Libertarianism Survives Its Own Death; Pundits Perplexed

Freeman editor Sheldon Richman isn't a Tea Party man -- he thinks the movement is a mixed bag -- but he's tired of at least one line of attack against the TPers:

You don't have to read too much of this criticism to see that the powers that be and their fawning admirers in the media and intelligentsia dislike one thing in particular: the movement's apparent anti-authoritarianism.... They seem really worried that this thing could get out of control. Any legitimate criticism they may make of the Tea Party movement is undermined by their abhorrence with anti-authoritarianism per se. They are anti-anti-authoritarian.

"What's new and most distinctive about the Tea Party is its streak of anarchism -- its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent style of self-expression, and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns," Jacob Weisberg writes in Slate. Note what's first on Weisberg's list.

"In this sense, you might think of the Tea Party as the Right's version of the 1960s New Left. It's an unorganized and unorganizable community of people coming together to assert their individualism and subvert the established order."...

The "most extreme" faction in Weisberg's eyes "would limit the federal government to the exercise of enumerated powers." (So much for anarchism.) For him, limiting government power to a finite set of explicit responsibilities would be an intolerable setback.

I wasn't going to comment on Weisberg's silly article. Half its arguments are creaky accusations of "status anxiety," an idea that serious historians and social scientists largely left behind long ago, and the rest is recycled from a New York Review of Books essay by Mark Lilla, which I've already written about. But it's probably worth noting that just two years ago Weisberg was declaring "The End of Libertarianism." Ho ho.

Meanwhile, Richman has a nicely concise response to Lilla's argument that homeschoolers and other DIYers are "petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone":

Lilla implies that these are atomistic individualists. But they're not. They're what I call "molecular," or communitarian, individualists -- that is, individuals cooperating with others to achieve what the politicians promise but can't deliver.

There's nothing anti-social about that -- quite the opposite. But self-organization tends to perplex people who think order must be imposed from above.

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  • ||

    "petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone"

    The confusion some on the left seem to have with individualism is that they equate it with going solo on everything. I think many individualists beleive, rather, that the 'team' they work with be of their own choosing...rather than being either a team of one or part of a team they are forced (via the gunpoint of law) to join. maybe?

  • ||

    argh! should have read "maybe that's what you said though?"

  • #||

    you beat me to it

  • ||

    Yes, this view totally flies in the face of many libertarians who advocate division of labor. Once again we're being portrayed as living in log cabins that we built from trees that we cut down with axes that we forged with steel that we dug out of the ground and smelted. What a joke.

  • ||

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

  • Ayn_Randian||

    Can we cut the Gandhi crap please? I've always hated it.

  • Pogo The Clown||

    Me too. Hate that stupid quote with a passion. If anything, 'they' sound like they are holding all the cards, and only give you some token chips after the game stops being fun for them.

  • Juice||

    Yeah, Ghandi didn't even come up with that one.

  • Pogo The Clown||

    I always thought it was 'first they laugh at you, than they give you a committee seat on a reelection campaign.' Worked for me.

  • Michael Savage||

    Yup. Beat me to it. I was going to post something very much like this.

    Call me petulant, then, because yeah, I'm pretty much one of those convinced I can do plenty on my own if the gubmint would just leave me alone.

    Although, Sage, I'm not too far from the forging steel to make an axe to cut down trees to build my cabin. I do have a forge, anvil and plenty of smithing tools, as well as plenty of woodworking tools and equipment - and I (mostly) know how to use this stuff.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Stupid joke screen name. Stupid "remember me" click box.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Barely Suppressed Rage,

    Call me petulant[...]

    I will not!

    See? I am an anarchist!

  • sasob||

    A simple ax, depending on its size, isn't all that hard to make by hand forging, if one can forge weld. It's mostly just time consuming. Goes faster if you have a striker to work with you. As for smelting iron ore to make wrought iron and/or steel, small quantities of that can be managed by two or three people. It's mostly a question of knowing how.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    And where to find the ore. And how to build a furnace that will take the heat. And possibly several other skills. Still, it is manageable.

    'Course it leaves you with an iron or mild steel axe.

    Better steel is valuable enough on the working edge that back-in-the-day there were foundries that made axe-edges of good steel to ship to the hinterlands so that locals could weld them into locally produced axe heads (a city made axe head being too expensive for most folks).

    Not that this is here or there. The rugged individualist that forged this nation out of the wilderness took as much civilized kit as they could afford, and intended to build and or visit as much civilization as it took to keep up their lifestyle.

    And they were, none-the-less rugged and self sufficient in a way that few people today can aspire to be.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Exactly--this is why Thomas Frank was completely clueless about "what's the matter with Kansas." Contrary to Frank's view that people should only be concerned about economic values--the "what's in it for me and how can I get someone else to pay for it?" mentality so prevalent on the left--smaller towns in rural, semi-rural, or suburban areas tend to be communitarian in culture, and thus elements of society that are considered harmful to the cohesion and cooperative nature of that community are typically excluded over time. A parasite class uses more of the community's resources, a deviant class creates greater social fissures and breaks down trust bonds, so efforts are made to ensure that members of these classes are informed that they are not wanted. And a federal apparatus that imposes its values on the community from the top down is going to be viewed as hostile to the cohesion of that community as well.

    What we're seeing right now is this hostility to top-down imposed value governance being adopted and expanded outside of these smaller communities. And because the left happens to be in power right now, they are viewing this backlash as a threat to their hold on that power.

  • roy||

    +1
    voluntary cooperation FTW

  • ||

    Excellent comment. Individuals can't survive on their own which is why we group with others but individuals choose who they associate with. I choose to associate with my employers and my employer chooses to associate with me. We are atoms but atoms act on their own power by the electrical forces that they possess. They choose what atoms to associate with by the uniqness of their atom. The end formation is really the result of that atoms individual nature and not the formation's nature. The atom forms the molecule not the moleculre forms the atom.

  • ||

    A bunch of hippies living in a commune is perfectly consistent with being a libertarian

    That's truer than you think. Do your own thing, man, even if your thing is communism. That's one of the reasons Ayn Rand called libertarians "hippies of the right."

