Progress of the Revolution

Of the top twenty political websites, two are libertarianLRC and Antiwar.com.

Now we just need to dislodge those other eighteen ….

39 Responses to Progress of the Revolution

  1. Bob Kaercher June 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    “Based on your statements, I assume you consider a white man choosing to not hire a black man or woman as oppression.”

    What dots did you connect to reach that assumption?

    “In your mind, it is less offensive to put a gun to that white man’s head to force him to hire minorities.”

    Well who said THAT???

    “Liberty is not a la carte. Either it applies to everyone or it doesn’t exist at all.”

    Well I for one can certainly get behind that statement.

  2. Aster June 18, 2008 at 1:41 pm #

    Bob-

    What’s wrong with being a dope-smoking, sexually promscuous hedonist?

    – a dope-smoking, sexually promiscuous… well technically I’m a hedonist only in the vulgar sense; I’m really just a special case of a Randian eudaimonist in ethical terms, more or less.

    scinernam-

    Oh, go fish. Micha gave you six links backing it up. And why would I want to prove myself to people who I don’t respect, don’t seek to influence, and who clearly desire anything but my well being? What, am I supposed to enjoy chit-chatting with people who want to marginalise me or worse?

    Paleolibertarinism has one fatal flaw, and that’s that it depends upon an idealistic devotion to liberty to retain its mask as anything other than an apology for reaction and power. It’s conquered the libertarian movement, sure- but decent people are leaving the movement and have been for a decade or more. When the last youth, spirit, and integrity drains out of the movement, ‘libertarianism’ will be just another name for a particularly cynical kind of conservatism able to decieve only those who deserve it.

    I would wish that the ideals of individualism might be reborn somewhere, under some new name. But I don’t think I believe in wishes. And I look at all of this debate, and it all seems so unreal. So much is terribly wrong with the world today, we’re so poised on the edge of unspeakable disaster, and everyone seems to continue with business as normal. Those who should be fighting all that is happening stare itis the face and don’t see it, or fight it with weapons borrowed 80% from the enemy they’re fighting. The real core of loving, thinking, living, feeling, experiencing for yourself is so hopelessly forgotten, not least among those who were pledged to remember it.

    I still know people who retain that spirit. A few of them are reading this. The rest… it’s finally stopped hurting. I just don’t care any more. “but I don’t think of you.” You hear something a certain number of times before you cease expecting anything different and there is no trust or care to be lost. And the very fact that paleolobertarianism has succeeded so well as it has is itself proof that the movement lost trust with the true free spirits many years ago

    I mourn for what libertarianism should have been. I mourn for what America should have been. So much will be lost.

    Micha-

    When I first read this, I smiled- just a very warm, deep smile. know what you mean. It touched me to hear you say that. And your form is perfect.

    There is an alternate universe somewhere where I’m still a libertarian. I wish I could live in that universe. It’s a better universe, in ways indescribably more important than petty issues such as my dissillusionment with politics. But I’ll never be a libertarian in this world again, unless the world changes a great deal and in ways I don’t think are very likely.

    But you read the last two posts above. No, I’m not part of that movement. When you talk to people this way in a forum maintained by the writer who carries the banner of what you thought was your wing of the movement, it’s not yours. If, against all odds, people like Roderick and Charles Johnson succeed injto making libertarianism into what it ought to have been or at least what it once was when it believes in more than the letter of liberty, then I might come back. But in the meantime I’ve wahetever I’ve left of my life to live. I wasted my youth largely on a libertarian movement which I’ve come to loathe. I’m not making that mistake again. The trouble with politics is that its all about what caring about what other people thinkand do and that’s a lousy, miserable place for anyone not deperately concerned with what others think. Sometime people who wish to be happy join in politics because they care to and sometimes because they have to, but ultimately all people obsessed with politics have a streak of war and violence in them. It’s just a bad place to be, and if you don’t get respect or humane treatment and don’t see hope in success its pointless to play the game. I hate the fact people under oppression just have to devote their lives to politics or give up on happiness, but I’m grateful that I no longer have to be one of them.

    Roderick-

    Goodbye. For obvious reasons I don’t wish to speak any more here.

  3. Matt June 18, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    Alright…

  4. Micha Ghertner June 18, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Forgotten Man,

    If the links I provided above weren’t evidence enough of the moral decay that is paleolibertarianism, take a look at this famous howler by Herr Hoppe:

    There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They – the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centred lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism – will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.

    If this is what is required to maintain a libertarian order, then group me with Aster – I want none of it.

    And to Bob – if the best paleos can come up with in terms of blanket characterizations of left-libertarians is being dope-smoking, sexually promiscuous hedonists, then color me guilty. The world would be a much better place with more of these kinds of people around.

