Saturday, July 23, 2011

Assault of Thoughts - 7/23/2011

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- Tim Lee, Will Wilkinson, and Matt Yglesias pining for Milton Friedman on inflation. Ryan Murphy cites Wilkinson approvingly for challenging "folk-Austrianism" (better known in some circles as "Rothbardianism").

- Andrew Sullivan has been profiling a strange Christian group that Rick Perry is "associated" with (granted, when journalists talk about these "associations" you never know how close it actually is). It's called the New Apostolic Reformation, and they see themselves as prophets that are preparing the church for the end of the world (which they don't believe will be kicked off by rapture, unlike most who anticipate the end-times). More discussion is provided here. One of the prophecies for 2011 should be interesting for those of you interested in IP issues: "A great release of new wealth will come from ideas given from God in the form of intellectual properties. A new creative anointing of ideas for those who will use the wealth for the advancement of God’s Kingdom" and also inflation: "We must intercede against hyperinflation that will strangle the ability of people of give to world missions".

- Gary has thoughts on the Norwegian shooting here and here. has a post here. doesn't even mention it and Gary only mentions it briefly, but this guy was essentially a libertarian. This isn't some Loughner mental health issues situation. I don't intend any more by saying this than just to be up front about this fact of the matter so we can reflect on it. I'm sure "but he was virulently anti-immigrant so he's not a real libertarian" will come up, but I'm not sure why that matters. Anti-immigrant sentiments aren't part of liberalism as well, but what would we be talking about if an otherwise liberal Democrat orchestrated an attack like this and made some claims about how Democrats ought to be harder on immigration? All this is just to say that libertarians have never been very convincing when they say "oh a libertarian could never be a threat to people". Of course you guys can. You aren't special. It's this sort of thing that worries us about things like the Tea Party. Whenever any ideology becomes rigid and second-guessing it becomes unacceptable, violence can't be precluded as a risk. That doesn't make violence inherent in libertarianism any more than violence is inherent in Islam because of Muslim terrorists, so please nobody put those sorts of words in my mouth. It's just something we need to be aware of. Intolerance is a human failing, and no ideology should be put on a pedestal with respect to intolerance. Often people have a hard time seeing faults in their own ideology.


  1. What the hell is going on?

    Why is internationally widespread mainstream publication such as The Economist paying attention to an ultra-marginal American blog site such as Lew Rockwell.Com?

    How the hell did Will Wilkinson get the idea that Murray Rothbard, a very obscure academic who never held a high level academic position, is somehow responsible for all the anti-inflation dogma?

    HINT: It's not the fault of Auburners and Rothbard that you have so many inflationistas today. Today's inflationistas probably haven't even heard of the Auburners and Rothbard. It is futile to blame the two for anti-inflation sentiment.

  2. Ultra-marginal? Is that like "radical subjectivist"? :)

  3. Wha-? Oh ho ho ho, I get it.

    I do believe that certain mainstream columnists have overemphasised the presence and influence of all free marketers, let alone the radical wing of the Auburn institute members.

    Why do progressive bloggers talk so much about libertarians? Have they the strange idea that libertarians have stealthily influenced the entire political process? I find it totally odd that Matt Yglesias talks so much about them.

  4. Well, Auburn specifically isn't all that major, but libertarianism more broadly (and more vaguely) has displaced neoconservatism as a major voice in the Republican Party, and in that sense it's definitely a trend worth paying attention to.

  5. By the way, about the Oslo shooter, I believe that your opponents' arguments about why they are harmless have been defeated.

    But what defeated their arguments? Certainly not the facts of the case. Certainly not your own counter-arguments.

    Their arguments were defeated by the fact that you have rendered them guilty long before this shooting ever happened. And now they have nothing left to argue. How can you overturn a guilty verdict placed before you before you enter the court of opinion?

    You say, "Whenever any ideology becomes rigid and second-guessing it becomes unacceptable, violence can't be precluded as a risk." Meaning that you established your ideological opponents as sources of violence already. You did not come to that conclusion from this Oslo shooting. This conclusion was already on your mind. How are Gary and Jonathan going to respond to you about that? They can not, because they can't dispute a foregone conclusion..