  • robc||

    I have no idea what the fuck that acronym is. It isnt what you were aiming for Im pretty sure.

  • robc||

    Note
    These
    There
    Aardvarks
    With
    Turtlenecks?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    "Not That There's Anything Wrong With That."

  • robc||

    That would have two Ws in the acronym, dumbass.

    TWHTWITAD, nah, doesnt match.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Well then he typed the acronym wrong. It's clearly what he meant.

    And yes, my ass is mostly mute. Except for the occasionaly squeaky fart, which I shall name robc.

  • robc||

    Well then he typed the acronym wrong.

    Thank you Capt Obvious for entirely missing the joke.

  • ||

    He was promoted to Colonel years ago.

  • ||

    "He's an Asshole, sir. Major Asshole."

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    NTTAWWT

  • Pogo The Clown||

    IGTKYAYTJWG

  • Leroy||

    "IGTKYAYTJWG"

    I'm going to kick your ass you tanned jacket wearing goon? You shouldn't threaten Nick like that.

  • Pogo The Clown||

    Nice job on the interpretation, but, nah! There are some clues, but I'm not ready to give it all away just yet.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    These are my subordinates, Marshall Law and Corporal Punishment.

    From our Naval branch, we have Master Bates and Seaman Stains.

  • Pres. Scrooge||

    I knew it!

  • #||

    perhaps I should have said "does not necessarily mean"

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Yeah, I'm more of the porch/shot gun variety than the commune variety.

  • Brett L||

    I built an automated turret so I could sit on my porch without the shotgun. Call before you visit.

  • Tony||

    Democratic government is just self-organization on a large scale.

  • Old Mexican||

    Look, Tony! A unicorn!

  • Ayn_Randian||

    Yeah, with guns pointed at your face.

  • Tony||

    How would you prefer to enforce law?
    Asking nicely?

  • West Texas Boy||

    Uh, the police and the government?

    What a stupid fucking question. You really don't get it, do you?

  • Tony||

    I must say between your and Ayn_Randian's comment I am confused on this issue.

  • ||

    No shit? There's hope for you yet.

    Admitting your problem is only the first step.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    How would you prefer to enforce law?
    Asking nicely?

    Wow . . . how violent.

    Here's a way, Tiny Tony:

    http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php

  • DesigNate||

    No, that would be a Republic. Democracy is the rule of many over the few.

  • #||

    Its so amazing that lefties just can't comprehend that government != society.

  • Tony||

    I never said it did. Government is a tool of society.

  • ||

    I agree completely. Government is a tool.

  • freeforall||

    To go along with that, I would submit that the tool that is government is being abused by society. What once was a narrow and defined role of government has now become broad and vague. This is due to the fact that so many in our society keep believing the same garbage from Republicans and Democrats and continue to elect them.

  • Tony||

    What once was a narrow and defined role of government has now become broad and vague.

    When exactly was this idyllic period of small government? Certainly not pre-modern-democracy, when your ass was owned by a king or other strongman type. Certainly not on this continent at any point--during most of whose history mandatory armed forces conscription existed, assuming you weren't an owned person or a woman with virtually no rights.

    I do believe you're longing for a golden age that never existed.

  • dipshit||

    You're assuming that the government is adhering to the social contract again. You're wrong.

  • Tony||

    Why? Because it's not doing everything you personally want it to?

    We had an election. As far as I know it was not corrupt. There will be more. What's the problem again?

  • ||

    So if 51% of people think we should pay down the debt by setting homosexuals on fire and charging rednecks to watch it on pay-per-view, then you would be totally okay with that?

  • ||

    Can we also have bumfights and prison deathmatches with rocket launchers? I saw "the running man" and I am stoked!

  • ||

    Yes.

  • dipshit||

    Just a few recent examples.

    A. Chrysler bailout - didn't adhere to equal protection under the law.
    B. GM Bailout - didn't adhere to equal protection under the law, and was blatantly illegal to begin with.
    C. TARP - an illegal taking of private property.
    D. Iraq War - no declaration from congress.
    E. Afghanistan War - no declaration from congress.
    F. Health insurance mandate - an unprecedented
    G. McCain-Feingold - blatant violation of the first amendment.
    H. The assassination of U.S. citizens without a trial.

  • Tony||

    K so vote for Republicans so we can torture the people before we assassinate them.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You say that as if the Obama Administration is not continuing that practice.

    Also you imply that libertarians are big fans of Republicans.

    God, I cannot believe how the stupid just oozes out of you.

  • dipshit||

    just a horrible, horrible, horrible response.

  • cynical||

    What does democracy have to do with the U.S.?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You don't understand. Government is community. The only way people can cooperate with one another for common goals is through government.

    The Tea Partiers threaten to tear our community asunder by willy nilly gathering together and cooperating to get things done outside the community. If that's not anarchy, then I just don't know what is.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fist of Etiquette,

    The only way people can cooperate with one another for common goals is through government.

    Government told me so!

  • Apogee||

    No that was Freshman Poly Sci.

    Government is incapable of communicating anything coherently.

  • ||

    "its streak of anarchism"

    Ha ha ha! Well-behaved, middle-class, white anarchists! Fear them!

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Bearded anarchists?

  • cynical||

    Wasn't Marxism a breakaway faction of Anarchist socialism?

  • Do your thing||

    "...[the New Left was] a community of people coming together to assert their individualism and subvert the established order."

    And the New Left has finally subverted the established order and imposed their own anti-individualistic and repressive New Order.

  • #||

    this is something i tell lefties all the time. They still hang on to some notion that somehow they are fighting the man. But the reality is, the new left took over the government and most institutions years ago. They are the man.

  • Dello||

    I'd go a step further: Not only did liberals become the establishment, they became their parents.

  • DesigNate||

    Snap!

  • ||

    Good one, Dello, and the hippies boomers really hate it when you point that out to them.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Not only did liberals become the establishment, they became their parents.

    I have to disagree.

    Their parents brought us governement warnings about smoking, but no coercive measures to prevent people from choosing to do it anyway.

