitalist religion might say there's actual evidence for the effectiveness of economics. Maybe by noting that, in the period after lending at interest and common-stock corporations came into regular use, human beings went from not wiping their backsides to landing people on the moon, expanded their population by orders of magnitude, abandoned slavery and serfdom, etc., all in about a third of the time it took the tale of Huckabee's savior to travel the token distance from Jerusalem to Oslo. But hey, that's just theology.

Virginia Postrel (and James Glassman) were on to National Greatness from the git-go. I've got a chapter about the curious ideology in my book. W. James Antle, III wrote about The Weekly Standard after its 10th birthday.

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  • ||

    If nothing else, the Olsen article from 1997 proves that Andrew Thomas has been consistent in being an authoritarian asshole. Those of us living in Maricopa County are such lucky individuals.

  • SIV||

    The Weekly Standard hasn't picked up on the cosmotarian thing or they would be praising you guys for getting on the band wagon.

  • Bingo||

    Finally wrapped my head around the title, I think. Does it translate to "Letting people make decisions for themselves based on their own morals is bad for the Greater Good"?

    I can think of a few people that would agree with that statement, but its too early to invoke Godwin's Law.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Welch's hatred of McCain is awe-inspiring and, I must admit, has single-handedly prevented me from getting suckered into voting for the man.

  • shecky||

    So the Republicans are trying not to woo libertarians into voting the GOP ticket? I think this plan may work.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Reason is, well, a vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert!

  • Colin||

    It seems they've again confused "libertarainism" with "libertinism," which is understable as the words are close together in the dictionary.

    Either that or they read that Post article.

  • Brandybuck||

    Wow, the statist really don't like us, do they? Maybe if we changed our name to "tolerant cosmopolitan" and baked them cookies, they would like us better.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Wasn't "Milton Freedman" a character on M*A*S*H?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Jesse, you owe me a got dam new monitor.

  • tarran||

    Yep,

    Government spending is out of control.

    The U.S. military is being chewed up by two open-ended wars.

    The U.S. Central Bank is printing money and depreciating the currency causing rampant inflation and economic instability.

    Despite the fact that we libertarians are opposed to all of this, the problems stemming from these things are somehow our fault.

    Much of the modern "conservative" intellectual thought reminds me of Colonel Hackworth's warning about the destructiveness of stupid yet energetic people.

  • Robert||

    The Weekly Standard was founded for the purpose of proving the National Review to be too libertarian for real conservatives. It was largely in rxn to Buckley's call for legal drugs.

  • ||

    If there's only one reason to love Reason, it's the only political publication that makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis.

    Seriously though, this really makes it clear how there is very little difference between Dems and Repubs, and they make no apologies for it. It's awfully amazing how folks at publications like the Weekly Standard can be so dogmatic and arrogant themselves, while they've been wrong on almost everything. They had virtual free reign over the government for years, and they did nothing right, and nothing they did was successful.

  • ||

    Kristol, 2003, NPR's Fresh Air: "There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

    I think this pretty much sums up Kristol's cred in one short summation.

  • ||

    So who the hell reads the Weekly Standard anyway? The same people who think Sean Hannity is an astute observer of the political and cultural scene. Need I say more...

  • ||

    You know, now that I think about it, I've never met anyone who reads the Weekly Standard. Or at least who will admit to it....

  • ||

    Pig Mannix,

    It's sort of like Hustler in that respect.

  • ||

    It's obviously easier to throw bricks at an up-and-coming movement when your own house is in utter disarray.

    If this primary season has demonstrated anything--to me, at least--it's that the Republicans are basically screwed and they don't know which way to go from here.

    The problem is, they're all running about with palms firmly pressed against their ears with a distinct "I can't hear you LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!" strain of denial audible from Bangalore while they magically believe running on a platform of "Hey, we're not Bush (but really, we're just joking--we kinda are)" is somehow going to bring them back to prominence.

  • ||

    Well, I correct myself; not all...

  • Windypundit||

    "economic libertarianism, elevated to the status of inviolable first principle, leads to moral libertarianism"

    They say that like it's a bad thing.

  • javier||

    national greatness? almost like they want to start a new nationalist reign, or reich if you will.

  • alan||

    I first encountered The Weekly Standard in the mid nineties, likely shortly after that ship of tools set off on the maiden voyage, and I admit I found the first few issues I read to be fairly agreeable. Soon after this, they printed that issue with the picture of a strolling Theodore Roosevelt on its cover with the words National Greatness strewn across it.

    My exact thought when I saw that was, 'oh, these are not my kind of people at all.' They have never proved that sentiment wrong, yet. TR worshippers for crimminey sakes, the man who put the stupid in the stupid party.

    But, you ever wonder how much of the Weekly Standard neocon types self styled Patriotism is conditioned on the US being, 'the greatest', 'the most powerful', 'the economic champion of all time', 'winner of 337 Gold medals, 49 more than any other nation', etc?

    To paraphrase Chesterton, the problem with these assclowns is that they don't love America nearly enough just for being the tart little harlot she is.

  • Bingo||

    crimethink:

    True, except for the fact that Hustler is content to merely airbrush reality. The Weekly Standard will either ignore it completely or twist it until it becomes something else entirely.

  • ||

    I want to care, honest!
    I do!
    These are important people, and they seem so sincere.

    Why on earth would I think they are gibbering imbeciles? I must not be very bright.

  • ||

    Shecky!

    Get the jet!

  • Franklin Harris||

    The Weekly Standard hasn't picked up on the cosmotarian thing or they would be praising you guys for getting on the band wagon.



    No, they hate cosmos almost as much as they hate paleos because cosmos are generally too irreligious. A central tenant of the Weakly Standard (yes, that's a pun) faith is that the masses need religion or else chaos will ensue. Not that the WS crowd is especially religious; they just subscribe to the Marxian idea that religion is the opiate of the masses, but then conclude that's a good thing.

  • javier||

    Listen to the audible voice cluing Romney in when he didn't know the answer to the Reagan question

  • javier||

    sorry wrong thread

  • Franklin Harris||

    But, you ever wonder how much of the Weekly Standard neocon types self styled Patriotism is conditioned on the US being, 'the greatest', 'the most powerful', 'the economic champion of all time', 'winner of 337 Gold medals, 49 more than any other nation', etc?



    That especially explains Canadians like David Frum, who seems to have come to the U.S. because he had ICBM envy.

  • Bingo||

    Franklin:

    Excellent point about the WS vs. cosmotarians. Really, I think it goes beyond that. WS seems to seek power for the sake of control. Being pro-Drug-War, Hawkish, traditionalist, populist (in that they will pander), and a free-market-be-damned attitude they are almost the exact opposite of a cosmotarian.

    The only thing a cosmo and someone from the WS would share is maybe a sense of pragmatism or political correctness.

  • Brandybuck||

    The only thing a cosmo and someone from the WS would share is maybe a sense of pragmatism or political correctness.



    ...and employment in a think tank! Don't for that one!

  • a Duoist||

    The critical difference between the neo-conservative and the libertarian is that the neo-con is psychically driven constantly to find an enemy to confront; the libertarian does not share that level of 'us vs. them' anxiety. Both are freedom-lovers, but the libertarian has freedom as a philosophy, while the neo-con has freedom as an ideology.

  • ||

    So, they do their level best to kick us out of the party (and are damned successful too), proceed to do the opposite of everything we would have done, then turn around eight years later after they've trashed the country and blame us for screwing it all up? National Greatness Conservatism is just a long-winded way of saying fascism - so fuck the Republican Party and the horse it rode in on.

  • EricDonderosCumStainedDrawers||

    Either Ron Jeremy or Bill Kristol can do a "money shot" on me. That's Libertarian, baby.

  • Bingo||

    Both are freedom-lovers, but the libertarian has freedom as a philosophy, while the neo-con has freedom as an ideology.

    No. The difference is the scope of the freedom. The neo-con thinks that sacrificing freedoms to maintain freedom is necessary. A libertarian sees the dichotomy of that, and does not agree that freedom is a zero sum game. It is never necessary to sacrifice one freedom to preserve another.

    Neo-conservatism is perfectly incarnated in Rudy Giuliani when he says that freedom is submission to authority.

  • ||

    Storey and Storey are academics?! Yikes, no wonder Johnny can't see the distinction between society and state.

    As the Hindus say, this is the age of Kali Yuga - the age of great dunderheaded darkness led by the thickest human beings on the planet. I think they might have even referred to the Storeys by name.

  • miche||

    Reason is, well, a vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert!



    Did you see the 2 girls 1 glass thing today too? (YouTube reaction to the video before you Google the disgusting video yourselves. I want no part of sharing it outside of my four walls.)

  • ||

    Don't worry, paleos, you'll have your own think-tank someday as soon as survivalists in the Catskills get electricity and running water.

  • alan||

    Both are freedom-lovers, but the libertarian has freedom as a philosophy, while the neo-con has freedom as an ideology.

    Their ideology is a neo Bismarkian Nationalism, the institutions they cherish, a 'hand-up' welfare state, and religion are valued to the extent
    their agency produces canon fodder.

    They just happen to live in a nation founded upon libertarian principles, hence they co-opt the language of freedom for their own purpose.

    In that context, classical liberals are a problem to them to a much greater extent than any actual power or influence we possess, and thus the animus that you see in that article.

  • ee||

    The problem with absolute faith in any ideology, including that of the free market, becomes evident with a glance at the flagship publication of the libertarians, Reason magazine.

    Reason (the word) replaces faith. I don't say "I have faith in reason". WRT Reason magazine, it is not called Libertarian magazine, for a reason.

    Do I have to drink, puke, or do both for that?

  • ||

    "To expect them to do otherwise would be to expect that men sometimes risk their self-interest for the sake of the public good, which our economist friends tell us is impossible."

    Self-interest and the public good usually mesh nicely. It's in my self-interest and the public good's interest to have clean lakes and rivers, clean air, and a robust economy. When they don't, "libertarianism" (you know that amorphous blob of collective thought) doesn't necessarily indicate that one couldn't sacrifice one's self-interest (in a very narrow understanding of the term) for the public good. Nothing in my own version of libertarianism prevents me from joining the army, volunteering at a soup kitchen, joining a church, or working for an assortment of charities and associations Certainly nothing in understanding of libertarianism suggests I would think it morally preferable to spend all my time whacking off to a porno. Where is that the Storeys get such nonsense? How is that a couple of academics (I assume in polisci?) have only the crudest, cartoon, cariacatured understanding of classical liberalism?

