Conservatives’ Jim DeMint Problem

In service of defending his proposition that departing far-right Senator Jim DeMint is a “hero” whose record is one libertarians should celebrate, Washington Examiner‘s Tim Carney makes an argument that many on the left’ll find surprisingly agreeable. Carney’s take, bluntly put, is that there is no ideologically principled separation between fiscal and social conservatism. And, really, who better to stand as an exemplar of conservative singularity than the man who somewhat recently claimed unmarried but sexually active women should be barred from public education:

DeMint and others could make deeper philosophical arguments about family, church and community as counterweights to state power, but there are also the basic facts on the ground: The best fiscal conservatives in politics are all social conservatives…

Self-described “fiscal conservatives and social moderates” almost never end up being both. Most end up embracing taxes, regulation and spending like Mark Kirk, with a Club for Growth lifetime score of 52 percent. The rest become pro-lifers like Pat Toomey.

Traditional morality and limited government aren’t enemies. They’re friends.

I read Carney often. He’s one of the few hard-right pundits whose work I find intellectually stimulating and often worth engaging. But this is probably the first time I’ve ever actually agreed with the man. (Beyond generalities most of the human race can co-sign, like eating humans is bad or the Affordable Care Act is not how my ideal healthcare system would look.) Still, when you’re right, you’re right! And when it comes to the unsustainable nature of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism — as well as the harmonious potentiality of far-right views on issues fiscal and social, both — Carney is right.

Here’s the thing about social and fiscal conservatism: fundamentally, they’re both about dominance and control. In the face of private power run amok, the best of the fiscal conservatives are complacent. To the social liberation of countless women in the past 40 years, social conservatives are openly and uniformly hostile.

This is not to say that conservatives individuals or organizations are authoritarians. Many—no, most are not. But they may hold fast to romantic, nostalgic, and finally false imaginings of what conservatism-in-practice entails. Or they may be suffering from overoptimism when it comes to the liberatory affect of the free market. Maybe they’re just wrong.

Regardless, in the end they’ll find themselves at a crossroads. There are two possible endings. You can end up ideologically muddled but humane, thoughtful, intellectually curious, and with sundry desirable characteristics. You can also end up like Jim and Tim; and how that makes you feel will probably tell you everything you need to know.

[x-posted @ jubilee]

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296 thoughts on “Conservatives’ Jim DeMint Problem

  1. Interesting post, Elias. My guess is that the relative lack of fiscal-conservatives/social-liberals is partially an artifact of electoral politics and partially a bona fide ideological harmony.

    Social liberalism is not often found outside urban and suburban areas. There are lots of true libertarians in these enclaves of social progressivism, undoubtedly enough to fill a few Congressional seats if they were concentrated in Galt-towns in the boonies. But instead they’re mostly located in places where their voices on fiscal issues are drowned out by fiscal liberals, which is why we don’t find many champions of their ideology in the legislature.

    But there’s probably a true ideological affinity at play as well. Many libertarians are more properly conceived of as “market liberals” — people who believe in the power of markets once they’re properly tamed by government forces. (People in the intellectual orbit of academics and technocrats, such as educated professionals, often fit this bill.) But the more extreme libertarian economic ideas usually devolve to a belief in the benefits of “spontaneous order,” and express a more fundamental skepticism about government attempts to fix market failures. This ideology is more closely allied to social conservatism because it can focus on the importance of nongovernment institutions, such as the church and longstanding community norms, to regulate the excesses of unbridled capitalism. “Spontaneous order” thus relies heavily on “natural law” — in extreme versions they even may be the same thing — and so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the resilience of such an organic alliance.


  2. Jim DeMint was always a mess of contradictions. His favourite piece of music was DeMint’s Symphony for Single Cymbal. He was a wretched politician who should have gone to Heritage and not to Washington for he was always a Taliban Idealist. There wasn’t a pragmatic bone in his body.


    • Being in favor of less social spending, I believe. I think he further means generally, embrace of free-market economic governance ideology when practiced by self-described conservatives. So, throw resistance to regulation in the basket as well. But I should let him speak for himself.

      I’m intrigued by the claim that that is about dominance and control. I think – I know – there are libertarians who believe earnestly in their bones that those views are about the opposite of those things (hello, Roger!). At the same time, the lived experience of people on the business end of power in a society governed by that ideology tends to be to experience it and those who preach it as something that abets power, which is experienced by the relatively powerless as dominance and control. (Whereas power is experienced by the powerful as freedom… we could ruminate on what this may have to say about an ideology committed above all to freedom, but that’s not for now or here). The power of the boss is abetted by a government that enforces the boss’s economic (property) prerogatives (as it should) in society while doing nothing to intermediate or govern the relationship between boss and worker (or by politicians who argue it should do so less than it does). More liberal libertarians argue that it is state power which abets if not creates much of the extremeness of this power by relatively empowering large institutions while disempowering individuals as independent economic actors. These libertarians have not been fully successful in gaining acceptance for this view among nonaligned workers, who take the structure of the society the libertarians want to change more or less as a given, and see the state as at least potential agent of disruption of the established power relationship which all workers of low status confront.

      Conservatives tend to be unabashedly interested in order certainly, but not just any order, usually enforced order. Dominance and control, even if they don’t say so explicitly. So the idea would be that where conservatives preach the gospel of free markets and small government, it is out of a fundamentally different motivating concern than when more liberal, even radically leftist, libertarians do so. The conservatives, on this account, would agree with conventional liberals and (I would argue) many apolitical workers, that the government intervening in the employer-employee relationship (whether by directly regulating it, placing service requirements a-la Obamacare, or even by changing workers’ baseline economic situation via welfare, thereby altering their bargaining position in the relationship) is a basically disruptive, disordering action. The conservatives in this account would see this as an unwelcome dilution of the rightful (natural) ordered relationship between worker and employer (there are parallels to be drawn here between this and other power ordered dualities that animate the conservative worldview: you can make them for yourself). Liberals would see this disruption as positive insomuch as it allowed for potential amelioration of the oppression that such power relationships foster. Left-libertarians, of course, have a completely different view of what effects in society the free-market program, thoroughly enacted, would have. Fundamentally, my understanding is that they believe the rigorously enforced program of economic liberty would be disruptive and disordering, necessarily uncontrolled, and likely to eliminate prolonged or extreme dominance.

      This is my rough sense of Elias’ meaning when he says that fiscal conservatism is fundamentally about dominance and control. I could have him wrong. I’m not sure to what extent I myself buy into what I (not Elias) say above. Fundamentally, I think conservatism is these days too diffuse and changing to say it’s still about these things. Once I think it was, but now, many people who call themselves conservative tend more toward a version of the liberty-as-disruption rather than the liberty-as-conservation-of-societal-structures-and-related-power-relationships view of free-market economics. But in the cases of people like Jim DeMint and Rand Paul, in my view the shoe largely still fits.


  3. Fiscal/Social conservatism is about dominance because it was originally developed by men. I’m curious what a a conservative politics of the economy and social issues would look like if developed by women who aren’t trying to be tough and maintain the patriarchy.


  4. I’m with James K in that I don’t really know what “fiscal conservatism” means in this context. Further, it’s really lost all meaning. It doesn’t seem that Republicans (which seems like the best incarnation of a conservative elected official) are particularly interested in cutting spending. They want to cut some spending, but seems like y’all have some a lot of debt created by these “fiscal conservatives”.

    If we take “fiscal conservatism” to mean the economic policies by these conservative politicians, then, Elias, I think I’m with you. And I think there’s some credibility to the dominance argument.

    However, if I may don the Smug Canadian tuque, it seems like you yanks could learn a thing or two from us. The idea that fiscal conservatism cannot be combined with social liberalism was obliterated in the 1990s. Perhaps I should write a post about what the Chretien government (with a lot of help by the Manning opposition) was able to achieve.

    Okay, I’m taking off the tuque now. Sorry about that.


  5. “Here’s the thing about social and fiscal conservatism: fundamentally, they’re both about dominance and control. In the face of private power run amok, the best of the fiscal conservatives are complacent.”

    It seems absurd that you could throw these two sentences together amongst these environs.

    The assumptions you make about the relationship between “private power run amok”, fiscal conservatism, and what fiscal conservatives want seems to ignore typical libertarian thought.


    • This is not a libertarian blog.

      Moreover, assuming we’re all on the same page as to what “complacent” means, the record of libertarians’ reactions to abuses of private power would very much fit the definition. Abstract chinstroking about how it’d be cool if unions could form (provided they never did anything that management found less-than-ideal) doesn’t count for much.


  6. Carney’s take, bluntly put, is that there is no ideologically principled separation between fiscal and social conservatism.

    You assert it, but you don’t provide much of an argument for it.

    I think it depends on a very limited understanding of social liberalism. Because of course it’s very logical for libertarians to support abortion rights, same-sex marriage rights, political equality among the different races and genders, an end to the war on drugs, opposition to prayer and religious instruction in public schools, and probably a few other things I’m not thinking about.

    I think the only way the assertion works is if all that is defined as not really social liberalism, restricting social liberalism to policies that require government funding. While those obviously are an aspect of social liberalism, I’m at a loss to see how the policies listed in the preceding paragraph aren’t social liberalism.


    • Significant government presence is necessary to secure most if not all of your second paragraph, unless we’re content with many of these problems being replaced by private dominance and exploitation as bad or worse.


      • Elias, I’m not sure what you mean by “government presence.” I said “government funding.” Sure, government presence is necessary to make same-sex marriage legal, in the sense that there are no actual laws in the absence of government. But I’m not talking about government presence, and I don’t see how extensive government funding is necessary for legalizing SSM, allowing abortion, or ending the war on drugs.

        I’m just asking, is support for SSM, abortion rights, decriminalization of drugs and an end to the war on drugs, political equality (voting, being eligible for office, having access to public amenities), and opposition to prayer and religious instruction in public schools a socially liberal position or is it a socially conservative position?

        And if it’s socially liberal, are you claiming that those positions are incompatible with libertarianism?


        • I’d rather not go through the whole list; you know my position on these issues (and I yours) or at the least can make a likely correct educated guess.

          I’d call these mostly but not entirely socially liberal positions; but if one’s dedicated to them only insofar as their implementation doesn’t clash with fiscal conservatism, then they’re either going to become intellectually inconsistent or they’ll have to make peace with the fact that their social liberalism isn’t worth a warm bucket-a.


          • if one’s dedicated to them only insofar as their implementation doesn’t clash with fiscal conservatism, then they’re either going to become intellectually inconsistent

            I don’t get this. Implementing SSM or abortion rights or an end to the drug war, none of those clash with fiscal conservatism (ending the drug war, in fact, is fiscally conservative).

            So where’s the intellectual inconsistency? You keep asserting it, but you haven’t provided a logical explanation. And honestly, I’m not seeing the argument.


            • If we think SSM is a universal right, then it requires government to uphold it in those areas where private power thinks & behaves otherwise.

              Abortion rights is the same.

