Guest Post: Liberals and Libertarians Need Each Other

By Bob Goodwin, an investor and medical device entrepreneur who lives in Mercer Island, Washington

Ideological groupings of the population are an interesting phenomenon. I believe they are caused by two human traits. People need a mental construct or shortcut to make sense of complex externalities, and likely overuse these constructs. More importantly people are social animals, and will use social settings (like NakedCapitalism) to refine and align their constructs. Liberalism is the largest ideology (by population count) in the US with about 30%. Libertarianism is less than half the size of Liberalism, with Evangelical Christianity the only other grouping larger that Libertarianism. These social groupings are imperfect with the majority of adherents lacking the sophistication to debate the nuances, and adherents frequently carving out exceptions or adhering partially to multiple ideologies. But as social forces they are each unmistakable and powerful.
It can be very difficult to debate with someone of a different ideology, when your premise starts with a presumption not shared by your opponent. And due to human nature when the debate devolves into a disagreement on the fundamentals of an ideology it will quickly move to an accusation that there must be a flaw in the messenger. Every decent person I know agrees with my proof, so you must not be a decent person. So let me (tongue-in-cheek) lay out a series of typical debates between Libertarians and Liberals. I am taking pains to skewer both sides equally:
On Global Warming:

Libertarian: Man Made Global Warming is a farce and a conspiracy
Liberal: Your ideology is blinding you, you deny established science.
Libertarian: Fuck you.


Liberal: BP manipulated government, exploited our natural resources, and polluted our beaches.
Libertarian: We need oil, and the government encouraged deep-water drilling and became captured
Liberal: Fuck you.

On Health Care

Liberal: There are 30 million people without healthcare in the richest country in the world
Libertarian: Health care is rigged to overcharge and regulated beyond redemption
Liberal: There are 30 million people without healthcare in the richest country in the world

I pick these three examples, because I believe Libertarians and Liberals largely agree on each of these issues. But the choice of language stokes the ideology. I think the following three statements are safe for both ideologies:

Dependence on fossil fuels has come at a high cost, and we can do much better at creating energy that is causes less environmental damage. The environment is a common asset where government has a role.

Cap-and-trade may be another scheme that will enrich the elite, and not benefit the environment. But we need to reduce emissions into our atmosphere.

We need to drive down the cost of health care while broadening access and improving outcomes. ObamaCare was a sop to corporate interests.

There are natural turning points in history. American Liberalism came to prominence during the Great Depression and American Libertarianism out of the collapse of Calvinism during the industrial revolution. We are at another turning point now, with the aging of the Baby Boomers, and the collapse of the permanent American wealth machine. Let me list issues that are less important than they were 10-20 years ago: Guns, Gays, God, Abortion, State Security, Crime, Drug enforcement, Labor Unions. I did not say they are unimportant – just overtaken by other issues.

But most importantly the role of the government and markets has evolved in both liberals and libertarian minds. Not changed, evolved. We now have a common enemy: the Corporatist elite, who have corrupted both the free market and captured the regulatory apparatus of our government. Corporatists have power in *both* political parties, and this is where our common interests lie. The Tea party is disrupting the Republican Party (with some success) and the progressive movement has been successful in elections but unsuccessful in policy at undermining the entrenched corporate influence on the democratic side. The Corporatists have an interest to see their enemies divided and marginalized. But the combined power of these two movements is close enough to 50% of the population to overpower the Corporatist movement which has power far beyond its numbers.

Alignment of dissonant ideologies is difficult. It involves several steps.

1. Agree on common ground. This common ground needs to be sufficient to justify collaboration.
2. Agree to disagree respectfully. For example, the border shooting is going to elicit different opinions. It is not a central fight. So disagree.
3. Try to use neutral language on collaborative topics.
4. Try to ignore opponent’s ideological language that is necessary to create cohesion within their ideology.
5. There must be demonstrable achievements to justify the discomfort.

Joe Trippi was on Fox News the other day saying that the Tea Party was real, and should be respected. He may well be saying that because he hopes the Tea Party will disrupt the Republicans. Regardless of his logic, that is a good step. As a Libertarian I would like to celebrate four Liberals who have done battle with Corporatists. Three have lost. Liberal Senator Marie Cantwell of my home state of Washington stared down Corporatist Senators Schumer and Reid on bank reform and lost. Liberal Senate candidate Ned Lamont won the Democratic primary, but lost the general to now Independent Corporatist Joe Lieberman. Bill Halter ran as a labor union Liberal against incumbent Corporatist Senator Blanche Lincoln, and lost. Liberal Admiral Joe Sestak beat Republican/Democrat/WhoCares Corporatist Arlen Specter.

Yves gave me a couple of links of cases where Progressives and Libertarians have collaborated along the lines of this post: Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist on investigating Rahm and Ron Paul and Alan Grason on Audit the Fed.

I do not actually know how well we can work together. Can liberals ever accept a libertarian like Sharron Angle, whom corporatists claim is against social security and Medicare (I am not convinced this is true, but some of the claim will stick) in her battle against Chief Corporatist Harry Reid? Can libertarians support Maria Cantwell who has never seen a problem without wanting to impose a government solution? I don’t know. I would like to think we could, which would require us to first agree on a common enemy, and then change our use of language to broaden the appeal of an argument across ideologies. I look forward to readers comments.

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      1. Gary Anderson

        Here is the problem that will make the fusion impossible. As I have written here there can be no meeting of the minds and here is why. The Tea Party individuals are arrogant pharisees. They blame the poor subprime borrower instead of the big banks and the shadow banking system for the credit crisis. The founder of the Tea Party corresponded with me and he is a complete flake.

        The Tea Party is puffed up and arrogant. Until they understand that the lenders were driving the car and the borrowers were the passengers, they are useless.

        They also are against walking away from a ponzi loan and they look down on the people who took out the loans after the real estate agents told them they could refi because real estate always goes up.

        Here is the bottom line, the Tea Party has an agenda. It is not truth, but rather, is politics. There is an old Arkansas phrase that applies to them. The Tea Party is as worthless as tits on a boar.

        1. bob goodwin

          Can you provide evidence of your claims? What you claim seems quite contrary to what I have experienced. Or are you wishing that is what they were saying so you could ignore them?

          Here is post written on the subject that was written by someone who claims to be libertarian, unlike you.

          1. bob goodwin

            You have now cited two articles written by liberals about the tea party. Both use the trick of citing a few outspoken individuals. Again, your thesis is inconsistent with my significant interaction with my creed.

            I doubt there is unanimity within liberals on strategic default either. Read the 100+ comments on the post I linked to. There were plenty of libertarian commenters, and near unanimity in support of mortgage default.

            Calling me hopeless does not strengthen your argument.

      2. anonymous

        Excellent post, Bob. I doubt anyone is going to pay much attention. There’s a sliding scale I’d say of willingness to stick together that diminishes the further up the income ladder we go. Folks who live in big houses with high walls don’t do so to lean across the fence and chat while hanging out the laundry.

        We live in a community where people of all political stripes, do. We all drink from the same tap. Folks who don’t and don’t want to, see things differently. Each woman a queen and each man a king.

        Talk about your crippling delusions of grandeur. Cheers.

        1. Gary Anderson

          Ah, Mr Anonymous, you make my case. The issue is that the Tea Party people are wealthy. They had no debt problems and can’t understand why anyone else would either. They don’t want Wall Street to get ripped. They exist because of Wall Street.

          They will blame anyone but Wall Street.

  1. attempter

    The Tea party is disrupting the Republican Party (with some success) and the progressive movement has been successful in elections but unsuccessful in policy at undermining the entrenched corporate influence on the democratic side. The Corporatists have an interest to see their enemies divided and marginalized.

    Since the measure of being successful in elections is electing people who ferociously pursue the interest of those who elected them, I can’t imagine what “progressives being successful in elections” is supposed to mean.

    As for the tea party, didn’t their most prominent candidate, as soon as he won the primary, waste zero time in proclaiming “I’m really a corporatist in the bag for BP”?

    The problem in both cases is still being mired in the mindset of the overwhelming disproven notion that something from either kleptocratic party can be redeemed for the people.

    Part of my measure of anyone’s seriousness is whether or not he’s completely rejected both kleptocratic parties, at least at the federal level.

    BTW, while a border shooting in itself may be a fringe issue, the mindset which reflexively sides with the jack-booted cadre in any such case (the paramilitary pirates off Gaza being a far more central example) is at the core of what we’re up against. That’s a metric of fascism.

    1. Skippy

      BP needs a few *good people* in both_cases_^^^see above your post^^^.

      Skippy…must shoot wad upon perceived altruistic threat.

    2. bob goodwin

      The quote you are refering to was Rand Paul stating that “he wished the government would get their boot off of BP’s neck”. This is pure libertarianism, and not corporatism at all.

      The actual events, however were corporatist. Clinton offered no royalty leases only for deep water drilling, and the oversight was shoddy through Clinton/Bush/Obama. It is almost impossible to distinguish the priorities and incentives of government vs. Industry, and the players move back and forth.

      1. attempter

        So if in that quote I substitute “Al Capone” or “Pablo Escobar” for “BP” it’s still a libertarian sentiment?

        Just to be clear, any legitimate public-interest government would have its boot on the neck of all extortion rackets. Any true entrepreneur or libertarian would agree.

        (Needless to say, it makes no substantive difference if a gang is able to get its crimes legalized. Organized crime is organized crime, and corporate gangs are gangs like any other.)

        1. bob goodwin

          The neutral way to say this is that BP likely has both criminal and financial liabilities that the government has responsibility to enforce.

          The corporatist politicians are the least likely to enforce this without public backlash. They have common interests with BP.

  2. Debra

    It must be the Christian anarchist mystic speaking in me but… I try to avoid labels these days… ;-)
    Not calling oneself names is perhaps one of the most effective ways of TRYING to deal with name calling.
    I think that if we honestly try hard to THINK beyond our prejudices, we will come to the realization that nobody fits perfectly behind a label anyway.
    There is something else that this topic brings to mind.
    I have noticed that our tolerance of perceived agressivity, IN ANY FORM, verbal, or whatever is in the negative figures column.
    This is BAD for us…
    Because we are naturally agressive animals.
    And when we make everybody feel guilty about being agressive, well, lots of social tension builds up.
    Feeling guilt is BAD for us (most of the time…).
    It doesn’t get the problems solved.
    So… maybe the name calling, and slugging it out on the Internet is a safety net way of expressing the agressivity that our society really will NOT let us feel ?
    And… my mama used to say that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.
    My mama was a little naive on that one… (I am an ex shrink, I know what I’m talking about…) BUT words will hurt us according to the proportion that we will ALLOW ourselves to be hurt from them, and start feeling our emotional selves at the drop of a hat to make sure we are still all there.
    We STILL live in a very comfortable society (materially and with very little physical violence compared to our ancestors lives, despite what the mainstream media reports).
    Let’s try… relaxing a little bit, and not be so DEADLY EARNEST all the time.
    As though… the earth had to move EVERY TIME, you know…(Dixit Hemingway)
    One last point. Rightly or wrongly I don’t like dry, dusty, noncomittal language. I like my language… juicy, like my steak. (oops, haven’t eaten anything besides ground BEEF for a while… I go for smaller critters.)
    Why not ?

    1. Skippy

      Labels = branding = advertising = psych-opp = agenda = until you find out it’s a copy = re-branding of old fashion = made in 3rd world sweat shop – until every one finds out -ideological faux pas.

      Skippy…Haute couture or death!

    2. alex black

      Debra, you Christian/anarchist/mystic… :-) This is why we’ve been enjoying each others’ posts. We have some similarly odd outlooks on life. I was an anarchist/activist from 17-20, a Theology student from 20-24 (although I’m ecumenical to a fault, and ended up becoming more influenced by the great Asian religious/spiritual figures than the Western ones), and that ecumenical leaning kinda plunked me into the great mystics, both Asian and Western, who seemed to have risen above the fray between East and West.

      Also, I never was a shrink, but I was in training to be a Jungian analyst….so I think we’re both keenly amused at human behavior.

      But to your point – yes, we are aggressive animals (Nature seems to have overshot our survival instincts; natural selection favors the overly-aggressive). So our aggression will gush into places where it’s socially counter-productive (like in political discussions that turn into hostile ad hominem orgies – the commentary section here at Naked Capitalism is exhibit A – I especially loved the exchange recently in which the author of this article, Bob Goodwin, was first called “stupid”, and when he asked for a kinder clarification, was simply told that he’s an unfortunate victim of an educational system that has left him unable to think – not his fault. Hilarious!)

      I often hear Christians say that they strive to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” That might be a nice stance in political debate as well – love the arguer, but hate their argument, and then focus aggression on asserting the counter-argument, rather than attacking the arguer.

      I’m actually not hopeful that this will ever happen. Being an ex-shrink, I suspect that you understand why…. :-)

      1. DownSouth

        alex black,

        Why does it not surprise me that, when someone points out the cognitive dissonance so flagrantly on display by those who claim the label “libertarian,” that the libertarian’s immediate reaction is to brand his enemy “aggressive” and “socially counterproductive”? And after labeling his opponent as such, he then accuses his enemy of turning the discussion into a “hostile ad hominem orgy.” Go figure.

        The border shooting incident served as the perfect showcase for the modern-day “libertarian,” for how he operates with an inconsistent libertarianism, and how he applies a glaring double standard. For the downcast and downtrodden it’s, as bob goodwin put it referring to the 14 year-old victim, “a criminal taunting and threatening a law enforcement official can lead to the death of the criminal.” There’s no restraint’s on what the government can do here, no concern for civil liberties. But for rich and powerful corporations, it’s “get their boot off of BP’s neck.” The rights and liberties of rich and powerful corporations are sacrosanct and inviolable.

        (And we won’t even begin on Rand Paul’s cozying up to the radical religious right. I wish some libertarian would explain to me how theocracy fits into the libertarian paradigm.)