  • Bingo||

    What impeckish said, only with more scantily-clad women and alcohol!

  • ee||

    The modern form of this debate goes back at least as far as Immanuel Kant, who articulated the core of the progressive faith when he argued that "a people of devils" could form a well-governed society, as long as those devils were intelligent--that is, as long as they believed in the correct ideology.

    Sometimes I get of moment of spirituality where I can pause to thank the God I don't believe in for making me too stupid to understand Kant.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Neo-conservatism is perfectly incarnated in Rudy Giuliani when he says that freedom is submission to authority.



    Giuliani is Wonder Woman?

  • ||

    "The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life."

    Somehow, I'm rather more concerned about the moral depravity of authoritarianism.

    In this country, the state is supposed to serve the people. We've gone way too far down the road of letting the politicians and bureaucrats think they have a right to tell us what to do.

    -jcr

  • Ventifact||

    Finally wrapped my head around the title, I think. Does it translate to "Letting people make decisions for themselves based on their own morals is bad for the Greater Good"?



    National Greatness Conservatism is just a long-winded way of saying fascism.



    I feel like, between the directions Republicans are going as articulated by Bingo and peachy and the directions Democrats are going (as articulated by... Marx and Engels?), America is trying to decide which rejected social system from past generations and other parts of the world we should give a try ourselves.

  • ||

    "Certainly nothing in understanding of libertarianism suggests I would think it morally preferable to spend all my time whacking off to a porno. "

    Ah, but as a libertarian, you would obviously neglect the moral imperative of preventing other people from spending all of *their* time wacking off to pornos! That's why the Storeys must scold you for your dereliciton of duty! Clearly, the public good demands that you forcibly impose the Storey's morals on your neighbors!

    Sometimes, I wish that academics were exposed to heckling on a regular basis, within their ivory towers. If I ever meet Mr. and Mrs. Storey, I'd probably tell them to go fuck themselves.

    -jcr

  • Vent||

    Also, "public life" has no really good definition in this context, as it clearly is not meant in its only reliable definition, that of one's public social life beyond close friends and family. As such the phrase cannot be pinned down and refuted, only existing as a vague haunting set of implications.

  • ||

    "Self-interest and the public good usually mesh nicely. "

    Man, that sounds familiar... Didn't Adam Smith point that out? ;-)

    -jcr

  • ||

    "the phrase cannot be pinned down and refuted, only existing as a vague haunting set of implications"

    Yep. Typical of moralizing blather.

    -jcr

  • Ventifact||

    Ah, but as a libertarian, you would obviously neglect the moral imperative of preventing other people from spending all of *their* time wacking off to pornos!



    This thread has a lot to say about why Republicans will not be open to drug legalization any time soon -- even if most Repubs have used drugs or guiltlessly and knowingly enjoy drug-influenced music. They just want to be sure no deadbeats are skipping out on their obligations to be hardworking citizens instead of lazy stoners.

  • Ventifact||

    The beautiful irony of the meaninglessness of that blather is how it declares that libertarians are plagued by vacuity.

  • ||

    "Republicans will not be open to drug legalization any time soon"

    Some Republicans have been in favor of ending the drug war for decades, and their numbers are increasing.

    -jcr

  • Ventifact||

    Also, the whole idiotic point about self-interested legislators necessarily screwing the country over actually suffers because of another of the article's delusions: that libertarianism has a prominent place in GOP politics. It doesn't have such a prominent place, and thus few legislators have been held to protect their self-interest by following constituents' libertarian preferences. If you stop to recognize that the self-interested politicians messing stuff up are from a GOP that is decidedly unlibertarian, you might not feel so certain that libertarian legislators are inherently destined to try to pull whatever they can over on the country. Not if they felt like keeping their jobs.

    And anyway, if there was really a big libertarian base, self-interest of politicians would have ensured that they carried out their constituents' interests by long ago establishing a system in which pork is a deviation and not the norm, wars cannot occur without a declaration, "interstate commerce" means interstate commerce (and only interstate commerce), our bodies really do belong to us, etc... In other words, political power would be so relatively restricted by custom and law that no self-interested person would have the ability to screw everyone else for his own sake (at least not through the government, and not with the prospect of re-election, or at least not unless they were exceedingly clever).

    And since when did Republicans openly argue against "greed is good"? Is the GOP really explicitly shifting to a position that is not morally neutral with regards to a person's choice to amass wealth or to prioritize wealth over other pursuits? We're really in trouble now guys...

  • Vent||

    Huh, jcr, that's interesting. I'd be interested to read any links or personal thoughts you might have about the GOP moving in the direction of easing drug restrictions.

  • NP||

    To hell with libertarianism and politics, here's the most important news of the day: Djokovic just beat Federer in straight sets. Yes, you read that right. FEDERER LOST IN STRAIGHT SETS. In straight sets! I could understand a 3-1 loss, but this is... unreal. First Nadal and now Federer? What's this world coming to?

  • Taktix®||

    Djokovic just beat Federer in straight sets. Yes, you read that right. FEDERER LOST IN STRAIGHT SETS.

    Calling thoreau, tennis got interesting again...

  • Matt Welch||

    Interesting side note -- The original title of the Storey Squared piece, for the first several hours after posting, was "No Substitute for Victory." No really, I'm serious.

  • ||

    Rudy Giuliani ... says that freedom is submission to authority (Bingo, 2:09am)

    Wow. In arabic, 'submission to (divine) authority' is written 'islam'.

  • ||

    Nice job responding to the Storey's sorry story Matt!

  • Matt||

    I was miffed at Reason for about three days following the Ron Paul debacle, but these limpid attacks put me right back on your side. Great post, Matt.

    Besides, where the hell else am I gonna go, LRC?

  • NP||

    Taktix - Not to nitpick, but I believe it was J sub D who asked for the call.

    And to J sub D: Ha! What do you say now? Ready to take back your word yet?

  • ||

    Once they mention "greed is good" as a central tenet of libertarianism... they lose all credibility (assuming, mind you, they had any to begin with). Rational self-interest is good... and if said rational self-interest makes you a crapload of money, all the better.

    What's so hard about that to understand?

  • ||

    Both are freedom-lovers, but the libertarian has freedom as a philosophy, while the neo-con has freedom as an ideology.

    Well, the word means different things to neo-cons and libertarians. When a neo-con uses it, he's talking about an invasion of somebody else's country....

  • Episiarch||

    "dogmatic libertarianism" has to rank somewhere near the proliferation of Esperanto

    Wait, we are responsible for Incubus?

    (It's actually not bad)

  • robc||

    they just subscribe to the Marxian idea that religion is the opiate of the masses

    Well, they are Trotskyites, so it isnt a shock.

  • ||

    To hell with libertarianism and politics, here's the most important news of the day: Djokovic just beat Federer in straight sets. Yes, you read that right. FEDERER LOST IN STRAIGHT SETS. In straight sets! I could understand a 3-1 loss, but this is... unreal. First Nadal and now Federer? What's this world coming to?
    WHAT!?
    That's... both awesome and sad at the same time. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looks like he's this year's Baghdatis, but I think Djokovic is set to win his first major.

  • Episiarch||

    First Nadal and now Federer?

    Nadal is Catalonian. He will always lose to someone from a more powerful European country.

  • ||

    "Letting people make decisions for themselves based on their own morals is bad for the Greater Good"?

    < ala Hot Fuzz >
    The Greater Gooood...
    < /ala Hot Fuzz >

  • ||

    What a bunch of schmucks. There is a big difference in a business man with a "greed is good" attitude and a government man with one.


    A business man has to convince people to voluntarily give him is money. A government man gets his money at the point of a gun.


    If this paper is too stupid to understand the moral implications of that difference, I really don't then who give a fuck what these douchebags think.

  • ||

    Getcha popcorn.

  • ||

    Maybe by noting that, in the period after lending at interest and common-stock corporations came into regular use, human beings went from not wiping their backsides to landing people on the moon, expanded their population by orders of magnitude, abandoned slavery and serfdom, etc., all in about a third of the time it took the tale of Huckabee's savior to travel the token distance from Jerusalem to Oslo. But hey, that's just theology.

    Can I get a signed copy of that? Preferably hand written with a turkey quill on parchment.

  • NP||

    Reinmoose,

    Yeah, I'm with you. Remember, Djokovic hasn't dropped a single set throughout this entire tourney. He's putting on what's almost certain to become one of the greatest performances in recent tennis history (well, besides Federer).

    Episiarch,

    In half seriousness, what the hell are you talking about? You really think Switzerland is more powerful than Spain? Oh, right. He's from Catalonia. (Actually, he's from Majorca.) By that logic, you're suggesting that Basel-City is more powerful than Catalonia, which is like saying Roddick is better than Federer because he serves faster. I think you should take an occasional break from your science fiction.

  • Episiarch||

    Holy shit NP, it was a joke. Take a Valium or something, you need it. Seriously.

  • ||

    The story is told of Cral Jung that he once had two patients, both suffering from a Messiah complex. His usual therapy wasn't any help, so one day he decided to introduce them to each other.

    He brought them both into the same room at the mental hospital and told them:

    "Mr. Kristol, this is Mr. Rockwell. He thinks he is Jesus Christ. Mr Rockwell, this is Mr. Kristol. He thinks he is Jesus Christ. But obviously you can't both be Jesus Christ! So I'd like you to settle the issue once and for all."

    The good doctor left them, and went to have a nice hot cup of tea.

    When he returned, Kristol and Rockwell were sitting at opposite ends of the room, their backs turned to each other. When Jung asked them what had happened while he was gone, in unsion they pointed to each other and shouted:

    "That guy's a raving lunatic!"

    (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

  • ||

    There is nothing to say that you cannot embrace private morality and civic virtue while rejecting government coercion of that virtue. The great seducer of libertarians and their opponents both is to forget that fact. Just because the government shouldn't dictate morality doesn't mean there is no such thing as morality or that people shouldn't have a right to form civil associations in pursuit of those morals. Libertarians forget that or at best pay lip service to it and statists forget that and start thinking that the only way to have a moral society is to enforce it from above. Both positions are equally wrong.