  5. Dennis June 18, 2008 at 7:52 pm #

    I would argue that whether one wishes to be part of the libertarian movement or not, if she rejects the notion that the state is allowed to violate the non aggression axiom she is a libertarian. I am an atheist and so, apparently, was Joseph Stalin, I would not stop being an atheist out of contempt for communism, nor would I stop being a libertarian because I disagree, at times strongly, with what some of libertarianism’s most significant advocates believe. I think that racism, sexism, and bigotry toward the LGBT community are worse because of the state, and however unwittingly, any advocate of a weaker state, or no state at all will also weaken those types of intolerance.

    For the record, I think the claims against LRC are greatly exaggerated. I have been reading that site for five years, and while I roll my eyes at the occasional attempts to dispute “Darwinism” (note the scare quotes), and the silly religiosity and support for patriarchy that sometimes appear, I simply don’t see what many others do. As an aside about the anti-Darwinist content, I think it is harder to be taken seriously when raising legitimate questions about the climate change discourse when you question one of the most firmly established principles in all of science, Darwinian evolution. There is a pretty wide variety of opinions on the site, which inspires a pretty wide spectrum of sympathy. On balance, however, I think it is a great site, and probably the most important one in the libertarian universe. As such, I can understand that libertarians with differing views will take greater umbrage with things they disagree with there than they would on other sites.

    As to Hoppe, I think he is a smart guy with some libertarian inclinations who holds some terrible views and attempts to synthesize his good and bad ideas with interesting and, ultimately anti-libertarian results; any academic can probably point to numerous “Marxists” who bear little resemblance to Marx, the same is true for libertarianism. I dispute Aster’s assertion that LRC is full of writers who only advance anti-statism with the goal of empowering other oppressive institutions. It is likely the case that some contributors to the site would like to live in a stateless society in which they could live in communities which would not be bastions of ideological, linguistic, or sexual identity diversity. While I think that the feelings that drive this desire are unfortunate, to say the least, those contributors are entitled to those beliefs, and in a free society would be entitled to live in such communities to the extent that they could uphold them without engaging in aggression (it would be virtually impossible to uphold such a community, I suspect.) But the majority of articles on the subject are written with the same goal as articles defending the right to engage in prostitution or drug use, they are defending unpopular rights.

    A better criticism of the site would be that it rarely features articles decrying conservative “cultural coercion.” While I am all for criticism of over the top PC attitudes, or certain aspects of gender feminism (though these movements are not without their own virtues), I would like to see something critical of homophobia or pro-open borders on the site. But I would still rather read LRC, despite my disagreements with some of its content, then not read it.

  6. Dennis June 18, 2008 at 7:55 pm #

    That last sentence should have concluded with “than not read it.”

  7. Micha Ghertner June 18, 2008 at 9:33 pm #

    I think that racism, sexism, and bigotry toward the LGBT community are worse because of the state, and however unwittingly, any advocate of a weaker state, or no state at all will also weaken those types of intolerance.

    Even if that advocacy is coupled with intolerance? Insofar as the state itself makes bigotry worse, and it does, you are correct. But it’s not as if anti-statism is the only think LRC promotes.

  8. Dennis June 18, 2008 at 10:57 pm #

    I tried posting a novel length response, but alas it was lost in the interwebs somewhere. Briefly, I would argue that while the editorial policy of LRC privileges social conservatism, it is not monolithic. Anthony Gregory, Sheldon Richman, Butler Shafer, and Roderick T(iberius) Long are evidence of this. Secondly, I think that anti-statism does weaken bigotry even when coupled with intolerance, because aggressive intolerance is impossible to enforce without the state to back it. This doesn’t mean that intolerant advocates of antistatism are immune from criticism, it simply means that one can appreciate their positive contributions to discourse while railing against their most despicable beliefs.

  9. Dennis June 18, 2008 at 11:42 pm #

    Actually, I suppose that a stateless society could be home to violently enforced bigotry, depending on the cultural values of the society. But I would still maintain that if that violence is not common place in the same society with a state, it would be even less so without one.

  10. Soviet Onion June 19, 2008 at 8:37 am #

    The problem with this perspective is that it creates an artificial tactical distinction between the State as an institution and the psychological climate that legitimizes and reinforces it. That climate, just so you know, entails more than just the limited and commonplace belief that States are necessary. It includes the kind of societal oppressions that easily easily lend themselves to state control (for what is habitual, bigoted aggression if not a smaller and more ephemeral precursor to a State) and that, at the very least, condition people to living in fear and cowtowing to authority. This is especially of restrictions imposed during childhood, in which the threat of violence for crossing the line is more than just implied, it’s expected and condoned by adult society at large.

