Some Factual Errors in the Latest Slate Attack on Libertarianism


No puppets were harmed in this picture

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait is unimpressed by my "rebuttal" to Stephen Metcalf's Slate essay about libertarians and the philosopher Robert Nozick. This is probably due to the fact that I didn't write one.

However, others have, and I want to make sure Chait has sufficient reading material before his next squash game with Jacob Weisberg. I recommend:

* Will Wilkinson, in The Economist, on Metcalf's claim that Ludvig von Mises and F.A. Hayek were "in with the nutters and the shills," because "between them, Von Hayek and Von Mises never seem to have held a single academic appointment that didn't involve a corporate sponsor":

This attempt to marginalise two great thinkers is as lazy as it is dishonest. A little light googling is enough to establish the basic facts, but it seems Mr Metcalf could not be bothered.

[much evidence cited] […]

If only a levee separated polite discourse from the sort of ax-grinding indifference to fairness and truth Mr Metcalf displays in his essay.

* Brad DeLong, on Metcalf's claim that John Maynard Keynes "scribble[d] in the margins of his copy of The Road to Serfdom[…]: 'An extraordinary example of how, starting with a mistake, a remorseless logician can end up in Bedlam'":

Keynes did not write this on the margin of any book. He did not write it by hand. He said it in print […] in 1931 in the journal Economica–13:34 (November), pp. 387-97, "The Pure Theory of Money: A Reply to Dr. Hayek", and it was of Hayek's Prices and Production. It was about Hayek's business-cycle theory […] and not about his moral philosophy[.]

* David Boaz, at Cato, on Metcalf's central thesis that Robert Nozick "disavow[ed] libertarianism":

Shortly before his death in 2002, young writer Julian Sanchez (now a Cato colleague) interviewed him and had this exchange:

JS: In The Examined Life, you reported that you had come to see the libertarian position that you'd advanced in Anarchy, State and Utopia as "seriously inadequate." But there are several places in Invariances where you seem to suggest that you consider the view advanced there, broadly speaking, at least, a libertarian one. Would you now, again, self-apply the L-word? RN: Yes. But I never stopped self-applying. What I was really saying in The Examined Life was that I was no longer as hardcore a libertarian as I had been before. But the rumors of my deviation (or apostasy!) from libertarianism were much exaggerated. I think this book makes clear the extent to which I still am within the general framework of libertarianism, especially the ethics chapter and its section on the "Core Principle of Ethics."

So Nozick did not "disavow" libertarianism.

* Conor Friedersdorf, in The Atlantic, on Metcalf's notion that libertarianism is equivalent to caring about nothing beyond "naked self-interest":

Goddamned self-interesteders!

Let's devise an empirical test to see if this accurately characterizes the ideology. Over at Reason, America's leading libertarian magazine, I see that the story atop the Web site asks, "Why is the government doing so little to end sexual assault in prisons?" It's part of their July issue, dedicated to the criminal justice system, which it labels America's "national disgrace." On Reason's June cover is Sen. Rand Paul, who has recently tried to end America's war in Libya and to add civil liberties protections to the Patriot Act. The magazine's May cover story is about teachers' unions as an impediment to reform of public schools.

Over at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, recent cases have been fought on behalf of DC tour guides, Florida interior designers, Louisiana casket makers, Nashville limo drivers, and Utah hair braiders keen on practicing their chosen professions without having to obtain a professional license. I fail to see how IJ lawyers or their libertarian donors benefit personally from lowering barriers to entry for far flung, mostly working class clients.

Meanwhile at the Cato Institute, David Boaz is trying to end the war on drugs, my friend Julian Sanchez is paid to explain how the federal government is using its power in the war on terrorism to expand the surveillance state, and his colleague Gene Healy is a critic of executive overreach and editor of a 2004 book on the federal government's over-criminalization of American life. […]

[Y]ou're just misinformed if you think that libertarians as a whole care for nothing more than their self-interest. Countless libertarians are working to advance the freedom and fair-treatment of people other than themselves. Often they do so more consistently than some of the liberals who sneer at them.

(Copious links not included in the above excerpt for reasons of time.)

* E.D. Kain, in the League of Ordinary Gentleman (from which I harvested some of the above links):

I fear it represents a great deal of confirmation bias on the left. A lot of liberals who see all libertarians as less-lovable Ron Swansons nod along with Metcalf as he makes one clichéd assertion after another and the end result is a bunch of readers happily cheering a piece that makes no attempt at all to treat its subject with any sort of seriousness or grace. It affirms deeply held opinions and distrust, and helps cement the language barrier between liberals and libertarians in ultimately a very destructive and unfortunate way.

NEXT: Evidently Smoking Is Bad for You

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  1. Just another example of someone confusing libertarianism with objectivism.

    I think Comrade Metcalf may be suffering from a little false consciousness.

    1. Sorry, libertarians are all evil. That’s been established. Who’s that guy with the weird hair? I think he’s evil too.

      1. That’s one of the best smackdowns I’ve ever read. PWN!!

      2. Know who else has weird hair? Carrot Top.

      3. “Who’s that guy with the weird hair?”

        Jonathan Chait ? and this is his understanding of free-market economics.

      4. Cool story, brometheus.

    2. So libertarians don’t believe in being self-centered, in individualism?

      Oh well, I’m not surprised, I’ve seen plenty of Ayn Rand bashing on libertarian forums. The question is why? Why bash a woman that wants you to keep your money and to live your life your way as long as you engage in honest dealing?

      1. Uh, because she was a crazy and horrible person?


      3. Also, “libertarian” =/= “objectivist”.


      4. It’s primarily because she pointed out that it is impossible to actually define – much less defend – liberty without a full and consistent philosophy based on observable facts. Libertarians like to believe that they can believe whatever they like, picking and choosing what sounds nice right now, and then somehow make it all come out like, libertyish, and whatever, man.

        1. And it’s for this precise reason that she hated our ideas.

  2. Brad Delong is a fan of Hayek – both do not need help in trashing conservatism – they thrive on it.

  3. I agree there seems to be a lot of confirmation bias on the left regarding libertarians.

    This is why so many commenters come straying into our discussions, loaded for bear. …in defense of the common man–against us! The self-interested, unscrupulous libertarians!

    They all limp away wondering how their enthusiasm for undermining individual liberties could be so horribly misunderstood.

    “It affirms deeply held opinions and distrust, and helps cement the language barrier between liberals and libertarians in ultimately a very destructive and unfortunate way.”

    It’s much more than a language barrier. There’s no doubt that many on the left don’t really understand us–but the ones who really do understand us well?

    They hate us all the more.

    They hate us like only a well meaning champion for the common man can–after he’s been exposed as a an enormous threat to the welfare and freedom of individual.

    1. Which is why I am a classic liberal/libertarian.

      I don’t want the state dictating contraception/intimate policy to me or to any female.

      The GOP will be anti-Liberty as long as the American Taliban run it.

      1. There’s an “American” Taliban now?

        1. Southern Baptists, aka “Evangelicals” — Taliban all the way.

          1. So it was Jim Bakker who touched your pee pee.

          2. Exactly – that’s how the Southern Baptists behave – making women wear burkas and if they show their ankles shooting them in the head in a soccer stadium. Oh wait, I forgot, the Baptists don’t do that AT ALL.

            You fucking moron.

          3. Southern Baptists, aka “Evangelicals” — Taliban all the way.

            Isn’t Clinton a Baptist?…

            and from the south?

