Hip-Hopping Hordes Send Tortoise Packing

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I've always been a little embarrassed that Robert "Winning Through Intimidation" Ringer considers himself a libertarian, so it is with a light heart and a bounce in my step that I report that he has left the fold. Liberty, he writes, is "the noblest of all objectives," but it "often collides with the dominant aspect of secular life: reality."

And what realities have eroded Ringer's devotion to liberty? As you'd expect, 9/11 plays a role, but "aggression from brainwashed fanatics from other countries is not the most ominous threat to Western civilization. Far more threatening is the enemy from within. Or, more properly, the enemies from within." Among them: activist judges, Internet porn, violent video games, and the fact that Americans "are now willing to refer to 'rap'—a savage wailing that extols, among other things, drugs, crime, and sexual exploitation of women—as a form of music and thereby anoint it with an air of legitimacy."

Also on Ringer's website: his list of trite words and phrases, "in order from worst to least worst." Strangely absent from the list, but not from his farewell to libertarianism: "proactive," "fallacious underpinnings," "relativism," "anything-goes attitude," "History makes it clear," "the foundation of Western culture," and "the very heart and soul of Western civilization."

[Via Stephan Kinsella.]

NEXT: Moral Unseriousness

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  1. If someone genuinely believes “Britney Spears and Madonna wet-kissing” constitutes a grave existential threat to Western Civilization they really, really, need to get a life. Good riddance to this tool.

  2. Yeah, but other than free speech, a humble foreign policy, those darn kids doing freaky stuff, and an independent judiciary he loves the idea of a free society!

  3. That’s the big problem with looking out for #1;
    Not noticing you’ve become full of #2.

  4. Yeah, but other than free speech, a humble foreign policy, those darn kids doing freaky stuff,
    (insert) and anything else he personally disagrees with (end insert)
    and an independent judiciary he loves the idea of a free society!

  5. I’m a longtime fan of Ringer and his books, though I will concede that he’s gotten a bit cranky in his old age.

    That being said, it’s really just a rephrasing of the classic libertarian dilemma: how far do we go with Hamiltonian means in order to achieve Jeffersonian ends? Mind you, I wouldn’t go nearly as far as Ringer does, but where the hell do you draw the line?

  6. NoStar —

    That’s great!

  7. “Libertarian” bully starts feeling frail; demands that other bullies protect him. The core, “me!”, value remains intact.

  8. NoStar may have the snappiest response, but Jim Walsh has the most thoughtful, which is probably why I wouldn’t be surprised if this post will be the only one that mentions it.

  9. I am mentioning Jim Walsh’s post, and where I draw the line is a bit short of believing I have any right to impose my views regarding online porn, violent video games and rap on anybody else.

  10. Jim Walsh has the most thoughtful, which is probably why I wouldn’t be surprised if this post will be the only one that mentions it.

    I agree. Please someone weigh in with some political philosophy. Life is short.

  11. How exactly are Ringer’s ends Jeffersonian? Sounds to me like he favors liberty up to the point that anyone does anything he dislikes with it, even if it’s as trivial as describing rap as a genre of music.

    If his post was about balancing liberty with physical security, it might have been a starting point for a thoughtful conversation. Unfortunately, he seems far more interested in balancing liberty with his cultural tastes.

  12. NoStar may have the snappiest response, but Jim Walsh has the most thoughtful

    Is it really so thoughtful to end a comment with a rhetorical question?

  13. PROACTIVE should be banned from the language. That and caregiver

  14. How can it not be?

  15. NoStar, thanks for making me spit red wine all over the keyboard. Second keyboard lost this month.

    Got dam that was funny.

    And just remember boys and girls, you can’t spell crap without rap.

  16. Isn’t that what happens with minarchists, eventually they lose the min.

  17. NoStar may have the snappiest response, but Jim Walsh has the most thoughtful…

    Aw shucks, guys…

  18. I believe this view has made it possible for me to see the world as it actually is rather than the way I would like it to be.

    thought that was what dope was for

    I think Ringer is a great guy. His books have introduced a lot of people to the ideas of liberty. He’s not as nutty as Rand and his books are much more entertaining.

    I don’t agree with all of his newly stated conclusions but many of them are certainly valid.

    Like Rand and the rest, he’s due some respect for the contributions to the movement.

  19. Is this the time to mention that he is (was?) married to a Playboy Playmate he met at one of Hefner’s parties back in the 1970s?

  20. It’s like this: If I say that Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink White Zinfandel I’m right. I’m not a bigot. I’m not intolerant. It is not commentary on a triviality.