    Libertarians get tagged with the "greed is good" line because they forget this fact. Greed isn't good, freedom is good; the freedom to pursue your own interests in your own way. But even freedom, while better than the alternative, has its limits. Just because you are free, doesn't mean you will prosper. The market is only as good as its participants. If the people in the market have no respect for the law, no respect for morality, and no respect for the common good, the market will just produce oligarchs and crooks. Yes, those types are always there, but if you get too many of them the market fails. Look at Russia. Russia allegedly is a free market, but it is a market run by a society poisoned by 80 years of communism. Russia is a society that doesn't value freedom or individual rights, and that has left over soviet values that basically say that it is okay to steal or use political influence to get ahead. The market is never going to produce much freedom or prosperity under those conditions.

    What libertarians often fail to understand is that our country and our market for all of its flaws works so well and makes us fabulously wealthy because we have a society that for the most part is filled with hard working decent people who have sense of morality who get up every day and play by the rules and make things run. It is true that if we didn't have freedom and the market they couldn't do that. But it is equally true that if the country wasn't filled with people like that, the market and freedom wouldn't buy us anything. Libertarians are absolutely right to say that the government really can't do a very good job of fostering that kind of morality and work ethic. But they are dead wrong to think that the necessary morality and respect for each other and the law just magically rises wherever there is a market. You need the civil structures and shared values to get that and the market in and of itself will not give it to you.

  • ||

    *Carl Jung, obviously. I shouldn't comment on Friday.

  • R C Dean||

    It is never necessary to sacrifice one freedom to preserve another.

    Well, that's not entirely true to a minarchist libertarian (but I repeat myself). That's essentially an anarchist position.

    Any society with a state accepts some limitations on freedom. Even the night watchman state restricts your freedom to commit fraud and aggression against your neighbors.

  • NP||

    Episiarch,

    Mine was too. I figured you would've noticed that from the Roddick-Federer analogy, but guess I was wrong. My bad.

  • ||

    NP -
    I, unfortunately, haven't gotten to watch much of Djokovic this tournament because ESPN2 has been showing Williams sister matches twice a day (once in the 3:30am slot, and then again during the day). I suspect that if he wins here his American television coverage will at least improve to about the level of Nadal's.

    Who do you like in the Sharapova/Ivanovic match?

  • Episiarch||

    Mine was too. I figured you would've noticed that from the Roddick-Federer analogy, but guess I was wrong. My bad.

    Well, I guess it's my bad for not getting it. I find Federer so boring that I have difficulty watching him. He's amazing, but so boring. Tennis really needs another MacEnroe.

  • ||

    "Who do you like in the Sharapova/Ivanovic match?"

    Sharapova. She is finally in shape. She has great game but on hard surfaces she had problems in long rallys because she wasn't in the kind of physical condition she needed to be. She carried about five too many pounds and was slow and got tired. In the off season this year she dropped that weight and got in better shape. Now she can run down balls she couldn't before and doesn't tire so easily. That makes her very tough to beat.

  • ||

    "The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life."

    At first I just blew on past this. But what does it mean? What is "public life"? Community? Business? Being safe when you walk down the street? Public health? Suburban family life? Church? What the hell is it?

  • ||

    "Well, I guess it's my bad for not getting it. I find Federer so boring that I have difficulty watching him. He's amazing, but so boring. Tennis really needs another MacEnroe."

    Why? Because you want someone to yell? Federer's game is beautiful. He makes such great shots. I can understand how someone like Lendle or worse yet Agasi or Chang, guys who just ran everything down and won through consistency and determination rather than creativity and shot making are considered boring. But not Federer. He plays a gorgous game, he is anything but boring, unless you just came to see the circus rather than the match.

  • ||

    I too like Sharapova, if for no other reason than the experience. She's finally got the one-slam-wonder monkey off her back at the 2006 US Open, so she can relax and play her game. I agree that she looks fitter than she did last year, and that shoulder problem looks to have finally subsided.

  • ||

    "At first I just blew on past this. But what does it mean? What is "public life"? Community? Business? Being safe when you walk down the street? Public health? Suburban family life? Church? What the hell is it?"

    I think it means what I explained above; the idea that you are only as good as the people in society. If you don't have a society that values the law and work, a market no matter how free, isn't going to get you very far.

  • ||

    At first I just blew on past this. But what does it mean? What is "public life"? Community? Business? Being safe when you walk down the street? Public health? Suburban family life? Church? What the hell is it?

    Does it matter, Lamar? All you need to know is that you are a good, altruistic human being and everyone else is immoral and requires force to behave in a civilized manner.

  • ||

    Sometimes, I wish that academics were exposed to heckling on a regular basis, within their ivory towers. If I ever meet Mr. and Mrs. Storey, I'd probably tell them to go fuck themselves.

    They could spend a day or two reading and commenting on Hit & Run, perhaps?

    Don't announce your coming, Mr and Ms Storey. Just drop in and discuss the issues of the day. Unlike the Weekly Standard, here you don't get cut off for not toeing the party line.

    Countering that "moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism", should be child's play for a couple of learned and respected political scholars like yourselves.

    So drop on by any time. BTW, Standard Libertarian Disclaimer #1 is "Libertarian does not equal libertine."

  • ||

    I'm on the McCain straight-talk express...100 years in Iraq baby!!

  • Episiarch||

    Well screw you too John. I'm so sorry I don't appreciate Federer as much as you. Are you trying to say Mac was just a circus freak and not fucking amazing? He had personality. Federer is like a tennis robot. Yeah, he's great, but when you play like Data playing the violin it sucks.

  • ||

    "So drop on by any time. BTW, Standard Libertarian Disclaimer #1 is "Libertarian does not equal libertine."


    No it doesn't but to some people it often does. Frankly, I think the is a really strong moral argument for small government in that big government just enables people's worst impulses. No we are not going to spend billions trying to save you from drugs, we are simply going to hold you responsible for your own personal and moral recklessness if you decide to abuse drugs. There is a fine line between help and enabling people and government help usually crosses it.

  • ||

    "Are you trying to say Mac was just a circus freak and not fucking amazing?"

    Mac was amazing and I wish people played more like him in that he was a true serve and volly guy who had incredible touch. But, frankly I am not sure you could play like that with todays rackets. Technology has really hurt the men's side of the sport. I guess I misunderstood you. I thought you meant we need another MacEnroe because he yelled and was such a jacksass. Apparaently, you didn't. My apologies.

  • NP||

    Reinmoose,

    Yeah, ESPN hasn't shown much Djokovich so far but I think it has to do more with the class of his opponents than with our lack of interest in him per se. Besides Hewitt and maybe Ferrer he hasn't faced many high-profile players until today; add to this the fact that he's been winning in straight sets and you have relatively crowd-displeasing tennis.

    As for the ladies' match, make your bet on Sharapova. Henin is still the best female player, but Sharapova has been outplaying herself in every match so far and I don't expect her to do any worse in her final.

  • ||

    I didn't used to like to watch Federer play because I thought it was boring to watch a match that I already knew the outcome to. It was painful to watch good players lose to him 62 61 or similar scores. But then I started watching him for his skill, and since then I've enjoyed watching him for HOW he dismantles his opponents. I think he's been great for the game because, without Federer, who would be #1 right now (or for the past few years)? Andy Roddick? Please. He frustrates the hell out of me because he's so unidimensional. Would we even have a Rafael Nadal as good as we have without Roger?

    I agree that he can be robotic, but he's such an amazing robot.

  • Neu Mejican||

    It's always flattering that libertarianism -- almost uniquely among strains of modern political thought -- is constantly challenged to defend itself against its most theoretical extremes.

    Unique?
    Jesus in a potato.

  • Episiarch||

    But, frankly I am not sure you could play like that with todays rackets.

    I have an O3 White just like Sharapova and I can get great touch out of it. It's not a heavy hitter like the O3 red, so you get more effect. With new strings and balls I can create topspin that you wouldn't believe. On good days, I never hit too long because of it.

  • ||

    the notion that ideology can replace virtue as the mainstay of a decent regime, and the cynical assumption that virtue is not real but vanity in disguise.

    Name the President who is considered the most "virtuous" of the last fifty years. The guy who leaped immediately to my mind was...Jimmy Carter. History's greatest monster.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    But the pros are so strong and hit the ball so hard and so consistent that I think they might just overpower someone like MacEnroe. Tech is great because it makes it easier for weekend hackers to play at a higher level. But at the highest levels, I wonder if it doesn't make the game all about power.

  • NP||

    Episiarch & John,

    No less an authority than Mats Wilander said that McEnroe had the greatest potential among the giants of the Open Era, including Borg, Sampras and Federer. I seriously doubt that McEnroe wouldn't have been able to adjust his game with today's rackets. Great players remain great regardless of the differences in mere equipment.

    And I do agree that McEnroe was the more exciting player of the two, but no personality for Federer? The guy has more shots in his repertoire than anyone else in men's history with the only possible exception of Rod Laver. You may not like his style, but let's agree that his personality on and off the court is more understated.

    And I second what Reinmoose just said.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I would like to expand...

    Libertarianism is not unique among political ideologies.
    It is just like all the others.
    It does not have to defend itself against the extremes of its principles anymore than any other ideology.

    It is not more rational.
    It is not uniquely moral.
    It is not more idealistic.
    It is not an orphaned philosophy without influence in the political life of the US.

    Get over yourself Matt.

  • ||

    I would like to see Federer and Nadal play a match with a 70s era wood racket and see what it looked like. I agree that MacEnroe would change his game. I can't imagine the kind of spin he could put on his lefty serves with todays rackets. That said, he would change his game and wouldn't be the MacEnroe we all remember and love. He would train better, be stronger and be a better baseline banger. He would still be great, but I wonder if his game would be as pleasing.

  • Episiarch||

    It's not all about power. There is so much spin on pro hits it's amazing, but they all handle it so well you don't notice it.

    Sampras was a power player. If he started losing he just aced people. And that sucks (though I admit I do the same thing--winning is a strong motivator). But he could still be overcome. I'm sure Mac would have figured out how to.

    Placement is the key, though, and I think that's why Federer is so good. He is like a marksman. And better rackets just help with that--if you are doing it properly in the first place.

  • NP||

    John,

    If you'd watched any of the matches McEnroe played recently, you would've noticed that he actually did hit harder with today's rackets than he used to in his prime with the more "primitive" equipment. This when the guy's now well in his middle age. Again equipment and fitness do matter, but that's not proof that the greats of yesteryear would be the merely excellent of today.

