Koched to the Gills By Roderick on September 2, 2010 120 Predictably, what Jesse Walker has to say about the Kochs is more interesting than what the corporate-liberal media have been saying. Anarchy, Conflation Debate, Democracy, Left and Right, Left-Libertarian, Terror
I’d be interested to hear you and Jesse’s response to this segment from the corporate-liberal media. Is “soulless” an alienating adjective alongside “libertarian”?
Anyone curious about that video, the relevant part is between 07:00 & 09:00.
There’s nothing there when I click.
Might be Flashblocked if you have it.
You can always go here and then select the second segment titled “Lacking shame, Republicans play both sides of Obama policies.” Agreeing with b-psycho, the most relevant portion is from 6:45 – 9:35.
“The Koch brothers can do whatever they want with all the money they got from dad. They have the right to spend it on all kinds of stuff within the bounds of election law. But you can either inveigh against ObamaCare as the second coming of Pol Pot, or you can apply for it to help cover insurance costs for your older workers. You can’t do both — at least most people could not do both; most people would find that too embarrassing.”
No comment? Jesse? Roderick? Charles? Anybody?
Why not? See Block here and here.
You still haven’t seen this have you?
There is a huge difference between accepting funds that are unjustly rounded-up and what the Kochs are doing. The Kochs funded projects that said that the rounding-up of these funds would be “the end of the Republic.” That it would result in something analogous to Hitler’s final solution. That it would undoubtedly kill your grandparents.
Sorry dude, but when Block talks about taking college money from the Department of Education, he’s not touching this particular issue. Threatening people with their lives is a whole other ball of wax. Especially when it turns out you knew it was nonsense.
Nope, it’s still just blank. Sounds mighty excitin’, though.
Maybe you’ll have better luck with this — in which Olbermann and Howard Fineman discuss the right-wing’s specific attack on the university as an institution — that its indoctrination is on level footing with terrorism.
First of all, I like the term “corporate-liberal”. Maybe I’ll shorten the term to “corpo-liberal”, for conservative media “corpo-con”.
In any case, I’m not at all surprised by the thrashing we’re taking in the media. Libertarians came out into the public eye too quickly, like a child starved of attention. As for the soulless adjective, I would say: “Being an atheist, I don’t believe in souls.”
I no interest in watching videos made by my inferiors, unless they are condemning war and civil liberties violations. But, they would rather fantasize about the “paranoid style”.
I’m an atheist and I do believe in souls.
That’s a pretty un-libertarian comment, but OK.
No clue what that means.
In that case, what happens to the soul when the body dies?
Whether souls exist, whether we survive death, and whether God exists are three separate questions, and don’t necessarily have to be answered the same way. (Aristotle would answer them yes-no-yes, many Buddhists would answer them no-yes-no, most philosophers nowadays would answer them yes-no-no, etc.)
Yeah, I agree with Roderick. Just because the body dies, doesn’t mean that the soul goes anywhere. Just because the narrative that you have going in your head ends, doesn’t mean that your actions in life stop effecting the state of affairs in the world. The soul goes on, but it’s not coherent for personal identity to survive death.
I got it from Carl Oglesby; see my comments here.
In related news.
From Walker’s piece:
“In June 1979, such activities prompted National Review to run its own contribution to the Koch-conspiracy oeuvre, featuring the immortal cover line ‘Anarchists, backed by corporate big money, infiltrate the freedom movement’.”
Bwa-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! So many layers of bullshit in that quoted claim, so little time….
The following is a cheap shot by Maddow:
“The Koch brothers can do whatever they want with all the money they got from dad.”
My understanding is that while they were left with a sizable inheritance, most of their wealth today is wealth they themselves created (granted, in the context of corporatism), and not inherited wealth.
Wasn’t Bill Gates father fairly wealthy? Yet no one accuses Gates of merely spending daddy’s money. We might accuse him of benefiting from unjust IP laws, but that’s a separate argument.
Yeah, they made money by taking over his company. His company. Which is not to say that they haven’t done a fine job running it. Only that they’re not in that position because they worked their way up. All the subsequent money they make is not entirely self-made. If someone hands you the keys to their car, you can have credit for racking up the mileage, but you didn’t build the car.
From what I understand, it’s mainly Charles K. who “runs” the company. David has a big ownership stake, and a pro forma Veep title, but he’s not particularly involved in day-to-day operations.
I think that’s right. At some point the other two brothers tried to take over the company because they disagreed with the direction it was headed. But Charles and David, in the end, bought them out. Apparently Charles and David don’t speak with the other two brothers anymore. But from what I’ve read, you’re right: Charles is in charge.
Do you have a say on this (6:45 – 9:35)? As much as I appreciate Jesse Walker’s opinion, it is funny to give him a blog post to speak on the owner of his magazine. I would think he might recuse himself on these matters. It seems like Roderick has implicitly started to recuse himself — unless he genuinely cannot access video from msnbc.com. You’re not also bought and paid for by the Kochs are you?
