Libertarian Belief in Absolute Property Rights Leads to Climate Change Denialism

By David Collyer, Policy Director at Prosper Australia. Cross-posted from Macrobusiness.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government do not believe in climate change. They have erased all of the measures Rudd and Gillard introduced to shift Australia to a low-carbon future.

If they merely doubted climate change, they would simply zero-price the behavior-changing settings and await more information. This is usually what cautious, evidence-based conservatives do. But no, their beliefs trump the science and they are acting boldly to turn those beliefs into law.

Does ignoring science seem as bizarre to you as it does to me?

When anti-abortionists talk of beliefs, they refer to the biblical injunction “thou shalt not kill” and, agree or not, there is a certain logic and coherence to their views. Yet underlying values seem absent from climate change denier rhetoric, or at best remains unexplained.

Matt Bruenig and George Monbiot might have the answer.

The Abbott government is populated with libertarians, sporting its new face: a procedural justice account of the world based heavily on property rights.


“Their property rights are absolute and cannot be intruded upon by the state or by anyone else. Any interference with or damage to the value of their property without their consent – even by taxation – is an unwarranted infringement.

“It is a pitiless, one-sided, mechanical view of the world, which elevates the rights of property over everything else, meaning that those who possess the most property end up with great power over others. Dressed up as freedom, it is a formula for oppression and bondage. It does nothing to address inequality, hardship or social exclusion. A transparently self-serving vision, it seeks to justify the greedy and selfish behaviour of those with wealth and power. But for the sake of argument, Bruenig says, let us accept it.

“Let us accept the idea that damage to the value of property without the owner’s consent is an unwarranted intrusion upon the owner’s freedoms. What this means is that as soon as libertarians encounter environmental issues, they’re stuffed.

“Climate change, industrial pollution, ozone depletion, damage to the physical beauty of the area surrounding people’s homes (and therefore their value), all these, if the libertarians did not possess a shocking set of double standards, would be denounced by them as infringements on other people’s property.

“The owners of coal-burning power stations in the UK have not obtained the consent of everyone who owns a lake or a forest in Sweden to deposit acid rain there. So their emissions, in the libertarian worldview, should be regarded as a form of trespass on the property of Swedish landowners. Nor have they received the consent of the people of this country to allow mercury and other heavy metals to enter our bloodstreams, which means that they are intruding upon our property in the form of our bodies.


“Almost all uses of land will entail some infringement on some other piece of land that is owned by someone else. So how can that ever be permitted? No story about freedom and property rights can ever justify the pollution of the air or the burning of fuels because those things affect the freedom and property rights of others. Those actions ultimately cause damage to surrounding property and people without getting any consent from those affected. They are the ethical equivalent – for honest libertarians – of punching someone in the face or breaking someone else’s window.”


“So here we have a simple and coherent explanation of why libertarianism is so often associated with climate change denial and the playing down or dismissal of other environmental issues. It would be impossible for the owner of a power station, steel plant, quarry, farm or any large enterprise to obtain consent for all the trespasses he commits against other people’s property – including their bodies.

“This is the point at which libertarianism smacks into the wall of gritty reality and crumples like a Coke can. Any honest and thorough application of this philosophy would run counter to its aim: which is to allow the owners of capital to expand their interests without taxation, regulation or recognition of the rights of other people. Libertarianism becomes self-defeating as soon as it recognises the existence of environmental issues. So they must be denied.

The strident polemics have prevented any meaningful shifting of the burden of taxation from labour to pollution via Pigouvian taxes.

As the US economists EK Hunt, Robin Hahnel and Michael Albert have argued for decades, not only do capitalist markets provide no incentive to correct external effects, it provides every incentive to maximise their impost onto others if this increases profit.

Libertarians and conservatives denounce Pigouvian taxation because it would serious decrease profits for those doing the cost externalisation, e.g. the wealthy and big business. Because uncorrected external effects are so rampant and thus a sign of the grave inefficiencies of capitalism, they have to be denied to even exist.

And if the victims of negative externalities claim a proprietary right to compensation, so might the perpetrators of positive externalities – land value capture and all that.

Moreover, excluding others from a parcel of land can be characterised as a negative externality, and the rental value of the land as the measure of the compensation payable, in which case Georgism is but a species of Pigouvianism. Therefore the existence of externalities must be denied.

Climate-change denialism is but a species of externality denialism.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. bh2

    This is a complete nonsense, Lambert. Libertarians do not believe property rights convey any privilege to damage property rights of others (individually or collectively). Any representation that this is a “libertarian” idea rests on a logical fallacy obvious even from a trotting horse.

    1. Keith Ackermann

      That’s bull. Go to Mises and you will find endless articles about compensating for damage to property. They think it’s perfectly viable to pollute a river and pay a toll. Read what the wonderful Ayn Rand says about the Indians and their rights?

      How far down does that rabbit hole go?

      1. bh2

        Since my comment does not conflict with the notion of compensation for actual property damages, it’s difficult to imagine what rabbit hole you pulled that from.

        You may not have noticed, but it is the state that permits polluting a river and incur only a fine. That would be the same lot who respond to massive criminal activities by banksters with a mild rebuke as they pocket a generous fine to fatten the public purse. These are basically just an ongoing tax having no intention of actually preventing the behavior in the future. Government is just a business, distinctive only because it has a sole legal right to impose violent force on you and your neighbors and a unique privilege to print its own money at will to spend on your behalf. If you find any of that disagreeable, take it up with your Congresscritter. Not that it will do any good, but at least you’ll be focusing your futile angst in the correct general direction.

        Ayn Rand was not a libertarian and said so herself. Nor am I a fan. She was more a flavor of anarcho-capitalist, which is something rather different. Her claim that libertarians “stole her ideas” is rather curious given she was born two centuries after Jefferson.

        1. skippy

          Neoliberalism is just the personalization of corporatism, that Gov and corporatist melded to defeat the ev’bal communists and now are stuck together like dogs mating is just absurd metaphysical serendipity.

          Skippy… the ***real*** interesting stuff is watching this former mobs participant’s eat their own, hive off into sects over tastes, rewrite – deny their history, convert and then repent as it suits them, all at ever increasing speed.

          1. bh2

            Skippy sez: “deny their history, convert and then repent as it suits them, all at ever increasing speed”.

            How rich. Skippy apparently overlooks past nutty ideas like prohibition and eugenics which “progressives” avidly promoted to “improve” humanity and then hastily dropped like a hot rock when those nutty ideas proved toxic. Indeed, modern progressives don’t mention these past noble attempts to boss other people around for their own good. They just invent new nutty ideas to replace the old ones and carry on as if nothing happened.

            Fortunately only one of these hair-brained, do-gooder schemes resulted in a constitutional amendment — also the only amendment subsequently stricken, and far more eagerly than it was adopted. Progressives wept.

            Eugenics, of course, is never mentioned in polite progressive society, particularly given its parallel endorsement by that other progressive bunch during the 30’s who led the German Nazi party. Nor do progressives brag widely about the American concentration camps set up for American citizens of a certain race by famously progressive FDR (whose administration absorbed policies developed by the progressive Hoover). The fascist regime (big government + big industry + big banking + big unions) imposed in the US declared its aim to defeat fascism elsewhere. A joke. The real aim was elimination of competitors, which a world war successfully accomplished at some considerable cost of blood and treasure. But the biggest booty of all was popular concession of “war powers” to government, which inevitably became a permanent feature of national life. Progressives were in the vanguard drumming for that result. Now they bellyache that this excessive power is abused by whoever gets elected. Yes, of course it is. Take a bow.

            Progressives don’t mention American prisoners and poor people experimented on by governments headed by “progressive” presidents. Indeed, FDR’s one-time chosen vice president, Henry Wallace, is quoted as saying “we could turn out a beautiful golden race” by practice of eugenics on people. Dr. Mengele would have surely agreed with Wallace about both the motive and the means. As a Nazi party loyalist, he would have deeply admired producing such a “golden race”.

            Fortunately, FDR replaced “progressive” Wallace with another “progressive”, Truman, who became president rather than Wallace when FDR finally keeled over. Otherwise, we might today be living in an even more “progressive” society enforced by an even fuller weight of anti-human government edicts enacted “for the greater good” (to quote one well-know modern “progressive”). Only progressives know what that “greater good” may be, of course, which conveniently bestows on them the moral authority to bring forth their brave, new world by any means necessary and without protest from any other quarter. Puritans to the heart.

            Modern progressives cannot dodge the long history of shameful motives, elitist personal conduct, abject governing misfeasance, and persistent social and individual harms inflicted by past “progressive” leadership who promoted this narrow and bent ideology even as they grabbed for ever greater power. Despite the cold light of history, the modern lot remain just as utterly blinded by narcissism as their predecessors. They repeatedly insist their repeatedly failed ideology remains the light of the world.


            1. Ben Johannson

              Vulgar libertarians like yourself are (together with vulgar austrians) the great plague of the internet, given your obvious unfamiliarity with the literature.

              The Redstate talking points just outed you, so do us a favor and sod off. You aren’t Skippy’s intellectual equal and at this rate never will be.

              1. bh2

                You have failed to point out how my comments are “at variance with the literature”. Would you care to cite a reference? It’s always refreshing see how willing lefties are to starkly confirm their inability to confront their own spooks. That you consider it vulgar to point these out in public simply underlines my earlier point that you lot are all in perpetual denial.

                If Skippy has any actual intellectual capacity, I assume he can speak for himself without your doubtful assistance. Or are you his sock-puppet?

                  1. weinerdog43

                    You’ve conveniently ignored the main point, that being Liberatarians would rather pay to pollute and the commons be damned.

                    Who sets the bar? Your argument boils down to “Prove it”, meanwhile you’ll pollute as much as you can as fast as you can till the water is undrinkable and unfit for anything. It is still a childish philosophy that stands for the proposition of ‘me first, screw you’.

                    1. bh2

                      The commons are always damned. Can you name an exception?

                      Compensation for damages is a remedy for past bad behavior. With no means to prevent that same behavior in the future, it becomes only a tax encouraging the behavior to continue.

                      Because jail time for banksters and other well connected moochers isn’t even a remote possibility, the game will go on because those who directly benefit can suffer no personal consequences. On and on. On and on…..

                      The government you likely participated in electing is well greased to keep that game going, regardless of who is in office. Or haven’t you noticed?

                      And about this you will do exactly what? Bitch at me? Bay at the moon? Hold your breath until you turn blue?

                      Nope. You’ll go right back to dutifully pulling the lever like a good little partisan yapdog, worried only about whether your precious vote got counted. As if it matters.

              2. Linus Huber

                It is actually any system that will corrupt itself over time and therefore carries the seed of self-destruction in itself as those benefiting from it will gain additional power and the institutions have the inherent quality to grow until the host is killed (totalitarian state of affairs) except the host reacts. The aim to achieve increasing stability is the real enemy as it leads to some form of phase transition (extreme volatility) at some point in the future. The responsibility to control governments’ hunger for more and more influence and power over a progressively infantilized population can be repelled only by a well informed and responsibly acting citizenry as the different branches of government (incl. the 4th) are too closely linked and to easily influenced by those who gained from the system.

                To simply put blame on the libertarian spirit of freedom, self-reliance and individual responsibility is actually the exact opposite of recognizing the present development of increased centralization at all levels (governments, large corporations, international bodies etc.) combined with increasingly higher diffusion of real accountability by decision makers which must include to accept consequences on a personal level.

            2. Rosario

              It’s easy to claim a moral high ground when you never have to get your hands dirty with structuring and maintaining a society. Same reason everyone who is anti-government complains about all the “evil” actors in history. That is how humans beings operate. We do things and they work, we do things and they don’t work. Sometime we do some really disgusting things, but I didn’t see a single admission of the countless things “progressives” and “big government” have done to allow you and everyone else on this website to type to their heart’s content. I fight concentration and abuse of power. If that is a path Libertarians choose to go down then I will stand beside them. So long as they continue making generalizations about government, unions, or anything that doesn’t give primacy to their and other people’s egos I have little in common with them.

            3. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

              What does bhp mean by “Progressive”? It’s as useless a label/epithet as “conservative”. As a fake Field Marshall in the Imperial German Army, I could be described as “conservative” or even “reactionary” in a Marxist sense. Yet I advocate a strong social safety net and state intervention against rapacious stock market capital.

