As I wrote back in 2006, sort-of thinker Michael Lind had already back then declared " the utter and final defeat of…the libertarian counter-revolution."
But it's still scaring him witless, this libertarian zombie. Now Lind at Salon notices something I blogged about in September 2012—that George Mason University economist and sometime Reason contributor Bryan Caplan thinks that it's a good thing for policy that government seems, by some measures, to follow the opinions (not the interests, which Caplan points out can be a different thing) of wealthier Americans. Why? Because following those opinions, Caplan believes, redounds better to the liberty and wealth of most people.
While flailing about at libertarianism in general as the piece goes on, Lind doesn't stress Caplan's more significant contributions—to pro-natalism, open borders, or pacifism, since those won't scare his audience at Salon as much. (Never forget the point of these articles is not intellectual engagement or illumination, but continuing to gin up a two-minute hate into a two-lifetime hate.)
Lind does manage to redig hoary old out-of-context arguments about Austrian economist and libertarian influence Ludwig Von Mises being pro-fascism in 1927 (see Donald Boudreaux taking on that aspect) while never engaging the possibility—which anyone who ever believed in a human right should take that point seriously—that indeed, almost everyone believes there are times when it might be better for civilization to avoid completely unfettered majority rule over all.
But the part I want to take most exception to is his sideways insult to Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) founder Leonard Read as "appallingly dumb."
As I wrote in my 2007 book Radicals for Capitalism which tells the story of Read's amazing accomplishments in founding and shepherding the first modern libertarian educational institution, FEE, even many of Read's friends and allies would stress that his deep knowledge of technical economics was lacking; but he was a grand synthesizer and popularizer of a deep political and ethical liberalism, one of the more successful ones of the 20th century
Read managed, in his stunning essay "I, Pencil" to deliver an amazing metaphor to sum up and make vividly and unforgettably clear a very difficult to grasp aspect of economics. The essay has been blowing minds and educating and enlightening people for generations, and was even leaned on by a Nobel Prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman, in helping explain the unseen wonders of spontaneous order.
"I, Pencil" is, no doubt, one of those most brilliant pieces of popular social science writing ever. (Not to ruin it for you, it explains, in the voice of a pencil itself, that nobody can make a pencil. It's a killer.)
Lind might not know this; he might not care; he might actually be "appallingly dumb" enough to believe that someone can make a pencil, or that that insight is somehow banal. It is not. One would gain more important understanding of the way the world works from that one essay of Read's than one would get by studying the corpus of Michael Lind, monklike, for a lifetime.
More on Lind misunderstanding libertarianism, Ayn Rand division.