  • ||

    So, they hate us for our freedoms?

  • ||

    I think Federer proves that it's not all about power. That, and the fact that everyone at the top of the game hits pretty much just as hard as each other. Brad Gilbert was always talking about "putting weight on" Andy Roddick and Andy Murray, but I don't think that's the way to go with the tennis game these days. Movement is so much more important once you get high enough in power that any advantage you have over your opponents in power is marginal, and balanced by their ability to get behind the ball.

  • Matt Welch||

    It does not have to defend itself against the extremes of its principles anymore than any other ideology.

    My point is that it is asked to defend the extremes of its principles more than, say, National Greatness Conservatism, or Third Way Democraticism, or even straight-up Greenism. You disagree?

  • ||

    John said, "Russia is a society that doesn't value freedom or individual rights, and that has left over soviet values that basically say that it is okay to steal or use political influence to get ahead. The market is never going to produce much freedom or prosperity under those conditions."

    This is not unlike many areas of the United States where I have traveled or lived in five decades.

    Isn't a market a place (or a protocol) whereby a willing buyer and a willing seller can find each other and voluntarily trade value for value, each walking away better off after the transaction because he got something he valued more than the thing he gave away?

    If you start putting too many restrictions on this basic scenario, you may have something you CALL a market, which may have some market-like characteristics, but will it actually BE a market? In particular, if the post-Soviet Russian "market" is somewhere that you go to be coerced into making "politically correct" trades or having your property stolen, clearly we can't pin too many hopes on it, but should we confuse things by honoring such an institution with the name of "market"? On the other hand, if you have a real market, even one that operates in the heart of a broken society (and if that is even possible), can you not expect such an establishment to help cure the society's ills? This might explain why some of those US areas I alluded to above have markets (or institutions that are close to markets, if one ignores the distortions caused by government intervention), from which they derive great benefit. In that case, maybe there is hope for Russia, too.

    The big problem with the neocons (also pointed out by others, above) is that they use the vocabulary of freedom without actually believing in freedom or promoting it. They pay lip service to freedom because that is what you do in the USA as you wave the flag. But true freedom would make many of their most cherished programs impossible and many of their core goals unattainable -- they know this, so it is important for them to usurp the mantle of "freedom's champions," at the same time marginalizing and vilifying the true champions, who see through the con and who would happily blow the whistle on it at every opportunity.

  • Fluffy||

    At first I just blew on past this. But what does it mean? What is "public life"? Community? Business? Being safe when you walk down the street? Public health? Suburban family life? Church? What the hell is it?

    Well, it doesn't mean what John says it means, I'll tell you that much. Who values just law, work, etc. more than libertarians? No one.

    Here's what it really means:

    When you ask people to do absolutely moronic things like sacrifice their lives for "national greatness", you won't succeed without a comprehensive set of national bullshit lies that everyone buys into emotionally. People who are busily tending to their own gardens won't buy in, and the sight of them not buying in potentially leads others to not buy in.

    An ideology that encourages people to demand freedom and the right to pursue happiness is destructive of a public life that consists of the mindless repetition of dead formulae, continual self-abasement before the state, up to and including sacrificing one's life to protect a submoronic President from his own strategic failures, and humility before the arbitrary commands of churches run by con men, grifters, medievalists, and retards.

  • ||

    What John said.

  • ||

    Libertarianism has to defend itself disproportionately because its presence on the internet is disproportinate to its number of adherents in meat space. People who spend a lot of time on the internet can come to believe that there is a massive libertarian movement out there based on the number of arguments they have, and internet libertarians sometimes forget they are numerically insignificant in the outside world.

  • Fluffy||

    It is not more rational.

    I would argue that this is demonstrably false, for the following reason:

    Two men are trying to solve a math problem.

    One says, "Hmmm...I will try to use reason to solve this problem." He then gets the wrong answer, because he's not very good at math.

    The second says, "Hmmm...I will try to solve this problem by pulling the liver out of a goat and looking at it for signs of the right answer." He then also gets the wrong answer.

    Despite the fact that both men got the wrong answer, the first man is demonstably more rational than the second man.

    Therefore, even if you think libertarianism is false or reaches the wrong conclusions, it is absolutely more rational than thought systems that make no secret of their irrational basis.

  • ||

    "The big problem with the neocons (also pointed out by others, above) is that they use the vocabulary of freedom without actually believing in freedom or promoting it. They pay lip service to freedom because that is what you do in the USA as you wave the flag. But true freedom would make many of their most cherished programs impossible and many of their core goals unattainable -- they know this, so it is important for them to usurp the mantle of "freedom's champions," at the same time marginalizing and vilifying the true champions, who see through the con and who would happily blow the whistle on it at every opportunity."

    What the hell does that mean? How does having a voluntary military and being willing to use it not promote freedom? Further, how does the libertarian commitment to trade with anyone no matter how loathsome square with their "promotion of freedom"? The fallacy that libertarians fall into is the idea that wealth someone creates freedom. If we just trade with China and North Korea more, they would become more free. That is bullshit. China isn't anymore free today than it was 20 years ago. It is a hell of a lot more wealthy but it is not more free. In fact, the Chicoms ability to produce wealth and a better standard of living for its citizens is probably what kept it from having a revolution and enabled the CHICOMS to tighten their grip on power. Hard to find a richer society per capita than Saudia Arabia, but it is in no way free.

    Now it may be true that not trading with China and North Korea doesn't really do any good and we might as well make money while we can. That is a perfectly reasonable argument. What is not reasonable is the idea that if we just trade with people they will automatically become more free. That is just bullshit. China puts lie to that every day. In fact, the more we trade with China, the more we are dependent on them and the more we have to accept their appalling behavior. It is true that their trading with us means they have to accept us to and abadon any ideas of attacking us. But our trading with them strengthens their ability to hold onto power.

    Other than the desire to trade and get rich, I don't see where American libertarians have any desire to promote freedom in the world. If you judged the world by reading Reason, you wouldn't know the world existed outside of the US and Iraq. Reason has in the post 9-11 world a very inward looking isolationist magazine.

  • Fluffy||

    What libertarians often fail to understand is that our country and our market for all of its flaws works so well and makes us fabulously wealthy because we have a society that for the most part is filled with hard working decent people who have sense of morality who get up every day and play by the rules and make things run.

    I'd still like to hear what the hell this has to do with the argument at hand, because frankly someone who spends their free time reading Ayn Rand is a lot more likely to behave this way than someone who takes their cue from that bastard Bill Kristol.

    I hear an awful lot about the need for "moral content" in leadership but no one seems to be able to provide me with a real example. Even if Reason has libertine tendencies, they have absolutely nothing to do with any of the things you're talking about. Legalizing drugs would have virtually no impact on what you're describing here. None. Rates of atheism could spring to 95% and it would have no impact on what you're describing here. None. Frankly, it would probably improve them.

    The upper income strata of this country is filled with perfectly honest and highly productive people who respect the rule of law who are also Ivy League atheists who smoked dope at Harvard and Yale while they boned their 17 year old Wellesley freshman girlfriends. You can't draw a causal connection between personal libertinism and Russian-style kleptocracy because it doesn't exist.

  • Episiarch||

    Hey, cut the shit--we were trying to talk tennis here.

  • Fluffy||

    Further, how does the libertarian commitment to trade with anyone no matter how loathsome square with their "promotion of freedom"?

    Well, first of all, drop the "we".

    If I am personally not free to trade with China, I am less free. The issue of whether or not the Chinese people will be more free over time if we trade with them is a good one, and strong arguments can be made on both sides, but it remains a secondary issue. The primary issue is: Who the fuck are you to tell me I can't get on a boat and go spend MY MONEY in China?

  • ||

    "The primary issue is: Who the fuck are you to tell me I can't get on a boat and go spend MY MONEY in China?"

    No one can tell you that nor should you. But don't sit around and bitch then when people accuse libertarians of being narsisstic deadbeats who don't give a shit about anyone's freedom beyond their own.

  • ||

    A central tenant of the Weakly Standard (yes, that's a pun) faith is that the masses need religion or else chaos will ensue. Not that the WS crowd is especially religious; they just subscribe to the Marxian idea that religion is the opiate of the masses, but then conclude that's a good thing.

    It's actually Straussian. Noble Lies and all that.

  • Heinrick||

    If there is no cartoon porn on this site I am out of here!!!

  • ||

    But don't sit around and bitch then when people accuse libertarians of being narsisstic deadbeats who don't give a shit about anyone's freedom beyond their own.

    You'll never love anyone else's freedom until you learn to love your own.

  • ||

    "The upper income strata of this country is filled with perfectly honest and highly productive people who respect the rule of law who are also Ivy League atheists who smoked dope at Harvard and Yale while they boned their 17 year old Wellesley freshman girlfriends. You can't draw a causal connection between personal libertinism and Russian-style kleptocracy because it doesn't exist."

    No, our country has a alarming percentage of elites who feel that it is okay to steal from their shareholders and run fraud schemes like Enron in no small part because they were taught in business school that there is no such thing as business ethics because the capitalist system is evil anyway. Now that is not libertarians fault. But, libertarians never stop to think that the whole system is based on a sense of morality. Libertinism absolutely stands in contrast to that. If it feels good do it is great. What feels good to me is to lie cheat and steal my way to millions.

    There is a casual link between libertinism and soviet style kleptocracy. The link is that if no one has any faith in any sense of morality or institutions, no one is going to give a shit to follow the rules. The Russians have a kleptocracy because they have an entire society of people who grew up under a system where no on believed in the system and only a sucker didn't cheat to get ahead.

    Libertarians' mistake is that they ignore the need to build up institutions. They just want to tear them down. We hate the cops, We hate the courts, we hate the religion, we hate the fundies, we hate the military, and so forth. Eventually if you get your way on everything, you are left with nothing but a bunch of cynics gaming the system.

  • ||

    The suggestion that libertarianism is based around the worship of greed, as asserted in the Weekly Standard article, is just plain retarded. Just because there is a theory out there that everyone acting in their own best interest leads to optimal outcomes does not mean that it is the flagship value of libertarians. Freedom, whether or not it results in the "best" outcome, is the most important thing. It's not a manipulation of society to create what we expect to be the best outcomes through greed you incompetent shits. It's the principle that no one person knows all that is good, and cannot and should not impose those values on everyone else.