              Seriously, you could in some contexts describe a syndicalist as a libertarian. Libertarianism in the US context (and increasingly in the EU as well) seems to equal heavy state intervention against any resistance to capital penetration and debt peonage while at the same time fanatical resistance to any use of the state to limit either of those phenomena. They want a sliding scale of ‘freedom’ with those who are not lantern jawed, sharp elbowed ‘makers’ being reduced to chattels.

              1. bh2

                Absent evidence to the contrary, people who describe themselves as progressive can be taken at their word. Not to say there are none who claim the label but don’t adopt the posture.

                “Libertarianism in the US context […] seems to equal heavy state intervention”…

                Libertarians oppose use (or threat of use) of coercive force, and typically support strictly few and limited powers to the state. If the state is intervening with a heavy hand, it certainly isn’t at the behest of libertarians.

                  1. bh2

                    Libertarianism is what libertarians say it is. And what they say it is is well advertised, well documented, and publicly available at a keystroke. It’s therefore of no importance that deliberately clueless people may prefer to imagine it’s something else.

                    1. bh2

                      @ Lambert Strether July 22, 2014 at 8:31 am

                      “A single keystroke? Fancy that!”

                      Editorial license, Lambert, which you so often exercise without restraint.

            4. skippy

              First of all bh2 if your going to strawman at least source your materials correctly e.g.. where is this progressive [trope i.e. not one of us] you project on myself. It might be related to fundamentalist ridged doctrinaires trying pigeonhole others so they can refer to canned talking points supplied by their superiors [holy men]. After that the the rest just devolves into a nonfactual foam fest of determinist and reductive wankey of the virtuous vs. ev’bal bi polar myopia.

              What you and yours can’t seem to wrap your minds around, is the agency behind historical events, hint its dynamic, yet the same basic actors are always at the vanguard. We can follow this thread all the way back to the beginnings of the boom – bust type of theory’s in contemporary literature and as such highly recommend you increase the size, scope and depth of your reading materials.

              Skippy… Hay just for kicks why don’t we discuss the birth process and libertarian views, that always seems to get the natives restless. I wonder if bearing a child is considered a rent on the mother… eh.

              1. bh2

                You have not demonstrated my observations are incorrectly sourced or illogically developed. You have simply asserted they are. That’s pretty thin gruel offered by someone apparently vested with a local reputation as a towering intellect. Is that opening two paragraphs of unalloyed word-salad really all you’ve got?

                More to the point, are you capable of being specific about what I have said which constructs a non-factually based straw man?

                And if you wish to “discuss the birth process and libertarian views”, by all means have at it since I’m now quite curious why you believe it would make any of the local natives restless.

                1. bob

                  Observations are used to form logic. Logic is not used to form an observation. You have it backward.

                  1. bh2

                    You are apparently confused by the meaning of the word “or”. It implies no sequential dependency of one thing on another.

                    1. bob

                      The Bill Clinton defense. Good job.

                      All you offer are “observations”, not one bit of “logic”. But, he now has to either A) disprove the source of your observations, or B) prove that your observations are illogical.

                      Neither of which has anything to do with logic, only how you see the world. You very well may see the color red as green. That doesn’t mean that red is actually green.

                      The dependency is on the royal “you”, just like the libertarian, and observations you claim to represent.

                    2. bh2

                      @bob July 20, 2014 at 11:13 pm (below)

                      Bob, you’re plainly becoming a bit desperate. If you wish to debate what the word “or” means, I can only refer you to a dictionary. Few people stumble to understand its logical meaning, but apparently exceptions exist. I assume you are not a programmer.

                      Reciting easily confirmed historical facts isn’t dependent on “logic”. They are observations dependent only on accuracy. My statements as to matters of fact are either basically true or basically false. Green is surely green and red is surely red. Verifiable facts aren’t a matter of mere individual perception or personal opinion.

                      No one here — least of all you — has suggested the facts I recounted are false. If these unchallenged facts embarrass your preferred ideology, its your responsibility to handle it, not mine.

                      That said …

                      My observations about the meaning of those facts are solely my own to defend if challenged by others, including you. If Skippy finds himself in a box, he put himself there. He isn’t a victim.

                    3. bob

                      “My observations about the meaning of those facts are solely my own to defend”

                      Your “observations about the meaning of those facts” are called opinions. Again, no logic included. As such no logic to argue.

                      You could have used the word “OPINION”, since they are solely yours to defend. Facts defend themselves.

                      Fell free to cry foul and claim persecution. It’s only your opinion, after all.

                    4. bh2

                      @ bob July 20, 2014 at 11:13 pm

                      “Facts defend themselves.”

                      Yes, they do. Which is why you so carefully evade them.

                2. skippy

                  Journal of Libertarian Studies 18, no. 3 (Summer 2004)
                  It might appear, though, that on the issues of abortion and the rights of children, conflict between libertarians and conservatives
                  is inevi-table; and these issues have, admittedly, always been tricky ones for libertarianism. To take the latter first, as human beings, children are to be counted as self-owners. Yet, they are typically under the control of their parents, forced to do many things they do not want to do, and forced not to do certain things they do want to do, including things that do not involve rights violations. Is this control incompatible with libertarianism? Ought the libertarian to advocate, in decidedly uncon-servative fashion, a program of “children’s liberation”? But while libertarians no doubt hold different views on this matter, in practice at
                  least, the mainstream (and surely the sane) libertarian view is some-thing like this: Children are self-owners, but as they are not fully de-veloped, and lack the knowledge, experience, ability, etc., properly to understand what is in their own best interests, they are, in effect, “held in trust” by their parents, who act as
                  stewards of the children’s property (i.e., themselves) until such time as their children reach ma-turity. Parents, thus, have the right to bring up their children in line with their own moral principles, and to force their children to live in accordance with those principles, at least until the children reach adulthood, at which time they become full self-owners, no longer under the authority of their parents and responsible for themselves. Abortion might seem a greater source of tension between conserva-tives and libertarians. After all, it is sometimes said that libertarianism involves being “pro-choice about everything,” but that is not neces-sarily so. True, if it is denied that a fetus is fully human or a person, then the state would seem to have no grounds for interfering with the decision to abort. However, if a fetus is a human being or a person, then it is plausible to regard it also as a self-owner, in which case there may arguably be at least some instances in which the state is required to stop an abortion (since an abortion would, on this view, be a violation of the self-owning fetus’s right to life). Accordingly, while some libertarians are “pro-choice,” others are “pro-life”—the differ-
                  ence stemming from a disagreement over the moral status of the fetus. At the very least , then, libertarianism as such is neutral with respect to conservative attitudes, even on the issues of abortion and children’s rights. That the political alliance between libertarians and conserva-tives has persisted as long as it has is, thus, hardly the miracle that many political analysts and activists have alleged it to be. However, I suggest that the relationship between libertarianism and moral conservatism goes beyond bare compatibility. A proper Feser – Self-Ownership, Abortion, and the Rights of Children 95 understanding of the fundamental libertarian principle of self-owner-ship might actually entail not just tolerance
                  of conservative attitudes with regard to abortion and children, but enthusiastic endorsement of those attitudes, and perhaps even the writing of them into law. Self-ownership, rightly understood, not only does not entail the freewheel-ing libertinism so often presented as a caricature of libertarianism, it
                  entails instead a polity, though recognizably libertarian, of an unmis-takably, even radically, morally conservative character. Accordingly, many of the moral issues that libertarians assume can be safely brack-eted off as, however intrinsically important, nevertheless irrelevant to public policy simply cannot be thus avoided. On these issues, libertari-ans must take a stand, indeed a conservative stand. To be consistent libertarians, they must become conservatives.

                  Other arguments for self-ownership appeal to the need for an indi-vidual to have the autonomy guaranteed by the rights entailed by self-ownership if he is to be capable of living a life of virtue, since devel-opment of moral character requires the capacity for moral choice , and, thus, the free exercise of one’s capacities; or to the necessity for such rights as a precondition of the fulfillment of one’s nature as a pursuer of projects capable of rationally formulating and carrying out a plan of life; or to the incoherence of denying self-ownership, given that Journal of Libertarian Studies 18, no. 3 (Summer 2004)96 the very use of one’s rational faculties and body parts in formulating such a denial presupposes ownership of those things; and so forth.4


                  Skip here… Now that is just the sanitized version, which if one enters further into the temple will soon find all kinds of “rationalizations” on the rights of – individuals – to **sell** themselves [even kids] to others as an act of free will / tm.

                  Skippy… so as we can see your ideological premiss is based on commodification of humans i.e. self ownership within a concocted free market reality, where virtue i.e. “formulating and carrying out a plan of life; or to the incoherence of denying self-ownership” becomes another classic bi polar hand me down from antiquity.

                  1. bh2

                    “On these issues, libertarians must take a stand, indeed a conservative stand. To be consistent libertarians, they must become conservatives.”

                    Everyone is entitled to an opinion. This person has stated his.

                    “[…] so as we can see your ideological premiss is based on […]”

                    You actually assume my “ideological premise” is revealed to you by reading someone else’s? What an amusing self-deception. You should get that looked at.

                    Libertarians ultimately agree only on (one or another flavor of) the non-aggression principle:


                    That is the sole identifiable “ideological premise” which is (very loosely) shared by libertarians of all stripes. Anyone who does not subscribe to it is not a libertarian. QED

                    1. skippy

                      Ref: Non Aggression Principal.

                      I never assumed your personal position, I revealed one of the cults core tenants i.e. “self ownership” and where that road follows once that ex nihilo axiom is extenuated through pure deductive reasoning experiments.

                      That you as an “Individual” like or don’t like it is irrespective to the larger whole waving the libertarian banner, as the post is about the whole and not select individuals. Your defense is of the whole, that you took up the challenge to defend it and now fall back on the singular state of affairs is just another day in libertarian wankery, and par for course.

                      The NAP has more to do with physical property rights than it does with individual aggression and should not be confused with non nonviolence. Something rarely forthcoming when libertarians trot it out to burnish their civil mores imo. Then to flesh that out a bit more its largely tied to Lamarckian use-inheritance via Herbert Spencer’s armchair thunkit.

                      Sadly Spencer got quite cranky in his latter years as his beliefs did not pan out the way he wanted, in the end became seriously conservative and bitter once the limelight faded.

                      Skippy… If I may suggest, you should probably spend some time digging deeper into your beliefs origins and evolution before selling your self to the concept in toto. Just based on the fashionable concepts bandy about in the confines of libertarian tribalism.

                    2. bh2

                      Skippy @ July 22, 2014 at 2:20 am

                      I never assumed your personal position, I revealed one of the cults core tenants i.e. “self ownership” and where that road follows once that ex nihilo axiom is extenuated through pure deductive reasoning experiments.

                      Do you follow any particular recipe for that vinegarette word-salad or do you just toss in whatever comes to mind as you march along? I think all you’ve really revealed is that you’re a bit of a fraud. Present case in point:

                      Well, yes, you actually did “assume” my personal position and are now attempting to walk it back. What you said:

                      Skippy… so as we can see your ideological premiss is based on commodification of humans [etcetera ad nauseam]

                      Assuming you don’t suffer the same confusion as bob about commonly understood meanings of ordinary English words, your specific use of the phrase “as we can see your ideological premiss (sic)” means exactly what you now deny you said in unusually plain words. [Emphasis mine, of course.]

                      You’re a real carnival ride, Skippy. Gotta give you that.

                      The non-aggression principle implies no necessary commitment to non-violence. That’s why different terms are used to discriminate them.

                      The pacifist Amish are “non-violent” and will refrain from striking back even if you attack them.

                      The neutralist Swiss are “non-aggressive” but will kick your ass in a New York minute if you attack them.

                      Most people intuitively understand this difference without having to draw them pictures. Only the slow ones won’t get it.

                    3. skippy

                      Bh2 your personal views do not address the core foundations nor actions committed by libertarian agents over the last 50ish years, that’s what the OP is about, not – your – beliefs.

                      You can engage in as much pettifoggery “pure deductive logic” exercises it affords practitioners, tho’ it never seems to work out the way envisioned in reality. You’ll get that when you try to write esoteric bibles from whole cloth.