MBH: Neither of the Kochs is “the owner” of Reason magazine.
I know that they started Reason. They still continue to fund it?
Reason was founded in 1968 without any assistance from the Kochs. They do give us money, and have since (I think) the ’80s. David Koch is among the 23 people who sit on our board.
Well, this piece truly is awesome, as is Lindsey’s stuff, and I like your work too. I just don’t understand how you can claim that left-right distinctions are somehow besides the point and that Koch critiques have all been “Crossfire format”. Whenever a so-called libertarian wants to dissolve the left-right distinction, I’m automatically suspicious. That’s usually a way of allowing vulgar libertarianism to still count as libertarianism. The “Crossfire format” defense is similar to the one Julian Sanchez makes here.
Here is my concern with both of your takes.
1. On the Maddow clip: mostly, I don’t care. Koch Industries is like any other mega-conglomerate: a consummate political-capitalist player, and destined to be eviscerated by free competition and informal and mutualistic alternatives in a freed market. Of all the corporate-welfare schemes that they benefit from, I’m far more concerned with those that they lobby for (e.g. Georgia-Pacific’s use of government land monopolies to secure tax-funded access roads and privileged access to timber) than those that they lobby against. As for the latter, I’ll say briefly that when government policies impose direct mandates on companies in order to force them into providing corporate insurance for their employees, seeking a government subsidy for the corporate insurance the company is being forced to buy is not the same thing is not the same thing as tacitly approving of the policy. Whether Koch Industries should or should not sign up for the policy (I don’t care much myself; as far as I’m concerned, the main thing that they should do is go out of business, like all the other dinosaurs of state capitalism), the charge of hypocrisy is cheap political rhetoric, not a serious moral argument.
They did no such thing. Reason started as a shoestring-budget staple zine put out by Lannie Friedlander in 1968. In 1970 it was sold to Bob Poole, Tibor Machan and Manuel Klausner. It’s now published by a 501(c)3, the Reason Foundation. The Kochs played no significant role in funding it, and in fact went to some length to start national magazine projects of their own due to the fact that Reason was outside of their control. You may be thinking of one of these — either Inquiry, which was a publication of the Cato Institute, or Roy Childs’s Libertarian Review, which was independent, but bankrolled almost entirely by the Kochs.
They donate money to the Reason Foundation and the Reason Public Policy Institute. They are not particularly big funders — from the reports I’ve seen, the Koch Family Foundations have given about $2.4 million dollars in grants to the Reason Foundation over the past 24 years, i.e. just about $100K a year. For comparison, the Reason Foundation’s annual operating expenses are between $6,000,000 and $7,000,000 a year. David K. also constitutes about 4% of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Neither of them exercise any editorial control whatsoever, and if they pulled the plug, Reason would lose about 1% of their annual budget. This is hardly the same thing as “owning” the magazine, and nothing like the kind of control that they exercised over Inquiry or Libertarian Review. To suggest that Jesse Walker — as a writer and editor working for a magazine which is published by a 501(c)3 to which the Kochs are sometime donors — is “bought and paid for” by the Kochs is both underhanded, and a ridiculous misrepresentation of the facts.
I do not currently have, and never have had, any academic or financial relationship with the Koch foundations, or with any of the Kochtopus institutions. (*) Not that it would be any of your goddamned business if I had. If I had benefited at some point from a Kochtopus institution, that would not make it any more difficult for you to evaluate my arguments on their own merits. Or make the circumstantial form of argumentum ad hominem any less fallacious as a response.
(*) E.g. Cato, IHS, etc. I have been paid for some articles I wrote for the Freeman, and for all I know, it is very likely the case that the Kochs gave some money to FEE at some point — most of the libertarian business philanthropists gave money to FEE at some point or another. But FEE long predated the Koch brothers’ funding, and they never exercised significant influence over FEE in the way that they did over Cato or the IHS or Libertarian Review.
Hypocrisy is nothing compared to telling the elderly that they will be murdered by the government if they don’t stop a specific piece of legislation. Don’t the elderly have the right to not be fooled into believing someone is out to kill them who isn’t?
A “right” in what sense? I certainly don’t think anybody has an enforceable right to be free of disingenuous political rhetoric. Everyone has an ethical obligation to be honest, so the elderly (like everyone else) have legitimate grounds for complaint if people are deceiving them. But not everything that’s unethical is morally criminal.
Well, whatever, but the Rachel Maddow segment you asked me about was a segment about the Kochs’ alleged hypocrisy. So my response was about the complaint that was being made in the segment you asked me about, not about some other complaint that you think is more important.
Um. The threat of force is merely “disingenuous political rhetoric” now? Not coercion?
