Wednesday, January 16, 2008 58 Comments

Questions for Arnold Kling, Megan McArdle, Will Wilkinson, and all other Beltway libertarians

A fascinating new blogger who calls himself Former Beltway Wonk pops up with a handy new term, the Orange Line Mafia. (Note to FBW: James Kirchick's name contains two Cs.)

"Mafia" is perhaps a little harsh. And surely the implication, which FBW in all fairness does not make but perhaps implies, that l'affaire Paul was in some way coordinated - perhaps at some Dupont Circle version of the Bada Bing - is incorrect. When sharks do their shark feeding frenzy thing, it's not like there's some shark capo in the background telling them where and when to rip off hunks of flesh. The only coordination signal is blood in the water. And as we've seen, your nose for that - at least when it comes to Blut und Boden in its amelanistic morph - needs no sharpening.

But I like the Orange Line tag. I fear it will stick. And so, dear ladies and gentlemen, given your rather vehement views on the Ron Paul controversy, I am curious as to how you might answer the following questions. Please feel free to respond to all, none, some, or more.

1. Which is worse, racism or socialism? Why?

2. Can you imagine living in a world in which socialism was politically incorrect? In other words, in which any comment which even hinted that socialism might be a good idea instantly reminded the listener of the Holodomor, and exposed the commenter to social ostracism, professional destruction, civil and perhaps criminal liability?

3. Define "crimethink." Do you find this concept useful? Do you believe that it should apply to racism, socialism, neither, or both?

4. Which government was worse: the Soviet Union under Stalin, or the Republic of South Africa under P.W. Botha? Why?

5. Who knows more about human genetics? You, or Francis Crick? Discuss.

6. Do you believe that intellectuals, such as yourself, should write and debate under the theory that American public opinion is generally right until proven wrong? How do you reconcile this with the fact that American public opinion generally sees libertarians, such as yourselves, as a bunch of freaks, cranks and nutcases? Do you consider changing this perception the primary objective of your efforts? Does this ever conflict with just saying what you think? And if so, which wins?

7. Do you find the term "Beltway libertarian" at all pejorative? If so, with what term would you prefer to describe yourselves? Would "responsible libertarian" do? If so, do you find anything odd in the fact that so many responsible libertarians work for the US government or institutions it sponsors?

8. Do you agree or disagree with this quote from Georgi Arbatov?
I pay tribute to the courage and fearlessness of those who, like Andrei Sakharov, risked taking an uncompromising stand... These people were heroes, even martyrs. And if they had not done what they did, I think the changes in our country would not have gone forward so quickly. But had it not been for the many hundreds and thousands who worked inside the system, fought routine skirmishes, tried to stop the pressure of Stalinist conservatism, and defended and promoted the ideas of democracy and peaceful economic reform, the process of revitalization would not have been possible at all.
9. Do you expect that, if the present American system of government is ever defeated by a libertarian movement, you will find yourself, like Arbatov, perceived as a "spokesman at best and toady at worst for the regime"? Or do you expect to be praised and feted for your work inside the system?

10. Do you ride the Orange Line to work?

[Update: Arnold Kling, who did take a couple bites of the whale but I have to admit doesn't really fit the profile, supplies his answers. Wilkinson's are in the comments.]

58 Comments:

Blogger Will Wilkinson said...

"1. Which is worse, racism or socialism? Why?"

The question is so badly underspecified it is impossible to answer it.

"2. Can you imagine living in a world in which socialism was politically incorrect? In other words, in which any comment which even hinted that socialism might be a good idea instantly reminded the listener of the Holodomor, and exposed the commenter to social ostracism, professional destruction, civil and perhaps criminal liability?"

Yes. I believe socialism should be politically incorrect.

"3. Define "crimethink." Do you find this concept useful? Do you believe that it should apply to racism, socialism, neither, or both?"

A thought that is criminal to entertain. It is evidently a useful concept. I don't believe it ought to be a crime to think anything.

"4. Which government was worse: the Soviet Union under Stalin, or the Republic of South Africa under P.W. Botha? Why?"

The Soviet Union under Stalin. Tens of millions were murdered on a scale that dwarfs the still considerable enormity of the crimes against humanity in apartheid SA.

"5. Who knows more about human genetics? You, or Francis Crick? Discuss."

Francis Crick, who evidently was confused about IQ, an entirely different topic.

"6. Do you believe that intellectuals, such as yourself, should write and debate under the theory that American public opinion is generally right until proven wrong?"

No.

"How do you reconcile this with the fact that American public opinion generally sees libertarians, such as yourselves, as a bunch of freaks, cranks and nutcases?"

Why didn't you wait for the answer?

"Do you consider changing this perception the primary objective of your efforts?"

No. But it is one objective of my efforts.

"Does this ever conflict with just saying what you think?"

No. It causes me to pay attention to rudimentary principles of rhetorical effectiveness.

"And if so, which wins?"

NA

"7. Do you find the term "Beltway libertarian" at all pejorative?"

Yes.

"If so, with what term would you prefer to describe yourselves?"

Liberal, market liberal, classical liberal, or libertarian.

"Would "responsible libertarian" do?"

That strikes me as stupid.

"If so, do you find anything odd in the fact that so many responsible libertarians work for the US government or institutions it sponsors?"

NA, but no.

"8. Do you agree or disagree with this quote from Georgi Arbatov?

I pay tribute to the courage and fearlessness of those who, like Andrei Sakharov, risked taking an uncompromising stand... These people were heroes, even martyrs. And if they had not done what they did, I think the changes in our country would not have gone forward so quickly. But had it not been for the many hundreds and thousands who worked inside the system, fought routine skirmishes, tried to stop the pressure of Stalinist conservatism, and defended and promoted the ideas of democracy and peaceful economic reform, the process of revitalization would not have been possible at all."

Agree.

"9. Do you expect that, if the present American system of government is ever defeated by a libertarian movement, you will find yourself, like Arbatov, perceived as a "spokesman at best and toady at worst for the regime"?"

I do not expect "the libertarian movement" to "defeat" the American system of government. I expect that the system may be made less harmful and more just.

Do you really consider the American system of government the moral equivalent of the Soviet Union?

"Or do you expect to be praised and feted for your work inside the system?"

Not to be impolite, but I expect to do more for the cause of human freedom than you ever will, whoever you are.

"10. Do you ride the Orange Line to work?"

I live near the Green Line. I usually drive or ride a bicycle.

Will that be all?

January 16, 2008 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Will,

Unfortunately, you punted on the first question, which makes the rest of your answers rather hard to parse!

Surely if you were asked to say which was worse, racism or cheese, you would have an answer. The same goes for socialism and cheese. I am looking for an opinion, not a mathematical statement. I'm sure the readers of your blog would be at least as interested in this question as mine.

Let me take the liberty of simplifying your reasoning. Your case against Paul rests on two arguments, both of which I find fallacious.

