Archive for the ‘vulgar libertarians’ Category

You Should Wear a Clown’s Hat

January 16, 2017 1 comment

court-jesterReason’s own human dumpster fire, Robby Soave, is at it again following another Milo Yiannopoulos college campus event cancellation behind mass protests.

It remains the case that the students who shut down Yiannopoulos at campus after campus are playing directly into his hands. By proving him right about the college left’s intolerance, students ensure that Yiannopoulos will be able to continue promoting his agenda and claiming the mantle of free speech martyr. He will arrange more speaking tours, make more media appearances, and sell more books. The outrage that follows hin wherever he goes is beneficial to him.

Liberal students should try a different tactic: silence, rather than silencing. Yiannopoulos believes that all publicity is good publicity, and craves the attention. Don’t give it to him. If you hate him, just ignore him.

Before I weigh in I want to offer up some background. It seems that Soave, who I refer to as Rand McPherson, is more concerned with self aggrandizing behavior (which seems to be an epidemic at Reason) and pinging the alt-right instead of the “just the facts writer guy” he claims to be. Jacob Levy captures this pretty well:

Soave is a fixture on the “political correctness” beat and his post-election commentary openly acknowledges that its purpose was to tell us that he told us so.

As does Kevin Carson:

And at Reason, human dumpster fire Robby Soave — whose shtik seems to be retyping old Reed Irvine and Dinesh D’Souza screeds with his name on them — literally lays the blame for Trump at the feet of campus speech codes, trigger warnings and safe spaces. (No, if anything defeated Clinton it was stay-at-home Democratic voters disgusted by a Democratic Party that embraced way too many of the same neoliberal — not genuinely libertarian — economic policies favored by Reason.)

Robby Soave writes as if the protesters at UC-Davis and elsewhere don’t have their own rights to free speech and assembly – as well as civil disobedience – to protest and shut down hate filled displays like a Milo Yianopoulos event, or that their better tactic would be silence over silencing Milo. You know, just let the hate flow completely unchecked.

Contrary to the accusatory whining from conservative corners that would liken campus activists with fascist foot soldiers, the protest yielded zero property damage and one minor arrest for resisting a peace officer. One photojournalist apparently got doused with some coffee, though. The horror!

Moreover, Soave somehow thinks the protesters are sustaining Milo as opposed to the conservative groups that constantly invite him to make appearances and Soave’s own “journalism,” which acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. His reflexive acrimony towards “the left” or “liberals” or “SJWs” (or anything not sympathetic to right wing dogma) blinds him to the fact that nobody is silencing poor, marginalized Milo. Remember, this is the same Milo who is an editor at the self professed alt-right platform and just landed a Simon & Shuster book deal with a $250,000 advance to further peddle his hateful bullshit.

But yes, Robby, a bunch of liberal activist college student protesters are absolutely silencing him and sending this would be martyr of free speech along the path of sainthood. You should wear a clown’s hat.


Plaques for Hacks: Robby and the SFL Soave-Suckers

“…cuz I’m doing real work!” –Leander Sydnorsouth park safe space

About five months ago I issued a warning to the so-called “liberty movement” (if you haven’t read my initial warning on the subject it might help for timeline’s sake and frame of reference) about the dangers of hitching their wagon to the likes of Robby Soave – just another clown in a litany of say-everything-do-nothing-non-profit-think-tank-no-real-world-experience-conservatarians that encompass the “liberty movement,” the real life Rand McPherson, and epitome of what Kevin Carson rightly dubbed vulgar libertarianism over a decade ago:

This school of libertarianism has inscribed on its banner the reactionary watchword: “Them pore ole bosses need all the help they can get.” For every imaginable policy issue, the good guys and bad guys can be predicted with ease, by simply inverting the slogan of Animal Farm: “Two legs good, four legs baaaad.” In every case, the good guys, the sacrificial victims of the Progressive State, are the rich and powerful. The bad guys are the consumer and the worker, acting to enrich themselves from the public treasury. As one of the most egregious examples of this tendency, consider Ayn Rand’s characterization of big business as an “oppressed minority,” and of the Military-Industrial Complex as a “myth or worse.”