Out of curiosity, are you suggesting Jesse Walker is a “so-called” libertarian? And, keeping the sanctified left-right distinction intact, how exactly would you classify his work?
Oh, come on. You’re equivocating on the term “threat.” There’s “threatening” in the sense of a promising to inflict harm yourself, and “threatening” in the sense of merely frightening. Merely frightening someone with the prospect that an unrelated third party will harm them (without your direction, and indeed quite against your will) may be founded or unfounded, and it may be honest or dishonest, but even if dishonest it is not coercive in the sense of violating someone’s rights. There is quite obviously a difference between threatening Gramma that if she votes for X, you are going to bash her head in with a hammer (that’s coercive), and warning Gramma that if she votes for X, then Obama is going to bash her head in with a hammer. The latter is no more coercion than any other sort of false prediction — about hurricanes, say, or financial catastrophes, or an apocalypse or whatever other dangers people make unfounded predictions about.
Of course, again, if the warning is unfounded, but you spread it anyway due to carelessness, willful ignorance, or dishonesty, then you’re violating your ethical and intellectual obligations to deal with Gramma honestly. But you are not threatening to invade her rights (or to direct anyone else to invade her rights, either). There is absolutely no plausibly libertarian theory of justice which would allow for forcible suppressing mere specious warnings, on the grounds that they are somehow equivalent to actionable threats.
“The threat of force is merely “disingenuous political rhetoric” now? Not coercion?”
If A tells B that A will kill B if B doesn’t perform action X (which B has no enforceable obligation to do), then A has aggressed against B. If A falsely tells B that C, of C’s own accord, will kill B if B doesn’t perform action X, then A is a liar or simply misguided, but not a criminal.
Sorry, I didn’t see Charles had already posted a reply to MBH.
Is it not an instance of fraud?
Deception isn’t always fraud. Here’s how fraud works:
Person A (who owns resource X) and person B make the following contract: “A transfers his property rights in X to B under the condition that B perform action Y.” Then B knowingly makes it the case that A falsely believes that B has done Y. As a result, A gives X to B. If B accepts X (which is still A’s property since the condition of the title-transfer doesn’t obtain), B is guilty of taking control of A’s property without A’s consent.
MBH: Is it not an instance of fraud?
The answer is still “No.”
Fair enough; my apologies for the redundancy. Do either of you believe that people have the right to not be subjected to systemic lies — the right to not be engulfed in forms of life that systemically undermine one’s own best interest?
No; he is a libertarian. When he keeps the left-right distinction in place, his work — at least what I’m familiar with — is solid. Hints at something that transcend left-right are fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I’m mostly in the Galileo/Mises camp, rather than the Aristotle/Böhm-Bawerk camp, as described by Roderick. And I think blurring the distinction between these two views is muddling for a recognition of what contemporary libertarianism is.
When I say, “Do either of you believe that people have the right to not be subjected to systemic lies — the right to not be engulfed in forms of life that systemically undermine one’s own best interest?”
I should address what kind of right I mean. I don’t necessarily mean an enforceable right. I mean something like, the right to a visible alternative — the right to a choice. An encouraged derivative positive right, maybe. How that would play out in certain instances would be tricky. Especially when the systemic lies are a fault of the individual engulfed in the form of life due to their own epistemic closure (in Julian’s sense). But I wonder to what extent you think that epistemic closure is an inherited feature of thought/form of life vs. to what extent you think epistemic closure is a matter of will.
If it’s simply a matter of will, then I’m going to agree with you that people don’t have the derivative positive right to be shown the way out of the bottle. But insofar as they’re unaware of non systematically deceptive forms of life, I want to say that they’re entitled to something like a derivative positive right to a choice — even if that right is not enforceable.
I’m certainly not recusing myself. I’ve written at some length now about what I think is bad about the Kochs and what I think isn’t bad about the Kochs. (And the suggestion that I’m lying about not being able to access the Maddow video seems a bit desperate.)
Thanks for the response. I may have been unclear in my original question but what I was getting at was more like this: Using the contemporary left-right spectrum, in which I would presume we could both agree that someone like Limbaugh would be categorized as “right” and Maddow as “left,” how would you categorize Jesse? Not so much how do you personally rate his work, but where and how would you place him on the spectrum considering he’s had sympathetic things to say about the Tea Party (right?), denounced the Iraq War (left?), doesn’t find the Kochs to be purely diabolical (right?), has written pieces from a pro-feminist stance (left?), and on and on?
I don’t mean to suggest that you’re lying. More that maybe you aren’t that interested in trying to fix the video so that you can watch it. Praxeologically speaking, you manifest preference for many other things.
I haven’t read enough to say. I appreciate his open mindedness here. I’d need to know whether or not he thinks all minimizations of government are necessarily good regardless of the context.
