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Lawsuckers United For Freedom

Roy has a good post today about the Henry Louis Gates arrest, and specifically about how curious it is that the Libertarian right -- who are supposed to be all about freedom and liberty and non-coercion -- are forever reluctant to criticize the actions of cops and soldiers.

Of course, in this case, it's just good old run-of-the-mill racism, but it is an interesting overall question. It's something I've wondered about myself, even back in my wild Red days: if your conception of an ideal society is one in which personal freedom is the supreme value, and government coercion is the supreme evil, why on Earth would you want the only function of the government to be supporting a powerful military and an efficient internal police force? Not only are those the primary tools of government coercion, they're also the functions of government that receive the most funding and attention in the least free, most oppressive societies throughout history.

As Bob Black asked when he was told that in a Libertarian utopia, tax revenues would only go to fund the police and the army: "What kind of world do these people want to live in, anyway?"

***

In whorin' news, I interviewed Grant Morrison.

Comments

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archaica
Jul. 22nd, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
Because society needs to protect the Right People's freedom, and that's why we need cops and soliders!

And no, there's no racism inherent in that.
ludickid
Jul. 22nd, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
It's all about our good friend Fear.
perich
Jul. 22nd, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
(1) Where the hell does your friend get off claiming Jonah Goldberg speaks for libertarians?

(2) I was busy yesterday, so the only Libertarian I found blogging about the story was Radley Balko. Of course, he's an editor at Reason, too, so he posted it to a Hit & Run post there. The comments are, by and large, critical of the cops.

(3) In re #1: where the hell do you get off saying that the Libertarian right are reluctant to criticize the actions of cops and soldiers? Do you mean the non-Libertarian right? Or should I just start firing off links to blog posts by Julian Sanchez, Will Wilkinson, Jim Henley, Patri Friedman, Matt Welch, the aforementioned Radley Balko (who's helped get a wrongfully convicted man an appeal on a life sentence), etc, I could keep going.

Seriously, dude.
ludickid
Jul. 22nd, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
Re: on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
1. Jonah Goldberg makes that claim, not Roy.

2. You can find links to plenty of other self-identified Libertarians, mostly critical of Gates, in the same post.

3. You make the mistake I did when I was a communist, and an anarchist: you believe your ideology is about belief, and not about dogma. You may think that True Libertarianism is represented by, you know, actual libertarians with consistent belief systems, but to the world at large, Libertarianism is represented by blowhard cop-loving market-sucking assholes who only call themselves Libertarian because it's more respectable than calling themselves Republican. It was probably ever thus -- Black had a problem with Libertarian authoritarianism (especially as it involved labor) way back in the late '70s, when the movement was a lot less infiltrated by embittered computer programmers embarrassed to identify with the G.O.P. -- but like it or not, you're stuck with the rest of us: "true" Christians don't like having people believe that they're represented by megachurch hypocrites, just like I didn't like having people believe that I was represented by the R.C.P. or by schmucks like Murray Bookchin, John Zerzan, and Fred Woodworth. And I'm sure it galls you to see that Libertarianism is beginning to be synonymous with a crypto-authoritarian market capitalism. But don't blame me or Roy; we didn't put all those people under the Libertarian tent and make them spout nonsense all day. You wanna kick them out, fine -- that would be good for everyone. But I've been there before, and it's a seriously uphill battle to run around saying "that's not REAL _____ism" every time some dick who's squatted in your philosophy say something dumb.
(Deleted comment)
ludickid
Jul. 22nd, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, exactly. As Black said in that same essay, whether Christians and Communists like it or not, Christianity IS the modern evangelical judgement machine, and Communism IS the murderous Stalinist statism of today. Try and rescue it all you want, but if you weigh it by purists vs. splitters, the splitters win every time. We're seeing the same thing happen to Libertarianism right now.
perich
Jul. 22nd, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
Re: on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
1. Jonah Goldberg makes that claim, not Roy.

When? Certainly not in National Review. Certainly not in that post. Goldberg may certainly claim to be a libertarian. He also claims to be a well-informed scholar on the history of fascism; do we need to take that claim of his at face value, too?

2. You can find links to plenty of other self-identified Libertarians, mostly critical of Gates, in the same post.

True. Reason's a big tent.

3. ... but to the world at large, Libertarianism is represented by blowhard cop-loving market-sucking assholes who only call themselves Libertarian because it's more respectable than calling themselves Republican.

I'm probably opening myself up for a heap of derision, but could you give me some examples of these pro-cop libertarians?

I know plenty of pro-war, anti-immigration libertarians, so if you count Border Patrol and Recon Marines I'll cede the battle. But the Libertarians have been the Guns & Weed people for as long as I've been familiar with them. I've learned more about how to resist illegal police searches, avoid answering leading questions by police and generally act uncooperative around cops from libertarian experts than I have from any other ideology.
ludickid
Jul. 22nd, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
Re: on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
1. Yes, we do. That's my point. You might not like that Jonah and his ilk claim to be Libertarians, but the more of them that do so, the more 'Libertarian' comes to mean what they say it means instead of what you think it should mean.

2. And Reason's better than most. The majority of folks at dimwit petting zoos like Renew America, NewsBusters and Free Republic self-identify as 'Libertarians', and I'm sure you would find precious few people on any of those sites who belong to any ideology you'd recognize as your own.