    Suppose we pushed the Rothbardian button and made all the police and military disappear tomorrow. If everyone still believed that government control was necessary and good, how long would that anarchist society last? No libertarian would limit themselves to simply dismantling the visible apparatus. When faced with that question, we reply that education is just as important, and just as necessary.

    So why isn’t that also true of certain other kinds of beliefs that aren’t directly related to State authority, but that justify and reinforce it nonetheless (or at the very least are hostile to individualism, which is the whole point behind anti-statism anyway). Because it’s psychological? It’s all psychological!

  11. Bob Kaercher June 19, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    “And to Bob – if the best paleos can come up with in terms of blanket characterizations of left-libertarians is being dope-smoking, sexually promiscuous hedonists, then color me guilty. The world would be a much better place with more of these kinds of people around.”

    Micah (and to Aster, too, if she’s still reading), I wouldn’t say that being a dope-smoking hedonist necessarily makes you “guilty” of anything. One’s god knows that an occasional drink with Dionysus from time to time could do some people a world of good.

    I just resent the characterizations and insinuations that that is the sum total of left-libertarianism. The debates about racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., are neatly cut off by snide remarks about how allegedly left-libertarians just want to smoke dope and have lots of sex with random people, as if that’s the whole alpha and omega of the movement.

    It’s not that I give a damn what non-left libertarians think about left-libertarians personally — I sure as hell couldn’t care less. It’s the use of polemical labels to cut off intelligent debate in favor of irrelevant baloney that bothers me.

  12. Dennis June 20, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

    Soviet Onion,
    I largely agree with you. The state is in many ways simply the most powerful manifestation of all of these other things, which are themselves expressions of the desire to dominate others. I agree that if the machinery were simply to disappear some form of state would probably assume its place quickly. But I also think it is an oversimplification to simply view the state as an extension of the discourse of dominance, I think it is more than that. I think state institutions augment and strengthen these other anti-freedom drives, so opposition to the state does undercut them. So, whatever anti-freedom values the writers advocate, to the extent that they sincerely oppose the state, they work against those values more than their support for patriarchy or whatever works against their statism.

    While I am quite committed to most “leftist” cultural values, I am not inclined to declare that someone who is not is a crypto-totalitarian. Someone attempting to strengthen other repressive and oppressive institutions would be foolish to rail against their greatest ally, the state. I think that there can be honest and if handled properly, fruitful disagreement about the roll of bourgeois values in a libertarian society. I also think that arguments about LGBT equality, racism, patriarchy, etc. would be the most important discussions among the radical libertarian community.

    I doubt this clarification of my thought will prove satisfactory to you, I don’t know if it is satisfactory to myself.

    One thing about Aster, I hope that I interpret her correctly that aside from her aversion to certain prevalent attitudes regarding white straight male privilege and such, her main objection to libertarianism is that she sees that the state can, in certain instances serve as a bulwark against other equally (or perhaps worse) forms of oppression within the culture at large. I have tried to faithfully express what I think her views are, as she is no longer involved here, if I have misstated her position anyone with better knowledge of it than I should correct me. I think this objection to anarcho-libertarianism should be taken seriously, but I am not sold on it. If any serious discussion of this issue has been proffered I would love to see it.

  13. Administrator June 23, 2008 at 1:19 am #

    Coming to this thread a little late, and I don’t know if anyone is still reading, but —

    I guess the two main questions here are a) how bad is paleolibertarianism? and b) how pervasive is it at LRC? Re (a), Aster thinks it’s so bad overall that the good parts are scarcely worth mentioning; some others (e.g. Matt) think it’s so good overall that the bad parts are scarcely worth mentioning. Re (b), Aster thinks it’s all-pervasive at LRC while others hardly seem to see it. I’m both issues I’m in the mushy middle. In general I tend to take more of an attack-the-bad-parts-of-paleolibertarianism approach than either an attack-the-paleolibertarians-per-se or a don’t-attack-paleolibertarianism-at-all approach. (And likewise with the other libertarian deviations — Cato-style, Randian-style, etc.)

    It’s worth noting that paleolibertarianism was originally developed partly for reasons of genuine socio-cultural affinity and partly as a (frankly crazy) political strategy (with the proportions of the two motives varying from individual to individual). For those who had the affinity, I assume the affinity remains, but the strategy has been largely abandoned, and the paleo thrust of LRC has accordingly weakened. Most (not all) of the things people criticise LRC had their heyday in the 90s, not now.

    As for Anti-war.com, that’s even less paleo-dominated than LRC; lots of regular leftists on there. (Of course Raimondo by himself can often seem as loud as a multitude ….)