    Their parents brought us government warning about wearing your seatbelt and a mandate that the builder install them, but no coercive measures to force you to use them.

    These guys have become more stiflingly authoritarian than their parents. That's what the greatest generation gets for being so indulgent of their kids, I tell 'ya!

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    And the New Left has finally subverted the established order and imposed their own anti-individualistic and repressive New Order.

    Which seems to be the fate of all political movements which start out advocating Peace, Love, and Freedom.

  • ||

    The status anxiety part of Weisburg's article is especially galling. Talk about projection. It is leftists like Weisburg who are suffering status anxiety. If government ever returned to just the enumerated powers, who would then listen to flacks like Weisburg? If the Tea Party is actually successful, it is game over for people like Weisburg. And they know it. The charge of "status consciousness" says more about Weisburg than the Tea Party.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    If government ever returned to just the enumerated powers, who would then listen to flacks like Weisburg?

    You hit the nail in the head. Mediocre intellectuals like Weisberg fear the rise of individualism so much because their wares are not marketable; they can only live through patronage, and the only patronage willing, today, is precisely omnipotent government.

  • robc||

    the most extreme libertarian view: a Constitutional fundamentalism that would limit the federal government to the exercise of enumerated powers.

    Weisberg, that isnt even close to the most extremem libertarian view. Its not even necessarily libertarian, its merely constitutional. And WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK THE CONSTITUTION IS OTHER THAN A LIST OF POWERS THAT WE THE FUCKING PEOPLE WILL ALLOW THE FUCKING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO HAVE?

  • My Ears!||

    Yell a little louder. I can't quite hear you.

  • My Ears!||

    And you need more fuckbell.

  • Dello||

    Really explore the space!

  • robc||

    I think Weisberg is hard of hearing.

  • ||

    WE THE FUCKING PEOPLE
    WE FUCKING PEOPLE
    FUCKING PEOPLE
    FUCKING

  • Tony||

    A document whose scope has been fiercely debated since the Washington administration?

    Teabaggers don't have a monopoly on the constitution's meaning.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    A document whose scope has been fiercely debated since the Washington administration?

    Which tells you none of the subsequent governments really meant it when swearing to uphold it.

  • Tony||

    I'm sure they did. What you're getting at is that nobody has an authoritative interpretation, and that governing throughout the centuries has been a messy process with no easy answers. Sorry if that makes you guys uncomfortable.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    I'm sure they did. What you're getting at is that nobody has an authoritative interpretation[...]

    A suprising thing to say about a document written in plain English. I am sure you would not mind when your bank has a different interpretation of your mortgage contract than what it says in it in black and white. No question about it, no siree!

  • Tony||

    What, exactly, does "cruel and unusual punishment" mean, OM?

  • Juice||

    It means the Constitution sucks.

  • Apogee||

    Not to mention that the "messy process" has, almost without exception, related directly to the attempted consolidation of power by individuals or groups, in contravention to the clear intent of the document.

    Why are con-men vague about contracts?

    Because vague is the key to theft.

  • Juice||

    Right. That's why the Constitution sucks balls. It's too short and vague. Too many loopholes.

    It should be 3000 pages long and have an army of enforcers ready to pounce on a politician the minute they violate one of its arcane rules. Maybe with tasers.

  • Apogee||

    The Constitution's fine. It isn't vague at all.

    Vague comes in the form of interpretation that seeks to profit from said interpretation.

    Penumbras are profitable.

  • Ayn_Randian||

    A document whose scope has been fiercely debated since the Washington administration?

    Tony, even if you are debating the scope of the enumerated powers, you still believe in enumerated powers!, you dumbshit. Read the quote again and actually understand what Weisberg is saying.

  • ||

    Tea Partiers don't have a monopoly on the meaning of the Constitution.

    You know what does, Tony? The Constitution does. It's fairly evident.

  • Tony||

    Why thank you for that enlightening post. Why didn't anyone think to just ask the constitution what it means?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Actually, you (and many on the left) continue to trot out the fallacious meme that the meaning of the Constitution somehow is unknowable and ineffable. You overstate the confusion and lack of common understanding "since Washington's administration."

    Fortunately, we have not just the Constitution, but literally hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of writing by the men who actually were there and involved in writing it, along with plenty of analysis of it done by contemporaries. It is not too terribly difficult to arrive at a reasonable understanding of what the document was understood to mean at the time.

    A broader issue is that here we are arguing over "what the Constitution means". Really, the question arises only when looking at specific provisions of it. "What does the Constitution mean?" is almost a nonsensical question - compared to, say, what does the Establishment Clause mean, or what are the privileges or immunities of a citizen of the United States.

    But the simple fact is, for many, if not most, of these questions, there is plenty of evidence to draw on to gain an understanding of what the general public understanding of these provisions was at the time.

    It's only the modern progressives who have tried to cloud the meaning up to provide cover for introducing the re-definitions they prefer to further their social engineering agenda.

  • Apogee||

    social engineering agenda. = theft.

  • ||

    But, but, but....

    It's a living document, and we can say it means whatever we want it to mean at any given time.

  • Tony||

    Somebody I can't remember who has a column today about one of the first major constitutional fights: whether the feds had the right to set up a central bank. Hamilton and Washington on one side, Jefferson on the other. Hamilton won, of course, and the small vs. big government debate (and the two-party system itself, perhaps) was born.

    The point is, they disagreed on what the constitution permitted in its very first years! Don't tell me you have all the answers because you don't. It's going to be debated and hashed out within the system forever, and I for one am very glad for a lot of "big government" programs that have not so far been ruled unconstitutional, except in the minds of some who would prefer to hide behind fringe interpretations of the document than argue on policy grounds.

  • Juice||

    I think we can all agree on one thing at least.

    The Constitution is mostly useless.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I disagree.

    Several provisions have served very useful purposes all along. My kids don't have to pray in school or attend the official state church; I can hop in my car and drive anywhere I want in the entire country without being stopped and asked for official papers at every state border; there are no armed soldiers stationed outside my house.

    There are lots of other examples.

  • Apogee||

    Funny how the direct reading of the constitution is a 'fringe interpretation' in your mind.