                      Just the observation about your reaction to the birth process and children, per your request of my validating its wankery, is enough to illuminate the typical modus operandi of your stripe.

                      skippy… Sorry Bh2 but, social psychology, neuroscience and inclusive human history is against you. That you cling to a quasi religious set of beliefs which has massive blind spots and is woe to check it unfounded bias, is your dilemma, not mine.

                      P.S. really like the constant slipping back to the old thread to lay another steaming pile, sort of like the kids that have to have the last say for personal reasons. Its a trait within your stripe and why I always keep negating it, rubs yours the wrong way, simple pleasures.

                    4. skippy

                      “intuitively understand” = bias conditioning w/ the cherry on top – conforming to your cults dicta.

                      Its just a narrative Bh2, a concocted narrative, by humans that were want for hard data, so they made stuff up. Seriously 17th, 18th century theology is relevant how?

                      skippy…. as recommended you should revisit or if you have not studied the social enviroment of your ideological cults thinkers, do so and expand your knowlage base. Arguments in a vacuum should not be confused with application in reality.

                    5. bh2

                      @ Skippy, serial posting …

                      skippy… Sorry Bh2 but, social psychology, neuroscience and inclusive human history is against you. That you cling to a quasi religious set of beliefs which has massive blind spots and is woe to check it unfounded bias, is your dilemma, not mine.

                      If I have an unfounded bias, you’ve failed to evidence it. However, I’ll readily admit to having many well-founded biases, which is different. And presents no dilemma.

                      I’ll also happily debate with you whether long-standing and repeated findings of social psychology (based on empirical evidence rather than ponderous political theory) confirm or deny your apparent confidence that ordinary humans bestowed with power over others typically exercise that power with restraint and exhibit moral concern for welfare of their fellow human beings.

                      Among the many evidences to the contrary offered by experiments in social psychology is the infamous Stanford study. The Wiki entry notes:

                      Zimbardo aborted the experiment early when Christina Maslach, a graduate student in psychology whom he was dating (and later married),[9] objected to the conditions of the prison after she was introduced to the experiment to conduct interviews. Zimbardo noted that, of more than fifty people who had observed the experiment, Maslach was the only one who questioned its morality. After only six days of a planned two weeks’ duration, the Stanford prison experiment was discontinued. Stanford Prison Experiment

                      There are also repeated experiments in social psych which demonstrate ordinary competent adults can be reliably coerced to “vote” the longer of two lines (drawn side by side) is actually shorter by nothing more than a majority of nearby peers who also “vote” that the longest line is the shortest. Herding behavior, pure and simple. Mob behavior when incited. Either way, democracy in action.

                      We should also discuss the works of Edward Bernays, of course, who explained methods by which adult humans can be led to accept as “truth” whatever beliefs a cunning elite in power may wish to foster. (In his diary, Herr Doctor Goebbels gratefully acknowledged Bernays’ principles of propaganda as a brilliant insight helpful in promoting official policies favored by the duly elected government Goebbels so faithfully served to his dying day).

                      Note: all elites in power are cunning (and often psychopaths), else they would not seek power over others to begin with.

                      Social psych particularly reinforces the conclusion that people operating in groups, large or small, are dangerous when allowed any significant power to order other people around (even for the “greater good” that group hungers to serve).

                      In other well known studies, most ordinary humans have been repeatedly shown to be willing to administer what they believe to be extreme physical pain on other humans based on nothing more than verbal encouragement by an acknowledged “authority”. (Is it possible some elected authority might establish a private “kill list” on his own sole authority?)

                      If you really believe the collective empirical results of repeated social psych studies undermine the practical argument for strictly limited government power and/or the moral basis for adoption of the principle of non-aggression which is fundamental to libertarianism, by all means have at it.

                      But I suggest you pack a lunch.

                    6. skippy

                      Libertarian re writing of history is proceeds apace.

                      Bernays et al was unpacked here yonks ago, amongst a great many other similar historical points.

                      I still see your using the individual argumentative state, when the OP was about the over all group, massive grok fail.

                      Hint kochs et al support libertarianism, the comment below thread unpacks the nefarious criminal acts which were rightly condemned by the Buchanan Committee to which you hand wave “It’s my own view that donations by private persons of their own money to private organizations engaged in lawful acts are, by definition, private.” Wellie powerful lobbying groups are not private persons no matter how much tortured reductive logic one throws at it.

                      I don’t know why your mobs always try that endless all government bad meme, especially when Corporatist own the government. Its as close to a banana republic as it gets, and libertarians love banana republics as much as they do Marketing – PR front groups dressed up as anything than what they are… ideological temples which spew political theocracy.

                      If you want to know why citizens are so befuddled all you have to do is look at decades of high powered psychological full immersion advertizing from the private sector, they target kids minds from the first day they watch TV. Whats that got to do with Gov?

                      skippy…. Barter is wrong, says law, Supply and Demand [Bernays], society = GDP, Somalia is a great place to live, Praxeology, gezzz the list is so long…

                    7. bh2

                      I’m reminded, Skippy, how much your spacey “replies” remind me of the sort of disjoint and disparate text content so often jammed into spam email to slip it past the junk mail filters.

                      You will therefore have the last word.

                    8. skippy

                      A-typical response from the self professed “rational thinkers sewing bee”, your thinking – facts do not conform to my [I] down loaded cognitive parameters [beliefs about stuff] and therefore incoherent.

                      Lets see if this is incoherent:

                      The main points of neo-liberalism include:

                      THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

                      CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

                      DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.

                      PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

                      ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

                      skip here… this is how libertarianism manifests in the reality, we all live in, not just the vacuous opines up in your collectives heads, which is the direct result of giving to much gravitas to ex nihilo axioms as if they were burning bushes.

                      Skippy…. If it were not for the deep pockets and powerful connections afforded libertarianism, it would have stayed a “cult of the self” from antiquity. Its just a poorly fleshed out narrative bh2, one used to format minds, to the cognitive template, by which all manner of anti civil deeds can be justified. Your religious attitude about it is noted as is your mannerisms.

            5. binky bear

              We call this strategy “Golderging” after wingnut welfare media figure Jonah Goldberg, under whose authorship the exciting “Liberal Fascism” was published. In other places this strategy is known as “Calvinball,” after the protagonist of the comic strip “Calvin & Hobbes,” for a game in which the rules could change at any moment in any fashion necessary for Calvin to “win” the game.
              It is often followed by a “No True Scotsman” fallacy then abject silence or increasingly enraged and disjointed rants.

              So how do you solve the problem of distant effects caused by local activity on your private personal special property without government? Let’s see how this plays out.

        2. Thorstein

          This appears to mean that bh2 will be happy to compensate you for any damages to your property that occur 100 years from now, when the climatological effects of his present pollution are fully manifest. Be patient.

          1. bh2

            The KB can be credited with at least one vast donation I’d have thought the left might be grateful for:

            The Koch brothers each made $10 million grants to the ACLU to fight the Bush administration over the PATRIOT Act. According to Reason magazine that $20 million is “substantially more than the Kochs have contributed to all political candidates combined for at least the last 15 years.”

            That the infamous PATRIOT Act was nevertheless passed (and subsequently expanded) raises a serious question about whether the KB can actually buy policy decisions they favor merely by investing huge sums of cash. That they donated it to an institution repeatedly applauded by the left for its commitment to civil liberty only deepens the mystery why they uniformly hold the KB in utter contempt.

            1. bob

              So we should also thank the Koch’s for founding Reason®, and Reason’s continuing support of Apartheid?

              Where in the annals of libertarianism is judgement based on the color of a persons skin talked about? Citation? It’s not? Well, then your evidence to the contrary theme, referenced above, says that Reason® is not libertarian.

              Since they are not libertarian, they cannot speak for “you” and “yours”, and all donations by the KB, or any others are supporting tyranny.

              Pick another example, please.

        3. Larry

          ”You may not have noticed, but it is the state that permits polluting a river and incur only a fine.”

          You are only partially right here BH2. What you seem to be omitting is the fact that “the state” is not an entity unto itself but is composed of people. In this case the people are elected officials who are more and more begotten to the money involved in political campaigns.

          When wealthy and powerful corporate interests lean on legislators who need money to ensure their reelection then it becomes these wealthy, powerful corporate interests that are in effect writing policy and affecting a lot of the negative outcomes you may want to lay at the feet of “the state”.

          Surely you wouldn’t deny the existence of crony capitalism where the revolving door between corporate interests and elective offices continues to spin, giving more rights to so-called corporate personhood than to actual humans who don’t have the means of wealth to influence public policy, would you?

          1. bh2

            Giving the state sole power to regulate means you are also at the mercy of the state to fulfil its duty responsibly and effectively. It won’t because it can be so cheaply bought off by large “donations”. So you’re screwed.

            Giving the state even more power to regulate only attracts bigger “donations” from political cronies (they are not capitalists). You’re even more screwed. Hmmmm…

            When do you finally stop to figure out what actually went wrong?

            1. Stelios Theoharidis

              The enforcement for environmental regulations is mainly performed by your state or even more local environmental regulators. The federal government sets a regulatory standard based upon scientific evidence to regulate specific pollutants based upon their apparent toxicity and potential effects on the population as a whole. These standards are not set by elected politicians but they are set by the expert-level scientific community based upon study of specific pollutants and peer-reviewed work. When new evidence is identified often new requirements are promulgated in order to stay current with the state of scientific discipline in areas of pollution control. The states draft regulations that either meet the effective standards set by the federal government but often pass regulations that exceed these standards. Enforcement is primarily performed on the local level by agents of the state-level enforcement bodies, almost every state in the US has them, more often than not these individuals are at regional offices that each state has been split into. Very rarely does the federal government get involved unless the state does not have the capacity to deal with a sizable problem (see Superfund sites) or has not been fulfilling its obligations as promulgated under both federal and state laws to enforce the specific regulations. If either of these bodies does not enforce the specific regulations than the local populace can get involved and pursue the issues via court against either the parties responsible for the pollution or the state for not enforcing the laws. There is a legion of environmental consultants available to aggressively support those parties in those efforts by providing additional technical research or expert opinion in the court system. Additionally, a significant amount of regulatory enforcement has been devolved to local level parties that control air, water, or land quality management in specific regions. In many cases their requirements are even more stringent than those applied on the state level. These different levels interact with each other regularly and coordinate their activities.

              So this state that you speak of is a story you like to tell yourself about regulations. It is essentially a straw man.

            2. Stelios Theoharidis

              The court system alone would not be a suitable alternative to this current structure for many reasons 1) it is shamefully childish to believe that judges are less venal than politicians; 2) is is again obscenely childish to not anticipate a huge asymmetry in the judicial system due to larger entities pursuing cases with a stable full of lawyers that cannot be afforded by homeowners or other actors affected by pollution, the costs of investigation and data review necessary to understand the potential harm to an actor due to pollution will extremely prohibitive to anyone other than those groups with a stable full of lawyers / experts, which will likely be the polluters themselves 3) it is again insanely childish to believe that judges will have the expert opinion available to them to adjudicate between different parties on complex issues related to the toxic affects of pollutants without clear standards presently set forth by these regulatory bodies; 4) by the time a large enough segment of the population has been negatively effected by a pollution source to afford a stable full of lawyers via class action, they have already experienced potentially permanent negative affects of the pollution which may or may not be irreversible, particularly in the case of small children, and the entire point of a regulatory system is to protect the public and environment in a preventative fashion rather than responding to and cleaning up the environmental disasters in a reactive fashion because the costs involved in prevention are significantly smaller than the costs related to response efforts.

              1. bh2

                Thanks, ST, for a couple of cogent postings. They support the point I was making, even though that was obviously not your intent. And that point is that government power becomes corrupt to the extent it is concentrated.

                You’ve presented an accurate recap of a particular domain of regulatory authority by which “the state” (the national government) has laid down measurable objectives which are to be implemented at local (meaning state, county, and municipal) levels.

                Environmental legislation establishes minimum national standards to be achieved by whatever effective means may be locally preferred and practicable. Whether these measures are effective can be objectively measured by independent inspection.

                That’s entirely different to the sort of regulation for which only the federal entity is directly accountable, which is precisely when enormous power becomes concentrated in a small coterie of appointed persons inevitably targeted by lobbyists and bought off with favors and implied promises of future personal gain. This is the stinky grease that lubricates the richly adorned “revolving door” and assures it will endure.