              A complete retreat from any engagement with recreational drugs will result in rampant abuses of private power — worse than what we’re seeing already in some places, no doubt better in others.

              It all goes back to how being in favor of negative rights and negative rights alone is extremely limiting and leads to theoretical social liberalism at best.


              • If we think SSM is a universal right, then it requires government to uphold it in those areas where private power thinks & behaves otherwise.

                Nobody’s arguing that recognizing SSM as a legal right doesn’t require government. You’re creating a strawman there. What government involvement beyond “just treat gay couples like straight couples” is required? Is “just treat gay couples like straight couples” a socially liberal or a socially conservative position? Is it a position liberals support or one conservatives support?

                As to abortion rights, I’m simply talking about a retreat from the state banning, or trying to ban, abortion. Is that a socially liberal position, or a socially conservative position?

                A complete retreat from any engagement with recreational drugs will result in rampant abuses of private power — worse than what we’re seeing already in some places, no doubt better in others.

                Jeez, does that ever need a lot of unpacking. You keep making assertions without arguments or explanations, and you keep avoiding answering the question.


                • I’ve answered these questions in my response on negative/positive rights; I know you know the implications of the division and their political valences.

                  I’m happy to discuss this in a less antagonistic manner, but I’m not gonna do the whole Law & Order thing with piecemeal quibbles or pedantic questioning.


                  • I’m sorry you feel this is Law and Order, but you made the claim that libertarians can’t be ideologically consistent if they are socially liberal. That’s a serious intellectual critique, so I don’t think it’s inappropriate to demand a persuasive argument.

                    But I still don’t see how you’re supporting that argument, even with a focus on the negative/positive rights distinction. Yes, I’m sticking to negative rights essentially, but I don’t see how those negative rights are either a) socially conservative, or b) if socially liberal (even if less liberal than a positive rights approach), contradictory with a fiscal conservatism.

                    I don’t even know which of those you’re claiming.


                    • My point is you cannot support social liberalism in the actual real world without some measure of inconsistency because to actualize social liberalism in many, many, many instances requires government intervention. You can say you’re pro-choice, but if you’re content to have millions unable to exercise their right — because doing otherwise would require government intervention — then your social liberalism is just a secondary off-shoot of your ideology, not actually an integral part of it. It’s social liberalism in name only.


                    • Elias, if I may… In a nutshell: social liberalism isn’t genuine unless it comes with a willingness to spend money to empower people. It’s not enough to clear out the legal barriers; you have to dish out funds to actually help people. And libertarians aren’t willing to do that. Ergo they are not genuinely social liberals. Is that what you are saying?


                    • Thanks, Zed.

                      It’s not an interpretation I’d argue with, but I also believe the vast majority of self-described libertarians are squishy on fiscal conservatism up to a point. Which is good; we should all be squishy to one degree or another. So, yes, I think a real, ideologically spotless libertarian is not a social liberal; but I also think those types are blessedly few and far between.


                    • OK, so if I understand you, you’re defining social liberalism as requiring extensive government intervention to make negative rights a truly exercisable reality.

                      I don’t like it, of course, but I can get on board with that for argumentative purposes.*

                      But does that mean support for SSM, abortion rights, legalization of drugs, and no prayer in public schools purely as negative rights is a conservative position? When you have conservatives out there fighting against SSM, against abortion rights, for stricter penalties on drug use and for prayer in schools?

                      It seems to me that at this point, through your definition, you’ve fallaciously lumped irreconcilable positions into the same camp. There’s a false dichotomy/fallacy of the excluded middle going on there, right? If you’re going to define social liberalism that restrictively–which could be justifiable, I’m not critiquing that definitional choice here–then you need to recognize that not everything you’ve left out of it really is all the same thing.

                      *And I’m still puzzled by how it requires significant government funding to end a war on drugs, or to not coerce prayer in schools, or to allow SSM.

                      And to the extent you’re saying government is needed to prevent private actors from forcibly keeping individuals from getting married, or having abortions, I’m pretty sure that the libertarians are right there with you.

                      But to the extent you’re talking about public funding for abortions, then, yes, that would be a point of difference with libertarians.


                    • And to the extent you’re saying government is needed to prevent private actors from forcibly keeping individuals from getting married, or having abortions, I’m pretty sure that the libertarians are right there with you.

                      Yeah? I know there are many libertarians who would agree but wouldn’t there also be many who wouldn’t? To some degree part of where this gets fuzzy — and I don’t discount the fuzziness but also didn’t want to do a lot of throat-clearing in the post to prove my Reasonable bona fides — is which faction within libertarianism gets to be the arbiter of inclusion in the tribe.

                      Turning back to Carney*, I’m betting you’ll think more than a few of his examples of current libertarian senators is wrongheaded (he thinks Rand is the most libertarian pol in generations, and IIRC you’re not so peachy on just granting that Rand’s a libertarian). But if we follow his definitions, in which DeMint is libertarian and Mike Lee is libertarian and Ron/Rand Paul is libertarian, then I don’t think libertarianism does countenance the above. Well, unless we get very strict on what entails “forcible” prevention.

                      *Part of where I went wrong in this discussion in terms of being clear is not reminding that I’m using Carney’s piece as my lodestar. So I think what makes sense from your perspective is challenging Carney’s understanding of libertarianism.


                    • Well, Elias, you’re really still not answering my primary question, which is whether you (or Carney) really are identifying the libertarian positions on social issues as conservative (and if so, how you/he square that with the very different positions of folks who actually call themselves social conservatives), and frankly it’s beginning to have the appearance of evasion.

                      But finals are over and I have three days of grading ahead of me, so I’ll drop this. My last note is just that if you’re equating those libertarian negative liberty positions on social issues with social conservatism, or arguing that it’s more intellectually consistent with actual social conservatism, it’s a stunning claim, and one you’ll have a hard time making persuasively.


                    • I feel like I answered your question at least three times. Honestly.

                      The liberaltarian version of libertarianism is, imo, generally a chimera; within the American political universe these are liberals. Not libertarians.

                      The Ron Paul/Jim DeMint style of libertarianism is clearly conservative on social issues.

                      If this still isn’t clear enough I’ll have to blame the fact that True Libertarianism — a libertarianism that does not fit into either of the above admittedly broad categories — does not exist in the real world. I don’t care about the folks over at BHL; they represent no one and have no influence. In comparison, Ron Paul and Jim DeMint do. If you want to say they’re not True Libertarians, then fine; but whatever, we might as well be debating how many angels can fit on an iPod shuffle.


                    • What Pat said.

                      This is not one of your stronger arguments, Elias, because ultimately it requires one of the following conclusions:

                      a) libertarians cannot, without intellectual contradiction, support such negative liberty positions as being pro-choice, pro-legalization, pro-open borders, pro-SSM, anti-war on drugs, and anti-religious indoctrination in public schools, or;

                      b) all those positions are actually social conservative positions.

                      Either conclusion seems to me completely non-sensical. I get you wanting to restrict the definition of social liberal, but in that case you can’t meaningfully lump in everything else as conservative; you need to recognize a third category (at a minimum). Because if you try to make conservative mean being pro-choice and pro-life, pro-SSM and anti-SSM, pro-legalization and anti-legalization, then the onus is on you to explain how that set of blatant contradictions constitutes a single ideology.


  7. The connection between fiscal and social conservatism is freedom, historically understood.

    First of all, the ideological roots of the US were in fiscal and social conservatism. Federalism locates the power of government as close to the individual level as possible. The country was founded by numerous odd utopian communities who sought the freedom to create the community of their dreams. That freedom required a small, secular federal government, and a democratic local government.

    This was even more sharpened as monarchism declined and the world’s primary competitive system of government became communism. The communist system (and many socialist systems) diminished the voice of the community and viewed the family structure and religion as threats. Also, of course, they promoted an economy run by the government.

    Finally (although the interplay between fiscal and social conservatism is a lot more complicated than any three points could cover), in practice, the social conservative is consistently more fiscally conservative than the social moderate or liberal. The Specters and Schwarzeneggers may genuinely intend to be fiscally disciplined, but it never works out that way. One important reason is that social liberalism is expensive: policies that weaken the family always result in higher spending on prisons, social care, et cetera.


    • Hmm, I thought the idealogical roots of the US government were more like “Okay, we’ll have one, but we’d like to remain totally in charge of our states. Up to and including owning other people”.

      When the states signed on, they didn’t want to give up any power (who would?) but not because they were all free-thinking libertarians who were eyeing devolution of power down to the individual level.

      Nope, because they were running the show entirely and while signing onto the US in general was better than staying solo, only if they kept as much control as possible.

      Given how poorly the first attempt went (yay, articles of confederation) you can see how originally they states were TOO tight-fisted with power and created a federal government that was worse than useless. United States version 2.0 was, in a lot of ways, a clever sales job designed to convince the states they were giving up less than they actually did.

      Anyways, if you want to see government at the local level — watch your local school board. I spent my formative years watching a group of Creationists try to take over ours. They came surprisingly close, and I fondly recall the flyers we got accusing one member (a rather beloved local businessmen who’d been on the school board for 20 years) of “wanting to teach elementary school kids how to masturbate”.

      gotta love local politics.


      • If you want to see what a Libertarian ideal-federal-government would look like, you need look no further than the Articles of Confederation.

        It didn’t last long before reality got in the way.


        • As much as I want to bang my head against a wall every time you spew out some silly generalization about what people like me believe, I will give you a gold star for not mentioning Somalia.

          Nicely done, for once. ;)


          • This is a Know Your Libtard Meme PSA. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the new Somalia.
            More Christians there. More guns. Less Gov’t.
            You’re welcome in advance.


          • If only people like you would say what they mean and actually say what they believe, rather than putting out half baked lies about not believing things and never saying what they actually believe.


  8. Fiscal and social conservatives share the same goal: “Hurting” the right segments of people. The ones that do the most to “hurt” these segments are the “best” conservatives.


  9. FACT: Libertarians are NOT Republicans.
    FACT: Libertarians are NOT Conservatives.
    FACT: Libertarians are Libertarians!
    That’s why they are called Libertarians.

    OK now say it slowly. LIB-ER-TAR-IANS

    Also, Libertarians do not belong in the Republican Party because they are NOT Republicans. Libertarians are Libertarians! PERIOD!!

    They are, in fact, the REAL RINOS. Libertarians are Republicans In Name Only. They don’t even like the Republicans or the Republican Party. And they seem to HATE the Republicans so much that they want to DESTROY the GOP.

    If Jim Demint has any brains he will abandon Libertarianism and try to HELP influence the Republican party in a positive way. If not them he can go down in history with the Libertarians for destroying what was left of America after they SABOTAGED the Republican Party’s chances to ever recover.

    The only answer is to KILL OFF this Tea Party Libertarian invasion into the GOP. Kill it, crush them, stomp them out like a brush fire! Libertarians are NOT Republicans. They don’t belong in the Republican Party.