    Your 'big government' is ending, Tony, not because of 'fringe' interpretations, but because - like the USSR- it simply doesn't work.

    It's theft, and there's simply no more money to steal.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    The point is, they disagreed on what the constitution permitted in its very first years!

    The disagreement, however, was perhaps disingenuous to an extent, as continues to this day. Those seeking a power not expressly delegated will construct some plausible argument for finding the power within some of the general language - such as the "necessary and proper" clause. This is directly in contradiction to the discussion of the whole discussion in The Federalist regarding the limited, enumerated powers.

    During the constitutional debates, Hamilton, being an ardent federalist, argued in support of the new Constitution and tried to allay the concerns of a powerful new central government by assuring that it had only those limited, enumerated powers given. When he later became president, he apparently forgot that and sought a much more powerful central government.

    So yes, the language itself can be used - twisted, as Jefferson warned, as a lump of wax in judges' hands - to acuire meanings it was not meant or understood to have at the time it was written. And that certainly has happened to too many parts of it too many times since then.

    That doesn't mean it is not relatively clear - it is more an indication of what those desirous of power are willing to do to get it.

  • Tony||

    President Hamilton? Um...

    But let's take Jefferson, a proponent of limited federal government, during whose presidency purchased half the continent and put it under martial law, and even he didn't think it was a constitutional act.

    My main point is that the Constitution is not a sacred text. It is in some parts vaguely written and thus open to interpretation. I believe this to have been deliberate. A society changes with time and a constitution should be flexible enough to deal with that otherwise it will become useless and government less secure. Also, having a policy position that contradicts case law, that is fringe, and saying the constitution requires you to have that position is just a way of avoiding the issue, imo.

  • Apogee||

    So Case Law is your sacred text. Got it. Judges become the new priests.

    You like false choices. The choice is not between sacred and meaningless. The Constitution is plainly written, and, by vote, can be altered (see various amendments).

    What it is not, however, is an excuse to take wealth and property from your fellow citizens through 'interpretation', a practice reminiscent of the English religious-political struggles, where the loser pays, sometimes with everything.

  • .||

    The point is, they disagreed on what the constitution permitted in its very first years!

    That's because there have always been dishonest people with bad faith arguments. Even today your boy, Obozo will piss on your leg and tell you it's raining. That doesn't mean that it actuallyis raining or even that he actually believes it's raining.

  • Warty||

    I love the "Libertarians are irrelevant!" "Libertarians are dangerous anarchist lunatics!" dichotomy we've seen lately among the idiot writer class. I'm perfectly fine with being an irrelevant dangerous lunatic, but I suspect I'm more one or the other.

  • ||

    Don't forget "hypocrite". Because, you know, you must use roads.

  • Brett L||

    We're the new Satan in the Church of the Left. When their flock are walking the righteous (lefteous?) path, Satan is irrelevant, but when the flock stray from obeying and titheing Satan is a nearly inconquerable threat.

    Same as it ever was.

  • ||

    ^That.

  • dave b.||

    Don't forget that Max Chony says that the irrelevant libertarians somehow are solely responsible for the policies that caused the recession.

  • ||

    Actually, if you read the original article by Weisberg, he essentially argues the same.

    I don't know how to feel being so potently impotent.

  • Apogee||

    Try wearing a tuxedo.

  • ||

    But...but...you want to be left alone, which means that you're out to get them! Somehow.

    I still want one of them to try and explain, articulately, why people wanting to be "left alone" frightens them so very much.

  • Apogee||

    They're harder to control.

  • The Gobbler||

    I can't haz your stuff?

  • .||

    I still want one of them to try and explain, articulately, why people wanting to be "left alone" frightens them so very much.

    They're loners. And...and they might be thinking about something.

  • robc||

    Why is Richman afraid to call authoritarians "authoritarians"? Instead he calls them "anti-anti-authoritarians". While there is a technical difference, in this case the antis arent needed at all.

  • ||

    Finally, a use for the old spelling challenge word from high school "antidisestablishmentarianism"!

  • robc||

    I considered responding by posting the full chemical name for titin, but even Im not that much of a dick.

  • omg||

    but even Im not that much of a dick

    Luckily I am:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx0kMizIioI

  • cynical||

    What does this have to do with Anglicans?

  • ||

    The best way to demonstrate the self-organizing nature of Tea Partiers is to show pictures of the grounds after one of their gatherings.

    The grounds are usually spotless. The Tea Partiers clean up after themselves, and think everyone else should, too.

    Obviously, this kind of unmutual thinking must be exposed, condemned, and eradicated.

  • ||

    Someone here posted a pic of the aftermath of a TP gathering next to the afterbirth of the Obama inauguration. The latter looked like a landfill exploded.

  • ||

    Racist.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Stupid libertarians, all personally responsible and stuff. Making those Obama fawns look bad. Not fair!

  • Brett L||

    Once again, there were government union jobs in cleaning up that trash. The Tea Partiers are taking food off some guy's table with their responsible ways.

  • Juice||

    But the trash cans are overflowing and the Parks Service has to clean it all up.

  • government sanitation workers||

    The grounds are usually spotless. The Tea Partiers clean up after themselves, and think everyone else should, too.

    Obviously, this kind of unmutual thinking must be exposed, condemned, and eradicated.

    Well goddamn! If they clean up after themselves, they're cutting into our turf. How are we supposed to justify the budget increase and expanded employee roster?

  • What The||

    "...it's probably worth noting that just two years ago Weisberg was declaring 'The End of Libertarianism.' Ho ho."

    Come on, Jesse. Are you seriously calling Tea Partiers "libertarians"? If libertarianism is a mishmash of conflicting, contradictory, faith-based, jingoistic, militaristic floating abstractions--a political movement without a coherent philosophy--then you may be right.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Come on, Jesse. Are you seriously calling Tea Partiers "libertarians"?

    My views on that subject are here. What's important in this context is that Weisberg specifically calls out the libertarians in the TP movement: "The tricorn hats and powder horns carried by Revolutionary re-enactors point to the most extreme libertarian view: a Constitutional fundamentalism that would limit the federal government to the exercise of enumerated powers."