                When enforcement power is decentralized, however, it becomes orders of magnitude more difficult and enormously more expensive for the powerful to corrupt local officials charged with policy and enforcement. Lobbyists must commit enormous resources and talent in an attempt to corrupt no fewer than (and often far more than) 50 distinct entities having sovereign power to administer and enforce.

                State and local governments are also far more responsive to meaningful action by local citizens sufficiently outraged by inaction or indifference, especially in those states empowering voters to legislate directly by ballot initiative (what Farage now also proposes as “direct democracy” for Britain). Against the federal entity, ordinary citizens have no virtually no leverage whatever. Congressional inquiries and attempts at congressional oversight are met with a wall of resistance. Bureaucracies are literally a law until themselves.

                The vertical separation of powers is therefore just as imperative as horizontal separation of powers if government corruption is to be restrained. (It will never be eliminated.)

                A case in point. Many here will remember back during the housing bubble that a number of state AGs sought to move aggressively against big financial institutions for fraudulent mortgage lending practices. They were informed by the Bush administration that only the federal government has that prerogative of enforcement. Then the AJ sat on his hands and did nothing.

                We all know how that movie ended.

                You said: “[…] the entire point of a regulatory system is to protect the public and environment in a preventative fashion rather than responding to and cleaning up the environmental disasters in a reactive fashion because the costs involved in prevention are significantly smaller than the costs related to response efforts.”

                Yes, but action against any aggressor by a court of competent jurisdiction should require no justification by cost/benefit analysis in order to respond. The size of the harm isn’t the central issue (though it may weigh in any decision about compensation). While properties may vary in relative size, rights which attach to them do not. Your property rights are no greater than mine because I live in a shack down by the riverside and you live in a mansion behind locked gates.

                The vital core duty of the state is to focus resources on defending property rights (as libertarians would expansively define them), not merely to assess eventual penalties on violators after the fact. The state, of course, also cannot be permitted to freely aggress by “takings” without benefit of lawful due process. It is the duty of the state to expand courts until they can provide timely duty.

                Justice should be the most valuable and timely service of the state and its least limited resource. (Not military force for aggression on property rights of others, world-wide.)

                1. bh2

                  Correction: “It is the duty of the state to expand courts until they can provide timely response.” (Apologies for the bad edit — the hour is now late in my TZ.)

                2. skippy

                  Which begs the question of the source of social corruption with in the state… eh.


                  Excerpt – “The story starts like this: In 1946, Herbert Nelson was the chief lobbyist and executive vice president for the National Association of Real Estate Boards, and one of the highest paid lobbyists in the nation. Mr. Nelson’s real estate constituency was unhappy with rent control laws that Truman kept in effect after the war ended. Nelson and his real estate lobby led what investigators discovered was the most formidable and best-funded opposition to President Truman in the post-war years, amassing some $5,000,000 for their lobby efforts—that’s $5mln in 1946 dollars, or roughly $60 million in 2012 dollars.

                  So Herbert Nelson contracted out the PR services of the Foundation for Economic Education to concoct propaganda designed to shore up the National Real Estate lobby’s legislative drive — and the propagandists who took on the job were Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort, George Stigler.

                  To understand the sort of person Herbert Nelson was, here is a letter he wrote in 1949 that Congressional investigators discovered and recorded:

                  “I do not believe in democracy. I think it stinks. I don’t think anybody except direct taxpayers should be allowed to vote. I don’t believe women should be allowed to vote at all. Ever since they started, our public affairs have been in a worse mess than ever.”

                  It’s an old libertarian mantra, libertarianism versus democracy, libertarianism versus women’s suffrage; a position most recently repeated by billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel —Ron Paul’s main campaign funder.

                  So in 1946, this same Herbert Nelson turned to the Foundation for Economic Education to manufacture some propaganda to help the National Association of Real Estate Boards fight rent control laws. Nelson knew that the founder of the first libertarian think-tank agreed with him on many key points. Such as their contempt and disdain for the American public.

                  Leonard Read, the legendary (among libertarians) founder/head of the FEE, argued that the public should not be allowed to know which corporations donated to his libertarian front-group because, he argued, the public could not be trusted to make “sound judgments” with disclosed information:

                  “The public reporting would present a single fact—the amount of a contributor’s donation—to casual readers, persons having only a cursory interest in the matter at issue, persons who would not and perhaps could not possess all the facts.

                  These folks of the so-called public thus receive only oversimplifications or half-truths from which only erroneous conclusions are almost certain to be drawn. If there is a public interest in the rightness or wrongness of corporate or personal donations to charitable, religious or education institutions, and I am not at all ready to concede that there is, then that interest should be guarded by some such agency as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, an agency that is in a position to obtain all the facts, not by Mr. John Public who lacks relevant information for the forming of sound judgments…Public reporting of a half-truth is indeed a significant provocation.” –

                  skip here…. now it might just be me but, it seems when you boil it all the way down, libertarianism has more to do with the accumulation and preservation of individual wealth, not broad social rights or well being. It is also noted that nothing should stand in the way of that objective, intellectual honesty, academic rigor, facts, open and transparent negotiation, et al. Its strikingly like a religious crusade, where all manner of social behaviors are justified in the name of holy works, the expected end results, of themselves, negate any destruction wrought in the process.

                  1. bh2

                    It’s entirely true that libertarians are not ardent admirers of “democracy” (arbitrary rule by the majority). They more often admire “republics” (rule by objective law). This puts them in line with James Madison (see Federalist 10). Jefferson is quoted as saying:

                    To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, —the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, & the fruits acquired by it.

                    This does not imply that one’s exercise of liberty or security of personal rights should be proportional according to his wealth — as we now have under a thoroughly corrupted state. Jefferson’s view also does not contradict the aim of government to promote the general welfare, which we plainly do not have now.

                    There is no reference to, no praise for, and no recommendation to erect a “democracy” in any founding document, and the (pre-Marxian) Constitution surely does not.

                    It’s my own view that donations by private persons of their own money to private organizations engaged in lawful acts are, by definition, private. (No one ever demanded that Ben Franklin reveal whether he had a silent partner in his printing business, even though he often published opinions on public issues.)

                    However, any private organization seeking a government privilege to be excused from taxes should be required to reveal all donor contributions exceeding some minimal amount. There is plainly a public interest in knowing which private interests (financial or other) may be receiving a privileged boost for policy advocacy friendly to those private interests.

                    It would be far preferable, IMO, that no such privilege should be permitted in the first place.

    2. Quite Likely

      And yet, this is what libertarians do when they get into office. Or are you claiming that all the supposedly libertarian politicians aren’t ‘real libertarians’?

      1. bh2

        Please cite any recorded references by politicians in office who refer to themselves as “libertarian”. Labels applied to various politicians by doctrinaire morons on cable news or the internet obviously don’t qualify (calling a passing auto a “spotted dog” doesn’t make it a spotted dog).

          1. bh2

            You evidently missed the bit about “politicians in office“. Ron Paul retired.

            By all means feel free to take another swing at the piñata.

            1. bob

              “Please cite any recorded references by politicians in office who refer to themselves as “libertarian”.”

              Ron Paul. You’re still wrong. You didn’t say current. Ron Paul described himself as libertarian, several million times. On the record even. What were his great white accomplishments?

              You will lose this chicken-shit ‘logic’ nit-pick every single time. You ain’t up to it.

              1. bh2

                Ron Paul has won office only while a member of the Republican Party. He resigned from the Republican Party (and congress) when he campaigned on the Libertarian Party ticket. And lost.

                He has been a self-declared libertarian virtually for life. I will happily agree he has repeatedly confirmed (and acted on) his adherence to libertarian principles while serving as a Republican. He was therefore an extreme annoyance to virtually all other contemporary Republicans, most of whom have proven just as eager as their political opponents in the party opposite to commit the nation to aggressive war.

                But Ron Paul is not in office, and that’s just a matter of fact.

                There are virtually no declared libertarians in office, and those rare few occupy only state and local positions (often non-partisan ones). That you have not yet named even one of those lesser officials simply underscores the central point.

    3. different clue

      It certainly seems to me that libertarianism in practice supports the absolute license of rich bussiness people and groups to pollute/steal from/kill etc. the non-rich people, groups, and things all around them. The practical expression of that belief is that of course Big Corp has every right to put cancer juice in somebody’s source of drinking water and of course somebody has every right to take Big Corp’s billion-dollar Lawyer Army to court to make Big Corp stop putting its cancer juice in the water.
      Ah ha ha ha.

    4. Crazy Horse

      The belief that humans have “rights” to property in the form of land, air, water & fossil fuel energy is the primary fallacy that is driving them down a path that may even end in species extinction. Rather than rights they have power— the power to exploit those aspects of the ecosystem for their supposed benefit. This power confers not “rights”, but rather responsibilities. As mini-gods with the power to radically alter the natural state of lands, suck water from ancient aquifers, change the acid balance of entire oceans and turn them into watery deserts, and alter planetary climate in perhaps irreversible ways, they have a primary responsibility toward all the other species that inhabit the planet. And this responsibility comes far before any responsibility to future human generations.

      Measured against this responsibility, libertarian babbling about the sanctity of private property rights is simply infantile as is much of the moral development of the human species.

      1. On the Pulse

        So society can dictate what you can do with your own property? Evidently you don’t like libertarians because your a socialist.

        1. Yves Smith

          This shows the essence of the barmy libertarian idea.

          Please go read Hernando de Soto. Then we might have an intelligent conversation. The very notion that you “own” property is a legal construct and depends on an edifice of laws. That receipt you get at a store? It’s a title transfer document. Without laws and a government to enforce them, there is no such thing as ownership. There is mere possession, which means the person with the biggest muscles or the best weaponry wins.

          1. bh2

            Anarchists propose there should be no government and no laws. Mainstream libertarians typically agree that “without laws and a government to enforce them, there is no such thing as ownership”, which is transparently self-evident.

            That said, a vastly swollen welfare/warfare state living hand to mouth isn’t necessary to a fully functioning government and legal system. The Swiss have plainly proven a massive, intrusive government isn’t necessary for long-term prosperity. Nor is national prosperity inhibited by an unswerving policy of (seriously) armed neutrality. The Swiss Confederation dates to 1291 and has not been engaged in external warfare since 1815.

            Most American libertarians I know would sign up for that model in a heartbeat. (Who knows, they might even start voting again.) Regrettably, it will never happen. Cuz we’re “exceptional”.

        2. Stelios Theoharidis

          Society dictates all of the time what you can’t do with your property. Ever heard of zoning? How about open burning? Can you raise a brood of feral cats on it? Strip club? Sell alcohol? Turn it into an open mining pit? You can’t do much modification at all without a building permit? If you don’t follow certain building codes they can tear whatever you build on it down. How about filling it with water for a pond, nope. Farm animals, well maybe. I doubt you could get away with doing nothing on it and letting the weeds grow out because someone will come by and tell you that you aren’t maintaining it properly. Most of these rules aren’t even promulgated by your federal government but by the local government. When you get hyperlocal like in 55+ communities you can do even less, too many flags, the specific color of your grass, etc. I really don’t understand why people are obsessed with hyperlocalism at all, really many local power brokers use it as an opportunity to behave in autocratic ways. But in libertarian fantasy land that kind of stuff doesn’t happen. There are a million things that you cannot do on your property.

  2. John

    What readers may not know is Australia is a huge exporter of coal to Asia, primarily to China. What readers may also not know is globalization is having a major affect on C02 emissions. Green house gases are leeching into the atmosphere as a direct result of transportation. So even before China burns a single gram of Australian coal, environmental damage is already done.

    What’s all the hubbub about C02 anyway? We know that it is bad for you from school days. It can cause serious harm and death if breathed in larger concentrations. According to NOAA’s June climate report, they recorded C02 levels at 400ppm — the highest ever recorded. Their chart clearly demonstrates atmospheric C02 is linearly going up every year.

    Here is the deal on C02 — it will take hundreds of thousands of years for the environment to absorb 100% of the C02 if we were able to shut off the emissions entirely. The oceans do most of the heavy lifting but we pump too much out so it never catches up. We are coming to a point of irreparable harm to the planet at some in the near future if we don’t reverse course — like right now!

    I can go on and on. Anyway, politics must be considered when talking about climate change. The challenge now is for countries to impose carbon tariffs on imports. Some countries like Austerlia will always be outliers.