The ideal “free market” society of such people, it seems, is simply actually existing capitalism, minus the regulatory and welfare state: a hyper-thyroidal version of nineteenth century robber baron capitalism, perhaps; or better yet, a society “reformed” by the likes of Pinochet, the Dionysius to whom Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys played Aristotle.

Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term “free market” in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get the standard boilerplate article arguing that the rich can’t get rich at the expense of the poor, because “that’s not how the free market works”–implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations on the basis of “free market principles.”

My favorite passage on vulgar libertarianism is excerpted from Carson’s year-old biting indictment of the aforementioned movement, entitled “The End of Libertarians”:

Frankly, I’m sick of libertarian outreach being sabotaged by the need to apologize for people like this. I’m sick of trying to challenge the perception of libertarianism as the movement of entitled 20-something middle-class white males who think “big business is the last oppressed minority,” and the world is going to hell in a hand-basket because of women and racial minorities — and then going to, Lew Rockwell, Cato and Reason and seeing a bottomless cesspool of people saying that very thing.

Then came this year’s International Students For Liberty Conference (ISFLC) and their award for alum of the year. Cue the bullshit, aptly called out by Ryan Calhoun:

This week, Lyn Ulbricht attended the International Students For Liberty Conference and graced attendees with a presentation on the appeal of her son Ross Ulbricht’s sentencing in the Silk Road trial. Lyn’s presence and tireless advocacy for her son and for the preservation of our rights is a blessing in the face of our unaccountable justice system. Her speech was concise and moving; her demeanor was what you would expect from a strong mother whose son has been sentenced to a double life sentence.

Unfortunately at the same event, on the same day as Lyn’s presentation, there was an unforgivable snub by the Students For Liberty Alumni. Ross was up for an award as an SFL alum himself. However, those responsible for nominating the winner ultimately chose a libertarian writer with a significant social media presence. This was a devastating moment in my weekend activities, and was all I really wanted to talk about the rest of the night. Most people simply shrugged their shoulders — they chalked it up to typical organization culture and politics. But what does it say about the movement when such behavior is glossed over and forgotten about? It is a sign of seriously misplaced priorities.

The winner of the SFL award in question was none other than Robby Soave himself, who’s alleged “excellent work” has helped… nobody. Which brings me back to my opening quote from HBO’s The Wire pertaining to “real” work. Back to Calhoun’s truth to power on the matter:

Ross Ulbricht has taken a stand against the leviathan state. His actions represented the greatest opposition to the Drug War in its history, and they have provided millions with the motivation and incentive for a new and subversive kind of radicalism that captures individuals’ interests directly. It engages rather than explains. Rather than lecturing it meets people face to face as equal partners and as equal opponents to an oppressive government regime. What an insult it is to Ross and to Lyn to ignore this most spontaneous form of activism.

Since Ross’s arrest, Lyn has shown us just how important this kind of imminent spreading of libertarian ideas is. Lyn does not come from a background of political agitation. She is one of many mothers who has had her child taken from her by the U.S government. She is one of many people who has sat helplessly in court proceedings as a judge condemns a man to isolation in order to silence and shudder them away from the rest of the world. Much like the participants of the Silk Road project, Lyn is not interested in political gamesmanship, but in the freeing of unfree people, the liberation of an oppressed populous. She comes to advocate for libertarian positions not because of ideological bias, but because she has seen up close just how easily the system can squash people and file them away without consequence. While we write about agorist theory and its possible implementation, Ross built a multi-million dollar black market that turned theory into a reality. While we snipe at ideological adversaries, Lyn Ulbricht is fighting to her last breath to see her son freed and the unjust conditions of the criminal justice system smashed.