  • robc||

    Its still pretty hilarious that he is calling what would probably be the most minimalist possible libertarian view as "the most extreme".

  • Jesse Walker||

    I once saw a blog commenter claim that the furthest extremes of libertarianism were represented by Alan Greenspan.

  • robc||

    Greenspan 1965 or Greenspan 1998? Because, you know, maybe the first would be semi-true?

  • robc||

    Greenspan after he took the job Galt refused obviously doesnt qualify.

  • What The||

    The essays Greenspan wrote for Ayn Rand's publications are tightly reasoned masterpieces in defense of capitalism. Whatever you may think of the man now, his ideas then were right on the money. Highly recommended.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Greenspan in the 21st century.

    Though even when he was something of a libertarian, he was hardly the most hard-core specimen to be found.

  • ||

    True. He was a capitalist, not a libertarian. There is a difference.

  • sasob||

    The two are not mutually exclusive concepts.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Come on, Jesse. Are you seriously calling Tea Partiers "libertarians"? If libertarianism is a mishmash of conflicting, contradictory, faith-based, jingoistic, militaristic floating abstractions--a political movement without a coherent philosophy--then you may be right.

    Some of them are, some of them aren't. Some of them are libertarians, some are conservatives, some are paleocons, some are nationalists, and about a dozen other things. The Tea Party, like most large scale political movements, is less of an ideology than it is an exercise in emotional sculpture.

  • What The||

    Well, our culture does seem to value emotion over reason. How many times in one day do you hear a pundit or a commentator say, "They engaged in an emotional debate," or, "They held an emotional tribute last night at Yankee Stadium," or, "There was emotional testimony yesterday on Capitol Hill" etc. etc. Is there ever any "reasonable" debate anywhere? It seems not.

  • Sheldon Richman||

    The point is that Weisberg calls them libertarians.

  • ||

  • ||

    I want the 30 seconds of my life back, that you took from me, for the time I spent skimming that 2,000 word idiocy.

  • ||

    That cliché never works, you know.

  • Attorney||

    Meanwhile, Richman has a nicely concise response to Lilla's argument that homeschoolers and other DIYers are "petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone":

    Lilla implies that these are atomistic individualists. But they're not. They're what I call "molecular," or communitarian, individualists -- that is, individuals cooperating with others to achieve what the politicians promise but can't deliver.

    There's nothing anti-social about that -- quite the opposite. But self-organization tends to perplex people who think order must be imposed from above.

    Which brings me back to a favorite topic: Why do Reasonoids tend to be hostile to religion per se?

  • ||

    Cultural prejudice mostly. To me views on religion is what separates "Libertarians" from "Libertines". A real Libertarian view is supportive of civic institutions. The idea is for people to form their own voluntary institutions like religions to do the work that Progressives think only government can do. Libertines, because they are just as interested in ending private rules as the are government rules, dislike dislike civic institutions almost or more than they dislike government.

  • ||

    This is absolutely retarded. "Dislike civic institutions"? WTF are you talking about, John?

    Oh noes, we don't want to worship your sky father! So that means we don't want to join the book club either! Because not believing in voices in the sky means that you're anti-social, because only morons who needs guidance from the Flying Spaghetti Monster have morals!

    Your stupidity on this is stunning, and ever-present.

  • ||

    But your dislike of religion has nothing to do with cultural prejudice or anything.

    Just because you recognize the legitimacy of cultural institutions like religion doesn't mean you have to believe in them. I am not a Mormon. But I am in no way worried or care that some people voluntarily chose to be so. If that is how they choose to live their life, that is their choice and who am I to tell them they can't or what they are doing is somehow a threat or illegitimate.

    You in contrast seem to be really worried by people doing things you don't like. You really get angry when the subject of religion comes up. And the existence of it seems to really disturb you. I don't think you are a libertine. But you do seem to have some real psychological and emotional issues relating to religion. You are incapable of talking about it without overt hostility, invective and irrationality.

  • ||

    Your projection is absolutely amazing. You continuously say that "you are worried about people doing things you don't like", yet in what way am I "worried"? I have expressed contempt many a time for your irrational beliefs in impossible to prove beings, but have I expressed worry? Never. Yet you, every time we discuss this, obsess relentlessly over culture and morals, and express sentiments such as "if you don't have religion, you commit atrocities".

    Which is absolute bullshit, but it sounds like the person who is worried...is you.

    So once again, John: project much?

  • ||

    "Yet you, every time we discuss this, obsess relentlessly over culture and morals, and express sentiments such as "if you don't have religion, you commit atrocities".

    It is funny you accuse me of projection and then in the next breath say that. I have never said any such thing. And I defy you to come up with any quote from me that supports that. You won't. Yet, you continue to think that is my position.

    And you express over religion about ten times a day here. Anytime the subject is brought up you immediately go off on an invective filled rant about how I think you are some anti-social because you are not religious. Your insecurity on this issue is hysterical.

  • ||

    You've never said that lack of religion causes atrocities?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Oh John, then you go and say "you express over religion ten times a day here". Are you really this self-unaware?

    This is too good.

  • ||

    And John, here you are talking about atheism killing millions.

    "Your insecurity on this issue is hysterical."

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • ||

    And here is what I said.

    "If rainbows shot out of everyone's asses we would all have a merry Christmas wouldn't we? If you think that is what is going to happen you are insane. Without God, man becomes the center of the universe and everything is permitted. Further, man immediately starts thinking he can make heaven on earth. Once that is the end, all means, including killing anyone in the way, are justified. Athiestic utopianism in the form of fascism and communism killed hundreds of millions in the 20th Century and enslaved millions more. Before that it gave the world the French Revolution and Napoleon. Whatever is it will give us this century is not a pleasant thought."

    And all of that is true. It doesn't mean all atheists are evil. But atheism did give us the French Revolution, Communism and Fascism. In the same way that Christianity gave us the Inquisition.

    I don't write, I just read it. And if it makes you uncomfortable to have the atrocities of atheist Utopian idealists pointed out, tough shit. You can't deny that any more than I can deny Catholic monks burning Mayan books back in the day. Neither fact says much of anything about yours or my individual morality.