  10. The bottom line is the Libertarians HATE all Republicans who get elected. PERIOD!!
    They hated NIXON, they hated Ronald Reagan, they hated Papa Bush and they hated GW Bush.

    They call every Republican that they disagree with a RINO when in fact they are the REAL RINO’s. Libertarians are NOT Republicans and they never will be. Libertarians are Republicans in name only. So Libertarians are the RINO’s.

    But the main problem, the worst thing about them is that Libertarianism is the HERPES of Politics. It is a DISEASE! They are terminally a loser. They will never win a Presidential election because no one likes them (except other Libertarians). Christians can’t and won’t for vote Libertarians because of Ayn Rand’s connections to the Satanic Bible and her insane RANTS against Christianity and GOD.

    The only answer for the Republican Party is to expel the Damned Libertarians with extreme prejudice. And I mean extreme head knocking get the ‘F’ out prejudice! Get rid of the G– damned Ayn Rand worshiping sons of bitches, all of them, every f-ing one of them before its too late. They are not Republicans and they never will be.

    And if we lose the next general election, or two, it will be well worth it because most of these Tea Partying Libertarian weirdo’s will never try to invade the Republican party again.


    • The “tea party” types aren’t libertarians, Jim DeMint doesn’t have to “abandon” libertarianism because he never picked it up, the GOP’s VP pick was an Ayn Rand fan, not all libertarians are fans of Ayn Rand (I think she was a nutball), libertarians are already expelled from the Republican Party by definition due to being pro-immigration, pro-legalization & anti-war…I could go on, but I have things to do.


      • Ayn Rand wasn’t a fan of the libertarians of her day either.
        But…..a sizeable segment of tea people do self-identify as libertarian or libertarian leaning. I chalk that up to them being embarrassed conservatives (due to Bush II spending and his unpopularity) and latching onto what they feel is the closest “acceptable” group.


        • What’s not to love about Libertarianism? You get to hate taxes and believe the government shouldn’t tell you what to do, ever!

          And unless you actually think about it, you can also STILL believe the government should darn well help YOU and also stop those people you dislike from doing those things that annoy you.

          Sure, calling it a ‘shallow version of Libertarianism’ is an insult to shallow versions of Libertarianism, but I’d wager 90% of the folks claiming the label don’t go past “I hate paying taxes and when the government does things I don’t like” and only aren’t Republican because they like smoking pot, know some gay folks, or just are kinda turned off by theocracy or racism.

          In terms of sheer, mass-market appeal, you can’t beat “I hate taxes” and “Stop telling me what I can and can’t do”.


  11. Here’s the thing about social and fiscal conservatism: fundamentally, they’re both about dominance and control.

    And yet, Tom’s the one you guys decided to give the boot. At least he said intelligent things from time to time.


    • My own sense is that “conservatives” are not only comfortable with hierarchy, but believe that it’s a fundamental necessity for society.

      Into this I see injected a huge amount of moralism: that hierarchy is not only inevitable and right, but that existing hierarchies represent an absolute moral order. Those who are poor and powerless are thus because they are morally inferior; the poor are amoral, lack discipline, and do not reap the huge rewards of our society due, primarily, to their own moral deficits.

      The rich and powerful, conversely, have achieved that status. They have demonstrated their worth to society, by dint of their discipline, and superior character.

      My sympathies lie more in a liberal direction, so these are foreign sentiments to me. But it seems that the world view outlined above is central to the conservative soul.

      Any conservatives care to comment? Does this seem a fair representation of the conservative notions of the immutable laws of the universe?


      • That, in essence, is how the conservative mind works.

        It’s easy to see. Go to a conservative friend’s facebook feed and watch the scrawl of insults against poor people. Watch the scrawl for the number of times they talk about how “anyone can be rich” and that all they have to do is “pull themselves up by their boostraps.”

        As noted here.

        Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh have both, while on their Xth trophy wives, uttered sentiments like “no money equals no morals.”

        Conservatives fetishize greed and wealth as a substitute for morality. Being wealthy is evidence that you are moral, according to them. Witness the spread of prosperity gospel snake oil heresy amongst the evangelicals over the past few decades. It’s not a surprise; Prosperity Gospel sells to conservatives because it takes Greed, one of the formerly deadly sins, and transforms it instead into proof of morality.


      • To be clear, I think the claim that social conservativism is about dominance and control is, while not obviously true, at least defensible.

        What I object to is the claim that fiscal conservatism is about dominance and control, which sounds like it came from the Ministry of Freedom. Fiscal conversatism is about the negation of dominance and control, allowing people to make their own economic choices and do what they want with their own money.


  12. someone wrote: What’s not to love about Libertarianism?

    What? Are you for real?
    Anton LeVay, the author of the Satanic Bible describes Libertarianism as SATANISM without the ceremony, which it is, philosophically speaking. He admits that he plagerized Ayn Rand’s Philosphy to author the Satanic Bible. Libertarianism is not Satan worship but Libertarianism is a Satanic Philosophy.

    Satan is a Libertarian. His first act in the Garden with Eve was an act of Libertarianism.

    Libertarianism is UN-Christian. There is nothing good or decent in Libertarianism unless you consider extreme selfishness, extremist patriotism, radical idolatry (as in Ron Paul and Ayn Rand worship), an admirable quality. It is just about the most UN-Biblical Religion in existence. And yes Libertarianism is a Religion.

    What’s not to love about Libertarianism? Do you want to go to hell?


      • Well, let’s see…

        Pro-immigration: check. You think Ol’ Scratch is building a border fence to keep immigrants *out* of Hell? No freakin’ way.

        Free Markets: I hear he always buys or trades for souls. Satan doesn’t just take your property without recompense. No, it’s always a fair trade with him (for certain values of “fair”, of course).

        Pro-legalization: check. I think this one is self-evident.

        Sorry boys, afraid this one goes to the Carpenter.


        • Almost all of the libertarians I’ve known personally have been either atheists or agnostics. However, there is a specifically Christian libertarian movement, creatively labeled “Christian libertarianism.” I give you Vox Day.

          Personal anecdote: Vox Day’s blog was the first blog I ever read. It was mentioned on a BBS (yeah, that long ago) in an atheism discussion, after Vox had written this.


    • I mean, assuming you’re not someone who likes Blighter a lot, it seems silly to say something to the effect of “wanting open borders is Satanic”.

      Yes, I can see my aunt (the one who went to Ireland to convert the Catholics) saying that. That’s beside the point.

      While there might be a bit of an in, with regards to Satanism, with the whole pro-drug thing and pro-homosexuality thing, it’s just as easy to come to the conclusion that Prohibition failed (again) and we need to cut our losses (again) by not throwing good blood and treasure after bad (again). Homosexuality being evil is one of those things that, you’d think, would at least be up in the air when it came to whether we should assume we’re all in agreement on it.

      Libertarianism isn’t just drugs and sex, though. There’s the boring legal stuff like immigration and free speech and that’s not even getting into government money policies.

      That said, “Libertarianism is Satanic” is more fun to argue against than “Libertarianism is Privilegism”. So thanks for that, at least.


  13. QUOTES FROM the Church of Satan on LIBERTARIANISM

    Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore
    Monday, November 5, 2007

    “….Satanists are generally Libertarians. They may choose their specific political alliances because it might better whatever they are trying to do in their lives, but essentially most of us are fairly libertarian people. We would like to have government as minimal as possible.” – Peter Gilmore, High Priest, Church of Satan

    “Essentially, Satanism is at base a rational philosophy of pragmatism, materialism and skepticism, generally promoting a libertarian point of social view with an …”
    www .churchofsatan .com/Pages/PrisonChaplain.html

    “Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is an acknowledged source for some of the Satanic philosophy as outlined in The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey.”
    www .churchofsatan .com/Pages/SatObj.html


  14. The GOP is far from perfect. Its flawed. OK. I get it.
    But I would prefer to persuade the GOP and to help the GOP then to get into bed with Ayn Rand, Ron Paul and Libertarianism because of Libertarianism’s Philosophical relationship to Satanism.

    I will not vote if Libertarianism becomes the GOP model (because I don’t want to go to hell) and I am not alone in this. If Libertarians are allowed to take over the GOP then Christians everywhere will stop voting. They must be PURGED out of the Republican Party now. Not later, NOW!


      • Shazbot,

        I love morality. I practice a little bit of it myself. What I hate (and truly with the fire of a thousand suns; maybe even ten thousand) is moralism, the effort to force others to live by one’s own moral code. My very own great grand-pa was a great abolitionist. Not satisfied to just be a teetotaler, he tried his damndest to make sure nobody else could have a drop to drink, either. He made himself a hated man, and the hate was just.

        But as to Carpenter, has anybody else ever heard this libertarianism is satanism claim before? It’s a brand new one on me. I mean, I’m used to liberals claiming libertarianism is eeeevvvvuullll, but this is something different.


          • Moralism says “I won’t do that.” Ethics says “You can’t do that.” Though I’ve had some philosophers around here disagree with this distinction, I’ll stick by it for rhetorical purposes.


            • I don’t really like your distinction, either. IANAPhilosopher, but it seems to me that ethics is more socially oriented, about how we ought to treat others, while morals are more internally directed, about how we ought to live our own lives. E.g., getting blind-ass stoned in the privacy of my own home wouldn’t be unethical, but it might be immoral.

              And for my own money–although I know it causes confusion–I use “moral” to refer to a person who lives a good upright life (“Joe is a moral person, he don’t drink, smoke, or lust”), and “moralism/moralist” to refer to someone who tries to impose that upon others (“Bill is a moralist; he tries to keep me from drinking, smoking, and lusting”). I’ve no problem with Joe, it’s Bill I can’t stand.


              • Also, I think there’s a flaw in the way you’re looking at things.

                Joe could be a “moral person” who “doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t lust.”

                Bill might be a moral person. Or you might be taking him wrong when he says things like “hey man, gimme the keys, you’re too drunk to drive.” You might be taking him wrong when he says “hey, can we talk, you’re smoking 5 packs a day and I’m worried about your health” or “hey, my kid has asthma, would you mind smoking outside?”

                As for the lust aspect, take it up with the bible humpers. I personally have no problem with someone opening up a strip club; hell, I really don’t have a major issue with prostitution, it seems that should fall fairly straightforwardly into an economic transaction between consenting adults (questions of regulation, required registration and STD testing, perhaps required condom use or other safety measures, and safeguards to make sure that prostitutes are not abused or exploited by the owners of establishments being a matter I’m completely open to discussion as a matter of reaching the point of reasonable government regulation). And if a married man or woman goes to see a prostitute of either gender, that’s a discussion to be had between man, spouse and possibly therapist or marriage counselor as necessary.

                I’m not saying that you’re completely wrong. Prohibition was an exercise in stupidity, which created a mess of crime. Allowing states to have individual patchwork liquor laws isn’t much better, and the example of Prohibition ought to have given us a much greater reason to be careful in making all sorts of drugs “illegal” or “controlled”, especially when so much of the justifications were based in naked racism.