The hypocrisy on display at ISFLC must be confronted. These are the people this movement needs. Ross’s and Lyn’s work deserves better than to be overlooked like it was. We must understand that our ideas really are grounded in the interests of everyday people. This isn’t a chess match or a Twitter argument. It is a real and bloody battle between the people, fighting for their liberty against a system that seeks to destroy it. The snub of Ross and Lyn is of course just over a meaningless award, but it’s symbolic of an illness that plagues large swathes of the libertarian movement.*

There is great understanding among many young libertarians of just how important Ross’s actions, trial, and his mother’s dedication are. Ross himself was involved with Students For Liberty, and he should be honored as one of its most significant alums. We need to foster the spirit of Lyn’s and Ross’s activism. We need to take our philosophy into the streets as they have. Let’s stop honoring popular authors for the numbers of shares their articles get and start focusing on the “boots on the ground” like Ross and Lyn who risk their lives through concrete action. In her speech to conference-goers, Lyn recommended visiting a prison to see what our government in action. That’s where people live out the full experience of state control. What good are words if we don’t recognize the significance of the people who live them?

This is, in a nutshell, why people who would otherwise identify very well with the school of thought that is classical liberalism (including anarchists like myself) actually feel repulsed by about 90% of so-called “libertarians.” As I stated in my initial Soave-smash:

And people wonder why libertarians are despised amongst the general body politic. I avoid using the word libertarian at all costs in public. The term has too much stink on it. I’m not sure if this gets through to everybody inside the bubble in DC or the online libertarian bubble, but liberty is now synonymous with Republican in the eyes of everyone but themselves. That’s a big problem.

Perhaps the most disgraceful part of the ISFLC debacle, after SFL doling out the award to not Ross Ulbricht, is that Soave actually accepted it instead of flexing some intellectual humility and saying something to the tune of, “Thanks, but I cannot in good conscience accept this award and instead would like to present it to Lyn Ulbricht on Ross’s behalf while he suffers unjust incarceration at the hands of the state.” Although I wasn’t actually there (I was paid to attend ISFLC 2014 as a performing artist), something tells me it didn’t exactly play out that way.

Of course it didn’t, these are “liberty movement” people we’re talking about here, almost all of whom are insecure children playing keyboard commando and seeking validation from the self congratulatory how-dare-anybody-piss-inside-the-echo-chambered-circle-jerk bubble that is the insignificantly small and significantly sycophantic makeup of DC/online libertarianism.

This is further personified by Soave’s Reason colleague Elizabeth Nolan Brown, who I previously praised for doing “real work” on her feminism beat in my initial Robby-rant. I once saw a tweet of hers criticizing a John Stossel column published at Reason. I can’t remember exactly which column (because they’re all so fucking awful), but the point is when I went back to the tweet to grab it’s link for my brother, the tweet had already been deleted.

I have no idea if Brown did this on her own or had her arm twisted by any of her superiors at Reason. But since we’re dealing with a movement more concerned with “plaques for hacks” than anything real, it seems a bit suspect. Reason and people like Soave love them some free speech until it threatens their fragile pseudo-reality. Which brings me to Brown’s tweet during Soave’s big-win-acceptance-speech:

If you go to her actual tweet on Twitter, there is NO pushback whatsoever from anybody. The likes and retweets are visible without going to Twitter. By any objective measurement, journalists like Brown should have done what friends do: deliver the brutally honest truth when they need it most, even at the risk of an open breach. Unfortunately, reality is the enemy of the safe space. The irony is libertarians can’t stand the notion of a safe space, yet prefer living in a bubble that perfectly encapsulates their hypocrisy.

Would something like this have been so horrible from Brown, “Even though Robby Soave is my friend & colleague, Ross Ulbricbht should have won SFL’s 2016 “Alumni for Liberty” award. #ISFLC16″?

But this, ladies and gentlemen, exemplifies your “liberty movement” (sounds more like a bathroom code, which is appropriate given how much shit they flush) whether you like it or not, and I want absolutely zero part of it. Nor should any other self-respecting radical.

The glorification of John Stossel is repugnant enough on it’s own. Never mind the incessant apologists for corporate dominance and the free-market capitalism oxymoron, blanket alliance with conservatives, whitewashing Antonin Scalia’s record into that of a “brilliant” jurist instead of a glorified Tarot Card reading hypocrite, clamoring that Ted Cruz would be better for liberty than Bernie Sanders like it’s some sort of personal vendetta, and the fact that people aspire to be “professional libertarians.” Whatever the fuck that even means. How hard would you laugh if somebody said they wanted to be a professional liberal or conservative?