    And if I complain that Gallo is lending an air of legitimacy to this vile concoction by selling billions of GALLOns of it every year, I am certainly not advocating balancing liberty against cultural tastes when I voice my objections to such pollution.

    You remain free to quaff as much pink wine as you wish, but you have no claim on my approval of your behavior. Nor will I compliment you on your good taste in wine (although I might bring a bottle to your house if I know you like it).

    Oh, and you are also free to point out that White Zin can be a Gateway Wine (thank you NoStar) that eventually leads one by trial and error to the promised land.

    Now, if I call for a government ban of White Zinfandel (hmmm, maybe I’m on to something there), then things change.

  21. I would assume it would be easier to critique wine( for example) if one knows something about it.

    His description of things like rap shows that he doesn’t know anything about it or is only familiar with what he was told about certain sub-genres. none of the “rap music” I listen to fits his description at all. Sounds like something straight out of OReilly ( who thinks every black person born after 1940 is a rapper) talking points. OR William Pierce types.

  22. Is this the time to mention that he is (was?) married to a Playboy Playmate he met at one of Hefner’s parties back in the 1970s?

    What? His good looks, no doubt.

  23. His good looks, no doubt.

    Trust me: chicks really dig the Tommy Smothers look…

  24. Now, if I call for a government ban of White Zinfandel (hmmm, maybe I’m on to something there), then things change.

    From the essay: “My definition of practical conservatism is an ideology that believes in adherence to the tenets of pure libertarianism to the fullest practical extent, but also believes in the use of force, when and where it is absolutely necessary, to protect not only the lives and property of citizens, but to maintain society’s generally accepted code of conduct.”

    Given that he thinks rap and video games are a greater threat than Al Qaeda, I don’t think there’s much doubt as to whether he’d include them in the code in question.

  25. Here’s what I don’t get: ignoring “theoretical communism” in order to examine actual, dictators-and-gulags, refugees-escaping-through-the-concertina-wire-and-getting-shot-in-the-back communist states of the kind that existed from 1917-1991 (and still do in redoubts such as North Korea) was and is a perfectly cromulent way to judge the moral worth and practical value of Marxism-Leninism as a political philosopy. A further dismissal of a “theoretical libertarianism” in order to examine a “real world libertarianism” that is or was similarly in charge of some significant spread of real estate is just nuts. Where the heck would that have taken place, hmmm? Was Ringer under some illusion that, following the massive sales of Restoring The American Dream, Ronald Reagan and a Republican Senate turned the U.S. into some simulcrum of Galt’s Gulch?

    The irony of the author of Looking Out For #1 decrying a sub-culture as obsessed with materialism for materialism’s sake as the world of rap/hip-hop is almost two much to bear. He sucks as a music critic, too. I’m not a big rap fan, but some of it (Arrested Development, The Roots) is quite tuneful.

    The idea that West Africans, before they got nabbed and sold into slavery, had no civilization is pretty ugly, too.

    Science Fiction fans have a term for this phenomenon among the old and cranky. The Brain Eater got him.

    Kevin

  26. “Is this the time to mention that he is (was?) married to a Playboy Playmate he met at one of Hefner’s parties back in the 1970s?”

    Hey, man, he got his.

    So much for letting you get yours.

  27. From RRinger: “…. As a result, purist libertarianism is impractical in a world gone mad.”

    A purist view is what is whined over on this blog. As a purist liberterian, I usually enjoy the play. Problem is, this purist view is becoming meaningless drivel.

    The world IS drifting towards mad. The forces of ? want you (especially YOU) DEAD. The forces of -? are lead by morons and are increasingly impotent. It is becoming time for fight or flight.

    As an old duffer, I have a flight plan. You?

  28. Uncle Sam,

    Obviously his flavor of libertarianism is superior.

  29. The world has always been mad (since mad is being defined here as ‘there are nasty people out there’); that’s a half-assed excuse to retreat from liberty. The world may not be as sane as during the ’90s, but it’s still less mad than any period since the ’20s, the last time there was no dangerous big power. Perhaps it’s because of my academic training in history, but I’m a traditionalist in this (at least); major states with formidable militaries are dangerous, terrorists are simply a god-damned annoyance. (I suspect that many of those have used the current situation as a reason to retreat from liberty would have been more comfortable elsewhere all along.)

  30. “to protect not only the lives and property of citizens, but to maintain society’s generally accepted code of conduct.”