  • Fluffy||

    The link is that if no one has any faith in any sense of morality or institutions, no one is going to give a shit to follow the rules.

    That's the institutions' fault, baby.

    THEY are the one who tells people that the reason they should be moral is because if they aren't the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be angry.

    I've never met anyone connected with a church who had anything to tell me about any subject whatsoever, ESPECIALLY personal morality. When you conflate Christianity's demented sexual obsessions with the morality that tells us we shouldn't steal, it's YOUR fault when people say, "Well, the sex stuff is obvious crap, so I guess I can assume that the stuff about stealing is crap too."

    When the state tells people that their March Madness bracket pool is illegal and immoral, people rightly conclude that the state has no judgment in matters of morality, and similarly discount its OTHER judgments.

    Maybe if we hadn't inherited such shitty and idiotic churches and public institutions, people wouldn't lose faith in them. You ever consider that?

    The first time you put up a picture of a fucking triceratops wearing a saddle you lose the authority to tell me anything about anything ever again. Forever. Luckily, my personal morality was never based on such nonsense, so the death of our institutions doesn't affect me. But if there are people out there who have been affected by the death of institutions, a strong case can be made that it was shitty institutions that let them down.

    We hate the cops, We hate the courts

    Produce just laws, and cops and courts that follow those just laws, and I'll love them just fine. Frankly, if the laws were just I would probably turn into fucking Javert. That's already the way I am in areas where our laws aren't absurd.

    we hate the religion, we hate the fundies

    Don't say stupid shit and I won't think you're stupid. Easy enough.

    we hate the military

    Bite me.

  • ||

    John:

    It is a fallacy of certain flavors of conservatism to act as though True Belief In Morality and Institutions were ever an effective check on behavior. We are as moral as we have ever been, and we believe in the institutions that work pretty well.

  • Fluffy||

    No one can tell you that nor should you. But don't sit around and bitch then when people accuse libertarians of being narsisstic deadbeats who don't give a shit about anyone's freedom beyond their own.

    To have a free society, I must be free.

    To have a just society, I must be treated justly.

    My knowledge of my personal situation is superior to my knowledge of anyone else's situation.

    Therefore, the first analysis I should perform when faced with any law is: Is this law just to me? Does this law restrict my freedom?

    If a law is unjust to me, I automatically know that law cannot serve a just society.

    If a law restricts my freedom, I automatically know that law cannot serve a free society.

    That means that further analysis is not required. Whether I "give a shit" about the freedom of the Chinese, or not. I already know that the law is unjust and restricts freedom. So if I love justice and freedom more than anything else, I must oppose the law.

    It's really no more complex than that. Attempts to add greater complexity to the analysis are inherently deceptive and probably reveals the dishonest motive of wanting to confuse the issue.

  • NP||

    Again what Reinmoose said. And given John's silence I guess he's conceded the point (every pun intended).

    Episiarch - So if Federer isn't one of your faves, who do you like then (besides McEnroe, of course)?

  • ||

    What these sort of dolts, along with much of the Christian right, never seem to grasp, is that behavior which is not freely chosen cannot not virtuous. Charles Manson has not been a better human being, lo these past 38 years, because he has not instigated any mass murders in that period. Duke Cunningham and Danny Rostenkowski did not become more honest men by being in prison cells, instead of on Congressional Committees. The notion that state coercion is the path to private virtue is so entirely stupid as to beggar belief, or at least get you a gig at The Weekly Standard.

  • Episiarch||

    So if Federer isn't one of your faves, who do you like then (besides McEnroe, of course)?

    I haven't really found myself rooting for anyone, actually. These guys seem quite similar to me, which is probably more of a function of the fact that I don't have the time to watch much. I'd rather be playing, and when I watch, I want to play even more.

  • ||

    I'd rather be playing, and when I watch, I want to play even more.

    So true. Although, I don't belong to a club and it's winter, so....

    Actually, I'm going to Hawaii to visit my sister for a couple of weeks in Feb. Maybe I can find someone out there...

  • ||

    And to J sub D: Ha! What do you say now? Ready to take back your word yet?

    NP -
    Yes I am. Upsets are my favorite part of sports. Here's hoping that Federer wins only 20% of the tournaments he enters for a while.

    FYI, Fresh humble pie doesn't really taste any better than the old stuff. ;-)

  • NP||

    I'd rather be playing, and when I watch, I want to play even more.

    Good that you enjoy playing more than just watching the sport (or any sport, for that matter). Perhaps I should start playing more tennis myself, 'cause it's one of the rare sports that I've been even remotely good at.

  • ||

    behavior which is not freely chosen cannot not virtuous

    I wish more people would understand that - not just Christians, and not just conservatives. Laws can protect people from other people, but laws cannot make people better people.

    Fluffy: There are a lot - in fact, a whole lot - of Christians who aren't obsessed with sex and don't think man and dino were buddies. All Christians are no more sex- addled creationist thugs than are all libertarians dope-smoking porno spanking would be robber barons. Bigotry is a fine excuse for dismissing the arguments of people you disagree with - I do it myself sometimes - but it's still bigotry.

  • NP||

    J sub D,

    Here's hoping that Federer wins only 20% of the tournaments he enters for a while.

    Heh. I wouldn't count on it if I were you. Let's at least hope that Djokovic's win today wasn't a fluke and that Nadal starts winning on other surfaces than clay once in a while. That way we'll have a rivalry not seen since the great Borg-McEnroe-Connors era.

  • ||

    Without the high stakes of U.S.-Soviet conflict, national-greatness conservatives are desperately seeking the moral equivalent of the Cold War. Their pursuit is in vain, for Americans go to war reluctantly and are happy to be at peace.

    What a difference a decade makes.

    Oh and BTW, John's 9:58am comment is one of the best I've ever read here.

  • ||

    The first time you put up a picture of a fucking triceratops wearing a saddle you lose the authority to tell me anything about anything ever again. Forever.

    That was damned funny. Truth is needed for quality humor.

    we hate the religion, we hate the fundies

    I don't "hate" religion any more than I "hate" I love Lucy. In both cases, I just mock it's ridiculousness and wonder where the fans brains are located.

    I don't "hate" powerless fundies. But history tells me to fear for my life if they have power. Anybody want to argue that point? Didn't think so.

  • ||

    Freedom, whether or not it results in the "best" outcome, is the most important thing. It's not a manipulation of society to create what we expect to be the best outcomes through greed you incompetent shits. It's the principle that no one person knows all that is good, and cannot and should not impose those values on everyone else.

    Ding ding!

  • ||

    "Moral vacuity?" I'm more moral than most of the people I know. Screw them and their ersatz high horse.

  • ||

    "Them" being the authors, not the people I know.

  • alan||

    I figure the true purpose* of this article is to set up a meme to be acted upon with the changing of the guard that is likely to occur in November.

    If Hillary Clinton becomes the POTUS, the official narrative will run like this: The Bush Administration turned America into a morally vacuous, nation of Gordon Gekko profit seekers who disregarded all claims of community and public morality in the pursuit of greed. By electing a Democratic House, Senate and Presidency, America
    has atoned herself of her blemished past.

    Being the courtiers that they are, the neocons are getting to the head of the line in endorsing the official narrative. They have not named names as of yet, criticism of the Administration is still relatively mild in their circle, and they still hedge their bets in case Romney McCain actually beat the Dems, but if that doesn't occur the rats will abondon ship, and suck up to the new power center.

    Essentially the substance of their argument when put motivation aside, is the argument that libertarians place a strong emphasis on Economic Man. There are many ways to dispute this, but let us take the premise as a given.

    There is a reason this outlook is more rational than others. Your economic interest never lies to you. It never tells you that it is a good idea to get yourself killed in a foriegn nation unless your actual well being and those you love are at stake. It never tells you that blowing yourself up and dozens of people that you have never met will get you to a sex orgy in never-never land (btw, how is THAT for Libertinism?).

    * Given neocons are Straussians, taking them at their word means always questioning their motives.

  • robc||

    What is not reasonable is the idea that if we just trade with people they will automatically become more free.

    What is reasonable is that if we trade with people WE become more free. I am more free if Im allowed to buy Cuban cigars. Whether that makes Cubans any freer is beside the point.

  • robc||

    John's 9:58 post is pretty good but he is completely wrong on the things libertarians have "forgotten" or "fail to understand".

    We have neither forgotten nor failed to understand. We just dont usually discuss it because it doesnt matter when discussing the role of government in things.

  • alan||

    perhaps the Judaic/Christian/Islam creeds should be referred to as 'deferred gratification libertinism.'

  • ||

    we hate the military

    Do we, John? I missed that memo.

    R/
    J sub D, FCCM, USN, Retired.

  • ||

    "we hate the military

    Do we, John? I missed that memo.

    R/
    J sub D, FCCM, USN, Retired."

    I don't think every libertarian hates the military nor do I believe that libertarianism in exclusive of the military. In fact, I think just the opposite. You can't have a free society unless you have the ability to protect it with the gun.

    My point, however, was that I think Libertarians get seduced into thinking that freedom and individuality are all that is necessary for a successful society. That is just not true. We in the US have a successful society in no small part because lots of people like yourself sacrificed their individuality and personal goals and in some cases their lives to a larger goal of the country. There has to be a common respect for each other and for some basic forms of morality or the whole thing falls. Understanding that the government can't enforce that morality, doesn't mean that you have to deny the need for that morality. Libertineism and radical individualism is the great seducer of libertarianism. A whole society without norms and without any commitment to anything beyond the individual will degernate into tyrany and chaose pretty quickly. If you love freedom, you ought to also love the morality and commitments that allow a free society to prosper.

  • Fluffy||

    There are a lot - in fact, a whole lot - of Christians who aren't obsessed with sex and don't think man and dino were buddies. All Christians are no more sex- addled creationist thugs than are all libertarians dope-smoking porno spanking would be robber barons. Bigotry is a fine excuse for dismissing the arguments of people you disagree with - I do it myself sometimes - but it's still bigotry.

    You appear to be conceding that there are, in fact, Christians obsessed with sex.

    Even if they are a tiny minority, they happen to have had a great deal of influence when the broader Christian morality was promulgated over the centuries, and the remaining obsessives are extremely vocal today.