Instead of disengaging from the futility of electoral politics, focusing on ad hoc coalitions built on an issue-by-issue basis, and true intellectual honesty, you’re left with a scenario best described by my favorite asshole, The Wire’s Detective Jimmy McNulty: “Everybody stays friends, everybody gets paid, and everybody’s got a fucking future!” (Of accomplishing nothing)

*bold emphasis mine


I Choose Business Ethics

business ethics“Some people are so far behind in the race that they actually believe they’re leading.” –Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano

Georgetown philosopher and BHL blogger Jason Brennan is entrenched in a seemingly neverending back and forth with adjunct justice activists, or “madjuncts”.

I don’t know the first thing about the adjunct justice issue. I’m just an artist. But I am all too familiar with Jason Brennan’s temperament when given the least bit of push back. In short, he behaves like an insecure child, accuses you of being angry even though he’s the one who rants and raves like an infant in the midst of a tantrum while demonstrating his lack of intellectual honesty and humility.

At least that’s my experience dealing with the guy in the context of his utterly nonsensical analogy of likening markets to guitar amps. He had every chance to admit, right away, that the analogy had no place in a scholarly analysis of markets when I posted my response.

Instead I had to out-Jason Brennan him in the ensuing comments until he finally admitted that the analogy wasn’t originally intended to be included in the book. Then he went on to say that he still thinks he’s right.

Tangential side note: That’s when he thought I was mad, but as an artist I was merely acting as a mirror to show him his own reflection… because that’s what artists do… they reflect what is unseen when somebody cannot see the forest for the trees… I was actually in pain from all the laughter… needless to say, Brennan was not amused.

Remember, this is the guy who puffs his chest out about how he’s a big bad PhD at big bad Georgetown and well published in big bad respected academic journals (that nobody reads) as well as his numerous books, of which I own three, so everybody should defer to him. When I pointed out that the shoe was on the other foot in this particular instance, since I’m the musician, he cried foul.

By any objective measurement Jason Brennan is pretty brilliant and extremely accomplished (even if his conclusions might not be on occasion), with a great American dream rags to riches story… which makes all of this even more confusing.

I feel it’s also relevant to point out that I’ve been an avid BHL reader since day one, though I must say my enthusiasm has been waning in perpetuity ever since Brennan turned it into his personal petty bully pulpit well over a year ago. He used to post thought provoking philosophical thought experiments and the like. What happened? Why the paradigm shift? Now he’s just a whiny punk. Excuse me, but that’s my job!

I also noticed an interesting correlation between the uptick in Brennan’s frequent vulgarity at BHL and the lack of regular posting from the cream of their blog roster’s crop. I don’t know if it implies any causation at all, but it’s curious… at least to me.

Of course, he and his cohorts think they’re doing excellent work, but that’s what I like to call “plaques for hacks.” Or if I can be blunt, this is the indictment I levied against him and anyone acting as his sycophants, by proxy or otherwise:

you try to land the equivalent of a passive aggressive sucker punch like an insecure child playing keyboard commando and seeking validation from the self congratulatory how-dare-anybody-piss-inside-the-tent echo chambered circle jerk of an epistemically closed off bubble that is the community of online libertarianism

Then I saw a response to Brennan regarding the adjunct debate (since he intends to write a book on the so-called “business ethics” of modern universities and cited first year composition classes as the lone bogeyman data point as “a jobs program for low quality intellectuals”) that managed to capture my sentiments in one beautiful sentence (adjunct debate notwithstanding, it’s way beyond my sphere of expertise):

I just don’t get this. Why would someone want to spend his time this way?

Exactly! Especially when it’s aimed at a person who’s philosophy is, if I may generalize, supposed to be that of a bleeding heart libertarian who values the individual above the coercive institution. But what do I know? I don’t have a PhD in philosophy.

