Libertarian Moment

A Horde of Angry Libertarians

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Back in '98, Mark Lilla's influential article "A Tale of Two Reactions" suggested that "the cultural and Reagan revolutions are fundamentally harmonious." It might not fit the standard Culture War scripts, Lilla argued, but Americans "see no contradiction in holding down day jobs in the unfettered global marketplace—the Reaganite dream, the left nightmare—and spending weekends immersed in a moral and cultural universe shaped by the Sixties."

Lilla wasn't pleased with the world he was describing, but the older article almost seems sunny compared to what he's saying now. In "The Tea Party Jacobins"—published, like the earlier essay, in The New York Review of Books—Lilla tells us that a

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new strain of populism is metastasizing before our eyes, nourished by the same libertarian impulses that have unsettled American society for half a century now. Anarchistic like the Sixties, selfish like the Eighties, contradicting neither, it is estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that. This is the one threat that will bring Americans into the streets.

Welcome to the politics of the libertarian mob….

Quite apart from the movement's effect on the balance of party power, which should be short-lived, it has given us a new political type: the antipolitical Jacobin. The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing—and unwarranted—confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.

Reason readers may remember Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch's "The Libertarian Moment," published at the end of 2008, with its argument that, despite everything coming out of Washington in the age of Gitmo and TARP, we're entering a "new century of the individual, which makes the Me Decade look positively communitarian in comparison":

Already we have witnessed gale-force effects on nearly every "legacy" industry that had grown accustomed to dictating prices and product and intelligence to their customers, be they airlines, automakers, music companies, or newspapers (it was nice knowing all of you). Education and health care, handicapped by their large streams of public-sector and hence revanchist funding, lag behind, but even in those sorry professions, practitioners are scrambling desperately to respond to consumer demands and compete for business. Politics, always a crippled, lagging indicator of social change, will be the last entrenched oligopoly to be squashed like a bug on the windshield of history, since the two major parties have effectively rigged the game to their advantage in a way no robber baron ever could. But the Dems and Reps, more bankrupt as brands than Woolworth's and Sears Roebuck, are already in ideological Chapter 11.

Lilla is giving us a funhouse-mirror version of the same argument: "The Libertarian Moment" as written by someone who greets such changes with anxiety, not glee. His nominal topic may be the Tea Parties, but Lilla understands that the shift he's describing manifests itself most powerfully in areas outside of politics. "Voters pretend to rebel and politicians pretend to listen: this is our political theater," he writes. "What's happening behind the scenes is something quite different. As the libertarian spirit drifted into American life, first from the left, then from the right, many began disinvesting in our political institutions and learning to work around them, as individuals." Where Welch and Gillespie point to airlines and newspapers, Lilla cites homeschooling and health. (Naturally, Lilla focuses on the worst elements of the revolt against medical authority—quack remedies, anti-vaccine cranks—instead of, say, the rise of modern hospice care, the women's health movement, and other products of the push for patient autonomy, informed consent, and human-scale services.)

I could pick a lot of nits with Lilla's historical argument, not to mention his notion that people trading and sharing outside the old institutions are trying to "do everything themselves," but I don't want to get caught up in caveats. The chief problem here isn't the little things that Lilla gets wrong; it's his reaction to a thing that he gets mostly right. But it's that reaction that makes the article so interesting. This is how the world looks to someone who thinks a revolt against bureaucratic institutions is a bad thing.

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  1. an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self.

    Yes, because individuals suck.
    Unless you get a bunch of them together and give them the power to tell us how we must live.
    Remember, there’s no “I” in “team,” and there’s no “power-mongering” in “authoritarian bureaucrat.”
    What a fucking shit-licker.

    1. I love how cunts like this cunty turd-burglar pretend to have such amazing insights.
      Fuckin’ faggot.

      1. There are over 1 million words in the English language. Try selecting a few less-foul ones to express yourself. That might actually earn you some credibility as more than a juvenile potty-mouth.

      2. Methinks the gentleman (Jamie? lady?) doth protest too much. Do we have a leftist in our midst?

    2. “Remember, there’s no “I” in “team,””

      True, but there is in First, Winner and Champion.

      1. Yes, but there is an “I” in Meat Pie.

        1. MEAT PIE

          1 unbaked pie shell
          1 lb. ground meat
          1 1/2 c. cheddar or Swiss cheese, grated
          2 eggs
          1/2 c. milk
          2 tbsp. cornstarch

          Brown meat and pour off grease. Beat eggs thoroughly. Add milk, cornstarch and cheese and beat well. Add to meat and put into pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

          1. Mmmmm…

            meat pie

      2. There’s no *I* but there is a *ME*.

    3. “Remember, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.'”

      Ain’t no “we,” either.

      1. There is a “me”, though.

    4. Yeah, throughout my classes at my tiny liberal arts school I learned the math of the collectivist. One person sucks, a group of people is incredibly important.

      I still don’t get it.

  2. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that.

    Basically nailed it, except for the “petulant” bullshit, jerk.

    1. No, that has nothing to do with libertarianism. Nothing in libertarianism says that individuals have to or should do everything by themselves. The essence of libertarianism is the negation of force, not rugged individualism.

      1. A poor attempt at humor.

        1. I’m not being sarcastic.

          1. I think Binky was talking about his first comment.

            1. Correct, but heller’s interpretation is funnier.

      2. I think he means “themselves” in the collective sense, not the individual one. ie, libertarians think they can do everything with help only from other private citizens and non-govt organizations.

        1. No, I think he means in the individual sense, because people must either believe that every person is completely self sufficient (or, failing that, that everyone who isn’t can fuck right off), or that we must all have every aspect of our lives planned for us by a self-important technocrat. There is no possible third option.

          1. Just read the usual trolls’ reductionist attempts to describe “Libertopia,” and you’ll see where he’s coming from.

        2. I think you give him too much credit. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t think libertarians are all “I am an island” kind of people.

      3. Correct! But it also doesn’t mean that you have to do it in group. The basic principle is tolerance towards other people and their maybe different priorities.