    Of course, you can check this man's reading list right here:,2167.0.html The man is a Platonian and Machiaevillan first and foremost. Platonian and Machiaevillan thought dominate his reading list first and foremost. But who is saying Plato and Machiaevilli are sources of violent, terrorist behaviour? Nobody. But why are you saying that this man is proof that libertarianism is a possible source of violence?

    Because you put the guilty verdict on libertarianism already! As opposed to Plato and Machiaevilli.

    Anyway, when was the last time a Friedmanite burnt a car in the street, to protest against tarriffs - just the way ant-globalization protesters burn cars in Toronto and Seattle over the approval of free trade treaties? When was the last time a riot happened over a telecom merger being blocked by a commission - as opposed to protesters blocking News Corp HQ over BSkyB bids?

  6. Although as you know, I'm no defense of respectable libertarianism I would note that much of what passes for such in the GOP scarcely qualifies. Perhaps Ron Paul... but the rest of the party seems to only import the economic aspects of libertarianism (low taxes, low regulations, no welfare state), while continuing to wrap these things up in supply-side arguments. There's this strange belief that tax cuts and tax cuts alone have a stimulating effect on the economy; whereas more direct ways the government might encourage private-sector activity (that involve spending) are either useless or invalid.

  7. CNN quotes an official who refers to the suspect as a fundamentalist Christian, but the assertion just hangs there without any associated comments from the suspect that I've seen... I'm not saying he's not a fundie, but it reads as if they're just lumping numerous religious and political identifications together. This stuff never ends well for the public opinion on fundamentalists, the vast majority of whom (Christian, Muslim, etc.) aren't violent and just want to live a pious life. I always wince at the over-broad use of the "f" word in public discourse.

  8. The problem with many fundamentalists, including those who would never resort to violence, is that quite a few want everybody else to live a pious life, too.

  9. I'd call him a an "interesting" mix of classical liberal/European conservative. Many European conservatives are fairly skeptical of the market broadly as well as immigration, etc.; he seems to have been less so. If one wants to call him a libertarian I would say I have met self-identified libertarians with some very extreme views on immigration, Muslims, etc. (mostly that was a direct result of 9/11 - they called themselves "reality based libertarians" and used similar phrases).

    Anyway, if he had applied his ideas (whatever they were - from what I have read his claims are very, very vague on that count) about the marketplace generally to immigration, well, you get my point. It isn't his libertarianism that was the problem (to whatever extent he was a libertarian) in other words - it was his anti-immigrant - particularly anti-Muslim - attitudes, positions, etc. He bought into the whole dhimmitude, etc. line of thinking - and that is a way of thinking that I've seen conservatives, modern liberals (all of whom claimed to be mugged by reality following 9/11), libertarians, or whatever take.


    Did Daniel pass on that interview of Michael Sandel?

    I'm trying to see if this guy quoted Luke 19:27 - that tends to be an online favorite of Christians who argue that killing the infidel is commanded by Christ.

  10. Prateek: In the past ten years "libertarian" is an ideological which has bumped up above 10% in the polls as far as what people self-identify as. Our market share is growing and people have noticed that for a number of reasons: (a) they meet more libertarians; (b) they encounter libertarians more in the general public discourse; etc.

  11. FYI: In a very short discussion in "Notes on Virginia" (by Jefferson) one can see the precursors to claims about immigrants and immigration that we have today. His argument is fairly muddled, but it can be used to argue that immigrants in large numbers a threat to the body politic.

  12. re: "It isn't his libertarianism that was the problem"

    It's rarely the ideology in any case that's the problem. What I think we need to recognize is that no ideology insulates people from being terrible human beings - no ideology makes someone immune. And we shouldn't turn a blind eye to things because "a libertarian would never do that" or "X would never do that".

  13. Daniel,

    See my most recent blog post.

  14. Well, "an X would never do that" is the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.

    For a time some people argued that Heidegger could never have been a Nazi because philosophers and in general great thinkers could never hold to such vile ideas. Which goes to show you that smart people can (a) justify really vile stuff (Heidegger was a Nazi) and (b) other smart people will often try their best to defend the indefensible due to personal, ideological, or whatever allegiances.

