Showing posts tagged libertarianism



“Fiscally conservative but socially liberal” is a hip, trendy way of saying “I still think poor kids are being too grabby with this whole ‘wanting food’ thing, but I also like weed.”


I like the term “fiscal sadists” coined by Doug Henwood, as seen on Twitter here:


It could be a lot worse, but things like this make Facebook so annoying.

It could be a lot worse, but things like this make Facebook so annoying.

A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career. Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul’s office as his social media director in August 2012.

From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag. Prior to his radio career, while in his 20s, Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which “advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.”

Alana Goodman at The Washington Free Beacon

It must be really weird for Ron and Rand Paul to keep finding out about all the racist opinions that their close associates hold. Just one of life’s completely baffling coincidences.

In a libertarian paradise, this is the price of freedom

In chapter 8 of The Constitution of Liberty, Friedrich Hayek defends the idea of some people inheriting vast sums of money for the good of society as a whole. You see, we proles can’t handle “the propagation of new ideas in politics, morals, and religion” ourselves. We need people “who can back their beliefs financially” to do that sort of thing. Of course, not all of the idle rich will take it upon themselves to instruct the lower orders:

It is undeniable that such a leisured group will produce a much larger proportion of bons vivant than of scholars ad public servants and that the former will shock the public conscience by their conspicuous waste. But such waste is everywhere the price of freedom; and it would be difficult to maintain that the standard by which the consumption of the idlest of the idle rich is judged wasteful and objectionable is really different than that by which the consumption of the American masses will be judged wasteful by the Egyptian fellaheen or the Chinese coolie.

And, so we see, Rich Kids Of Instagram is not a call to man the barricades and sharpen the guillotines, it’s simply the price we have to pay to be free. This kid’s got three bottles of Dom Perignon so that our world can be a better, freer place for all.


There are no empirical studies that can refute this. It is pure logic. And no empirical studies are needed to prove the argument. They can’t.

Anyone using empirical data to try and prove or disprove logic is a quack.

Robert Wenzel, who seems to be some sort of libertarian economist. This is how libertarians think, going back to Von Mises in Human Action, at least. Declare actual empirical measurements of their ideas off limits. As long as it works in theory, that’s all you need, right?

I began to read widely and I read a number of free market economists like Friedrich [von] Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises and Murray Rothbard and I discovered these explanations of the world worked a lot better than the philosophy I had previously. I learned that business is the greatest value creator in the world. We create value for customers, for employees, for suppliers, for investors, for the communities we’re part of. Business people are heroic. We’re not the bad guys. We’re the good guys.

John Mackey CEO of Whole Foods (via sinidentidades)

Rich white guy discovers a philosophy that flatters rich white guys like him, thinks it’s really profound.

When I’m at the Wal-mart or grocery story I typically pay with my debit card. On the pad it comes up, “EBT, Debit, Credit, Cash.” I make it a point to say loudly to the check-out clerk, “EBT, what is that for?” She inevitably says, “it’s government assistance.” I respond, “Oh, you mean welfare? Great. I work for a living. I’m paying for my food with my own hard-earned dollars. And other people get their food for free.” And I look around with disgust, making sure others in line have heard me.
I am going to step this up. I am going to do far more of this in my life. It’s going to be my personal crusade. I hope other libertarians and conservatives will eventually join me.
Eric Dondero, on his plan to make the rest of us think libertarians are even bigger self-absorbed jerks than we already do.

Hayek on The New Inquiry and Jacobin


“There are few greater dangers to political stability than the existence of an intellectual proletariat who find no outlet for their learning.” (Constitution of Liberty, p. 506)

Discovery of the day: Corey Robin (of whom I’m a fan) is now on Tumblr. Also, this quote is amazing. If there’s one thing I am, it’s an intellectual prole with only a Tumblr account as an outlet for this sort of thing. I mean, have you tried discussing politics on Facebook?

Also, the quote above is on page 383 in my copy of The Constitution of Liberty. I was really into Hayek many years ago, but never actually read more than a couple pages of it, due to how cheap the typesetting in it is. Literally difficult to read. Looks like they’ve fixed that problem, as the fact that recent economic history has shown Hayek to be completely wrong has led to a resurgence of interest in his work, and the book’s got a fancy new edition.


