Libertarian Weirdos

Libertarians have everything about human nature exactly backwards. Humans are not rational actors and we should never want to be. The other thing about libertarians is they suffer from many of the same defects as liberals. Chief among them is their moral preening. There’s no better example than Nick Gillespie from Reason. I read this and think he must be an awful person to be around or have as a neighbor.

As one of the folks (along with Matt Welch, natch), who started the whole “Libertarian Moment” meme way back in 2008, it’s been interesting to see all the ways in which folks on the right and left get into such a lather at the very notion of expanding freedom and choice in many (though sadly not all) aspects of human activity.

Indeed, the brain freeze can get so intense that it turns occasionally smart people into mental defectives.

No one gets into a lather of expanding freedom and choice. That’s just signaling so the reader knows he is in the presence of the anointed. The fact is, hardly anyone pays much attention to libertarians. The reason is life is not a math problem nor is it an economic problem. Public debate is about what kind of society we wish to have and that means culture.

To wit, Damon Linker’s recent essay in The Week (a great magazine, by the way), which argues that the outcomes of U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Libya disprove libertarianism, in particular, the Hayekian principle of “spontaneous order.”

No shit. Linker is being super-cereal here, kids.

Nick is a 50-year old man. There’s simply no reason to write like a teenager. Putting that aside, the observable reality of the Middle East is, in fact, a perfect case against libertarianism. Remove a central authority with the willingness and ability to enforce the rules and you get Lord of the Flies with camels and swarthy guys firing Kalashnikovs. The same is true of Africa and South America. It turns out that the only people capable of pulling off anything close to libertarianism are Anglo-Saxons.

But, that’s noticing and that leads to the great bogeyman that haunts the dreams of the libertarian weirdo – culture. Africans prefer a form of government that is based on neopatrimonialism. South Americans have always preferred autocratic rule, often by military men. Russians love their czars. Economic systems spring from culture. Culture and genetics dance the dance within the bounds of their geography to make the people we around the world. No words on a sheet of paper will change that natural realty.

5 thoughts on “Libertarian Weirdos

  1. Besides being smug, Nick Gillespie isn’t very bright. He prattles on about Hayek and “spontaneous order” the way a conservative bloviates over Burke and “tradition”. The phrases are in fact meaningless in the sense that they are used by these cultists. For example, Christianity is upheld by conservatives as a “traditional” doctrine essential to conservatism, but Christianity at its inception was revolutionary, not conservative. To be conservative at the time of Christ was to be for Paganism and Caesar. Conservatism is completely contextual, and cannot be universalized without hollowing out the concept.

    It’s the same with “spontaneous order”. Let’s look at Nick’s definition:

    “spontaneous order is precisely about how rules, customs, and traditions inherited from the past inform current arrangements and how we evolve and add to them, sometimes displacing them altogether.”

    “The central insight of Hayek…is simply this…that things generally work better (not perfectly, but better) when people are given more space to choose among options or to create new options for themselves.”

    Nick uses taxi cabs as an example, but you could just as well use “spontaneous order”, by this definition, to explain feudalism, slavery, or the rise of Islam. On the other hand, the American experiment, with its Declaration and Constitution, was just the sort of “constructivist” affair that libertarians profess to abhor. America became a capitalist power house precisely through the implementation of Alexander Hamilton’s mercantilist ideas, ideas which, via Friedrich List, informed and inspired the stunning German and Japanese economic modernization in the late 19th century. Libertarians are great with the slogans, but when it comes to how the real world works, they are always wrong.

  2. Ahhh…come *off* it, mister.
    Your arrogance and snark equal his.
    And I mean that IN A NICE WAY.
    Makes for better reading.

  3. Libertarians like to trumpet their realism, but they are just another wing of the deluded Rousseau Cult that insists that man is born both good and free, and yet is everywhere in chains, the chains being imposed in this case by the perfidious State. Paradoxically, many major libertarian figures loathe democracy, because the deluded rabble, given the chance, will impose chains upon themselves. In the weird world of libertarianism, Hans-Hermann Hoppe is a monarchist; Ayn Rand was a totalitarian, Ludwig Von Mises admired the British Empire, and claimed that only whites were at a sufficient stage of evolutionary advancement to make libertarianism work; Friedrich Hayek advised and supported the loathsome Pinochet regime in Chile; and Murray Rothbard believed that parents had the right to kill their children because they were “property”. As long as some tyrannous plutocratic regime lets the business class run riot, and turns a blind eye to pornography and drugs, some libertarian will be for it.

    Libertarians couldn’t run a fruit stand without descending into rancor and savagery. Most of their little journals lost money and eventually folded. Many major libertarian figures could not support themselves and depended on rich donors. Rothbard fought with everyone and sought allies all over the ideological map, to no effect. Lew Rockwell’s resume looks like the scribblings of a lunatic, and his website is a fever swamp. Ayn Rand excommunicated people because they listened to Mozart. Contra all this dribble about a “libertarian moment”, Rand Paul is running away from libertarianism because he knows it won’t get him elected. I no more pay attention to these lunatics than I do the nut asking me for change on a street corner.

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