      4. “The essence of libertarianism is the negation of force, not rugged individualism.”

        Says you. I say many of us who are libertarian are pretty radical individualists… rugged too.

    2. As an anarchist/libertarian/communitarian [or some silly shit like that], I never cease to be amazed by the idiots who would never, ever let the rest of us run their lives whine about us not wanting them to run ours.

      As one who grew up in a very small town, I appreciate local communitarianism, but one of the few things I believe Rousseau got right was that more than 500 members is too much. [Okay, he didn’t say it that way, but you know what I mean.]

      For us, good government is like a good neighbor, and a good neighbor is one who helps you when you need help, leaves you alone when you need left alone, and knows the difference between the two.

  3. The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.

    It’s really hard to come by insufferable condescension like that outside of The New York Review of Books. What a stuffy little p***k.

    1. Thank heavens we have leftists like Lilla for balance, who are childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to public life (e.g. government), but apocalyptic pessimists about individualism.

      1. When he says “unwarranted confidence in the self” and “swaddled in self-esteem”, I think he’s talking about the generation of youngsters coming out of his prized public education system.
        To follow up on the media decline theme today, I will not cry when this terd loses his job because people can read liberal blowhards online for free instead of buying a magazine with the poo smears of this assface.

    2. I love how guys like this have to term it with some literary-historical allusion like “The New Jacobins.”

      You, sir, are an example of The New Wowsers.

  4. American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self.

    Yes on the first, and well, possibly ‘yes’ on the second.

    I dare large swathes of the public sector to go on strike. I double dare them! I double-dog dare them!

    I’ll bet you I can hold out longer.

  5. “Blanket distrust of institutions” is a sign of a healthy individual on the road to self actualization.

    1. It’s a healthy change from the blanket *trust* of institutions exhibited by many in the “greatest generation”. E.g. it has always astonished me that some older folks believe congresscreatures, because they have been *elected*, are wise leaders.

  6. To take a page from Simpsons,

    I for one welcome our new libertarian overlords.

    1. Judges…9.9, 9.9, 10.0, 9.8

      1. 9.8 was from the French Judge

  7. Faith and lack of skepticism in human institutions is entirely and utterly unwarranted.

    Remember that eternal vigilance business? Yep, still applies.

  8. That actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

    Lou
    http://www.anonymous-posting.us.tc

  9. You really don’t have to have an overwhelming amount of self-confidence to believe you’re better off making your own choices than leaving it to an entry-level clerk at the U.S. Department of Minding Other People’s Business.

    You also don’t even have to believe that you’d actually do a better job than such a person to be a libertarian. You just have to place a significant value on your right to make your own decisions regardless of whether it results in better outcomes for you.

  10. Civilization itself is retarded to the extent that we permit insitutional purposes to pre-empt our own.

  11. “…it is estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that.”

    “The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.”

    Lilla’s laughable attempt to insult libertarians only proves our point: The Left sees individuals as children that need to be told what is best for them by those who know better, i.e. the members of the Left. And if you believe that individuals should be left alone, guess what? You are a child. Mark Lilla knows what’s best for you though, so don’t worry.

    Anyway, this is merely a dumb attack on an even dumber strawman. Libertarians are fine with individuals working together and helping each other, AS LONG AS NO ONE FORCES THEM TO.

  12. It is basically self-evident that libertarians’ self-esteem is overinflated. Nobody living today has actually lived without the benefits of the state, so there is scant evidence that total self-reliance makes for a functioning world, or that any of you could last a week for that matter.

    Very few people want to live like hunter-gatherers. Libertarians want a baseline of liberty and mobility that they’re accustomed to, just with less taxes, not realizing just how much of that liberty and mobility are paid for by taxes.

    1. Read “Anarchy, State and Utopia,” you fucking uninformed, willfully ignorant, inbred fuck.

      1. Jamie, that was unnecessary. You have no evidence that Tony is inbred.

    2. Tony, the cost of liberty takes very little tax dollars. Mobility, yes that does take a larger chunk of taxes. We all drive on government roads. But again, the cost of roads (you know, basic government services) would again, take very little money compared to the larger budgetary picture.

      What takes a larger portion of tax revenue are limits to liberty, barriers to entry, and reduced mobility.

      I can’t go into a point-by-point argument over which of those things may admittedly be good for society- minimally invasive etc., but government’s job has generally become a check on freedom, not the other way around.

      It is basically self-evident that libertarians’ self-esteem is overinflated.

      But I do find this interesting. Is not the career bureaucrat who thinks he can solve any complex problem in the world with a byzantine series of top-down rules and regulations suffering from an inflated self-esteem?

      No, he’s just doing God’s work.

    3. Frito Pie

      3 cups Fritos corn chips
      3/4 cup chopped onion
      1 cup grated cheddar cheese
      2-1/2 cups chili (your favorite — homemade, canned, whatever)
      Preheat oven to 350?F.

      Spread 2 cups of Fritos in a baking dish. Sprinkle half the onion and half the cheese over the Fritos. Pour the chili over the onion and cheese. Sprinkle the remaining Fritos, onion and cheese over the chili.

      Bake for 15 or 20 minutes and cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.

      1. Dude, that’s way complicated. Heat the chili. Throw some fritos in a bowl. Add the chili, cheese and onions. Stir. Eat. A recipe for frito pie is like a recipe for ramen noodles. You’re barely cooking, just assembling.

        1. Who needs a bowl?

        2. Frito Pie has been around since at least the early 1950’s. When I was a kid the recipe was on the back of every package. But I’ve had the Fritos and chili in a bowl, too – both ways are good. How long have Ramen Noodles been around?

          1. Ramen in the incarnation we see today have been around since the same time. It was created after WWII to fill the need for cheap, non-perisable, foodstuff, that wasn’t rice.

    4. We are not advocating the complete elimination of government and all it’s functions. Yes, we benefit from roads. Why don’t we do this. If it is fair for you to say that because we want smaller government that we want no government, then by that same extension of “logic”, we can say that you want the government in every aspect of our lives, that you long for the day that the government is constantly watching you, and executing people in the street.