    This means that my point stands: if nihilism is in fact sweeping the nation, it's not the fault of libertarians - it's the fault of those who made a pastiche of absurd rules and reasonable rules and called it "Christian morality". Some people took them at their word when they announced that theirs was the only morality, and if these people don't see the sex parts or the gambling parts or the eating parts or the thoughtcrime parts as severable, they throw out the entire thing. That is not the fault of the people who critique the Christian morality; it's the fault of the people who came up with it.

    If we're arguing about the durability of institutions and the respect that they are due or not due from libertarians, then the egregious or unworthy examples are what we need to consider.

  • ||

    John,

    Frankly, I would accept your point if I didn't suspect that the next step were to advocate a dozen or so traditional purities derived from the Old Testament. If that isn't your aim, take it as an indication of how often the argument you're making is used that way - "Agree that morals are good, will you? HA! I told you them gay people were dangerous! Now you agree! HA!"

  • Fluffy||

    We in the US have a successful society in no small part because lots of people like yourself sacrificed their individuality and personal goals and in some cases their lives to a larger goal of the country.

    And if in every instance, we had replaced the word "country" with the word "liberty" then all the shitty things the US has done would not have been done [or would have been infinitely harder to do] and only the good things it has done would have been done.

    My point, however, was that I think Libertarians get seduced into thinking that freedom and individuality are all that is necessary for a successful society. That is just not true.

    It's absolutely true, as long as we're talking about the mutual acknowledgement by each for everyone else's freedom and morality, too.

    Because if we have that acknowledgement then all the necessary parts of morality can be defended by the law: Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't enslave. Don't rape. If an invader comes to take away these freedoms, kill him. It all follows. What parts don't?

  • ||

    Taking a look at "National Greatness Conservatism" for a moment, what I see when I think of that is "loser." I mean that in the electoral sense.

    When such "national greatness" is defined in domestic terms, it means welfare and nanny-state regulation, in which left-liberals will always have the advantage with the voting public. It's reminiscent of the old country club Republicans, who kept losing elections on a platform of something akin to "we favor the same stuff as the Democrats, just not as much of it."

    In foreign-policy terms, "national greatness" conservatism obviously means perpetual war, and the American public has a limited taste for that, especially the futile and morale-destroying exercise of "nation building." Perhaps many Americans really do fantasize about 'taming the savages,' much as our European predecessors did. But when it is laid out in dollars and blood, Americans seem to wake up rather quickly.

    As such, "national greatness" conservatism is simply a rerun of the Bull Moose Party, and certain to have the same amount of electoral success in the long run.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    If you love freedom, you ought to also love the morality and commitments that allow a free society to prosper.

    ..that sounds an awful lot like saying we all need to be the same in order to be happy and successful. A truly dynamic society is constantly challenging the norms of morality and committments, trying to find a better way. If your argument is that pleasant rigid following of current rules of order will lead to the best society, I must disagree. That doesn't mean that we should brook radical changes to the current system, but we should not stop looking for ways to change society for the better. Libertarianism attempts to define the max rate of tolerable change to allow things to improve with the least amount of coercion.

  • ||

    The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life.

    Having read this sentence at least two dozen times, I finally have a handle on it: "How can we tell the poor, feckless, peasantry what's good for them, with those crazy libertarians telling them they are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves? The libertarians are trying to take all the fun out of Public Service."

    What do I win?

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    P Brooks,

    I hear the song "Brazil" playing inside my head.

  • ||

    It is no coincidence that Reason publishes hagiographies of Milton Freedman [sic] as well as pleas for drug legalization and appreciations of cartoon pornography: economic libertarianism, elevated to the status of inviolable first principle, leads to moral libertarianism.

    What does "[sic]" mean?

  • ||

    John asks, "How does having a voluntary military and being willing to use it not promote freedom?"

    First, the voluntary military is only "voluntary" once you sign up. Then your a** belongs to Uncle Sam or whoever his "Decider" is this week. If you doubt this, ask the National Guard units, whose members primarily signed up to directly defend the territory of the US States, but who have been sent to the middle-east, some of them on multiple tours. Military suicides are up, or haven't you been keeping up with the news? Second, the "voluntary military" is supported by the INVOLUNTARILY confiscated effort and resources of scores of millions of taxpayers. Their freedom, both in terms of behavior as well as in the ability to dispose of their own property, is markedly reduced during a state of war. And finally, is the use of the military really making people in the occupied areas "more free"? No more, it seems than the use of trade, which John dismisses:

    "Further, how does the libertarian commitment to trade with anyone no matter how loathsome square with their 'promotion of freedom'?"

    Libertarians have no commitment to trade with anyone, no matter how loathsome. Instead, Libertarians think that every individual has the right to make that decision for him or herself. Government shouldn't be determining or enforcing which nations are our trading partners this week, and "encouraging" us to change partners next week. That kind of thing sounds so close to Ingsoc behavior in "1984" that it is giving me the creeps.

    Since I mentioned "1984," I would urge John and others who think he's onto something to go back and read Orwell's explanation of the reasoning behind war. The point, says Orwell, is to dispose of the products of human labor in a way that doesn't allow the population any opportunity to question their rulers and become dissatisfied with their political lot. Trading is important because prosperity is important. Vigorous trade breeds mutual prosperity, which in turn affords people the education, the free time, and the appreciation of possibilities that inspire them to look beyond the current deal of the political cards (and to perhaps be able to recognize when their "leaders" are dealing from the bottom of the deck). China's regime may have found a way to keep people fat and happy for the moment, but if you have been keeping track of news coming out of China, you will know that signs of discontent are growing along with the prosperity of the people, and that such discontent -- historically speaking, a precursor to regime change -- might be exacerbated by peturbations in that prosperity, brought on by the global financial troubles, especially the dollar's precipitous drop in value.

    We can't make people free. We can, at best provide economic or military muscle if a population wants to be free, but even that is problematic, since, to take that approach, we must often restrict our OWN freedoms. We can provide an example of how to live free. But the people in various regions of the world have to understand freedom, how to get it, and how to keep it. It's a tough trick. We ourselves haven't been so good at keeping our own freedoms, especially in the most recent decade.

    And of course, John gives us all an excuse to drink a shot: "The fallacy that libertarians fall into..." DRINK! (If that's not one of the drinking game triggers, it should be!)

    For someone who doesn't really seem to understand libertarianism any better than the average Neocon, John certainly isn't shy about criticizing libertarians as if he did. But what else is new?

  • ||

    Fluffy:


    When you put it like that, you have a very good point.

    I think what bothers me is the implicit assumption - and maybe I'm inferring the assumption, maybe it's not really there - that's it's only, or mainly, conservative Christians who threaten individual liberty and want to restrain other peoples' freedoms. There are many who do, of course. But there are a lot of people who are neither Christian nor conservative who don't seem to have much understanding of or respect for the concept of individiual liberty. They may not be obsessed with sex or drugs, but they are no less eager to see the government impose limits on other peoples' activities. Environmentalism, as I think most people on these threads would agree, has become something like a religion for many people and concern for the environment an excuse to limit lifestyle choices. Modern day luddites - many of whom are not concerned with stem cell research, but with scientific advances other areas - pose a real threat.

    I could go on, but I really should be working. What I'm trying to get at is that many people who may not care whom you shag or in what manner would still be happy to - and would assume it's their right to - tell you how and where to shop, what to eat, how to travel, where to live and how to educate your children. It's dismaying that so many people think individual freedom applies to them and to their choices - but not to other people.

  • ||

    [sic] signifies that the error (the misspelling of "Friedman") was in the original material being quoted.

  • ||

    I guessed I missed the memo on how freedom and free markets in and of themselves give us peace and prosperity. Economicly, post invasion Iraq is pretty damned free. I wish the US has the sense to do some of the things the Iraqi government has done economically. How is that working out? Not well at least according to the libertarian line. Libertarians rightly criticize interventionists for being nieve in thinking that you can just enforce free markets and democracy top down on a society. They are absolutely right to point out the fallacy of thinking you can enforce freedom top down through interventionism.

    But then people like Fluffy don't apply those lessons to our own society. Free market hasn't equaled peace and prosperity in Iraq because people don't share the same values and put a premium on killing each other over trading with each other and the country doesn't have any institutions which people respect. Those institutions and the rule of law and respect for the rule of law only come from the bottom and are only as good as the society that makes them up.

    The danger of libertineism and radical individualism is that taken to its extreme, no one cares about anyone or any institution beyond themselves and those institutions then cease to function. Without those institutions and a society willing to respect them, it just becomes the rule of the gun or the connected or the most ruthless and no one is free.

  • Fluffy||

    Stubby -

    You are totally correct when you say that there are many threats to personal liberty.

    I'm just focusing on Christianity here because the topic of the thread is how these authors think that libertarianism is poisonous because its libertinism undermines public life. I take that to mean that the authors find anything which undermines respect for traditional institutions and for those aspects of Christian morality that run counter to "libertinism". I don't think they're talking about the nanny state; they're talking about the Pledge of Allegiance. They're not talking about ludditism; they're talking about shutting up and supporting a dreadful Mideast policy because of the sunk costs. They basically are mad at us because we don't support their war and because we laugh at the foibles of their evangelical henchmen. They aren't mad at us when we rhetorically attack the enemies of freedom on the left for them.

  • Fluffy||

    John -

    Either actually name the institutions and moral beliefs you want respect for, or give it up.

    You won't name them because every time you do, I can either co-opt them as already being part of libertarianism or laugh at them and you.

    Libertarians already think we shouldn't kill each other.

    Libertarians already think we shouldn't steal from one another.

    The people who wrote this column want respect for:

    1. Traditional churches.

    2. Collectivist traditions like primitive nationalism.

    And those have nothing to do with what you're talking about. I'm glad you brought up Iraq, because Iraq is chock full of people with deep traditional religious beliefs and naive nationalist sentiment. Those happen to be the reasons they're murdering each other. What they DON'T have is respect for each other's freedom or property. They need more people there who could be Reason editors and fewer people who could write for the Standard.

  • ||

    "And those have nothing to do with what you're talking about. I'm glad you brought up Iraq, because Iraq is chock full of people with deep traditional religious beliefs and naive nationalist sentiment. Those happen to be the reasons they're murdering each other. What they DON'T have is respect for each other's freedom or property. They need more people there who could be Reason editors and fewer people who could write for the Standard."