            1. You know who else was a Baptist?

              1. Billy Ray Cyrus?

              2. Every Democratic President since Kennedy?

                LBJ – Baptist.
                Carter – Baptist.
                Clinton – Baptist.
                Obama – Baptist.

          4. You really seem bound and determined to make society pay for your daddy issues.

      2. I can’t think of any political party as being the cause of or the solution to our problems anymore.

      3. No Shriek, you’re a one-trick pony that hides under your definitions of what makes a “classic liberal/libertarian”.

        A classic liberal/libertarian would never argue for the things that you do in terms of government interference in the marketplace.

        But keep pretending if it makes you feel better.

        1. I just hate you Jerry Falwell/Jimmy Swaggert types.

          Leave me alone – let me buy beer on Sunday, let scientists go ESCR, let schools teach science and not Fundie GOP Creationism.

          So FUCK you and your fundie asshole GOP in the ass, pal.

          1. Let me start and run a business, serve the needs of my customers in mutually beneficial transactions, and not have to withhold part of my employees’ honestly-earned money as tribute to Caesar. And let me decide who and how I want to pay for medical care, what forms of art I wish to patronize, and how my children should be educated.

            Fuck you, you broken statist record.

            1. So who stopped the Google guys from doing that? Facebook guys? Netflix guys? (all Obama supporters).

              You are a failure and a pussy at the same time. Take account of yourself and quit blaming others!

              1. Nobody stopped them, but their support of Obama suggests that they’d like to stop others.

                Especially competitors.

                1. Exactly.

              2. Well, Google and Apple are now prohibited from selling mobile apps showing DUI checkpoints. There’s no law, but they’re basically prohibited. I’m sure the lege threatened to unleash the FCC on the internet or something (which by the way, will happen soon).

              3. I’m glad you left out Jimmy Wales who started Wikipedia and who is also an Objectivist.

                Did your head just explode from that?

          2. This is why you’re such a joke shreek.

            Everything you list -“let me buy beer on Sunday, let scientists go ESCR, let schools teach science and not Fundie GOP Creationism” are things that we all agree with.

            Instead you try and change the debate by calling people “christfags” because we DON’T agree with your Keynesian fantasies.

            One. Trick. Pony.

            1. No, we do not agree. I support the ACLU and the Bill of Rights – every Taliban Nut-Fuck GOP con-job hates my position.

              1. “I support the ACLU and the Bill of Rights “

                Great Shreek. Me too.

                every Taliban Nut-Fuck GOP con-job hates my position.

                Well, bully on them. Now stop pretending everyone here agrees with “Taliban Nut-Fuck GOP con-jobs”.

                Also, give up your Krugnuts/Keynes worship. It only makes you look more idiotic, which is saying something.

              2. “I support the ACLU and the Bill of Rights”

                You know what the 2nd, 9th and 10th amendments are right?

                1. No, Californian he doesn’t. He also doesn’t know that the people who championed it would be considered modern day Reason-Libertarians.

          3. Big Bang and Descent with Modification iscreationism, creationism from the Church of Academia and it’s naturalism metaphysics.

            Too bad Academicians cannot come forth with Chapter Two — how life began.

            The High Priests from the Church of Academia put forth great conjecture with absolutely no way to prove their Creationism story.

            When a third party, non-human can step outside the universe or when a human can tag every particle in the universe, twice, for magnitude and direction (which would require having more energy than the universe itself), come talk to us about your Church of Academia creationist story as being real.

            Otherwise, shut up already. You dummies are farting in the wind with mere speculation with no basis in truth.

            Two or more guys agreeing on one thing and then bullying everyone else they can to agree as well isn’t truth. It’s not objective.

            1. “Too bad Academicians cannot come forth with Chapter Two — how life began.”

              Oh, that chapter’s been written.

              Synthetic life is already in existence…


              …and synthetic life from scratch may be a lot closer to becoming a reality than you think!

              1. You do get that creating life isn’t actually an argument against Creationism, right?

                1. “Too bad Academicians cannot come forth with Chapter Two — how life began.”

                  You do get that science has a pretty good understanding of how life came to be, right?

                  Even when I was a little creationist, I knew that God using natural laws to do what he did shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.

                  Anyone whose faith is shaken by the suggestion that God used his own natural laws to create life–the same laws we may use to create life someday? Hasn’t built their house upon the rock.

            2. The argument between science and religion and is not about the detail of any particular theory. It’s about method.

              We currently do not possess perfect knowledge about either the origin of the universe or the origin of life.

              The question is: how can we improve our level of knowledge about the origin of the universe and the origin of life?

              Should we:

              1. Attempt to examine physical facts, and employ logical thought to design hypotheses we can then test by experiment; or

              2. Should we meditate and wait for a voice from the sky to tell us the answer; or

              3. Should we read books written by people who listened to voices from the sky long ago.

              People who think #2 and #3 are the answer are simply retarded, and their opinions and feelings are not worthy of any respect. All thinking people should sneer at them.

              1. (2) and (3) are ok until we can actually do (1), as long as we keep in mind (1) dominates, and it is fine if there is lots of peaceful disagreement.

            3. Don’t forget, even if you could show evolution is wrong (I doubt it), that still wouldn’t make creationism correct. You can’t argue for creationism by arguing against evolution.

          4. Show of hands…how many of you have had encounters with Baptist “Taliban” mobs? Yeah, me neither.

            1. Just yesterday, a Baptist Taliban mob cut my head off for dancing (silently in the Jefferson memorial).

              1. of course, I am a repeat offender, last week they chopped off my left hand for playing cards

                1. and last month, they burned all my bibles, because none of them were the King James (which is good enough, because it was good enough for Jesus)

      4. Hayek did not believe in a single thing you support: government run banks, government run health care, government run education, government bailouts, governments creating economic growth etc. etc. So why are you are fan of his exactly ???

        1. Thinks the Hayek t-shirt makes him look like less of a dork. Sad, really.

          1. Hey, Im wearing my Hayek t-shirt right now. Im pretty aware of how dorky it is thoug

        2. I don’t want that either – you stupid bastard.

          Go back to Freeperville.

        3. Hayek HATED conservatives – read his essay!


          Duhhh! Asshole – I/Hayek/Rand all hate conservatives!

          1. See? Saaaaaad.

            1. I am a fan of FA Hayek, Ayn Rand, Hitch, etc. yet GOPers hate our position!

              Wonder why?

              Fuck your boy saviour – that is why.

              1. Is some portion of this thread being deleted? I swear I cant figure out who shrike is even talking to.

                1. shriek’s an above average troll.

                  It’s an unusual troll move to pretend you’re actually part of the group you’re attacking. The double strawman idea is pretty original. Any troll can set up with a strawman for his enemies’ beliefs, as shriek does with his “christfag” BS (and bonus points there, too – considering how many socons attack Reason readers for being “cosmotarians”).

                  The really original troll tactic is creating a strawman of actual libertarian ideas – claiming that libertarianism is merely a rejection of conservatism, and then attacking others for not being “true” libertarians.

                  Well done. Bonus troll points.

                  1. BYW where’s Grego?

                  2. good stuff, Otto!

                    Occam says I am just a run-of-the-mill capitalist/atheist.

                    A rational capitalist on Reason-dot-com????

                    Oh – the Blasphemy!!!! How can that be???????

                    Good post!

                    1. good stuff, Otto!

                      Thanks. It came to me in a vision after my hourly prayer.

                    2. Only hourly?

                      Sinner! Why hast thou forsaken Him?