    Ugh……..I hate to go all reductio, but does that mean he would’ve supported the “generally accepted” Jim Crow laws?

  31. Jim Walsh: “Mind you, I wouldn’t go nearly as far as Ringer does, but where the hell do you draw the line?”

    When a line is drawn reality strikes. It restricts theorist. The line is drawn everyday, maybe at different places, but nonetheless drawn. Most all of this is about the idea of “no lines allowed” and that seems to be Ringer’s cross.

  32. Given that he thinks rap and video games are a greater threat than Al Qaeda, I don’t think there’s much doubt as to whether he’d include them in the code in question.

    His comments were over the top but I saw that as part of his long list of contributing factors not as two items more threatening than terrorists.

    Maybe I missed the boat entirely, but I thought his theme was a criticism of the libertarian non-initiation of force idea that many H&R participants are also uncofortable with. IE, that with the libertarian government we don’t currently have, the US would be unable to take any action to protect ourselves until somebody nukes “Manhattan”. Sort of an exxagerated version of how some felt the US acted in the face of 1930’s Germany, when we ended up scrambling around after the attack trying to find some rusty Enfileds, a couple of tanks, and a destroyer.

    I’ll have to re-read it. Well, maybe not, it was pretty long. 🙂

  33. And Dog, the whole purist thing is difficult anyway. If I truly have the right to keep and bear arms why can’t I have a couple of stingers in the garage?

    And how many purist libertarians are okay with me keeping a tactical nuke in the trunk?

  34. I always thought it was fun to have Robert Ringer as a libertarian. What’s embarrassing about him? Then again, I don’t embarrass easy.

  35. The problem with Burkeanisms like “the fabric of Western Civilization” is that since there isn’t actually any such one thing that you can point to and say “this is what I’m talking about,” most arguments about it wind up being arguments about the arguer’s personal values which are then framed as though they were observations of an objective fact about Western civilization. This is what one is doing when one describes a cultural sea change as “society’s degeneration into a cesspool.” At best, one is hoping that the reader will agree with one’s dislike for the present day. At worst, one is expecting the reader to regard one’s evaluation as an admissable fact – God came down from heaven and said that society is a cesspool and your music sucks. This is sloppy argument and ripe territory for the kind of emotional appeals that demogogues love.

    Where Ringer is concerned about terrorism, I can at least understand his angle, even if I don’t agree. Where he appears to regard it as the role of the state to police culture for influences that frighten him personally, I can’t help but find his concerns laughable and unworthy of consideration.

  36. Jim Walsh, yeah, but that’s like asking “when the hell do you flex your muscles?” the tension between means and ends is like the tension between a muscle and a bone. You don’t get anywhere unless it’s constantly changing.

    Shorter Robert Ringer: Hey! Youse kids get offa my lawn! Now! And stay off!

    Man, I can’t believe I actually went to the trouble of reading the whole thing. “…violence-prone hate mongers who lust for world power?” “…millions of criminals around the world whose main purpose in life is to help destroy Western culture?” “…individuals who revel in all that is repugnant to civilized people of goodwill?” I have no idea whether his books are that ridiculous, but based solely on the website Brain Eater strikes me as the most charitable interpretation.

  37. I actually gave away some copies of Restoring the American Dream and saw the conversion of at least two readers.
    I don’t know what brought him to this point and don’t much care; the damage is done.

  38. “Tidal wave of pornography”?

    Ringer married a Playboy playmate, didn’t he?

    -jcr

  39. Thank you, for the kind words and drinks snorted out via the nasal passages. It’s nice to be appreciated. The next round is on me, as the last one is on your keyboard and monitor.

    And to Tim C. in defense of Jim Walsh, who doesn’t really need my help, (Is it really so thoughtful to end a comment with a rhetorical question?; can it not serve to inspire or provoke thoughtfulness or at least a moment of reflection and to further dialogue?

  40. “In other words, when in doubt, the scales should always be tipped toward freedom,” Ringer rights.

    I think it’s fair to assume that he’s never in doubt.

    I think this is where all Randians end up eventually. Or rather, start. Few Randians are true libertarians because at the core of libertarian presumptions is a strong degree of skepticism, something the Founder and minions lack.

  41. “major states with formidable militaries are dangerous, terrorists are simply a god-damned annoyance. ”

    Well…that was true until we developed small arms with enough power that very small groups can disrupt the functioning of a society on a large scale. As a historian, you should bone up on recent African history. A small group of people with m16’s and some dedication can be a very dangerous thing indeed.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/congo.htm

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