Taxonomy and Revolution


Yesterday on this site, Brian Doherty noted the death of the libertarian historian William Marina. In honor of his work—and of last weekend's holiday—I'll link to one more Marina article, originally published in Reason in July 1976, titled "The American Revolution as a People's War." A sample quote: "one need not go to the writings of Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Che Guevara, or Vo Nguyen Giap nor study the revolutions with which they were associated to learn about the principles of revolutionary warfare. The events of the American Revolution are filled with examples of the discovery and working out of the essentials of those principles."

Another follow-up: Also yesterday, Peter Suderman linked to Tyler Cowen's effort to sort libertarians into five categories. Timothy Virkkala has posted an extended critique of Cowen's post; it should be required reading for anyone who thinks he can taxonomize a movement as diverse and nuanced as this one. (I'm not sure how best to categorize myself. Discordian? Anarcho-Hayekian? Left Jacksonian? Right Kropotkinian? Front-Porch Postmodernist? I better stop before the libertarian categories outnumber the libertarians.)


NEXT: What's Rationing and Editing the Post

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Regarding the taxonomy, I would say that first of all, categorizing any political or societal party/movement is difficult. What is a conservative? A liberal? Trying to divvy up people into subsets is an exercise in intellectual masturbation. Isn’t it enough to just say that libertarians believe that “that government is best which governs least…” with a few exceptions. What those exceptions are and to what extent they exist places individuals on the continuum (without discreet separations) of libertarianism.

  2. Jeez, Wirkman, that post made me feel like my brain ate way too much steak. Fortunately, i like mental steak, cooked up all medium-rare and slathered with the chimichurri of ideological nuance.

    I guess i’m some kind of Molinarian agnarcho-frontporchite agorist, myself.

  3. I better stop before the libertarian categories outnumber the libertarians.

    Too late. You said five.

  4. As all good Discordians know, the imposition of order = escalation of chaos. So if chaos is your thing, let Tyler Cowen do his thing.

    Hail Eris, and pass the cheese whiz.

  5. I’ll be a Rothbardian Guevarist.

    Murray loved Che, and with that hair … who wouldn’t ? :o)

  6. Ok time for central casting:

    Lenin = George Washington

    Trotsky = Aaron Burr

    Mao = John Adams

    Che Guevara = Thomas Paine

    Vo Nguyen Giap = Thomas Jefferson

  7. What I didn’t understand is the category of MISES Institute as anti immigrant and overly

    I read the Mises website regularly, as well as LRC. I also enjoy Reason. I am not such a big fan of Cato qua Cato, but hey, I occasionally jump over to them as well.

    To me, while Reason is not ideologically pure libertarianism, what with Cathy Young and that Mideast Neocon and all, it is still interesting and hits on current politics with a bit of humor while LRC is more dramatic and moralistic but also right a good deal of the time.

    But neither LRC nor Mises is anti immigrant or overly nationalistic. Sure, Hoppe gets his share of ink, but mostly on private property and historical comparison issues, not immigration. Sure, Ron Paul is more nationalistic at times than Lew Rockwell is, but he, like a good politician, seems to temper
    his immigration and Constitutional Sovereignty issues depending on his audience.

    I think the author is confusing Mises.org with VDARE. The correct analysis should be libertarians whose philosophy intersects closely with paleoconservatives, which is not really what is going on at Mises, IMHO

  8. Dibs on neo-post-Galambosianism.


  9. Jesse, while I’m with you in being hard to label, you should just revel in your discordian ways.

  10. I think the author is confusing Mises.org with VDARE.

    VDare.com? Aren’t they the racist ones?

    I just went to their site and it seems they have given up the ghost; or at least they seem desperate for donations. Poor guys. They were so *sincere* in their insanity.

    Meh, whatever, they suck.

    As far as libertoids go, I break them all down into Heavily-Armed Transsexuals, and Everyone Else.

  11. Someone sent me that Tyler post and, as the web editor of Mises.org, I was so aghast that I couldn’t even comment. I’m not sure there words to describe something so manifestly and obviously false, to the point of absurdity. Maybe his web browser is malfunctioning and he can’t look at the largest collection of internationalist anarchist writings anywhere on the web? Oh well.

  12. I got dibs on the first Zoroastrian-PostModern-Libertarian with a tinge of Structural-Transcendentalism & Utopian-Nihilism

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.