You people are just going to keep going until you run out of Koch puns to use for blog post titles, aren’t you?
Koch-aine’s a hell of a drug!
The Kochtopus has taken over this blog! Just joking. But sure those two crooks have caused a lot of turmoil in your blog, Mr Long.
I can’t hear you dennis, my kochlia must be broken.
Well, that’s two down.
Personally, I can’t stand the New Koch.
All together now…
o/~ Come on you all gotta listen to me: / Lay off that Scaife; leave that Koch-aine be… o/~
I’m glad Charles and David won control of the company, nobody likes to see a Koch fight.
Well, they pronounce it Coke, so that’s probably right.
Thank god it’s pronounced “coke”. The universe would probably unravel at the sheer volume and horror of puns inspired were it pronounced “cock”. I don’t even want to think about it. Damnit, I’m thinking about it. . .
Don’t forget, much of this brouhaha is over their decision to give lots of money to some poor fella named Dick Armey.
More Koch stuff.
Why were the Kochs against Lew starting the Mises Institute?
Roughly, because Lew founded the Mises Institute as a direct challenge to the Cato Institute (*), and to provide an institutional home for Murray Rothbard after the Kochs threw him out of Cato. The split was very nasty and there was a lot of bad blood between the parties over what happened. For the Rothbardian side of the story, see this from David Gordon. I don’t know if anyone’s printed a similar recounting from Crane’s or the Kochs’ point of view.
(*) Both in terms of their approach to libertarianism, and also in terms of the personal influence of the Kochs and Ed Crane.
So given that the Kochtopus just is (or is becoming) the Republican Party, why doesn’t the von Mises Institute fully severe its ties to the Kochs and openly support Democrats? I’m not saying end agorism or pretend that electoral politics is the best strategy. I’m just saying that insofar as the language-game of politics is played, publicly note that aspects of the Democratic Party are more conducive to libertarianism than the Republican Party. If nothing more than a means of stifling the Kochtopus’ power (which agorism per se may not do).
The Mises Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization and as such cannot support specific politicians or parties. It exists for educational purposes only.
As for why Lew personally doesn’t favour the Dems, I’d say the left’s distaste for economics in general would make it at least as dangerous as the right — on domestic issues anyway. The left is also generally in favour of a “global police force” foreign policy, especially for what they think would be “humanitarian” causes.
Every time leftist politicians are elected they move right and refuse to undo all the rot brought in by their enemies, and of course the reverse is true. There’s no point in allying with either side as they are both at too much variance with libertarian beliefs to be any good in office. Their Democratic enemies would be just as bad as The Kochs’ Republican friends. I don’t think libertarian ideas will win out by the electoral process.
So if, before the end 2011, the current white house ends both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you would still claim that both parties are equally bad?
And if vMI cannot support the Democrats, could they at least give a shout-out to the folks fired from Cato recently just like Rothbard? Or is the vMI also epistemically closed off to research into the bridge between libertarianism and the Democratic Party? If the vMI exists for educational purposes only, ought they not condemn the abuse of research wherever it occurs?
Ha. Ha. hahaha. Ha. Heee. Good one. You should submit material to Mad magazine with that sense of humour. Democrats ending a war. That will be the day.
So ending the combat mission in Iraq doesn’t count for anything? You seriously implying that Democrats and Republicans are equally bad on foreign intervention?
Not without ending the occupation.
Not implying anything. I’m saying straight out that Democratic liberals have started most of the wars in modern U.S. history. Both World Wars were the responsibility of Democrats. FDR actually created the Pacific war. The Vietnam massacre was started by Kennedy and escalated by LBJ. If it were up to some liberals, the United States would occupy most of Africa for humanitarian reasons. Their “aid” would result in more massacres. And of course there’s no end to the humanitarian occupation one might think of once that’s on the table. Central and South America, Southeast Asia et al.
Old Right types like Pat Buchanan are isolationists, which except for the awful business of extending that to economic trade, is certainly superior to the Democratic liberals.
Are contemporary Republicans and contemporary Democrats equally bad on foreign intervention?
They don’t have any “ties” with the Kochs to sever. The Kochs don’t fund them, and the two sides generally hate each other.
The reason they don’t openly support Democrats is because the Mises Institute does not support any candidates for office. You might be thinking of other, different groups which are made up of a some of the same people (e.g. Lew Rockwell and the other writers at LewRockwell.com, which is run by an entirely separate organization), who do sometimes take stances on elections (e.g., by supporting Ron Paul). But they have supported specific Democratic politicians in the past, and their reasons for not openly supporting “Democrats,” just as such, is that they think (rightly) that uncritical partisanship will, at the very best, just end up replacing one worthless bunch of warhawks in one party’s collaborationist “leadership,” with another worthless bunch of warhawks in another party’s collaborationist “leadership.” Which is, in fact, exactly what happened in 2006 and 2008, and the reason why the wars on Iraq has continued for the last 4 years, with Democratic approval and command, while the war on Afghanistan has actually escalated under Democratic “leadership.”