One, Paul is connected to racism and racism is evil. Unfortunately, you are connected to socialism at least as closely as Paul is connected to racism. And as you agree, the crimes of socialism at least equal to those of racism.

Two, Paul is connected to racism and the American people despise racism. Unfortunately, you believe that writers should say what they think, without reference to the views of the American people.

The combination of these two fallacies does not render either more convincing.

And what exactly do you know about IQ that Francis Crick didn't? Or, for that matter, Arthur Jensen? I would love to be showered with this expertise.

(Yes - I wish Crick, Watson, Jensen, and the like were wrong. But I have never seen any convincing evidence of genetic neurological uniformity in modern hominids. If you have some, or you have some reason to believe that this proposition for some reason should be assumed true until proven false, again - please enlighten us.)

Wanting to defeat the US government does not imply that USG is "morally equivalent" to the Soviet Union. It merely implies that USG is imperfect, as was the Soviet Union (which also could have been far worse), and that a more plausible path to correcting this badness involves discontinuous rather than continuous change.

Fabian strategies work quite well when expanding government. They also seem to be fairly good at securing employment for libertarians, at least those who are willing to describe themselves as "liberals." Their effectiveness in shrinking the beast has not been demonstrated - to say the least.

That said, I find your honesty in agreeing with Arbatov refreshing. I think this is a very legitimate position - I disagree with it, but I wouldn't be shocked to be wrong. I'd like to see the argument for working "within the system" stated more often and more explicitly. I feel it is too often assumed - especially inside the you-know-what.

January 16, 2008 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Will Wilkinson said...

"Unfortunately, you are connected to socialism at least as closely as Paul is connected to racism."

OK, I see what you were angling for. You could have just come out with it. Well... I wouldn't have answered then because it's completely a bizarre and insulting idea.

I'm a classical liberal, like my heroes Mises, Hayek, Friedman, Buchanan, etc. I'm not an anarchist. What I take to be your assumption that non-anarchism is a kind of soft-socialism that puts Milton Friedman in the neighborhood of Kruschev is patently absurd.(A better question would have been whether Sweden today is better or worse than apartheid South Africa under Botha. The correct answer is Sweden is better, obviously.)

You leave me at a complete loss in terms of understanding your support for Paul. Working to support a Congressman in his effort to become President is the ultimate in working within the system. This is a guy who actually votes to use state coercion to redistribute money to his district. So if I'm a crypto-socialist just by having a gradualist strategy for minimizing the harm of the state, Paul must be Stalin's little brother, since he's actually in government. And a racism profiteer to boot!

Oh, and that Grima crack was cold.

January 16, 2008 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Thursday said...

Libertarians like Will are often such hyper-individualists that hate informal restrictions on themselves, such as those imposed by religion or social stigma, as much or more as they do formal government restrictions and therefore often end up as de facto supporters of the latter when a choice is forced on them.

Libertarians like Paul hate formal government restrictions, but mainly because they interefere with more informal, organic social groups. They happily concede that people are inherently social and that there are going to be significant impositions on our individuality as a result of that. They just don't want the state, with all of its immense coercive power, backing up any particular social vision.

January 16, 2008 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Thursday said...

A better question would have been whether Sweden today is better or worse than apartheid South Africa under Botha.

Lets make this even more interesting. Is Sweden today better or worse than Ian Smith's Rhodesia?

January 16, 2008 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Will Wilkinson said...

Is that a joke?

January 16, 2008 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Will,

Your connection to socialism is of exactly the same type as Ron Paul's connection to racism. (Or, for that matter, with the Troofers.) It is not that you openly and proudly support it. It is just that you refuse to sever all ties with those who do.

For example, you work for the Cato Institute, which accepts funding from USG, which by any fair historical standards is a socialist state. Imagine if Cato had, in 1983, accepted the sponsorship of the Republic of South Africa! Case closed.

As I'm sure you're aware, Ron Paul has no influence on the policies of USG. Precious few politicians do. I am quite confident that you are no innocent with respect to how DC works. Paul as a Congressman is a symbol, and as a President (which won't happen) he would be exactly the same. (If you read my last post, you'll see that I have some tough questions for the Paulistas as well.)

You, on the other hand, are a "policy analyst." I am quite confident that if you were to propose the same policies as Rep. Paul - let alone racism, etc - you would be absolutely excluded from the actual circles of power - excuse me, "policy" - and spend all your time twiddling your thumbs. So you don't.

Which, again, is fine. As long as you have a good sense of who exactly is assimilating who in this relationship.

As for "anarchism," I'm afraid any anarchist would be quite apoplectic over this post, let alone this one. Abolishing USG is not an end in itself. It is just the only conceivable process which could transform it into something much smaller and much more effective.

I believe that the State should be both small and strong. I realize that I am pretty much alone in this opinion. Nonetheless, I am perfectly willing to debate it with anyone - whichever Metro line they happen to be on.

January 16, 2008 at 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Fred said...

For the person concerned with their well-being, there is no choice but to run away as fast as possible from any cries of racism.

Especially once the feeding frenzy, as you put it, is in full force. Taking that on is professional suicide. The only way to avoid being trampled by the mob is to be running with it.

Making that makes them cowards. But unless it says Moldbug on your driver's license, you're doing this anonymously. And you can fairly level the same criticism against me. Is it being cowardly to want to live?

I had tepid support for Paul, but I didn't want to do so strongly or publicly, because I knew something bad was coming down the pike. I really thought it was going to be over some of his supporters' wacky ideas. I guess the old "racist" charge was just too simple and effective for me to imagine.

January 16, 2008 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Will,

Your Sweden comparison compares apples to kumquats. It presumes that the Swedish and South African populations are identical. A common assumption, and one which is essentially Christian. But I'm not sure it has much else to recommend it.

Eliminating the extraneous variable, we can ask: if South Africa adopted the same system of government as Sweden, which would be a more pleasant place to live: South Africa under apartheid, or South Africa under socialism?

Furthermore, we can ask this question separately for both white South Africans and black South Africans.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, this experiment has been performed. I assure you that even impeccably liberal South Africans are very clear on the answer.

As Thursday alludes, the same experiment was tried a bit earlier in a small country to the north. My thoughts on the subject are here.

January 16, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

fred,

You are being very sensible.

But running away is one thing. Joining in the frenzy is another.

January 16, 2008 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Will Wilkinson said...

Moldbug,

You just sound completely crazy arguing that voting congressmen and pen-wielding presidents have no effect on the policies of the government. Or that the United States by "any fair historical standard" is a socialist state. According to the "government ownership of the means of production" standard (that is, according to the meaning of 'socialism') it is not.

Cato does not accept government funds.

You think the most likely follow-up state to an overthrown US would be small?

All the best...

January 16, 2008 at 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

The question "which is worse, racism or socialism?" is a bit unfair. The reason is that while it is possible to define socialism in a reasonably objective way, "racism" has become a one-size-fits-all pejorative for any opinion about matters involving race with which its utterer disagrees.