                    3. Thanks. It came to me in a vision after my hourly prayer.

                      If anything makes me renounce my atheism it will be shrike.

                  3. That is the finest explaination of Shriek’s trollology as I’ve ever seen. In his mind, the readership of Reason wears a monocle and top hat to compliment their Confederate flag shirt and overalls. It is truly a fascinating thought process. We must put his brain through an MRI someday just to see what those waves show.

                    1. Where in the hell is my “trolling”?

                      I support Free Trade and Free Minds!!!!! Capitalism and Secularism!

                      WTF? I love to be hated here but do not understand why my PHILOSOPHY is hated!!!!!

                    2. I love to be hated here but do not understand why my PHILOSOPHY is hated!!!!!

                      Hatred of Team Red is not a philosophy.

                    3. “Hatred of Team Red is not a philosophy.”

                      Come to think of it, hatred of religious people isn’t a philosophy either.

                    4. Maybe I don’t spend enough time on these comment boards, but I don’t know what the problem is either.

                  4. You’re giving him too much credit. Shriek’s trolling is mostly a solid “B” with forays into “F-” land.He’s a construct persona.

                2. shrike does seem to conjure straw men out of thin air sometimes…

                  Just because some GOP candidate got on TV somewhere and said something stupid to appeal to the hillbilly bible-thumper vote?

                  Doesn’t mean we’re under siege.

                  1. Its Bush league fearmongering (literally). For as much as Bush used the image of 9/11 as his carte blanche for invading brown country xyz, shriek can look at a anti-gay-marriage preacher who once contributed $25 to an unsuccessful GOP candidate for mayor of Tuscaloosa as evidence that Bristol Palin wants to burn homosexuals on funeral pyres throughout the country. It truly takes an amazing ability to conjure such fantasies.

                    1. You’re right, Sudden…

                      It’s common for people to do that.

                      It’s a little odd to see someone do it over and over again, year after year…

                      Have their faces rubbed in it over and over again–and never seem to figure it out.

                      Where are the people who are defending the religious right around here? I don’t know any regulars around here who are steadfastly advocating for the religious right to solve our problems–and yet there shrike goes again!

                      Railing against us like we’re the religious right–for some reason!

                  2. Try living in Texas, where every session, some asshole in Pampa tries to outlaw divorce or require counseling with a priest before you can be granted a divorce. Look, I’m not religious and don’t really understand religion, but am happy to let anyone practice whatever they like as long as they don’t proselytize and try to indoctrinate the rest of society into whatever they believe. Thank you.

                    1. “but [I] am happy to let anyone practice whatever they like as long as they don’t proselytize and try to indoctrinate the rest of society into whatever they believe. Thank you.”

                      Do you feel that way about libertarians?

                      Are we allowed to proselytize and try to indoctrinate the rest of society into whatever we believe?

                      Personally? I’d rather suffer the people I disagree with and keep the freedom to say what I want–but then I’m a libertarian.

                    2. “but [I] am happy to let anyone practice whatever they like as long as they don’t proselytize and try to indoctrinate the rest of society into whatever they believe.”

                      Maybe the state of Texas should put up a website–with a list of all the things people aren’t allowed to talk about!

                      …because it might tick you off?

                3. If this is like the other rants he’s spinning in a circle screaming!

                4. Shrike has been on a roll this week. I think it’s some sort of performance art. Or maybe it’s that the rumor is true: Shrike got jilted by Michelle Bachmann

            2. Trollkake. Again.

              Why must you feed it, people?

              1. Deconstructing != feeding. Trying to argue someone out of positions they don’t actually believe is feeding.

                1. It’s a sockpuppet, dude. Why waste your time?

                  1. Shriek is a sockpuppet? To what end?

                    1. To any trolling end: to suck people into arguing with you as if you were real.

                    2. To any trolling end: to suck people into arguing with you as if you were real.

                    3. To any trolling end: to suck people into arguing with you as if you were real.

                    4. I don’t know what’s more absurd: that shriek is real, or that someone could invent him. Shriek makes Alice Bowie seem thoughtful.

                    5. Shriek is clearly a troll. Episiarch gets credit for first recognizing him as a “regular” troll. I ignored him until he started dropping local(ATL) references and then realized he’s faking that.

        4. Actually Hayek did think it was ok to have some limited welfare programs.

      5. Tell you what – once I’m born, and grow up, I’ll hunt you down and abort you. I’ll call it self defense.

      6. Fitting how that was printed in a section of Slate’s Department Index called “The Dilettante.” How apt. It also could have been printed in the Department Index entitled “The Disingenuous,” “The Specious,” “Factual Imagination,” etc…

        Slate should really start coming in a tissue paper version.

        1. Down and to the left, should be. I wasn’t responding to anybody.

      7. Bullshit, shrike. You support shit like QE2. You’re no fucking libertarian.

  4. I shan’t voice my opinion for fear of being accused of “eliminationist rhetoric”.

    1. By not voicing it, you are meta-eliminationist. You are eliminating potentially eliminationist rhetoric. That makes you a thought criminal.

      1. Reminds me of the Commerce Clause

  5. “The language barrier between liberals and libertarians” is consumer-preference data. Feel the SARP.

    And stop punching yourself.

  6. Though I want to, I’m a little bit hesitant to send this to my anti-libertarian friend because I’m sure he will just restate the myths of Metcalf and we’ll just have a bad falling out that will only end when I promise to be more open-minded about socialism.

  7. Matt, thanks for carrying the torch for those of us (OK, me) too lazy to give a shit what anyone else thinks.

    See, this is why I send money to Reason. Thanks again, Matt!

    1. I just bought Matt’s book and renewed my Reason subscription.

      You bitches should do the same!!!

  8. “[Y]ou’re just misinformed if you think that libertarians as a whole care for nothing more than their self-interest. Countless libertarians are working to advance the freedom and fair-treatment of people other than themselves”.

    Friedersdorf’s appeal to altruism is unfortunate and unnecessary. There’s nothing wrong with rational self interest, but that’s more of an Objectivist thing, isn’t it. Too bad. Libertarians should defend individualism, not run away from it. (Not that the “selfless” advocates are not acting in their own self-interest by promoting justice in the world. What’s so wrong with saying it?) I wonder if Conor Friedersdorf understands his own argument.

    1. I think I’ve brought this up before, but Rand’s insistence on how altruism is non-virtuous does libertarianism a disservice. Instead, what’s called rational-self interest by Objectivists and what’s called greed by socialists should be lifted up to the same level of virtue as altruism. There’s no reason both can’t exist in the world.

      1. In Rand’s own words:

        What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

        Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice?which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction?which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

        Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”

        “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 61.

        1. Another example (sacrifice is another one) of Rand redefining words so that they fit in with her message.

          “The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake”

          That is a false definition.

          1. +1

          2. No it isn’t. As a matter of fact it’s the only definition of altruism that’s meaningful. She nailed it.

            1. The Great Reference Work of the Internets has straight up front

              “Altruism is the renunciation of the self, and an exclusive concern for the welfare of others.”

              albeit with a [citation needed] after “exclusive”.

              More to the point, I’m reasonable sure that evil m**********r Comte would have agreed in spades, and he invented the damn word.

            2. This is an issue that seems to be faced by a great many of philosophers. They create a definition for a term to use going forward, but that definition is ignored. When people call Rand evil for hating altruism, they don’t mean that altruism as defined by her is evil, they probably aren’t even familiar with her definition. What they mean is that their definition, the commonly held one of altruism being ‘kindness, goodwill’ &c. is good and they imagine her questioning THAT, which they find abhorrent. They just do not understand the full scope of what she is saying.