Lew Rockwell isn’t an agorist. Neither is much of anyone associated with Von Mises Institute, as far as I know, except for Roderick. Being critical of the usefulness of electoral politics is not the same thing as being an agorist; Lew’s thoughts on What Is To Be Done mostly have to do with a classic FEE-style program of education about fundamental libertarian political and economic principles.
JOR: As for why Lew personally doesn’t favour the Dems …
I’m not all that interested in defending Lew Rockwell’s personal approach to endorsements in electoral politics, but I think it would be fair to say that, whatever faults he may have, the way he thinks about these things just isn’t based on political parties in the first place. It’s certainly not that he prefers Republicans as a group (this is the guy who’s been writing about “Red State Fascism” for the past 5 years). It’s just that he has a couple of issues he sees as absolutely central (war policy above all else), and he sees the important divisions in politics as running across party lines. So his preferences aren’t for Democrats or Republicans, but against the War Party.
Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.
Pinche President Obama has, of course, killed thousands of Iraqis while dragging his feet for two years to pursue an exit strategery that was already in place under Bush. Even if this does really mean that the Iraq war is almost over, he has simultaneously spent the last two years massively escalating the number of people being killed in the war on Afghanistan (in order to “win the peace,” you see) and, in true Nixonian fashion, gone about ending that war by expanding it into a large-scale aerial assault on western Pakistan as well.
We’ll see where we are by the end of 2011. But I have little doubt that had Republicans controlled the white house, we’d be in Iran now. You think otherwise?
They both advocate interventions which are ultimately going to result in extending and reinforcing American power around the world, which plays into the War Party’s hands. I will give you this: I had hoped in 2008 that Obama would win because his opponent, McCainiac, is to foreign policy what Freddy Kreuger is to nightmares. McCainiac was lining up Joe Loserman, the most hawkish member of the War Party, to run the State Dept. That would have been disastrous obviously. I knew Obama would break all his campaign promises on foreign policy, because that’s what politicians do, but I figured McCrazy would be slightly worse. That may still be true or it may not be.
You may be right or you may not be.
If he wasn’t interested in fixing it but could, what would be the difference? Unless you feel he can’t, isn’t this equivalent to saying he’s lying?
Eh, by now it doesn’t matter. The gist of the video is clear enough.
That said, since then I’ve come to the conclusion that a similar charge, depending on how strict you choose to be, can be leveled at pretty much anybody. I personally wouldn’t draw the line more strictly than Rachel does, but that’s because I think accepting stolen property* as a matter of survival is morally different from accepting it for personal gain beyond such. If the choice is take it or starve, I can’t down anyone for making a choice that I would make myself.
(* – obviously I’m omitting questions of whether the initial property was obtained legitimately in the first place…)
It was an unfortunate statement. I had consumed one to many beers to be commenting. I was frustrated and impatient. My comment wasn’t warranted.
My problem is that they’re not taking just any old subsidy. It’s a subsidy that organizations they funded claimed would result in the systematic murder of the elderly. To fund efforts to manipulate the emotions of the elderly and those who care for them is unconscionable. That the Kochs are signing up for these subsidies isn’t that disturbing. What’s disturbing is that they funded these messaging campaigns with the knowledge — as confirmed by their attempt to receive funds for their employees — that their message was a lie. They paid groups money to lie to the elderly — to tell them someone was doing to kill them if they didn’t oppose health care reform. That’s literally psychopathic.
Why isn’t it just dishonest?
Dishonesty: Dear Grandma, will you sign this petition? If you do, I’ll win a school contest.
Sociopathy: Dear Grandma, will you sign this petition even though I’m not interested in your welfare?
Psychopathy: Dear Grandma, if you don’t sign this petition you’ll be euthanized.
Maybe we could get our progressive politicians to pass a law against lying to old people? That’ll git ‘er done.
If you haven’t noticed by now, my plan would be to show that “psychopathic” is an alienating adjective alongside “libertarian”. No need for a law. Just step it up and combat these fucktards on whether or not they’re actually libertarian. Don’t let them get away with claims of libertarianism. Strike a distinction in the public consciousness.
Or, keep making excuses for their ideology: you know, they’re just confused conceptually — it has nothing to do with will. Right?
After watching Jekyll I should know better. There’s a distinction between protective psychopathy and aggressive psychopathy. The kochtopus is an aggressively psychopathic creature — which is why it’s not libertarian.
The David Gordon piece on the Kochs/Cato vs Rothbard/MI was very informative. I didn’t know Rothbard was one of the founders of Cato! Also at times I almost felt like I was reading a tale of Lenin and Trotsky with all these overtones of troublesome truth-lovers being expelled from a movement that wants political power.