  • ||

    Oh John, I am going to start calling you "john" in reference to joe, because you are just like him: you got caught, and you just can't stop trying to squirm your way out.

    I can't believe you even tried to equivocate this. You said you never claimed atheism caused atrocities, I fucking showed and linked to where you did, and you still come back and try to weasel out of it?

    You complete fucking douche. How pathetic.

  • ||

    I am not equivicating at all. You said

    "if you don't have religion, you commit atrocities".

    That accuses me of saying that any individual who is an atheist will commit atrocities. Isn't that what your panties are all in a wad about? That is not what I said at all. I said that societies that are atheistic end up committing atrocities. That is where it leads. Does that mean that you and every other individual atheist will be out putting people in ovens? No.

  • ||

    And for the record you can be a theist and fall into that ditch. Once you start thinking you know and are doing the will of God, pretty much anything becomes justified. That is how they justified wiping out the Indians in South America.

  • The Gobbler||

    "That is how they justified wiping out the Indians in South America the Western Hemisphere.

  • ||

    God Wills It

  • DesigNate||

    As a Catholic and a Libertarian, it does get tiresome for people to show such hostility and rancor for those of us who do believe. You are most definitely entitled to your position, but the overt contempt of religion does turn people off of your message.

    (I would note that religious people do the same thing all the time, especially if you tell them you're a libertarian...or catholic for that matter).

  • ||

    John, as you should know, people doget defensive when you tie them up put them in a corner and paint them with that broad brush of yours.

  • MNG||

    Hey, don't knock John's second career as a broad brush painter, everyone has to have something!

  • MNG||

    I think it might be natural for the kind of personality to find authority and collectivism uncool to be naturally skeptical of religion, as it tends to have heaps of both. But in fairness to John it seems that libertarianism is, to use Jeffersonian's words I've seen here (which I think he borrows from Nock), more properly a political movement than a social one, and so one could have whatever view of religion one wants as long as it does not involve using government to force that religion on others.

  • ||

    "and so one could have whatever view of religion one wants as long as it does not involve using government to force that religion on others."

    Exactly. I don't really see why religion should be much an issue beyond people's desire to fight the culture war.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    Libertines, because they are just as interested in ending private rules as the are government rules, dislike dislike civic institutions almost or more than they dislike government.

    John, I have nothing but respect for people's religious beliefs and convictions, as long as people do not justify their own aggressive or violent acts against others by relying on those beliefs.

    However, I take issue with the whole Libertarian/Libertine definition. A Libertarian espouses non-agression and respect for other people's rights to life, freedom and property. However, a libertine is defined by many in such a way that it describes a person having too much damned fun. The question is: Who cares? Does being a "libertine" make one an evil person? I say it does not.

    I do not espouse [ok, not anymore, for many years now] the idea of actively disrespecting other people's beliefs. I have debated people on the existence of God, but I would never show disrespect for their institutions, as long as they respect the Golden Rule, as I have. But I do not feel I have to be beholden to these "civic institutions," as they are (or should be) voluntarist organizations, nor do I feel common decency and moral rectitude exists because of these institutions - that places a big but unwarranted indictment on people's reason and capacity for self-restraint, an argument that happens to be the main staple for eleutherophobes and statists of every ilk to justify autoritarianism.

  • ||

    I think that you can be a libertine and not be an authoritarian. You could be one I suppose if you advocated using the power of government to destroy civic institutions. And that is always a temptation. But generally I find libertines pretty harmless. I am kind of one myself. No one has ever accused me of following all of the rules.

    I would disagree with you about the value of civic institutions. Some people can exist as radical individualists and do just fine. Most people can't. Our society is better off when people form civic institutions. Our society is better off when people follow basic moral rules. And for whatever reason, people tend to follow those rules when they get them from their family or their church. That is just reality. It doesn't mean everyone has to be a theist for society to work. But it does mean that everyone has to buy into a base level of morality for society to work. And civic institutions seem to be the best at instilling that morality.

  • sasob||

    Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, don't murder. That pretty much covers all the morality any group of people needs for getting along with each other and such ideals don't necessitate a belief in a deity.

  • ||

    Why do Reasonoids tend to be hostile to religion per se?

    It's a natural expansion of the anti-authoritarian impulse that is the path a lot of people take to libertarianiam/individualism/anarcho-capitalism.

  • MNG||

    Wow, +1

  • What The||

    Simpler answer: because there is no evidence to support the assertion that god exists. That's my reason, anyway. It has nothing to do with political philosophy and everything to do with reality.

  • ||

    But the question wasn'y why you don't believe, but why the tendency is more pronounced in self-selected "Reasonoids."

    I've always come from anti-authoritarianism. And I don't care about the source of the authority that someone is trying to control me with. Local, state, or federal government, civic institution, religious institutions, family... all are illegitimate to me in equal measure.

    Acquiescence is one thing, worship quite another.

  • What The||

    So your disbelief has less to do with reality and more to do with sticking it to the man? That's a reaction, not a reason.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I think you're right.

  • robc||

    Why do Reasonoids tend to be hostile to religion per se?

    Im hostile to religion?

  • ||

    If one defines "religion" as "forcing other people to follow my beliefs," you very hostile to religion, robc.

  • robc||

    Who defines religion that way?

  • ||

    Anyone who insists that America be a "Christian nation" for one.

  • robc||

    Insists it "be" or insists it "is". The former, I agree with you. The latter, not so much, as wrong as they are.

    I hear a lot more of the latter, and other than obvious whackjobs, none of the former.

  • ||

    Well, there seems to be little hay to be made by recognizing what I've said over and over: I don't care what you believe as long as you don't try and force it on me. Any religion or religious person that fully recognizes my rights to not be apart of it, is OK by me.

  • Apogee||

    Seems to me that there's a suspicion of religion, which I find more prevalent than actual hostility.

    Religious thought is absolutist, in that there aren't any religions that say, "If God exists, then..."