    1. susan the other

      The bundle of property rights associated with land requires the payment of taxes. Similar rights for industries require the payment of taxes. A carbon tax is an admission that carbon is a problem, this is true. But a carbon tax need not be restricted to manufacturing and mineral extraction. It should be extended to the use of carbon-based fuels. You’re right of course. Australia might be doing a George Bush, saying why should we suffer the consequences if China ignores them. Which is a good point. Even China agrees but China and all the rest of us are stuck on this carbon-based treadmill and nobody can get off. What a carbon tax does is actually facilitate the use of carbon-based fuels by allowing those industries to operate if they pay. But there is nothing that those revenues (taxes) can do to mitigate the damage. So taxing those industries just allows them to continue. We obviously need more drastic measures. I always wonder what Drastic is going to look like.

      1. ambrit

        Dear sto;
        It’s probably time to do some survivalist thinking, humanity wise. As I said a few days ago, the Earth will find a new balance, whether we like it or not. Let’s make the best of a bad deal and impose serious carbon taxes and use the money to colonize Mars. Easy to do, and on the cheap too. Google “Mars Direct”, no Battlestar Bush needed.

        1. Ed

          Terraforming and then colonizing Mars was one of those good (or at least less bad) ideas about how to escape the consequences of industrialism-induced climate change that it is almost certainly too late to implement. Anyway the proposal is not about terraforming Mars, its about getting a few astronauts to Mars. I agree we should do this (though why not Carlton Meyer’s idea of landing astronauts on Mars and just leaving them there, they would study and transmit information back about the planet until they died), but even on its own terms its not the Way Out.

          1. ambrit

            Dear Ed;
            Agree that the original Mars Direct was about exploring Mars. It was formulated by some NASA people to try to show a feasible way ahead for a stagnant department. Meyers’ idea was more of my point. What would be a species survivable population? That’s what I’m getting at. A Mars Ark concept. Time to dream big.

    2. different clue

      Carbon tarriffs can’t be applied against carbon dumpers and their carbon bigfooting output until Free Trade is abolished and Belligerent Protectionism restored to some America-sized countries and economies at the very least.

  3. Leo Cullen

    The idea that Jefferson was a libertarian is just laughable. Or not, when you consider a person (actually, 3/5ths of a person) could be considered private property to be worked to death, raped, beaten, abused…
    As for the bs concept of “anarcho-capitalism”: what an oxymoron! The demented world of “libertarians” extends to redefining words and concepts to suit their own perverse ends.

    1. Moneta

      Although some present-day libertarians advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights,[3] such as in land, infrastructure and natural resources, others, notably libertarian socialists, seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production in favor of their common or cooperative ownership and management.[4][5]

      The world is very complex today. I have not met many people who share my worldview and I am sure there are millions out there like me who feel they fit nowhere ideologically. The only thing we have in common is our shared humanity.

    2. bh2

      The stark reality that Jefferson kept slaves seems even more contradictory because he actively and repeatedly campaigned for abolition. His stated prediction (proven right) was that slavery would destroy the union unless undone, even if gradually and with great care:

      Jefferson wrote that slavery was like holding “a wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.”

      Like many contemporary white Americans, Jefferson regarded blacks as incapable by nature to be responsible humans equal to whites. However, he also advocated for government with few and limited powers, freedom of belief and expression (also considered radical ideas by many of that time), and equality of all men before the law.

      Jefferson is particularly respected by modern libertarians in no small part owing to his overt (and complete in a nut-shell) expression of the principle of non-aggression and government existing solely to guarantee it:

      “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.” (Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816)

      Not a few southern plantations were owned by northerners, and not a few slaves were owned by blacks. The Quakers were among the first organized abolitionists in the colonies but even they did not condemn slavery as an act of misconduct in their own community until shortly before the Civil War. Jefferson’s belief about blacks was therefore not an outlier. But the reality of his ownership of slaves does violate the moral principle of non-aggression, and he expressed anguish about its long term consequences:

      “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

      The 3/5ths compromise regarding representation granted slaves no status whatever with respect to their humanity and was a naked political concession made by northern states to keep the southern states on board for the federalist project. Jefferson had no direct hand in this or any other provisions of the Constitution because he was Minister to France and living in Paris at that time.

  4. ogee

    So it seems the world over “libertarian” has been co-opted. In the US, when people say “I am a libertarian”. Right off, you know they are a closet republican. They don’t know it, but they have been swindled by big corporate interests to parrot all of their favorite catch phrases.
    Thirty years ago ,when people were “libertarian”, at least it meant; “small gov’t”,personal freedom,independence from authoritarian intrusion…. and all that. They were at least portraying a personal preference, that they thought the gov’t ought not intrude on their lives,or others.. But now, libertarians talk of flat taxes,deregulation, of industry/business,ending environmental oversight and protection, the evils of having a minimum wage,gov’t spending their money on welfare recipients(and they always mean a single mom with three kids, and not a multi-billion dollar corporation).
    Every bit of the libertarian message these days is really just the same thing the republican wing of the establishment bird. They are for anything the biggest businesses want.They want people to have the freedom to work for nothing. They want people to have the freedom, to be oppressed by the economic forces with might..They don’t want any collective power of “the people”, to protect “the people”… who are not rich ; from the people whose wealth and position comes with power.
    They make ridiculous arguments, like lets stop paying taxes… as if taxes are used to pay for future gov’t obligations only. They always forget the gov’t is running a sheet to pay for everything that has already been done,agreed to, and already exists.Things that if stopped in mid stream would be disaster.
    The tea party faithful who think you can just stop the world from spinning, while you work out something. They vote for people whose hyperbole promises they will “just vote no”…. This is a childish vision of the world. And like a child, they are being led around by the hand.Told what to believe and what not to believe. Their worldview is based on fairytales.Religion, capitalism,free markets,etc.
    I would imagine that people who are honest with themselves would still maybe “like” certain ideals of “libertarianism”, but realize the movement and the label has been co-opted and a real person cannot be branded by their owners, to wearing the libertarian brand. Just like any independent minded person couldn’t allow themselves to be branded ,”republican” or “democrat”

    1. Massinissa

      “They always mean a single mom with three kids”

      Not in my experience, or at least, not a white mom with three kids.

      Welfare bitching is aimed usually at black people in general. This, even though most on welfare are indeed single white women with children.

      But either way, its never aimed at corporations who dont pay taxes but get welfare. No sir.

      1. trish

        most on welfare are corporations.
        not in numbers on perhaps, but in $ amount. easily surpasses social welfare.

        but the focus on single mothers, particularly black, has worked.

    2. James Levy

      The best way to say it might be “CATO Institute Libertarians” or “Establishment Libertarians”–these are the people who are pushing absolute property rights like that rancher out West who thinks that its unfair for the government to charge him to graze his cattle and all the land should really belong to him. These are the kind of people like one of the Repubs running for governor of Wyoming who thinks that Yellowstone should be privatized and the land leased to mining and cattle interests and for hunting preserves. That’s the public face of Libertarianism in America. I know that some people are not this way, but like with the Commissars of old being the standard bearers of Communism, the association of Libertarianism with a certain kind of plutocratic ideal is tough to fight.

    3. Ed

      “Thirty years ago ,when people were “libertarian”, at least it meant; “small gov’t”,personal freedom,independence from authoritarian intrusion”

      There used to be a good word to describe people with these beliefs, called “liberal”. The term got co-opted to mean “increase government power to impose some social democratic measures”, so liberals adopted the term “libertarian”, which now has been co-opted to mean “give corporations everything they want”.

      But “liberal” has also been co-opted, so mild social democrats rebranded as “progressive” which is also being co-opted.

      There already was a perfectly good term for “give corporations everything they want”, called “corporatism”. Right now every ideology in the public square is some version of corporatism (or fascism).

      For anti-corporatists, there is a genuine issue of whether, if the current iteration can somehow be defeated, if the government can be trusted with the powers it had (and at the time mostly used for good) in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s ever again. I don’t know what the answer is to this question.

      1. hunkerdown

        I think it’s pretty clear from recent experience that nobody can be trusted as long as they feel their position of power is secure. When the employee has more right to trash the factory, sell the machines out the back door, and fire heavy artillery into neighboring properties with impunity until the end of their scheduled shift than we have to remove them, what do you think’s going to happen?

        The right to rule needs to be abolished, and anyone suggesting the legitimacy of such a thing needs to be jailed incommunicado for the rest of their natural lives.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Global temperature measurements and financial markets both involve the interpretation of time series data. For the latter, after two centuries of steadily rising U.S. stock returns, a broad consensus exists that corporate earnings and stock prices will appreciate at about a six to seven percent annual rate for centuries to come. It’s just the way things are.

    Suppose you believe that the dire effects of global warming — water crises, agricultural crises, peak oil, flooding of coastal cities — will stop this two-century economic warming trend in its tracks, and even reverse it. Does that make you an ‘equity premium denialist,’ who should be stripped of professional qualifications and access to journals?

    1. pretzelattack

      economics is not based on physics. in this case, the increase in value is illusory because externalities have been ignored.

      1. susan the other

        Dumb question: Why isn’t capitalism flexible enough to embrace its costs, include the “externalities” and roll it all up together, and find a way to still make a profit by providing solutions to all these awful problems. Real solutions, not management bullshit. Even capitalism (which isn’t really an ism at all) could find a way to incorporate conservation and other efficiencies. It’s almost like we are in the unconscious phase of knowing something has to be done, but we’ve never been there before, like a dream almost – but everyone knows things will begin to get better.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘The increase in value is illusory because externalities have been ignored.’

        Alright. Evidently you oppose the academic consensus that there is a permanent equity premium, owing to equities having higher risk than bonds. In your view, when externalities (such as climate change) start to bite, investment returns will suffer as our complacent illusions are exposed as false.

        If you were pejoratively labeled an ‘equity premium denialist’ for expressing this unpopular theory, it would illustrate an extreme polarization of opinion (which can occur in any field of inquiry). In the case of markets (and by extension, many other noisy time series), the future is unknowable. Castigating those who question the prevailing consensus as willful intellectual saboteurs would be an exercise in hubris.

        1. susan the other

          You just totally lost me… my point was that capitalism has always been flexible, to the point of championing all sorts of questionable deals in order to make a skim… and if it is so flexible on the dark side, maybe it could also be flexible in the service of the environment… I really don’t care how clever people account for it… as long as it improves the planet.

          1. Ben Johannson

            Haygood is engaged in the time-honored tradition of using big words together because they sound smart. Using them in a logical manner, not so much given his difficulty understanding there is no law of risk on par with the laws of radiative physics.

  6. tw

    Amongst those high poobahs who have it all figured out, perhaps you can tell me what the optimal temperature is, and what the optimal level of carbon dioxide should be. In order to play god and utilize computer modeling to come to the conclusion that something is “catastrophic” it might be more convincing to determine if there is an optimal value for these two numbers that we should be shooting for.

    Describing the situation in absolute terms, all the while being unable to provide an absolute final goal seems less than satisfying as an argument.

    1. pretzelattack

      nobody is describing anything in absolute terms. we need carbon dioxide in order not to freeze. maintaining something like the balance that has existed while civilization developed would be desirable. and nobody is claiming that climate change will necessarily be catastrophic, unless of course we don’t do anything about curbing emissions.

    2. hunkerdown

      Spoken like a typical Excel-jockey seat-warmer-cum-manager set to a task beyond their competence and looking for fall guys to hang it on. The first and second derivatives are where anthropogenic force is applied so are all we can really control; arable land area and heating/cooling degree days are the figures one would do well to optimize.

  7. Banger

    I think depicting corrupt and greedy f-cks as libertarian is absurd. There is a group that believe that their own interest and desires means liberty for the powerful and slavery for the powerless–these people, like Ayn Rand, are really simply believers in radical evil for its own sake or to put a friendlier term on it they are neo-feudalists.

    Libertarian philosophy should not so easily be dismissed on the basis this article dismisses it. Technically, libertarians believe that you make your case about conflicting property claims in a court of law or something like it. In the case of climate change it could consist of a panel of judges and scientists who would make that evaluation and suggest remedies. Libertarians mostly agree that we ought to provide for the common defense and dealing with climate change would exactly qualify.