Some years ago Charles Rangel (D, Harlem) expressed the opinion that anyone who wanted welfare reform or lowered income taxes in the higher brackets was a racist, because the existing program of wealth redistribution disproportionately favored black people, and the changes in question would disproportionately hurt them. Ergo, it was racist.

Clearly if the charge of racism can equally be applied to a mob of bedsheeted Kluxers and to supporters of welfare reform and tax cuts, the word has no definition. It is merely a term of abuse that has been severed from its former meaning, much like "bastard" or "bitch."

Speaking of bedsheeted Kluxers, what about that sanctimonious old windbag Robert Byrd? Not only was he a member of the Klan, but an officer of his local Klavern. His fan letters to the arch-segregationist Sen. Theodore Bilbo (D., Miss.) are preserved in the Bilbo papers. Their texts are probably floating around somewhere on the internet, though I don't have a link.

If Ron Paul can be "connected to racism," Robert Byrd can be, so to speak, in spades. Paul's offense was the publication of remarks written by someone else, whereas Byrd spoke and acted for himself. Yet Paul is smeared while Byrd bloviates on and off the Senate floor to the applause of the great and the good. What's the difference? It is simply that Byrd poses no challenge to the ruling elite - he is, if not part of it, surely its devoted servant. This is not the case with Paul. There would be no profit in debating actual issues with Paul - the effort is to avoid this. Accordingly some personal defect must be found with which to attack him, and the infinitely flexible accusation of racism here presents itself as the most convenient way.

January 16, 2008 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Will,

My father was in the Senior Foreign Service, my mother was a GS-15 in budget and policy at DoE, my stepfather was a career Hill staffer. I assure you that I'm quite aware of how DC works. You might want to try reading the Crossman diaries, or simply watching an episode or two of "Yes Minister."

Thanks for correcting me about Cato's policies. I'm sure you understand how I could be confused.

A socialist state is one in which the State considers itself the provider and benefactor of its citizens. Any of your "classical liberals" from the 19th century would have agreed on this definition.

A communist state is one in which the State controls the means of production. Perhaps you've heard the word "regulation"? Formal ownership is just that: a formality. What is CAFE, if it isn't central planning?

Of course, there are many ways to replace the US with something even larger and more awful. However, there is a very simple way to do the converse: abolish Washington and return sovereignty to the 50 states. I await your answer as to how this is a shortcut to fascism. Or racism. Or whatever.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled official reality.

January 16, 2008 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Oh, and if you're looking for a connection to socialism to make up for the nonexistent USG funding (who needs USG when they have Koch?), your current post will do handily.

Do you really think that in a world where socialism was politically incorrect, people would go around calling themselves "liberals?" It would be understood as a code word, just as "Euro-American" is today.

January 16, 2008 at 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mencius,

Cato receives no government funds, while Congressman Paul draws a salary paid for by the federal government out of tax dollars. This renders your argument somewhat ridiculous.

January 16, 2008 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

anon,

You might try reading to the end of the conversation!

Yes, I was wrong to claim that Cato accepts government funds: it does not. What it does is influence government policy, or at least try to. In order to even pretend to be successful at this, it has to trim its sails to the prevailing breeze. If it espoused the same positions as LvMI, it would have no possibility of any influence at all.

Hence its external appearance is very much the same as the rest of the Beltway bandits, which was the cause of my confusion.

Whereas Dr. Paul, since he does openly espouse the positions of LvMI, is treated as, at best, a lovable mascot in the House. No one would assert that he has any real policy influence at all. Perhaps once or twice his vote has been the deciding one on some bill or other, but I wouldn't bet on even that.

The point is that Cato is, however tangentially, part of the machine. And thus it is subject to certain constraints on its opinions, which Dr. Paul is not.

The point is not the budget of either Cato or Dr. Paul's office. Both are miniscule.

January 16, 2008 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I don't know about Will, but Cato has advocated many of Paul's "crazy" policies. As has been pointed out at the LR blog, Walter Williams, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker and Thomas Sowell have violated similar taboos. They are simply better at presenting their ideas and so get less flack. The real problem with Ron from the perspective of many is that he is a rube and does not surround himself with intellectuals.

January 16, 2008 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

tggp,

I wouldn't say the presentation is "better." I'd say it's less aggro. Yes, Cato has said some of these things, but always in a very small pill surrounded by a lot of sugar. (Yes, that Williams is black counts as sugar.)

What they don't realize is that the active ingredient is the sugar. The net result of Orange Line libertarianism is to make it harder for smart young people to see the big picture of USG as a gigantic, Cthulhuoid monster. Instead, it has a few problems, sure, but all can be cured by these little pills.

As I said: Wormtongue.

January 16, 2008 at 2:37 PM  
Anonymous formerbeltwaywonk said...

Mencius, I'm not sure at what point party conversations and possible e-mail between, for example, Reasonoids and TNRoids, combined with the fever to get in on a scoop and trash an outsider, turn into "coordination" or "planning". It's a judgment call. Certainly Reasonoids knew about the Kirchick article well ahead of its release and planned to instantly pile on as soon as it was released as the New Hampshire polls opened. (They apparently ended up changing their minds and waiting until early afternoon, still well before the 8 pm poll closing). I certainly do not think this was all dictated by some "man upstairs" at the CFR or whatever. But those conspiracy theories are useful metaphors for people who are unfamiliar with how D.C. works. Mostly I agree with you that it was primarily a matter of everybody in the Orange Line monoculture knowing how to smell blood in the water and how to react to it.

BTW, the "mafia" bit was an unecessary joke and I've dropped it. I'll reserve that for people who actually bring out guns rather than just keyboards. Besides, "Volokh Conspiracy" could easily change their names to "Orange Line Mafia" as the same kind of joke.

"Orange Line" is a convenient label for the monoculture that stretches rougly from the Capitol Building west and south to George Mason University. (North and east are bad neighborhoods for the low pay grades, the service employees, and the drug dealers. Oops now I've described so much reality I'm starting to sound like a Ron Paul newsletter!). The Orange Line from Fairfax Virginia (GMU) to the Capitol Building, via Foggy Bottom, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, etc. (practically all MSM have political bureaus nearby), Reason Magazine, K Street, Cato, the White House, the Federal Triangle, the Mall, and the Capitol Building. All near the Orange Line. Add in the Green (mostly bad neighborhoods -- Will needs a better job), Red (DuPont Circle to Bethesda), Blue (Pentagon) etc. lines. All oversimplified -- for details see a good map.

"Orange Line" is intended as a convenient way for outsiders to visualize D.C. culture. I hope when people read Reason, Cato@Liberty, Volokh Conspiracy, Marginal Revolution, not the mention most mainstream political rags and television political bureaus, they can visually place the authors along the Orange Line and thereby recognize the
"change the world" monoculture
in action.

January 16, 2008 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Using a definition of socialism as government ownership of the means of production, in the way Will did, to exonerate current policies of the U.S. government from the charge of socialism, is very familiar to me. I have heard it countless times from people on the left.