3. If you want to give me a few days to research this, I will do so happily, but to give you just a few prominent names: Glenn Reynolds would probably be the primary quasi-authoritarian who dresses up in Libertarian claims, along with his wife. Megan McArdle is another, and the Powerline guys too. Tucker Carlson. Matt Yglesias. A ton of the NRO folks, including Thomas Sowell, Steve Hayward, and John J. Miller. Hell, even mouthbreathers like Pam Atlas and the Derb have claimed Libertarianism as their creed. Back in the day, Black identified no less than John Hospers and Murray Rothbard as leaning in this direction insofar as they advocated the use of state power to enforce property rights and keep labor from getting too rambunctious. Keep in mind that with a lot of these folks, it's "freedom for me and none for thee".
perich
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Re: on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
Glenn Reynolds ... Tucker Carlson ... Pam Atlas ... the Derb

That's depressing. I guess this is a case of "the eye sees not itself," because I would not consider any of those folks libertarian. Ah, well - time to start a few more purgings.

Black identified no less than John Hospers and Murray Rothbard as leaning in this direction ...

Murray Rothbard? Really? Because I think I'm one of the five people under 30 who owns a copy of Man, Economy and State, and the Rothbard who wrote that strikes me as too radical for most libertarians.

(I'm not arguing with you, since you're quoting someone else; just expressing my own disbelief)

1. Yes, we do. That's my point. You might not like that Jonah and his ilk claim to be Libertarians, but the more of them that do so, the more 'Libertarian' comes to mean what they say it means instead of what you think it should mean.

Well ... okay. But I think at some point, civility calls us to use our reason and draw some distinctions. Given that you clearly know the difference between what a "real" libertarian would look like (you alluded to it in your first reply) and what these guys cop to, wouldn't it foster more rational discussion to call these people "erstwhile libertarians" or "Rothbardians in name only"?

Putting it another way: if Obama and the Democrats were to spearhead a health care compromise that put an unconscionable amount of power in the hands of insurance companies, which would infuriate you more to hear from me? "I guess progressives don't like poor people"? Or "I guess the Democrats in Congress aren't really that progressive"?
ludickid
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
Re: on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
Well, your point is fair enough -- I'd certainly be quick to say "that's not a REAL progressive" rather than to say "oh, those damn progressives". I guess I've just been around long enough (since the Reagan era, anyway, which is, I think, the first point at which mainstream right-wing conservatives started identifying their activities as 'Libertarian') that it strikes me as more okay to identify this sort of thing as "Libertarian" than it would to identify your example as "progressive". Does that make sense? I'm saying that I've lived in a world where "Libertarian" can be reasonably identified as "fringe-right Republican" longer than I've lived in a world where "progressive" could mean "sell-out corporatist", though I'd cavil a lot less at subbing "Democrat" for "progressive" in that analogy.

Pamela Gellar and John Derbyshire are certainly RothINOs, and in Pam's case, she's out of her mind, so who knows what she thinks Libertarian really means. Reynolds has a pretty solid claim to 'authenticity', though, at least insofar as he's identified as a libertarian for decades, and Tucker Carlson is on the board at the Cato Institute and the Von Mises Institute, if I'm not mistaken.

You might be interested in reading Black's 1984 speech on "The Libertarian as Conservative". That's where he makes his comments about Rothbard, and to be honest, I've read relatively little of his work, so it'll probably mean more to you than to me. But he makes some pretty solid points, I think, primarily that the anti-statist rhetoric rings hollow from people who generally want society to function the same way it does in a statist culture. Or, as he puts it, you can't want what the state wants and not want the state. Here it is, if you're interested:

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5065/libcon.html
perich
Jul. 28th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
just read the link
That was fascinating. It lands heavily on stuff I've been picking at the edges of for decades (the writer Daniel Quinn, malcontent blogger IOZ, etc). And I can't say I really disagree.

(Black's also a masterful rhetorician; I haven't read something that sounds so good in years)
fiberpunk
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
Re: on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
John Hospers was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. The robot who assumed his identity in the mid-60s is to be ignored.
ludickid
Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: on like kong, and I don't mean donkey
Not the first time I've heard that. Oddly, I don't think I've ever read anything but his Libertarian/Objectivist stuff -- the only writings of his I've read firsthand is "Law and the Market" and his stuff for Liberty magazine. It's hard to believe one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century could have been so easily rooked by Ayn Rand, but I'll take your word for it.
bing_crosby
Jul. 22nd, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
well, it's not consistent-- certainly if the cops are enforcing environmental regulations or disabled access codes or blockading a peaceful protest, Libs and other right-wingers are ready to get riled up. Because *those* things would be an abuse of govt power. Certainly plenty of Libertarians objected to feds showing up at Waco or Ruby Ridge. If only they would extend the same sympathy to a man in his own house in Cambridge.
solipsiae
Jul. 22nd, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
It's precisely because the kind of world most of my friends want to live in is like the Anarcho-Texan's ultimate Rambo wet dream that prevents me from identifying as libertarian personally or politically. Would that I could.
solipsiae
Jul. 22nd, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
Amend: ".. my friends who identify as libertarian..."
thebitterguy
Jul. 22nd, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC)
I don't give a fuck about libertarianism, really
But I enjoyed the Morrison interview. Thanks for that.
perich
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: I don't give a fuck about libertarianism, really
I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation!

*headbang*

You're living in the past, it's a new generation!

*headbang*
drownedinink
Jul. 22nd, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
It's part of the reason why I support renaming Libertarians "Neo-Feudalists." Part of the agenda is rearranging the duties of the military and the police away from the public weal to physically protecting the interests of the elite.

It's telling that the only "successful" government (and by that I mean the only government that lasted a significant stretch of time while making significant gains) that embraced what could be construed as a version of modern Libertarian ideals in the history of the West was the Roman Republic, and that ended up giving rise to a turbulent autocracy.
anne_jumps
Jul. 22nd, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
It's part of the reason why I support renaming Libertarians "Neo-Feudalists." Part of the agenda is rearranging the duties of the military and the police away from the public weal to physically protecting the interests of the elite.

Co-signed.
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