                So I’m not saying you’re completely wrong. But there’s a spectrum there, and the answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” but somewhere in the middle.


                • Re: Paragraph 2.

                  Fair question. Those aren’t the folks I’m talking about. I’m talking about the folks who glared at me when I dared to smoke a cigarette on the public street outside Temple Square in SLC, and my great-grandpa who tried (with temporary success) to shut down every bar in town so nobody else could have a beer at lunch (and in fact a minister having a beer at lunch on a weekday was specifically one of the things he was aghast at), or the folks who think the very fact of homosexuality is horribly evil, or the complete stranger who walked up to me and said, “you shouldn’t be smoking; your body is a temple of God,” or the vegetarian who tried, as a guest in their friend’s home, to shame a friend into not eating meat in his own home.

                  Folks who are concerned about their friends, or the safety of innocent potential victims. That’s all cool (although there’s a point at which the friend needs to back off, if rebuffed).


                  • Repeat: So I’m not saying you’re completely wrong. But there’s a spectrum there, and the answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” but somewhere in the middle.

                    Are you in agreement then? That it’s not a matter of “hey these people are dumb and trying to restrict rights altogether” but “hey we have a disagreement on where the line is drawn”?


              • It’s a distinction from theology, which I don’t expect anyone else to observe. You seem to be blurring the lines: let’s confine ourselves to clearly normative morality and ethics. Morality, as you say, points inward, accusing the self. Ethics, likewise, points outward and accuses others.

                I’ve been dead drunk in my own house. Didn’t feel particularly guilty about it. It’s been a good long while since I got To’ Up because I might make an ass of myself online again or take to Drunk Dialing. There’s a diminishing law of returns on drinking to excess so I like to work within the first standard dev, not being too hard on myself about a tipple or three more than is strictly good for me.

                But there was a day when I’d get off work, get changed in my hotel room, pick up a book, read at a bar half the night (so convenient!) and drive back to the hotel. Was my entirely justified fear of the consequences Moral or Ethical? Probably Ethical, truth to tell, I feared the consequences, what with previous para stipulating to how easy I am on myself.


        • It appears to stem from this article.

          I’m not willing to go that far, though I’ll cheerfully admit to seeing parallels in the nature of FYIGM behavior and the focus on rights of the individual at-all-costs, and some of the teachings of Anton LaVey.

          Maybe the Kochs are satanists. Who knows. I don’t think all libertarians are satanists, or even a sizable group, but there’s certainly room for questioning whether the adherence of some to “me, my rights as an individual at all costs” is wise.


  15. Whatever else they say about Satan being bad, what specifically did he do that was wrong.

    I mean, he takes a lot of blame for being evil, but what did he actually do that was evil? Who did he kill, rape, injure, etc.? As near as I can t ell, in actual religious books, he doesn’t do anything. He just asks some questions and says what he thinks. Evil? You be the judge.


  16. If you listen to Ron Paul backwards, it’s all Satanist. From his newsletter, backwards: “elpeop kcalb dnuora elbatrofmocnu ma I elpeop kcalb dnuora elbatrofmocnu ma I”

    Crazy? You ne the judge.


  17. Please look at it from my angle.

    IF the GOP has to rely on Satan (Libertarianism) to win an election then I cannot vote. IF the GOP turns into a Libertarian controlled party (or Satanically controlled) then I cannot vote. Its just that simple. IF the GOP turns to Satan (Libertarianism) then it loses its largest base.

    Don’t you get it? This is exactly what the Commie-Liberals want. Libertarianism in the GOP is their dream come true.

    And it might already be too late. I mean the Libertarian influence in the GOP could be a part of Divine Judgment and Divine Condemnation. Libertarianism in a sense could already be God’s punishment for the Libertarians supporting abortion, homosexuality, drugs, idolatry, paganism, ect…


  18. “But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.”


    • A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order. In his large presence the other popes & politicians shrink to midgets for the microscope. He hasn’t a single salaried helper; The Opposition employs a million.


  19. “Here’s the thing about social and fiscal conservatism: fundamentally, they’re both about dominance and control.”

    Not like “liberals” aren’t about dominance and control. They just want to dominate different aspects of society.


    • If “dominance and control” result in more liberty for more people, because they are exerted in ways that restrict abuses – fine.

      I’ll grant that it’s “dominance and control” to keep employers from discriminating on the basis of gender, age, sexual orientation, or race.

      I’ll grant that it’s “dominance and control” to keep a strong social safety net for those who fall on hard times.

      I’ll grant that it’s “dominance and control” even to have a strong system of public parks and green spaces so that people have places to go exercise, get away from the visual noise of urban environments, and benefit the whole society in both physical and psychological health.

      What would you prefer? The Libertarian/Anarchist meme is “f– you, I got mine, plenty of green space round my mcmansion.”


      • f– you, I got mine

        M.A., you do realize that you do yourself more harm than good by repeating what most folks here, liberals included, recognize as a mischaracterization?


        • Depends on which libertarians you’re talking about.
          I’ll not make the mistake of describing my interlocutors around here as that type of libertarian.
          The Kochs on the other hand fit the characterization quite aptly.


          • I know some liberals who are opposed to free speech and freedom of religion. I even know one who wants to treat taking your kids to church/synagogue/mosque as child abuse.

            But you know, I don’t go around claiming that’s what liberals are about. Sure, everytime a liberal said they favored free speech, I could say, “depends which liberals you’re talking about,” but that shit would get old really fast.


            • I know some liberals who are opposed to free speech and freedom of religion.

              “Opposed to free speech” in what sense?

              “Opposed to freedom of religion”, again in what sense?

              I ask because I don’t think religions or churches should be able to cross certain lines in the name of “freedom of religion.” FLDS abuse of underage girls qualifies as abuse, no matter what they claim their religion says. Scientology abuse of underage or for that matter of-age individuals in their “Sea Org” and “Rehabilitation Corps” qualifies as well; for that matter, many of their other practices and claims seem to constitute false advertisement (including their famous “stress test” and “personality test” sales pitches). Then again it’s a great, big, fuzzy line and case-by-case, practice-by-practice is about the only way to do it.

              I even know one who wants to treat taking your kids to church/synagogue/mosque as child abuse.

              And I’m curious as to how you define this person as a liberal. It sounds like what you have there is a secular humanist.

              On the other hand, as Jesse Ewiak said to you a while back, I don’t think an ideology is defined simply by its best members either. If you truly don’t think there’s a decent part of libertarian ism that basically loves the idea of FYIGM, then you’re deluding yourself.

              The difference to me is whether a majority, or at least a sizable minority, of a group believe a certain way. Secular humanists, if you call them “liberals”, make up such a small minority of liberals as to be not considered anything resembling mainstream liberalism.

              FYIGM libertarians aren’t that small a percentage of libertarianism.

              And asshole conservatism… let’s count up the listenership of Beck, Rush, and Savage and then make the claim that asshole conservatism isn’t the conservative mainstream. We’ll be laughed at if we do, and rightly so.


              • Jesus, M.A., you’re all about pointing to extremes, aren’t you?

                Opposed to free speech: supportive of campus speech codes; think there should be laws against offensive speech.

                Opposed to freedom of religion: Thinks parents should be punished for teaching their kids god exists.

                Re: liberals v. secular humanists. Damn near every secular humanist is either a liberal or libertarian; and since there’s a lot more liberals than libertarians, most secular humanists are going to be liberal. The two sure as hell aren’t in any way exclusive, as your comment suggests. And by the way, the guy defines himself as a liberal.

                Of course an ideology isn’t defined only by its best people. But by the same token, it’s not defined only by its worst people, which is what you are insistent on doing. And that’s what you do–you are so insistent not just that some libertarians are FYIGM, but that libertarianism is FYIGM, that you cross the line into defining it by its worst people.

                And if you’ll read closely, you’ll see that I never deny that there are FYIGM libertarians; I only deny that libertarianism is in any way, shape, or form necessarily FYIGM, any more than liberals concern about social structures that have more negative effect on women and minorities than on white males means support for speech codes is necessary to liberalism. There’s a certain integrity to that approach–an approach browbeaten into me by certain of my teachers–that you appear to lack entirely. Re-read Blaise’s comments on this page, and you’ll see that same integrity at work.


                  • We’re against wars of aggression because FYIGM!

                    We support same-sex marriage because FYIGM!

                    We oppose the war on drugs because FYIGM!

                    We oppose corporate welfare because FYIGM!

                    We oppose taxicab cartel laws that shift all the medallions to wealthy owners and make entry into the market impossible for the poorer entrepreneur because FYIGM!

                    We oppose required prayer in public schools because FYIGM!

                    We oppose the use of SWAT teams to deliver warrants, and the attendant purposeful shooting of pets and quasi-accidental shooting of innocent scared people in their own homes because FYIGM!

                    We oppose governments condemning your property to sell cheaply to a developer because FYIGM!

                    We oppose the DHS and TSA because FYIGM!

                    We support free speech because FYIGM!

                    I’m sure that somehow that all makes sense.


                • Opposed to free speech: supportive of campus speech codes; think there should be laws against offensive speech.

                  Campus speech codes are a tough call. A campus as a whole has a purpose. A giant demonstration, unplanned, that gets in the way of conducting classes? Presents a problem. You’re not just engaging in speech, you’re engaging in speech in a way as to damage or disrupt the primary purpose of learning in the campus environment. On the other hand, someone trying to hand out flyers in a corner of the campus student union doesn’t seem to be too much of a bother.

                  Laws against offensive speech, again, a question of how. Directly urging violence? The coded speech of the white supremacists or the modern Know-Nothings calling for “lone wolves” to engage in violence? Or are you talking the run of the mill racism that simmers at a low level, pervading the Tea Party and GOP base? There’s a line here. I’m not going to pretend we should legalize someone calling for “lone wolves” to assassinate elected officials, and I wish there were laws against the sort of incitement-to-crime practiced by conservatives calling for the kidnapping of kids from LGBT parents.

                  Opposed to freedom of religion: Thinks parents should be punished for teaching their kids god exists.

                  Re: liberals v. secular humanists. Damn near every secular humanist is either a liberal or libertarian; and since there’s a lot more liberals than libertarians, most secular humanists are going to be liberal. The two sure as hell aren’t in any way exclusive, as your comment suggests. And by the way, the guy defines himself as a liberal.

                  And they are outnumbered, tens or hundreds of thousands to one, by religiously minded liberals who see no issue with religion and even, dare I say it, find reasons for liberal thinking in their religious texts.

                  And if you’ll read closely, you’ll see that I never deny that there are FYIGM libertarians; I only deny that libertarianism is in any way, shape, or form necessarily FYIGM,

                  I’ll steal my point from Tod Kelly here. You claim that libertarianism is not “necessarily FYIGM”, you honestly believe it? Then why does libertarianism attract so many FYIGM thinkers? It’s because libertarianism, libertarian think tanks, and libertarian groups have expressly signaled over and over again that they’re willing to put up with, condone, defend, and even support FYIGM mentalities.