        Then there is the way libertarians play fast and loose with the truth. Take your accusation that “Bob Goodwin, was first called ‘stupid’.” Of course there is no truth to this accusation whatsoever, as one can see by looking at the thread:

        So how did libertarianism make the journey from being the honest and principled libertarianism of Thomas Jefferson to being the mendacious and double-dealing defender of the malefactors of great wealth that it is today?

        It began in the period 1880 to 1910 when, as Jacques Barzun puts it, the “Great Switch” occurred. When the poor, working class and petty bourgeoisie perceived that they were ill served by the liberal/bourgeois ethos, they changed their way of thinking and doing things. The libertarians, on the other hand, stuck with the old liberal/bourgeois ethos, which with time petrified into a rigid dogma.

        Here’s how Reinhold Niebuhr explains it:

        [W]e have managed to achieve a tolerable justice in the collective relations of industry by balancing power against power and equilibrating the various competing social forces of society. The rise of the labor movement has been particularly important in achieving this result; for its organization of the power of the workers was necessary to produce the counter-weight to the great concentrations of economic power which justice requires. We have engaged in precisely those collective actions for the sake of justice which Jefferson regarded as wholly incompatible with justice.

        The ironic contrast between Jeffersonian hopes and fears for America and the actual realities is increased by the exchange of ideological weapons between the early and the later Jeffersonians. The early Jeffersonians sought to keep political power weak, discouraging both the growth of federal power in relation to the States and confining political control over economic life to the States. They feared that such power would be compounded with the economic power of the privileged and used against the less favored. Subsequently the wielders of great economic power adopted the Jeffersonian maxim that the best possible government is the least possible government. The American democracy, as every other healthy democracy, had learned to use the more equal distribution of political power inherent in universal suffrage, as leverage against the tendency toward concentration of power in economic life. Culminating in the “New Deal,” national governments, based upon an alliance of farmers, workers and middle classes, have used the power of the state to establish minimal standards of “welfare” in housing, social security, health services, etc. Naturally, the higher income groups benefited less from these minimal standards of justice, and paid a proportionately higher cost for them than the proponents of the measures of a “welfare state.” The former, therefore, used the ideology of Jeffersonianism to counter these tendencies; while the classes in society which had Jefferson’s original interest in equality discarded his ideology because they were less certain than he that complete freedom in economic relations would inevitably make for equality.

        In this development the less privileged classes developed a realistic appreciation of the factor of power in social life, while the privileged classes tried to preserve the illusion of classical liberalism that power is not an important element in man’s social life. They recognize the force of interest; but they continue to assume that the competition of interests will make for justice without political or moral regulation. This would be possible only if the various powers which support interest were fairly equally divided, which they never are.
        –Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

        From this original schism, libertarianism descended into its totally decadent form that we see on display today. Not content with a consistent libertarianism, it abandoned any pretense of consistency, jettisoning any concern whatsoever for the civil liberties and civil and human rights of the less privileged. Here’s how Niebuhr puts it:

        When economic power desires to be left alone it uses the philosophy of laissez faire to discourage political restraint upon economic freedom. When it wants to make use of the police power of the state to subdue rebellions and discontent in the ranks of its helots, it justifies the use of political coercion and the resulting suppression of liberties by insisting that peace is more precious than freedom and that its only desire is social peace.
        –Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Many & Immoral Society

        And since it is not possible to defend this basket case of cognitive dissonance in the face of any factual reading of current events, the need for dishonesty and perfidy becomes more and more extreme. Thus we see the distortions and outright lies that emanates from libertarian think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, which then get repeated ad infinitum by pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly, and eventually filter down to forums such as this one.

        1. Skippy

          It was co-opted as the Romans co-opted Christianity sans the humility and sharing and more to the I share the blood of Christ, there for we rule the roost.

        2. Tao Jonesing

          Jefferson was not a libertarian, he was a liberal through and through. A classical liberal, to be sure, but a liberal nonetheless.

          Libertarianism as we understand it was manufactured out of whole cloth in the mid 20th century. It purposefully co-opted >90% of classical liberalism but left out the most important part, i.e., the part that provides for the general welfare and the common good. You know, the part that was so deeply ingrained in the American character that Tocqueville felt compelled to discuss it at length, describing it as “self interest, rightly understood”?

          Libertarianism is all about self-interest, wrongly understood, or, as Yves puts it “unenlightened self interest.” Libertarianism is just liberalism without a superego, and the definition of sociopathy is the absence of a superego.

          1. Piero

            I suggest you get a copy of Reason magazine some time and encounter actual libertarian views and discussion.

          2. RueTheDay

            Spot on!

            Classical liberalism viewed free markets and free trade as a means to an end – the end being the betterment of humanity. Private property rights were seen as simply a logical precondition for free markets and free trade, but were by no means held up as sacred or absolute.

            Libertarians* completely disregarded the ultimate end to which classical liberals aspired (the betterment of humanity) and simply supported free markets as an end unto themselves, while elevating property rights to the sacred position as the foundation of all morality.

            *I’m using the term libertarian here in the modern sense of the word. The term was actually first coined by an early socialist. Just as the early anarchists were all socialists, only to see the term later co-opted by that fraud Rothbard, libertarianism was co-opted by those who valued property over liberty. I agree with those who state that it’s more accurate to refer to modern libertarians as propertarians.

        3. bob goodwin

          You are making my point. Ideologies conflict, dividing natural constituencies. The conflict quickly becomes ad-hominem (I apologize if you did not mean to call me stupid, I reread your post many times, and you claimed I was a ‘victim of my education’ which you know nothing about.)

          My guess remains that we have more in common than apart, but yet you insist on making aspersions upon me that you cannot possibly defend.

          1. DownSouth

            bob goodwin,

            Why don’t you let people look at the thread where you and alex allege I called you “stupid” and let them decide for themselves whether I called you “stupid” or not?

            Why don’t you let people look at the video of the shooting and decide for themselves whether they believe excessive force was used or not?

            Why don’t you let the scientists look at the data regarding AGW and decide for themselves whether it exists or not?

            For all the talk about liberty and self-determination, you libertarians certainly are a controlling bunch.

          2. bob goodwin

            You are a piece of work, DownSouth.

            I never pretended to control anyones thinking. I responded to all of your arguments, but unlike you without ad-hominem attacks.

            I still bet that we agree on far more than we disagree.

  3. Skippy

    It seems that strange bed fellows is the only option, abet the uncomfortable rituals of nocturnal preparations.

    So many steeples of thought constantly ripped apart by myelinated axon osmosis, father…mother whom are thee my insipidus ancestors, time doth move with increasing rapidity, death do depart us, with knowledge unbequeathed…your time is not mine, poles do bend marching forward increasingly…leaving pot holes unannounced, father I only have a *L* plate, but wish too impress..have I increased our families fortunes, but Darwin said[!] and Richard rewrote…strode out before each other by history’s inaccuracies…we bleat with blades of grass wondering if they come…faced with uncertainty…our calls for union.

    Skippy…Bob will you be my friend?

  4. alex black


    Interesting article. Unfortunately (or, fortunately, if one is a Corporatist Elite), I see a missing number in your figures:

    If the citizenry contains 50% Liberals and Liberarians, yes, their common interest could combine them and be enough to form a majority alliance. But it requires people with adult emotional maturity to do that, while avoiding foodfights over other things they disagree upon. If only half of the people are capable of that, your 50% falls back down to 25% – right about where you started.

    The Corporate Elite has no need to divide and conquer. Their victims do a fine job of that themselves.

    But thanks for articulating an intelligent path to try to overcome that. I have the image of you, attempting to rally the masses, except your rallying cry isn’t the usual “Wake Up!!”, but rather, “Grow Up!!”

    I’d love to see it get traction.

    1. Skippy

      “Corporate elitist” damn Chomsky’s linguistics argument, can we all just dispense with this postmodernism and call it feudalism with a merry go round escape clause.

  5. Goin' South

    The oft-proposed Left/Libertarian alliance might work on an ad hoc basis as a defensive tactic against further encroachments on civil liberties and MIC expansion, but it has little hope beyond that.

    It has always seems to me that Libertarians are deceptively named. They would be better called Propertarians since what is really important to them is not human liberty but property rights. They exalt private property above all other values. The last time I checked, property rights often constitute a serious impediment to human liberty–and happiness.

    The kind of classic New Deal liberalism of which the author writes has a strong egalitarian impulse, as does any Leftist movement. Propertarians have no problem with inequality whatsoever. How could they? Their prescriptions for society serve to preserve the inequalities wrought by Capitalism. This central conflict makes any kind of alliance on economic issues impossible.

    I can sympathize with the author’s confusion, however. What currently passes for Liberalism has become so watered down, so Corporatized that Libertarians might be deceived as to how much common ground really exists. Mr. Halter, whom the author describes as a Liberal, was so flummoxed by a question about the EFCA that he retreated into Republican business speak when asked about it on what is probably the most pro-Labor show on television (Ed Schultz).

    Of course, the radical Left will be complete anathema to Propertarians. An old Jefferson Airplane tune put it well:

    All your private property is target for your enemies.
    And your enemy is we.
    Up against the wall, mother f’er.

    1. Goin' South

      A less abrasive view of Propertarians holy of holies–private property–was presented by Woody Guthrie in “This Land is Your Land” and sung by that lovable old red, Pete Seeger, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the last inauguration (much to the apparent discomfort of the current resident of the White House).

      As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
      And that sign said – no tress passin’
      But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
      Now that side was made for you and me!

        1. aet

          As they say in the hills of papua new Guinea:
          “A man without any pigs is NOTHING!”

          From where I sit, it ought to be “A man without large pine trees is NOTHING!”

          1. Raymond Robitaille

            That is what is so wonderful about the “Commons”. For example, all the books in my public libraries are mine (and everyone else’s). I can’t have them with me all the time and do whatever I like to them, like light the fireplace. But I can read them and, after all, that is what they are made for. The clean air I breathe is everyone’s air but it is also mine. Private property may be good for basic things like underpants but beyond that what’s the use? The communications industry has even gnawed at what we own. We now own only the right to use a service over a limited period of time. That is why most of our property, wealth, should be public, just like in Star Trek. Everything would still be ours. But we would have to SHARE with everyone else. Granted, that is a huge constraint. But at least, everyone would get the basics to live. For example, no more homeless people. Do you remember when there were very few homeless people haunting the streets of our cities?

    2. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

      But the title of the song: “We Can Be Together” says it all… Listened to it several times just yesterday!

      Here’s the lyrics:

      We can be together
      Ah you and me
      We should be together
      We are all outlaws in the eyes of america
      In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge f__ck hide and deal
      We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
      But we should be together
      Come on all you people standing around
      Our life’s too fine to let it die and
      We can be together
      All your private property is
      Target for your enemy
      And your enemy is
      We are forces of chaos and anarchy
      Everything they say we are we are
      And we are very
      Proud of ourselves
      Up against the wall
      Up against the wall fred (motherfucker)
      Tear down the walls
      Tear down the walls
      Come on now together
      Get it on together
      Everybody together
      We should be together
      We should be together my friends
      We can be together
      We will be
      We must begin here and now
      A new continent of earth and fire
      Come on now gettin higher and higher
      Tear down the walls
      Tear down the walls
      Tear down the walls
      Won’t you try

      The anarchistic thrust is ilkely to “offend” liberal and libertarians alike.

      We have to make a distinction between individual private property and property employed to produce the good/services we want and which affect us collectively. But “boundary definition” will be tough sledding like J. S. Mill’s “self-regarding” and “other regarding” behavior. Where does one end and the other begin?

      But there is an obvious need for dialogue of some sort. A new synthesis would be too much to ask for at this point.

    3. Anonymous Jones

      I am not a fan of wordplay in general, but propertarians is quite an apt moniker.

      I, for one, am extremely fond of liberty. I do not believe, however, that the only method of expanding my own liberty is the use of collective violence in defense of my private property.

      As I have said again and again, I do not believe it is coincidence that the types of things certain people believe is the duty of the state just *happen* to coincide with the best interest of those same people. Those who would benefit under a regime of private property defense alone just *happen* to be propertarians. Those who don’t benefit from those policies just *happen* to not be propertarians.

      You see this over and over again. Why does a former New Mexico Republican Senator who believes in shrinking the government believe in using the federal government to help those with mental illness? His daughter has a mental illness, natch. Why does some liberal voter decry efforts that are otherwise sound denounce government efforts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy? His piece of the pie won’t be as big, natch.

      The main point here is that people advocate policies that are in their narrow self interest. Ideology is mostly this self-interest writ large. Advocates of ideology convince themselves that they are “right” and that the only sensible way to run things is according to their ideology when in fact they are only masking their own self-interest in a lot of fancy talk and ideas. The world is large, and our fellow humans have preferences distinct from our own. It might be wise for people to consider that before so adamantly claiming they have it all “figured out.”

      1. Robin

        In other words, peope use one ideology or another to justify their self-interest?

        I also see that some people will justify their ideology endlessly because not to do so would mean that they may have been wrong in the past. Some peope will never allow for themsleves to have been wrong.

        I stick to the ideolology of “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

        I see that in order to be “happy” you will have to admit to have been wrong on some things—then you can change and grow. To be “right” one never has to admit to being wrong, there is no change and no growth….but they get to be right–always.

  6. i on the ball patriot

    This article is deflective bullshit that serves to further divide us!

    All you need are two groupings; wealthy ruling elite and the masses.

    Its not about the labels, its about WHO provides the labels …

    Ideological groupings of the population ARE made to get cannibalistic needs met.

    But WHOSE needs?

    Yes we are ALL cannibals by nature, where each and every act of every one of us is made solely to get needs met (perceived needs, not really necessary for sustenance, or real needs, that are necessary for sustenance). The degree of our aggressiveness, and where we focus that aggressiveness, is a function of our cultural conditioning.

    The question of an ideological grouping then becomes WHOSE cannibalistic needs are getting met, and are they perceived or real?

