The End of Libertarian Politics?

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lind1.jpg
Last time I checked, the Cato Institute‘s financials were in remarkable shape. Since I am also in the think tank business, the structure of financial contributions to 501(c)3 public policy organizations has always interested me, and I know from various Cato insiders that the pool of money flowing into Cato and other libertarian groups looks a lot like Howard Dean’s enormous burst of diversified believer-contributors during his presidential campaign: huge and growing.
But my colleague Michael Lind has penned a thought-provoking Financial Times op-ed punctuating what he believes is the “end of libertarian politics.”
It’s a stimulating and complex piece — best for junkies of cosmic political discourse — but I’m not sure I agree with his framing.
While I agree with him that the two constructs most on the table today are “moderate social democracy and big-government conservatism”, I’m not sure that the political realities Lind is diagnosing are static and stable enough to mark the end of a movement that seems to be growing rather than diminishing.
Lind not only pronounces the end of political libertarianism, but he also includes the demise of an activist, socialist left. To some degree, while the jury is still out that the Lamont win over Lieberman may prove more anomalous than trend-setting, a good deal of his support has come from a revived, passionate left whose ideals track closely with what Lind would characterize as the socialist left.
There are numerous movements that have gone into decline — at least cosmetic decline in terms of political impact if not diminishment in funding and numbers of adherents. Liberal internationalism for instance has fallen from the skies, as has realism, in foreign policy circles — though I am working with a number of people to help revive a hybrid of these in the form of American internationalism that may correct the downward trends.
Lind is to some degree documenting yet another realm in which George W. Bush has been impressively disruptive. It’s about Bush — and his impact on our world and social structures. Bush has exploited fear of terrorism to create a big-government, big-brother state, from which Americans are largely buffered from feeling the pressure of direct costs, and that is entirely antithetical to the tenets of classic Republican conservatism.
That’s not the death of libertarianism as much as it is the failure of all competing political philosphies to stand strong against the will and determination of a would-be monarch who doesn’t really believe in limits on federal, and particularly, executive power.
Michael Lind makes one think though. The real question about the libertarian movement is why so much of the libertarian crowd has been silent about the massive expansion of the state, of presidential authority, and the diminishment of “liberty” at home and abroad.
I have numerous friends at the Cato Institute, Reason magazine, and other bulwarks in the libertarian political and policy movement — and there are some heroes out there who have spoken truth to power. But there are others who are closet big government, big brother radical/activists who are rather high up the libertarian hierarchy who have helped squelch libertarian outrage at what has happened to the domestic and foreign policy portfolios of this country.
My hope is that Lind is wrong and that the libertarian movement remains a vital part of the American political ecosystem and that they root out and expel those leaders in their institutions who worship at the throne of G.W. Bush and have forgotten what the pursuit and preservation of liberty are all about.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

39 comments on “The End of Libertarian Politics?

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  4. Eli Rabett says:

    Let me suggest another way of looking at why libertarianism is a crock.
    Scratch a Libertarian and you will find a Noble Savage wanna be. Straight out of Rousseau. The problem of course being that humans evolved from animals that lived in groups. Because of our long childhood and relative lack of fangs and claws, the “lone” person has about zero change of surviving let alone procreating. The technologies that humans have created depend on communities.
    In short, yes, we need communities. As our dependence on technologies (such things as plows, for example) grew, so did the need for larger communities, aka governments.

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  5. DrAliciaHill says:

    Mr.Valdron, Exactly what I was thinking. Thanks for your words.

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  6. Will says:

    Rand isn’t an intellectual foundation of anything and in fact, some prominent libertarians, to their credit, have rightly repudiated it for pseudo or pop philosophy (joining the rest of the mainstream philosophical community).
    If you want something like a systematic treatment of libertarian ideas then you need to read people like Robert Nozick.
    Now, I’m not a libertarian, and I personally believe there are several sound arguments which are devastating to its coherence, but I’d be a little wary of anyone who just wants to hand-wave libertarianism out of existence.
    For the record, the main arguments I take against libertarianism can be summarised as follows:
    -Inability to fully justify its complete inattention to starting conditions. The theory’s reliance on the limited Wilt Chamberlain example, and the unintended consequences of planning are not substitutes for explaining why a broad theory of justice cannot enter the domain, with at least nominal force.
    -Too much reliance on narrow kind of methodological individualism.
    -An inability to justify the ontological priority it accords individuals as atoms, who must somehow exist prior to the polis according to the theory.
    -An inability to explain the gap between its rhetorical position on the link between ‘full’ states and tyranny, with the actual efficiency and human rights records of mildly social-democratic states like those in Scandinavia, or even Canada and Australia.
    -Failure to account for the significance of other institutions besides property rights, and basic negative liberty to the very possibility of minimal society or human flourishing.
    -Reliance on discredited notions of natural rights, or rights in the primary sense, excluding all the ground-breaking work that exists on positive autonomy as a prerequisites to make sense of liberty. Generally tied to it’s inability to understand that rights are grounds for duties, and you cannot have one without the other.
    -Inability to explain the incontestability of property rights aside from a rather crude acquisition theory.
    -An inability to deal with the kinds of vast inequalities that would flow from libertarian policies.
    -An inability to properly dimiss the idea of diminishing marginal utility.
    Some of these apply to libertarianism only, but many are broadly applicable to its off-shoots like economic theory of law, etc.
    That’s just the pure theory too. When you actually examine the rhetoric of extreme anti-taxers, anarcho-capitalists, and the like, who often hide behind the libertarian banner, then the big tent of libertarianism starts to look every bit as incoherent as Den has alleged above.

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  7. calling all toasters says:

    Libertarianism is indeed a profound philosophy composed of two bedrock ideas:
    1) Cut my taxes.
    2) Let me smoke my pot.
    Homer Simpson himself could not come up with a better one.

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  8. Dirk says:

    I’ve always thought of Libertarians as cheap Republicans. They only really show up in a society after all the highways, railroads, etc are built.
    As to an intellectual underpinning, I’ve always thought of them as sophmoric deciples Ayn Rand or
    deciples of a sophmoric Ayn Rand.

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  9. Den Valdron says:

    “A utopian dream for upper middle class whites.”
    Pretty much sums it up.

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  10. rapier says:

    Libertainaism is a fine political ideology. It is based upon a few very simple and logically consistent premises. Thus it will endure.
    That doesn’t mean it’s right. Ideology always fails. The world never works according to simple rules and beyond that expecting politicians or citizens not to act in their own self interest against others is stupid.
    Ideologies appeal is a psychological one. Some people just need to understand the world in terms of some set of indisputable rules. Thus the former Communists became after the war Conservatives and Neo Conservatives. Replacing one ideology for another without skipping a beat. The best example of this is David Horawitz. Everything in his view is determined by ideology. All actors are driven, like him, by ideology, or so he thinks.
    Ideology is the enemy of wisdom. At least libertarianism contains within itself the gurantee that it will never be a governing ideology among praticing politicians. It will alway be there on the wings, a utopian dream for upper middle class whites.

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  11. Frank says:

    Cheese…You pat a guy on the back for his great commentarys, and then spell his name wrong. Den Valdron it is, and again to you Den Valdron… bravos!!!

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  12. Frank says:

    Den Valdren, it is with pleasure, admiration and awe when reading your commentarys. You do indeed paint a clear picture with your words for me, and I find it a real treat to exercise that transcendence . Thanks!

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  13. Den Valdron says:

    Blame shifting is a staple feature of these sorts of regimes. Hitler shifted blame ceaselessly all the way up on his rise to power and when taking power. He continued to shift blame on the way down. Alone finally in his bunker, the Russians closing in, he finally discovered the true author of his misfortune… The German people themselves. In the end, it was all their fault. They’d betrayed him and let him down.
    It’s an institutional trait, but I suspect that the institutional trait also selects for individuals with that character flaw. Consider the life and times of George W. Bush, his unwillingness to acknowledge any mistake, to accept any criticism, to be bound by any responsibility or to accept any blame.