                  To quote Tod directly: I’m saying that once bad management is implemented it calls the monsters to the door. Libertarianism has been under bad management for who-knows-how long.


                    • The Libertarians opened themselves up and signaled they would take in the John Birch crowd during the period of Bircher estrangement from the GOP. It’s not really a big surprise that the Birchers proceeded to take over Libertarianism and become even worse than the already-bad management that had already existed.

                      Once it begins, Tod Kelly’s observation reads like a vicious cycle, especially in the politics of third parties that must necessarily be geared towards extremism in order to gain followers in a two-party system. The co-opting of Libertarianism and the corrupting influence of chasing conservative donor money isn’t a surprise.


                    • Also, MA, I haven’t heard of the Acton institute, Sirico or any of these folks. Not from Kos, not from RedState, not from Here, There or anywhere. Nobody quotes those folks. Nobody.


                    • the Birchers proceeded to take over Libertarianism

                      Oh, lord, what a fucking hoot. Cato, Reason, the Independent Institute…all those top libertarian think-tanks just absolutely dominated by Birchers!

                      Jason Kuznicki works for John Birchers, because of course Birchers would hire a gay guy who’s in favor of legalizing drugs.

                      The Libertarian Party nominated Gary Johnson because of course the Birchers wanted a president who supports marriage equality and basic abortion rights.

                      Thanks for the laugh, M.A. That was awesome.


                    • Kimmie, I’ve heard of the Acton Institute, but I’m not familiar with any libertarians who quote them. Then again, most of the libertarians I know aren’t interested in Acton’s religious emphasis.

                      But here’s a nice little piece from them asking whether libertarians and social conservatives find common ground. The basic assumption, which is correct, is that libertarians by and large are not social conservatives, and the whole thing is a plea for libertarians to have more respect for social conservatism (couched, intelligently, in an emphasis on social capital).

                      The author correctly notes that “The two groups have little natural tendency to trust each other when not confronted by a common enemy as in the case of the Cold War.” And he concludes by pleading that “the points of connection: between libertarians and social conservatives are stronger than the two groups are stronger than “the forces pulling the two groups apart.” A socially conservative libertarian like MFarmer might agree; socially liberal libertarians like Jason, Roger, and me would strongly disagree.

                      That the Acton Institute needs to make this plea, and that they recognize that there’s “little natural tendency” for trust between the two groups, is evidence that M.A. is likely to ignore.


                    • Haw friggin’ haw. This, after Cato just fended off a Horstile Takeover from the Kochs. I fight with Jason a good deal more than is wise, but I just gotta say, that’s a Better Joak than anything I’ve heard in the last few days…

                      You just simply cannot accept the idea that a Libertarian could possibly be an honest person. That’s just really offensive to me at a personal level. I’d like to think I’m fighting intelligent people and if you’re even remotely correct, that means that Jason and Hanley are idiots and I refuse to accept that because that means I’m an idiot, too, a position you may possibly espouse.


                    • Owned by the Kochs, sons of a prominent Bircher.

                      Ah, corruption of blood. Good thing the Constitution forbids that in law. My dad was a devout evangelical Christian. Three of his four kids are agnostic or atheist.

                      And you might want to ask Jason Kuznicki how much the Kochs control the content of his writings. You know, ask somebody who’s actually in the know, instead of just spinning conspiracy theories.


                    • Yeah, well, maybe the Libertarians aren’t as Overwhelmingly Idiotic as your tendentious posts might imply. Here I’m gonna stand up and say, as the Liberal Guy who wastes more time here than is strictly wise, I argue with these people from a position of respect. You will either step up your game and start treating the Libertarians around here, who’ve done nothing to offend you in any way, with some respect or you’ll continue to stink up this joint with your prolix and tendentious maunderings, dragging down an otherwise respectable blog. Now get the fuck right. Am I making myself clear here?


                    • MA,
                      Oh, dear. They kicked their estranged friend out. How bloody uncivil of them.
                      You should see what they do to their employees. Rather… hairraising.

                      Fred Koch sounds a little like Henry Ford — you do yourself a disservice if you don’t recognize sharp enemies. They’re a lot more reliable than stupid friends.


                    • Roll thine eyes an it please thee. You ought not insult honest people. Be they ever so dishonest by your lights, they are not dishonest by mine. I would rather fight an honest enemy and be improved thereby than lump them into every sort of ignorant calumny. I am informed more by those who disagree with me than by any other thing in life.

                      You brook no contradiction. I love a woman who deeply contradicts my own political viewpoint. But that’s just me. I need contradiction to keep me honest, to keep my edges sharp. Anything worth believing is worth defending.

                      More JS Mill:

                      A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

                      That’s why I fight. It’s not clear why you fight. Maybe you need to read more JS Mill and write less truculent nonsense about people I respect.


                  • I’ll steal my point from Tod Kelly here. You claim that libertarianism is not “necessarily FYIGM”, you honestly believe it? Then why does libertarianism attract so many FYIGM thinkers?

                    Because being opposed to top-down government regulation can mean many different things. I’ll make this point clearer in an upcoming guest post. To understand it, though, just think Condorcet’s Paradox with a fourth option, D, that’s at the very bottom of each person’s preference order.

                    But that’s ok, you don’t need to consider that. You can go on doing the opposite of defining an ideology only by its best people, somehow thinking that while that’s foolish, it’s wise to define an ideology by its best people.

                    I’ll stick to my claim that you are unwilling, perhaps unable, to read any libertarian arguments honestly. You are what I try to teach students not to be. I fail with a single type–ideologues. Whether left or right, ideologues seem impervious to the idea of reading the other side in any frame except their own pre-determined, uncharitable, disingenuous, and self-gratifying way.


      • There’s a difference between the dominance of a referee and the dominance of a tyrant. Much as I argue with the Libertarians, all this obtuse remonstrance about FYIGM isn’t helpful. Look, the Libertarians are defined by what they aren’t. It’s just that simple. They’re not averse to referees or rules or even city parks. They’re sick of force majeure taking precedence over the will of the people.


        • There’s a difference between the dominance of a referee and the dominance of a tyrant.

          That’s a good point. If I could riff off of it, I’d say libertarians want a referee, conservatives are more likely to want a tyrant (someone who imposes public order and enforces moral behavior). Some liberals want a tyrant, too–those who support speech codes and would require even wholly private non-economic organizations to be fully inclusive. But I think most liberals want something that’s more than a referee, but less than a tyrant; someone who will for the most part let people go their own way, but require that those who are doing better at the game throw some support to those who aren’t doing so well. I don’t think tyrant is really the best word there, maybe benevolent dictator?

          And thank you, Blaise, for your “obtuse remonstrance” comment. I think the League promotes more thoughtful dialogue than any other blog I’ve participated on, but these phrases like “FYIGM” or from the other side, “Commie-dems” are designed to shut down conversation, not promote it.


        • No, that’s not it.

          I talk to actual libertarians all the time. Since my guest post regarding having to hold one’s tongue around most conservatives here hasn’t gone up, I must assume it’s either been denied or Erik’s not looking at email currently.

          Point here is that Libertarian philosophy, as the libertarians here call it, is that they don’t care what people do as long as they aren’t paying for it. Sounds real good until they get into the social-aspect ranting.

          “I don’t care if gays get married – as long as there’s no tax benefit for them.”
          “I don’t care if women get abortions – as long as it’s not on taxpayer dime.”
          “I don’t care if the poor get health care access – as long as my tax dollars don’t go to paying for it.

          Direct quote from one of the hardest core Libertarian Tea Partiers in my area, “Why the hell do I have to pay for any of it? There should be charities and their friends and family should be the ones taking care of it, not me.”

          That is Libertarianism at the core; FYIGM wrapped with a pretty-looking bow claiming to be “principled” while insisting that the referee be removed from the equation.

          Libertarians supporting “right to work” (feh, what a completely fishing orwellian term) laws are the same way. The “right” of workers to not be in a union? Sounds great on paper. Leads to massive disparities in power, leads to massive coercion – whoops but not government coercion, so the FYIGM crowd doesn’t give a damn because it’s the sort of coercion they like.

          “Right to work” laws really mean “right to abuse.” Right to fire employees for talk of unionization. Right to fire workers in retaliation for reporting problems. Right to engage in behavior that goes to the level of extortion.

          Libertarianism’s finest hour. Let the liberty of a million workers be trampled to nothingness rather than reduce even slightly the “liberty to abuse” of the upper crust.


          • The Libertarians, as I have said, have opened themselves up to many a specious charge on the basis of what they Don’t Like. So they don’t like closed unions for various reasons. Does that mean they’re against the working man or his rights in law?

            The Libertarians damn the government for corruption and overreach and rightly so, for they know all too well who corrupts it and perverts justice to its own ends. If they are only half-right, preaching the gospel of the Individual, the Libertarians understand power derives from the consent of the governed and that consent can be extorted, usually by moneyed interests.

            Were Individuals to stand up for their own rights and speak truth to power, obliging government to do the will of the people and not the moneyed few, we should have a very different world, one where freedom of association would give rise to meaningful collective action. I have repeatedly said we could eliminate the closed union if a few workers were put on corporate boards of directors. But to say the Libertarians are against referees or rules is patent nonsense, a complete misstatement of their positions. They’re against crooked refs and everyone of every political stripe knows who’s corrupting the refs. We’re all sick of that game.


          • If you’re only talking to Tea Party types, you’re missing out on a whole lot of libertarianism. The Tea Party predominantly drew those who are anti-tax, which is not the main issue for all libertarians. I think what you have is a case of a biased sample. And when you have the opportunity–here at the League–to broaden that sample, you don’t do so. Instead of saying, “Oh, so there are libertarians who aren’t really Tea Party types,” you assume, “Oh, they’re not like the libertarians I know, so they must either not be true libertarians or they’re lying about their beliefs.”

            “I don’t care if gays get married – as long as there’s no tax benefit for them.”

            I’ve yet to meet a libertarian who thinks gays should be allowed marriage equality, but denied any of the tax benefits that straight married couples receive. I don’t believe you could round up a roomful of such people.

            “I don’t care if women get abortions – as long as it’s not on taxpayer dime.”
            Yes, that’s the essence of negative liberty. I grant that it’s not a progressive position, but why would anyone expect libertarians to take a progressive position? But surely you can see the difference between “I don’t care if women get abortions” and “we should not allow any woman to get an abortion, any time, any where, under any circumstance.” Can’t you?

            “I don’t care if the poor get health care access – as long as my tax dollars don’t go to paying for it.”
            Again, standard negative liberty. But you really don’t grasp the libertarians’ position here. They think that making the health care system more market-based (because right now it’s not; even the aspects that aren’t government-based aren’t really market-based) would make it less expensive and more affordable for the poor. That’s an empirical claim, and they could be wrong. In fact let’s say for the sake of argument that they simply are wrong, couldn’t be wronger. The fact is that they’re sincere in their error, so it’s not about not caring if the poor get health care, it’s just a misguided approach to making health care more accessible to them.