For a long third-party discussion of Rothbard’s role in the original Cato line-up, and the whole nasty story of the split in 1981, you can also see also Chapter 7 of Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism.
Could you elaborate? I’m confused. Specifically:
I thought it was the Koch brothers who were not libertarians because they are pyschopaths, but now it seems like it’s the Kochtopus that isn’t libertarian because it is psychopathic.
What are the criteria for psychopathy that the Kochtopus satisfies? Psychopathy is a chronic pattern of behaviour, so one repugnant lie doesn’t seem enough.
And how can a personality disorder apply to a set of institutions–if that is what “the Kochtopus” refers to–except in some metaphorical sense?
I understand psychopathy as a lack of empathy and morals, coupled with aggressive (illegal — as defined in a just society) behavior. The idea that this behavior is a mere lie is nonsense. Tell elderly folk that they’re going to be euthanized and see whether or not that inflicts emotional distress. And is not the intentional infliction of emotional distress illegal — even in a libertarian society?
It wasn’t one illegal act. This campaign was systematic. Speakers all across the country held rallies in which emotional distress was intentionally inflicted on the elderly. For months, this poison was shot out of kochtopus’ tentacles.
Why can’t it? Institutions exhibits patterns of behavior just like individuals. One can evaluate the ends of an institution in the same way one evaluates the ends of an individual. If an individual’s ends involve “systematic infliction of emotional distress on the elderly for the sake of stopping unwanted legislation,” then we could classify that individual as psychopathic. If an institution’s goals involve “systematic infliction of emotional distress on the elderly for the sake of stopping unwanted legislation,” then we could classify the institution as psychopathic. I don’t see any problem there.
“And is not the intentional infliction of emotional distress illegal — even in a libertarian society?”
Nope. At least I know of no Rothbardian who thinks so.
Sad. I can imagine a Rothbardian considering it a property right to not have her person manipulated into extreme states of horror.
A society in which manipulating people into horror by offering misleading interpretations of public policy was illegal would be a monstrous tyranny.
Agreed. But the whole point is that misinterpreting isn’t the same as making-up. No messaging manager read the bill and thought it called for death panels. They just made that shit up and were paid to spread it. You don’t actually believe that was an honest mistake?
No, I didn’t say it was an honest mistake. An insincerely offered interpretation is still an interpretation. And to treat insincerely offered interpretations of public policy as rights-violations would impose dictatorial restrictions on public discourse. In any case, those who accept some crazy claim simply because some pundit or politician asserts it, and don’t bother to assume the responsibility to check its accuracy, are being “terrorised” primarily by their own stupidity.
If I read your book on Rand vs. Aristotle as a threat to blow up the ARI, would you consider my reading an insincerely offered interpretation?
I agree that people are often terrorized by their own stupidity, but if someone screams “fire in the adjacent theatre,” the resulting terror is not because the viewers cannot see that there is no fire in the adjacent theatre. The terror is due to the nature of the threat. And if the speaker knew there was no fire in the adjacent theatre, it would be fair to say that she violated the viewers rights whether or not they checked to see if the threat was real.
I can’t think of any reason yelling “fire in an adjacent theatre” would be an automatic crime. However, if injuries or property destruction resulted in the confusion, that individual would certainly be responsible for those injuries. Yelling “fire” could be prohibited by property owners and could result in trouble that way (ejecting the offending individual) but I’m not optimistic given what’s allowed to go on in theatres these days.
To say it’s a crime only if someone gets physically hurt is so consequentialist it’s hard to take seriously.
How is it consequentialist?
If I read your book on Rand vs. Aristotle as a threat to blow up the ARI, would you consider my reading an insincerely offered interpretation?
I think the rule: “don’t yell that the theatre is on fire if it is not” is already implicit due to the context. The guy who yelled would have to pay the price of the tickets of everyone if that interrupted their enjoyment of the play (in my opinion)
But he definitely wouldn’t have to pay for the “psychological damage” or “terror” produced by his yelling.
I’m ok with that as long as you admit he’s violated the viewer’s rights. Similarly, yelling that elderly folk will be euthanized is a violation of rights if the speaker knows it’s not the case. And organizing a systematic messaging campaign to do so is an even more egregious violation of rights. I’m surprised that Roderick is contending otherwise.
Of course. What’s the argument for considering it otherwise?
But where’s the similarity? You just seem to argue for censorship. If instead of yelling fire in a theatre, I simply wrote a blog post saying “don’t go to the theatre, because it’s on fire,” would you regard that as a rights violation? And if so, on what grounds?
(By the way, for any Auburnites reading this — don’t go to the Carmike Wynnsong cinema tonight. It’s on fire.)