    Our cultural conditioning is controlled by the wealthy ruling elite through their central banks, corporations and mega mouth media. They constantly re-brand their sleazy over aggressive behavior — and the results of their sleazy over aggressive behavior — into simplistic, sound bite size, overly abstract, divisive, Orwellian bullshit, so as to mask their gangster gang rape of their marks. They own the system, lock, stock, and barrel, including their scam, non responsive to the will of the people, electoral process!

    Their promoted labels; liberals, externalities, democrat, collateral damage, libertarians, global warming, dirty commie, lefty, conservative, carbon credits, etc., et fucking cetera, are all, HIGHLY ABSTRACT, deceptive brands, that serve to mask and deflect from the machinations of the wealthy ruling elite and serve instead to divide those who might otherwise see through their machinations and the great disparity in the wealth they control as compared to the masses that they have deceived.

    So ….. There is no real substantial difference between a liberal and a libertarian in that they are abstract labels used to control the masses.

    The real substantial difference is between the wealthy ruling elite and the masses … and the masses are currently seeing all of their past gains, embodied in the ‘middle class’, reduced to shit.

    Contrary to what Alex Black says, the wealthy ruling elite does have a need to divide and conquer. And they are working overtime at it! They are now, aggressively, RUNNING SCARED! They should be! There are only ten thousand pharaohs and six billion plus slaves on the planet. The only thing that prevents the slaves from digging ten thousand pharaoh graves is their perception of themselves and their divisiveness that has been put upon them by the pharaohs. But now the six billion slaves are fast awakening. They have the internet. The deceptions are sliding away like melted butter. Their perceptions of themselves are changing. They see their power … and they will seize it!

    The New Deal will soon be, ‘The Better Deal’!

    Be optimistic. Stop bickering amongst yourselves. Refuse the bait of these phony ass divisive labels and the co-opted system promoting hacks that champion them so as to dissipate your energies. Focus your ire on the wealthy ruling elite.

    Your ideological grouping of ‘Fairism’ will arise from that focus.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  7. Neil D

    I’m not sure I really get the anti-corporatist argument except as it applies to Finance and too big to fail. Most other businesses and corporations (even those in health care) are providing a useful product or service. As a liberal, I believe we should have a robust safety net. We have to figure out what to do with the elderly. When they become ill, do we save them by spending thousands of taxpayer dollars or do we ration care?

    Do Libertarians think that without government interference we would have better (more?) products and services and more jobs. I think it’s really hard to argue that today. We have pretty much everything we need and consume more resources per capita than any other country.

    So aside from the problem of old people, what really is the problem libertarians are trying to solve? Cut benefits for old people and we can balance the federal budget and maybe even cut taxes. Isn’t that what Libertarians are really selling?

    1. alex black

      “Cut benefits for old people….isn’t that what Libertarians are really selling?”

      I think that’s simply what opponents of Libertarians like to say they are really selling.

      The main thing produced by both Liberals and Libertarians who like to win arguments are Straw Men.

      1. Neil D

        Then explain what Libertarians are in favor of because I really don’t know other than low taxes and no government spending (cutting benefits).

        If Libertarians think they have a better way to take care of sick old people, then I’m all ears.

        1. Blueslide

          The hatred of the “nanny welfare state” is voiced loud and clear by libertarians. The libertarian antidote? When left to their own devices, people will act in their self interest and be forced to work etc. Of course the only problem with that is well over 50% of those in poverty are children, the elderly and disabled.

          The alleged connection between liberals and libertarians is a strong belief in civil liberties. But in practice, liberty to a libertarian seems only to revolve around property rights. Hence Rand Paul’s inner struggle with civil rights and slavery.

  8. LeeAnne

    Most people would rather not label themselves or accept the labels of others, let alone have a discussion along those lines.

    Within political groupings, life and death issues like power over a woman’s medical decisions, (just one we are all familiar with) is chosen for optimum emotional impact and reaction to attract followers; the tool of apparatchiks.

    Followers are then used for the real political agenda of leaders to acquire the goodies of political and financial power for themselves.

    While you’re busy for or against, they’re picking your pockets, most obviously on the TV and other media where political labels are profitable for phony arguments and cheap entertainment masquerading as news.

    1. DownSouth

      Mixing economic and cultural agendas is a tricky business.

      The modern-day corporatist “libertarian” is an economic libertarian and a cultural authoritarian.

      The modern-day limousine “liberal,” on the other hand, is an economic libertarian and a cultural libertarian.

      The working class, as well as Blacks and Hispanics, tend to be culturally conservative, and thus hostile to cultural libertariansism.

      The schism within the American left is a result of two phenomena: 1) The clash of the cultural libertarianism of the limousine liberals with the social conservatism of the working class, Blacks and Hispanics. 2) The transformation of the old limousine liberal, who still had some concern for the plight of the poor and working man, into the new limousine liberal, who has completely sold out to corporate power and money.

      With the decimation of the unions and the decline of organizational politics, “elite-network” politics rose to dominance within the American left. “Elite network” politics is a phrase coined by the political scientist Peter Skerry. It is a political strategy by which money provided by wealthy, elite benefactors is used to fund the campaigns of elite (refers to the candidate’s “exclusivity and weak community ties”) candidates in predominately working class and minority communities. At first, Skerry explains, the benefactors of Democratic candidates were mostly wealthy elites concerned with cultural issues “like abortion, gay rights and feminism.” Through their unions, he adds, others “focused on labor issues.” And finally, “highly visible Chicano activists succeeded in placing issues like bilingual education, U.S. policy in Central America, and immigration on the agenda.”

      The positions taken by elite candidates concerning cultural issues and identity politics, as Skerry points out, don’t square with the beliefs of their working class and minority constituents. Protest politics provided the elite politicians some cover, but, as Robert Hughes points out, the end result was nevertheless “a value-gap you could barrel a truck through, and the Republicans did so, thus splitting off a large and useful voting-bloc of ‘Reagan Democrats’.”

      (As Hughes goes on to point out, this alliance “is proving unstable, now that the actual results of the Republicans’ push to unconstrained laissez faire are in:…the widest gap between high and middle income ever to afflict America.”)

      But probably the greatest failing of elite-network politics is that it created a system whereby the currency of politics became almost exclusively money, with almost all that money coming from outside the district. As Skerry put it, the elite network politician’s “constituency is money.” And who has more money than multinational corporations?

      So the other elites—-those advocating cultural, identity politics and labor issues—-began to get squeezed out.

      It seems to me like an easy solution to this problem would be campaign finance reform, with the minimum requirement being that all campaign funds originate from within the district. But notice that it is the libertarians—-from both sides of the aisle, and from the right and the left—-that squeal like a stuck pig when this is suggested. That should give any attentive observer a clue as to where the true loyalties of the libertarians lie.

      1. Externality

        “The modern-day limousine “liberal,” on the other hand, is an economic libertarian and a cultural libertarian.”

        Most limousine liberals are cultural libertarians as long as the costs are borne by someone else, i.e., the working class.
        Once problems begin to affect wealthy liberals, they become quite culturally authoritarian.

  9. Mark Alexander

    “I think the following three statements are safe for both ideologies: Dependence on fossil fuels has come at a high cost, and we can do much better at creating energy that is causes less environmental damage.”

    The word “damage” is not safe for the libertarian ideology. I discovered that when I asked a question on the Free State Project forum about how a libertarian society would deal with environmental damage caused by large industry. I was flamed out of there by people who apparently believed that there is no such thing as “damage” — just “effects”. This was the beginning of the end of my interest in libertarianism.

  10. Dan Duncan

    A very thoughtful post.

    I agree that in order to achieve progress, Libertarians must realize that it’s not rotten when Liberals have the environment as their number one concern. And Liberals need to realize that it’s not rotten for Libertarians to want lower taxes. No, these are just differences of opinion.

    Where I disagree, however, is the characterization that the rotten core of our society is the elite Government-Corporate class. This government-corporate cronyism is simply a symptom and not a cause.

    No, rotten core, the cause and the underlying disease is The Baby Boomers.

    And before addressing such weighty issues of whether or not government should have more or less influence over our lives, we should root out the rotten core.

    We need get the Baby Boomers out of every facet of our lives. [We’ll let them write for Rolling Stone…as they did make some good music…before fucking up the music industry…just like they fucked up everything else they touched.]

    “No More Boomers!”

    I’m not saying all Baby Boomers are rotten. But all Baby Boomers are hopelessly compromised and guilty by association with other Baby Boomers.

    [BTW: Notice the recent success of women on the campaign trail. It’s not about these women. Carly Fiorina brings nothing new to the table. These women have had success because the Baby Boomer men are FINALLY tapped out in how much more damage they can wreak. In typical Baby Boomer fashion, let’s mix in some more “identity” with our politics and pretend like it’ll make a difference.]

    So…if you are a Baby Boomer and thinking of running for office…Step off. You had your chance. You blew it.

    And now you’ll go down as the most pathetic, self-entitled, selfish generation in history.

    Make no mistake: In 50 years, G.W. Bush will be as memorable James K. Polk. But you…you Baby Boomers…textbooks will be written about you. Entire college courses will be devoted to you (if you didn’t already fuck up future generations ability to go to college).

    Also, if you are a Baby Boomer commenting on economics, politics, science (yes…you even managed to fuck up science)…go away. And don’t come back unless you are writing a piece on the “true” meaning of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.

    Baby Boomers even managed to fuck up religion…more than it was already fucked! How did you manage that?!?!

    I know it’s going to be hard to disregard all the Baby Boomers. There’s several that I like as well.

    But it has to be done. No More Boomers! No matter what they say–even if it seems like it’s in your best interest—ignore them.

    Only then can we get about the business of Liberals and Libertarians working together to un-fuck all that this pathetic generation has managed to fuck.

    [And if you don’t like my language…if you think it’s crass and pathetic of me to use “fuck” as a noun, verb and adjective in a single post…if you think this is “fuckly” of me (there’s an adverb for you as well)….

    It’s because the Boomers fucked up our educational system, and in Boomer fashion, they demanded therapy, self-actualization workshops instead of conjugating sentences, and it was in these workshops that I learned in true Boomer fashion to blame everyone else for my fucking shortcomings.]

    1. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio


      “One generation got old, another generation got sold.”

      Many a Vietnam Vet in a rice paddy understood the meaning of that line. Do you? Tragedy is you wouldn’t even be writing your rant if it wasn’t for some us…

      Religion was fucked up way before the Boomers came along. We merely “exploded” the hypocrisy… of loving thy neighbor on Sunday and fucking him/her over the other six days of the week. Or would you prefer that hierachical-patriarchal authoritarian structure of power implicit in “religion” continue to go unchallenged rendering women second-class citizens from the get go? For better or worse…

      Education designed for the mind-numbing assembly line wasn’t much better than the point-and-click dumbing down mentality of the PC that has come in its wake even if we could spell and conjugate a sentence. [But with Spellchecker such skills aren’t even necessary, right?] The difference is that many of us knew we were getting screwed. Can your generation say the same? And we did something about it, didn’t we? Will your’s?

      What is your “generation” going to do except bend over and accept AUSTERITY as something that is inevitable because… it’s the ‘Baby Boomers’ fault’. Why aren’t you out in the streets?

      Like my father said to me when Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency on Aug 9, 1974: “It’s your world. Let’s see what you can do with it!” Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same.

      There’s a lesson in this somewhere…

      Best regards from this very tired baby boomer.

    2. Valissa

      It’s all the Boomer’s fault! No, it’s all the Libertarian’s fault! Wait, wait, I have it… it’s all Bush’s fault, OR it’s all Reagan’s fault… it’s the Republican’s fault… it’s the Liberal’s fault… OR it’s all Clinton’s fault, or its all Obama’s fault… it’s all Alan Greenspan’s fault… it’s the neocons’ fault… it’s the neoliberal’s fault… If only my group were in charge the world would be a better place…

      OH what were we talking about? There’s always some nice juicy blameworthy ideological target (or human archetypal representative) to project all of one’s anger and frustrations that life is somehow not what it should be. And the point of that is? Is there any government in the history of humans that it’s citizens all aproved of?

      I wonder what would happen if people spent 10% less time being angry and blaming some scapegoat or another for the problems of the world… versus taking some sort of small constructive personal (non-political) actions in their home, family, community AND/OR observing the real non-ideological world and making the appropriate changes in perception (which will lead to other types of change).

      1. jest

        “I wonder what would happen if people spent 10% less time being angry and blaming some scapegoat or another for the problems of the world… versus taking some sort of small constructive personal (non-political) actions in their home, family, community AND/OR observing the real non-ideological world and making the appropriate changes in perception (which will lead to other types of change)”

        So instead of refuting the argument, the response is:

        “You see how lazy you are? Why aren’t you guys fixing our screw ups?!”

        This is a very typical, and pathetic, response I get from Boomers when discussing this very topic. Most are about to die or retire, and couldn’t care less about solving these problems; they just want “Gov’t hands off my Medicare,” and extracting what little value is left out of this country before they die from a small menu of highly preventable diet-based diseases (which probably wasn’t their fault either).

        It’s Looting, but at a generational scale. Yet none of them can see this. It’s stunning.

        I say this, because little positive action can take place until these people can admit fault or mistakes for the nonsense that they have wrought. Otherwise, these “non-mistakes” will be repeated again, and again, and again… If you need proof, look at Afghanistan, ultra-low FedFunds rates, etc.

        1. Valissa

          WOW, I can tell you are passionate about your scapegoating! Perhaps you do not recognize the historical trend that whatever age group is in power gets blamed by others using their age group label. I can hardly wait until whatever age group you’re in is in power and has to take the appropriate insults… LOL…

          1. i on the ball patriot

            Valissa, Dan’s post (and Jest’s) was a blame shift and a deflection.