Mencius's definition of socialism as a polity in which the state is understood as the provider and benefactor of its subjects seems appropriate, but a bit vague.

The form of economic organization we have in the U.S., and what the inhabitants of the European Union have to an even more pronounced degree, could be called "functional socialism." Under functional socialism, the state does not own business enterprises, but extracts the lion's share of their earnings through taxation. Let's consider what happens to $1 of pre-tax earnings in a regular (subchapter C) business corporation. The corporation is taxed at 35% by the Federal government, and (in my state) at a little less than 8% by the state. This leaves approximately $0.57. Obviously some post-tax earnings are retained by most corporations, but in our hypothetical example let's assume all of the $0.57 is distibuted as dividends to the shareholders. This may be taxed at personal rates as high as 35% at the Federal level, and, in my state, at 8.5%. So, we subtract another 25 cents for these taxes, leaving $0.32 of the original $1 in corporate earnings for the nominal owners of the business. Clearly, government is their senior partner!

Similarly, government is the senior partner as well in the business's active management, through regulation. Almost no matter in the operation of a business is unaffected by regulation. How it deals with its customers; how it hires, pays, disciplines, and fires its employees: how it directs the work of its employees, how it designs its facilities, what materials it uses, and many other business policies are dictated to it by government rather than being decided by those who are nominally in charge.

The advantage of functional socialism over actual government ownership of business is that when things turn bad, the government loses nothing. 100% of the liability belongs to those same nominal owners who get only 32% of the earnings and who have a say only in matters too trivial to be bothered with by the regulatory agencies. There is an anaology here. Classical socialism is to chattel slavery as functional socialism is to villeinage or peonage.

The lasting achievement of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was to streamline an extant polity by removing a few unattractive excrescences, such as black shirts and the goose step. Essentially the functional socialism under which we have lived since the New Deal is Mussolini's fascism, without the bluster and strut.

January 16, 2008 at 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Randy said...

Michael S,

Re; Functional Socialism.

Yes. That's exactly right.

January 16, 2008 at 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Which is worse, racism or socialism?"

Socialism.

"Why?"

I will limit myself to two reasons. Consider the 100 million+ dead at the hands of communists and nazis in the 20th century. I suspect that racism's pile of corpses is nowhere near that large.

More importantly, racism is recognized as evil, and so largely neutered. Socialism is widely held up as something good, and so enabled. The hidden tumor is worse than the identified one.

I know people who believe that nuclear power is far too dangerous to contemplate, in spite of the nearly perfect safety record of the nuclear power industry. These same people dismiss the crimes of Stalin, Mao, and their ilk as correctable bugs in alpha versions of Socialism 1.0.

drc

January 16, 2008 at 4:06 PM  
OpenID city said...

"Can you imagine living in a world in which socialism was politically incorrect?"

This is not possible. The only coherent definition of political correctness, which is fundamentally a sham, is to uphold socialist ideals. In the non-imaginary world it's highly desirable to be politically incorrect, and still gets a laugh in some parts. Since the phrase entered the mainstream as a backhanded insult (based on a tall tale), the suggestion that socialism is itself politically incorrect is, absurdly, a compliment.

January 16, 2008 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Thanks, Michael S. That is indeed much more precise.

I've often pondered the relationship between corporate income tax and partial nationalization - I think I recall hearing that one or two countries actually do it this way. Maybe Estonia? With a property tax I think this is one of the two least distorting taxation models, one slight difficulty being that unlike a property tax it can be evaded by incorporating overseas.

FBW, could you please drop me an email? BTW, I'll have you note that not everything on the Green Line is terrible - my mother and stepfather live in a very nice part of College Park. If you don't have children, and you don't mind taking the train through hell, it's really quite livable, and cheap as well.

January 16, 2008 at 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Essentially the functional socialism under which we have lived since the New Deal is Mussolini's fascism, without the bluster and strut."

And dull as can be. If we are going to have fascism, I'd like the fancy uniforms and rallies.

January 16, 2008 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

"Essentially the functional socialism under which we have lived since the New Deal is Mussolini's fascism, without the bluster and strut."

And without the organized murder of minorities and opposition parties, but I suppose that is a mere detail.

BTW, does it bother anyone here that this thesis is being advocated in a wretched but bestselling book by one of the stupidest humans ever to pretend to be a public intellectual? I suspect it's part of a plot by the fascist octopus of the state to discredit its detractors.

January 16, 2008 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Steve Sailer said...

By the way, there are a lot of funny stories about the gruesome twosome, James Kirchick and Marty Peretz, who did the number on Ron Paul here:

http://vdare.com/sailer/080113_paul.htm

People who live in houses as glassy as Marty Peretz are free to throw all the stones they want, but we're still free to laugh at them.

January 16, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Steve Sailer said...

Hopefully things will improve under its new editor, but "Reason" got more and more boring as it became ever more politically correct under its old editor Nick whatever his name was. Do grown-ups still read it anymore?

"Reason" has a few decent thinkers left like Ron Bailey, but mostly it's getting left far behind by the flood of 21st Century science, while it's stuck in 1990s political correctness.

The future does not belong to the easily shocked ...

January 16, 2008 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Oh, come on, mtraven, Goldberg isn't that bad. His only problem is that he always shoots from the hip, has no real principles, has no understanding of history, and is mainly interested in soundbites. It could be a lot worse. At least he doesn't call himself a libertarian.

Granted, I do wish he weren't chasing this subject. Arthur Lipow, a genuine academic and a student of ubersocialist Michael Harrington, did a far better job with Authoritarian Socialism in America, and he went back before WWI where the real dirt is.

And is it really possible to murder a party? True, Fascist gangs murdered Matteotti. Unless you were Matteotti, how did that affect you? How many people were killed by the Black Panthers, and how often do you hear people blaming Hillary for it? Why is murdering a politician worse than murdering you or I?

As for minorities, Italy only started shipping its Jews to Germany very, very late in the game, at a point where it was basically a Nazi puppet state. And it's not at all clear that any Italians knew what would happen to them, though I'm sure some must have guessed.

I do dislike the use of the words Fascism, Communism, racism, etc, as buzzwords. But the whole point of the thread is that once we start playing the crimethink game, nobody comes out clean. Unless of course they have their own newly minted ideology, like me. Which is really hardly fair. And that's why I don't like the game.

January 16, 2008 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Steve,

Mea culpa - I definitely meant to link to your New Republic romp. Stay tuned for my next, in which I propose that rich people give you money.

January 16, 2008 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Steve Sailer said...

One way to look at this fight among libertarians is that it divides up into grown-ups versus adolescents. The grown-ups tend to be realists with a sense of humor while the adolescents tend to have a lot theories about how the world should work and are shocked when grownp-ups laugh at them.

January 16, 2008 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

I don't know - I get the feeling that there are grownups on both sides. The main difference is that LvMI has smart grownups and stupid adolescents, whereas Cato has smart adolescents and stupid grownups. (Granted, this clever formulation requires us to extend adolescence until the age of 35, but I'm not sure this doesn't fit the facts.)