Perhaps the classic Adam Sandler movie Billy Madison best portrays Jason Brennan’s disposition in the character of Eric Gordon, played by actor Bradley Whitford. So let’s finish this post with a refrain of its title: “I choose business ethics.”

Kevin Carson on Vulgar Libertarian-splaining to the Poor

December 22, 2015 1 comment

C4SS ALL logoHere we go again. More vulgar libertarian drivel. This time it’s from the Future of Freedom Foundation — aimed at the poor with the general disposition of how amazing their lives are because of corporatists. Hardly a shock. Thankfully we have C4SS’s Kevin Carson on the seemingly never ending vulgar libertarian watch.

What is vulgar libertarianism? Well…

Vulgar libertarianism refers to those who treat the existing marketplace as one which closely approximates how a freed market would look.  Kevin Carson quotes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy in his essay Contract Feudalism:

Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term “free market” in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get [a] standard boilerplate article… arguing that the rich can’t get rich at the expense of the poor, because “that’s not how the free market works”— implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations on the basis of “free market principles.”

Libertarians will often condemn the existing aspects of state power and interference in the market but then leap to the defense of those who benefit from the existing order in the same breath.  Conservatives are generally far worse on this front than libertarians but both groups shy from committing anything which smells like class warfare.

Read Kevin’s retort to the FFF garbage in full:

In a video produced by the Future of Freedom Foundation (“The Libertarian Angle: Do Libertarians Really Hate the Poor?“), Jacob Hornberger and Richard Ebeling obviously intend a smashing, unanswerable rejoinder to the left-wing stereotype of right-libertarians as “pot-smoking Republicans” who hate the poor. Sadly, it only reaffirms that stereotype. It’s exactly what left-wing critics of libertarianism have — unfortunately — come to expect. It’s the kind of by-the-numbers “how libertarians want to help the poor” argument that any parodist at The Onion could satirize effortlessly — and probably has.

Every single item in their discussion is on the same general theme: making the rich even richer or otherwise empowering them so they can help the poor. Of course they tip their hat to the existence of some “corporatism” in the Gilded Age, but go on to treat it as a marginal phenomenon in a system that was mostly laissez-faire. Indeed the defining characteristics that made the Gilded Age “laissez-faire” were 1) the lack of welfare for the poor (with the unfortunate exception of Civil War pensions), and 2) the ability of the super-rich to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth.

In a tired replay of Republican “job creators” rhetoric, Ebeling and Hornberger argue that the best way to help the poor is to encourage the rich to amass huge piles of capital so that they can afford to hire lots of poor folks. And if the rich got rich enough they could also afford to give more to charity! One shining example of how the “free market” helped the poor in the Gilded Age — I kid you not — was that some plutocrats donated money to build giant churches where the poor could “worship God in their own ways.”

The same theme is repeated — over and over and over — to the point of nausea, from beginning to end of this interview. Business interests and the rich are the drivers of economic progress and prosperity. If you want to help the poor, let the rich accumulate enough capital to create jobs, and give to charity. Give the capitalists the ability to create full employment by allowing them to pay labor as little as it’s worth! Hornberger and Ebeling focus entirely on all the ways that the interventionist state ostensibly helps the poor by redistributing income downwards in the form of welfare, minimum wages and such, and the unintended consequences that actually hurt the poor.

Individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker once said of Herbert Spencer that “amid his multitudinous illustrations … of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people’s welfare…” The more things change… Entirely missing from this discussion is the primary, upward form of income redistribution from poor to rich, through structural intervention to reduce the bargaining power of labor and increase the monopoly returns on accumulated property — a redistribution which dwarfs, many times over, compensatory downward forms of redistribution through the welfare state. Missing are the fundamental ways the state has been in structural alliance with capital — not just some hand-waving at “crony capitalism” and “corporatism” — since the beginning of capitalism five or six hundred years ago.

Throughout the entire thing, I kept expecting one of them to repeat the old chestnut from George Frederick Baer: “The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for… by the Christian men of property to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the Country.” I’m at a loss as to how this video differs significantly from any garden variety post-WWII “The Wonders of Our Free Enterprise System” propaganda film put out by the National Association of Manufacturers.  There is absolutely nothing in here that would cause any left-wing critic of libertarianism to say anything but “Yep — about what I expected.”