              1. “The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake”

                That is a false definition.

                It’s actually dead on according to the man who coined the term. Rand wasn’t redefining the word — she was taking the claims of her philosophical opponents seriously.

                1. I’m too religious to be an Objectivist, but whenever I hear someone bring up how Rand hated altruism and thus hated other people, I always ask them if they have ever read any of her work. The usual answer is no or that they read a “summary” from some left-winger.

                2. “The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake”

                  I have no idea if she was referring to someone’s definition in particular. It doesn’t sound like it!

                  Regardless, applied to most people who believe in altruism–it’s a straw man.

                  For most altruists, people have a right to exist–and they frown on anybody throwing their own lives away to appease some altruistic God, altruistic war, etc.

                  It just doesn’t accurately describe what real altruists really believe.

                  It describes where some of the extremists end up. She’s really good at taking lukewarm concepts and railing against them as if they were extremes.

                  But just because altruists believe that we should live for others–doesn’t mean they believe we have no right to exist for our own sake.

                  She built a straw man out of a begged question.

                  1. It just doesn’t accurately describe what real altruists really believe.

                    It is exactly what they would believe if they weren’t hypocrites.

                    1. “It is exactly what they would believe if they weren’t hypocrites.”

                      Actually, no.

                      …just because people don’t generally take what they believe to it’s logical extreme? That doesn’t make them hypocrites.

            3. Men can attest the word ‘altruism’ to
              1853, popularized 1830 by French philosopher Auguste Comte and meaning

              Ayn Rand, a tenth-rate writer with an infantile mind about all things ideological, far from “nailed it” with her wrong definition of altruism.

              Unselfishness means fullness of being not selfish, that is, acting more than for self-ended ends.

              The unselfish man believes he is right (hence has the natural right) to act in exactly this manner.

              Ayn Rand. What an embarrassment she was.

              1. There were quite a few leftist thinkers in Rand’s day and before who identified altruism as the belief that unselfishness should be mandatory.

                That definition never really took off in the general language so today we generally think of altruism as a voluntary attitude…but that’s not the usage Rand was responding to.

                1. That is the usage her cult uses, however. If Objectivists believed in Hell they would condemn you to eternity there for helping your neighbor.

              2. You do realize that you can be selfish and unselfish at the same time, right?

                You also realize that “selfish” and “unselfish” are adjectives, not nouns.

                “Altruism” doesn’t specify which others best interests you are looking out for. Forcing some others to look out for a different group of others is not altruism.

            4. Drink the Rand Koolaid much? I have the right to exist for my own sake EVEN IF I CHOOSE TO HELP SOMEONE ELSE!

              1. Ultimately though, it is sometimes in our best interests to act to help others. If we are aware of this and act so, following a principle of rational self-interest, i.e. helping others can be good for us, is that selfish or unselfish? Considering only what is best for oneself does not always result in actions like those that fit the common definition of selfishness. Take a greedy child, for example. If a child takes all of the cookies for him or herself, he or she won’t get on very well with his or her classmates, earning their ire. This is not in his best interest, so to act ‘unselfishly’ is in his benefit. But isn’t doing just what benefits us selfish? Or is it only when it just benefits us? Does that mean actions with positive externalities are selfish or not?
                Perhaps it isn’t altruism but selfishness that requires a clearer definition. I happen to thing of selfishness in more of an emotional sense. Selfishness is the emotional state of caring only for oneself. This, however, can be highly corrosive to our own interests. Also, consider the term self-centered. This ignores what Tocqueville described as “self-interest well understood” I would say self-centered describes someone who focuses so heavily on themselves that they can’t perceive that a benefit to someone else possibly helping them as well. This also violated self-interest well understood.

              2. Jesus Christ! I’m not a Randroid. But, nowhere did Rand say people shouldn’t help others, or that charity is bad. It’s not like what she actually wrote about these topics is hard to find. As just one example, try here:

      2. I think it’s basically generally accepted now too that altruism is adaptive.

        Ants and bees do it. Female bonobos will shun males who refuse to share with others.

        I mean, you’ll see debates about the mechanism by which altruism adapted. But I don’t think there are very many evolutionary biologists anymore who question that altruism is an adaptive behavior.

        None of which suggests that government should get involved in the altruism business. Only that to condemn altruistic behavior between individuals…would seem to ignore the facts of evolutionary biology.

        1. A selfish altruistic gene. But that’s just a social construct.

          1. That’s a chicken and egg thing though, isn’t it?

            Language is a social construct too–and absolutely adaptive.

            Lots of social constructs are adaptive. Taboos are adaptive.

            Part of evolution may be about how our environment manipulates our genes, but there are all sorts of factors that can qualify as “environment” in that equation. I don’t see why social constructs shouldn’t be one of them.

        2. If you do something to attract a mate-for your own happiness/well-being, such as sharing, it’s not altruism.

          1. Survival of the fittest leads to altruistic tendencies. Lolwut?

          2. Females choosing who to mate with?

            Is a huge chunk of the definition of “natural selection”.

            If females choose to propagate the genes of those who exhibit altruistic behavior–and tend to shun the genes of those who don’t–then you can’t chalk that up only to males doing whatever’s in their own self-interest.

            Our genes are the sum total of millions of conflicting factors–I’m not saying there’s just one factor contributing to altruism. But altruism isn’t only about self-interest either.

            Hell, a thing is what it is and not something else–isn’t that what Objectivists are all about? They can’t claim altruism is self-interest then!

            …and they can’t say it doesn’t exist elsewhere in the natural world. Just because government maybe isn’t the appropriate place for altruism doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any appropriate place at all.

          3. For animals as social as humans and bonobos, the survival of the group of individuals genetically related to one is as important for the propagation of one’s genes as the survival of oneself.

          4. What if you sacrifice your life to protect your nieces and nephews?

            If the self is just you as a person, that’s altruism.

            But you’re a genetic replication device, and by helping several relatives that share a good percentage of DNA, you’ve done your genes a good turn.

            1. What I was trying to point out earlier is that this, ironically, fits in perfectly with the stereotype of libertarian-as-social-darwinist. For these bonobos to act altruistically would benefit them, certainly. Although correct me if I am wrong but what you seem to be focusing on is not the male bonobo’s altruism but the female bonobo’s appreciation of altruism?

        3. “None of which suggests that government should get involved in the altruism business. Only that to condemn altruistic behavior between individuals…would seem to ignore the facts of evolutionary biology.”

          I should add that if philosophy is in any way informed by science? Then it shouldn’t be surprising that Ayn Rand’s philosophy wasn’t informed by science that just didn’t exist until after her death.

          It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone except those who thought she was an omniscient prophet of God anyway.

        4. I’d argue that without freedom (i.e. forced altruism), altruism becomes maladaptive and will cease to exist.

          This boils down to the arguments, based on the iterated prisoner’s dilemma about how it may have evolved.

          In the PD, both sides are free to either cooperate or defect, cooperating being the “altruistic” or proto-altruistic behavior that would later evolve into altruism.

          But if one side is forced to always cooperate, the other will soon learn that he can defect, so the system breaks down.

          Ergo, once you start *compelling* people to help the poor, for instance, through taxation, very soon you will develop a class of people who will simply take advantage of that system. Sound familiar?

  9. I do so enjoy a good fisking.

  10. What has Jonathan Chait actually done to help his fellow man ? The invention of only one man such as the light bulb by Edison, has done more good than all the “but what about the poor” people such as Jonathan Chait in all of human history.