      1. Tony the Totalitarian. Can we use it from now on?

      2. What Tony is saying is that he’s not going to let you have roads unless you agree to go along with the Federal Department of Dustmops and Paper Clips, plus everything that goes between. There’s no way we can have a limited government, just Road Warrior anarchy or 1984 totalitarianism.

        Me, I’m getting my leather mask and metal boomerang together.

        1. I just wish one of you would say you have policy and spending differences and not teh constitushun makes you right because you say so. And stop avoiding admitting that tax increases are sometimes necessary. Nobody ever says that. You want fewer taxes no matter how low they are. So you like socialized roads. Well I like socialized healthcare. So there.

          1. Yeah! Fuck the Tenth Amendment! Power to the FedGov! Down with state autonomy!

            Oh, wow, that was a rush. Flashbacks to my teenage flirtation with communism are such a bitch.

          2. So you like socialized roads. Well I like socialized healthcare.

            Tony, go look up the difference between “public use” and “public benefit” and you will find your answer. One is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution and one is not.

            And if you say you can’t see the difference, you must by John Paul Stevens in drag.

            1. Apparently you missed Tony’s rejection of teh constitushun makes you right because you say so, or you wouldn’t cite a reference to the Constitution as if that ended the discussion.

              I understand that the “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” school of argument is popular in your neck of the woods, West Texas Boy, but I’m not sure if it’s helpful to simply modify it with the Constitution in the place of the deity for political purposes.

              1. Exactly. I mean what does a reference to the ultimate law in this country have to do with what are legitimate exercises of power or not?

                “Look, officer, stop referring to the speed limit and justify this ticket.”

                1. Wait, you mean speed limits are mentioned in the Constitution–so we must accept them? Or they are not mentioned, so they are illegitimate?

                  1. It was a reference to trying to discuss laws without being able to reference the law in question.

                    Poorly chosen throw away line on the way to a meeting but it looks to me like the Constitution leaves speed limits to the states to do with as they see fit.

                    1. I think the rest of us “got it”…..

              2. As oppossed to Tony’s, “I say forced socialized healthcare is better for us all because, I’m not a libertarian so there?”

                I understand that that the “I and all my friends believe it therefore it must be true for everyone because I’m just so much smarter” school of argument is popular in your neck of the woods, parse, but I’m not sure if I have any reason to think you know a rat’s ass about anything you’re talking about and you’ve given me no reason to think your way is better than anyone else’s other than you and Tony think so.

                Bully for you.

                1. I pointed out a lame response to Tony’s position on socialized medicine; you shouldn’t intepret that as an endorsement of the position. Suppose a constitutional amendment to mandate socialized medicine managed to pass–would you suggest we should then support socialized medicine just because it was in the Constitution? It’s surprising to me that someone arguing that libertarianism is a healthy rejection of accepting authoritarian government adopts an argument from authority (the Constitution) to support their position. But hey, I don’t know a rat’s ass about anything.

                  1. Parse here believes the constitution to be the “authority”. Bow down before it, worship it, feed it a virgin (probably you will do). I, on the other hand, will continue to view it as the document describing the agreed upon limits of the the actual authority/mandate – the consent of the governed.

              3. I agree that the Constitution is pretty inconvenient when your trying to make a statist argument. We should probably just ignore it altogether.

    5. Which hubris is larger?

      I know enough to make decisions for myself

      or

      I know enough to make decisions for everyone

      1. +infinity billion

      2. AKA:

        Self interest

        or

        Selfishness

    6. Basically people are too stupid, corrupt and incompetent to govern themselves, but somehow they are qualified to wield endless power over others. Yeah, makes sense to me.

      1. Don’t forget – it has to be the right people who wield power. Not those libertarian types who want to give all power to corporations to be all corporation-y and stuff.

        1. Winner!

    7. 1 table spoon of sugar
      2 table spoons of chocolate syrup
      1/4 cup of 2% Milk

      Mix and kneed until springy to the touch

      Eat my asshole

    8. Nobody living today has actually lived without the benefits of the state

      We’ve lived without benefits from our state.

    9. Tony, does that mean we should all just let the state take care of us, instead of doing things for ourselves?

      If so… sweet. Obama can send some of his White House cleaning staff over anytime. My toilet needs a good sparklin’ up.

    10. I could point out Indians, here. They didn’t live with a state. It was a more or less voluntary TRIBE. State only came into the equation when size and speed of communication and transportation didn’t match anymore…

      1. Funny you should mention Indians here. They are certainly poster children for the benefits of placing yourself in the total care of government. Tony is right. We just need to turn ourselves over to the right thinking bureaucrats and enjoy the benefits of paradise.

    11. Tony,

      You might want to avoid smoking around that strawman you’re attacking. Your argument amounts to a claim that, because some government is good, comprehensive state authority is better. There is no evidence offered that that is true. And to claim that one needs to defend anarchy to support libertarianism is laughable on its face.

  13. I still want to know why libertarians, who have almost zero power in this country, are the boogeyman and the whipping boy of both the right and the left. They’re somehow the stalking horse for everything the left and right hate.

    What did they do to deserve this honor? Why are TEAM RED TEAM BLUE so fucking terrified and hateful of libertarians?

    1. Freedom is scary.

      1. You know what’s really scary? The fact that people actually think The Big Bang Theory is funny.

        1. Its funny in a “I know those people, in fact, at times, I am those people” kind of way.

          I honestly dont know what anyone who didnt attend an engineering-type school gets out of it.

          1. It’s not funny in any kind of way, rob.

            And while we’re at it, 30 Rock is fucking awful too. But to avoid being completely negative, Community is great.

            1. Community sucks too. House and Cougartown rock.

            2. Funniest show on network TV right now is The Middle. The girl who plays the daughter is an incredibly gifted actress.

              Watch her face turn pale as she confesses to her mom she shop lifted.