          • Y’know there are some libertarians that actually oppose “right to work” (on the grounds that it interferes with worker/employer relations), right?

            I’m not saying most do, btw. Observably most don’t. Those libertarians are wrong, IMO & I blame fusionism & corrupting political elite influence for so many holding such a view.


            • Sorry B-Psycho, there’s only one true version of libertarianism and rabid frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of the proletariat is it. I have it on good authority from some guy on some gentlemanly blog somewhere.


              • I’ll state that I’ve now found this, posted just a few hours ago.

                And of course, the left-libertarian thinkers did post a piece last year.

                Still waiting on someone from Reason, or Cato, to get on camera and say that the orwellian-named RTW laws are bad ideas. Given the amount of Koch money involved, I’m willing to bet it won’t happen. More likely you get what happened today with Rand Paul standing up talking about how it was the greatest thing since sliced bread (for his monied backers anyways).


                • Like I said, fusionism & political elite corruption

                  With any group that can be remotely claimed to be outsiders, the voices most useful to the insiders are going to be amplified. This is why when it comes to self-proclaimed libertarians in mass media you’re so much more likely to hear talk about, say, cutting corporate taxes & regulations rather than the realization that corporate status itself is one huge regulation.


                • On top of everything, you’re apparently a humorless twit, too.

                  Oh, and it’s not enough that “someone from Reason” posted an essay on Reason’s blog, they actually have to stand up in front of a camera and say it verbally? You’re funny all right; it’s just too bad it’s never intentional.


                  • you’re apparently a humorless twit, too.

                    Why thank you :)

                    they actually have to stand up in front of a camera and say it verbally?

                    Libertarians want to be participants at the national dialogue level. It’d be nice to see them seeking out the chance to do so. So yes I’d much prefer to see speakers from Cato, or Reason, or some other Libertarian groups or even Libertarian candidates or honest-to-gosh elected representatives (there are a few of them out there!) get up and speak on this if Libertarians really aren’t gung-ho for Right To Abuse Workers laws.

                    Someone from Reason posting to their small webspace, doesn’t go very far. Someone from Reason getting on the talking head shows? Discussing on Fox, or CNN, or somewhere else? Calling in to give the libertarian viewpoint on talk radio shows?

                    Is it so much to ask? That you participate on the same level in issues like this? Barely two weeks ago Jason Kuznicki was complaining about how liberals don’t give libertarians half credit. Well, I’m giving partial credit for Reason coming up with at least a half-baked insistence that they don’t just jump online with the idea that Right-To-Abuse laws are necessary for a “free market” labor solution, even if they couch it that they think such laws are actually government involvement in negotiations prohibiting the free right of one side or another to negotiate such a condition the same way that they’d negotiate requirements of dress code or drug testing.

                    On the other hand, I’m not giving full credit since the only person so far slightly resembling a libertarian to actually get up to the news and interview and speak on the matter is Rand Paul.

                    Here’s my challenge: Libertarians want “half credit” from Liberals on the things they agree with us on? Act like it. Get up in front of the cameras and talk about our issues just as much as you get up and do so when you’re agreeing with right wing economic pseudotheories.


                    • I’ll take that as your declining the challenge then.

                      New question: do libertarians even WANT to be anything more than irrelevant gadflies trotted out into the sunlight when the GOP/TEA crowd needs to claim they are following “principles”?


                    • In that challenge is the sovereign fallacy about Libertarians revealed: the Libertarians, unlike the Liberals and Conservatives, do not wish for some paradise. They do not have to speak up for Liberal causes because the Liberals are already speaking.

                      If I may speak for Libertarians, (I feel I’ve earned the right having fought with them for lo these many years), they feel they are the Real Liberals. What passes for Liberal thought in these times is a dog’s dinner of statist solutions to individual problems.

                      Behold the underprivileged, the Libertarians demand of us — are they any less encumbered by your Statist Affirmative Action than they were by Private Passive Denial? The racists wouldn’t let them in for bad reasons, shall they now be actively forced in on the basis of those very same bad reasons by which they were passively denied?

                      As it happens, in the real world, the Liberals were right and the Libertarians were wrong. Affirmative action was the only route to any measure equality: passive laws which merely decreed people couldn’t be denied their rights had produced no changes: an active solution was the only route to any semblance of equality.

                      But just how wrong are the Libertarians? Nobody comes out of the courthouse happy after a well-decided case. If the Libertarians say the Statist Solutions only perpetuated the race line, reinforcing old stereotypes in the process of correcting an undeniably horrible situation, the Liberals must admit the truth: the Statist Solution created a situation where the likes of Clarence Thomas would walk around under a cloud, wondering if people would look at him as a qualified student or merely an AA set-aside.

                      I remain a Liberal. But there’s a sad note of truth to the Libertarian positions on Statist Solutions. If you want “half credit” from Libertarians, you ought to admit we only deserve half credit. We cannot legislate morality and hope for good things thereafter.

                      But we Liberals do deserve half credit and we never get any: the Civil Rights Act did not change the hearts of bigots and did not result in meaningful changes in the workplace or schools or any other institution of that sort. The Libertarian ideals of merely removing coercion didn’t bear fruit in the real world. It was the Liberals who took up the unpleasant task of swinging the sledgehammer and breaking down the hiring barriers. If the Libertarians want to now criticise us for the mess we made in so doing, their ideals never translated into meaningful change.


            • The problem is that the government already interferes in labor relations in ways that privilege unions. For example, employers can’t fire or otherwise discriminate against employees for union activity, and they are compelled to bargain with unions. Ideally we would repeal those laws which privilege union activities, but until that happens, right-to-work laws strike me as a reasonable way of preventing unions from abusing the privileges that existing labor law grants them.


                • Jesus Christ, the things you say. Because some companies engaged in violence against union members, the government should ban nonviolent anti-union tactics like firing employees for union activity and refusing to bargain with unions?

                  Even if that weren’t an utter non sequitur, it would be an argument for right-to-work laws: Some unions have engaged in sabotage and violence against management and replacement workers, ergo they cannot be trusted and the government should step in to regulate them in entirely unrelated ways.


                  • Be that as it may, the fact remains; while management and workers are on opposite sides of the bargaining table, there will be Tactics and Strategies and Sabotage and Violence and various other unsavoury aspects of Untrustworthy Behaviour. I don’t see you coming up with a solution.

                    Liberals have one.


                • No, not really. I’m aware that private sector unionization is the lowest it’s been for generations.

                  I don’t see that this contradicts anything I said. Union membership more than doubled between the passage of the Wagner and Taft-Hartley acts, and continued to grow for another eleven years after Taft-Hartley. It’s been in decline since 1958, though likely due more to economic conditions than to any legislative changes (as, arguably, was its growth in the first half of the century as well).

                  If you want to attribute the decline at least in part to a lagged response to the Taft-Hartley Act, that’s fine, but that’s basically a restatement of what I said; first the government passed legislation privileging unions, and then it restrained them somewhat to counterbalance that privilege.

                  It’s really hard to draw any meaningful conclusions about what union membership would be if we went back to 1889 labor law (i.e., none), because of all the confounding factors.

                  I do agree, if this is a point you were trying to make, that private-sector unionization really isn’t that big a problem, if only because membership rates are so low. I do think that public-sector unionization is, though, and there’s much less justification for its existence.

                  On a tangential note, I think that the most damning indictment of unions is that they’ve managed to survive longest in the sectors which are most shielded from non-union competition. This would seem to confirm that consumers, not owners, pay most of the cost of unionization.


      • In other words what you mean to say is this: “As long as the dominance and control is directed at where I THINK IT SHOULD BE DIRECTED, I support it.”

        I’m glad we got that clarified.


  20. I’m not sure Elias’ argument is internally consistent.

    1. A libertarian is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. (More or less definitional.)

    2. Socially liberal libertarians are to be faulted because social liberalism requires government intervention – and thus also fiscal liberalism. Libertarians are therefore inconsistent. Let’s grant it for argument, though I’d bet if we dismantled the war on drugs, we’d need vastly less intervention for social-support type things.

    3. Republicans are culturally conservative and fiscally conservative as well.

    And now I’m having a hard time granting that one, even for the sake of argument. Particularly when we could cut the military budget by 10% and finance all the extra abortions and food stamps that the hardest-left liberal would ever conceivably want.

    Libertarians are fiscally conservative, on net, even compared to the most extreme deficit hawks in the Republican party, and libertarians remain fiscally conservative, on net, even if they turn out to want to finance tons and tons of extra abortions using government money.

    The latter though is a decidedly odd position for a libertarian to hold, but it is by no means whatsoever a requirement of being socially liberal. (If it were, well, just look at all the Democrats who support the Hyde Amendment, year after year. Are they socially conservative?)


    • 2. Socially liberal libertarians are to be faulted because social liberalism requires government intervention – and thus also fiscal liberalism.


      To hear the Libertarians round here talk, their idea of social liberalism is “so long as there ain’t no law against it and my tax money doesn’t go towards it.”

      It’s the sort of meme we got regarding the Fascist State of Mississippi’s attempts to regulate their final abortion clinic out of existence through threats and intimidation, crafting a rule requiring the clinic to have hospital admissions privileges and then threatening all hospitals in the area with revocation of licensing if they granted admitting privileges to the clinic doctors.

      The libertarian response? “Well who cares if Mississippi does it, just because a woman has the right to an abortion doesn’t mean it has to be convenient, as long as she can drive to another clinic 1500 miles away for it she still has the right.”

      Libertarians care, in the abstract I suppose, about “rights.” The fact that a right is impossible to exert in practice never fazes them when allying with the Conservatives.

      And let’s face it – where are you guys when it REALLY matters? Scalia’s back in the news comparing homosexuality to murder, and pardon my language but where the FUCK are you guys? Not ONE prominent libertarian thinker actually getting up to say anything to the contrary, you’re ducking your heads for cover again like you do every time your allies in the right wing say stupid things.


      • Dishonest.

        I’d tried my best there to summarize Elias’ argument. If he thinks I’ve gotten it wrong on that point, I will accept a correction from him. Not from you, and not when he’s so readily available.

        It’s the sort of meme we got regarding the Fascist State of Mississippi’s attempts to regulate their final abortion clinic out of existence through threats and intimidation, crafting a rule requiring the clinic to have hospital admissions privileges and then threatening all hospitals in the area with revocation of licensing if they granted admitting privileges to the clinic doctors.

        Using government to squash a private business? That’s about as close to the opposite of libertarianism as you can get.

        And let’s face it – where are you guys when it REALLY matters? Scalia’s back in the news comparing homosexuality to murder, and pardon my language but where the FUCK are you guys? Not ONE prominent libertarian thinker actually getting up to say anything to the contrary, you’re ducking your heads for cover again like you do every time your allies in the right wing say stupid things.

        Yep. You can always read what we really believe through silences about something that happened — what was it, yesterday?

        Or you could just look at the many, many, many times libertarians have said yes to same-sex marriage.