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  14. Den Valdron says:

    Ahhh, I think I alluded to some of that in a long post towards the end of the Bolton thread.
    Generally, events do not repeat exactly, nor do they repeat in sequence.
    But patterns do repeat, though the interpretation varies. The Project For a New American Century speculated (hoped?) (called for?) a new Pearl Harbour to unify the nation behind their agenda of conquest. On the other hand, there does seem to be more of a Reichstag fire aspect to things, doesn’t there.
    Radical agendas almost always require a major precipitating incident, a tragedy, a disaster a martyr or some other event that can be used as the focal point for change.
    Human nature is prone to inertia, and we simply don’t want to go through the bother of revolutionary change normally.
    Not every major incident leads to revolutionary transformation. Consider Reagan’s disastrous intervention in the Lebanese Civil War where 250 Marines lost their lives. In its own way, it was as dramatic as 9/11. The smaller loss of lives is balanced by the greater emphasis that the US puts on military lives. It resulted in nothing much. The largely fake and bloodless Gulf of Tonkin incident got us the Vietnam that we all know and love.
    The key is that there has to be a group of bastards in place, in a position of power or near power who will use it to implement their agenda.

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  15. elementary teacher says:

    Mr. Valdron, so good to see you. I’ve been thinking about something and I wonder what you’ll think:
    It is interesting to me (contemporary analogy intended) that, in terms of the impetus which the Reichstag fire played in the Nazi rise to power, it seems to matter little whether the Nazis, the Communists — or only Marius van de Lubbe — actually started the fire.
    Arriving at the burning building, Hitler is said to have declared, “This is a sign from God. No one can now prevent us from crushing the Communists with a mailed fist.”
    So .. whoever started the fire, the fact remains that the burning of the Reichstag provided the needed provocation which enabled the Nazis, by several actions, to: 1) rout the Communists; (2) abolish constitutionally guaranteed liberties; (3) arrest members of the Reichstag (I wonder how many were co-opted); (4) achieve passage of the disastrous Enabling Act — which (5) suspended the Constitution and (6) made it possible for Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party to become the undisputed ruler of Germany.
    Moreover — you write of historicity and pattern — in international adventures, Hitler would subsequently *always* shift the blame to someone else to show (read manufactured consent) that his peace-loving regime had only acted in the interest of order and self-defense after the most extreme provocation/attack by his victims.

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  16. bakho says:

    Indeed there are no libertarians stuck on the roof of a flooded building.
    Without government, libertarians would not exist.
    With or without libertarians, government would exist.
    Basically, libertarianism is a way to argue for cuts in social programs and against taxation without having to espouse contempt for the poor people that depend on those services or acknowledge other incovenient facts.
    Libertarianism maybe a protest against government,
    or a prescription for not governing,
    but certainly it is not nor ever will be a prescription for governing.

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  17. Den Valdron says:

    Sorry to keep returning to the subject, like a tongue constantly probing a sore tooth. But it strikes me that some might find my descriptions of libertarianism intemperate and overly harsh. I might, for instance, hurt the tender feelings of Michael Lind or offend the Cato Institute, should they ever read these screeds.
    That worries me slightly, in the sense that civility is to be generally prefered. On the other hand, civility’s coin is devalued if it is not mutual. There’s no point in attempting to be civil if the other side feels on such obligation. Libertarians record of incivility makes the Marxists look like blushing medieval ladies. They attempt to irrelevance and incoherence of their world views by pouring scorn and derision on their more successful (and realistic competitors). The characteristics of scorn and intolerance are typical of the right. So what is the appropriate form of dialogue? It’s the back of my hand. Civil debate is not the Libertarians natural due, it is something that they must earn and be worthy of by offering their opponents and their opponents differing views civility and respect. Of course, this offers problems, since in any civil discussion the fallacies and shortcomings of Libertarian ‘philosophy’ are exposed. I’m happy to admit that Libertarians are occasionally right about things, but I notice it happens twice a day for reasons which are unrelated to their thought processes. But frankly, to mix metaphors, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the travails of those who sell tainted meat in the marketplace of ideas, the result is merely intellectual diarhea.