    1. Entrepreneurs making the world a better place for everyone by solving people’s problems?

      But that’s un-possible!

    2. You mean the EVUL INCANDESCENT LIGHTBULBZZZZZ!!1!!!1!1!!. Are you serious!?!?!?!//!?!?!/1?!!?!/?!!

  11. Friedersdorf’s appeal to altruism is unfortunate and unnecessary.

    Totally. And I think many libertarians sell their own positions short by overlooking the implications of their ideas. Libertarianism is fundamentally a belief that violations of property rights (which include your right to your own body) are unjustifiable. But few people, libertarians included, realize how hard it is to defend violations of liberty.

    1. Libertarianism is fundamentally a belief that violations of property rights (which include your right to your own body) are unjustifiable.

      The devil’s in the details of defining what are and aren’t property rights … even if we ignore the more arduous task of justifying that definition.

      For starters, laws against fraud, threats, and voyeurism are going to be hard to justify using anything resembling property rights as they are usually understood.

      1. Voyeurism, sure, but fraud and threats? Those are easily covered by property rights.

  12. TJ. Not gonna lie – every time I see that Casey Anthony chick on TV, my immediate thought is, “I’d fuckin’ hit that, no doubt.”

    I hope that’s not wrong. But at the end of the day, I don’t really care. I’d hit that.

    1. She’s a dingo. She’ll eat your baby.

      1. That’s cool. I don’t want any more kids.

  13. That slate essay is written like some pomopous, faggy ass, academian dipshit wrote it. Here’s an exaple:

    “Libertarians will blanch at lumping their revered Vons…”

    If someone speaks like that around me I would have a hard time not shoving them in front of a car.

  14. Rebuttals are for wimps! Just call him a Nazi and be done with it!

  15. The only thing missing from Metcalf’s polemic was the oh-so common meme from the Statist crowd: “if you like small government so much, you should love Somalia”

  16. The only thing missing from Metcalf’s polemic was the oh-so common meme from the Statist crowd: “if you like small government so much, you should love Somalia”

    1. I’ve mentioned this before, but I once had an argument with a woman who brought up Brazil and Zaire as examples of unfettered markets, and how they lead to poverty.

      It’s hard to be optimistic about freedom when there are so many people are so ignorant, and still get to vote.

      1. Well, the USSR wasn’t true central planning. It woulda worked, otherwise.

        1. Obama will get central planning right! Just ask shrike… he’ll scream it at you.

          1. The fact that you’re even bringing it up is all the evidence I need to prove you’re a christfag.

            1. Who is, Boxbot?

    2. See, that’s the thing. Libertarians are not anarchists. We want a specific KIND of small government. We want laws that are uniform, courts that treat people equally, and contracts to be enforced.

      That, in fact, does involve SOME government. It just doesn’t happen to be the giant sprawling bureaucracy-slash-slot-machine that everyone pulls the lever on every four years.

  17. Hayek … never seem[s] to have held a single academic appointment that didn’t involve a corporate sponsor.

    And his work got him a Nobel, meaning that economists are glad to have it around. And Hayek was at the LSE at the same time as Keynes, and they shared disagreements but a mutual respect for each other’s work.

    What an awful argument. Can we get better enemies than Slate?

    1. Not to mention that liberty-minded thinkers at publicly sponsored universities are painted as hypocrites.

      1. Do we get to point out that progressive thinkers at publicly sponsored universities are shilling for the State? No?

        1. No, it would be asserted that public funding is necessary to maintain the integrity of the free exchange of ideas, and furthermore that libertarians should be thankful for such (as implied by the post-war analysis in the article).

  18. The original article was verbal masturbation for Slate readers, not a serious effort to add anything to an honest debate

    The article’s too adversarial to change any libertarians’ minds and too dense to appeal to undecided people. It’s just cheerleading for true believers.

    Right or wrong doesn’t matter. Its intended audience already meaningfully nodded their heads and moved on. Disproving it is a waste of time.

    1. I agree with all your points… except the conclusion. Does not necessarily follow.

  19. Please note how Chait’s photo must prominently display the title of the Economics book behind him in order to demonstrate to his readership that he has proficiency in economics. Of course, were he truly well versed in economics, his prominently displayed volume of economics would not appear to be a Freshman level Econ 101 text, but would probably be labeled Econometrics/price theory/Capital Theory or some other such more defined discipline within econ.

    1. He’s hoping to learn something from it, one day, through osmosis, if he just leaves it there long enough….

      1. He didn’t have to read it to know whats in it!

    2. He makes me ashamed to be a white, balding man. He does not represent me.

      1. Fear not Jim, I too am white with a growing forehead.

        1. I am young, have a magnificent dome covered in brown hair, and wine-dark skin, but I stand with you gentlemen in spirit.

          1. Since you have more hair than you need, you’ll need to contribute some of it to those who didn’t win life’s hair lottery.

          2. I, too, have a magnificent dome covered in brown hair.

          3. What the fuck color is wine?

            1. Purple

      2. I am a white man with a full head of confusingly black hair, but I’m not sure how that’s relevant to me despising Jonathan Chait.

    3. If he was well versed in economics, he would realize that most of that stuff is simply an excuse to use lots of math so that economists can pretend to be real scientists and feel superior to their fellow humanities colleagues.

      1. I’m studying to be an actuary right now (Math/Econ major), and most of the shit that we learn in econometric classes is near-useless. Still, it’s moderately difficult, interesting and reasonably well-paying shit.

      2. Wrong: If he was well versed …

        Right: If he were well versed …

        Subjunctive tense. Learn it. It’s English.

        1. Subjunctive mood. Not tense.

    4. Introductory microeconomics textbooks are the most important in the entire field. Fundamentals.

  20. From TARP to the recent administrative decision to nix a private company’s plans to build a factory in a state because of its right to work status, to the auto bailout, stimulus, and Libya strikes in between, we have crossed a dozen Rubicons with barely a ‘meh.’

    I don’t get what Chait and Metcalf expect of us. A fucking ‘atta boy!’, and slap on the back? Really? Even if you succeed with your anti-libertarian rhetoric in marginalizing our opposition, what do you hope to accomplish? The return of the pre-2008 status quo dominated by bullshit cultural war tit for tat gab fests?

    Do you get wistful thinking about it because current happenings reveal your ideas to be a boneheaded veneer for cronyism when put into practice?

    If only Schaivo could come back from the dead and save you now.

    1. TARP socialist bank stock buy was 2008 and all on Bushy Boy.

      1. And, have you ever had a deal that was hairy assed? I’ve got one for ya.

      2. You support QE2, shrike.


      3. “TARP socialist bank stock buy was 2008 and all on Bushy Boy.”

        You’ve had that blow up in your face–how many times now?

        Bush did half. Obama did the other half.

        I’d say it was $350/$350 but Obama supported both what Bush did and what he himself did–so Obama is just as much or more to blame than Bush was.

        And Bush sucked. If you despise Bush for TARP, you should despise Obama twice as much…

        Here’s the right-wing Huffington Post on the day of the vote:…..58292.html

        It says Obama is jackass.

    2. Even if you succeed with your anti-libertarian rhetoric in marginalizing our opposition

      If marginalization were still possible you wouldn’t be seeing a direct attack like this. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. (And there’s some stage that comes after that: Bargaining? Bridal Shower? Heroic Age? Live Organ Transplant? Pon Farr?)