      • That’s just not so. Do try to avoid quoting Straw Men, especially inside quote marks. The reading I’ve done over the last two years has convinced me Libertarians are trying to put government back in its cage, pushing back against all this well-meant over-regulation of a world which could use both less regulation and more effective prosecution of what regulation remains.

        This should be a Liberal sentiment but seldom finds expression among us. For crissakes, the Mississippi law is a bad law. It’s an attempt to regulate what should by rights be a decision between a doctor and a patient. How the hell you can squeeze that into some Libertarian apology for such laws, considering how dead-set the Libertarians are against any such attempts at regulation, is frankly bizarre.


        • When we were discussing the Mississippi case (I wish my google-fu were strong enough to check the thread), many of the self-professed libertarians of this site were on record saying things to the effect of “so who cares if Mississippi closes the clinic down, women still have the right to get an abortion.” One actually said something to the effect of “but does it mean government has to be involved to make sure the exercise of that right is convenient?”

          This is not in a vacuum. This is how libertarians, on this blog, argued at the time.


          • , many of the self-professed libertarians of this site were on record saying things to the effect of “so who cares if Mississippi closes the clinic down, women still have the right to get an abortion.”

            I don’t buy it. Sharpen your google-fu or ask someone to help. This claim is very hard to believe, and you’re making it, so it’s your responsibility to either back it up or give it up.


              • So Roger now is, all by himself “many of the self-professed libertarians of this site”? Or were you maybe overstating the case just a little bit?

                And for the record, it’s not clear from that conversation that Roger was really addressing the point you were making about Mississippi’s law. He was being pretty flippant there, which is often a signal that the commenter didn’t read the prior comment very closely. It’s possible he is ok with the law, but not obvious from that comment. I’d like to get some clarification from him about his position on the substance of the law itself.

                And if he’s ok with it, well, I disagree with him, as does Jason (based on his comment above). If Roger all by his lonesome gets to be “many of the self-professed libertarians of this site,” what do Jason and I get to be?


                • It appeared from the context of the thread that he was saying “If we faced a choice between increasing overall prosperity and convenient abortions, I’d pick increasing overall prosperity.”

                  That’s maybe defensible, and maybe it isn’t. It’s not a tradeoff I think we have to make, and I’d even argue that the evidence runs the other direction – giving women more autonomy goes hand in hand with greater

                  So, no, we shouldn’t regulate abortion clinics out of existence.


                  • Look, Libertarians are endlessly contradictory. At some point, they must be more than merely against something: they must stand for something. That’s where they will always fail, as they have failed so many times before. Less Government! Minimise Coercion! We Own Ourselves! they cry. Sure, where do you want to start cutting? There’s nothing more sad or ridiculous than the Individual all on his lonesome: coercion is only possible in a world where society does not protect the vulnerable. Their knowledge of markets is hugely imperfect: their virtuous idealism crashes on landing in the real world where Force is only counterpoised against the power of law and Fraud is only detected by Horrid Bureaucrats and their pesky regulations.


              • So because Roger gets all stupid about drive-by abortion trucks, presumably subsidised, this means he’s for some dumbass regulation? Seems to me, even wallowing around in rhetorical excess, Roger kinda has a point here: should government money subsidise those taco trucks?


          • Y’know, I’m out here, trying to defend Liberal positions on the basis of logical inference and common decency. I am not a Libertarian. I reject a good deal of what they say: they’re merely against things. What they stand for is always a bit vague. But that’s definition by exclusion: it is not this, it is not that, it is not the other thing.

            For all I know, someone might have said something to that effect. The Libertarians are always contradicting themselves in the process of exclusion: it’s a weak rhetorical position. But Liberals have an even tougher position, rhetorically: our causes are bound up in manifestly horrible people. It’s hard to defend murderous Taliban prisoners’ right to due process. It’s hard to defend people who make bad decisions in life and end up in prison. It’s hard to defend the poor: they don’t vote and don’t seem to want to improve themselves and they allow their many children to re-enter the same cycle of failure which traps them, generation after generation. I’m sick of making excuses for bad people. But they’re still people and they have rights.

            But to put words in the mouth of an un-cited Straw Man, that’s indefensible. Makes Liberals look bad. Sorry, it just does.


            • I like this Blaise. The criticisms of libertarians in that comment are fair enough. I think there is a pretty clear case of what libertarians are for, but perhaps that’s not been made clear enough and it’s our responsibility to do so. And we’re right there with you on defending unpleasant people in the criminal justice system–as I always tell students when we talk about civil liberties, rules like the Miranda warning and the exclusionary rule, ones that protect the rights of each of us, often come about only because of actual despicable people pressing their cases.


              • By my estimation of things, and you know I take Hayek very seriously, the Libertarians are lost in fun house of mirrors. The Liberals are, too. In the necessary process of making a point, any point, we must first start the debate with the word “Resolved”. That’s where the trouble starts: the resolutions usually contain begged questions and the debater must choose Pro or Con, protecting his position with even more questionable axioms and half-truths and normative bluster, always so entertaining to those of us who enjoy such things.

                The Libertarians are in a tough position. Their definitions of freedom and rights are woefully out of date. They damn government far too loudly, attenuating their criticism of those agents which corrupt governments and yes, markets, to their own ends. Were this imbalance corrected, they would find more adherents but such corrections would be damned as heresy within their own camp.


                • The Libertarians are in a tough position. Their definitions of freedom and rights are woefully out of date.

                  As I’ve said before, the biggest problem is that they never look past the 1st level analysis.

                  A policy that increases overall liberty, but necessarily reduces the coercive power of the liberties of the upper/powerful classes, is anathema to them because “government” is reducing the liberty. The fact that the upper/powerful classes have created pseudogovernments and coercive entities to strip rights and liberty from most of the populace is entirely lost on the libertarian mind; it all seems to come back to “how dare you restrict the rich man’s liberty in any way.”


                    • M.A., you think that’s all the libertarians around here are saying, because you have a frame in which you view them, and that frame prevents you from seeing anything else in libertarianism that FYIGM. Nuances are totally lost to you. That libertarians are constantly suggesting we look past the first level analysis in public policies to see their real effects, not just the desired results, is totally lost on you. Simply put, you lack the capacity to read what libertarians are really writing, and can only see in it what you have a predisposition to believe is there.

                      So when you say, “That’s what the libertarians around here act like,” I think, “that’s what the guy who can’t make any effort to read us honestly thinks we act like, while we–who know ourselves a little bit better–don’t think that’s really what we’re acting like.”

                      So who should I believe? You, the guy I see making false claims about libertarians on a regular basis?* Or myself, Jason, etc?

                      If the positions were reversed, who would you believe? The libertarian who repeatedly made up false claims about liberals? Or yourself and other liberals?

                      That’s why I yawn. You’re not a reliable correspondent about what libertarians believe. You’re just not. Why do you think even Blaise, who’s got no love for libertarianism, is telling you that?
                      * Does, “many of the libertarians here supported the Mississippi law against abortion clinice” ring a bell?


                    • OK, to be fair, I missed your followup, so I was using “here” to refer to the League.

                      But let me say again, you’re working with a biased sample. Remember all the hoopla about Nate Silver’s analysis, and all the people saying, “No way Obama can win, I’ve been talking to people and none of them are voting for him”? Remember how wrong they were? That’s because they were working with a biased sample.

                      If you’re working with just as biased a sample as they were, don’t you think it’s just possible that you’re missing just as much of the real data as they were?

                      Both you and the “Silver’s wrong” crowd are case studies in why my poli sci department requires methods and stats for the degree. I know most of my students will never go on to use that stuff professionally, but by god they’ll be equipped to recognize when someone’s making an argument based on blatantly invalid pseudo-statistical inference based on badly biased samples.

                      So if you’d stop barking, and listen and engage in conversation, instead of just looking for an angle of attack, you could broaden your perception of what libertarianism is all about. Are you willing to do that? Or do you want to stubbornly cling to your current views and ignore other evidence? Because, dammit, liberals keep telling me that a core of liberalism is that it’s not closed-minded, but is always open-minded, open to new facts and information. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Please be that liberal.


                  • I periodically ask myself — self, in a world of simplistic assertions, why do you persist in being a Liberal?

                    In desperation I reply: Self, being a Liberal means other people have unalienable rights, that we are all in this together. Even when others are casting aspersions and lumping you in with all manner of simpletons, you should go on believing no one person can be completely right. You are obliged to take other people seriously and see what can be learned from them. In the larger scheme of things, you’re not all that important.

                    The Conservatives find this relativistic viewpoint contemptible. They believe it is possible to be right. They call it Political Correctness. Wishy-washiness. Moral Relativism.

                    The Libertarians are considerably more right than wrong about the nature of government authority. The simplistic Conservatives believe they can legislate morality. The simplistic Liberals believe they can legislate fairness. Both are deluded. I said upstream I’m sick of making Liberal excuses for bad people. But I’m even more disgusted with making excuses for bad Liberal arguments. If I’m to remain true to Liberal principles, I must be guided by Mill:

                    Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.


      • The libertarian response? “Well who cares if Mississippi does it, just because a woman has the right to an abortion doesn’t mean it has to be convenient, as long as she can drive to another clinic 1500 miles away for it she still has the right.”

        Libertarians supporting yet another restrictive government regulation on both business activity and personal liberty? Cite, please. And please make sure the cite shows “the” libertarian response, not just “a single libertarian’s” response. That is, please show that it’s broadly representative of libertarians in general.

        As to the Scalia thing, I hadn’t even heard of that particular comment. Turns out it happened just a day or two ago. So your outraged that despite long-standing libertarian support for SSM, they haven’t blown up this particular statement into a big deal. But it turns out that libertarians have been critical of Scalia’s SSM position for quite a while. Here, for example, is a piece from Reason criticizing Scalia’s position.

        I do wish that if you’re going to continue criticizing libertarians that you get your facts straight and present a more honest argument. You’ll be much more credible if you do.


    • Particularly when we could cut the military budget by 10% and finance all the extra abortions and food stamps that the hardest-left liberal would ever conceivably want.

      Eh…Let’s call the military budget $800 billion. That gives $80 billion for food stamps and abortions. If 15% of the population needs food stamps, that’s 45 million, which gives a bit under $2000 per person per year. If you literally mean food stamps, abortions, and nothing else, that works, but if you mean welfare generally, it’s not going to be nearly enough to cover the additional expenditures the hard left would like to see.

      The latter though is a decidedly odd position for a libertarian to hold

      I could make a case for it. If a government footing the bill is what makes the difference between a woman having an abortion and not having one, she’s probably going to end up on welfare if she doesn’t. Funding the abortion significantly reduces the long-run cost to taxpayers.


  21. Social conservatives are socialists who expect us to feed their unaborted defects, medicate their drunken molestors and want to tie us to the land.