January 16, 2008 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider the 100 million+ dead at the hands of communists and nazis in the 20th century. I suspect that racism's pile of corpses is nowhere near that large.

Some would take the view that everything the Europeans did to today's Third World from 1492 onwards constitutes "racism" (in addition to colonialism and imperialism, etc.). The indigenous peoples of North America who died after Columbus arrived would make a substantial pile (some say 100 million, though I don't buy that myself). I am sure a lot of people would put that pile at racism's doorstep.

A lot of people would put all the Nazi corpses at racism's doorstep, too. The Nazis were, after all, undeniably racist, for all that they mainly killed other Europeans. But even if you exclude this group, racism's death toll is still large.

King Leopold killed anywhere from two to fifteen million blacks in the Congo, depending on who you believe.

Deaths from the Atlantic slave trade? Some say 8 million.

Start adding them up, and I betcha racism's pile of corpses looks pretty competitive with socialism's.

January 16, 2008 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

/me waves a small dollar-sign flag

Hi, resident Objectivist checking in! (And ARI supporting at that, so I preemptively disavow anything Bob Bidinotto has to say.) I must be the only person here who disagrees with Paul only on foreign policy.

Um. I really have nothing to add, except perhaps that this is why ARI mostly limits itself to the occasional op-ed piece, preferring to focus on outreach projects like getting Atlas into the hands of as many students as possible. I think they mostly focus on the pointlessness of activism in a society which disagrees with you, but I'm sure the inherently corrupting nature of "inside-the-Beltway" life has occurred to them too.

January 16, 2008 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

At least he doesn't call himself a libertarian.
I hate to tell you, but the Pantload makes libertarian noises when he isn't praising the neoconservative torture state.

How many people were killed by the Black Panthers, and how often do you hear people blaming Hillary for it?
Not all that many as far as I know (about as many as there were Panthers murdered by the State), and as far as I know Hillary has only the most tenuous of connections with any of the excitement. But if you think you can hang the Panthers around her neck, be my guest (see below).

Why is murdering a politician worse than murdering you or I?
I don't think it is is "worse", whatever that means, but it has a decidedly different semantics. If I shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die, that's one thing, if I shoot a politician because voting the bastards out doesn't seem to be working, that's something quite different. Anyway, that is a irrelevant tangent; the issue is not different kinds of killing but whether you want to make a distinction between poltiical movements that take power by murdering or physically threatening their opposition versus those that manage to do so without violence.

This idea that it is somehow illegitimate to use Ron Paul's connections against him is laughable. Politics is all about networks of power and influence. If we elect Hillary or Mitt, we are not electing a single face or an ideology, but a network of funders, supporters, hangers-on, sympathetic think tanks and policy wonks, etc. Networks can be used both for and against a candidate. Paul, whatebver his actual beliefs, chose to network with the wrong people, people who could get him some short term funding but damaged his mainstream appeal. That's the breaks. In Paul's case, of course, he is not merely associated with racist cranks, but he actually published their output under his own name and editorial control, so the connection is quite strong, compared to, for instance, Hillary's connection with the Black Panthers.

It's not like the other side is pure as the driven snow. Democrats have to pal around with the odious Al Sharpton, who has also been known to unleash the racism and anti-semitism. You may be sure this will be used by the Republicans; that's just how the game is played. I have no problem with taking as a default assumption that any politician's decision to associate with x is not based on ideology or moral considerations but on cost/benefit analysis. You don't get to the big leagues otherwise.

January 16, 2008 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

The main difference is that LvMI has smart grownups and stupid adolescents, whereas Cato has smart adolescents and stupid grownups.
Elaborate, I'm not quite sure what that meant. I'm glad you've conceded there are areas in which LvMI/LRC falls short of Cato (like behaving childishly and belligerently).

I would actually be less upset about a person who murders a politician versus Average Q. Public. The former is a high-ranking (I disagree with MM on that) member of a very large organization that would be considered criminal were it not for it's control over the laws. If the briefcase bomb really had killed Hitler, we'd cheer his murderer's name.

I know Steve has often talked about what rich folks do with their money (Ivy League graduates, neo-conservatives), so apropos of MM's sneak-peak, I thought you might be interested in this think tank for sale.

January 16, 2008 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

You're leaning rather heavily on Snopes's one-word "false." Snopes sets up a strawman in which Hillary "freed" the Panthers and proceeds to knock it down.

The point is that she was involved in their defense and in the shutdown of Yale, and black militant violence was incredibly chic at the time. (Tom Wolfe's Radical Chic is of course canonical.Imagine if Ron Paul had been involved in defending some KKK thug...

Try this for a good description of the atmosphere at Yale in '69. A few clicks on "Surprise Me" should do it. James Kunen's Strawberry Statement, written at the time about events at Columbia, is an excellent primary source. Both are by dyed-in-the-wool progressives.

And if you want more racist cranks, there's always Barack Obama...

I agree that one can judge people by their associates, and I agree that paramilitary political violence is icky. My problem is the double standards.

It is simply impossible to understand the power that progressives hold today without understanding their control over the universities. And history cannot forget that that control was acquired largely through paramilitary political violence. If few people were killed, this is largely because the Kingman Brewsters of the world were wise enough - or cowardly enough - to surrender without much of a fight. Lethal bluster was certainly not hard to come by.

It's the fact that the product of this tradition feels the need to go full-on Roy Cohn at Ron Paul which sticks in my craw. I hope it at least hesitates a bit in yours.

January 16, 2008 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

LvMI, or at least Lew Rockwell, both by being extremist and by dabbling in the leftist fever swamps (think Glenn Greenwald) has attracted a remarkable number of relatively unthoughtful readers. However, the serious scholars associated with LvMI are often much deeper and broader thinkers than any of the George Mason types, whose work I tend to find quite superficial.

The Catosphere has no one in a class with Hans-Hermann Hoppe, for example. The fact that for the most part they simply ignore the whole Misesian tradition is not at all to their credit. No, kids, if you close your eyes it won't go away. Social "science" has rotted their brains.

January 16, 2008 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Aren't the GMU Austrians, who claim to be part of the Misesian tradition, part of the "Catosphere"? And how is Glenn Greenwald part of the "fever swamp"? His latest piece posted at Lew Rockwell is a quite good defense of free-speech for neocons.

It's kind of pathetic to shrug off the lack of casualties from 60s radicals. We rightly consider the democratic process to be preferrable to war, though it is also backed by violence. On the other hand, I'm unaware of any act of violence real or threatened perpetrated by paleos, unless you want to count Tim McVeigh despite the absence of any evidence he ever read Paul newsletters.

I agree that one can judge people by their associates
I have to say, I lost some more respect for you when I read that.

My problem is the double standards.
I think you just dislike the New Left a lot more than paleos.

January 16, 2008 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

You're leaning rather heavily on Snopes's one-word "false." Snopes sets up a strawman in which Hillary "freed" the Panthers and proceeds to knock it down.