    The existence is a given, and any absolutist thought is eventually challenged by non-absolutist thought. Since many are religious for different reasons (see former drug addict turned bible thumper), this conflict can play out in many different forms - from highly frictional to non-confrontational.

    It isn't religion that causes suspicion with "Reasonoids", but the fact of the application of absolutist thought by a myriad of human beings, who practice religion for many different purposes, can vary so much between practitioners.

    There is no 'religious type', but all followers are working from an absolutist playbook, and it's impossible to predict how that will play out.

  • Adonisus||

    I'm a devout Baptist, actually (CBF, not SBC).

    As for the religion issue, I think it has less to do with actual religion an more to do with those who use religion in order to force certain social values on individuals without their consent.

  • Joe R.||

    This. I am affected daily on a personal level by the influence of religion, both on a macro level and a micro level, and I'm quite tired of it.

  • ||

    It is also sad how the term "anarchist" has been defined down. I always thought "anarchists" wanted no law, as in the government not enforcing any law. Now it seems to mean anyone who thinks the New Deal was a bad idea. Does douches like Weisburg actually think America was an "anarchist" country pre 1932? And how does that view square with the liberal fairy tale of America being a racist imperialistic empire throughout its history?

  • omg||

    I always thought "anarchists" wanted no law, as in the government not enforcing any law.

    Actual anarchist here. What I don't want is the institutionalized initiation of force. Government would have to go, obviously, because a government can't exist without the institutionalized initiation of force.

  • AlmigthyJB||

    And that would be wonderful for about 5 minutes until the next power structure took the old one's place. If everyone was like you, all may be well in good. Unfortunately, most people (red or blue) can't tolerate living a life where they don't get to tell others how to live theirs.

  • omg||

    And that would be wonderful for about 5 minutes until the next power structure took the old one's place. If everyone was like you, all may be well in good. Unfortunately, most people (red or blue) can't tolerate living a life where they don't get to tell others how to live theirs.

    Are you complaining that the Freedom Boat might get holes in it at a later date as we sit on the deck of a post-iceberg Titanic?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Not at all omg. I'm with you all the way. I'm just pointing out the obvious main problem with anarchy and I think it's more then a few holes. I think that no government would be preferable to what we have now as well.

  • omg||

    @Almighty

    Well allow me to disagree with the "main hole" already presented, at least to a degree. Obviously, if we were arguing for atheism, and a meteor fell from the sky and obliterated the Vatican, we aren't left with atheism, there are just less priests then there were previously.

    Same things happens when a state violently collapses, through war or rebellion or anything like that. Anarchy would be unlikely to last in such a scenario. But things get less clear with something like a financial collapse. There are already working models for privately providing functions normally provided by the government, and if those institutions were to take hold, they would be another force against the government coming back. I think they would certainly have more lasting power then government institutions suddenly thrown into the free market.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I don't disagree with that. Hopefully, that is what would happen. However, how long before those institutions become politicized? Not really my point though. I just don't think that people will allow a power vacuum to exist. I'm not arguing that something better could come out of that situation (we don't know for sure something worse wouldn't though). My argument is simply that anarchism is not sustainable due to the fact that you can't stop people from being a**holes. I would totally be on board if it happend though.

  • What The||

    I don't want is the institutionalized initiation of force. Government would have to go, obviously, because a government can't exist without the institutionalized initiation of force.

    Nice example of circular reasoning. Congratulations. You are a fitting advocate of "anarchism."

  • Virginia||

    The Freeman kills his own anti-authoritarian argument...

    it doesn’t seem to extend to the military, despite America’s antimilitarist tradition and the fact that a major impetus for government control of the economy today is the national-security establishment! Other authorities — such as the ones responsible for the destructive “war on drugs” and the hounding of people who come to America without government permission — have also escaped Tea Party wrath.

  • ||

    The War on Drugs is a legitimate ding. I think at least a sizable portion of the Tea Party people would support getting the Federal Government out of the war on drugs even if they don't support legalization. If you could even cut down federal involvement, it would be the first significant win against the War on Drugs ever. So, even though they don't support legalization, they still could be better than what we have.

    The immigration issues I think is one of legitimate disagreement. You can believe in a small government but also recognize national sovereignty. The Federal Government has a right to restrict immigration under even the most restrictive reading of the Constitution.

  • robc||

    it would be the first significant win against the War on Drugs ever

    I thought the 21st Amendment was that.

  • ||

    I wonder if personal freedom was really any of the impetus behind end the prohibition of alcohol. It seems mostly about lost taxes and loss of face for the government when people disobeyed even a silly law en masse.

    Yes, it was an expansion (or restoration) of personal freedom but it doesn't seem to be to have a move based on the principles of liberty.

  • robc||

    Its especially nice when the right things are done for the right reasons, because that gives you hope for the future. But the right thing being done at all is still nice.

  • ||

    Agreed. I was just splitting a depressing hair...

  • ||

    I think at least a sizable portion of the Tea Party people would support getting the Federal Government out of the war on drugs even if they don't support legalization.

    Paging Dr. Rand Paul. Paging Dr. Paul, STAT.

  • ||

    The Tea Parties are focussed on spending. That is a good thing.

    I would rather they make a real impact on the spending issue before they fragment into warring camps on other issues.

  • robc||

    this was my disappointment with the GOP pledge. I wanted a hardcore anti-spending document that didnt veer into any other issues whatsoever.

  • Virginia||

    Yeah, it was laughable.

    Cartoonist Nate Beeler in the right-leaning Examiner FTW!

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    If they actually targeted any of the programs that could have made a difference, they would have blown any chance they had of taking over the House in November. Too many sacred cows that need to be gored but won't because so many Americans are dependant on those programs, and these guys care more about getting re-elected than cutting the debt or deficit.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The pledge sucks overall, and shows that the GOP establishment is just not getting it yet. They're going to get tea party votes anyway, because there is no other choice, but this is not going to derail any attempts by tea partiers to take over the reins of the GOP, or replace it if necessary.

  • ||

    The Tea Parties are focussed on spending. That is a good thing.

    I love how the lefty chattering class has gotten marching orders to demand that "The Tea Party" tell them what they want to cut spending on. Otherwise, you big poopyheads, you have to shut up and go home and stop bothering the important people with your silly protests.