If I say that your book is a threat to blow up the ARI, I’m not offering an interpretation at all. Interpretations imply derivation from the text. “Irrespective of the text” is an alienating predicate concept for the subject “interpretations”.
No. It’s context dependent. If you went inside the theatre and held up your blog post on an iPad at the door saying “don’t go to the theatre, because it’s on fire,” then it would be a violation of rights (and properly analogous) — just as you don’t have the right to stand under a green light in traffic and hold up your hands instructing people to stop.
It’s not analogous to talk about broadcasting danger in some theatre over there. Because the threat by the kochtopus is to the elderly’s life which is right here wherever they go.
“Well-grounded interpretation” implies derivation from the text. But “interpretation” does not imply “well-grounded interpretation.”
Well, yes, because it would be a violation of the theatre owner’s property rights. But if I stood outside the theatre, off its property, I can’t see that there would be a rights-violation.
Cops do it all the time. But in any case, if I do that I’m disrupting traffic and interfering with their freedom of movement.
This is strained to the point of desperation. Claiming that someone else is threatening your life is not itself a case of threatening your life.
If I stand over a book I’ve never read and say, “this book is about dogs,” I’m not interpreting the book. I’m guessing at what an interpretation would be.
It would be a violation of the theatre owner’s property rights and the potential customers’ rights. Why do you leave that out?
That was poor phrasing. But it’s still a violation of rights. Similarly, you can’t stand at the entrance of the theatre and bang on windows, telling people they’ll burn if they go to the theatre that’s on fire. You’re argument is the one that’s strained. You’re saying that it’s not a violation of rights to do so because the window-banger isn’t responsible for the imaginary fire.
Such a person would be violating the rights of the theatre-owner. He would merely be a distraction to the patrons. Distracting someone with insane nincompoopery is not violating their rights.
No one is under any obligation to believe the window-banger.
Similarly, no one is under any obligation to believe the person standing under the green light signaling “stop.” That doesn’t mean that their actions aren’t a violation of rights.
“Similarly, yelling that elderly folk will be euthanized is a violation of rights if the speaker knows it’s not the case.”
It seems common-sense just went on holiday.
Of course it is NOT similar. Totally different contexts!
Morally dubious? Definitely! Violation of rights? Definitely not!
The yeller damaged the people in the theatre because he broke an implicit property rule that solely existed due to the context.
What is the similarity here?!
You could say the yeller-case is similar to a group of hippies entering the theatre naked, or whatever, because it relates to the “implicit rule condition”.
But what you’re proposing is pure censorship… it has nothing to do with the yeller-case.
If you appreciate Long’s work as much as you seem, you should be aware that our knowledge starts from common-sense (reputable beliefs). And it surely seems you’re lacking it.
Is saying “you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre” censorship? Is saying “you can’t run up to the elderly and say, ‘that guy over there is going to slit your throat'” censorship?
You have to be fucking kidding me.
If it is we’re all guilty and should be punished.
Well, a true libertarian would feel compelled to make whole any person she manipulated into extreme states of horror. That’s not necessarily punishment.
“Is saying “you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre” censorship?”
No, because you’re breaking an implicit clause of the contract you tacitly accepted when entering the theatre.
“Is saying “you can’t run up to the elderly and say, ‘that guy over there is going to slit your throat’” censorship?”
Yes, it is censorship. There is no property rule here. You can’t punish someone just for being a liar.
I agree that you cannot punish someone just for being a liar. But you do have the right to not have your person subjected to the intentional infliction of emotional distress. And telling the elderly that they’re about to be euthanized violates that right. So, please, by all means, explain to me either (a) how the messaging campaign did not intend to inflict emotional distress or (b) how the message that “you’re going to be euthanized” did not generate emotional distress in the elderly who received it. Either one. I’m all ears…
“But you do have the right to not have your person subjected to the intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
No, you don’t. And this is a conceptual matter. Aggression implies the use of force. And inflicting emotional distress does not use force.
But even if you had that right, it would never be proportional to react with violence. At best, you could try to do some “psychological damage” too.
Seriously? So only physical force counts as aggression? Young children don’t have the right to not be taken off with strangers? I mean, if the child willingly takes the candy and hops in the car, then no aggression is applied. No harm. No foul. This is a conceptual matter. And the child engages in a force-less free market exchange. You sure you want to go down this road?
Who the hell said anything about reacting with violence? I’m speaking in terms of tort law.
Or maybe just call to the attention of the community that the rights-violator(s) is a rights-violator(s)… rather than, say, a well respected couple of philanthropists who give generously to the libertarian cause.
Come on! Children’s capacity for rational consent is impaired, so they don’t count as having consented to get in the car. This is familiar territory.
Since when is tort law not enforced by violence?
Seems to me that “interpretation” has both a broader and a narrower meaning here. In the broad sense it’s perfectly possible to endorse or defend an interpretation of something one hasn’t read. But in any case nothing substantive in our dispute turns on this verbal point.