It’s this kind of reflexive apologetic for business interests and the rich on the libertarian right that left-libertarianism arose to counter in the first place.

Robby Soave, Reason Magazine, White Privilege, and PCU

November 10, 2015 9 comments

“Yeah, that’s what you say. But it’s how you carry yourself.” –Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson

In 1994 an underrated movie called “PCU” was released. PCU is an acronym for both Port Chester University and Politically Correct University. The movie stars (gag reflex trigger warning) pre-he-magically-grew-new-hair-before-Entourage Jeremy Piven. Easily his best role outside of Guy Ritchie’s 2009 masterpiece film “RocknRolla”. I suppose even Guy Ritchie can polish a turd.

But PCU also has some now-classic comedy heavies like Jon Favreau, David Spade, Jessica Walter (aka Lucile Bluth), and Jake Busey (aka crazy Gary Busey’s kid). Shit, it even co-stars Alex Désert from the band Hepcat (he also co-starred alongside Vince Vaughn and Favreau in Fav’s classic “Swingers”). There’s even a cameo from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (if you don’t know what that is, than I’m not sorry to say you’re a chump, so audit yourself!).

If you haven’t seen PCU, spoiler alert without going into too much detail (a very stoned Favs appears before the very real real Senate Judiciary Committee), the most offensive crew on campus wins over the entire student body in the end by appealing to solidarity for students against the administrators, rather than being pitted against each other. If you’re interested, here’s an amazing trailer/featurette:

It seems even more relevant now, especially with this thus-far-unreal season of South Park. And if you’re not up to speed with PC Principal, you better ask somebody!

But the point is this, offensive speech and even acts – violent and non – have been happening, and will continue to happen on college campuses. The questions, of course, are how to deal with this. The answers are even more elusive. Problems abound. Longstanding, systemic, institutional problems. Which brings us to Reason and Robby Soave.

And let’s be generous for a moment, Robby’s not 100% at fault here. The so-called “libertarian” nonprofit foundation and publication Reason didn’t have to hire him from The Daily Tucker Callerson (which is, at best, a home for conservatarianism). We know from the comments that it’s a total haven for pissed off, xenophobic, thinly veiled imperialists that want low taxes. Then again, so is Reason. Perhaps not the imperialist part, but white people that primarily call themselves libertarians because they want lower taxes. And lower taxes. Still, curious.

Now, of course, the Reasonbots and conservatarian apologists will argue their “Free Minds, Free Markets” slogan. No doubt.

However, the overwhelming majority of the content they publish is either making vulgar arguments (like cheering on the Keystone pipeline) based on an oxymoron they call “free market capitalism,” uninformed arguments due to think tank libertarians generally saying everything yet knowing nothing due to lacking any real world experience (like their coverage of the George Zimmerman trial and criminal justice policy in general), giving good play to The Conservatarian Manifesto and the likes of jokers named Rand Paul, John Stossel, Greg Gutfeld, Instapundit, Ted Cruz, and others, or employing the Robby Soave’s of the world to make vulgar arguments in “favor” of social justice. In other words, they’re an extension of right wing politics masquerading as classical liberalism.

And people wonder why libertarians are despised amongst the general body politic. I avoid using the word libertarian at all costs in public. The term has too much stink on it. I’m not sure if this gets through to everybody inside the bubble in DC or the online libertarian bubble, but liberty is now synonymous with Republican in the eyes of everyone but themselves. That’s a big problem.

I feel it’s also important to note that there are exceptions to the Reason norm, both past (Radley Balko) and present (Elizabeth Nolan Brown). And I’m sure there will be in the future. But that’s largely due to Balko and Brown picking their respective, critically important beats and covering them to the point of mastery (you know, actual research and expert sources) and difference making. They also just happen to be libertarianish types.