            It serves to deflect from and take the blame off of the wealthy ruling elite and put that blame on another of the wealthy ruling elite’s decoy constructs — the Baby Boomers — a construct group the wealthy ruling elite once lavished upon in the recent past as they used them to assist in building their now global empire.

            But now, to throttle back global resource consumption and effect their new neocon supplied plan of controlling and decimating the masses by engaging them in a global, well orchestrated perpetual conflict with each other, they are also stripping the Baby Boomers of their wealth.

            The overseer class, which the Baby Boomers functioned as in the recent past, are being stripped of their wealth and will be replaced by a much less costly law enforcement class as overseers.

            Some pigs are more equal than others.

            The wealthy ruling elite are the more equal pigs that shape, form, and mold us all.

            Regarding what you said here; “I wonder what would happen if people spent 10% less time being angry and blaming some scapegoat or another for the problems of the world… versus taking some sort of small constructive personal (non-political) actions in their home, family, community AND/OR observing the real non-ideological world and making the appropriate changes in perception (which will lead to other types of change).

            Well intentioned, but the reality is that ALL of life is politics as it concerns itself with dividing up and consuming the pie of life. The prudent are now being pitted against the not so prudent and there is no where to hide from this intentionally created perpetual global conflict. It must be exposed and eliminated. 10% more time must be spent in directing one’s anger correctly.

            The global policy setting wealthy ruling elite pigs are the proper target.

            Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          2. jest

            WOW, I can tell you are passionate about ignoring every point I made!

            Yes, I am aware that each generation critiques the previous one; water is also wet. That doesn’t make their points untrue, or detract from their validity.

  11. dsawy

    The author clearly does not understand libertarians or their epistemology. About the only areas of agreement between modern liberals and libertarians might be legalization of drugs and reproductive health issues for women (as long as things like abortion and birth control are not funded by the government).

    This imagined alliance between liberals and libertarians comes up every time the liberals are looking at getting their asses handed to them at the polls. I’ve seen it now for the third time since 1992. Liberals will never be able to sell their nonsense to libertarians until such time as liberals stifle their tendency to create a law, regulation or imposition by government or corporation to make people do things. Health care is a great example of where liberals and libertarians will never agree. Liberals want someone else to pay for their problems. Libertarians want everyone else to get out of the doctor/patient relationship – everyone being insurance companies, the government, employers, etc.

    1. Neil D

      “Liberals want someone else to pay for their problems.”

      More than paying for my problem, I don’t want to see your parents suffer unnecessarily with illness. I realize this compassion is a character flaw, but it has some benefits – you know the parable of the Good Samaritan?

    2. Haigh

      When the US’s sovereign debt problem starts knocking on the door, common ground between liberals and libertarians is likely to be found in spending cuts to the trillion dollar foreign policy.

    3. Piero

      Amen. Yesterday’s liberal ranting against the power structure turns out to be today’s deft manipulator of the power structure. The dissatisfaction turned out not to have been much about the power but who got to have his hands on the controls.

      Aside from the examples you cite, where do liberals oppose government power? I would say in some restrictions on the police and homeland security but it would be hard to find significant additional examples. There’s an immense hubris to today’s liberalism. It comes across as a matter of status at most times. “I’m not one of those neANderthals who supports x, y or z!” But it seems more and more remote from actual people. The “poor” and “working americans” are fine as long as they stay mere concepts and don’t try to come in actual contact and spill something on my $5,000 Kiton suit. Frankly, most liberals pretty clearly convey a barely disguised contempt for “working americans” so that their politics seems less like an endeavor to bring the greatest possible good to the citizenry and more like being part of the right high school clique.

      I’m sorry. I know that’s harsh and untrue of some thoughtful people with whom I simply disagree on political matters. But if they would look around at some of their putative allies I think they would see a lot of truth in this.

      1. Valissa

        Harsh words to some perhaps, Piero… but I think you are quite on target. For a long time I vaguely identified as Liberal though I never agreed with all of liberalism… but really I didn’t think much about it. Then there cam a time in my life where I decided I wanted to understand what was going on in the world and started reading up on my history and many other related subjects… and eventually was forced to seriously question my self label of liberal… for many reasons having to do with it’s history as well as realizations of the current incarnation of the word. I finally realized the only liberal belief I held was about equality and egalitarianism in regards to opportunity… and since that’s not a belief only held by liberals I was left with no tie to the identity. Nor to any other politically labeled identities either. On the one had it was a very freeing realization… on the other hand it leaves one without a group to belong to which has it’s own limitations.

    4. Francois T

      “Liberals want someone else to pay for their problems.”

      The US Chamber of Commerce said last week that taxpayers too should be on the hook for the BP cleanup.

      The CoC is liberal…who knew?

  12. bobbyp

    Dear Bob,

    Nice try, but it won’t work politically. Sure, there is agreement on drug laws, civil liberties, and possibly endless war. However, the nub is economics and class. If there ever came a time when a significant number of the populace got together to leash the corporate elite, whose side would the libertarians be on?

    I have yet to see an effective libertarian policy wrt concentrated economic power. Reducing taxes and eliminating government regulations just doesn’t cut it.

    Tell us how you could ever make an alliance with organized labor to counteract corporate power. The mere thought of organized labor gives libertarians the sweats.

    1. Piero

      That would be the corporate elite like democrat Lloyd Blankfein and democrat Jamie Dimon?

      According to the recent issue of New York magazine, the issue with Obama and Blankfein on the cover, Blankfein and Dimon, like most Wall Street CEO’s are democrats.

      They’re perfectly comfortable with an interfering government and Fed that they can manipulate. You offer the specter of government, for some period of time, being much harsher toward them. And how long will that last? What’s more certain, that in a game full of favors to be dispensed, they can’t buy what they want, or that in a system with few or no favors they can’t get any?

    2. bob goodwin

      Thanks for your comments. Yes labor unions give libertarians the heebee jeebees. Labor Unions were a big part of Italian Corporatism in the 30’s, and were themselves considered a corporation in that context. Labor is now so weak that even the corporatists in the democratic party can safely ignore them.

      There are lots of wedges that corporatists can use to keep us apart.

  13. Beleck

    lol, i love the Baby Boomer rant. me thinks thou does protest…, lol. mirrors are very nice in cases like this.

    the war between the Rulers and the rest of us is going according to plan. Divide and Conquer, which the Republicans use in their political arena, has worked to such a degree that i bet how well surprises even the Rulers. no one could have imagined how well and easy it has worked. now, it’s the operating rule on all aspects of rule of life in America.

    the control of society by the Rulers/Rich has been such a success for the most part. the only problem they have is how to get out before the whole thing collapses. which means there will be some Rich who get eaten as the implosion continues. a few symbols, like Bernie Madoff, for the masses to “feel” good. i hope there’s a Madame Defarge out there.

    the human nature to attack and savor the kill. sweet nothings.

    the idea that property is more important than responsibility to the society we exist because of is part of the PR campaign that allows the rich to scam the rest of us.
    the focus away from community into “specialness/particulars” leads to the gradual erosion of structure that once upheld that society. we are at the point where the structure of society has been so greatly damaged so as to be unraveling bit by bit. the web of life is greatly interdependent and intertwined.

    the rich dont want nor need nor acceptsociety except to plunder from it what they can. once the worker/serfs have done their job, kill them, there’s more out there to replace them with.
    the feudal reference is most apt. we have returned to a point where power is so stark and its’ use is the only force respected nowadays. the use of the taser and the recent border killing of the ” aggravating but harmless “troublemakers” indicate the Lords are showing how it is their fiefdom to rule as they desire.

    waking up people to the inherent feudal society we have devolved into may be besides the point nowadays. the cycle of changes unleashed by both the climatic and economic devastation will alter what we can do to make sustainable society last. the rate at which change occurs is faster and self fulfilling in its’ nature. that sow the wind, reap the whirlwind kind of response is what we see the beginnings of now.

    how can this society or the rich survive when established patterns of consumption, growth and living are being altered mighty fast now. the rich may last longer than the rest of the “poor,” but eventually they will enjoy the fruits of the very same insanity they encouraged and employed to wrest control from the “unwilling/sleeping Masses.”

  14. MinnItMan

    Let’s get one thing out of the way: while I do not have false consciousness, “you” do. Once “you” accept that, it will be no problem working together.

    I really like the term “proprietarian” for the libertarian ideologue. I recently argued with a group of die-hard Paul-ites about Rand Paul’s comments on prohibition of public accomodation discrimination. Had candidate Paul thought about an alternative response to the standard libertarian line, even a little bit, he wouldn’t have missed opportunity of a generation (or three, or ten). He could have said something like this:

    “Private property rights are extremely important, but there are situations where serving the public interest is more important. Prior to the Civil Rights Act[s], there were large sections of the country where U.S. citizens couldn’t travel freely based solely on the color of their skin. This group included war heroes, American celebrities of international stature, religious leaders, and millions of oridinary people who just wanted to get on with life like everybody else. It was a national disgrace, manifestly unjust and a time bomb waiting to go off. Looking at domestic migration patterns, particularly from the South to our Northern industrial cities, it was nothing short of intentional ethnic cleansing.

    As a country, we were extremely fortunate that the leadership of the movement challenging this injustice chose peaceful means, risking their own personal safety in the process. They rigorously trained themselves to go against basic human instincts, giving up their God-given right to defend themselves forcefully against vicious organized and official attacks, to bring the reality to the nation’s attention and help us start fixing a problem that goes back to our nation’s pre-history. These great Americans had extraodinary temperaments for tolerating the intolerable, and we owe them our gratitude for teaching us about civility, humanity and power.

    As libertarians, we don’t consider it a great compromise of private property rights to say that there is no private right to discriminate against American citizens and lawful visitors, especially when your private business so clearly affects the free travel of our nation’s people. So, it really a matter of basic decency that we honor those who personally sacrificed their own personal safety – something obviously more important than property – to help the nation come to terms with its ugly history.

    Regrettably, “property rights” have been used as a fig leaf for those simply had or continue to have ill will. For libertarians like me, who see that secure property rights really are essential for civilization itself – that denial of them is among the greatest causes of human suffering – I urge that we be vigilant in refusing to aid false friends, and that we be equally vigilant in identifying those who will help us to see that going against our deepest instincts and values is sometimes the greatest virtue. These unexpected allies are friends we have not yet met.”

    If only.

    As for liberals, I don’t necessarily go along with Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism line, but I do think there are important questions about why the Civil Rights movement’s main foes were liberal allies (as opposed, to say, Barry Goldwater), why a free speech movement was necessary during an era of liberal dominance (or at least “establishment consensus”), and why Betty Friedan’s book opens with the shockingly sexist quote from liberal icon Sen. Adlai Stevenson speech to Vasser grads about getting down to their national purpose in the kitchen, now that they were educated. Among other things.

  15. Valissa

    Over the course of my lifetime I have believed many different things and held many different viewpoints and seen my worldview change drastically as I learn new things about the world and how it works. Also over the course of my lifetime I have become more and more frustrated and annoyed by ideological labels. I think they are very limiting and inherently cause ideological conflicts over WORDS and LABELS… as if humans don’t already have a hard enough time getting along already.

    Ideological labels remove us from the direct apprehension of the world and people around us… this is the “gift” of our current academic system… abstraction, reduction and reification of reality. Humans are complex, life is complex, reality is complex…. most everything in life is MORE than the simplistic references than we use. How much our our inability to solve large complex problems comes from deeply ingrained intellectual habits of abstraction and over-simplification (generally into some sort of linear cause and effect cycle) in order to have tidy labels and semantic academic arguments? No wonder complex ecosystems like nature, the human body, economic conditions, etc, are so poorly handled and understood by our so-called academic experts.

    Personally I would love to see some “epistomological innovation” in our culture. Until our individual and collective thinking process and ways of framing reality change we will be stuck with the same problems and stupid arguments about who is “right” and who is “wrong” rather than actually doing something useful about problems.

    Labels are references based on the existing intellectual status quo… so what happens when you don’t think along accepted lines? For instance based on my many years of study, practice and experience of various spiritual philosophies I have “evolved” into a “place” where I consider myself a mystical polytheist due to my personal reincorporation of MYTHOS back into my psyche (I feel our collective intellectual culture badly needs MYTHOS to assume it’s balanced position with LOGOS…so I am an ex-Christian and ex-monotheist/monist). To someone operating mostly out of LOGOS I would say I was a polynontheist as my personal definition of what gods are is very different from the standard overly literal LOGOS viewpoint (I do not think gods are literally real, yet I think they are very real in other ways, using MYTHOS as the label for that).

    Based on realizations of political reality over the past two years, and my increasing effort to DE-ideologize myself, I am doing my best to drop the labels Liberal and Left from my personal identification based on deciding I no longer wished to intellectually support the Left-Right-Center narrow linear politial spectrum. It’s not easy to do that when everyone around is stil holding on to it, but that’s the only way change happens… one person at a time.

    (apologies for any typos or bad grammar due to lack of proofreading)

  16. Piero

    I’m mystified as to why anyone would think supporting Halter is any better than supporting Blanche Lincoln. Unions *are* corporations. Halter’s whole candidacy revolved around Blanche Lincoln not toeing the line on the health care vote. Should we really have been happy to see the democratic party become more monolithic in its voting patterns, its members more afraid to dissent?

    1. bob goodwin

      I agree with your premise entirely. The difference is that the American labor movement is not part of the current American corporatist movement. Labor is marginalized. So the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

      It is an act of practical accommodation and neutral language.