    And why are we criticizing libertarians here? Is any government, other than a few in Europe, really interested in doing anything about climate change? The U.S. government’s has very little interest, other than rhetorical, in dealing with climate change and hasn’t been whether it was and RP or DP Administration. Australia’s mild attempts have been washed away not because of ideology but from sheer greed.

    1. susan the other

      They did imply that the misunderstanding lies in believing property rights are absolute. Of course not even blithering red-neck lunatics believe property rights are absolute – that’s why most of them blither. Property rights are obligations, first and foremost. So why not turn this argument on it’s head? Let us all begin to talk about our obligations.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Banger, you are putting lipstick on a pig. The harshness of the libertarian philosophy can not be wished away or excused with: “but in practice . . .”.

      I sympathize with the frustrations of changing a dysfunctional democratic system. How do you get root and branch reform without essentially starting over? Yet libertarianism seems to be a step leap in the wrong direction.

      H O P

  8. impermanence

    Libertarians, like all political people, desire their cake and eat it too. In the same moment the state is born, the individual ceases to exist. You are born a slave [to the state], and die the very same. What happens in-between, is a matter of pure intellectual speculation, little more.

    Money is the perfect example of this transformation. Individuals are such because they own their labor-power 100%. Introduce the state [and its money], and that very very thing that defines you is abstracted in its money-form, and so goes your individuality, right out the window.

    1. James Levy

      You argument hinges on the notion that in hunter-gatherer bands (“before the state”) the idea of the individual, or individualism as an idea, existed. I would maintain that it probably did not. There were no rugged individualists in hunter-gatherer society, and banishment from the group meant certain, lonely, awful death. Too many arguments are made with this Robinson Crusoe ideal of what it would be like to be an isolated individual in a non-civilized setting.

      1. LifelongLib

        Probably each individual cultivated some special skill that made him/her pretty indispensable though. You wouldn’t casually banish a good animal tracker, the person who could throw a spear the farthest, or someone who could figure out which plants were safe to eat.

  9. docg

    Climate change hysteria is NOT science. While there seems no doubt that things are getting warmer, and it also seems likely that this is due at least in part to the burning of fossil fuels, the notion that “global warming” is and will be responsible for extreme events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, forest fires, or even sea level rise, is NOT science. For the simple reason that such predictions are un-falsifiable. And an un-falsifiable theory is, very simply, NOT a scientific theory.

    Are such projections worth considering? Yes. And we would be foolish to ignore them. But as far as “the science” is concerned: climate science is science, yes; hysteria about the “disastrous effects” of climate change is NOT science. What should equally concern us is the disastrous effects of over-reacting, because there can be no question that the serious curtailment of fossil fuel usage WILL be disastrous. That IS a falsifiable prediction — which cannot be falsified, because we know all too well what the results will be.

    There is NO science that enables us to test any of the theories linking climate change with all these predicted disasters. Disasters of this kind have happened too many times in the past. The worst droughts, floods, hurricanes, etc. took place long before the heavy use of fossil fuels. Two of the most horrific events in all of history took place very recently, in the form of two disastrous tsunamis. Those tsunamis were caused by earthquakes deep beneath the ocean, which could not possibly be related to climate change. If they could, we can be sure “the science” would be pinning all the blame on global warming.

    Sea levels have been rising ever since they’ve been systematically monitored, back in the 19th century. All indications are that they will continue to rise, regardless of anything we do or don’t do. The notion that we can prevent sea level rise by taking drastic steps that would ruin the world economy and destroy the lives of literally hundreds of millions or billions of people is sheer folly.

    1. afisher

      That is an interesting but false argument. The claim: Climate Change is not Science. A number of changes to the environment, that 1) warming of seas, 2) increase CO2 which is translated into the actual H2CO3 levels: aka acidification of the oceans, 3) increase in intensity of storms 4) increase in global drought, etc…are all measurable events. A number of actual scientific studies and modeling constucts are combined to make a descriptive term: Climate Change.
      In the world of medicine – a high WBC count is not a diagnosis for appendicitis – but that measurable item, coupled with other diagnostic measures / observations lead a Physician to conclude that a group of symptoms usually mean Appendicitis.

      If you have a problem with one of the studies – speak to how it doesn’t fit into the group of studies that don’t support the descriptive term – otherwise – this sounds like a baffle with bs argument. “I don’t like the term Climate Change”…would you be happier with Plan C?

      Choice of words to argue is always weird – it may make the argument fun – but it does nothing to change the “diagnosis”.

      1. docg

        According to a scientific study published in 2009, “severe droughts lasting several decades, even centuries, were the norm in West Africa over the past 3,000 years.” Recent droughts, even the most severe, can’t compare with the intensity of those reported in this study — prior, I might add, to the era of fossil fuel exploitation. The authors are not climate change deniers, by the way: “If climate models for such circulation patterns hold true, the study suggests global warming could create conditions that favor extreme droughts.”

        But note a crucial difference. The study finds solid evidence of severe droughts in the past, but as far as the future is concerned can only reference “models,” which may or may not “hold true.” Such models only “suggest” the possibility of similar droughts in the future. Anyone can build a model projecting the possibility of something happening in the future. The only way to test such a model is to wait and see if things actually happen as predicted — which may or may not be the case. However, even if the prediction comes true, that in itself would not constitute proof that the model was correct, because the events could have been caused by some other factors not anticipated by the model. In other words, such models are in principle untestable, thus un-falsifiable, thus not really science. Certainly if such severe droughts could occur in the past due to natural causes, they could occur in the future for the same reason. The worst drought in the USA took place during the “dust bowl” era of the 1930’s, long before fossil fuels were heavily used. As bad as things are now in California, that doesn’t begin to compare with the dust bowl.

        So much for droughts. Are floods getting worse? To read a report from the United Nations, that would seem to be the case. I suspect, however, that the worst of these floods are associated with sea level rise. And, as I mentioned in my previous comment, sea levels have been steadily rising since the 19th century and will continue to rise regardless of climate change. Thus we can expect more flooding in the future even if all use of fossil fuels were to be discontinued tomorrow.

        As for tornadoes: “Many scientists would agree with the December assertion of Penn State meteorology professor Paul Markowski and National Severe Storms Laboratory senior research scientist Harold Brooks that, “Because of the inconsistency in [historical tornado] records, it is not known what effect global warming is having on tornado intensity.””

        So much for “the science.”

        1. Ben Johannson

          None of what you’ve written addresses a single prior point, but since you’re paid to show up and paste anti-global warming nonsense (as demonstrated by said nonsense on a post not about global warming) I hope the 25 cents you’re getting was worth it.

          1. TimR

            afisher asked him to speak to particular studies, so he’s addressing that point.

            I haven’t seen anyone address his idea about what constitutes a scientific theory (that it must be falsifiable.)

            What evidence do you have that he’s a paid shill? I myself am skeptical of the interests behind the climate scare, but I haven’t seen one thin dime for my worries.

            1. hunkerdown

              Who cares whether it conforms to the religious narrative of science? If there’s a correlation that is shown to be effective in practice, it’s worth using until something better comes along. Otherwise, Scientific Materialists are merely proposing that their willful blindness is better than the other guy’s.

            2. Ben Johannson

              This is the same PR flak who spam commented a few months ago that anyone who didn’t accept Krugman, ISLM and rhe Democrat narrative were ConservaRepubliKochsuckers and you are allowing her to make a fool of you.

          2. docg

            Well, that’s what it all comes down to in the end doesn’t it? When all else fails, fall back on the tried and true ad hominem attack. FYI, I am a progressive Democrat, also a socialist, and believe me no one is paying me, nor would they want to because I am truly independent in my views so there’s no telling what my conscience might prompt me to write.

            On this issue my conscience is far more concerned with the effects of over-reaction to climate change hysteria, which would be a disaster sure to come in only a few years rather than some possible dire outcome predicted for a hundred years in the future. Even if we were to bend all our efforts toward the alleviation of global warming, it would only delay the worst of the projected effects by a few years at most. If you don’t believe me, why don’t you ask some of your climate scientists what their opinion is on THAT issue, which is of course never raised in all the hubub over how all these horrible zillionaires are profiting from the sale of fossil fuels. As far as I’m concerned that whole issue is a red herring, since it would be far easier to nationalize those industries than do without them. And nationalize them we must, as far as I’m concerned.

            As bad as the tea party is, and it’s pretty awful, feel-good liberals are far worse. And no one has paid me to write that. No one would.

            1. SDB


              Hey, glad to see fellow social-democrat that’s skeptical of the CO2 alarmism!

              I’ve got two sh*t-tests I use to measure someone’s useful idiot-ness…

              For political-Righties, I like to discuss the role of Demand in capitalist / market economies. If they can understand it’s importance – no matter where the Demand comes from (hint hint: government) – then they pass the useful idiot test.

              For political-Lefties, I like to discuss the Anthropogenic Global Warming / Climate Change hypothesis with them. If they can understand that the hypothesis is unfalsifiable, and therefore not science, then they pass the useful idiot test.

              Folks, try this one on for size:
              The Rise and Fall of the Hockey Stick and Mann-Made Global Warming Alarm

              1. James Levy

                No historical science is falsifiable. By that criteria Evolution, Plate techtonics, and the Big Bang are not science because we can’t run them over again in a lab to prove or disprove them. Historical sciences like geology, paleontology, and climate science are based on the preponderance of evidence and observation, not experimentation via the falsifiability route. We have good evidence for global C02 levels and global temperatures in the past. When CO2 levels were high, temps rose. Unless you want to ignore the evidence for the Greenhouse Effect on Venus and Mars, from the laboratory, and the evidence in the geological record, that’s pretty much established beyond question. So, why, if we have these data points from the past and from other planets, would you assume that our current situation doesn’t count, is outside of history, is going to wind up different than those other examples?

                1. SDB

                  James Levy,

                  Good points. You’re right… just because we can’t falsify AGW-CC doesn’t mean that it’s not true. As you said, see evolution, plate tectonics, etc. Here’s the difference between those and Climate Science. In those examples, no one is making future predictions and projections about what’s going to happen.

                  There is nothing wrong with collecting climate data just like we collect evolution data and build a case as to what happened in the past. The problem comes when making predictions and projections about the future. To do make predictions and projections about the future, the science needs to be falsifiable. Doesn’t it?

                  In response to this:
                  “We have good evidence for global C02 levels and global temperatures in the past. When CO2 levels were high, temps rose.”

                  Take a closer look at the evidence. The ice cores that show this correlation, upon closer inspection, also show that CO2 lags temperatures by on average about 800 years. That means, generally, that temperatures rise for a very long time before CO2 increases; and also that temperatures fall for a very long time while CO2 is still increasing. What’s going on here?? Clearly something other than CO2 is driving the climate system.

                  The adovcates of AGW-CC argue that the CO2, once it increases, causes positive feedback loops to enhance the warming. In fact these supposed positive feedback loops are the crux of the concern about AGW-CC: supposedly our CO2 emissions will slightly increase global average temperature, setting off a positive feedback loop primarily involving water vapor in the atmosphere (vater vapor is the dominate greenhouse gas in the atmosphere).

                  Earth’s climate system cannot be dominated by positive feedback loops. If it were, we’d have already had a runaway iceage or runaway warming in the past. Earth’s climate system must be dominated by negative feedback loops. Hence, the ebbs and flows of warmings and coolings throughout history. And if negative feedback loops dominate the system, then concern over catastrophic AGW-CC is not jusified.

                2. SDB

                  Let me clarify a frustration I have with AGW-CC..

                  “Global Warming” seems somewhat falsifiable. If our CO2 emissions continue to increase, but global average temperature does not, or decreases, then sooner or later we must reject AGW-CC. But what about “Climate Change”…?
                  Temperatures Increase -> Climate Change.
                  Temperatures Decreases -> Climate Change.
                  More Rain -> Climate Change.
                  Less Rain -> Climate Change.
                  More Global Ice -> Climate Change.
                  Less Global Ice -> Climate Change.
                  Do you see how absurd this is? It’s totally unfalsifiable. “Climate Change” is perfect Orwellian language.

                    1. SDB


                      I’m not Roy Spencer. Though he is a fine climatologist (Nobody’s perfect; this is SCIENCE after all. Most science is wrong). Certainly he is as qualified as the Michael Mann’s of the world.

                      Your response is boring and indequate. If you disagree with a point being made then elaborate. If you don’t have something substantial to say, why bother commenting?