    Are they really this fucking stupid, that they think the Tea party is this monolithic being that has top-down control with a central thesis that can be tweaked, or do they have their head so far up the ass of their own party machine that they can't possibly imagine anything else?

    True, the message has seemed to have coalesced onto the spending/taxation message, but FUCK, I can't stands me these statist douchebags feigning ignorance of how it works.

  • ||

    It's still valid to criticize that there's a dearth of legitimate proposals. On the table is both Paul Ryan's and Cato's, neither of which originated from a strand of the Tea Party movement.

    An organic movement can still give rise to concrete proposals. In fact, one could argue that an organic movement should be giving rise to numerous proposals. Yet nothing like that has happened. Why?

    Because the hard work is much more time consuming than standing around holding a sign and venting.

  • ||

    Proposals from whom? That protester or the guy standing next to him? Look, this is a honest-to-gog grass-roots movement with no head to cut off. Who exactly is supposed to promulgate poplicy papers on their behalf? Who speaks for the ratbagging tea-fuckers? Dick Armey? Maybe.

    Did the hippies in the 60's have to come up with a timetable for withdrawal from Viet Nam to be considered legitimate or was it enough that they wanted us to get the fuck out?

  • sr7||

    Judy Woodward; Your plan lacks specifics. Where would you begin with the cuts?

    Sr7: Your job Judy. It would be a wonderful and quite sybolic start.

  • sr7||

    Uhm, because Judy hates being reminded of that bit part she played in Sybil.

  • Shitty Friend||

    Virginia,

    The Freeman article is attacking one of the main criticisms of the Tea Party movement, which is anti "anti-authoritarianism" While also reminding the reader that the Tea Party itself is not entirely anti-authority. Do you see the difference?

  • Virginia||

    ohhhhhhh, so Freeman wasn't saying "they hate them because they're X." he was saying "they hate them because they're X but they're not X."

    X = antiauthority

  • Old Mexican||

    Tom Woods' take on this:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods154.html

    According to Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg, a specter is haunting America: the specter of anarchism. Not real anarchism – that’s Weisberg’s emotional hypochondria at work – but merely a growing skepticism of authority.

    This won’t do at all. Americans were born to be ruled by people and ideas of which Jacob Weisberg approves, and they are supposed to like it, or at least shut up about it. If they absolutely must complain, their complaints and modes of resistance must be kept within bounds approved of by Slate, a division of the Washington Post Company.

    In other words, if these uppity peons would just stick to ideas and strategies chosen for them by their enemies, it would be easier for our betters to tolerate them.

    Which describes Weisberg in a nutshell - a pedantic intellectual who presumes to know what's better for everybody else.

  • sr7||

    Libertarians who engage Tony in debate are the penultimate of retards.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    What does that even mean? Next to the last of retards?

  • sr7||

    Yes. The ultimate retard is Tony. Kind of obvious since I used the word 'penultimate' correctly, but people assume it wont be used that way given their low estimation of others, so they don't know how to interpret it when it does.

  • dennis||

    What about Chad and Max and Organic Girl, where do they rate relative to libertarians who engage Tony in debate?

  • Apogee||

    Yes, could someone put together an organizational chart?

    What constitutes retardation levels?

    Tony gets his ass handed to him every time, but Max only seems to comment between drinks of sterno. How is the hierarchy decided?

  • sr7||

    His sincerity gives him the edge over the others in the retardation scale. Max and froggy are just having fun at our expense, and though they may be wedded to some of those ideas, mostly they just want to hurt us. Tony, poor Tony, can't fathom why others don't see the world like he does, and from that frustration borne of his limited mental capacity, he lashes out from time to time like Frankenstein's monster.

  • Chadwyck||

    Why is it that in all movies, tv shows, and now apparently libertarian blog comments, anyone named "Chad" is a douche?

  • Trespassers W||

    Why anybody even acknowledges these people any more, I cannot fathom.

  • Kristen||

    One of the most disturbing things about America today is the creeping authoritarianism from all sides. Anyone who has a very healthy disrespect for authority is coined as crazy or anti-social. In fact, the Founders pretty much said it is our DUTY to question authority (kind of a contradiction, but in this case I'll bow to their wisdom):

    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security
  • Liberals||

    Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

    Dissenters are racist hating malcontents who want anarchy.

  • Liberals||

    Needs more comma. ...racist, hating...

  • a||

    Weisberg is the genius who rescued David Weigel from his 48 hours of non-employment at Washington Post Inc. Nuff said.

  • ||

    I heard Weigel was half-way through his third handle of Jack while toying with his 12-gauge...

  • ||

    ** possible threadjack **

    I have detected a less beligerant tone in Tony's postings.

    This change, whether by accident or deisgn, I wholly support.

  • sr7||

    Even libtard tight asses have a good dump every now and then. Not a change of heart, just a change in fiber content.

  • ||

    " are atomistic individualists"

    Hell no, I am no atomistic individual - I hate the protons, I hate the electrons, but I most despise those damn wishy washy neutrons. I am a quark, and yes, I hate all of the other trillons upon trillons of quarks, who are never here nor there.

  • Trespassers W||

    You quarks go through your pathetic lives with your hands around each others' throats, two or three at a time. Couldn't possibly EXIST in a state of freedom.

    You quarks make me sick.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Yeah...but they're better than neutrinos. Have you heard what they get up to when nobody's looking?

    It's disgusting. Decent particles shouldn't have to associate with them. Really.

  • ||

    I wonder if the left realizes that the queen bee is not a queen at all. It does not command other bees to do its bidding...all the queen bee does is make eggs.

    I wonder if statists realize that in nature there are very few hierarchical systems and in most cases such systems only deal with control of territory (property rights) and very little to do with controls beyond that.

  • Apogee||

    I wonder if statists realize...

    No, they don't.

  • ||

    But it's probably worth noting that just two years ago Weisberg was declaring "The End of Libertarianism."

    I know ain't talkin' 'bout me, dog/
    You? What? You been on my d*ck, n*gg*/
    You love my style, n*gg*

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