  17. bookit

    This is an intriguing post. I would argue that Liberalism actually is offshoot of Libertarianism (or “classic Liberalism”) which emerged during the Progressive Era as a response to the tumults and dislocations of the 1890s. The key idea of 19th-century classic Liberalism, which is basically what we call Libertarianism today, is that every individual should be the master of his or her own destiny. This was interpreted as meaning that the government should play a small role, essentially that of an umpire, in the economy and no more. Such late 19th-century themes as the right to contract and the idea that markets recognize moral goodness were elaborations of this idea. By 1900, those who still preferred such an approach — though they had been called Liberals earlier in the century — now became known as Conservatives since they wanted to conserve, or preserve, their current understanding of Liberalism. (An earlier version of Conservatism had focused on social hierarchy, tradition, and religion, and had actually criticized free markets from the right.) By contrast, the people who came to be known as Progressives (or the new “Liberals”) argued that the emergence of large corporations which operated on a scale and under different rules than had been the case a hundred years before, changed the equation. Now, they argued, corporations could be as destructive as governments in preventing some individuals (farmers, workers, small businessmen, etc.) from becoming the masters of their own destiny, so government’s role had to change. Though they never agreed as to what those changes should be, they tended either to want government to break things up or to regulate them.

    My own view is probably closer to what Mr. Goodwin calls “Liberal” than is his, but I agree we likely do have some common ground. I think the distinction between public and private, which is important, is nevertheless not the only thing that is important, and during the 20th century, we have tended to fetishize it to the point of seeing nothing else. In its crudest form, it has produced the simplistic notion that everything government does is inefficient and incompetent and everything corporations do is efficient, necessary, and — by definition — better than government. It also has produced the idea that private property is the basis of capitalism, when, in fact, it can just as easily be considered the basis of feudalism. Private property is a NECESSARY cause of capitalism, but not a SUFFICIENT cause. The sufficient cause, I argue, following Adam Smith, is openness — not just of property, but of ideas, as well — and just as classic Liberals argued that it was the private-property owning aristocrats and their royal allies who closed off opportunities for the merchant class, today it is the private-property owning corporatists and their bureaucratic allies who are closing off opportunities for entrepreneurs, local communities, local governments, and working people. In other words, the Progressives were right — corporations, like feudal aristocrats, can close off an open society just as governments can. There needs to be a more adversarial relationship between governments and corporations than we’ve seen for some time.

  18. Tom Hickey

    Can Libertarians and LIberals ever agree. No. Their norms are too different, so their universes of discourse are incompatible.

    However, there are libertarians of the left as well as libertarians of the right. This is generally overlooked, and there are actually quite a few libertarians of the left. Libertarians of the left and right have something in common, and they can probably compromise on some significant issues.

    1. Frank

      No they cant really agree. Anyone who idolizes Pol Pot is a fucking pyshco and the belief that collectivization can be done without force is naive at best and potentially genocidal at worst.

  19. tz

    I doubt there is any common ground. Progressives want to use the jackbooted force of government to engineer and micromanage society. Libertarians want government at best only to be a fair referee and insure that no one cheats (including public goods and externalities).

    “Dependence on fossil fuels has come at a high cost, and we can do much better at creating energy that is causes less environmental damage. The environment is a common asset where government has a role.”

    Liberals want to bar everything and shoot anyone who disagrees as well as burden individuals like letting houses burn down instead of clearing brush for some rat or fish on the endangered species list without calling it a taking and paying for it. I would propose having a cooperative (think rural farm electricity) that would manage the commons, set fees, return dividends (to every citizen or to a common fund to improve the commons).

    The dependence on fossil fuels is manifold – it has a high specific impulse – joules/kg (you aren’t going to have a battery powered 767). It is easily transported via pipeline or tankers – and the capital investment in infrastructure is sunk. Also the externalities aren’t all paid for in the price of fuel, and it is easy to tax.

    And how much does it cost (including energy) to create and dispose of all those batteries? A crashed Prius becomes a hazmat site.

    Liberals hate nuclear and often coal, and even wind – where there is wind – they think the windmills are ugly, they kill birds that run into the blades, and even places that want wind try to ban coal, nuclear, or other forms. I’d add the forgotten geothermal, but liberals want a pristine yellowstone even if everything would be invisible.

    We need real – unsubsidized and sustainable costs – for every form of energy. Externalities included. Nuclear displaces fossil fuels, but coal might be cleaned more, and there should be a law saying anyone can put up a windmill anywhere.

    And Liberals would need to give up the legal gridlock blocking every project.

    I would also point out much of what is done by people on Wall St. could be done from a room at home over the internet. But businesses stuck in the last century seem to insist on requiring large consumption of time and energy so that the employee can be on the network in the company’s building. Where is government here?

    “Cap-and-trade may be another scheme that will enrich the elite, and not benefit the environment. But we need to reduce emissions into our atmosphere.”

    You assume the science is fully decided, also that China, India and the developing world will bother following any rules we may set. If they double their emissions, capping ours won’t do any good, so if we aren’t about to add a carbon tax on imports we will just shift a lot of the emissions elsewhere. If I create a supertanker-powerplant in international waters, will it or its electricity be subject to cap and tax? As to emissions, I can only remember back to the “ozone hole” panic which was a sop to DuPont whose freon patents were about to expire. Mt. Pinatubo put billions of pounds of chlorine into the stratosphere, but those must have been good little chlorine atoms, while the heavier than air CFCs which sink into the soil and are digested by bacteria managed to make ozone molecules swoon hundreds of thousand of feet above.

    But I will ask the embarrassing question which I will concede if you can fix it – what is the carbon footprint of the military – all the huge armor-plated APCs, humvees, c130s, other aircraft, even ships (which tend to have a smaller footprint).

    (Of course Gore & Goldman will have trading vehicles)

    I cannot be derisive enough when liberals won’t say anything about the fossil fuel usage of our empire superpower worldwide military except “burn, baby, burn!”.

    Save the planet by ending the evil empire.

    But I will say that a libertarian position is that if there is an externality, it should be fully paid for by the entity causing it, but that damage should be measurable and real, not some prediction on models with missing or fudged data.

    I am a skeptic – but I can be convinced, but not by the priests of gaia masquerading as scientists. Opensource both the data and the models and let everyone judge and critique it. If it is real and reasonable, fine, lets come up with an action plan. If it is a bunch of silly girls having fits when an old woman is in the room and screaming “Witch! – Burn her!” (note: the medieval warm period ended about the time witches were starting to be burned), then we ought not.

    But the externalities of the empire class (instead of border defense class) military are far greater as well as its carbon footprint – including fuel consumption apart from carbon footprint – do the humvees and tanks have catalytic converters and MIL lights? Anyone who doesn’t discuss the military when talking about the environment is worthy of preemptive dismissal.

    “We need to drive down the cost of health care while broadening access and improving outcomes. ObamaCare was a sop to corporate interests.”

    There are at least three categories of “health care”.

    The first has no choice – emergency care. Dialing 911 and getting paramedics – which are typically part of the fire department. This could be extended to the emergency room and/or trauma center of the local hospital. No one likes to get hurt so there is very little moral hazard or unintentional use. This should be a public service like the police. You don’t ask for particular officers or firemen or paramedics, but usually aren’t in condition to get bids on which ER is most cost effective. ERs are also required to treat anyone who comes in by the feds, the feds should pay for it. But in short, there is no market for catastrophic events, by definition. Insurance might supplement and take care of what comes after or for things like auto, but medical emergencies are more like fires.

    The second is chronic conditions and should be handled similar to social security disability. People might be functional but have a chronic disease which even if not expensive requires constant treatment. These might be made into production lines (Dialysis is something like this) or something else to cut costs but they tend to be uniform in requirements. Let the federal government bid and everyone can get the same diabetic supplies from the mass purchase. Medicare part D was the opposite – no negotiated prices. There is also no market because treatments tend to be uniform (though improve) and necessary to preserve life.

    These first two should be the subject of local (perhaps subsidized) and state or federal intervention. As I noted, there is no market as such for either. The form, level, and size of the collective which handles these two things I might debate, but I don’t think if “national health care” only addressed these two it would be as controversial (except by the corporatistas who hate negotiation).

    The third part is where the free market comes in. Johnny has the sniffles – does he go to the doctor “just in case”? Is the allergy bad enough to require costly treatment, or occasional. I have an ear infection, just like the last three dozen, why do I have to go to a doctor just to get yet another perscription for the identical antibiotic I used last time, can’t a RN or PA with training, much less a pharmacist just give me something (between restrictive prescriptions and OTC). Have a mega-IRA/Medical/Education account funded with pre-tax and used for anything on the list. Give a refundable tax credit within limits or allow the bridge card to pay for some things.

  20. Neil D

    Only in America would we have the debate taking place in this thread. We have everything we need and everything we could ever want yet we are apparently completely unable to share with our fellow humans. It’s a wonder libertarians have children.

    I have a job. I’m well paid and very comfortable. The government doesn’t bother me except when I violate traffic laws. I am not, nor have I ever been, oppressed. Neither have any of you.

    1. Piero

      I guess I’m among the foolish who didn’t realize it was simply a binary choice, satisfied or “oppressed”.

    2. bob goodwin

      “It’s a wonder libertarians have children.”

      I think this statement comes from the occasional belief that in order to be a libertarian you must have a defect such as sociopathy.

      I have 4 children, and am running a largely altruistic startup company. I am selfish in the sense that I want to get to make my own choices. I don’t want corporations or governments to tell me how many children to have, or how ‘green’ or ‘good’ my company should be.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        Bob Goodwin says: “I have 4 children, and am running a largely altruistic startup company. I am selfish in the sense that I want to get to make my own choices. I don’t want corporations or governments to tell me how many children to have, or how ‘green’ or ‘good’ my company should be.”

        You know Bob, if you really are sincere about moving the ideology of ‘Libertarianism’ forward, you might want to discuss what reasonable limits are to someone’s making their “own choices”.

        I too hold the belief that the individual’s right to be self directed and make his or her own choices is of an extremely high value and should only be tempered by the state as necessary to allow that ability for each of us to be self directed to flourish.

        But quite frankly your above statement scares the shit out of me. What if you wanted to have 50,000 kids? Certainly possible in this high tech day and age if one has the money to do it? And what if you wanted to clone yourself and produce lobotomized children so as to strip body parts from them in your old age to sustain your own life? And what if you wanted to manufacture poison gas next to a school yard? And what if you wanted to travel 100 miles per hour in a residential 25 miles per hour neighborhood? And what if …..

        Your lawless world will not work Bob Goodwin:. It denies our cannibalistic nature. You have either been drinking the Propaganda Kool Aid or you are selling it.

        But worse, engaging everyone in your selfish, childish, deflective fantasy world only serves to draw everyone’s attention away from the real problem, that all of the remedial plans in the world, regardless of how well thought they are, are not worth a shit if you do not have a government with an electoral process that is responsive to the will of the people. Your fantasy deflection serves only the wealthy ruling elite.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        1. Andrew Bissell

          This post kind of reminds me of Dave Barry’s joke about how it’s very important to pass laws against having sex with dogs, otherwise everyone would do it. Not saying that any of these things should necessarily be legal, but it is sometimes interesting to contemplate the liberals’ view of the things people would do if the government did not forbid it.

          1. i on the ball patriot

            It is sometimes interesting to contemplate an individuals wrong assumption’s of another’s political ideology and to also consider the bias in their view of the things that remind them of things and why.

            Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          2. Andrew Bissell

            This from a guy who apparently thinks libertarians want to let people drive 100mph in a school zone ….

          3. Anonymous Jones

            I hate to be so authoritative on the matter, Andrew, but still, I must say, you don’t understand how the legal system works.

            “Forbidding” something by means of passing a law does not mean that thing will not happen. “Forbidding” murder does not stop murder.

            Laws, and the enforcement of those laws by collective action, impose societal punishments on those who trespass on those laws. They do not stop the “forbidden” act. They merely prescribe the societal punishment for those acts, whether it be bestiality or murder or anything else you might pose as a hypothetical.

        2. jest

          I agree, this mentality truly is off putting.

          This gov’t does not tell anyone how many children they can have. (Where the hell did *that* come from?)

          The gov’t *should* tell business owners they can’t discriminate against those of color, religion, etc. And if your business model is so poor these standards of conduct, health, safety, and labor laws would put you out of business, you shouldn’t be in business in the first place.

          I just came from a trip to Ghana, which has implemented a majority of the “Propertarian” ideals (flat tax, no property taxes, limited gov’t regulation, etc.)

          The country is the embodiment of “free-markets” run amok. On a busy street, one can’t even breathe the air b/c of no emission standards for cars; I can only imagine what lung cancer deaths are going to be like in a few years.

          People build houses where ever they want, sometimes in the middle of roads. But because *everything* is for sale, all it takes is a market-clearing bribe to change the property line or road. Many roads are unusable, so people drive on the sidewalk (you think I’m joking?). The traffic system is non-existent, leading to an inordinate number of horrific traffic accidents. People will straight refuse to drive to parts of the capital city, simply because traffic is a disaster, & isn’t coordinated at a higher level. Traffic cops will literally come up to your car asking for a bribe to let your lane pass.

          If you want to see Propertarianism in action, go live in a developing nation (not the tourist areas), and see how you like it.

          The problem with a system they propose is that *everything* ends up for sale. And I mean “everything” in *every* sense of the word.

          And in a world where everything is for sale, precious little has value.

      2. Neil D

        The reason I made the comment about libertarians and children was out of exasperation. Reading all the various comments left me with the impression that the difference between liberals and libertarians was one of compassion. The lack of compassion on display left me a bit frustrated because I am actually on board with the general ideals of libertarians (at least as I understand them).

        But the seeming unwillingness to address real human suffering puts me off. Especially since doing so it actually quite easy. Yes, we must give up something to help others and some of them (maybe even most) are unworthy, but I don’t think that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

        Not everyone is as smart and capable as you and I. For better or worse, we have created an complex economy with a division of labor that REQUIRES interdependency. Those without the “right” skills and abilities; those who are ill; those who are – frankly – just not that smart will suffer. The libertarian ethic, it seems to me, fails to address this reality.

  21. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

    What is troubling is that the labels of political econommic discourse have become so blurred – some might argue on purpose – as to become meaningless. But ideas do have consequences.

    Suffice it to say that concepts underlying both liberalism and libertairnaism – GOD, NATION-STATE, and MARKET – have failed and there is a political vacuum in want of a synthesis. The subsequent cacophany is merely an effort to fill this vacuum.