      1. Thanks for that. Screwing up old saws both on purpose and by accident is a hobby of mine.

      2. Thanks. That gives me hope Tim.

  21. You mean, libertarians *don’t* run ethnic non-cisgender infants over with gas guzzling Hummerzines on their way to have tranny hooker sex while having the illegal immigrant “help” load their M60s and prepare their hookah pipes? Damn, I was so close to thinking that I’d found a group of like-minded people! *fusses with bow-tie*

    1. “LPers” don’t do dick.

      LPers can’t agree on a Paris Hilton commercial. Fuck the LP.

      1. I find your hatred of long-playing records fascinating, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

        1. No two turntables and a microphone for shrike!

          1. I think i hate LPers also….

            Just looking at the cover jacket sets those freaks off….

            and god forbid if you touch their fucking stereo or don’t smoke copious amounts of dope when listening to music.


    2. cisgender

      I keep forgetting what that means.

      Damn, I was so close to thinking that I’d found a group of like-minded people! *fusses with bow-tie*

      Hmm, are you really one of us? Quick question — which action should have a hundred pages of federal register committed to its regulation — a pint of unpasteurized milk, or a pint of AIDS infested cum?

      Trick question, the entire FR should be burned to the pulp!

      FireIslandGayQuakerDiscoDancingCowCockMilkers Unite!

      1. You would leave the pulp?! What kind of fake libertarian are you, anyways?

        Senatus populusque Americanum delanda est!

        1. I would sell the pulp to statist archeologist desperate to reconstruct it for guidance.

          1. Yes, I did forget that, being self-interested bastards, all of our actions must TEH EVUL PROFFIT at their heart. I am now properly contrite and chastened.

            1. Your instincts were the right ones. My original answer sounded a little squishy as I was keeping my profit motives secret for a competitive advantage.

  22. It’s “naked self-interest” when you resist being told what to do by people you’ll never meet.

  23. you can’t argue with those who hate the libertarians.

    they don’t even know the facts of their own world around them. I’ve had discussions with people who actually believe that hunger is a common problem in america. And we need socialism to solve it. At that point you might as well be discussing evolution with a creationist.

    1. “At that point you might as well be discussing evolution with a creationist.”

      I think I was just doin’ that up thread now that you mention it.

    2. I donate $20/month to the Houston Food Bank. (gasp! A libertarian donating to a charity!)

      Hunger does exist for some people. But shockingly, I choose to help on my own, without anyone telling me to do so.

  24. The Slate column mocks its own readers. It should be offensive to readers even if they’re not libertarians.

  25. Brilliant. A fine piece of journalism that could, sadly, have been replaced by a decent Google Reader account.



  27. Threadjack:

    have you seen this shit?…..ress_libya

    Congress is a complete pussy

    1. Fuck that shithead and Kerry too!

  28. The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait is unimpressed by my “rebuttal” to Stephen Metcalf’s Slate essay about libertarians and the philosopher Robert Nozick. This is probably due to the fact that I didn’t write one.

    Yarrrg! Well, this is what i’ve been bitching about. I know a comprehensive takedown of metcalf’s piece takes some time and effort, but I certainly hope the staff is working on it independently of citing *other people’s* relevant critiques. I think this is a nice platter of amuse bouche (amusez le cerveau?), but I’m waiting for the main event where someone @ Reason drags Metcalf out into the woodshed and beats his arguments into unrecognizable pulp, and leaves him crying alone at home afraid to show his face in the street.

    Maybe I’m too demanding, I don’t know. However, in the comments on Slate, there were a number of semi-notable libertarian reps immediately there to offer pretty detailed and vigorous critiques of the piece *on the spot*. Come on, dudes. At least hint that something is eventually forthcoming.

    1. I like your passion, but who gives a shit about a Slate article? In D.C. the government is so out of money even the president admits it. Nationwide the last remnants of the Keynesian consensus are being swept away by a wave of reality. In my little patch of heaven the nation’s foremost progressive experiment has died and nobody knows what to do with the body.

      These are exciting times. Everywhere you look the mid-century consensus is (finally) collapsing. It’s dismaying to see so much attention being given to some yapping Pomeranian at Slate.

      1. When the world ends I will breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.

      2. Fair enough, Tim. I do agree there’s no particular requirement to offer a retort to the self-satisfying intellectual analysis of the liberal blogerati re: libertarianism when reality is doing a good enough job of proving them wrong in the first place… but, even so… oh, come on, *the entertainment value!!*. I feel like I’m at a bar where some little jerk is taunting the baddest guy in the room, and I’m sort of going, “man, I can almost estimate the seconds before this dude gets knocked the !*$#& out” Yes, you don’t NEED to kick people’s asses just because they’re wrong or just provocatively annoying … *but it’s fun*…. really, really fun! FIght! Fight! Fight! Fight!

        1. On a more serious note, while yes, most slate articles are not heavyweight stuff that would require a formal response (excluding Hitchens, at times, I guess), that piece was actually pretty lengthy and detailed and had at least the veneer of being a ‘serious thinker talking about serious things’-type deal. Lacking a retort of similar style and weight, it will persist in the internet memory banks indefinitely, unchallenged, more or less. That irks me. I don’t want to hear people citing this SOB a year from now. Or ever, really.

          This is something I’d almost like to try myself, but I’m just not qualified. This is a job for one of you guys i think. God, if I was one of you guys, i’d chomping at the bit. Maybe I just dont get the way this stuff plays out… choosing battles to fight is always a delicate delicate decision to be done soberly. But then… aw, fuck that. Fight!!!

          1. i’d chomping at the bit

            The word is “champing.” Champing at the bit. You’re welcome.

            1. That’s if a horse does it. If it’s a human, it’s chomping.

            2. That’s if a horse does it. If it’s a human, it’s chomping.

              1. Typical libertarian wanting to pick on the little guy.
                I guess that’s why there’s so many Anthony Weiner jokes going around here, eh?

      3. It’s dismaying to see so much attention being given to some yapping Pomeranian

        Yeah. Or,

        Toohey: “Mr. Roark, we’re alone here. Why don’t you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us.”

        Roark: “But I don’t think of you.”

  29. Slate’s attack on libertarianism is merely a sample of the drool that oozes from a critic who seems to have read Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia…and nothing more than Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

  30. I read the Metcalf article earlier today. It’s not worth dissecting right now as the dissection has been done/is being done, but to me his rebuttal of the Wilt Chamberlain Example as “RAAACCCIIIISSTTTT!!” was his most egregious use of pandering to the audience. What if it had been the George Mikan Example, or Bill Walton Example, or Pete Maravich Example? What would his response have been then? The guilt trip into finally giving whitey his due? Oh wait, I know, it would have proven that whitey will only compensate whitey because the example didn’t use a black man. Hey Steve, I’m sorry you were born white and carry around guilt for slavery that you didn’t personally commit. Grow up and get over it.

    It’s not your fault! *violent hugz*

  31. Another example of the confusion between “egoism”, a moral philosophy, and “libertarianism”, a political philosophy.

    Libertarianism prescribes nothing, whatsoever, about what people ought to do with their freedom. It is not an argument FOR selfishness, it is an argument that self-interest can be harnessed into mutual cooperation, if the initiation of force is removed from human interactions. Libertarian systems are ones that limit the ability of selfish people to *force* other people to do what they want. They are based on voluntarism, equality under the law, and simple, minimal, uniformly enforced rules.

    “Egoism”, which is a main component of objectivism is a different beast. It is prescription about what individuals should do, not how the laws should treat them.

