Libertarian History/Philosophy

Mr. Brooks, Meet Mr. Smith

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Freedom Works' Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, who have been heavily involved in the Tea Party movement, issued a funny little rejoinder today to David Brooks' contention last week that Tea Partyistas are a mirror version of New Left radicals of the '60s. Here's most of it:

Conspiracy theorist

[T]his decentralized grass-roots network has little in common with the New Left. It is rooted in the American traditions of individual freedom and constitutional limits on government power, and looks "anti-establishment" only because the political establishment ignores these principles.

If that's radicalism, sign us up. Membership in this club already includes Jefferson, Madison, Washington and (Samuel) Adams.

Mr. Brooks mocks Tea Partiers' conspiracy theories about "banks" and corporations." Yes, too many business interests use the power of the state in a "conspiracy against the public … to raise prices," but our source is the 1760s radical Adam Smith. What do you suppose Smith would think about a $700 billion government bailout of banks authored by a former investment bank chairman, or a federal mandate that every citizen buy the health insurance industry's overpriced product?

Mr. Brooks is the one, not Tea Partiers, with far more in common with those on the left who desire order dictated from top-down structures or, as he puts it, "just authorities." He will find common cause with Abbie Hoffman, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.

At least Brooks still has some political allies left.

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  1. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

    So Brooks is COMPLETELY IGNORANT ABOUT EVERYTHING?

    I suspected as much.

    1. So Brooks is COMPLETELY IGNORANT ABOUT EVERYTHING?

      Out of the mouths of babes!

  2. Holy fuck, that New Republic article is sickening.

  3. Wow, they sure had some funky hair styles back in those days!

    Jess
    http://www.fbi-logging.se.tc

  4. “Dick Armey” is still pretty much one of the most badass names ever.

  5. I don’t know, I kinda like Cunt Crusade a little better.

    Brooks is such a boot-licker.

    1. And by boot you mean asshole, right?

  6. What no-one has brought up here is that the New Left was/is very decentralist.

    1. As in their love of Mao and Che?

      1. I think he meant in behavior not their idol worship.

        Note: This is not my hypocrisy but theirs.

  7. David Brooks is the pet conservative of the New York Times. And, like any responsible pet owner, the Times made sure that Brooks was spayed or neutered.

    1. Well the pet liberal at the WSJ isn’t… I suspect they never gave him his rabies shot.

      1. It’s useful to understand what the other side is thinking. The bozo at WSJ, Thomas Frank, provides WSJ readers a convenient window into the thinking of what passes for an intellectual among liberals.

        The bozo at NYT doesn’t fill the same role. He exists to demonstrate how far the Republican opposition will cave in … after it is neutered.

        1. I don’t understand David Brooks at all. He’s got to be the least influential journalist with a major paper editorial spot. He’s tried to etch out this moderate position where he calls himself conservative and then apologizes for every principle conservatives support. To liberals, he’s a useful idiot. Conservatives suspect that he’s a liberal plant. And libertarians rightly roll their eyes at everything he says. And any moderate that’s empty-headed enough to be swayed by his rhetoric would be equally likely to be swayed by a political commercial with P Diddy.

    2. What is sad is that the NYT would probably get more readership if they actually hired a real tea party conservative into their editorial staff.

      Hell i might even read that. As it stands now I only read Krugman and I only do that for a laugh.

      1. As it stands now I only read Krugman and I only do that for a laugh.

        Note: I have never payed for it.

  8. “…constitutional limits on government power….If that’s radicalism, sign us up. Membership in this club already includes Jefferson, Madison”

    David Brooks as an elite whose fishbowl view is colored by the liberal social dynamic of DC/NY = Sure

    Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as political adherents to strict constitutional limits on centralized government power = Fail

    Philosophical adherents, yes. Time served as President(s), not so much. Thomas Jefferson’s executive reach out-stripped anything by John Adams, who the above quite not so coyly dumps on.

    1. Philosophical adherents, yes. Time served as President(s), not so much. Thomas Jefferson’s executive reach out-stripped anything by John Adams, who the above quite not so coyly dumps on.

      What is interesting is to look at what Jefferson did not touch even though he had every incentive to do so. The press was not to kind to Jefferson in his time. Accusations of slave children that looked like him are easy to find in newspaper archives. And yet he did not go after the press. It should surprise no one that Reason does not need government permission to print its views yet everyone needs permission from the government to build a deck in their back yard.

  9. This was OK, until:

    “He will find common cause with Abbie Hoffman, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.”

    Yeah, Abbie Hoffman, the epitome of centralized government power.

  10. He will find common cause with…
    I hope you realize that by printing their names in succession like that, you risk summoning a daemon.