    The problem with limiting the debate to LIBERTARIANISM and LIBERALISM is that the author has deliberately truncated the political spectrum, ignoring concepts on its left-hand side. Note that both concepts assume that capitalism in its various forms is taken as a given. By framing the debate in such narrow terms, it’s not likely to provoke thinking outside the box which, of course, is precisely its intent.

    How do liberalism and libertarianism fare in a post-scarcity world? In what ways are they relevant/irrelevant? Answer me that one.

    1. bob goodwin

      The point is quite fair. But I cannot imagine how to make these important points in 1000 words and also bring in that much additional complexity. I have spent as much time understanding the relationship with the American Christian ideology, and the dissonance makes libertarian-liberal look like a romance.

  22. beleck

    i heard one tour guide in New Orleans say the French allowed the slaves to go to church on Sunday, but the rest of the week they were treated as uncontrollable savages. Consistency my libertarian friends!!!

    For years, The Republican mantra of “Government is the Problem” was pounded into the Masses by their PR spokesmen. St. Ronnie was by far the best at this PR campaign, being a “Hollywood” actor. America loves its actors, so it was a perfect choice. of course no “Liberal” Hollywood actor has credence in America, to begin with, so only Conservatives need apply for political office.

    so when i hear libertarian speak of the “evils” of Government i see the Republican campaign doing its obligatory spiel once again. this goes to prove it doesn’t matter what your “label” is. the reality of your beliefs speaks more than what you call yourself.

    i have seen what the absence of “moral authority’ is living here in the South.
    watching what people do rather then what they say is the key. When power is involved, words are used to defend rather than co-opt/change those in charge.
    what is interesting is how alike all people are. no matter their color, religion or sex,most people act the same.

    the south has been a hotbed of anti-government hatred for as much of our/southern history since the slave holders took over. the ability of the Republicans to “use” the poor white folks since the Civil Rights era is one of incredibly successful tactics for American self abuse. with the passage of Civil Rights legislation, there has been the outright social condemnation of racism. Afterwards, the racist thinking merely changed into socially approved outlets, like members only clubs, white suburbs, destruction of mass transit and various other socially funded avenues to keep US and THEM apart.

    the rise of this form of libertarianism/little if at any government in private/public society/ as espoused by Rand Paul and the Arizona law outlawing illegals, shows the civility and packaging is the only difference outright between yesterday’s jim crowism and Republican’s “government is the problem” mentality.

    since Government enacted Civil Rights for the “others”, the libertarianism i see promoted by these two, for example, is a great cover for the re-imposition of Jim Crow under the guise of “getting Government off our backs.” i don’t trust either of these kinds of libertarian models to be good for anyone who lives in a pluralistic society. power is almost always abused, as is the nature of power. those who claim that we don’t need a government to protect us from those that wield power are blatantly ignorant of the reality of why we need some form of Government to begin with. as if Government would or could be flushed down the bathtub drain. Listening to Rand Paul speak i gather he lives in a nice clean closed little world with relatively no dissonance or concept of the reality outside of his world.

    that he could be educated, being a eye doctor, and not grasp the larger world education affords, i.e. larger constructs outside his mien, shows he is quite an ignorant man or more so, a dangerous man who chooses to deny things he refuses to see.

    either way, this kind of non-thinking is typical of the anti-intellectualism used to dominate any discussion i see so prevalent in the libertarian point of view on government.

    choosing to be Actively Ignorant is by far the greatest threat i see coming from what i gather is a “libertarian.” that is where my greatest fears/concerns are pricked when i hear any defense of the “rugged Individualism,” that these folks choose to herald and glorify. it is all so easy to just pick an “isolated moral highground” and defend it, rather than to be open to contrary evidence scattered along the highway of life. obvious they don’t want to give up any power to those around them.

    these Rugged Individuals are just concerned with feathering their own nest. i don’t trust the government to be my Savior, never have. But the Republicans have succeeded in making government “Bad”, so they could take over Government to re impose a form of their “Government”. With St. Ronnie and Bush/Obama we can see what that means.

    thanks to the present day Republican version, we have the worst of all kinds of Government.
    the oligarchy of the Corporate few for the Corporate few by the Corporate few blessed by the Bush/Gore decision.

    i remember reading something about Government providing for the General Welfare in one of the Founding Documents. i suppose that only applies to the Defense Dept and killing in America’s oil interests, nowadays. what hogwash we are subjected to under the guise of preventing “unnecessary Government regulation.” BP notwithstanding!

    1. bob goodwin

      I think you are falling victim to one of the corporatists wedge tactics.

      “choosing to be Actively Ignorant is by far the greatest threat i see coming from what i gather is a ‘libertarian.'”

      Most humans are actively ignorant. And most ideologues are unable to debate the nuances. These are flaws with humans. But Ideologies are important. It is simple to dismiss an ideology due to the flaws of some of its members, but you are not doing yourself any intellectual favors by not respecting and trying to understand the perspective of other ideologies.

    2. jest

      “the ability of the Republicans to “use” the poor white folks since the Civil Rights era is one of incredibly successful tactics for American self abuse.”

      Interesting point, but it goes back even further than that: prior to the Civil War.

      Among other things, the Civil War was predicated on getting a few elite rich white slave owners to get vast numbers of poor, white, non-slave owners to fight & die for “property” that they could never hope to afford.

      That “self-abuse” would have never happened if the majority of people didn’t cling to a rigid ideology that was in blatant contradiction to their core beliefs & interests.

      I see the same dynamic with Tea Partiers and “Propertarians”: the purity of the ideology trumping all else, despite blatant contradictions in their messages.

      Many seem resentful of the Republican Party, yet support them. Rand Paul’s ideological purity prevents him from recognizing how anti-libertarian racism is. Or Paul defending BP. Even Sarah Palin’s entire “career,” if you can call it that, is a contradiction. etc.

  23. francis

    I might agree with glibertarians on the occasional issue, but that’s not enough to make me give a shit abut their stupid noises.

  24. MinnItMan

    The next thing libertarians need to concede is that that corporate rights are politically-derived rights (along with all other rights, contra Jefferson): they are not from God himself, at least in any practical form. Limited liabilty is/was deemed to be a protection that serves the public interest.

    Liberals need to recognize that “‘progressive’ or evolving notions of justice and fair play” need to give their due to agreements that are not upset for “light and transient causes.” (following Jefferson).

    Libertarians lack the political imagination to govern (they are rightly perceived as anti-political), and are mistrusted and almost never elected as such. Liberals, on the other hand, are too political, seemingly willing to compromise any goal at any time for power. They do get elected, but only to play the George and Fred script with “conservatives.” See the Wyle E. Coyote-ish Warner Bros. cartoons with George and Fred, where for the last 42 years, liberals have largely been taking the beating from the conservative sheepdog.

    1. bob goodwin

      Both Liberals and Libertarians have been political disappointments. And a lot of that was caused by us fighting each other. The corporatists now own the ship.

  25. Debra

    Geez, I read through the first half of all this, and have scrolled to the bottom (sorry, I’m a lazy lout…) just to say…
    Not as good as William, but you get the idea.
    While we’re arguing and ranting about all this… the seconds are ticking away.
    Life is short.

  26. wunsacon

    Libertarians want school vouchers (as do I) *and* they prefer government not require private businesses not to discriminate. With this combination of policies, does anyone think we wouldn’t end up with worse segregation than we have now?

    Libertarians do. I don’t. Look at what partial financial deregulation did to the FIRE industry: it provided legitimacy/cover for undesirable behavior that the market was supposed to weed out but didn’t. Instead, most of the rest of the industry piled in. (And libertarians refuse to admit that “deregulation” had anything to do with the bubble and meltdown. They “disown” Greenspan and turn a blind eye towards private malfeasance. As though the unregulated 1920’s bubble didn’t happen.)

    By allowing private racial and religious discrimination by employers, I bet these same laissez faire policies would recreate and strengthen racial and religious divisions. Want a job? Make sure you’re the right color and attend the right church on Sundays.

    So, I just can’t vote for a libertarian. The other parties are impoverishing us with their policies. That’s bad enough. Libertarian policies would risk tearing society apart. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

    I’ll consider voting libertarian when their candidates aspire to “regulate better” (and explain how) rather than continue beating the “government is bad” drum. They have to stop trying to throw out everything from the 20th century and just focus *selectively* on what’s not working on government.

    But, I doubt that’s going to happen. Libertarians are generally very sharp. Unfortunately, they “know it” and that tends to make them less willing to examine/re-consider their views. (Also, intelligence and wisdom don’t seem to be the same thing. Many of the top neocons were very sharp. Were their decisions wise?)

    1. bob goodwin

      And libertarians refuse to admit that “deregulation” had anything to do with the bubble and meltdown. They “disown” Greenspan and turn a blind eye towards private malfeasance. As though the unregulated 1920’s bubble didn’t happen.

      This is a political myth. I disown Greenspan because he was the ultimate Clinton/Bush corporatist. Phil Grahams work on “deregulation” was the ultimate sop to wall street corporatism in the history of the crisis. There is nothing libertarian about the fed and treasury creating profits for wall street out of thin air. There is nothing libertarian about arbitrary decisions by government to make some creditors whole, and shaft others.

      1. francis

        Bait and switch, you avoid responding to the deregulation charge and instead talk about free money and shafting. A libertarian would have deregulated the financial industry just the same as the corrupt dems and reps, except according to glibertarians that would be right and not wrong. Nice theory. That is not a political myth.

        1. bob goodwin

          If you read Reinhart/Rogoff (This time is different) you will find that bubbles and economic policy have been cyclical since the invention of money. Bubbles precede libertarianism. I am certain that 1990s financial deregulation was not driven by the libertarians. It is speculation to say what they would have done if they drove policy. Few libertarians are anarchists, and understand the government has a role in common interests. Libertarians are distancing themselves from Greenspan for this reason.

          Speaking for myself, the financial crisis broke any belief I had that markets were naturally stable or efficient, so my tolerance for the government role has risen on this issue. So I might have voted for deregulation in the 1990s and would now regret it.

          1. wunsacon

            >> I am certain that 1990s financial deregulation was not driven by the libertarians.

            This legislation was sold as another example of “getting government off our backs” and “let businesses and markets self-regulate”. Was that a “liberal” move?

            Just like Bush’s expansion of Medicare wasn’t a right-wing policy move, Clinton’s party affiliation doesn’t mean we should attribute de-regulation to liberal ideology. Partially dismantling financial regulations was right-wing policy at work.

            If libertarians didn’t ally with the GOP as the libertarian choice of “lesser evil”, I’d more likely accept your excuses. Because then you could say “we don’t support *those* GOP corporatists and really didn’t support these half-assed deregulatory changes”. But, 59% of libertarians voted for Bush in 2004! (2004!) And many more voted the GOP tickets in prior elections.

          2. bob goodwin

            There are 2 parties. Some libertarians side with the democrats, but for most of us that is unthinkable. You should *not* mistake the republicans for libertarianism. Tea party activism is about the distaste that libertarianism has for corporatism. The bailouts were our waterloo.

            You will not get me to believe that libertarians caused the bubbles. But there is blood on a lot of hands.

          3. wunsacon

            Bob, for the chance of a few more dollars in your pocket after taxes, the majority of libertarians voted for Bush. Twice. By your choice of bedfellows, you facilitate religious zealotry, corporatism, pollution, and militarism. (Dems do, too. But, to a lesser degree.) And while trying to “starve the beast”, you’ve contributed to financial instability.

            You differ from the Republicans in some respects. But, when you ally with them so closely, you don’t distinguish yourselves enough.

          4. bob goodwin

            The same argument can be used to blame progressives for ObamaCare.

            It was a purely corporatist act justified by liberal ideas and passed by liberal votes.

    2. The Rage

      School Vounchers are just a racket to dissolve the public school system and keep the natural elite down. Considering blacks are already degenerated and uncultured, they want to do the same things to whites.

      Alot of “racial” libertarians think that whites will be the chosen “race” of the merchant caste and will not suffer in a libertarians totalitarian plutocracy.

      They don’t get that middle class white’s will be hurt the most. Instead of the education they would have gotten in the public school system, they would be “thrown” out of the “private” school because they don’t value what that school wants(future engineers or scientists). Since the plutocractic elite see little ROI in them, no school for the verbal elite are made and their potential evaporates.

      Lucky for us, most likely the elite of the verbals, will fight a counterstruggle against the dictatorship and begin rebuilding the public schooling against the wishes of the plutocractic tyranny. But that is a story for another time.

      1. wunsacon

        Watch the John Stossel video Mish posted some time ago.

        Well, I’ve always been “pro voucher”. So, maybe I nodded my head along with that video because it reinforces my pre-existing opinion. But, you might give it a try.

  27. F. Beard

    With all the F-bombs in this article it is obvious that a liberal-libertarian cross breed will result, assuming neither party is sterile.

    1. bob goodwin

      Old man sleepin’ the hot day away,
      while he dreams a thousand yesterdays.
      ‘Cause he’s had so many come his way.
      All he cares about is somewhere to lay his head tomorrow.

      Old man sits and thinks about his home.
      Doesn’t matter ’cause he’s all alone.
      What he’d give to get back on his own.
      Curses his body ’cause it’s old and it gives no transportation.
      He sits in his one room shack alone but it provides no consolation.

      What a shame,
      his time is nearin’.
      His eyes won’t let him see
      the skies are clearin’.
      Someone tells him
      without his hearin’.
      It’s no news to those who’ve been around
      while things are changin’.

      1. F. Beard

        Gee wiz Bobby, I deserve my own poem? Thanks. Doesn’t change the fact that your mouth needs a bar of soap, now does it?

  28. The Rage

    Libertarians were actually the far left in the 19th century. They wanted to break down all power and castes into “equality”.