                    2. skippy

                      Same talking points wrt to climate and the fuax reasonableness, its a hallmark of perception management imo.

                      skippy… The “Nobody’s perfect; this is SCIENCE after all. Most science is wrong” is a dead give away as its falsifiable. That bias I was talking about shines through in the end, every time.

                    3. SDB

                      “fuax reasonableness” Skippy again attacking the messenger not the message. Are you proud of this behavior?

                      “That bias I was talking about shines through in the end…”

                      lol. Let me see if I understand. Perspectives that you agree with = informed commentary; and perspectives that you disagree with = bias …?

                      If my “bias shines through” I’ll accept that to mean that I’m making my points clearly (regardless of correct or incorrect). Now, do you have rebuttals? If not, why bother commenting?

                    4. skippy

                      Robs the Official climatologist of the Rush Limbaugh Show, that you count him as a fine climatologist and then some how equivocate Michael Mann to the same standard, is just one more indication of your style of perception management.

                      The problem with your angle of attack is its solely reliant on the atmospheric with questioning time lines to increases or decreases in mean temp. Firstly temp is just a crude way of describing the increase in atmospheric energy distribution. What you leave out is the transition of that energy between planetary thermo sinks [Geo, Water, different strata of the atmosphere et al] and how that plays out.

                      Secondly the effects of this increase in energy is not only observed in mean temps but, in plant and animal bio systems across the globe. So we have more than one observational reference point across the entire orb, that puts a bit of a dint in your myopia on challenging mean temps imo.

                      The biggest factor is the speed of events witnessed across all fields of study, this can not be hand waved off by casual lines of questioning narrow data points. You have too take on all of it SBD, not just the bits that seem open to wedge type inferences.

                      Skippy… But hay… even with out taking climatic observations to heart your still left with a whole cornucopia of bad stuff storing up huge destructive potential. SBD – sustainable business development[?] the green washing type?

                    5. SDB


                      Althoug the RushLimb. show makes me cringe, I don’t blame RS for agreeing to be the official climatologist there (I didn’t know he was). Why? Well, presumably he’s thinks he correct. Don’t we all! If Liberal media outlets won’t give him the time of day, and Conservative ones will, well, Conservative ones it is. So be it. Maybe this wouldn’t be a problem if the Liberal community wasn’t trying to shut down debate with “the science is settled”.

                      Have you seen Roy Spencer vs. Gavin Schmidt on Stossel? Who’s scared to debate? Not Roy.

                      The reason I and many people focus on atmopsheric temps is because rising atmospheric temps is what has been sold to the public. If they want to change the hypothesis to total energy balance of the coupled ocean-amospheric system, well by all means. But that is an even harder hypothesis to demonstrate will be harmful. We simply do not know the ocean’s ability to absorb massive quanties of energy. It’s an enormous sink. Common sense says, since the Earth has existed ice-free before, that the ocean’s can absorb what we’re offering and plenty more.

                      “The biggest factor is the speed of events witnessed across all fields of study…”

                      For all the sh*t skeptics get for cherry-picking data, how do you not see your own? The Speed? Really? As if we actually have good data on the speed of changes in the past 500 years, 5000 years, 50,000 years, 500,000 years, etc. Even today with modern equipment collecting good data is still a process in development. Yet the experts talk of the past like we know a damn thing about it; like we actually have good data.

                      And what is analysis with bad data?
                      Garbage in, Garbage out.

                      Sorry Skippy, you’ve purchased snake oil.

                    6. skippy

                      “Common sense’ is not a metric science utilizes, kinda shows the rigor used in your opinions.

                      I see no mention of the other points of order I brought up, still just focusing on temp, not good enough.

                      Hate to end the party but the trollery is quite evident, feeding it is bad form. Gives it a hint of validity.

                      skippy…. snake oil, naw, I take my observations and that of my personal friends and associates that work in the myriad fields of this scientific endeavor.

                    7. SDB

                      History shows that the Earth has been fine for life – in fact life thrived – when the planet was much warmer than it is today. “Common sense” is fine in this context. It’s safely been much warmer before, it’ll likely be safely warmer again in th future.

                      You’re other points:

                      1) “What you leave out is the transition of that energy between planetary thermo sinks [Geo, Water, different strata of the atmosphere et al] and how that plays out.”

                      You think I leave that out? You should take a closer look at the climate models. They cannot accurately model these energy flows. If they could then the models would have been able to predict the current “pause” in atmopsheric temperature increase.

                      2) “Secondly the effects of this increase in energy is not only observed in mean temps but, in plant and animal bio systems across the globe.”

                      Please link me to the best evidence that “increase in energy” is causing major problems for “plant and animal bio systems across the glove”. You can say this all you want, but the evidence is not in. But looky here, the Earth is getting greener!

                      Maybe that extra plant food in the atmosphere – CO2 – and the warmer temperatures, are contributing! Imagine that, maybe our CO2 emissions are actually good for the planet. It’s certainly possible.

                      Those were your points?

                    1. SDB


                      Is it really so hard to believe that an intelligent person, who is not a paid shill, could look at both sides – alarmist vs. skeptic – and come to the conclusions that the evidence is on the side of skepticism? Is it really so hard to believe that?

                      How many times throughout history has a popular consensus been overturned as society and knowledge advanced?

                      “Climate Science” is maybe the most complicated scientific endevaour taken up by humans. It’s everything: biology, chemistry, physics, geology, marine science, oceanography, atmospheric science, meterology, etc. etc. etc. It’s basically all the hard sciences interacting in a super complex system with all sorts of feedback loops. This is not as simple a gravity. And we’re modelling this system for future predictions?? That should blow people’s minds. And it should be shocking that anyone takes these predictions with more than a grain of salt.

                      The arrogance of the “science is settled” crowd is amazing. I have no explanation for it except for thorough brainwashing.

                    2. skippy


                      Its not a matter of settled [more projections on your part] is about the amount of compelling data, which born out or not, does not change the fact that the human activity’s linked to AGW are massively detrimental to the diversity of life on this orb.

                      skippy…. this is yours and those like you, major grock fail. The sad fact is we can mitigate most of this activity, but, don’t do so because of some fundamentalist ideology which precludes such rational actions. Ummm like libertarianism.

                    3. SDB


                      “the amount of compelling data”

                      My point above is that there are a lot of intelligent people who don’t find the data compelling. That doesn’t makes us idiots or paid shills or con artists or whatever.

                      Spare me the “settled science” stuff is merely projection. Science is naturally contentious. There’s a side of this AGW-CC debate that apparently wants to eliminate the contention from public view; presumably either because they think “the science is settled” or they don’t give a damn that the science isn’t settled… because ‘we’ve got a world to change and make better!’ Sorry to rain on your parade. Stifling debate is anti-science, imo. And sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

                      “The sad fact is we can mitigate most of this activity”

                      How? And at what cost?

                      You want to eliminate fossil fuel usage? The entire modern world is built on abundant energy. Do you want to deconstruct the modern world? If so, then tell the people that’s what you want to do and lets see if they vote for it. Stop the lying and fear mongering about a possibly, maybe likely, false alarm in CO2… in order to sneakily push a political ideology.

                    4. skippy

                      Sorry don’t have the inclination to pick through endless starwmen and projections.

                      skippy… that and I’ve been reprimanded more than once for troll feeding, I should desist.

                    5. SDB

                      No problem Skippy. Thanks for engaging in a mostly polite way.

                      My Final Comment…

                      I’m not sure why you’re calling the settled science notion projection. Just a few comments south of here Yves herself says it: “And this is settled science.” in response to One the Pulse…

                      And recently the BBC tolds it’s reporters to stop giving time to climate change deniers…

                      And Reddit’s science forum banned climate change deniers…

                      Even if not explicity, It’s implicit: the science is settled; debate is over.

                      And it’s horsepucky! :)

                      This post at Fabius Maximus sums it up:

                      “The US has drifted to the Right since 1980, to the Left’s bafflement. Among the reasons why is their repeated adoption of doomster prophecies, such as:

                      The Population Bomb scare of the 1960s, forecasting massive starvation and social upheaval in the 1970s and 1980s

                      The resources will run out scare of the 1970s, forecasting exhaustion of critical resources by 2000

                      The repeated rounds of peak oil scares from the 1970s through recently

                      These are largely found on the Left (the Right have their own apocalyptic scenarios, mostly involving economic and social collapse). Generations of Leftists crying wolf, without scientific backing. Making forecasts that in hindsight look foolish. Each failure eroding away their credibility. In these debates the Right has repeatedly proven correct.

                      Now the Left doubles down, predicting doom from climate change…”


            2. Ben Johannson

              I’m sure you’re a progressive in the mealy-mouthed, power-worshipping anti-progressive modern sense of the word, and there can be no doubt you’re a Democrat either, so I certainly believe that claim.

              By the way, good show hitting so many of the words on the list your boss gave you. “Socialist”, “Democrat”, “horrible zillionaire” (bonus money for adjectives, eh?) Are you paid by the comment or by use of approved word and phrase?

              1. SDB

                Hey Ben Johannson,

                Why don’t you…

                1) Not attack the messenger, and instead stick to the message.
                2) Those crtitical thinking skills that you use to understand the difference between a currency issuer and a currency user, try applying those critical thinking skills to the field of climate science.

                It’s amazing to me how many commenters on this website have very intelligent things to say about economics and finance, but when it comes to climate science they just repeat the propaganda they’ve been fed.

                Yes, it takes time and effort to read about climate science, to try to understand exactly what the disagreement is over. And yes, to find out why the skeptics are so skeptical, you’re going to have to visit websites where commenters parrot tired free market talking points. But, imo, if you make the effort, you will be richly rewarded. You will come to see that it’s not just the political-Right being manipulated by powerful interests. It’s also the political-Left. And besides the National Debt and Deficts (both sides use this), Climate Change is the primary issue used to manipulate the Left. It’s perfect too. We on the Left tend to be collectivist in our thinking. What better way to manipulate us than brainwash us into thinking we need to do X, Y, and Z to save the freaking Earth and life as we know it!

                Wake up!

          3. One the Pulse

            I see this site is full of doomsday global war mists. Scream all you want, but all most every prediction made by the IPCC has been wrong. We are not having more hurricanes nor is the the world warming. For 16 years the Earth has NOT warmed, the seas haven’t risen nor has the Article or Antarctic melted. Instead of screaming “it’s settled science, look at the data. Be a skeptic and look at the data. Climate change ALWAYS happens and it has since before man was on this Earth. Just admit you are a socialist and you want the government to to dictate everything.

            1. Yves Smith

              Huh? The fact that you can’t even get “facts” right is proof of how well informed you are.

              For starters:

              1. IPCC forecasts in general have been too conservative

              2. The Arctic is melting. Did you manage to miss that the Northwest Passage is open? Oh, that the Iceland ice sheet is melting at a scary clip, as are glaciers all over the world? And a huge piece of the Antarctic ice sheet fell off?

              3. Global average temps are at their highest levels in modern history. Average temps ARE still rising because ocean temps are increasing.

              You really have to do a lot better than that to persuade anyone with even the slightest contact with the topics. And this is settled science.

              1. SDB


                No it’s not settled science. That you call it settled science just shows that you’ve never taken the time to try to understand why the skeptics are so skeptical.

                About your facts:

                1) Lets take the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment as a baseline for forecast:
                “Projections using the SRES emissions scenarios in a range of climate models result in an increase in globally averaged surface temperature of 1.4 to 5.8°C over the period 1990 to 2100.”

                Ok. So a minimum of 1.4C over eleven decades. That’s about 0.13C per decade. So at a BARE MINIMUM the global average temperature in 2014 should aout 0.32C higher than it was in 1990.

                Looks like global average temperature has increased about 0.20C over that time frame:

                So… less than the low end estimate. Should we even plot the middle and high end? Wouldn’t want to embarass the models.

                2) Wow the Northwest Passage might be temporarily open again, as if it’s never been open before…
                “The first crossing was made by Amundsen in 1903-1905. He used a small ship and hugged the coast.”
                “In 1906, Roald Amundsen first successfully completed a path from Greenland to Alaska in the sloop Gjøa. Since that date, several fortified ships have made the journey.”
                And what about the Vikings?