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  18. Den Valdron says:

    I don’t see Nader as being in Bush’s pocket. Nader was in his own pocket, trapped in his own delusions, desperately denying his own irrelevance. Nader’s Presidential run was about his own mid-life crisis, or mid-seniors crisis.
    The shame of it all was that his criticisms were genuinely legitimate. Both Gore and Bush ran as conservative moderates, in their debates, it was like watching monks argue about angels dancing on the head of a pin, they agreed on first levels, and second levels, and third levels, until finally they’d come to a point of contention on almost esoteric details of foreign policy or health plan. Their stated philosophical differences were more particular than substantive.
    The hell of it was that the Republicans believed that Bush was simply a more appealing person than Gore… certainly that was the media narrative. Gore of the brown suits, the serial liar, the sigher, the stiff wonk… Bush the everyman, the guy you could have a beer with, the down to earth accessible guy.
    Bullshit of course, they were both hereditary politicians, Ivy league, American ruling class. Gore was never the block of wood they tried to paint him as, and Bush always had something ugly lurking just behind his eyes, remember that ‘major league asshole’ comment at an open mike? Or his subtle bullying on the campaign.
    Still, the media bought the Republican narratives hook line and sinker, they absorbed it 100%, reproduced it and advertised it. It’s a wonder that the Republicans bothered to buy TV ads, except as favours to their backers.
    Here is the interesting thing. The public didn’t buy it. Two men, occupying the same ideological territory, split the vote absolutely equally. The ‘personalities’ narrative seemed to absolutely fail with the voters. Despite a wretched campaign and a hostile media, Gore was likeable enough to win a majority of the votes nationally, and to win in Florida in an honest count.
    Which suggests that perhaps the public isn’t as stupid as we all think, and have at least some ability to see through an increasingly dishonest and one sided media narrative. They can smell something off about the monster.
    But anyway, I’m rambling. Nader? Nah. Blame Nader all you want, but the true narrative is Monsters on the loose, versus the last traditional conservative politician running a lousy campaign.

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  19. Jon Stopa says:

    If “there are no atheists in a foxhole,” I wonder if there are any libretarians in a hurricane? Katrina, and all that.
    As for Nader–think of all the dead people in the Bush wars that Nader’s ego has enabled. It appeared to me at the time that Nader was a Bush tool. Has time dampened that interpretion? Anybody who could look at the reality of Bush in 2000 could see where Bush was going. Please, more than mild contempt.

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  20. Den Valdron says:

    For Nader, mild contempt. I remember his accomplishments, and prize them. Like many of his ilk, he outlasted his time. He failed his own ideals.

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  21. Matthew says:

    Libertarianism is the philosophy of college freshman, preferably those with above-average SAT scores. They practice this “philosophy” while growing their first “away from home” beard.

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  22. marky says:

    Nice piece, Den.
    You must have some kind words for Nader too.

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  23. Den Valdron says:

    Here it is….
    When I think of Libertarians, I invariably think of vaginas. I don?t know why. Perhaps its some obscure word association linkage, or a phonetic overlap, or maybe its because they’re a bunch of c*nts. Who knows?
    But more to the point, I think that Libertarianism is, at heart, an incoherent and irrational political philosophy, and I think that this leads, pretty directly, to incoherent and irrational political positions. It is all about attempting to make infantile selfishness moral.
    The positions that Libertarians are apt to adopt, and the political platforms that they are inclined to support are highly arbitrary. Many ?right? libertarians are remarkably silent on the issue of a woman?s right to choice. They?re not even terribly loud on the subject of availability of contraception, family planning or even sex toys or gay rights. One would think that these issues, which involve dimensions of freedom in the personal sphere would be near and dear to the hearts of every libertarian. Many feel quite happy to ignore, dismiss or oppose it.
    Many Libertarians are also silent on the issue of tort reform, although many are quite vociferous about gun freedom. This creates a quixotic situation where, hypothetically, they would endorse angry retirees shooting up the Enron boardroom, but would not endorse these people suing to recover their life savings.
    Of course, there are some Libertarians who oppose Tort reforms, and some who oppose reproductive choice. There’s all sorts. Libertarians are such a diverse and incoherent group that any point of view can be expressed and held. I assume that there are Libertarians who are prepared to hold forth at great length about their gray space alien friends.
    At this point, I would hesitate to call Libertarianism as a social or political philosophy bankrupt. That would imply it had ever had credit or credibility.
    The contradictions and shortcomings in the real world are endless, and while the ratio varies, every Libertarian has his own unresolved bundle, which he is prepared to argue or ignore, as his mood strikes.
    Intellectually, Libertarians posit a hypothetical world where there are no inequalities of economic or political or coercive power whatsoever. In such a theoretical model, the ultimate good is the ultimate maximization of personal sovereignty. This ultimate good contemplates that a given person, or the author, has some theoretical share of economic, political and coercive power to enable him to express and extend his sovereignty. The Libertarian conceives an endless vaccuum populated by sovereign individuals who, in his theoretical eden, can equally perpetually extend their personal sovereignties indefinitely, without truly impinging upon the sovereignties of others.
    Further, a person has a right to self defense of not only himself and his property, but also of his personal sovereignty. The concept is called ‘retaliatory force.’ Basically, it legitimizes shooting your neighbor if you sincerely believe he’s crowding you.
    Well, as a theological notion, a science fiction idea, or a philosophical construct, it is all very nice.
    Of course, even this notion is ultimately untenable, collapsing under its own weight and contradictions. Any recognition of a finite universe invokes the risk of impingement and maldistribution of resources.
    To escape this problem, the Libertarian proposes a hypothetical social compact. One which, under Libertarian theory, makes the whole thing work, but which its theory suggests is entirely discretionary.
    Thus the Libertarian moves onto some faux Doric Greek City state commons, to a minimal (always minimal) set of laws, enforcement mechanisms and autonomous dispute resolution mechanisms. This, together with unrestricted personal armament and the rights of ‘retaliatory force’ brings us Libertarian paradise on Earth.
    But of course, the state has snuck its nose back in through the door, so Eden’s corruption is built in.
    Thus, pure Libertarianism, at the moment it has even the most glancing contact with reality, is unrecognizeably transformed and corrupted.
    This leads to the doctrinal wars and extremism of position between and among libertarians. To a libertarian, just about every other libertarian not in lockstep agreement with his own corrupt compromises has engaged in corrupt compromise of unacceptble nature. He?s thus a sell out, a traitor. Indeed, there are endless varieties of Libertarians, and the one thing they tend to agree on is that most of their fellow travellers are apostates.
    This shows why Libertarians have, while widespread, never galvanized as a meaningful movement. The first thing they?d do on getting anywhere near their edenic paradise is turn on each other.
    Of course, the more deeply Libertarians confront the real world, the more the contradictions and corruptions in their position multiply.
    Ultimately, they must either retreat from the world, or pick and choose their compromises and corruptions in an ad hoc manner. The structure throws up endless contradictions and hypocrisies. Libertarianism ends up as a sad joke, by or for people who have, at some deep level, the motivation of a puling child.
    Libertarianism?s intellectual bankruptcy is apparent with its consistent failure to establish any kind of toehold outside certain sections of the United States. Go to Canada or Mexico for instance, and Libertarian ideas are mocked or greeted with puzzled stares. Europe offers amused disgust and condescension. South America comprehends not at all. Intellectuals and commoners alike turn away from it with contempt.
    But Libertarianism is far from dead internationally. We can conceive Russia?s era of gangster capitalism as a Libertarian epoch, as is Afghanistan in the various phases of its civil war. Indeed, arguably, the bedrock Libertarian notions of unlimited personal power and a nonexistent state found their truest expression in Aghanistan. Another good test case might be Somalia, or perhaps the Congo.
    See the running theme here. The libertarian ideal of maximized personal sovereignty and a minimal state leads to hell on earth. The result, under the operation of human nature and limited resources, is not a series of proud and sovereign individuals ushering a new age of enlightenment, but the almost instantaneous explosion of warlords, thugs and atrocities.
    Perhaps that?s why Libertarianism doesn?t get much traction in the rest of the world, but is the philosophy mainly of a handful of pampered, well to do and selfish in a nation which venerates those qualities.
    Another clue to Libertarianisms essential bankruptcy, apart from the lack of international spread, is the utter lack of intellectual rigour brought to it. Where is the Adam Smith? The Thomas Jefferson? The Karl Marx? Where is the great manifesto? Where is the scholarly tradition, the effort at analysis and rigour? Nowhere to speak of. Instead of a vision, there?s a collection of small, sniping, carping voices and an unwillingness to wrestle with its own contradictions and problems.
    Someone, in support of the ?libertarian intellectual tradition? threw the CATO institute in my face once. I had to laugh. The Cato Institute? Another heavily subsidized right wing think tank without genuine academic standing or history, which operates on the basis of ideology and which avoids peer review? The John Lott/Mary Rosh episode tells us all we need to know about the nonexistent credibility of bodies like the Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute.
    Let us be fair to the Cato institute. They are not an organ of intellectual discourse, but merely carnival barkers pitching their particular economic and social nostrum to the rubes. They?re not academics or intellectuals, certainly they?re not scientists of any sort, and not truly disciplined. That?s not what they?re about and not who they talk to. Rather, their target is the great unwashed, their concern is about making their nostrums look good by making endless claims. It?s all about selling the product, getting the money, and getting out of town.
    So much for the Cato institute and the endless edifice of ?think tanks? and ?institutions? under which American ideologues undermine reason and thought and celebrate triumphal emotion and self absorption.
    Which, interestingly, brings us back to Libertarianism.