    You are not really a libertine fluffy you are more just an athiest bigot. I can't help you with your issues regarding religion. The point is of course that give one reason why I should respect the law if I disagree with it? Like I said above, libertineism is do what feels good, well what makes me feel good is screwing you out of whatever buck you may have. You can't coopt shit for being part of libertarianism until you admit there is such a thing as a universial morality and a common national culture. Without that, you are not cooptign, you are just saying we shouldn't do this or that because fluffy says so. Shit, you might as well just join a cult, that is where most radical athiests end up in the end anyway.

  • ||

    "2. Collectivist traditions like primitive nationalism."

    If it wasn't for primitive nationalism you would still living in trees dumb ass. If you don't like primitive nationalism, my suggestion is that you live outside the US for a while, preferably in the third world. You will find out there are a lot greater threats to your life and liberty than those fundie kids who arrarently beat you up and took your lunch money when you were in school.

  • ||

    John,

    So, when you claim to have a peg on the universal morality, how is that different from you saying that we shouldn't do this or that because John's sockpuppet says so?

  • ||

    I'm not trying to be glib, John. I really want to know where you're getting this apparently all-important distinction between: "I believe murder and stealing to be wrong and you should too," and "I believe in a divine tablet that says murder and stealing are wrong, and you should too."

  • ||

    Without God, Hale, there really isn't. That is why it really sucks to be an athiest. Most athiests don't have the balls to admit that fact and run around and pretend there is such a thing as morality without some kind of higher power to appeal to.

    Regardless, whether it be God, the Nation, the sockpuppet, or whatever, if people don't have a reason to follow the rules beyond pure legal compulsion, you society is going to fall apart. Libertarians, if they thought about it, ought to know that better than anyone. Why is it pointless to ban vice? Because no law is going to keep people from doing something they really want to. Without a collective morality, you are screwed. You either end up with chaos or tyrany if people can't restrain themselves on their own.

  • Fluffy||

    Just as I thought - you aren't willing to name the institutions and beliefs you want respect for that libertarianism undermines.

    You want acknowledgement of a universal morality? I acknowledge one. And it doesn't contradict libertarianism in even the slightest detail. So you can't just repeat "morality" and "culture" and "institutions" over and over. I want to hear about the exact elements of the moral code we're discussing, the exact elements of the culture we're discussing, and the exact institutions we're discussing. Because your repeated use of the word "libertinism" makes me think that you will make reference to utterly superfluous or harmful examples in each case.

    The point is of course that give one reason why I should respect the law if I disagree with it?

    There is no moral reason to obey the law if you disagree with it morally. To assert otherwise is to make a logical mishmash. If I oppose a particular law because I think it is unjust, there is no moral reason to obey it. Only prudence - otherwise known as "the damage that would be done if each individual rebelled against the state violently every time they disagreed with one law is greater than the damage the unjust law is itself doing." The moment state injustice grows to the point where that math ceases to be true, there is no moral AND no prudential reason to support the law, and it's time to fuck the law up.

    "Common national culture"? Har dee hardy har har.

  • Fluffy||

    Most athiests don't have the balls to admit that fact and run around and pretend there is such a thing as morality without some kind of higher power to appeal to.

    Wow, what a moralist you are - by your own admission here, without a vengeful deity to punish you for doing wrong, you would run amok and commit every sort of crime.

    That's too bad, really.

  • ||

    "There is no moral reason to obey the law if you disagree with it morally. To assert otherwise is to make a logical mishmash. If I oppose a particular law because I think it is unjust, there is no moral reason to obey it. Only prudence - otherwise known as "the damage that would be done if each individual rebelled against the state violently every time they disagreed with one law is greater than the damage the unjust law is itself doing." The moment state injustice grows to the point where that math ceases to be true, there is no moral AND no prudential reason to support the law, and it's time to fuck the law up."

    What makes a law unjust? Because you don't like it? If everyone fallows that theory, then no law will ever be followed because anyone think of some reason not to follow it especially when it is in their interest not to. You are standing on air fluffy and you don't even realize it. You appeal to concepts like "justice" but then deny there is any such thing as a common morality. We do have a common morality beyond religion and it is our traditions and culture. One great points the Hayak makes the libertarians love to ignore, is about the collective wisdom of tradition. That traditions are valid because they represent the wisdom of society through trial and error.

    To give the example of the law, I would argue that you have a moral obligation to obey a law even if you disagree with it, because without that respect for laws, we wouldn't have a society. Now of course you have the right to try to change the law, but ultimately either you respect the law or you don't. You can't pick and chose which laws to obey as long as you chose to be a member of society. It may be that that the law is so unjust that you can't morally abide by it. At that point, you have an obligation to publiclly disobey the law and take whatever punishment happens as a matter of principle, like Socrates agreeing to die rather than escape. But, what you do not have the moral right to do is just obey whatever laws you disagree with and never do so publiclly or bear the consequence of. To do that is to basically invite anarchy.

  • ||

    "Wow, what a moralist you are - by your own admission here, without a vengeful deity to punish you for doing wrong, you would run amok and commit every sort of crime."

    As opposed to believing that something is immoral because you say so? What authority do you have beyond your own will? Why is your will and assertion that this or that is immoral any better than anyone elses? Pretend all you like, but there is no reason for your morals to be any better than anyone else's and no reason why you are on any better moral plane than anyone else, which is just another way of saying there is no morality.

  • ||

    John,

    Is empathy insufficient? Because that's why I am opposed to hurting other people. Yes, some people don't possess it and we call them sociopaths, but the category of people who don't possess belief in the objective morality of old tyme relijun is a lot bigger - and far fewer atheists than sociopaths rape, murder or steal.

    Sure, some atheists do these things; some of your religious types do too. Is that an insufficient counterexample to your explanatory thesis that faith in your god is the thing, and the only thing, that keeps us from "running amok and committing every sort of crime"?

    It is?

    What the hell does it matter if I'm on an analytically higher moral plane, if someone is going around committing harm? Either way, if it's my obligation to prevent him from doing so as best I can, my higher moral plane won't help me one iota of a goddamn.

    Let's try a thought experiment. If you, John, were the last person alive who followed the One True Source of Morality, would that fact alone make you any better at preventing people from acting evilly toward one another?

    The social fabrics Burkeans love to invoke when tradition is in the air - these are the product of generations of people acting their own moralities with nothing to guide them but their own wills, instincts and social indoctrination, often in conflict with those held by portions of their societies. Yes, many of these people were religious, particularly in America - but then, many of them were regarded as heretics in their time. Moreover, many were explicitly not religious. Will you claim, as National Review recently did, that these people were stealth theists? Doesn't that sound an awful lot like "false consciousness"?

    But I'm wasting my time with these arguments. I reject objective morality not because it's patently untrue in light of my own experience, doesn't add up historically and isn't necessary to explain anything; I reject it because if it were true, the outcome would be ludicrous. Who is objectively right - the sect that argues that loaning with interest is evil, or the one that believes homosexuals should be stoned to death? Between the religion with a fetish for setting widows on fire and the one where you have to wear holy long-johns, which is privy to the ordering light that sets all falsehoods to truth?

    And at what point in history has mankind ever acted on perfect morality? Could divine objectivity be a work-in-progress, or something expected of us that we're never shown?

  • ||

    What a frickin waste of time, but I feel compelled to waste a little bit right now...

    Given the fact that I believe a "god" is no more likely than a planetary body composed entirely of Kraft cream cheese, I believe that morals are entirely the creation of humans and human evolution. (This is not to deny that some of the more evolved animals show aspects of a primitive morality.)

    Given all the different moral systems that have existed on this planet, and all the different religions, how can one really believe that morals were handed to humans by the Judaeo-Christian god? What egocentric bullshit.

    Aristotle and Plato wrote extensively on morality, without the help of the aforementioned religion.

    Likewise, the Japanese moral code was created without help from Judaeo-Christian thought, until recently, anyway. A traditional Shinto Japanese likely thinks of John as a barbarian. (This thought amuses me no end).

    Speaking of barbarians, the Aztec moral code allowed for human sacrifice. If John was raised in that culture, he would think it quite normal...

  • Fluffy||

    What makes a law unjust? Because you don't like it? If everyone fallows that theory, then no law will ever be followed because anyone think of some reason not to follow it especially when it is in their interest not to. You are standing on air fluffy and you don't even realize it. You appeal to concepts like "justice" but then deny there is any such thing as a common morality. We do have a common morality beyond religion and it is our traditions and culture.

    There are lots of things wrong with this post.

    First of all, you should get the fuck out of America if you don't think that when faced with an unjust law one has no obligation to follow it and can resist it with violence at one's own option. Go back to England you tory bastard.

    I did not deny that there is a common morality. I explicitly endorsed the concept of a common morality. I just don't think I need your traditions or your god to justify it. I can start with a blank piece of paper and justify mutual non-initiation of force and consensual exchange. I can't start with a blank piece of paper and justify "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy." That's because the prior is defensible and the latter is ridiculous crap.

    You can respond that I don't have any way of making everyone agree with me - but so what? You have no way to prove the existence of your god and no way to get everyone to agree with THAT, either. You are standing on less than air, because we can at least agree that the air is there. The flying spaghetti monster is a bit more dubious than the air, bub.

    Our traditions and culture may contain elements that serve legitimate and true morality. And those elements deserve respect. But they may also contain elements that do not serve legitimate and true morality, and those elements deserve disdain and scorn. Will we all automatically agree about which elements are which? Nope. And so we can yell at each other about it. But the people who wrote the initial article want ME to shut up and agree with THEM, in the interest of presenting a united front to the peasantry about which morality they should obey. Well, fuck that. How about the people at the Standard shut up and agree with ME?

    What? That's not so attractive? In that case - tough luck, national greatness conservatives.

    What would happen if everyone resisted laws they didn't agree with? Well, I imagine that what would happen is that laws that offended a very small number of people would simply be enforced, and the dissenters jailed. Laws that offended a large number of people would be swept away. States that attempted to keep in place laws that offended a large number of persons would be replaced by new states. In short, nothing would happen that Jefferson wouldn't have been totally happy with.

    You can't pick and chose which laws to obey as long as you chose to be a member of society. It may be that that the law is so unjust that you can't morally abide by it. At that point, you have an obligation to publiclly disobey the law and take whatever punishment happens as a matter of principle, like Socrates agreeing to die rather than escape.