              Or when she conspired to lie with her brother and was guilt ridden that she got away with it, ‘At what price, Brick? At what price?

              Or when she squeals as she introduces her parents to her first boy friend (he is a flaming homosexual).

              Or, for the love of God, her dance fighting to ‘Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting.’

              If you saw that and didn’t cry blood from your eyes from laughing, you should get a magic marker and have someone mark your ass and mark the holes in your yard so you’ll know the difference.

          2. It’s very geeky humor, but you don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate it. I think it’s excellent, but I’m even more thrilled that Futurama is coming back in late June.

            1. “Futurama” is great.

              1. Did you see the episode where the lead guy was convinced that his brother had taken his name and assumed his identity after he disappeared to become a an historically important person, only to find out at the end his brother had named his son after him in remembrance (with the theme song to the ‘Breakfast Club’ playing in the last scene)? Did you tear up, because I sure did.

                1. Ahhh, “The Luck of the Fryrish”. I sure did, too. What really gets me is the one with his dog: “Jurassic Bark”.

                  However, my favorite is “Amazon Women in the Mood”. The only tears from that were tears of laughter.

                  1. My ex-gf was amused when she saw a store clerk with a T-shirt that said “Death by Snoo-Snoo.”

            2. Agreed, although the “return” movies were a little disappointing. Still better than 99% of the crap on TV, however.

              Additional bonus: the DVD’s have French and Spanish dubbing and subtitles. Very helpful for anyone trying to learn those languages.

            3. It’s geeky humor dumbed down for people who think a quantum mechanic is a guy from one of the ‘stans who fixes your car.

        2. The football episode was great. So was the Sheldon not sleeping one. And the season opener when Sheldon went home to Texas. In fact, the Texan jokes are funny and pretty much nothing else is.

          1. Tonight’s episode had some decent places. That cute tall redhead teaching the Jew, the Indian, and the German guy a different kind of roll playing got a few laughs from me.

            Hated the episode Sheldon could not sleep, and he was playing sand trout popping his head up yelling, ‘bazinga.’ I hate that word.

    2. Realistically, we are the deciding vote. So they are trying as hard as they can to drive us away.

      Wait…that makes no sense. But, yeah, thats what they are doing.

    3. Why are TEAM RED TEAM BLUE so fucking terrified and hateful of libertarians?

      Because, deep in their hearts, they’re terrifid that we’re right.

      1. “Terrifid”, by the way, is my neologism for “frightened” or “scared”.

        1. If it were spelled “terrifi’d” I’d think it was a real retrologism.

      2. That’s easy. The right doesn’t like our social liberalism and the left doesn’t like our fiscal conservatism.

    4. Maybe we will completely fuck up the country. But the Democrats and Republicans have been doing just that for years. It’s our fucking turn.

      1. Even if we’d fuck it up just as bad, shrooms would be widely available.

        So we got that going for us.

        1. Which is nice.

        2. Speaking of +infinity billionty four

    5. They have to pick on somebody, and they certainly aren’t going to pick the people they are in cahoots with. So they choose a small, powerless group they don’t understand. This gets repeated so often in history, even in U.S. history, that one should not be surprised.

      All the ranting of idiots like Lilla only helps the libertarian cause because his arguments are so facile that they not only don’t convince anyone who isn’t already a true believer, the intellectual laziness will start to dissuade some of the believers who actually do try to think for themselves on occasion.

      1. See, I don’t find any of the above arguments to be compelling. Sure, maybe they fear libertarians because they don’t understand them. But this doesn’t explain the level of rancor expressed. It’s not like Jerry hating on Newman; it’s like Khan hating on Kirk. It’s almost an obsession, but I can’t figure out what libertarians did to attract their attention, frankly.

        1. I think Lilla is deliberately trying to subvert statist ideologies with his poor arguments.

          1. Well, he’s not very good, then. Thomas Frank does that, too, but on a Wall Street Journal salary.

            I think that the real reason Frank works for them is that they WANT lefties to look like ranting idiots who can make no arguments with anything but straw men. What’s funny is that I don’t think Frank realizes this.

        2. My LRC piece along these lines. Which I only post because it speaks to the sentiments expressed in your post. Sort of.

          http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/carkuff1.1.1.html

          1. Exceptional article, DWCarkuff. Would recommend.

          2. I really enjoyed that article, DWCarkuff. I would recommend it.

        3. We don’t want anything they control. That’s the problem. No leverage.

        4. Perhaps they agree with the ideas for themselves but are afraid of what others would do with that freedom?

          So they lash out in public against libertarian ideas, similar to the anti-gay hysteria of many in the closet politicians?

        5. because it’s distinct, and alien, and offers something to dislike for nearly everyone.

          plus the tea party types are stuck in that barrel for whatever reason, so add some rancor towards them as well.

        6. Libertarians are the enemy combatants of politics. We don’t have the decency to wear a uniform and it is impossible to tell for sure if we are on their side or not.

          Both sides love libertarians and independents when they side with them to oust the other jackasses. They just can’t handle the rejection when they start acting just like the old jackasses.

          I think the left bashing of libertarians is an acknowledgement that 2010 is going to be bad for the left. All those voters who punished the GOP are now swinging back to them to punish the left for Obamacare, TARP and bailouts.

      2. Even when it was the Mexicans, i KNEW it was the libertarians. Or was it Bears?

        1. Libertarian bears? What, like Pooh?

          1. “Grrrr…”

    6. Any dissent from the given structure and rules is a challenge to their authority–anyone’s authority. Libertarianism doesn’t challenge a given political party’s platform, but rather, their reason for being.

    7. Because we offer a haven for disgruntled players on both sides. Most dems I know are actually what I call libertards. They don’t like big government per se, but like the social policies Dems supposedly espouse like ending the drug war and getting rid of blue laws. Most Reps I know are actually Republicans in that they do want small government in every facet, and absolutely hate the social agenda of conservatards. Libertarianism offers something for both. Neither party can afford to lose the swing voters which would come to us libs if each party wasn’t overly concerned with smearing us at every opportunity.