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  24. Den Valdron says:

    You mean the one on TPM Cafe today? Or one from a few months ago?
    There are certain subjects that are like red flags to a bull for me. Libertianism is right up there.

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  25. MP says:

    Den, you had a post on another sight in which you pretty much dismantled libertarianism. Why not re-post it for us? You made some excellent points. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where you posted it. The biggest problem with libertarianism, as I see it, is that it has nothing interesting to say about the hardest problem: how to live together when we don’t all agree. In other words, it has nothing to say, really, about our collective life, only about our individual lives.

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  26. km4 says:

    Yes Steve I agree that its The End of Lieberman Politics in Nov.
    And good riddance to this blowhard !

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  27. Himself says:

    I have long felt that libertarianism was a more dangerous line of thinking (at least with regards to social policy) than straight up right-wing thought.
    I want to agree with Lind’s pronouncement of libertarinanism’s death, but out here in Oregon the anti-tax crowd is still going strong, with adherents left, right and center. There is an illusion of transcendence in the false ideals of libertarianism, and there is all-too-real appeal to reducing one’s taxes.
    The fact notwithstanding that no electorate anywhere has ever chosen (or is likely to choose) a libertarian government, I believe we are stuck with a stubborn subcurrent of libertarianism that will continue to obstruct restoration of the social safety net which lays in tatters after three decades of Republican and Democratic libertarian assault.

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  28. Den Valdron says:

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. Libertarianism can join creationism, astrology, phrenomology, various racial theories, lamarckianism and sundry other notions of junk philosophy on the ash heap of history. It will not be missed.
    For those foolish enough to pine for it, I can fortunately point you to several Libertarian societies extant in the world today where the right to bear arms is unrestricted, authority over personal property is unlimited, and government is absent…
    Aghanistan, Somalia, the Congo. I haven’t been to any of them lately. Utopian Paradises? Why don’t the remaining Libertarians move there and find out…

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  29. Eli Rabett says:

    Libertarianism is a faux movement for anti-taxers who don’t want to come out in the open. The anti-taxers love government, they just don’t want to pay for it. The few true believers are easily trapped in their own contradictions. They hate government, but must rely on government to protect their property and selves, no one else’s of course.

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  30. John Powers says:

    You write that you’re not sure you agree with Michael Lind’s framing. I think that is an awfully nice way of putting my general reactions to his views and commentary.
    Michael Lind writes: “The libertarian moment has passed. It will not come again…”
    Like you, it seems to me that Libertarianism seems to be growing. Anecdotally I encounter much intelligent conversation from a Libertarian perspective by young people on the Internet. One example is Nouri, who just turned 18 this week, and writes at the remarkable The Moor Next Door http://wahdah.blogspot.com/
    My assessment of Libertarianism before encountering the young people exposing a Libertarian viewpoint on the Internet was like Michael Lind’s assessment of it as “reactionary.” However the young “brand” of Libertarianism seems hardly interested in a restoration of “an idealized Victorian world of laissez faire capitalism” and more interested in the possibilities of the networked infrastructure of the information age.
    William S. Lind’s Fourth Generation Warfare is an important construct for understanding and responding to asymmetric threats. It also provides a way to begin to understand a worldview that isn’t violent and pessimistic. William S. Lind probably wouldn’t mind the description of himself as “reactionary.” His construct of 4G warfare is frightening, and, frankly, so is his declaration of cultural independence. While the youthful expressions of Libertarianism aren’t the same retrograde longings as William S. Lind’s, the strategy of building parallel institutions is similar.
    It is quite reasonable to look at the actions and inaction of the Libertarian elite in American politics and to make judgments about their failures. But I don’t believe those failure represent a downward trajectory for the whole movement in light of the apparent vibrancy of Libertarian views among many young people today.

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  31. John Powers says:

    You write that you’re not sure you agree with Michael Lind’s framing. I think that is an awfully nice way of putting my general reactions to his views and commentary.
    Michael Lind writes: “The libertarian moment has passed. It will not come again…”
    Like you, it seems to me that Libertarianism seems to be growing. Anecdotally I encounter much intelligent conversation from a Libertarian perspective by young people on the Internet. One example is Nouri, who just turned 18 this week, and writes at the remarkable The Moor Next Door http://wahdah.blogspot.com/
    My assessment of Libertarianism before encountering the young people exposing a Libertarian viewpoint on the Internet was like Michael Lind’s assessment of it as “reactionary.” However the young “brand” of Libertarianism seems hardly interested in a restoration of “an idealized Victorian world of laissez faire capitalism” and more interested in the possibilities of the networked infrastructure of the information age.
    William S. Lind’s Fourth Generation Warfare is an important construct for understanding and responding to asymmetric threats. It also provides a way to begin to understand a worldview that isn’t violent and pessimistic. William S. Lind probably wouldn’t mind the description of himself as “reactionary.” His construct of 4G warfare is frightening, and, frankly, so is his declaration of cultural independence. While the youthful expressions of Libertarianism aren’t the same retrograde longings as William S. Lind’s, the strategy of building parallel institutions is similar.
    It is quite reasonable to look at the actions and inaction of the Libertarian elite in American politics and to make judgments about their failures. But I don’t believe those failure represent a downward trajectory for the whole movement in light of the apparent vibrancy of Libertarian views among many young people today.

    Reply

  32. John Powers says:

    You write that you’re not sure you agree with Michael Lind’s framing. I think that is an awfully nice way of putting my general reactions to his views and commentary.
    Michael Lind writes: “The libertarian moment has passed. It will not come again…”
    Like you, it seems to me that Libertarianism seems to be growing. Anecdotally I encounter much intelligent conversation from a Libertarian perspective by young people on the Internet. One example is Nouri, who just turned 18 this week, and writes at the remarkable The Moor Next Door http://wahdah.blogspot.com/
    My assessment of Libertarianism before encountering the young people exposing a Libertarian viewpoint on the Internet was like Michael Lind’s assessment of it as “reactionary.” However the young “brand” of Libertarianism seems hardly interested in a restoration of “an idealized Victorian world of laissez faire capitalism” and more interested in the possibilities of the networked infrastructure of the information age.
    William S. Lind’s Fourth Generation Warfare is an important construct for understanding and responding to asymmetric threats. It also provides a way to begin to understand a worldview that isn’t violent and pessimistic. William S. Lind probably wouldn’t mind the description of himself as “reactionary.” His construct of 4G warfare is frightening, and, frankly, so is his declaration of cultural independence. While the youthful expressions of Libertarianism aren’t the same retrograde longings as William S. Lind’s, the strategy of building parallel institutions is similar.
    It is quite reasonable to look at the actions and inaction of the Libertarian elite in American politics and to make judgments about their failures. But I don’t believe those failure represent a downward trajectory for the whole movement in light of the apparent vibrancy of Libertarian views among many young people today.