  11. The similarities between the Boston Tea Party and what’s going on now are obvious–they were both inspired as an objection to using taxpayer money to bail out private investors. But they’re obviously very different too in that the Boston Tea Party had a lot to do with the tax being imposed on us by politicians who hadn’t been elected by the colonists while current bailout was most certainly inflicted on us by our own politicians.

    I think that’s the difference between seeing this as pro-establishment or anti-establishment. The colonists were working against political leaders who were inflicted on them, but we’re working against our own elected leaders, and that makes us anti-establishment.

    I think that distinction is really important. In fact, I think distancing ourselves from our own political leaders and the way we choose them is crucial to making society truly free again. Because the problem is fundamental–it isn’t who’s in charge that’s the problem. It’s what they’re in charge of.

    Yeah, nobody wants to be compared to the hippies, least of all me, but we’re anti-establishment. At least I am.

    1. But they’re obviously very different too in that the Boston Tea Party had a lot to do with the tax being imposed on us by politicians who hadn’t been elected by the colonists while current bailout was most certainly inflicted on us by our own politicians.

      I dont see the difference, I didnt elect em.

    2. making society truly free again.

      Blacks were enslaved and women could not vote.

      There is no “again”. We have never been truly free.
      Do not get me wrong. I am a utopia loving libertarian. But that utopia cannot be found anywhere in our past. It is only possible in the future.

  12. It’s kinda my default position now, actually…

    A bunch of people got together and held an election, and they decided that Ken Shultz should get screwed, and I’m supposed to go along with it ’cause it’s all official and everything since democracy is sacred?

    Election results don’t legitimize anything in my book. …and letting people do what they want–without that being overseen by an elected politician–is much more “democratic”, fundamentally, than any decision by any elected politician ever could be.

    Yeah, that’s my default position on, well, just about everything now, so I guess you can color me anti-establishment.

    …but David Brooks went over the line! …do not call me a “hippie”!

    1. I’m supposed to go along with it ’cause it’s all official and everything since democracy is sacred?

      Yes, you agreed to the system by being born here. You don’t like it, move to the libertarian paradise of Mogadishu.

      1. Charming.

        1. Ironically, I am more charming than the real thing.

      2. Mogadishu? The correct line is Somalia.

        1. Rats. Missed it by that much.

        2. He was being specific.

  13. Brooks suffers from a paranoid fantasy of his own. If he dedicates himself and works hard enough for the cause of being an apologist for the political establishment, one day a ranked member of the Illuminati will come forth to him in a privileged locale and whisper into his ear, ‘you are now one of us.’

    1. one day a ranked member of the Illuminati will come forth to him in a privileged locale and whisper into his ear, ‘you are now one of us.’

      He works for the NYT. This has already happened.

    2. Anti-semite!

  14. Oh, and by the way, kudos for the use of the giant Adam Smith head. …if anything, I would have made the picture bigger…

    It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine? That there are so many people in the world today who consider themselves edjumicated and still think of the invisible hand as a theory…

    There are libertarians–even right here in this thread maybe–who think anybody who doesn’t believe in evolution is a dolt, but who somehow also think of the invisible hand as a plausible theory, held to closely by ideologues only.

    …in fact, the critics of Adam Smith sound a lot like creationists talking about evolution if you listen. You know, about how evolution is only one competing theory that hasn’t really been proven yet?

    Of course, Darwin was reading Adam Smith on the Beagle–Smith is more fundamental than Darwin. …why would anyone who doesn’t believe in Adam Smith make fun of those who don’t believe in Darwin? …stones and glass houses, you know?

    They should be laughed out of the room. But they’re taken seriously. If President Obama said he didn’t believe in evolution, can you imagine what the reaction would be?

    And yet isn’t it clear that he doesn’t believe in the invisible hand?

    1. Evolution has an innate advantage in western thought that the invisible hand does not.

      Evolution occurs in the natural world while economics is an emergent behavior found solely in humans. Western thought splices the world into two spheres the natural world and the world of man. Evolution being part of the natural world is held sacred and untouchable while economics being of the world of man is manipulatable. Of course this is all bullshit and one of the major failings of western thought.
      Man is of the natural world and cannot escape it. Economics is no more mutable then flocking birds and man, weather he holds an ipod or a wooden club, is a wild animal living in the wild.

  15. “As riches increase and accumulate in few hands; as luxury prevails in society; virtue will be in a greater degree considered only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard.”

    — Alexander Hamilton

  16. “When economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny.”

    — John Adams

  17. “The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

    — Adam Smith

  18. “Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual.”

    — Thomas Jefferson

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