Well, here's what it says:
[Hillary] was a Yale law student, and like many of her politically-minded fellow law students who saw the latest "Trial of the Century" taking place right in their back yard, she took advantage of an opportunity to be involved in a minor, peripheral way by organizing other students to help the American Civil Liberties Union monitor the trial for civil rights violations.

Not quite joining the Weather Underground or getting in line to sleep with Huey Newton. In fact, it's entirely mainstream and in keeping with Clinton's decidedly non-revolutionary persona of today. If the Panthers were chic, she chose the safest, most conventional, and least committed way to tap into a little of that chicness.

James Kunen's Strawberry Statement, written at the time about events at Columbia, is an excellent primary source.

Dude, I was around in the 60s, old enough to read the Strawberry Statement when it was published if not to participate actively in the fun.

Let me remind the libertarian-minded that one side of this conflict consisted of a government who was fighting an illegal war and conscripting young men to kill and die in a pestilent jungle, while the other side consisted of mostly young people who objected to this, and would occasionlly express their objections in a manner that was foolish, inapprpriate, or even violent. The wretched excesses of the period have been well-documented, but that cohort did more to resist state power than the entire libertarian movement from its invention to the present. I'm glad that the Ron Paulistas oppose the Iraq war, but they and their candidate haven't done jack shit to end it.

It is simply impossible to understand the power that progressives hold today without understanding their control over the universities. And history cannot forget that that control was acquired largely through paramilitary political violence.

You know, that is just as nuts when you say it in a sane voice as when that last commenter says it like this:

The PC/Marxists are merely fulfilling the program they were fed by their KGB handlers in the 1960's meltdown of civility to open the gates for the Soviet invasion that was supposed to arrive about now...the Socialist future envisioned in the drug-induced haze of the Grateful Death Porno Commune House of Californicating Universalist Colleges seems about as likely as peace in the Middle East nowadays!

Uh, yeah...(backs away slowly).

Nothing in the sixties really rose to the level of "paramilitary political violence", although there was a lot of stupid fantasizing about it. The Weathermen turned out to be better at blowing themselves up than others.

It's the fact that the product of this tradition feels the need to go full-on Roy Cohn at Ron Paul which sticks in my craw.

I thought you blame Marty Peretz's neoconservatives and the Cato libertarians for slagging Paul. These are not generally considered to be the heirs of the New Left.

January 17, 2008 at 12:25 AM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Nothing in the sixties really rose to the level of "paramilitary political violence", although there was a lot of stupid fantasizing about it.

Dude, Tom Wolfe's Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers is available in one very small volume. Have you read it? I hope so.

Mau-mauing is what I mean by "paramilitary violence." It was not as violent as the Weathermen. It was only as violent as it needed to be. And it was everywhere. And it worked. I am not as old as you, but my parents went to college in the early '60s. The world they describe was an entirely different one. What do you think caused this change? Global warming?

Let me remind the libertarian-minded that one side of this conflict consisted of a government who was fighting an illegal war and conscripting young men to kill and die in a pestilent jungle, while the other side consisted of mostly young people who objected to this, and would occasionlly express their objections in a manner that was foolish, inappropriate, or even violent.

I should probably talk a little about Vietnam sometime. I worry that it would drive you into conniptions, though.

But try this sometime and see how it stacks up against your "illegal war." Mises has the full book on line. It's worth a read.

If you apply the same standards to every US war from 1860 to present, you will see a pattern. And it is not a pattern of increasing military unaccountability, arbitrary Presidential power, and disrespect for the rights of civilians. I'm afraid it is quite the opposite.

Was Vietnam perfect and beautiful and true? Of course not. But I find that difficult to swallow from people who believe that WWII was a perfect crusade for justice and peace. Of course, maybe you don't believe that, but how can you be a liberal if you don't?

And remind me who told us that the NLF represented democratic neutralist forces in Vietnam. Who told us that the Tet Offensive was a victory for the Viet Cong. Who told us that the Viet Cong could never be defeated by military means. Who told us that Southeast Asia would be a "better place" without Americans.

In the light of hindsight, all of these statements were clearly wrong. And all were constantly repeated by the so-called "antiwar" movement, whose concern for the human rights of Vietnamese seemed to just disappear into nowhere when millions of people fled South Vietnam by boat, when hundreds of thousands were put in concentration camps. You'll forgive me if I don't exactly see a golden glow around Tom Hayden and his ilk.

Not quite joining the Weather Underground or getting in line to sleep with Huey Newton.

Again: apply the same standards of personal contamination you use for the Ku Klux Klan. The point is that Hillary was a supporter. Imagine if she'd supported David Duke. Would you be saying it was okay, because she didn't sleep with the man?

I thought you blame Marty Peretz's neoconservatives and the Cato libertarians for slagging Paul. These are not generally considered to be the heirs of the New Left.

I'm afraid you haven't been spending enough time with the paleos. Within the center, the center looks infinitely wide. To a shepherd, all sheep are different. To the rest of us...

January 17, 2008 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Aren't the GMU Austrians, who claim to be part of the Misesian tradition, part of the "Catosphere"?

When was the last time you heard a GMU Austrian talking about fractional reserve or the ABCT?

And how is Glenn Greenwald part of the "fever swamp"?

One word: Bushitler.

January 17, 2008 at 1:10 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

mtraven:
The wretched excesses of the period have been well-documented, but that cohort did more to resist state power than the entire libertarian movement from its invention to the present. I'm glad that the Ron Paulistas oppose the Iraq war, but they and their candidate haven't done jack shit to end it.
You should read Michael Neumann's Victory and Recruitment in CounterPunch. Also, I suppose the bolsheviks helped draw Russia out of WW1, but the violence didn't stop.

I thought you blame Marty Peretz's neoconservatives and the Cato libertarians for slagging Paul. These are not generally considered to be the heirs of the New Left.
I thought Peretz was a neoliberal, which Mickey Kaus claims IS the heir of the New Left. Brink Lindsey also thinks the New Left was libertarian, as did Murray Rothbard for a time.

Mencius:
If you apply the same standards to every US war from 1860 to present, you will see a pattern. And it is not a pattern of increasing military unaccountability, arbitrary Presidential power, and disrespect for the rights of civilians. I'm afraid it is quite the opposite.
I would say that arbitrary Presidential power has grown (they used to need Congress to declare war, remember, and Clinton started ones in flat out defiance of Congress). Civilians became treated more harshly for a time (total war is usually said to originate with Lincoln/Sherman/Sheridan and in WW2 civilian casualties exceeded military) but later less so. I don't know about military unaccountability since they are the instrument of the executive, which I already discussed.

But I find that difficult to swallow from people who believe that WWII was a perfect crusade for justice and peace. Of course, maybe you don't believe that, but how can you be a liberal if you don't?
My position remains untarnished!

I'm afraid you haven't been spending enough time with the paleos.
There's no such thing as too much time with paleos!