  15. but libertarianism more broadly (and more vaguely) has displaced neoconservatism as a major voice in the Republican Party,

    Daniel wins for funniest comment in the thread.

  16. re: "Well, "an X would never do that" is the "no true Scotsman" fallacy."

    Right. I feel like I hear this sort of thing a lot, though.

    Take a look at this:

    The whole question of liberty is ruled out by definition. Libertarians are pro-liberty by definition and if they're not thier not libertarians.

    I believe Ron Paul made this "no true Scotsman" argument about racism at one time too. Racism is collectivism ergo libertarians are not racists. By definition. Can't be!

  17. Daniel,

    Every way of thinking has followers that make that claim. Just human nature not to want to be associated with mass murderers, racists, and the like once that becomes something a society frowns upon.

  18. re: "Every way of thinking has followers that make that claim."


    I think formulaic ideologies do this somewhat more than non-formulaic, vaguer coalitions. It's practically a necessity. Nebulous coalitions can't really exclude certain perspectives as firmly as well defined ideologies.

  19. Daniel,

    Perhaps. We supposedly live in a post-ideological age (partly because Nazism and Communism were so destructive) but I have my doubts.

  20. On the lunatic guy. I don't see how he can essentially be a libertarian.

    He sees himself as modern crusader against Islam. He is for a welfare state (though not as big as today). He is for public works during recessions. He is for protectionism. He is against free movement of people and even for mass deportations of Muslims. He is against globalization/internationalism. He is against freedom of religion. And he obviously is for force and violence.

    He generally describes himself as a "cultural conservative". I call such a guy a crazy lunatic idiot. He hasn't a coherent economical or political view.

    But what really made my hairs stand up is this. Quoted from his over 1500 pages of "A European Declaration of Independence" (no i didn't read all...)

    At first know what a "A B and C traitor" is: "Category A, B and C traitors (politically active cultural Marxists, multiculturalists, capitalist globalists and suicidal humanists) will have their property and funds expropriated by the new cultural conservative regime. The property and funds will be redistributed to individuals based on previous efforts, sacrifices and results"

    "DO NOT for the love of God aim your rage and frustration at Muslims. Muslim or Paki bashing is a sure way to hurt our cause as this is what the cultural Marxist elites WANT you to do. They want you to waste your efforts on fighting Muslims and they will do anything to prevent you from aiming your efforts at them. They want the indigenous Europeans to busy fighting Muslims as that will guarantee their positions. We will never have a chance at overthrowing the cultural Marxist if we waste our energy and efforts on fighting Muslims.
    This can easily be illustrated:
    When the pipe in your bathroom springs a leak and the water is flooding the room, what do you do? It‘s not very complicated, after all. You go for the source of the problem, the leak itself! You DON‘T mop up until after you have fixed the actual leak. Needless to say, our regime is the leak (all category A, B and C traitors), the Muslims are the water.
    As such, ALL our efforts must be aimed at category A and B traitors with very few exceptions. The ONLY exceptions should be sabotage attacks aimed at infrastructure (to cripple/weaken the economy of our regime) and effectuate certain devastating strategic attacks during the Muslim Eid celebration - later in phase 1 and 2, in order to radicalise and manipulate the Muslim forces. The Muslim husbands, uncles, brothers and nephews will go absolutely nuts which will result in devastating Jihadi frenzies, substantially contributing to weaken our regimes further and at the same time create more recruits for our resistance movements. Muslims are our absolutely best recruitment tools. They act as indirect recruiters by using rape, assault, robbery, arson and murder, forcing their victims and their closest relatives/friends out of their coma.
    Phase 1 (2010-2030) - priority
    The ratio of attacks in phase 1 should follow the given guidelines: 90%+ aimed at concentrations of category A and B traitors and less than 10% on the other objectives.
    Phase 2 (2030-2070) - priority
    70% + aimed at concentrations of category A and B traitors and less than 30% on sabotage and other objectives.
    We will focus on the Muslims AFTER we have seized political and military control. At that point, we will start deportation campaigns.”


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