    Matt:
    “I’m not going to try and trip someone who’s running in the same direction as me” — that is, in the direction of freedom. I cannot conceive of a manner by which you can critique LRC and have it not seem like picking nits.

    For a general response to this line of thought see Charles on thick vs. thin libertarianism.

    Jorad:
    a little too eager to defend politically incorrect things

    To some extent a problem in the libertarian movement generally; see my 2003 post “One Cheer for Political Correctness.”

    Forgotten Man:
    Based on your statements, I assume you consider a white man choosing to not hire a black man or woman as oppression. In your mind, it is less offensive to put a gun to that white man’s head to force him to hire minorities.

    When someone says they regard both X and Y as oppression, why do you assume they want to use X to combat Y? Why not assume they’re against both?

    Dennis:
    I would like to see something critical of homophobia or pro-open borders on the site.

    Actually LRC has had several pro-open-borders pieces in recent months (see, e.g., here, here, and here) — and a mildly, mildly anti-homophobic piece the other day. Baby steps ….

    the state can, in certain instances serve as a bulwark against other equally (or perhaps worse) forms of oppression within the culture at large. … I think this objection to anarcho-libertarianism should be taken seriously, but I am not sold on it. If any serious discussion of this issue has been proffered I would love to see it.

    This piece of mine was inspired in large part by this kind of objection; I address some of Aster’s concerns explicitly in it.

    Aster:
    If, against all odds, people like Roderick and Charles Johnson succeed injto making libertarianism into what it ought to have been or at least what it once was when it believes in more than the letter of liberty, then I might come back.

    Well, we will certainly do our best to lure you back in! In the meantime, keep reading LeftLibertarian.org for a glimpse of that future.

  14. Anna Morgenstern June 23, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    I have had this argument before, I’d like to pull two quotes out from Prof. Long’s article that I think get to the heart of my position:
    “And even when the central government is indeed a protector of more tolerant values, one problem with this sort of centralist solution is that it drives local reactionaries into nationwide politics, since reactionaries then see taking over the central government as the only available means to protect their values. And once reactionaries win at the national level, then they’re in a position to impose their agenda on everybody. At least with decentralization there’s somewhere to escape to.”

    “the problem with imposing liberal values by means of military force is that it tends to associate liberal values in the minds of the population with invasion and oppression. One is unlikely to be won over to the cause of women’s rights when those preaching on behalf of that cause have stolen your farm, shot your brother, and blown your children’s hands off with a land mine; indeed the cause of women’s rights is probably in the long run set farther back by such associations. Cultural reform is generally more effective, provoking less resistance and reaction, when accomplished by seduction and osmosis rather than at bayonet-point.”

    Both of these are similar patterns. To this I’d like to add one more thing:
    Right now, as we speak, we already have experience with the idea that people who do bad things should be isolated and concentrated somewhere… i.e. Prisons. Now, I’m not arguing in favor of the current prison-industrial complex, as it is implemented in most nation states. But what I am pointing out is that decentralism seems to be the “best available option” for isolating and concentrating people with bad behavior/ideas. Neo-nazis or theocratic fundamentalists would, in a decentralized world, find themselves effectively “self-imprisoned”. Yes, there will be people born into those prisons who will suffer needlessly. But such things are literally unavoidable, at least in the short run. The attempt to impose any sort of ideology universally by fiat is nigh impossible. The state, using full authority and force, without restraint, has failed to eliminate libertarian/anarchist ideas, despite thousands of years to make the attempt.
    A similar analogy might be drawn to the fact that, under anarchy, crime will still exist. The difference is that no one will be legitimately entitled to commit crime. That is the only functional difference between anarchy and statism. But that one difference changes the shape of society utterly. Then the work begins among all people to isolate and eliminate crime (i.e. coercion and fraud) as much as possible. But it will always be with us to some extent.
    Again, statist measures to eliminate crime have failed to do so, despite thousands of years to make the attempt. And those measures have been, themselves, largely criminal in nature. The anarchist argument is, when you boil it down that the net effect of the state on crime is detrimental. This applies to centralism/decentralism as well, by analogy (since anarchism is basically an extreme form of decentralism, in a sense).
    Not only that, but the left-libertarian spin on that is that not only does the state increase the net level of crime, but tends to shift it downwards, making the poorest and weakest members of society suffer the most crime, whereas the opposite might well be true under anarchy (at the very least the crime will be less systematic and organized). The state does create a sort of buffer at the very bottom of this chain of crime, “giving out crutches” to use that brilliant metaphor, but that buffer doesn’t change the overall pattern of “big monkey hits small monkey and gets away with it”.

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