When was the last time you heard a GMU Austrian talking about fractional reserve or the ABCT?
I bet you don't even read the Austrian Economists blog, you fraud.
Defending Ron Paul's monetary policy/gold standard:
http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2007/12/you-cannot-be-s.html
The next post promotes Selgin & White:
http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2007/12/ms-mcardle-plea.html
Vindication of ABCT:
http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2006/09/vindication_of_.html
That only took a few seconds of googling. Suck it up.

January 17, 2008 at 4:17 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

To my comment that the functional socialism under which we have lived since the New Deal is essentially Mussolini's fascism, without the bluster and strut, mtraven replies: "and without the murder of minorities and opposition parties, but I suppose that is a mere detail."

Mtraven, do you know who the first U.S. Senator to endorse FDR for a third term was? Theodore G. Bilbo (D, Miss.), the foremost opponent of Federal anti-lynching legislation. The fact is that the New Deal was built in cooperation with "redneck liberals" like Bilbo whose one-party control of the then-solid South gave FDR the overwhelming Congressional support necessary to bring about functional socialism. The deal behind the New Deal was that the South's peculiar institutions would be left alone. FDR honored this promise; Truman broke it.

In general, though, functional socialism has relied upon economic pressure rather than on physical violence to break its enemies. The IRS is quite as effective a means of silencing opposition as the KGB or the Gestapo. Why kill a man when ruining him financially will achieve the same objective? It is only in extreme cases, like Waco or Ruby Ridge that the murder of dissentient persons or groups becomes necessary.

As for Goldberg's book, the observation that New Deal functional socialism and fascism had much in common long antedates it. I believe Ronald Reagan once made this point, and was as one might imagine roundly derided for it by the punditry. Yet it was Frances Perkins, FDR's secretary of labor, whose admiring comment it was that at least Mussolini made the trains run on time.

To anonymous's comment that if we are going to have fascism, he'd like to have the fancy uniforms and rallies: I see your point. The dullness of the modern age in comparison with bygone days is evident in many ways. Let's consider the massacre of the Branch Davidians in comparison with the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day. In both cases the victims were religious dissidents who posed some putative threat to the existing order. In both cases there was an evil queen who practised necromancy: Catherine de Medicis employed Nostradamus to raise the dead, while Hillary relied upon some quack from California to help her "channel" the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt. Both evil queens had cheating husbands. Henri II built the château de Chénonceaux for his mistress Diane de Poitiers, but Bill Clinton never even bought a used double-wide for Jennifer Flowers. "The past is another country - they do things differently there."

January 17, 2008 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

MM:
Tom Wolfe's Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers is available in one very small volume. Have you read it? I hope so.

I have, albeit ages ago. As I recall, "mau-mauing" is a metaphor. The real Mau Maus practiced paramilitary violence. The IRA practiced paramilitary violence. Black panthers displaying some aggro at a cocktail party is not paramilitary violence, by any reasonable definition.

To be completely clear, there was a lot of talk about armed rebellion in the sixties, and a few groups like the Panthers and the Weathermen attempted to actually realize it, but mostly it was silly fantasizing. Those groups that did take up arms were small and were crushed like bugs by the state, so in no way can they be said to have accomplished gaining control of the universities or anything else. Insofar as anything changed at universities, it was through large-scale protests that were by and large non-violent. Occupying the admin building does constitute paramilitary operations.

I find that difficult to swallow from people who believe that WWII was a perfect crusade for justice and peace. Of course, maybe you don't believe that, but how can you be a liberal if you don't?
This is something less than a strawman. Who believes that "WWII was a perfect crusade for justice and peace"? The prevailing sentiment about war in the sixties was expressed by books like Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five, both set in WWII and and emphasizing the stupidity, carnage, and snafu-like nature.

Who told us that Southeast Asia would be a "better place" without Americans?

It seems quite likely that the end results would have been better if we had kept our noses out of it entirely. Same goes for just about all of our imperial ventures. But, this is something that is going to be impossible to settle, and I'd rather not try. Instead, let me point out that you can either support a global military empire, or you can support devolving the state, but there's no way in hell you can support both at once. "War is the health of the state." So, pick one already. You want Washcorp to devolve to 50 small states, fine, but the results will be too busy fighting with each other to bring war and order to the benighted people of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and all the other places we have been so busily improving over the last 100 years.

MM:
To a shepherd, all sheep are different. To the rest of us...
If your ideology makes you unable to make distinctions, that is usually a sign of pathology, that it is damaging your thought processes rather than improving them. Here's an example I found a while back of Nick Szabo, presumably a bright guy, who apparently can't tell the difference between Hillary Clinton and Kim Jong Il. Interestingly enough, this same pathology was found in the New Left in its later, flaming-out stage, when anybody who displayed insufficient radicalism was considered part of the established order, ignoring whatever distinctions of opinion there might be between, say, Richard Nixon and George McGovern. "Liberal" was the worst thing you could be.

TGGP:
You should read Michael Neumann's Victory and Recruitment in CounterPunch. Also, I suppose the bolsheviks helped draw Russia out of WW1, but the violence didn't stop.
Interesting article...so, he claims the New Left accomplished nothing, MM claims that they used paramilitary tactics to seize control the most powerful institutions of society. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between?

January 17, 2008 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

One more question for MM: Is Larry White at Division of Labour part of the Polygon/Orange Line? He came down on the side of GMU's Pete Boettke against LvMI's Joe Salerno in the "Radicals for Capitalism" dispute, so does that make him a traitor, especially when he praises the former for his politeness against the "low blow" Kochtopus accusations of the latter?

mtraven: I haven't read the book, but I believe the Black Panther's are in the Radical Chic portion, and Mau-Mauing the flak catchers is completely different. It is not a cocktail party but mobs in streets.

I was usually taught in school that the books in the sixties about previous wars were really about Vietnam (I guess the Wild Bunch wasn't an actual war, but more bullets were fired in it than the Mexican Revolution!). That might have been the result of my teachers having a higher opinion of WW2 than the authors though.

You want Washcorp to devolve to 50 small states, fine, but the results will be too busy fighting with each other to bring war and order to the benighted people of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and all the other places we have been so busily improving over the last 100 years.
The U.S managed to avoid conflict with Canada pretty well, and the states themselves stayed at peace with one another until Lincoln was elected. Today war seems to be less frequent and deadly, and whether you buy the Steve Pinker or Steve Sailer explanation is up to you. The inhabitants of the states will largely be of the same culture and speaking the same language, so I don't think tempers are as likely to flare as between very different neighboring countries.

Interesting article...so, he claims the New Left accomplished nothing, MM claims that they used paramilitary tactics to seize control the most powerful institutions of society. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between?
They aren't necessarily that contradictory. Neumann claims that the Left did not end the Vietnam war and it was instead the Vietnamese who booted us out. MM claimed that the Left failed in its more liberating goals (legalizing drugs, for instance), but succeeded in the areas that strengthened the Polygon, which would include seizing control of the universities from Minotaur version 2.7 or whatever.