      To the left we’re pro capitalists who hate poor people and polar bear babies, to the right we’re all druggies who heart immigrants and abortions. We are the enemy to both parties because we offer a reasonable alternative to big government in every form.

      1. “To the left we’re pro capitalists who hate poor people and polar bear babies, to the right we’re all druggies who heart immigrants and abortions. We are the enemy to both parties because we offer a reasonable alternative to big government in every form.”

        Perfect.

    8. “It votes against the welfare state or it gets the snark again.”

    9. Libertarians are the Jews of the 21st century.

      1. I was thinking along the same lines. A small minority you can blame for all of society’s ills through sophistry.

    10. Why are TEAM RED TEAM BLUE so fucking terrified and hateful of libertarians?

      Well, that’s easy. Libertarians systematically oppose the utopian fantasies of the left. And the right is afraid of having to admit that all of its good ideas come from the libertarians.

      1. +1 excellent observation.

  14. “A Horde of Angry Libertarians”

    I prefer “A Market of Libertarians” myself.

    1. “Agora”, please.

      1. I avoided “agora” because I wasn’t trying to describe a movement. I meant to use “market” as a collective noun* for a number of libertarians spotted in the same space (whether physical or metaphorical.) *While a ‘collective noun’ for libertarians is somewhat oxymoronic, I felt ‘market’ was the best term as people in a market, while they may have much in common, are there for their own purposes rather some grand commonality.

        1. Doesn’t “agora” just mean “market”, dude?

          Anyway, “agora” scans better and sounds MYSTICAL. I STICK BY IT.

          1. Doesn’t ‘agora’ sound awfully Canadian?

            1. It means “now” in Portuguese. I have no idea if that’s significant.

              1. To a cheerleader, it means “sweater.”

      2. Pick a different word, I’m agoraphobic. (Terrible pun, but I hate everyone here anyhow.)

        1. Don’t worry, Brett; we all hate you too. :-p

  15. Jesse, dear, the revolt against bureacracy isn’t a bad thing. It’s a fanciful thing that isn’t happening outside the bony confines of your conflicted libertarian skull. As I said to Katherine, get a fucking life.

    1. Edwardina!

    2. For a moment left alone in the house, we looked at each other, quaking. We were each equipped with a great, clumsy piece of a tree, armed at one end with a heavy, flat mass of iron.

      The cutlery part?especially adapted to a primitive soil?was an importation from Sydney; the handles must have been of domestic manufacture. “Hoes”?so called?we had heard of, and seen; but they were harmless in comparison with the tools in our hands.

      “What’s to be done with them?” inquired I of Peter.

      “Lift them up and down,” he replied; “or put them in motion some way or other. Paul, we are in a scrape?but hark! they are calling;” and shouldering the hoes, off we marched.

  16. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.

    Truthfully, I don’t have a great deal of trust in myself. I’m fallible, short-sighted, irrational, and impulsive. I make mistakes, serious ones, with bad consequences.

    Of course, so do all my so-called betters running these institutions I’m supposed to revere. And they don’t have as much incentive as I do to avoid fucking my life up.

  17. Hey guys, Check out this new political forum / website!

    http://www.ThePartisanDialogues.com

  18. Tony’s point seems reasonable on the surface, and then, scrape down a fraction . . .

    It’s true that we live in a state-saturated society, but many of us, for example, learned most of what we know OUTSIDE the blessed institutions of state-run schooling. The grinding educational inefficiency of modern public schools (as well as many private ones, standards have dropped so low) leave a huge swath of wards wasting the bulk of their hours, days, years retaining almost nothing of lasting value.

    Where I live, the bulk of government-paid folk – when not babysitting children – are either retired or endlessly studying problems that they have no intention of fixing. The retirees concern me; the children, in a sense, do not, since I know that better institutions than the horrible public ones we have now can be devised and paid for on markets. There’s scads of evidence for that. Retirement is a more interesting set of problems. But hey: in my family, we help our oldsters.

    And if our current overlords continue to mess up the finances of our governments, we may soon all have the crying need to figure out alternative arrangements.

    I know of no libertarian who wants to live a hunter-gatherer life. Libertarianism does not imply it. The evolution of the state MIGHT imply it, but the republican revolutions of the 18th century nixed that idea pretty well.

    Still, I readily agree, we must be agnostic about the ultimate institutional arrangement of a free society.

    But if you think more of what politicians offer us now is wisdom, well….

    1. I disagree with your observation that Tony’s point seems reasonable on the surface.

      First, he makes this phantasmajoric assertion that it is self evident that the self-esteem of libertarians is overinflated. What does he adduce in support of his sweeping statement? Does he direct us to any such evidence? Does he provide examples of libertarians who value their abilities and skills in excess of their reality?

      Next, he claims that, “nobody living today has actually lived without the benefits of the state.” Again, he cites no evidence in support of his proposition. He can not cite any such evidence, i.e., that every single human being alive today “has actually lived without the benefits of the state,” as none exists. How could it exist for those under 21 in large areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan? How about the buddists in large areas of Mongolia? What “benefits” of the state did they enjoy?

      Turning to Tony’s use of the word “benefit,” I note that, according to Merriam-Webster’s on-line edition, the first definition given to benefit is “an act of kindness” with the second definition being “something that promotes well being; useful aid; help.”

      Generally, I have always understood benefit as a freebie, a throw-in. In this context, Tony’s use of the word is misplaced as roads are not given to us by the state. Every time one fills up ole Bessie, one is paying for the roads. In fact, as we know, we have paid, paid and overpaid, for the roads. Every time one traverses toll roads, one pays for the roads. Between tolls, tickets, excise taxes, sales taxes, automobile registration fees, licence fees, gas taxes, license renewal fees, inspection fees, inspection stickers as well as other fees assessed against transportation companies, specialized professional licensing fees and the like, not only HAVE the roads been paid for, we continue to pay, not for the use of the roads, but to provide a lifetime of “benefits” to public sector parasites and their rent seeking sponsors.