  22. and finally….
    It is very easy to see thee Obama Lama as a punishment for an Apostate nation that has abandoned GOD. Liberals want homosexual marriages, they have murdered over 60 million babies, they lie to children (for political reasons), they promote drug use, perversion, idolatry, un-christian behavior, ect…

    but so do the Libertarians. They are guilty of the exact same crimes that Liberals are and they will suffer the same eternal judgment. Obama is the Libertarian/Tea Party’s punishment not mine. God is punishing America because of them not me. They economy is in the toilet because they deserve to be Obamatized.

    Also the Libertarians have sinful idolatrous relationships with their Political Messiahs and with money itself. Basically they worship false Gods (like Ron Paul) just like the liberals do with Obama and the Clintons.


    • It’s refreshing to be lumped in with the godless liberals for once instead of the god-awful conservatives. No less silly, but still refreshing.

      But for the record, I’ve never worshiped Ron Paul. He’s a false libertarian prophet. That much is obvious from his pro-life stance; nobody who doesn’t fervently hope for the killing of even more babies is a true libertarian.


  23. The Libertarians (and most Tea People) are basically just a bunch of LIARS that are hell bent on destroying the Republican Party out of revenge. That is a fact. Everyone knows this.

    Libertarianism’s relationship to Satanism, philosophically that is, is also a well known fact.

    So you can pretend that you are above all that and that Libertarianism is just a political ideology. Well its not. Libertarianism is a Pagan Religion. It is the road to hell. Its just as bad as Liberalism, maybe worse.

    This nation is under Divine Judgment and Libertarianism as well as Liberalism is the cause.


    • The Libertarians (and most Tea People) are basically just a bunch of LIARS that are hell bent on destroying the Republican Party out of revenge.

      Revenge for what? And doesn’t your argument imply that the GOP is complicit in their own destruction because they accepted Tea People into their ranks?


      • Revenge for what?

        We’re all just jealous of their sheer awesomeness, and their super-close relationship with God and baby Jesus, what with their caring for the poor and not hating and turning the other cheek and all that stuff they do so well.


      • for what?

        in 1988 Papa Bush got 48,400,000 more votes than Ron Paul did.
        48 MILLION more votes! Ron Paul the Libertarian Jeeesus got only 000.47% of the vote!

        And since then the Libertarians have barely broke the 1% mark, until now that is.
        But in order to achieve this massive recent increase in their ranks they had to LIE about all republicans for 40 years. Satan is rewarding the Libertarians with a (temporary) boost in their popularity for being such good LIARS.

        Its just revenge and hatred. Libertarians preach hatred. Its not much different than what Mussolini did from a class warfare standpoint.


        • But Mussolini made the trains run on time. That’s real value, no? So maybe that’s a bad analogy.

          I think you’re beef with libertarians is the godlessness, myself. But maybe they’re not opposed to God. Maybe their just acting on the free will God gave them and moving in what in a more free direction.


      • well what does the Bible say about the death penalty and or obeying the Government no matter what the circumstances?

        Let every person be subject to the governing
        authorities. For there is no authority except
        from God, and those that exist have been
        instituted by God. English Standard Version (©2001)

        Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
        For there is no power but of God: the powers that
        be are ordained of God. King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

        And why would it matter if “I” am against or for the death penalty? How does “my” opinion count. The Bible is clear on what crimes deserve death!

        Oh wait…
        Are you going throw LEVITICUS at me? That was the OLD covenant before Christ. Do you understand that?

        Rich? In what way? Financially rich, spiritually rich, rich in knowledge, rich in tomatoes, rich in Grace?

        You are generalizing complex issues but I’m sure that you have some pre-arranged condemnation of the entire Bush Family or of Republicans (in general) to apply to any answer given. I mean that IS the Libertarian way.


        • You’re asking us what a book that was controlled and rewritten and re-edited over and over again by theocracies has to say about obeying theocratic law?

          That sound you hear is me laughing loud enough to be heard the next count over…


        • I am the evil liberal, not the evil libertarian.

          Get your crazy straight.

          I mean to ask would you vote for the death penalty (being administered by the state for severe crimes) or against it in a referendum. (CA just had a referendum on the ballot, sort of, so you might find yourself having the option to to vote on this.)

          I mean “financially rich.” Can a person with at least 25 million in assets with an income of 10 million per year that is nearly guaranteed, who spends lots of it on nice cars and jewelry (maybe cocaine too) and a multiple fancy dwellings and sent their kids to private schools (who could’ve easily given almost all of it to charity and still lived at least a middle-class life), get into heaven?


          Also, can Mormons get into heaven? What about Jews and Buddhists and Muslims and new-age spiritual types?

          You seem to know these things and I might be interested in heaven, if I can timeshare.


  24. and from the SATANIC BIBLE an acknowledgment of Libertarianism!

    The Hidden Source of the Satanic Philosophy – George C. Smith
    “…The importance of all this to Setians is that the foundation for the philosophy of Satanism much more closely embraces the philosophy of the Temple of Set than the reactionary, anti-Christian Church of Satan.

    Further the Objectivist source for the
    Satanic philosophy has been carefully
    researched and elaborated [sometimes
    refuted in part] in numerous libertarian
    books and articles.

    To my mind, what distinguished the Temple of Set from all other organizations is its nondogmatic embracing of both the rational and the intuitive, while refusing to allow the rational to…”

    :end of qoute mentioning LIBERTARIAN fron the SATANIC BIBLE


  25. Hey James,

    So I’ve been having spotty internet and then the routine business of life and thus have been unable to respond to your last comment in our back-and-forth. It was a fair point and I didn’t want you to believe I just ignored challenges to my thinking. I also don’t want to belabor this any further than we need to so I’ll try to be brief:

    1. I don’t know how I ended up getting into a debate about whether or not libertarianism could exist between the two poles on the political spectrum; I think it can and I think I did a bad job making an argument I wasn’t sufficiently cognizant of making. When I say that a libertarian either ends up conservative or liberal, I meant primarily — and this is true for the entire OP — to be focusing on elected officials, not regular folk. I do believe an elected official in many ways ends up having to decide on which issues they’re willing to shed some blood; and I think when we see libertarian-ish pols enter DC we find out which side of the two halves of libertarianism (economic & social) they’re willing to take a hit for. Overwhelmingly, it seems to me, the pols more likely to accept the libertarian label are also more likely to expend their political capital on economic priorities rather than social ones. This is what I was trying to articulate when I said that it doesn’t really matter whether or not you’re personally pro-choice if you’re not willing to spend $ on it.

    2. OK that last sentence gets me to the other point I tried to make in the comments, not in the OP, but that underlied the OP’s argument. And this is a point that I acknowledge is eminently arguable and even contentious: I put very little stock, faith, credit, or interest in negative rights. Very little. I’d go so far as to say negative rights are often a palliative we tell ourselves to assuage feelings of guilt about how we act in the political sphere impacts the less-fortunate around us. I get that this would be in some ways offensive to someone who holds fast to negative rights; I’m not intending to offend, but I also can’t think of a softer way to express myself on this issue that still feels honest and authentic.

    So to the question of whether I think opinions on social issues that are built around negative rights are conservative or liberal I’m inclined to give what may be seen as a cop-out answer: neither, because they’re essentially nothing. When it comes to elected officials and other leaders, then, we find out whether they’re conservative or liberal by the degree they’re willing to at least play footsie with positive rights in order to further the ostensible goals of the negative rights position.

    Ugh, this is long. Sorry.


    • OK, just to let you know I saw this. It’s good to know that arguing for abortion rights, going to rallies in support of them, contributing to candidates who will vote to support them, voting against initiatives or referenda that would limit them….all of that is meaningless unless I agree to use my tax dollars for funding them. I don’t want to be too nasty here, but I think there’s quite a gaping hole in your argument, and even more so, it’s fairly oblivious to the concept of political coalition-building. The moment you “true social liberal” decide to drive away the support of those who support abortion as a negative right but not a positive one, you’ll lose abortion as any kind of right. There’s an old saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      And you still haven’t explained how my tax dollars are necessary to help gay folks get married.

      And even more so, you really haven’t explained how ending the war on drugs requires government spending, instead of leading to a reduction in government spending.

      I’d go so far as to say negative rights are often a palliative we tell ourselves to assuage feelings of guilt about how we act in the political sphere impacts the less-fortunate around us.

      I’m not offended. I just think it’s ridiculous. I just had a couple students write on exams that the U.S. had a unicameral system. Your statement is not that level of stupid, but it’s really not that far above. Instead of a dumb person’s stupid it’s a smart person’s stupid. Because the inexorable logic of your argument is that to be intellectually honest, we either have to support funding people’s exercise of their rights or actually oppose their exercise of their rights. Your whole argument is built on a false dichotomy, on the fallacy of the excluded middle.

      You need to go back and look at it again from a position of what people can logically believe, not from a position of what you find morally legitimate or not.


      • Well the coalition thing I’m not going to argue with because that’s not really what I imagine I’m doing right now, building coalitions. If I were I’d want you on my side absolutely. In general, in fact, you strike me as the kind of libertarian who temperamentally, and in terms of your hierarchy of priorities, is going to find themselves aligned with the left-of-center more often than the right-of-center (in today’s politics, that is).

        About my not having answered how $ is necessary to secure most of the liberal goals, this is simple laziness on my part. You listed a bunch of things and I didn’t feel like going through them one by one. But here’s a half-attempt: The general example of why I’d argue universal — not state-by-state but universal — gay marriage would require $ is because I envision there being communities where those who would get married, or preside over others getting married, would need protection from coercion, which would cost money. But this is, I think, the worst example for me to defend, social norms shifting as they are.

        In terms of gov’t $ in drugs, I didn’t think we were talking about more or less but rather *at all*. And I don’t consider the idea of just legalizing everything and then walking away to be responsible or just; that would almost certainly lead to certain areas becoming totally dominated — *more* than they are already (and I grant that they are already) — by drug czars. It would cost money to regulate and tax various currently criminalized drugs as we do alcohol.

        Civil rights is more straightforward; I don’t think they’re worth much without economic rights, too. I won’t get into it because I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

        Can’t really respond to your last directive other than to say, No. It’s no surprise to you that a big difference between the two of us when it comes to political philosophy is the relative weight we give what it’s trendy lately to call “first principles.” But if the principle of non-interference holds the same when it comes to, say, child labor as it does for banning abortions then I think we have to examine the moral value of the principle of non-interference rather than its issue-by-issue consequences.


        • The general example of why I’d argue universal — not state-by-state but universal — gay marriage would require $ is because I envision there being communities where those who would get married, or preside over others getting married, would need protection from coercion, which would cost money.

          Elias, you’re solidly in libertarian territory there (more precisely, the range of libertarian-liberal overlap). Libertarians are fine with government protecting people from coercion. Gay folks don’t need subsidies to help them get married, which libertarians would object to (they can buy their own goddam flowers!). But if they need the police or courts because other people coercivly try to prevent them from exercising that right? Welcome to libertopia! That’s classic negative liberties stuff, you’re not actually invoking positive liberty here.


  26. I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people
    could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one
    or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?


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