Short of Actually Scary People, SPLC Targets Anarcho-Capitalists


I have to assume that it's fundraising time at the Southern Poverty Law Center, because Morris Dees and company have gone looking for new people to label enemies of the republic. This time, they've found those long underappreciated serpents nesting in our midst, notorious fellow-travelers of the Patriot Movement knows as … anarcho-capitalists?

That even SPLC writer Leah Nelson, may think her organization is reaching a bit far with this one might be indicated by the oddly passive title of the piece, "'Anarcho-Capitalists' Seen as Cousins of the 'Patriot' Movement." They are? By whom? Oh. You mean the SPLC sees them as "cousins" yada yada and somehow potentially dangerous and hateful.

It's never a good sign for the credibility of a scare piece when it portrays as a sinister representative of a dangerous movement somebody who isn't known as a prominent member of that movement at all. In this case, Nelson picks on Porter Stansberry a doom-and-gloom, though respected, investment advisor. Stansberry is probably best known as a First Amendment martyr whose persecution by the SEC was opposed by such extremists as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Nelson starts in on some opinions and kookiness voiced by Stansberry. 

According to a YouTube video distributed across a multitude of far-right websites and discussed with great seriousness by figures like antigovernment conspiracist Alex Jones, President Obama is planning to overthrown the Constitution, implement socialism, and seize a third term in office.

According to Stansberry, Obama won't even have to use force to do it. Instead, the president plans to buy his third term with untold profits gained from mining America's vast shale oil deposits, which will lead to an era of extraordinary prosperity unlike anything America has seen before.

Umm … OK. Bad anarcho-capitalists, even if that's conspiratorial and not anarchistic. Bad. Anyway, Stansberry was apparently invoked only as a gateway to Doug Casey. Casey is invoked because he— Oh, hell. Just read it for yourself.

Stansberry is not the only ultra-libertarian to promote such ideas. One of his most prominent fellow travelers is Doug Casey, an antigovernment "investment guru" who on Nov. 29 told subscribers to his newsletter that being a taxpayer in America today is analogous to "being a Jew in Germany in the mid-1930's."

On the surface, Casey (who often cross-promotes Stansberry's articles on his various websites and newsletters and who is described by Stansberry as a friend and mentor) seems a cheerful misanthrope, whose breezy manner and self-deprecating wit (he often says Uncle Scrooge McDuck is his hero) is a refreshing change from the pompous grandiosity of his close cousins in the far-right "Patriot" movement.

But scratch that surface and it's clear that this self-described "anarcho-capitalist," who in 2009 outlined a plan to privatize a small country and take it public on the New York Stock Exchange, is courting the same audience of government-fearing radicals. Though he puts a fresh face on tired conspiracies and a new spin on old animosities, Casey's message is the same: The government is your enemy, and if you don't prepare, it will destroy you.

If you stripped the Patriot movement of its pseudo-legal rhetoric, conspiracist malarkey and allusions to supposed Christian virtue, you'd end up with an ideology much like the one espoused by Stansberry, Casey and their compatriots. Often described as "anarcho-capitalists" or "voluntaryists," their belief in essence is that government — any government — is by its very nature tyrannical and unnatural.

So, Stansberry is friends with Casey, and Casey is an anarchist (he actually is, though you won't get any evidence from this screed), and if Patriots didn't believe what they believe, they'd believe stuff pretty similar to what Stansberry and Casey believe (if Stansberry and Casey actually agree on politics). You follow that logic, don't you? You do? Good. Then explain it to me, cuz I'm completely lost.

Of course, I'm not lost. The SPLC piece is intended to, yet again, tighten the sphincters of donors while loosening their grips on their checkbooks. That the SPLC jumped the shark so long ago that the poor fish has since died of old age is no secret. Reason writers have long pointed out that the group is increasingly preposterous and irresponsible in its search for monsters under the bed. These days, the group specializes in guilt by association. Often, really, really distant association resulting in highly unlikely and even laughable "threats."

Anarcho-capitalists? C'mon.

Note: Yes, that second photo is of David Friedman. Many apologies for any confusion.