      1. I suppose Tony would call the absolute immunity from suit enjoyed by both the prosecutariat and the judiciary as one of the “benefits” of the state.

        Perhaps Tony would include the drug war as another “benefit” of the state. It actually has provided numerous benefits like lots of jobs for police officers, prosecutors, confidential informants, DEA employees, drug cousnellors, prison guards, correction officers, wardens, prison building entities and gangs, druglords, drug kingpins, narco traffickers, fences, terrorists and kids.

        1. I’m a fence, and have not gotten any benefit.

          Oh – you meant the other kind.

          Never mind…

      2. And one has to ask one’s self – If the self esteem of those who merely want to govern themselves is “over-inflated” then the self esteem of those who presume they are fit to govern others must be the size of a Goodyear blimp. Which is more delusional – feeling as though you are qualified to be in charge of your own life or feeling as though you are qualified to be in charge of the lives of others. The answer seems fairly obvious to anyone without sinister agenda.

        1. Yes, the first part is not actually a question and the second part needs a question mark.

      3. “First, he makes this phantasmajoric assertion that it is self evident that the self-esteem of libertarians is overinflated.”

        Well, if he said we were “uppity”, it would sound racist.

  19. Jacobin. The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.

    OMFG MONSTERS

    I may never sleep again.

    1. Note that the Jacobins led a reign of terror that sent thousands of “enemies of freedom” to their death. Horrifying. Of course, liberals led the eugenics movement, WWI, the internment of the Japanese, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. And the current Liberal-in-Chief is murdering poor goat farmers for reasons I wot not.

      Never forget, liberals kill.

      1. the current Liberal-in-Chief is murdering poor goat farmers for reasons I wot not.

        To reduce the soaring unemployment rate of goat farmers?

    2. PS You misspelled “Jobin”.

      PPS You get super dork points if you catch that reference.

    3. The original Jacobins, while ideological fanactics, actually believed in a strong centralized state that enforced its values on the population, through the use of deadly force if necessary, because that was really the only way to ensure that the Change? that they wanted would be properly implemented.

      So, uh, pejorative analogy fail?

    4. Libertarians are interested in liberty. Jacobins were interested in fraternity and equality to the point of killing which sounds more like modern progressives.

      1. Of liberty, fraternity, equality, you can have at most two at once. The three cannot exist together at one time.

  20. blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self.

    You fucking idiots. Stop pretending you can take care of yourselves. You’d have trouble wiping your asses if it weren’t for your betters. Now shut the fuck up and get back to work, you useless little fucks.

    1. Dude, he writes for The New York Review of Books. That’s almost like writing for The New Yorker, or possibly Juggs. Of course he knows better than you.

      Now, if he wrote for The Wilson Quarterly, or possibly The Utne Reader, or MAD Magazine, I might listen to what he has to say.

      1. Please. There’s no way we’d let crap like that out the door.

    2. Delightful paraphrase.

  21. “What’s remarkable is American parents’ confidence that they can do better themselves”

    I resemble that remark (15yodd just got 30 on ACT)

    1. 15 years odd?

      1. Also, nice job.

      2. Of course he is odd, he is a libertarian 😉

  22. Sure, maybe they fear libertarians because they don’t understand them. But this doesn’t explain the level of rancor expressed.

    Maybe, deep down inside, they suspect we’re right. And THAT terrifies them.

    1. DUDE. See upthread.

  23. “blanket distrust of institutions”

    I could only describe an adult* who trusts government institutions as an extremely slow learner.

    *By the time they are through elementary school, most kids should have at least profound skepticism.

    1. Could you repeat that in my good ear?

    2. Or the member of a public sector union

    3. Really, I don’t see how any self-respecting youngster can spend over a decade under the heel of government paid, power-tripping retards without becoming an anarchist, much less a libertarian.

    4. Lots of people aren’t paying attention. They really believe that there are “isolated incidents”. They also disconnect the parts of government they like (e.g., when they get free crap), from the parts they don’t.

  24. “blanket distrust of institutions”

    I could only describe an adult* who trusts government institutions as an extremely slow learner.

    *By the time they are through elementary school, most kids should have at least profound skepticism.

  25. petulant?

    1 : insolent or rude in speech or behavior
    2 : characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor

    hmmm ….. I guess we are actually petulant. That’s what happens when you spend years of your life pointing out that the emporer has no god damn clothes on, and all get in return is “well, you must be a racist, sexist, homophobe. Of course the emporer isn’t actually wearing anything at the moment, but cmon, he cares.” We figure if we yell a little louder we might get heard, and you already call us Nazi’s anyhow, so why the fuck would we care about the keeping up any appearance of propriety?

    Jacobin though? Not yet. Keep this shit up for a few more years and we might get there you sack of communist dicks.

    1. I don’t think there’s anything temporary or capricious about libertarians’ ill humor. We can’t be insolent to statists because they aren’t our betters. Rude, eh. Maybe, but not capriciously.

      1. Yeah, our ill humor is permanent and targeted. Suck it, Lilla.

  26. Anti-Libertarian Mark (High-Pitch Spermy Voice) Levin is now shitting his panties on my AM radio station.

    “Gimme some God Damn Authoritarianism!”

    1. Wow, shrike… you and Levin have more in common than you let on.

  27. “Very few people want to live like hunter-gatherers. Libertarians want a baseline of liberty and mobility that they’re accustomed to, just with less taxes, not realizing just how much of that liberty and mobility are paid for by taxes.”

    People who don’t understand libertarianism but can’t resist the compulsion to pontificate on the subject, go immediately to a cartoon version of a pothead in a Montana cabin eating wild berries and sleeping under a bear rug. There have been some very intelligent libertarian scenarios showing how roads could’ve been built without the State — a little imagination will work wonders when looking at public goods outside the box of first sending our money to a State drowning in debt which wastes half of it before getting around to doing what we could’ve done in the private sector efficiently and contractually.

    1. I am so sick of that Oliver Wendell Holmes quote about “the price of civilization” and the other, less witty, canned message board response that equates social security taxes with potholes in the interstate.