    They were called anarchists. Socialists were different in their christian backgrounds and desire for rebuilding a kind Roman empire in the West with the rest of the world as its “colonies”. A elitist, racial policy for sure, but degenerated. I think HG Wells summed that up best “I am a white man first, a socialist second”.

    Modern Libertarians want to “dissolve” the functions of the state to the Merchant Caste.

    “Listen for crowd manipulation techniques and note the similarity of Ron Paul’s revolutionary talk and tone to old school Bolshevist dogma. Note the childishness and fanaticism of the crowd and how they are manipulated by a few voices.

    Substitute Marx for Mises, and Trotsky for Paul, and you have a classic Cabalistic Jewish revolution in the works before your very eyes on Google video. The great icon of the dogma is held up as an irrefutable and prophetic god as Ron Paul venerates the Jewish supremacist and agent of the Jewish bankers Ludwig von Mises.

    Ron Paul is a demagogue working for the enemy. He will destroy America in the name of “saving” it. Know that we are being set up like Russia was set up, and Ron Paul is a major player working for World Jewry.

    Gil Scott Heron was right when he said that the revolution will not be televised, but he was wrong when he forecast that it would be live. It is being digitized and googleyesed.

    What a pathetic end to a once great nation of independent minded and proud men and women. World Jewry are doing to us what they did to the ignorant Russian Mushiks, and all it takes is a few cheerleaders in a crowd to clap and boo on cue and the crowd is mesmerized by a mediocre phoney.

    Ron Paul talks about tearing down the Federal Government of the United States of America, and receives applause. This is the new soft Bolshevism. Smile as you nihilisticly rip to shreds your national government. Sing along with the Fuehrer the Cabalistic Jewish revolutionary chant,

    “Everything, yes, everything must be destroyed, since everything must be renewed.”—Anonymous Author from the Patriot, “Secret Societies in America, Tibet, and China”, The Trail of the Serpent, Boswell Pub.Co., London, (1936), p. 309.
    Cut through Paul’s never ending double-speak and hear what he is really saying. Ron Paul wants the American People to destroy themselves, but has a backup plan if he fails to sucker enough of the masses into following him. Plan B is to wait for the Jewish bankers to destroy America, at which point he will “pick up the pieces.” It is the Cabalistic Jews’ Hobson’s choice for the Goyim, heads they win, tails you lose. All hail Ron Paul! At least he is better looking than Trotsky and Lenin, if not as talented”.

    Great piece. Right now, White Americans don’t get it. Most “Right Wing” movements are still fighting the past and ignoring the future tryanny. That is so 1930’s.

    My general theory is the bankers are creating this “debt crisis” on purpose to enslave humanity under the materialistic urges of the elite. The fact they allowed a global system to become so unbalanced is quite revealing. Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell for example are not pure white men. They have “inperfections” they hide besides their worship of Jewish intellectuals.

    But they are going to allow a business to not hire a darkie if they don’t want too. Oh Joy, freedom wins!!!

  29. scharfy

    The stated thesis is:

    Liberals and Libertarians need each other to stands up against corporatists who are ruling the roost. Mostly Repubs and some Dems.

    I’m trying to envision how this looks…

    ” Nancy Pelosi visits a Tea Party in Lubbock ,Texas. After a rousing speech on how both Tea Partier’s and liberals want energy independence, we just have different methods. Thus, my plan to tax private industry back to the Stone Age via Cap and Trade isn’t THAT different from the Libertarian approach of abolishing the EPA, privatizing the entire Gulf of Mexico and selling Alaska to China and top it off with eliminating the income tax. We just have to iron out the details.”


    I’ll go brush up on political philosophy 101, but it would seem these ideologies don’t really mix well at all.

    I’m thinking the Liberals would be better off redefining WHAT a modern liberal is and cleaning up their own party. (Repubs too for that matter need ALOT of self-reflection)

    Libertarianism is a great moral philosophy that fails in the real world. Lots of feel good utopian theory, but you end up with private armies and lawlessness.

    (All that being said, I’d LOVE a good third party candidate to make a run)

    1. bob goodwin

      I honestly think your should study your opponents more carefully, as I don’t think you properly represent what the tea party wants.

      But I agree it is a lot to ask ideologies to cooperate.

  30. Jim

    It seems important that we make an effort to conceptualize as accurately as possible our evolving political/economic system–a system of dependency relationships which is destroying our initiative.

    The original Jeffersonian fears have been realized. Today Big Capital, Big Government, Big Bank and Big Brains collude together–fostering our dependency on them.

    For example, Big Government and Big Brains have managed to legitimate themselves historically under the pretense of defending the underdog while actually guaranteeing the profits of Big Capital and eventually creating and using Big Bank to socialize the losses of any unwise investment decisions.

    The alarming and increasing degree of dependency on the Bigs has been striking in the BP catastrophe. We have witnessed a collective pleading to Big Government and Big Captial to solve this problem.

    Any collective coastal citizen initiative to mobilize ourselves to protect our beaches, marshes, jobs, businesses and culture seems largely absent.

    Any nonviolent collective assertion of protest and disgust at the Bigs, focused on their decison-making center in Houston, seems off the radar.

    We have created an army of adminstrators representing the Bigs, who have come to exercise power in our name, because we supposedly cannot take care of ourselves.


    1. Externality

      Actually, the government set up a joint “unified command” with BP that seems to stifle local initiatives.

      A plan to use barges to protect an inlet brought threats of criminal prosecution.

      The EPA threatened to fine Louisiana for its plans to build berms along the barrier islands. The berms, built at the suggestion of Dutch experts, seem to be working. Had Louisiana not been forced to spend a month begging permission, more of its coast might have been saved.

      Obama refuses to waive the Jones Act, which bars non-US flagged ships from working in American waters.

      The problem is not a lack of local initiative, the problem is federal regulators stifling local initiative. We saw the same thing after Hurricane Katrina with, for example, FEMA barring firefighters from relief efforts because their sexual harassment and affirmative action training was out of date.

  31. Hal Horvath

    “Libertarian: Man Made Global Warming is a farce and a conspiracy”

    There may indeed be self-labeled “libertarians” that agree with this assertion, but I don’t choose to identify “libertarian” with the least knowledgeable and least mentally competent followers.

    Instead, I’d prefer to think of libertarians as more likely to have a scientific attitude (while I’ll readily admit a tiny minority of any grouping has actual scientific attitudes and mental habits!).

    Think of this as a calculated idealization — expect the best of people, demand it, and gradually, painfully, slowly, it will come to be.

    1. bob goodwin

      Let me dissect this phrase:

      scientific consensus on man made global warming

      Language makes a difference.

      Scientific Consensus is an oxymoron. There is Political consensus and Scientific proof. Conflating these phrases is an ideological construct.

      Man-made is a code word for ‘requires regulation’
      Global is a code word for ‘global governance’.

      Libertarians would be allergic to any of these phrases:

      man made global homosexuality
      man made global laziness
      man made global epidemic
      man made global bubbles

      Language makes a difference, even though Libertarians are not that opposed to rational governance of the commons.

      1. DownSouth

        ”Man-made is a code word for ‘requires regulation’
        Global is a code word for ‘global governance’.”

        That’s really quite an admission.

        The subtext is that the libertarian doesn’t care whether man made global warming exists or not.

        What matters to him is, if it exists, what the political consequences will be. For if it does exist, that will require regulation and global cooperation, which to the libertarian is anathema.

        So since science has found that global warming exists, he attacks the science.

        That is tantamount to having a pregnancy test and, when the results come back positive, you attack the doctor and lab techs as being incompetent, and deny the results. The problem with this sort of “thinking” is that it doesn’t change the reality—-the pregnancy is still there, as unpleasant and inconvenient as the consequences might be.

        1. bob goodwin

          If you had bothered to read the post it would be abundantly clear that I was refering to choices of language. You are attributing a statement never made by using the tired accusation that I am attacking science.

          I believe that is all a distraction, as different language can achieve better outcomes.

    2. Frank

      The reason I am not a believer in the global warming farce is two fold
      1)If there is really global warming the media/gore/”scientists” would not use total and utter propaganda to get their points across. Goebbels would be proud of an inconvenient truth.
      2)If there is global warming(and it’s a serious issue) and people really wanted to solve the problem the actions governments want to take are laughable. To fix a problem of that magnitude cap and trade is a band aid on someone decapitated. It would require the simultaneous shutdown of commerce across the world, leading to the death by starvation of billions within a year.

      Until I hear someone say that(that’s not a communist or genocidal) there is no possibility of me believing man made global warming is a real problem, or that it even exists.

      1. Francois T

        Two points in your post present a certain interest:

        1) Cap and Trade is bullshit and everyone who has study the problem knows it. Fee and benefits is the way to go. But, since it wouldn’t benefit the financial elites, the media does not talk about it and politicians ignore it.

        2) Goebbels; he was a firm believer in eugenics. Reading your post made me realize why.

  32. Hal Horvath

    btw, my own expectations/guesses about global warming — it is more likely than not we have embarked on an unstoppable experiment with the atmosphere/seas/biosphere that will have a very unpredictable outcome. e.g.–it is even possible we will just have a relatively simple warming, like the mainstream models. Of course, many other outcomes are quite possible, such as some kind of unstable reaction, like the freshwater melt off of Greenland stopping the Gulf Stream, resulting in an European ice age, etc.

    But, all in all, it’s most likely we are going to change the climate in some rather disastrous way, resulting in economic costs that if added correctly to fossil fuel prices would greatly increase prices at the pump, etc.

  33. Andrew Bissell

    Have there been libertarians who were highly approving of the Mexican border shooting? I know that there are some extremely anti-immigration “libertarians,” but I’m not sure exactly how they square limiting human freedom to cross arbitrary political borders with the rest of the philosophy. In fact, the entire border shooting episode reminded me of Radley Balko’s work on the terrible trend of militarizing America’s domestic police forces.

    The idea that libertarians only care about property rights is errant, manifest nonsense. To take just one example, they’ve done better work on ending the drug war than the liberals have in decades.

    1. bob goodwin

      Libertarianism is no where near as complete a framework as Liberalism, and in fact contains more self contradiction, and frequently fails in the extreme.

      Border security is an interesting example, and I may represent it incorrectly. Libertarians are a little more literal about laws, which is why they dislike them. But the idea of ‘sorta illegal immigration’ is dissonant. Libertarians are more likely to back up authority even if they bristle at the boot being put on their own neck.

      I have come to using the Rodrik Trilemma to explain libertarian values on cross border flows of people, capital, exports and imports:

      You can only have two of the following three: Sovereign Government, Democracy and Economic Integration.

      Since I chose #1 and #2, I agree to forgo #3. In a broad sense this means that government must control what crosses a border.

      It is a difficult and confusing argument, but amounts to where I stand. It is the corporatists who are most interested in economic integration, which is why they seem to try and manipulate democracy.

      1. DownSouth

        ”Libertarians are more likely to back up authority even if they bristle at the boot being put on their own neck.”

        Let me fix that for you: Libertarians are more likely to back up authority because they can’t ever imagine the boot being put on their own neck.

        “It is a difficult and confusing argument…

        Man that’s the understatement of the century! The cognitive dissonance makes my head spin.

        Here we get the same dynamic as we do in the manmade global warming debate. Either AGW exists or it does not. Either there was excessive force used or there was not. But the truth of whether AGW exists or whether excessive use of force was used falls victim to the political agenda.

        1. bob goodwin

          Agreed on most of your points, except I don’t believe I am an expert on AGW or have enough evidence on the recent border incident to conclude excessive force. Apparently you are passionate about your convictions.

        2. Andrew Bissell

          Libertarians are more likely to back up authority because they can’t ever imagine the boot being put on their own neck.

          Absolute twaddle. Again I’ll refer to Radley Balko and the libertarians’ work on the drug war. Perhaps it’s true that most libertarians don’t believe they’re in imminent danger of having a SWAT team break into their house on a pot bust, but they bristle at the notion all the same. Go have a look at Reason magazine’s discussion of the Columbia, MO to see some of what DownSouth believes is callow deference to authority:

  34. MinnItMan

    Regardless of who might get credit for ending the drug war – news of its ending has eluded me so far – this is a good point. Libertarians (at least LP libertarians) get an unbelievable amount of grief for being “obsessed” with this, despite 3 very compelling arguments why the drug war should be ended: 1) it is an example of government being the problem, at least insofar as government has made a problem worse; 2) it has seriously eroded civil liberties; and 3) it interferes with personal choices, that at least in comparison to others that are perfectly legal, seems to have no rational basis at all.

    Having gone through a period of several years of persistant severe pain, and having to deal with a medical system that systematically denied what I was experiencing, and finally, knowing that what I was doing to treat it was really not that big of a deal, I wonder at all the BS I was put through. I wonder at the cost. Cui bono? Cui WGAF? was the mainstream answer. I’m now going through this with a significant other who is not nearly as paranoid as I am, and it’s worse now, near as I can tell. I don’t see the drug war as being ended, but rather a significant battle as having being lost to the man.

    1. bob goodwin

      People largely self medicated 100 years ago. You could by heroin from Sears. The first corporatist acts of our government involved health care, with the doctors lobby representing a classical “corporation” in the Italian Corporatism sense. Big Pharma and the FDA preceded the take-over of big-oil and big-finance. The rest of drug trade went underground. That is the main reasons our borders are so violent today.

      People are in pain, and we are wasting a lot of our natural resources with our current system. I do not have strong hopes of change in our lifetimes.

      good luck to you with your health.

  35. liberal

    The biggest problem with so-called libertarians is not understood by most modern “liberals.”

    The biggest problem? That libertarians are actually crypto-feudalists.

    The problem isn’t that libertarians worship property. There’s nothing wrong with “property,” per se. The problem is, what is allowed to be property.

    The reason that modern libertarians are liberty loathing crypto-feudalists is that they think that assets producing economic rents—in particular, natural resources and urban site values—are fine candidates for property, even though the agent extracting the rents made zero contribution to production.