    Reply

  33. John Powers says:

    You write that you’re not sure you agree with Michael Lind’s framing. I think that is an awfully nice way of putting my general reactions to his views and commentary.
    Michael Lind writes: “The libertarian moment has passed. It will not come again…”
    Like you, it seems to me that Libertarianism seems to be growing. Anecdotally I encounter much intelligent conversation from a Libertarian perspective by young people on the Internet. One example is Nouri, who just turned 18 this week, and writes at the remarkable The Moor Next Door http://wahdah.blogspot.com/
    My assessment of Libertarianism before encountering the young people exposing a Libertarian viewpoint on the Internet was like Michael Lind’s assessment of it as “reactionary.” However the young “brand” of Libertarianism seems hardly interested in a restoration of “an idealized Victorian world of laissez faire capitalism” and more interested in the possibilities of the networked infrastructure of the information age.
    William S. Lind’s Fourth Generation Warfare is an important construct for understanding and responding to asymmetric threats. It also provides a way to begin to understand a worldview that isn’t violent and pessimistic. William S. Lind probably wouldn’t mind the description of himself as “reactionary.” His construct of 4G warfare is frightening, and, frankly, so is his declaration of cultural independence. While the youthful expressions of Libertarianism aren’t the same retrograde longings as William S. Lind’s, the strategy of building parallel institutions is similar.
    It is quite reasonable to look at the actions and inaction of the Libertarian elite in American politics and to make judgments about their failures. But I don’t believe those failure represent a downward trajectory for the whole movement in light of the apparent vibrancy of Libertarian views among many young people today.

    Reply

  34. Ben says:

    I have not had time to read the article. But, what I would argue, and I think Steve alludes to it in a way, when he says the current situation may not be as static as Lind believes, is that the extreme polarization of our body politic, that stems from the winner-take-all nature of current partizan battles, has forced otherwise vibrant movements such as Libertarians to reluctantly fold into the more powerful forces of the parties they are closest to.
    Realism, Libertarianism, Liberal Internationalism are all alive, but are forced to take sides and (severely) compromise their values. When there is no middle ground, how can such groups voice meaningful opposition to the policies of the other party or thier own? Smaller parties can only influence the process when there is compromise to be had.
    That said, I think the 2008 elections, assuming Republicans recieve a strong rebuke this November for blindly following the Bush cabal, will see both Republicans and Democrats again seeking to incorporate and champion the above silenced voices as they feel pressured to move away from their current overly simplistic and partisan stances (completely pro-war vs. completely anti-war).
    Republicans will need to temper their image of the last 8 years as the big-government, anti-civil liberties, militarily pre-emptive party. Dems will have to ennunciate a position more nuanced than simply anti-all-things-Bush (and thus to show they are not weak on security/ foreign affairs, empower the liberal international sect.) OR AT LEAST I HOPE EACH PARTY DOES THIS, and not more win-at-all-costs partisan politics.
    Anyone else agree?

    Reply

  35. Minnesotachuck says:

    My view of the Libertarians is in synch with what gq says above in his first sentence.
    One Libertarian enclave that has been quite vocal in its condemnation of the monarchical presidency is the folks at the Mises Institute and their fellow travelers who post on http://www.lewrockwell.com.

    Reply

  36. Anonymous says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-geiger/democratic-senators-on-la_b_27523.html
    Please talk to Senator Bingaman urgently and remind him what his party affiliation is, and that he is in the political OPPOSITION. This situation is ridiculous. Democrats have NO CLUE about party discipline. No wonder they’re impotent. Thanks.

    Reply

  37. gq says:

    I personally reject the basis for libertarian government, but believe Libertarians are useful to reign in on the excesses of the left.
    My thoughts on libertarian silence is that either they never really cared about their principles or that they got perverted by their closeness to power. I believe that many on the Christian Right have succumbed to the latter and wouldn’t be surprised if the same were true of libertarians. It does seem that their major priorities, though, have become tax cuts and deregulation since that seems like one of the few things that the GOP is pursuing. It’s a shame.

    Reply

  38. bubba says:

    Yes. The third last paragraph says it all. Libertarianism died when it kow-towed to the republican far right, and continued to vote for (in 2002 and 2004) those who have basically run this country into the ground.

    Reply

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