    However, major advantage is that egoism is not nearly as dangerous in a libertarian system than under a centralized powerful state. In totalitarian Russia, an egoist becomes Stalin. In a libertarian society, an egoist becomes Steve Jobs. That’s the fucking difference.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Well put Hazel.

    2. At least Stalin didn’t kill the Mac clones.

    3. Oh yeah, like an evil, racist exploiting CEO is somehow better than a well meaning, if perhaps misguided leader who saved the world from Hitler.

      I kid. That is a very good point Hazel.

      1. Yep, Hitler was worse than Stalin, because he discriminated. Stalin was an equal opportunity mass murderer.

        much better

    4. Well said, Hazel.

    5. Nicely done, Hazel.

      Libertarians want to be free to be as altruistic and charitable as they want to be.

      Unfortunately, with nearly 40% of my income confiscated by the State, that is not possible for this libertarian.

      If libertarians were solely self-interested, they would not want everyone to be equally free, but would be pushing for special favors and exemptions for themselves.

      1. Right. That’s what our political system does at the moment. Democracy as a slot machine. If your candidate wins? Ka-Ching!!!

        Everyone’s just trying to get some free cash from the money tree. Libertarians are the only people NOT voting their self-interest. We’re the only people voting for ACTUAL fairness.

    6. Roger that.

    7. A-fucking-men.

  32. Matt, thanks for fighting the good fight, but I hope you come to PorcFest this week in New Hampshire. Among 1000 fellow libertarians you can forget about persuading Slate wankers and focus strategizing, drinking, roasting marshmallows…you name your poison. 😉

  33. Conglaturation !!!
    You have completed a great game.
    And prooved the justice of our culture.
    Now go and rest our heroes !

  34. Eh, they love to light a bag of shit on fire and leave it on the doorstep because it works every time.

  35. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind
    to oppose a sea of outrageous fictions,
    Or to don top hat and monocle,
    And pink slip the slandering swine.

  36. It doesn’t matter if you are a libertarian, conservative or what. Anyone who deviates from a particular brand of brain dead liberalism practiced by the media is going to be the subject of these kinds of hit pieces. The media is just amazingly close minded and paranoid.

  37. I would also say this, the idiots at slate don’t spend their efforts doing a six page hit piece on something unless they are afraid of it. They have been able to portray conservatives as evil fundamentalist racists. Libertarians don’t have that label.

    1. But they’re working on it.

  38. I am very drunk, but still I recognize [RECOGNIZE!!!!] That Metcalf and Chait are total putz-fucks.

    Mother-fucking fucks who spew theri fuckticity out to their fuckbuddie fucktard fucklegions.

    HTey can do the fucking reading but don’t wanna cause that would fuck them in their mental bungholes and reoritent their thinking. And fucktopi like them can’t fucking have that. I mena be honest about something? “No fucking way dude I gots me an agenda, am evil fucking agenda that I jerk to and if that goes away I’m notheing but a hollow fucking shell.”

    Fuck em fuck em fuck em. And not in a good way. In the way that leaves sores and bleeding.

    1. Jesus. You’re making me think maybe I’m wrong, because you’re just like me… but *worse*….

      There was something somewhere I once read that the most embarrassing thing in the world is meeting someone who totally agrees with you…but makes you realize you’re a little nuts.

      1. Interesting Michael Barone piece in the Wall Street Journal today.…..on_LEADTop

        It kind of relates to this topic. Liberals hate libertarians partly because modern liberals have this weird nostalgia for the big organizations and conformity of the 1950s. And Libertarianism is the exact opposite of that.

        The irony of course is that the very same liberals who are in 2011 screaming for a return to the big corporation, big government, big union world of the man in the grey flannel suit, spent their youths in the 1960s trying to defy and destroy that world.

        1. I think they hate us because we’re actually consistent in our application of the principles they claim to believe in.

          We’ll uphold the free speech rights of KKK groups, and the property rights of rich businessmen with equal vigor.

          Whereas they’ll tend to join the populist mob when it’s targets are people they dislike. See, they’re hypocritics, and we make them look like hypocrites in their own eyes, which burns the shit out of them.

          1. Politics is also very emotional and personal for liberals. If you disagree with them, it must because of some personal failing on your part. Liberals have managed to convince themselves that conservatives disagree with them because they are racist. You can’t really make that argument against Libertarians. And that drives liberals even more nuts.

            1. Everything is emotional for liberals.

              Liberals do not think. They feel.
              When has a liberal ever asked “What do you think …”?
              Liberals ask “How do you feel …”

              The liberal brain functions to justify emotions. It reverse engineers rationalizations.

              So when someone engages their brain and arrives at a conclusion through rational thought, and the liberal doesn’t like how that conclusion makes them feel, the liberal assumes that that other person felt that way first and then reverse engineered the rationalization.

              Liberals are mindless animals.

              1. We should all get in the habit of typing “liberals” when we mean the typical progressive that we encounter every day or simply calling them progressives (with or without quotes). I still don’t want to let them have use of a word they don’t deserve (or only half deserve, or is it 1/3?)

                1. call/type progressive. That is what they want to be called, and they are already spoiling that word like they did 100 years ago.

        2. Since we’re sharing stories we can’t read in their entirety because we don’t subscribe the the (#@)% print media …

          Shocker of a headline:

          Public Unions Take On Boss to Win Big Pensions

          You don’t say now…?

          …But public workers have a unique relationship with elected officials, because government employees are effectively negotiating with bosses whom they can campaign to vote out of office if they don’t get what they want. Private unions, in contrast, don’t usually have the power to fire their members’ employers.

          Even in recent years, as economic troubles have worsened, benefits for some government workers have grown. In 2008, for instance, lifeguards in Laguna Beach started receiving increased retirement benefits as the state’s economy began to slow. The next year, the town’s chief lifeguard retired at age 57, with a $113,000-a-year pension after 36 years on the job.

          Lawmakers in both political parties have often acceded to unions’ requests to avoid political confrontations or to curry favor. They have pushed difficult choices into the future.

          The only ‘news’ here…is the NYT is acting like this is news. At least they are consistent in waiting 5-10 years before deciding to write a comprehensive ‘guess what?’ piece. I think they wrote something explaining “downloading”, and how kids were “downloading” music a lot, and this was like, bad… in like 2005. By which point 10yr olds could have written a more cogent explanation of copyright infringement.

          The term ‘middle class’, btw, appears on the first page of the column. Winner!

          I expect Reason will jump on this one a lot faster than that pedantic BS over at Slate

          1. Sorry. Here is the meat of the article

            Still, liberals pine for what I call America’s Midcentury Moment. It was the product of World War II, lasting from 1940 until the mid-1960s when the wartime experience wore off and the emerging baby boomers led culture and politics in another direction. For those of us who grew up in those years, the Midcentury Moment seemed the norm in American experience. But in fact it was the result of a unique time in U.S. history, when a united nation was mobilized for total war and Americans were, literally or figuratively, put into uniform.

            Victory in World War II conferred enormous prestige on the leaders of the big units?big government, big business, big labor?who had led the war effort at home. No wonder that levels of confidence in the big units and their leaders remained high for a generation?higher, I suspect, than they had ever been before the Midcentury Moment and higher, certainly, than they have been since.

            No wonder, also, that Americans in the Midcentury Moment were unusually conformist, content to be very small cogs in very large machines: They married and bore children at record rates for an advanced society; they worked as organization men and flocked to mass-produced suburbs; they worshipped in seemingly interchangeable churches. This was an America that celebrated the average, the normal, the regular.