      That you fuckheads can’t tell the difference – and clearly are just too smug to even think about the larger points involved – tells me just who’s serious and who’s just a TEAM (color here) minion.

    2. No, no no, you don’t understand. You either get the amount of government we right now, or you get some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are absolutely no increments of tax reduction in between. Nope.

      God, don’t you like roads? What’s wrong with you?

  28. What a stuffy little p***k.

    plank?

    1. It’s plonk, China.

      1. cheap wine????

  29. Tony does have a minor point here. There has never been a stable society that had both small government AND the level of anonymity, mobility, and general freedom from other private citizens’ nosiness that modern urban life provides. There’s reason to believe the two are incompatible.

    However, this merely indicates that the minimal night-watchman state favored by strict minarchists is going to be a no-go when dealing with densely populated areas. It doesn’t justify all the encrustations of power that have accumulated to our current government via decades of rent-seeking and quid pro quos.

    1. “However, this merely indicates that the minimal night-watchman state favored by strict minarchists is going to be a no-go when dealing with densely populated areas.”

      No, it just means you might have to hire more night-watchmen and give them the right weapons and body armor. And keep them so busy fighting bad guys they leave the rest of us the hell alone.

  30. Historically, populist movements use the rhetoric of class solidarity to seize political power so that “the people” can exercise it for their common benefit. American populist rhetoric does something altogether different today. It fires up emotions by appealing to individual opinion, individual autonomy, and individual choice, all in the service of neutralizing, not using, political power. It gives voice to those who feel they are being bullied, but this voice has only one, Garbo-like thing to say: I want to be left alone.

    Yeah. Anyone who advocates lightening the burden of taxes and regulations must be a Greta Garbo movie character or a Ted Kazynski.

  31. I have to give Matt and Nick credit for at least taking this guy seriously.

    I personally can’t stand it when progressive liberal state-worshipers decide to get all “analytical” about libertarians or Tea Partiers… They tend to have zero actual experience with these groups, so base all their analysis on random, cherry picked details, and things like, “how do they poll on homosexuality? Are they more or less racist than X?”… As though any of these things have anything to do with fiscal policy or the size of government. Essentially, they equate libertarian with “Glenn Beck”; that being the beginning and end of their experience with the idea, I’m not surprised they dont like it very much. He’s like their cartoon Libertarian Leader.

    But by focusing on their own self-generated meta-narrative, these type of pundits tend to ignore all of the *actual things* that libertarians talk about. They tend to fret about libertarians’ “unsettling” effect on society… while communists burning banks in Greece, or WTO protestors are more likely described as examples of ‘democracy in action!’.

    Isnt ‘libertarian mob’ kind of an oxymoron anyway? The very reason I never got a hard on for Ron Paul is because, frankly I’m not all that big into participating in ‘movements’ or any sort of team-sport. The whole ‘individualist’ thing is kinda a spoiler for a “Libertarian Mass Movement”, isnt it? Its the same reason I never really call myself libertarian in the first place; I’m not interested in being lumped in with sci-fi geeks, gun nuts, ferret owners, “Transgenderists Against The Fed”, and the like. I never joined any goddam club! This guy seems to be inventing a boogeyman out of thin air… If anything, center-right ‘libertarianish’ thinking is probably the most pervasive and benign themes in American politics; its when things swing way off to the Right (as with Bush) or to the Left (as with Obama), that suddenly the majority of people start to look at the libertoids and go, “they must be the enemy! they refuse to choose sides!”

    I find all the hand-wringing that’s been done by the NYT over the Tea Parties to be ridiculous, frankly. What’s there been? A few rallies? A convention (which seemed pretty aimless and impotent)? A few insulting placards? Its not like Chicago ’68 out there. Society is not falling apart, and I sure as hell dont think a bunch of republican old farts who now call themselves ‘tea parties’ are anything to get excited about.

    But, without a nemesis like Bush II, the NYT needs *something* to wet its pants over…

    Which makes me wonder: standard GOP rhetoric is often to question the patriotism of their imagined enemies ;

    – is it me, or is standard hyperliberal rhetoric to roll on your back, pissing yourself with fear, screaming that society will collapse if these horrible imagined enemies ever get any power?

    It seems that way; at least in NYT op-ed pieces.

  32. Lilla brings to mind some super-annuated progressives I know who now respect Richard Nixon because he had a plan for nationalized health care and established the EPA. They probably think they were too stoned to realize the good he was doing at the time, so he must have been right about the drug war too!

  33. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that.

    Statist like you apply such an authoritarian and destructive hand to our voluntary associations that you really leave us little choice.

  34. I try to act surprised that a writer for the NYT Review of Books sounds like a petulant child doing an imitation of Ezra Pound on Italian radio.

  35. “an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self”

    Hmm… sounds like another reason to add people to no-fly lists and the SPLC website.

    1. I thought these already were.

  36. See, I don’t find any of the above arguments to be compelling. Sure, maybe they fear libertarians because they don’t understand them. But this doesn’t explain the level of rancor expressed. It’s not like Jerry hating on Newman; it’s like Khan hating on Kirk. It’s almost an obsession, but I can’t figure out what libertarians did to attract their attention, frankly.

    Hey, GOP. You are looking good over there. So, are youe ready to come back to me, after your little fling with that skank Libertarian? Well, I understand. I forgive you. I got a little crazy too. Thought I could do it all on my own. Thought I didn’t need you. But the truth is I need you, baby, and you need me.

    Remember the good times we had together, how you fucked me against the dining room table while we signed in to law the prescription drug benefit? Your friends, the pharmaceuticals and my friends the government employees got together and it was wall to wall dicks and pussies. We sure as hell needed the penicillin after that night!

    Remember how we got nasty together in the shower, played the water sports when we invaded Iraq, together? Yeah, that shower nob broke inside me, and I had to deny I was even there to the land lord. You took it on the chin for me, baby. Or that time, with No –, shh, shh, I don’t think we should talk about that!