                The Arctic is on a several decade decrease, just as the Antarctic is on a several decade increase. Take a look at total global sea ice over the last 30 years, according to University of Illinois Urabana-Champaign’s Cryo data. The red line. Everything looks fairly normal as the global average bounces back and forth above and below the average..

                [*I don’t know much abotu Iceland’s ice sheet or the Antarctic break off.*]

                3) “Global average temps are at their highest levels in modern history.”

                If by “modern history” you mean the past few hundred years, that might be true. Big Whoopie. Go back to the Medieval Warm Period just a few hundred years ago and now your modern history claim is false. But maybe you accept as legitimate Michael Mann throwing that piece of history down the memory hole?

                Ok, then go back 5000 years ago to the Holecen Climatic Optimum.

                Or is 5000 years not modern history?

                “Average temps ARE still rising because ocean temps are increasing.”

                That’s a new hypothesis. It’s still unknown at this point. Besides, the claim wouldn’t need to even be made if atmospheric temperatures hadn’t flattened out. The climate models didn’t predict this. Clearly they are missing something important. Likewise, if ocean’s can absorb the “missing heat” then that alone warrants skepticism of all the alarm. i.e. negative feedback loops appear to be moderating the system.

                This is not settled science.

                1. pretzelattack

                  your ‘facts” are all canned talking points. try
                  if you want to learn the refutations.

                  1. SDB

                    Come on pretzelattack,

                    1) Just because you call my facts canned talking points doesn’t mean that they actually are. Notice that I cite what I claimed (unlike Yves). Any claim that I made that you feel should be cited and wasn’t, feel free to ask for it. I’ll provide it. Also, feel free to rebut any of the points I made. I’m opened minded toward good evidence.

                    2) I’ve spent time at Skeptical Science. It’s a fine place to learn what the alarmists have to say. But if you go there and only there (or only advocate/alarmist websites), then you’re only hearing half the story. If you want to think independently on this issue then you need to honestly consider what both sides are saying.

                    And if John Cook’s 97% survey is a fair representation of the quality of work being done at John Cook’s Skeptical Science website, then be wary!

                2. Ben Johannson

                  Sorry, you can’t take a 110 year projection, lop a piece of it off and claim the whole thing is wrong, unless you really are so uninformed you think global warming means each year and decade will get warmer by regular increments. You want to show that work as inaccurate? You’ll have to wait for the year 2100.

                  Hope you let the dog out.

                  P.S. to PR con artistes like yourself: showing up to argue about global warming on a post not actually about global warming tells everyone you’re doing Google searches for key words and phrases used in the blogosphere.

                  If Lambert posted on artichokes but kept the above headline, these guys would come in making denier comments on global warming. Why? They’re paid to troll as much territory as possible and don’t have time to read beyond the headline.

                  1. SDB

                    A piece of it? lol…

                    We’re about 1/4 of the way through it and so far the AVERAGE rate of atmospheric warming is at a slower rate than the low end estimate. Exactly what about an average says that I think the warming must occur at the same amount every year? Nothing. You’re making sh*t up. Feel good?

                    While this slower rate than the low end estimate does not disprove AGW-CC, it is certainly evidence to warrant more skepticism. Do you really think it’s not possible that the mainstream “experts” have overestimated climate sensitivity to CO2? That’s called faith.

                    Wait until 2100?? So by the time we can know if the projections are wrong, everyone who made them will be dead. How incredibly convenient! I have a bridge to sell you.

                    Con artists like myself? There you go again attacking the messenger.

                    Here’s a novel idea. Why don’t you actually try to understand why the skeptics are so skeptical? Start here:

                    1. toldjaso

                      Lambert, re “Hockey Stick as the new orthodoxy” please investigate the probability that the “hockey stick” in graphs is speaking code for a few profiteers: some Hebrew letter seen plain or in a mirror (time honored way of reading the “true” meaning of script written right to left). “It’s magick.”

                    2. SDB

                      “Oh noez!!!! The dreaded hockey stick!!!!!!!”

                      Hey Lambert, did you learn that deflection strategy in a community organizer workshop?
                      [Zing! ha!..I made a right wing joke (pats self on back)]

                      In all seriousness, for anyone that has not actually gone out of their way to try to understand what the skeptics are so skeptical about, the Hockey Stick is an appropriate place to start. It is the board from which alarm sprung.

                      Notice that i said “Start here:”… indicating that the Hockey Stick is by no means the end all be all of skepticism.

                      I encourage you to observe how ya’ll behave on this issue. Otherwise intelligent commenters for things econocmics and finance become bratty little children when it comes to AGW-CC. To me, this is not an indication of inferior intellect. The readership here is quite bright. What it indicates is thorough brainwashing. Why challenge the mainstream consensus when the public policy solutions fit our political prescriptions regardless? [best not?!]

    2. Rosario

      It is chemistry and thermodynamics not hysteria. All that carbon has to go somewhere. It doesn’t just fly into space. When a system is thrown out of balance it corrects. Too much CO2 in atmosphere, then it is pulled in by a) vegetation (which we are removing and killing at an alarming rate therefore this contributes less than it should) b) oceans (this is bad) c) nothing (it stays in the atmosphere and retains solar radiation). Why fight curtailing consumption of a depleted resource? Why not progress in a sustainable fashion before we are all completely screwed? I’ve never understood the need to politicize the issue (I know it has been politicized by progressives but my criticism goes out to them as well). Neither have I understood the need to not react strongly. It is a big deal. Like we could go extinct big deal. Most extinction events were not the result of hurricanes, tornadoes, or some individual weather events. They were the result of major changes in atmospheric chemistry. Yes, it is a very big deal. No we should not be hysterical, but we should be prioritizing it over all the BS we are worried about right now.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “When a system is thrown out of balance it corrects” No, when a living system is thrown out of balance it corrects. Unlike markets, for example.

        1. Linus Huber

          “Unlike markets, for example.”

          Well, that is an interesting idea; markets too would correct if not manipulated. What however happens is that by manipulation e.g. in the form of monetary policy, the risk respectively adjustment is transferred onto a higher hierarchical level (e.g. the currency) which represents nothing but the avoidance to deal with the problems head-on in the present time but rather transferring them into the future. This kind of system has a name: Ponzi scheme.

          Who benefits from this scheme? Exactly those whose power and influence should be reduced, e.g. the super-rich, the system administrators (mainly governments and related institutions), the big corporations and banks etc.

          1. toldjaso

            Quite so. Risk cannot be “eliminated” — it is transferred to be eaten by “counterparties” and “elite clients” (muppets).

      2. docg

        I’m not saying there’s no cause for concern. What you say is basically correct. The out of control burning of fossil fuels and the consequent spewing of CO2 certainly do seem likely to have an effect and in all likelihood the effect will not be a good one. What I’m saying is that we have to be very careful how we assess the risk and especially careful about how we attempt to deal with it. Just because the problem is man made does not mean we can simply hit the brakes the put the engine into reverse. That didn’t work for the Titanic and it won’t work for us. The “solutions” currently being proposed are naive at best and simply won’t work. Token efforts such as those proposed by Obama and turned down in Australia won’t make a dent. And drastic measures such as those now being proposed on blogs such as this will result in disaster, because we are now seriously dependent on fossil fuels. Of course we must make every effort to develop sustainable energy sources, but they simply aren’t ready yet and won’t be for some time. And as for nuclear power, I don’t know about you, but I’m really alarmed at the current efforts of so-called “environmentalists” to support it.

        There is really no point in advocating for “solutions” that will only make things worse. What’s needed is a serious attempt to adapt. THAT we can do. And must.

    3. binky bear

      What else happened in the 19th century? Industrial revolution? Burning of coal and peat? Discovery of liquid hydrocarbons as fuel that replaced animal fats for illumination, heat and power?
      Go back and re-read Popper, etc. because you have got the whole concept wrong. Go start reading and look at how the scientific process is operating over time. New information requires explanation and demands responses and corroboration and the history of the issue is discussed from Arrhenius in the 19th century to the cutting edge.
      Climate change is nothing but science; cause of, identification of, and documentation of. Science and engineering made the carbon economy possible and hopefully will provide the tools needed to shut the door on it such that hydrocarbon fueled technology will be reliquated to the kind of hobbyists that collect steam tractors, railroad steam engines, one lung motors and the like. In the meantime, it is going to be very very exciting going for many people and sooner than we think.

      1. docg

        I can’t speak for the others, Yves, but as far as I’m concerned I have no problem with the science behind global warming per se. Those glaciers are indeed melting and there’s no point denying it. I’m even willing to concede that the warming, or a large part of it, could be caused by the burning of fossil fuels. It’s not a falsifiable theory, but it does seem reasonable.

        What bothers me is the tendency we now see to blame all sorts of other things not directly related to warming on CO2. There IS no science behind those projections, as I believe I’ve demonstrated above. Droughts have been far worse in the past. Evidence regarding tornado frequency and intensity is inadequate. And increased flooding can be explained by sea level rise, a trend that began long before the intensive use of fossil fuels and will continue long after all such usage ceases.

        The tendency to blame anything and everything on “climate change” is, as I see it, a form of hysteria. And it’s dangerous because any attempt to seriously curtail the use of fossil fuels would have catastrophic consequences almost immediately, as fuel prices would skyrocket well beyond the ability of most people on this planet to afford them. And higher fuel prices mean higher prices for just about any resource one can think of — especially food.

        Despite this very obvious projection when I read about climate change this issue is almost never raised. Because liberals would rather whine about corporate profits than concern themselves with the real effects of the policies they so glibly support on the vast majority of the world’s people.

      2. toldjaso

        Explain the Piri Reis maps showing water at the north pole before the Great Ice Age.

  10. TedWa

    Noam Chomsky considers himself a libertarian socialist. Anybody have a problem with that? Many need to reconsider what a libertarian really is, including the co-opted libertarians of today.

    1. binky bear

      Civil libertarian. Not a Republican who doesn’t want to pay taxes, talk to people of color and likes to shoot rock salt at neighborhood kids retrieving baseballs from his front yard.

  11. Rosario

    Libertarianism makes fetish of the individual. Fetish is fixation and a fixation creates intellectual inflexibility. I suppose Libertarianism and Libertarians wouldn’t be so bad if there were other tricks in their “How to order society bag”, but the notion that the individual is a purely autonomous, self directing entity is absolutist and therefore absurd. There is nothing about anyone’s existence that is purely their own, and that should be self evident. This is my contention with Chomsky. His stance on activism is to simply present the information and all of the “individuals” will just figure out the injustice and act accordingly (similar problem with climate change and environmental issues). Unfortunately, awareness does not compel people to action because people are bound by family, society, politics, religion, nature, etc. These are institutions/systems very much beyond the individual, therefore, any call to action that does not critique the network of individuals is incomplete. The identification with a single ideology will always be self defeating.

    1. me

      The other questionable principle they often follow (particularly those with environmental concerns) is of self-organisation, that there’s some kind of natural balance, and all disorder is caused by disruption of that balance. Allow balance to return, and power will go away. This is the idea that drove Occupy and the contemporary revolutions, it’s popular amongst liberal elites, and people who’ve seen internet-based facilities– e.g. projects like Free Software and Wikipedia– grow. Yet even these are influenced by existing power. Power doesn’t just go away as they imagine it will. Trying to get outside the system and create something separate that can then be injected back in and take over is futile. There is no outside the system. There is only the system and distribution of power over that system. Concentration of power facilitates corruption. And one of the greatest causes of loss of power is the myth of the individual. Those who wield power are those who understand that, not the figurehead aristocrats, as ever.

  12. Ed

    I think the most striking political development in my lifetime has been how remarkably consistent federal government policies have been since the fall of the Berlin Wall, despite the parties alternation in power regularly of the two parties. I don’t think discussions of the points of different ideologies is particularly relevant in this situation. Its like worrying about the Whigs and the Tories, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, or the Blues and the Greens.

  13. me

    TimWa: No, Chomsky said the conventional term closest to his position that he could come up with was that. He dislikes states as units of human organisation, but he advocates workers’ collectives as a practical alternative, and objects to absolute property rights, but he does have sympathy with populism, even in its twisted form (AIUI, he sees tea partiers as being driven in significant part by good, moral impulses, and points out that the left is poor at, and the US left establishment is opposed to, addressing the same concerns). He isn’t a libertarian in any conventional sense that I can see.

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