Aaron Director

From Wikipedia:

Aaron Director (September 21, 1901 – September 11, 2004), a celebrated professor at the University of Chicago Law School, played a central role in the development of the Chicago school of economics. Together with his better known brother-in-law, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, Director influenced a generation of jurists, including Robert BorkRichard PosnerAntonin Scalia and Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Apparently, one of those guys you never hear about, but who were enormously influential in inspiring a generation of bad ideas across the fields of law and economics (or the single field of “law and economics”). I do have to wonder if law and economics tends to increase the longevity of its proponents. Director died at 102, and his associate Ronald Coase is still alive at 101.


Calling yourself a libertarian today is a lot like wearing a mullet back in the nineteen eighties. It sends a clear signal: business up front, party in the back.

You know, those guys who call themselves “socially liberal but fiscally conservative”? Yeah. It’s for them.

Today, the ruling class knows that they’ve lost the culture wars. And unlike with our parents, they can’t count on weeping eagles and the stars ‘n bars to get us to fall in line. So libertarianism is their last ditch effort to ensure a succession to the throne.

Republicans freak you out but think the Democrats are wimps? You must be a libertarian! Want to sound smart and thoughtful in front of your boss without alienating your “socially liberal” buds? Just say the L-word, pass the coke and everyone’s happy!

Connor Kilpatrick, “It’s Hip! It’s Cool! It’s Libertarianism!

I came to this conclusion a while ago. Libertarianism is just another variation of reactionary politics dressed up in cooler language. As Corey Robin explains in The Reactionary Mind, this is what conservatism has done since Edmund Burke and the French Revolution. Anyways, go read the article if you like libertarian-bashing as much as I do.

At its most elemental, the Ron Paul “revolution” was primarily a catchbasin for traditional nativism, goldbuggery, unreconstructed Confederatism, wishful thinking, constitutional mumbledy-peg and, on its not-too-distant fringes, some even more distasteful nuggets from American crackpottery past. (The racism in those newsletters was not accidental. It was the inevitable byproduct in history of most of the ideas that Paul promoted elsewhere. And Senator Aqua Buddha is really the pure stuff, as we will see as he ascends to the leadership of the “revolution.”) That so many progressives fell for the con is a measure of the essential intellectual bankruptcy of the Democratic party.
Charles P. Pierce, calling it the end of the road for the Ron Paul campaign’s hopes of having any further relevance in 2012.


I don’t know why we’re all going around pretending that people only become businessmen to become rich. They do so for lots of reasons (John and I were discussing this the other night). Some want to become rich and then do something else fun with the money (this is, oddly, very, very rare). One reason is just that they want to boss a lot of people around. If they are intelligent enough, they can turn a profit and acquire a large pool of people whom they can order around like dogs. Not my thing, but it’s some people’s thing and I don’t see any reason to pretend it’s not. And now don’t let’s say they can have that kink and willing kinkster subs; of course they can. They want unwilling subs, otherwise it isn’t any fun at all. And in any case this isn’t about sex, this is about taking up almost every waking hour of a person’s life and enacting a miniature puppet show of state tyranny upon it. Snitches, rewards from those favored by the boss, mercurial shifts in which the favorites suddenly become lowly and can be triumphantly trodden on by the ordinary man, a whole world made of rumor, where nothing is certain…the workplace run by an evil boss is like nothing so much as a tiny Soviet satellite state. There is no death of course, only exile. But is there freedom? (Hint: NO! Libertarians, please study harder for the next test.)

Infringements on Worker’s Rights: Not Imaginary

(via anticapitalist)

This whole series of posts over on Crooked Timber about libertarianism and workplace rights has been amazing (the others so far have been ones by Chris Bertram, Alex Gourevitch, and Corey Robin, John Holbo, and Henry Farrell, the one quoted above is by Belle Waring). But I’d also like to recommend this one in particular for the comments thread, which contains a good discussion of the need for female voices in this sort of media, especially when dealing with topics such as workplace harassment. Apparently, the comments on the John Holbo post (John is Belle’s husband, as well as a fellow Crooked Timber blogger) had been almost completely male-dominated, and people actually realized that that’s not a good thing and they should try to fix it.

It’s really interesting to watch libertarians’ rising sense of disbelief and outrage over the Koch brothers’ attempt to take over the Cato Institute, the most prominent and respected libertarian think tank in the country. Suddenly, many former defenders of the Kochs are beginning to question the intellectual integrity and political purity of their benefactors.