Because it’s not. The mere giving of false information is not by itself a rights-violation.
Banging on the windows is a rights-violation. Calmly handing out leaflets is not.
No, because you’re disrupting other people’s voluntary activity. Shouting “I love cookies” in a crowded theatre is a rights-violation too. It’s less likely to cause bad results and so is a less serious violation, but these judgments of more and less serous come into play only once it’s been established that it is a rights-violation.
I’d need more context. But the mere act of expressing to someone the view that someone else is going to kill them should not by itself be illegal, no. (If I give testimony to this effect in a legal matter, that might be a rights-violation; but if so, it would be a violation of the rights of the person I’m testifying against, not the hearer.)
You seem to be suggesting that we should treat old people like idiots who have to be protected from the responsibility of evaluating information for themselves. I don’t think this is very complimentary to the people you’re supposedly defending.
The point remains that physical force is not the only kind of force. With enough resources, you can craft situations in which a person is virtually compelled into acting a certain way.
Well, tort law in whatever free society you like.
No I wouldn’t think so either. But say someone paid a professional actor to express immanent danger and terrify someone into immediate action.
No. Just that they’re vulnerable to the tricks of scoundrels — especially lots of scoundrels working together.
“Seriously? So only physical force counts as aggression?”
Well, unless you believe in some kind of Jedi force, what other force could there be?
When A crafts the situation in which B finds herself, then A has applied virtual force to B. B believes that she is choosing between freely examined preferences, yet from a wider context, each preference is controlled by A. A need not force B’s hand towards a preference, only to ensure that all possible preferences are entailed in the situation B crafts.
To follow your analogy, that would be less a Jedi force, and more a dark side force. A Jedi force would be to reveal the design of A’s force to B.
The last sentence of the first paragraph should read: “A need not force B’s hand towards a preference, only to ensure that all possible preferences are entailed in the situation A crafts.”
Well, I don’t think your example fits your “virtual force argument”. In fact, I think the only possible way your argument could work would be with physical force.
If A hires C, D, and E — all professional actors — to incite terror in B, which can be done without physical force, then virtual force has been applied to B. This shouldn’t be hard to understand.
Thing is: I don’t buy that example. I think it ultimately falls down to the “psychological damage” I talked about, which could never be a rights-violation.
You cannot psychologically force someone into doing X. That would deny the free-will of the agent.
Think Truman Show. Think The Matrix. And think all situations that are even loosely analogous to those concepts. That doesn’t deny free will, it just makes it much more complicated.
Those examples don’t work either. We feel like Truman show and Matrix involve rights-violations precisely because they wouldn’t let the guy out even if they wanted to. They physically forced Truman and Neo into living those lives.
The first, when he wanted to get out of the island. The latter, since the beggining of his life the robots imprisoned him.
Actually each guy is eventually let out.
Truman was forced into that life in the same way any family tries to design a world for their child and compel them to stay inside it. Truman Show is just the same concept extended to its logical conclusion. Neo is forced into that life in the same way you and I have little option but to work within a plutocracy. The Matrix is just the same concept extended to its logical conclusion.
The physical aspect to those movies is metaphoric for how complicated it is to find freedom. A movie that merely represented the psychological struggle would be boring.
Not unless the subjecting is done in a rights-violating way. Otherwise it would be illegal to say “You’re ugly, and stupid, and a lousy tennis player, and I’m not going to sleep with you.”
🙂 Of course ego-bruising is not a rights violation. But, going back to my example above, paying professional actors to specifically incite terror would be a rights violation.
Suppose I tell people that God will send them to hell if they’re uncharitable or impertinent or gay. Have I committed an actionable tort against them by subjecting them to emotional distress and/or inciting terror? Is Alexandisle in the offing?
I think it’s a matter of degree as it is in the case of negligence. For instance, a business is only responsible for reasonable foresight. A business is not responsible for skydivers who crash on their building because the business owner didn’t think to put padding on the roof. But they are responsible for a large hole in the pavement that someone trips over and breaks their neck.
In the case of IIED, context is the measure. Glenn Beck is evil but he’s a televangelist. He’s not breaking the law; his message is part of a show. But if a group of well paid actors were hired to feign a set of situations — like in The Game (excluding any violence… I can’t remember if there was any in that movie… it’s been a while) — then they would be guilty of IIED.
Obviously what the Koch brothers do isn’t as severe and intrusive as it is in that movie. But starting whispering campaigns that make it to retirement homes is a step in that direction. And where the legal line is between “you’re going to hell” and The Game is tricky. But, again, “the Nazis are back and they’re going to be euthanizing you soon (spoken in a retirement home)” is closer to The Game than “you’re going to hell (spoken in an ordinary context)”.