    Come back to me, baby, and we’ll do it all over again. I swear, this time, we’ll really pig fuck the shit out of the American people. Forget that tramp. She can’t give you what you really want. What you really want is bipartisanship because deep inside, GOP, you are a freak just like me.

  37. Oh, Lilla how sad it is to be you. Guess what? You became your dad. Guess who you are scolding? That’s right those who were most like you before you got old and venal.

  38. Guess who you are siding with? That’s right, man, the establishment. How much it must suck to be you.

  39. Between libertarians, democrats, and republicans which one would have told you 10 years ago that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a bad idea?

    I am sure there are like a million and one examples of this sort. We should come up with more….way better then the recipe game which I really do not get at all.

  40. A great American president put it best: “All we ask is to be let alone.”

  41. The statement: “it has given us a new political type: the antipolitical Jacobin” is patently incorrect; I am anti-PROFESSIONAL POLITICIAN and anti-PARTY POLITICS.

  42. Maybe there is someone out there who doesn’t get it. The American People are fed up with incompetent, corrupt politicians KILLING our economy, strangling the futures of our children and grandchildren and lying to us in the process.

    Back to our original documents, folks! The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution have the answers: small, restricted government powers. The People and States are Sovereign; the Federal Government is a bloated, incompetent PIG.

  43. They drive pickup trucks. It’s a clue.

    The difference in philosophy between America and Europe is the attitude towards life summed up in pickup trucks.

    In 12 days in Europe — 6 countries, hundred miles of miles — we saw 12 pickup trucks. (5 of them were in London.)

    I am still mulling over the difference.

    Granted in the northeast one doesn’t see many, but move outside the perimeter — pickup trucks.

    I think the can-do attitude of Americans, messy as it can be, is what might be being targeted here. And pickup trucks are can-do machines.

    And the activities are not anarchist — it “community activity” NOT “community organizing.” It’s uncoerced cooperation, not mandated “voluteer service.” It’s barn raising.

    It’s nice to see Americans haven’t forgotten their roots, even if the Beltway and the legacies have.

  44. To “grow up” — to become an adult — is to leave mommy and daddy’s place and start taking care of oneself, i.e. become self-reliant.

    And yet, Lilla calls this “childish”.

    Why again is the Left taken seriously?

    1. Why again is the Left taken seriously?

      Because they provide a veneer of sophistication to the vicious misanthropy that so many depraved people carry in their shrunken little hearts.

      -jcr

  45. …Lilla cites homeschooling and health. (Naturally, Lilla focuses on the worst elements of the revolt against medical authority…

    In addition I’d note he offers no substantive criticism of home schooling aside from the notion of leaking talent from failing public schools. But, even if he is correct in that assessment, the implications are monsterous. He’s essentially arguing that the best student talent in failing schools should be sacrificed at the alter of incompetence. Every now and then, I start to think of Ayn Rand as a bit comic bookish, when people like Lillia remind me that there are actually people like her villains.

  46. The last time I can remember “Jacobin” being used in the pejorative, it was against Thomas Jefferson, just saying. This guy left out “filthy.” Why?

    Estranged, aimless and juvenile works for me. I’m often petulant, too. Made in God’s own image.

  47. Let’s all keep in mind that Libertarians are nothing other than reactionary Republicans.

    prescienceblog.com

  48. “And they are a powerful political lobby, having redirected their energy from local school systems to Washington and state capitals, where their collective appeal to individualism is irresistible.” – Lilla

    I know that is in reference to homeschoolers. I don’t know what it is supposed to mean.

  49. Libertarians are a powerful political lobby?

    Who knew?

    But you know, that might be a good idea! The LP can be a fun crowd, but in sober moments, one must admit that it’s mostly masturbatory.

    However, the LL could work. What about a group that paid lobbyists, you know, real, scummy, dirty lobbyists, to push through libertarian laws (or, in most cases, to repeal laws)?

    Personally, I think that actually might be worth buying a few yachts and houses on the Irish coast for some of our fine congresscritters…

  50. What’s funny about this is Lillatarians have been destroying lives, enslaving people and stealing wealth since the beginning of history yet having the temerity to demand they stop doing that is selfish individualism that will lead to the END OF CIVILIZATION because without government you can’t do certain things (your favorite current or historical government program here). Never mind that that is untrue.

    What is worrying them is the spread of information. Pro-freedom unforces had magazines and snail-mail newsletters and the other small potatoes stuff but now with the rise of the internets and blogs and Twitter and Google it is much easier for freedom-memes to circulate and are harder to counter so they respond with increasing desperation.

    They fear a tipping point where enough individuals question why government is needed at all. Once that happens, bye-bye to gov-based streams of income and the intellectual and emotional and physical rewards of having power over others.

    It will be the END OF (their) CIVILIZATION and they will have no exalted place it whatever comes next.

  51. Damn people don’t know their place. They’re supposed to trust and obey the government!

  52. Lilla has created a strawman to critique and argue against. I didn’t realize that Tea Partiers and other “Jacobins” were bent on anarchy and total individuality. Since that is what Lilla is implying, and since that is NOT what the movement that frightens him is about, his whole book is chasing a ghost.

  53. Doesn’t Lilla have a point, though? Not about whether individual people can make bad decisions (which I imagine depends on the person) but about the implications of the “capacity is democratic” theme running through Tea Party rhetoric? Everybody’s not the same. I can’t bench press twice my weight any more than I could perform brain surgery or design a skyscraper. Some differences are learned, but some are innate. Some folks are stronger, and some are smarter. The interesting question is what responsibility should those blessed with more capacity feel toward those with less. Should the strong protect the weak? Should the smart guide the stupid? If your answer’s yes, and if you think it’s possible to have collective interests (common defense, etc.), then Lilla’s arguments about the dangers of making collective decisions based on the assumption that everyone is the same makes sense. Homeschooling’s great, but not everyone has the skills/capacity/time to do a good job at it.

  54. The chief problem here isn’t the little things that Lilla gets wrong; it’s his reaction to a thing that he gets mostly right

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