Jane Mayer in the New Yorker. Let me just say that plenty of us on the left been questioning the “intellectual integrity and political purity” of the Koch Brothers for years. As usual, it takes a while for everyone else to catch up to the left.

Brad DeLong rounds up who’s on which side:

The Kochs’ point of view is simple: since William Niskanen’s death the shareholders’ agreement says that they own a majority of the shares of Cato, and it is their property with which they can do as they wish. It is hard to see how any true libertarian could possibly disagree, and seek to do anything other than to vindicate the Kochs’ liberty interest in what is their property. But…

I count fifteen strongly opposed to the Kochtopus, four of much lesser weight—Erick Erickson, Thomas DiLorenzo, Daniel Foster, and Robert Wenzel—climbing on the gravy train, and three—Arnold Kling, Walter Olson, and Jonah Goldberg—damning themselves to eternally chase the banners in the antechamber of hell as a result of their refusal to take sides.

If the Republicans actually manage to stop embarrassing themselves quite so much in their primary race tomorrow, this lawsuit ought to provide a decent amount of schadenfreude.

(Source: It’s really interesting to watch libertarians’ rising sense of disbelief and outrage over the Koch brothers’ attempt to take over the Cato Institute, the most prominent and respected libertarian think tank in the country. Suddenly, many former defenders of the Kochs are beginning to question the intellectual integrity and political purity of their benefactors. Read more http)

But even if this opposition were overcome — as it may well be under the pressure of the masses — the maintenance of full employment would cause social and political changes which would give a new impetus to the opposition of the business leaders. Indeed, under a regime of permanent full employment, the ‘sack’ would cease to play its role as a ‘disciplinary measure’. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow. Strikes for wage increases and improvements in conditions of work would create political tension. It is true that profits would be higher under a regime of full employment than they are on the average under laissez-faire, and even the rise in wage rates resulting from the stronger bargaining power of the workers is less likely to reduce profits than to increase prices, and thus adversely affects only the rentier interests. But ‘discipline in the factories’ and ‘political stability’ are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the ‘normal’ capitalist system.

Michał Kalecki, “Political Aspects of Full Employment

And here we have Kalecki’s take on why full employment, even if it would ever be obtained, could never last. This explains something I’ve been trying to figure out for a little while. The lapdog economists of the capitalist class have been pushing for plainly destructive policies, not just for us, but also for themselves. Today’s big businessmen aren’t the rentier interests of yesteryear, for whom price increases were painful. They ought to support a booming economy. As Kalecki predicts a little later on, though: “In this situation a powerful alliance is likely to be formed between big business and rentier interests, and they would probably find more than one economist to declare that the situation was manifestly unsound.” Which has pretty much borne out in actual fact.

I will say, though, that we seem to be shifting towards debt as the primary means of controlling the lower classes. But for now, I think Kalecki’s essay neatly draws a big, straight line connecting these issues that perfectly explains what we’re seeing now. It seems rather too cynical to just assume that everything bad in the state of economic commentary is solely a smokescreen to protect the class interests of the wealthy, but seeing our reality and Kalecki’s predictions from 1943 mesh so neatly, it’s hard not to think that he was decidedly on to something.

One might therefore expect business leaders and their experts to be more in favour of subsidising mass consumption (by means of family allowances, subsidies to keep down the prices of necessities, etc.) than of public investment; for by subsidizing consumption the government would not be embarking on any sort of enterprise. In practice, however, this is not the case. Indeed, subsidizing mass consumption is much more violently opposed by these experts than public investment. For here a moral principle of the highest importance is at stake. The fundamentals of capitalist ethics require that ‘you shall earn your bread in sweat’ — unless you happen to have private means.

Michał Kalecki, “Political Aspects of Full Employment

I skipped over the objection to the government investing in public goods, which was basically that it might compete with business. I think this quote, about the objections to government spending on helping people consume more to increase demand, largely speaks for itself. You don’t have to go far to trip over some blowhard rich white man extolling the benefits of hard work (that he’s never had to do) to lift oneself out of poverty (which he’s never been in). There’s a whole cottage industry of people explaining how food stamps and other programs make poor people lazy, while raising taxes on capital gains by a penny would destroy the willingness of plutocrats to “create jobs.” Obviously, such claims are bullshit, but people have a vested interest in maintaining their place at the top of the pyramid.