January 17, 2008 at 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

I can't believe no one has razzed Arnold Kling for his decontextualizing the "dirt" on Paul. The original quote is:

"Many more are going to have difficulty avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists -- and they can be identified by the color of their skin. This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable."

Note that Kling used the middle of that quote -the part between "avoiding the belief that" and "This conclusion may not be entirely fair" - as the headpiece to his smear job.

Kling ain't no libertarian. Nor is anyone who gives even a single cheer for political correctness.

January 31, 2008 at 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

In defense of Will "Two Cheers" Wilkinson, the vague definition of racism is a stumbling block in many of these discussions. Does it mean:
(1) Noting important differences between racial groups, or
(2) inventing ones that aren't there in order to further an injust political agenda?

(As always, there is a nebulous "something else entirely category" which may be perfectly valid.) The question the PC types won't answer, because it is either too obvious, or because to answer it would destroy their aura of rationality, is, what exactly is wrong with racism? It's okay for us to specify that racism is morally wrong by definition, but surely that can't be the whole definition.

Unfortunately, a lot of sentences beginning with "what is wrong with" are in fact statements that "there is nothing wrong with ___", masquerading as questions. Put that aside - I'm asking actual questions here.

Is racism the wrongness of making any statement a racial group? In this case, "White folks sunburn easily" is racist. A no-brainer. So, the answer is probably no.

Is racism the wrongness of making an inaccurate statement about a racial group? In this case, "Black folks sunburn easily" is racist. A complete mistatement, not particularly insulting, the likely result of a typo or simple language problems. So the answer is probably no.

Is racism the wrongness of making a negative statement about a racial group? Lots of possible examples here, depending on what constitutes "negative" and "about a group". "White people are criminals" is less tolerated than "Some white people are criminals". We tolerate "Blacks have had tremendous success in the arts and sciences"; we demand no weakening along the lines of "Some blacks have had tremendous success in the arts and sciences." The conclusion isn't too surprising: positive statements require less weakening to be acceptable. (Indeed, I observe that positive statements require no weakening at all, and can be wildly exaggerated without any eyebrows raising.)

Is racism the wrongness of negative speculation about a racial group, when not supported by evidence? Well, "Black folks naturally tend toward crime" is a classic, perhaps the classic racist attitude. Lots of folks make this statement based on little or no evidence - rumor, innuendo, tradition, etc. I hope I don't need to go into detail why those kinds of unsupported statements offend me.

Is racism the wrongness of negative speculation about a racial group, even when supported by evidence? Lots of possible examples there too, so let me move back to the topic at hand. What about someone who sees a statistic saying 85% of black males in a specific town have been arrested, and notes that not everyone who commits a crime gets arrested, so he sort of "rounds up" from 85% to 95%? It's shaky statistical ground, to be sure, since not everyone who is arrested is convicted, and we're pretty much obligated to assume innocence until we get proof of the opposite. Furthermore, it's pretty nasty to ever assume any worse about a group than you need to, particularly a group which people are born into.

Shaky, yes. Nasty, yes. Racist? Well, had it been directed at a race in general, that case could be made, but if made at a tiny subcategory of the race (i.e. males from a certain town), the case shrinks to nothing, at least among people who read the original statement for detail (who are pretty few and far between these days).

Cheerleading for PC always results in the elevation of race to some kind of holy ineffeable supra-topic. As we have seen, race is a category which trumps all other categories. A negative statement made about a racial-gender-local group will be taken to be about a race, because that would be worse. Since we are (nominally) against believing something bad about a race, we always believe the worst about the individual. Partisan loyalty - the habit a libertarian may have of giving other libertarians the benefit of the doubt - falls to ashes when the threshold is crossed into the ineffable supra-topic.

Of course, these questions are largely irrelevant to the current North American situation, because our conception of racism is inconsistent and basically serves as leftist self-congratulation. Few racists stoop so low as to describe folks they don't like as a disease - dehumanization in the strictest sense - but I don't hear too many people calling Sontag a racist. She didn't exactly choose an innocuous disease either - could have said "The white race is the runny nose of human history", but didn't. (Exactly how often has David Duke been that rude? Seriously. I don't read his stuff, I wouldn't know.)

Had someone said "95% of white people show insensitive political opinions" or "95% of white business executives are white-collar criminals" or perhaps entitled a movie "White Men Can't Be Fleet-footed", that person would have gotten exactly the same MSM pass that Sontag got. And they would not have had to follow up any of their comments with "This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable" in order to get away with it.

February 1, 2008 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Tripp said:
Few racists stoop so low as to describe folks they don't like as a disease - dehumanization in the strictest sense - but I don't hear too many people calling Sontag a racist.
Actually that was a common trope of the Nazis. Sontag's remark about whites and cancer was pretty stupid and tasteless, but it was one phrase uttered 40 years ago, and her career since then was not much about race and racism. The fact that she herself is white gives the remark an entirely different import than similar remarks uttered by, say, Nazis about Jews or blacks about whites. Sontag's dead, so if white racism against whites is such a big deal maybe it's time to find another example.

Meanwhile, enjoy this diatribe against the Hateful Zio-Feminist, scored to the Velvet Underground. The stuff you find on the web...

February 1, 2008 at 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

I wasn't particularly looking for white racism against whites. (The next examples that come to mind don't really translate too well into text; I'm just thinking of all the times in person I've heard a white person say "white" with that clench-teethed sneer that can only be described as self-loathing.) I was comparing the MSM's response to racism against whites to its response to racism against blacks. Events and statements from quite a bit before 1967 are used to tar people with the racist brush.

I set my "Few racists" comment in the present tense on purpose. Certainly the Nazis took racial demonization to its highest level, often times simultaneously holding beliefs about Jews that aren't really compatible. (Although fiction, the movie The Believer shows this to good effect - a Jewish neo-Nazi explains how anti-semitism isn't and need not be rational ... a very twisted and interesting portrait, loosely based on a real Jewish neo-Nazi from a few decades ago.)

I think Sontag, Leonard Jeffries, etc., have more influence on current American political life than Nazis. Hard to say, given the strange places you may find people claiming to "have the Hitler syndrome figured".

That video was pretty silly. I don't know why someone would use YouTube for what looks like an all-text presentation. It seems like they're bundling Zionism, feminism, and whatever else they don't like and trying to convince someone those things have something in common. I'm not going to grow an opinion on Zionism any time soon, but I bristle at anti-semitism and I'm completely uninterested in unfalsifiable claims of "Jewish supremacism" or whatever their term was.

I don't think the "Wild Side" song is a Velvet Underground number, actually. When I think Velvet Underground, I think Andy Warhol, and then I think of who shot him, and then Sontag doesn't seem like such hateful person any more.

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Anonymous Tripp said...

Shame that the race leftists crawled away from this thread and left it to the automated spam stuff. Not surprising, but disappointing.

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March 6, 2009 at 6:21 AM  

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