    Real liberals, on the other hand, understand that rents aren’t earned, they’re stolen, and should be returned to the people via the government, through taxation. This has been understood by real liberals, as opposed to liberty loathing “libertarians,” for a long long time. Cf Mills famous quote about landlords in their sleep, and even Adam Smith, writing pre-Ricardo, on land taxation.

    One real obstacle to true understanding is that most people, apparently even many economists, don’t understand economic rent.

    All this warm, fuzzy stuff attempting to debunk libertarians by appealing to a social contract misses the point, which is that “property is [indeed] theft” if the property in question is a rent-producing asset. (As opposed to true capital.)

    1. Matt T

      It’s exactly this kind of muddled thinking that gives “liberals” a bad name. Not all are card-carrying Marxists, but a disturbing number are at least sympathetic.

      First off, the government is emphatically not “the people.” It’s an entity with its own impulses and objectives that must be tolerated in order to have a functioning society. Nothing more, and nothing less.

      Anything that is scarce – say, lower Manhattan real estate – has a price. You can’t legislate it away, and attempts to do so will generally be costly failures. I understand you don’t like paying rent, but it’s not “stolen” any more than Safeway “stole” the money I used to buy a box of cereal. If you disagree, feel free to put up a condo building, and I’ll move on in to “return it to the people.” You, of course, will be responsible for maintenance.

      1. attempter

        Actually, his comment has considerable precision. It’s your “thinking” that’s muddled.

        Once the frontier no longer exists, once there’s no longer the freedom for any homesteading entrepreneur to stake his claim and work his land, thereby earning a property right in it, the very concept of property is no longer valid according to its own premises.

        According to the labor theory of property, which supposedly justifed property in land in the first place, the only thing which confers such a right is actually working the land oneself.

        Once that condition no longer holds, once the land has been monopolized (and in the vast majority of cases is no longer being “worked” by any reasonable definition of the term), we simply have a market failure.

        At that point civilized human beings would recognize that the concept of property in land was no longer progressive, but now decadent and malevolent, and they’d move to a stewardship dispensation.

        Here’s the real “market”, by the way, and what needs to be the basis for stewardship – land which actually is being put to post-oil food production use. And since we know that corporate agriculture is both anti-democracy as well as less productive, that’s another reason why the nation’s farmland has to be allotted on a small-farmer steward basis. Each would have the social usufruct right and responsibility for as long as he chose to exercise it.

        Once he chose not to, the stewardship would be handed over.

  36. Ignim Brites

    I’m not sure where Bob Goodwin gets the idea that Libertarians bring anything to the table. In 1980 Ed Clark got 1.1% of the presidential vote and there was excited talk about a Libertarian breakout. Never happened. No Libertarian candidate has gotten more the 5 tenths of 1 percent since. And what percentage of the alleged 30% of the nation that are liberals are not corporatists? What percentage of these liberals would support selling off the assets of Fannie and Freddie for whatever the market would bear. Not many I’m sure.

    1. bob goodwin

      The libertarian party is a bust. But libertarians definitely vote. And the tea party is breaking some eggs. Intellectual and voting alignment can be very valuable.

      1. Ignim Brites

        Sure the Tea Party movement is shaking things up on the “right” but I don’t see a lot of libertarian influence. Granted libertarian ideas have done more than anything to stimulate skepticism towards government, including the FED, involvement in the market. But for the most part the Tea Party is basically a conservative and traditionalist movement. (However, the influence of libertarianism in modifying conservative economic ideas through the influence of Murray Rothbard should not be dismissed.)

        However, I am hardpressed to see how libertarian ideas are having much of an impact on traditional American liberal/progressive support for big government, big labor and big business. True, the support among liberals for big business over the last half century has been pretty shaky. But that was due to the influence of the materialist dialectic which has disappeared from history. Clinton presided over the restoration of liberal support for big business (except big tobacco, of course). The financial crisis has shaken that support but I haven’t heard any liberal call for dismantling the FED, much less Fannie or Freddie. When push came to shove liberals supported bailing out GM and Chrysler, unlike the conservatives who let Worldcom, Enron and Delphi go bankrupt.

        So it seems pretty unlikely that libertarianism is having any impact on liberals, except possibly on the war on drugs. And even in this case the are major differences. Liberals believe that libertarianism in cultural matters requires big government to provide a safety net. Libertarians believe that libertarianism in cultural matters requires personal responsibility. If you get screwed up from drugs or gambling, deal with it. Don’t come looking for government handouts. That’s really a big difference and a difference in which there is basically zero support from liberals for the libertarian position and attitude.

        I don’t think that in any of the three cases where you suggest that liberals and libertarians are in fundamental agreement you are accurately representing libertarian views. Do libertarians really believe that “The environment is a common asset where government has a role.”? Do libertarians really believe that carbon emissions or medical costs should be dealt with by collective (government) measures? I doubt it.

        1. bob goodwin

          I was actually going to agree with you until your last posts. Liberals have not been at all impressed by libertarianism, and we have not been successful politically.

          The last point you make is the one that fractures the libertarian groups.

          “Do libertarians really believe that carbon emissions or medical costs should be dealt with by collective (government) measures?”

          That would depend a great deal on what these measures were. A carbon tax (or better cap and trade) will have carve-outs, and are unlikely to protect our commons. However I can imagine federal investment in technology and incentives to remove emissions from large plants and automobiles. I cannot wait to get my hand on an electric car and have excellent nationwide recharging. Lets get it done.

          On Medical, the libertarians top priority is bending the cost curve down. We spend twice what any other country does for similar outcomes, and this is largely because the regulations protect the corporations (doctors, big pharma, hospitals, etc) I think the liberals were plenty disapointed with what they got on ObamaCare too. We all agree that it is wrong for people to be suddenly thrust into poverty because of an illness.

          1. Ignim Brites

            Your ideas about collective action to give us EVs is “progressive” and similar to the ideas that brought us the Volkswagon. Frankly, I am sympathetic to the right of people to make such proposals, meaning I am sympathetic to possibility that democratic collective action can achieve some goods. I just don’t think there is anything libertarian about it. And libertarianism basically has had only the most minimal influence on the debates over health care. I do note that though that the Canadian supreme court has ruled that it cannot be illegal to make private payments for health services. An extremely minimal (though crucially important) victory for liberty.

  37. Vangel

    When Liberals support more individual liberty they are supported by Libertarians. Sadly, Liberals have a very difficult time arguing for liberty so it is difficult for Libertarians to support them on most issues.

  38. Cindy

    Just wanted to say — Great article, I hope this is a meme which can gain some traction. I’m not that hopeful, as even on this thread there are liberal and libertarian commenters who are talking past each other.

  39. liberal

    “Tea party activism is about the distaste that libertarianism has for corporatism. The bailouts were our waterloo.”

    LOL! And the invasion of Iraq, which has now cost the better part of $1T, was what?

  40. Jean

    Mr. Goodwin, you frame the corporatist as your opponent. I share that sentiment. Yet, you see the Tea Party movement as similarly minded folk.

    But is the Tea Party not fully behind the two most obvious corporatists in CA, Carly and Meg? Is Sarah Palin not a Tea Partier? Where is Sarah among the anti-corporatists?

    1. bob goodwin

      Re Carly and Meg,

      you raise a good point. Both are tech company CEO’s. Our tech sector is currently *not* in the corporatist sphere of our economy as there is little regulation and little money or personel moving back and forth. However it really is very hard to determine in a first time candidate.

      Re Sarah,

      I think she has proven herself to be two things: anti-corporatist and devisive.

      Re the teaparty,

      None of us really know where this is going to go, but it seems largely any corporatist and libertarian to me.

  41. John

    The first time I heard about the Tea Party was when Rick Santelli mentioned it on CNBC. Ol’ Rick was supposedly angry at the government bailouts. He said the gubmint never should have bailed out Wall Street.

    I was suspicious of the Tea Party as soon as I heard about it on CNBC. The Tea Party was supposedly the party of the people, but then why was CNBC pushing it? I think now we know: The Tea Party wants gubmint out of Wall Street’s business now that the bailouts are a done deal. They want lower taxes for the elite. The Tea Party isn’t in favor of additional regulation, instead, they are in favor of not having government bail out Wall Street in the future.

    The Tea Party cloaks itself as the Party of the People, but it is clearly the Party of Wall Street. I’m 100% certain government is going to step in the next time Wall Street blows up. For the Tea Party to say it is against future bailouts is just a way to bring the common man on board for it’s real agenda of preventing any new regulation that would shut down the Wall Street casino.

    Any Tea Partiers who aren’t making at least $1,000,000/year are being snookered. The Tea Party only exists to push Wall Street’s deregulation agenda while covering itself under a cloak of ‘No Bailouts!’ now that the bailouts have already happened. Pretty ingenious.

    And Rand Paul dangles the ‘repeal the Civil Rights Act’ bait to reel in the poor, Southern whites. Rand Paul says he was tricked by Rachel Maddow, but he really and truly wanted his anti-CRA views out there.

    I’m afraid that the elites are so schooled in the ways of propaganda that there may be no way out other than a complete breakdown of society.

    1. attempter

      Santelli’s righteous rage was nowhere to be seen so long as the Bailout was a direct convenyance to the banksters.

      But the moment part of the Bailout was going to be laundered through some borrowers, and those borrowers might get a penny or two out of the bankster’s stolen taxpayer dollar, he was suddenly publicly enraged.

      Over the pennies, not the billions of dollars.

      1. Andrew Bissell

        Santelli’s righteous rage was nowhere to be seen so long as the Bailout was a direct convenyance to the banksters.

        This complaint was voiced about him over and over again after the Tea Party thing caught hold, and it’s totally false! You can find video after video of Santelli ranting against the bailouts in the fall of 2008, usually in debates with Fed sycophant Steve Liesman.

    2. francis

      This is so wrongheaded you obviously hadn’t been paying attention and are asserting things that suit your biases. The tea party movement started BEFORE the bailouts while they were being ‘prepared’ in congress and cronies, and BEFORE Santelli. Reps have been busy astroturfing it into a racist mob of yawpers they can control since then.

    1. DownSouth

      “Don’t believe the BS this Bob Goodwin guy is pedaling. Libertarians, Tea Baggers, and other protectors of the top-2% will never be on the same side as liberals.”

      Thank you, John. That’s a great way to cap off this thread.

      bob goodwin is little more than a propagandist for economic power—-a sheep in wolves’ clothing—-trying to cloak his special-interest pleadings in the garb of some higher principles.

      Perhaps no one put it more eloquently than Reinhold Niebuhr:

      The moral attitudes of dominant and privileged groups are characterized by universal self-deception and hypocrisy. The unconscious and conscious identification of their special interests with general interests and universal values, which we have noted in analyzing national attitudes, is equally obvious in the attitude of classes. The reason why privileged classes are more hypocritical than underprivileged ones is that special privilege can be defended in terms of the rational ideal of equal justice only, by proving that it contributes something to the good of the whole. Since inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally, the intelligence of privileged groups is usually applied to the task of inventing specious proofs for the theory that universal values spring from, and that general interests are served by, the special privileges which they hold.
      –Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man & Immoral Society

      1. bob goodwin

        bob goodwin is a “propagandist for economic power … trying to cloak his special-interest pleadings ”

        How so? What evidence do you have of this.

        Since this thread is largely ended, consider this a personal note.

        DownSouth, would you make this argument against anyone who was pro-libertarian? Does your heart really believe that libertarians are by definition elitists? With such a mental bias it dimminishes your ability to debate effectively.

        What insecurity do you have in your core beliefs that makes you defend them with venom rather than logic and facts? Why do you feel the need to reframe your opinions as facts and logic? Why do you quote philosophers out of context because of a few juicy words that can be thrown like weapons?

        I love your passion, and respect your ideology. Try a little experiment. reciprocate. I, for one, will listen.

        1. francis

          Here is the problem Bob, the ideals of libertarianism don’t hold together as a social system, they are a collection of half baked pronouncements, resentments, and buzzwords pretending to be coherent. At the end of the day libertarians ALWAYS rely on circular logic to cover this flaw. There is no there there, while I appreciate your effort to seek agreement I think you would be better off examining your own beliefs more closely.

          Not to take a shot at you but this:

          “Re Sarah,

          I think she has proven herself to be two things: anti-corporatist and devisive.”

          is pretty revealing of your understanding of our modern world of today. Sarah Palin is not an anti-corporatist.

        2. francis

          Sorry that was so harsh. I do appreciate your effort, but there aren’t many gentle ways to to say what I wanted to say.

          1. bob goodwin

            I appreciate your sensible comments. Regardless of how you feel about libertarians, I don’t think they are going to become liberals in your lifetime, and I do think they vote. I did not ask you to agree with them. I simply asked for agreement on a common enemy and more neutral language.

            Regarding Sarah Palin, I will look again. I know that liberals are very alergic to her, and I won’t pretend to explain why. My evidence that she is anti-corporatist had to do with her experiences in Alaska against the clear corporatist alignment that she disbanded around oil exploration and extraction. But I am open to counter evidence.

  42. francis

    Reply button disappeared.

    “My evidence that she is anti-corporatist had to do with her experiences in Alaska against the clear corporatist alignment that she disbanded around oil exploration and extraction. But I am open to counter evidence.”

    Drill, Baby, Drill? Negotiating with corporations in her state’s interests is pretty thin evidence to hang an anti-corporate tag on her, imo.

  43. SH

    I bit on this one. The problem with this argument is that a true libertarian would not collude with an opposing party to assume control of the political process. All we want is to be under no other person’s control. How is that difficult to understand? If it takes no laws and local societies so be it. If it takes free money so be it. We just want to wake up in the morning and know that we are in control of our destinies. Teaming up with liberals is a farce. I appreciate the premise of this article, but it is antithetical to any true libertarian point of view.

    As a realist, being free is a pipe dream so I’ll just deal with the hand I was dealt and continue to fight on these blogs because I’m bored.

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