            The liberals who long to return to the Midcentury Moment seem to forget that it was a time of enormous cultural uniformity that stigmatized being unmarried or unchurched or gay. The huge menu of lifestyle choices from which we can choose today was a very short menu with very few choices then.

            1. This speaks to an interesting cycle in what progressives seem to desire of society. During stable times where, if you play by certain rules and obey the bigwigs, you’re guaranteed a certain standard of living. However, then some countercultural nut, of the same leftwing persuasion, decides this life is too ‘suffocating.’ Ironically, however, when times are bad, such as now, with a great deal of economic and social uncertainty, the same leftwinger will pine for that order and stability. And usually their depictions of both dream-states are ahistorical and uninformed.

  39. Allright Matt, two posts in as many days and over 600 comments, and no one appears to have pointed out the utter viciousness of comparing Metcalf to Ann Coulter. How that was just a wicked nutpunch. Cruel, really.

    In the immortal words of Max von Sydow,

    I salute you.

    1. Which one would you do? Horse-face or baldy?

      1. Max von Sydow

  40. We are all libertarians now.

  41. First, they came for the communists, and I said nothing because I was not a communist.

    Then, they came for the labor unions, and I said nothing because I was not a member of a labor union.

    Afterwards, they came for the Democrats and the faux-republicans, and I said nothing because I was not a Democrat or a faux-republican.

    I proceeded to laugh my balls off in utter glee and joy — the fucking morons are all gone.

  42. The most recent comment from the linked Atlantic piece.

    Nice bait and switch there, Friedersdorf. Metcalf talks about the philosophy and moral priorities of libertarianism, but you casually substitute libertarian actions for libertarian ethics.

    Of course libertarians are for actions that result in the “reform” of public schools. Of course they’re critical of prisons. These are opinions on specific issues that are informed by an inherently pro-“liberty” anti-government ethic– and they’re pragmatically within the bounds of conventional policy suggestions. People who want to remain politically relevant don’t constantly field their vision of utopia as serious policy, they propose incremental change in their desired direction.

    So, if you’re done with the straw man, how about a post that responds to what Metcalf actually said?

    Sure Libertarians are doing nice things now. But it is all part of their master plane to destroy us all!!! WTF?

    1. Yeah, actions and ethics don’t have anything to do with one another.

      These people are philosophically bankrupt.

      1. Right below that is a very long and tedious comment that ends with

        While many libertarians do push social justice issues (prison conditions, civil rights, war and peace, drug prohibition), the big money goes towards dismantling the social safety net and the regulatory edifice of 20th century America.

        And that, folks, is the real road to serfdom.

        Freedom is slavery!!

        1. Freedom means not having to be bothered with choices since regulators have made them for you.

          Freedom means not having to be bothered with providing for yourself since government gives everything to you.

          The only condition for this freedom is that you unthinkingly do whatever you are told by those who you are beholden to.

          Freedom is slavery!

          1. Boy! Those 15th-century Russians and African slaves HAD NO IDEA HOW BLESSED THEY WERE! And who knew that all we needed is bolder legislators, and now we know — freedom is slavery, and politicians are God.

            1. Some of the arguments used by Southerners to justify slavery are eerily similar to ones given today by liberals to justify the regulatory state. Slaves would be prayed upon and exploited if they did not have their benevolent masters to make decisions for them? Would we want these poor people turned over to the storm of naked capitalism?

              1. You are absolutely correct.

                You see, everyone who is not a government bureaucrat is terminally stupid. These terminally stupid people need to be led by wise government bureaucrats. That is what equality means.
                Since only these wise government bureaucrats are capable of making choices, any deviation from their regulation will be met with swift and harsh punishment. That is what tolerance means.
                In order to join their club you must show that you have always followed their rules to the letter, and never bothered to think for yourself. That is what inclusiveness means.

                Liberals are such wonderful people. Not one hypocritical bone in their bodies.

              2. Marxist discussions of the Civil War sound similar. Northern capitalists needed cheaper wage slaves, so they helped free actual slaves. And unlike slave owners, the capitalists had no vested interest in the health of their wage slaves.

                They wind up saying that actual slavery was the better system. They’re more honest than they realize.

  43. Ron Swanson is actually a pretty good Libertarian model: he helps his friends with problems that don’t involve him, plus he’s probably the nicest and most genuine character on that show. Maybe I’m a nerd lol

    1. Just give me all of the bacon and eggs you have!

      1. Seriously, why is anyone up in arms about that character? He’s the first mainstream libertarian character on a major sitcom. Plus he’s damn funny and generally shown to be the sanest individual in nearly every scene (except when he’s around Tammy, of course, but we all have our Tammy).

  44. “and helps cement the language barrier between liberals and libertarians in ultimately a very destructive and unfortunate way.”

    “Liberals” (and “conservatives”) vs. libertarianism.

  45. Hard-core progressives are neither liberal nor progressive in much the same way, and for much the same reason, that the erstwhile German “Democratic Republic” was neither democratic nor a republic. Their beliefs are carved in 100 year old crumbling sandstone, and their principal emotive force is undirected anger. Their words are merely pathetic ongoing attempts to prop up a convoluted cognitive structure that is anything but fact based. And those are their good points. No open discourse is possible with such creatures.

    Of course, certain uncomplimentary characterizations could be made regarding those who never tire of attempting said discourse and then expressing disappointment at the repeated failures.

  46. It seem that every time I see an article like Metcalfe’s and start to think that I’m going to have to put on my ‘thinking cap’ to deal with it, it turns out to be an exercise in ‘Straw Man’ demolition. Is there any intellectual vigor remaining on the left?

    1. Was there ever?

  47. If the “time” element in reproducing the links was due to copy/paste leaving links behind: “view source” from your browser menu can help. View the source HTML of the copy and then copy/past – it will have links and formatting intact.

    1. Maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some kind of WYSIWYG editor or markup like Textile.

  48. Since libertarians are more likely to see the inside of a jail because they are sociopaths the article was self interest.

  49. Documenting the errors in the various claims to having found errors in Metcalf’s piece:…..tarianism/

  50. They are scared stiff because the events of the day are causing Austrian economics and Libertarianism to be taken seriously, and ESPECIALLY because of the Tea Party, and the potential it has for bringing conservatives and libertarians together in a constructive way. The barriers between social conservatives and libertarians are even breaking down. They have every reason in the world to try and strangle this baby in the introitus.

  51. You’re trying to use facts and logic to change the minds of people whose opinions were not arrived-at via facts and logic. THAT NEVER WORKS.

  52. I came to because I respect thoughtful writers like Radley Balko, and I wanted to see what the best libertarian response to Metcalf’s article would look like, but instead this is more like a right bunch of true believers with bunker mentality. The guy having a drunken fit is especially charming. I’m not saying that Metcalf’s factual errors shouldn’t be documented, but what about the benefit of doubt? I mean, informed people make mistakes as well. Here it looks like that it’s a foregone conclusion that anyone criticising libertarian ideology must be somehow ignorant, irrational or disingenuous.

    It doesn’t matter if Nozick doesn’t disawov libertarianism completely, the article didn’t make very strong claims about that, and the pull and title aren’t always controlled by the author, so they might as well have been decided by Salon’s editors. For sure, Metcalf uses Nozick’s authority to support his thesis, but lessening that support is not a critical flaw, and likewise for the other errors. Where the objections steer completely into irrelevancy is pointing out that supports invidivudal liberties, since Metcalf’s article says nothing to contradict this.

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