    Don't you realize how utterly absurd this is?

    There can be no such thing as a moral obligation to accept an unjust punishment. Since the imposition of that punishment is immoral, subjecting oneself to it voluntarily enables immorality and makes one complicit in it. Thoreau, Emerson and Socrates were dead wrong. As a tactic, civil disobedience is often effective. But it should not be elevated into a moral principle. The victim of unjust law can employ civil disobedience as a tactic to shame the state if he thinks that doing so would serve his interest or the interest of justice - but he is under no moral obligation to do so.

    Consider a slave state, for example. Is the slave morally obligated to attempt to escape, allow himself to be caught, and accept the punishment for an escaped slave? Of course not. He is absolutely entitled to escape if he can, and to kill his master if he must. He is entitled to do this outside the mechanisms of the state, and he is entitled to smash the state, as well, if the state attempts to protect his master. And if that leads to anarchy, well - stop constructing unjust states, and you won't have to worry about that.

  • ||

    Yup, what Hale said while I was busy typing. ;-)

    Thanks, Hale.

  • ||

    What's the murder rate in Japan? That low! Really, wow! They must be super awesome Christians there!

  • ||

    "we hate the military"

    Like J sub D, I missed that memo.

    R/
    Troy, Multiple Launch Rocket Crewmember, 13M, United State Army, Sp4..

  • ||

    That way we'll have a rivalry not seen since the great Borg-McEnroe-Connors era.

    Since I've always liked the ladies, how about Chrissie and Navrat? Classics.

  • ||

    Without God, Hale, there really isn't. That is why it really sucks to be an athiest. Most athiests don't have the balls to admit that fact and run around and pretend there is such a thing as morality without some kind of higher power to appeal to.

    Damn, I should have been monitoring this thread because that is the most arrogantly stupid thing I've heard in a while.

    That is why it really sucks to be an thiest. Most thiests don't have the intelligence to admit that fact that they worship a non-existent being, as supposedly revealed in a piece of fiction, and run around and proclaim that their divine guidance is necessary to lead a moral life, and superior to everbody elses divine guidance.

    Just think about it. I'm every bit as moral as the priests, ministers, mullahs, swamis and nabobs on the planet. More so, if you consider I don't take money under the false pretenses of religion, I don't behave the way I do because of some silly promise of reward/fear of punishment in the afterlife.

    You make the ridiculous assertion that their is a "GOD", you back it up. Jesus in a potato just isn't very darned convincing. The only thing that sucks about being an atheist is the incisor scars on my tongue from not telling people how stupid their beliefs are.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Matt Welch,

    My point is that it is asked to defend the extremes of its principles more than, say, National Greatness Conservatism, or Third Way Democraticism, or even straight-up Greenism. You disagree?

    Yes. I disagree.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Fluffy,

    I said: "It is not more rational."

    Fluffy replies with... I would argue that this is demonstrably false, for the following reason:...[insert disappointing attempt at an analogy that provides no demonstration of the rational underpinnings of libertarianism] ...Therefore, even if you think libertarianism is false or reaches the wrong conclusions, it is absolutely more rational than thought systems that make no secret of their irrational basis.

    A claim to be using rational processes is not the same as using rational processes. A claim that your preferred system is more rational is not proof (demonstration, whatever) that it is more rational.

  • ||

    You can't pick and chose which laws to obey as long as you chose to be a member of society. It may be that that the law is so unjust that you can't morally abide by it. At that point, you have an obligation to publiclly disobey the law and take whatever punishment happens as a matter of principle, like Socrates agreeing to die rather than escape.

    The underground railroad conductors were a bunch of cowardly, unprincipled folks by your estimate, right? Even worse, slavery is condoned in the bible (good book, my ass) and thievery (slaves were property) is condemned.

  • ||

    What's the murder rate in Japan? That low! Really, wow! They must be super awesome Christians there!

    Great point. The majority is agnostic/atheist. Hmmm.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Fluffy,

    It is the axiomatic assumptions in libertarianism that, at their heart, are no more rationally defensible than any other political philosophy.

    I am sure if it came down to it that we would agree on many of these axioms...but they are not derived rationally.

    That was my point.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Matt Welch...

    To be fair, I am whether to attribute your assertion to confirmation bias, expectation bias, sampling bias, or orientation bias...or some combination.

    You are a libertarian.
    You note every time you have to defend your position. You don't note every time someone else is asked to defend theirs.

    It seems that most of the incidents of defense that you note are in defense of libertarianism...therefore...
    yadda yadda...I am the victim

  • Neu Mejican||

    insert a "not sure" as appropriate

  • John Markley||

    The Weekly Standard article by the Storeys is a useful reminder of how little neocons have strayed from their roots- neoconservatism is still liberalism's thuggish little brother. (Which would, I suppose, make "national greatness conservatism" liberalism's juvenile delinquent nephew.) The article is an outstanding distillation of what standard liberal commentary on the subject is like: The idiotic oversimplifications and distortions of what economists believe, the insistence that having good-willed people in office is all that matters, the ridiculous pretense of having no ideology, the belief that depriving people of economic freedom is a purely technocratic question with no moral content, andunderlying it all, the contempt for the idea of people seeking individual success and fulfillment instead of gloriously dissolving themselves in some collective moral crusade. Make the language a little more gender-inclusive, replace "McCain" with "Obama," remove the disapproving reference to pornography, and throw in the word "compassion" a few times and you've got something your average Democrat would whole-heartedly endorse.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican,

    Libertarians love the idea of reason the same way communists love the idea of progress - as a sort of conceptual theme connecting sentiment to principle. On that basis, libertarianism itself is admittedly no more inherently rational than any other philosophy that can be articulated with reasoning (just as no philosophy can claim to have cornered the market on "progress").

    However, it's also not totally irrelevant that libertarians react positively to "reason." For one example, I would argue that no other political movement in America has so thoroughly taken up the defense of scientific inquiry against taboo. Whether or not you think that's valid, as an attitude it has much in common with eras in which the most veneration of "reason" as an ideal took place. This has nothing inherently to do with libertarianism (for example, the "age of reason" was a time of strict authority and regimen in public life), but that so many libertarians feel strongly when presented with the same thematic icon is a cultural issue that would be unfair to disregard.

    For exactly the reason I think John is wrong about religion being objectively moral, I'd argue that libertarianism isn't objectively rational. However, I'd also assume that you, NM, don't intend to disparage those aspects of politics that stem ultimately from sentiment and judgment.

  • ||

    "dogmatic libertarianism" has to rank somewhere near the proliferation of Esperanto.

    This shows the the care the author took to write his article...

  • ||

    What's the murder rate in Japan? That low! Really, wow! They must be super awesome Christians there!

    Everyone should get nuked.

  • Paul||

    "as subtle as a Ron Jeremy money shot."



    I don't get it.

  • Paul||

    libertarianism...therefore...
    yadda yadda...I am the victim


    I thought he was the Walrus?

  • economist||

    John and Fluffy,
    Let's not get into a fight over relatively minor differences. It doesn't sound like either of you agrees with the war in Iraq, the nanny state, or the Weekly Standard. John sounds more like a traditional conservative, which I don't agree fully with but have a lot in common with. We both support economic freedom. Many personal freedoms, such as the right to bear arms and the right to free speech, are also beliefs common to libertarians and traditional (not neo) conservatives (in the American tradition). Therefore, I would suggest that in these dark times when the political left and many on the right either fight actively against freedom or have abandoned it, libertarians and tradtional conservatives need to learn that we are the 2 closest political groups in this country, and that to survive we will have to fight together. We can work out the details after the coming socialist state is defeated and rolled back.
    For further reference, watch the South Park episode 701 "I'm a Little Bit Country"

  • NP||

    J sub D,

    Since I've always liked the ladies, how about Chrissie and Navrat? Classics.

    Unfortunately I'm a little too young to have witnessed Chrissie in her prime. So who do you think is the greatest in women's tennis? Chrissie, Navrat or Steffi? (And no, looks don't count in this case.)

  • Kevyn Peak||

    I've written an article about the Wkly Std. article.

    Here:
    http://www.nolanchart.com/article1452.html

  • ||

    So who do you think is the greatest in women's tennis? Chrissie, Navrat or Steffi?

    It's an exercise in futility comparing athletes from different eras. But we all do it anyways. Navrat, Steffi, then Chrissie. In my estimation, Billie Jean King did the most FOR women's tennis.

  • NP||

    J sub D,

    Some commentators might say Steffi was the better all-around player than Navrat, but your ranking seems pretty fair. And yeah, Margaret Court might have been the better player but King was probably the greatest ambassador.

  • ||

    "To be fair, I am whether to attribute your assertion to confirmation bias, expectation bias, sampling bias, or orientation bias...or some combination."

    Is this sentence derived from Esperanto grammar? I can't be whethering to make it out.

    I am whether to attribute Neu Mejican's problem to philosophical dyslexia. And to an orange.

  • ||

    I wish we could drop the "neoconservatism" label and call them what they really are, neo-fascists. How about "compassionate fascism"? Do they really believe their's is a new political philosophy? Sacrifice the individual on the altar of the "public good", now there is a new political end-game!

  • ||

    Besides, where the hell else am I gonna go, LRC?

    Sounds like a good place to start.....

  • ||

    This is sheer nonsense, to say that libertarianism leads to immorality. Libertarianism is, in fact, a moral philosophy, based on the idea that it is immoral to use force against others.

    When people say that libertarianism leads to poisoning public life, they are saying that individuals do not have the capacity for self government. But, as Reagan said, "If no one among us has the capacity for self government, who among us is qualified to govern someone else?"

  • Seth Goldin||

    The Democratic Republican | January 25, 2008, 12:14am | #
    Welch's hatred of McCain is awe-inspiring and, I must admit, has single-handedly prevented me from getting suckered into voting for the man.


    For some reason, that comment made me howl with laughter, and it so accurately describes my position as well.

  • ||

    The referenced 1997 article gives one reason to look at the "War On Terror" in a different light. The Weekly Standard and those who agree with it certainly found their Great Cause, didn't they?

  • Vichy||

    Reason isn't libertarian. It's Beltway government whores who want a 'cleaner, more efficient slavery'.
    Suck a dick, Welch. You fraud.

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