But Robby, with his “platform” at Reason (let’s be real, institutional libertarianism is generally a self congratulatory echo chamber) from which to help spread the ideas of freedom and liberty chooses to cover the beat he covers, which is quite irrelevant considering the state-sanctioned atrocities committed daily. Although I’m sure he’ll claim it has something to do with free speech and rights on college campuses or something of the sort, he spends most of his time speaking with the tone and attitude of a hegemonic white male – much like David Spade’s character in PCU, Rand McPherson. Shit, there’s even a resemblance.

rand mcphersonrobertsoave-1630136872
In the film, McPherson leads the stereotypical upper crusty privileged white boy frat. One of his classic quotes from the movie is:

This school used to be a bastion of rich, white elitism. And now, they let homosexuals on the football team, whining minorities run the student government, and you can’t even coerce a woman into having sex without being brought up on charges. What is this world coming to, really?!?

That is, in essence, the perceived disposition of Robby Soave. Not personally. I know neither him nor what he truly thinks about political philosophy, just the fact that he comes from actual bastions of rich white elitism: University of Michigan, The Daily Tucker, and now Reason. Soave actually has this to say in his latest walk-back apology piece, which typically follows the predictable, initial rabble-rabble-let–the-white-man-talk post:

I was not suggesting that racial slurs are a trivial matter—they are incredibly evil, hateful, and sometimes genuinely traumatizing for persons of color. Nor was I suggesting that black people need to “just get over it.” They have every right to publicize their emotional turmoil and demand action. I wish we lived in a world where no one aspired to demean them.

But I suspect the people who shout despicable things at black people on the street have much in common with schoolyard bullies: they are looking for a reaction. And one way to deprive bullies of their power to inflict pain—not just on people of color, but on everyone—is to ignore them.

Another way, I suppose, is to identify the bullies and run them out of town with pitchforks. But when we live in fear of bad words, we give agency to the people who use them.  That’s something for everyone to keep in mind, especially now that Mizzou cops have announced their intention to literally police speech on campus.

My post began with a Snoop quote from HBO’s The Wire. In response to Soave’s tired, excerpted quote, here it is again. “Yeah, that’s what you say. But it’s how you carry yourself.” Point being, if Soave approached the same subject matter and drew the same conclusions in a much more charitable manner, as opposed to being Rand McPherson, the pushback against his bullshit probably wouldn’t be so strong and the stench of libertarianism may subside some.

The only way I can properly relate to Soave in this manner is by proxy. Libertarians are supposed to exercise humility when outside their discipline because of that whole knowledge problem thing they supposedly love and hold so dear. How often they seem to forget. As for myself, being in the performing and recording arts and not exactly an expert at much else, I must summon philosopher Roderick Long’s four-year-old BHL post entitled The Libertarian Three-Step Program.

In short, it’s for libertarians who don’t know how to make a non-vulgar, off-putting argument to the everyday voter (specifically it was about Ron Paul answering a health care question from Wolf Blitzer in “depressingly predictable order,” according to Long, at a CNN GOP debate back in September 2011). And your everyday voter is not even close to being in the GOP or even being GOP-sympathetic. There are more independents and registered Democrats, respectively, than registered Republicans. I think even Reason’s own polling shows that trend.

The parallel here for Soave to Long’s three steps is: demonize the victim, identify potential voluntary solutions, and then finally address the systemic, structural problems. As Long himself notes in his piece, “When you lead with stage one, that’s what people will remember; adding stage three as an afterthought will leave far less trace in people’s thoughts,” and that Paul’s answer “was a highly visible instance of a widespread libertarian problem.” It’s something to seriously consider.

Unfortunately this problem has not been improved upon. It is by and large indicative of the general arrogance that emanates from Reason’s content-Keynesianism (a content-Keynesian is more interested in publishing high quantity than high quality content for the simple, cynical purpose of generating attention and web traffic). Which is to say, the approach that Long opines against of ‘I’m a libertarian so I know it all even though I’m supposed to be operating under a dispersed knowledge problem which implies that I don’t know it all’ being the pervasive attitude.

Pick a discipline in life and become an expert. You’ll end up doing more for liberty than the entire swarm of epistemically closed off libertarian dilettantes and navel gazers, especially since nobody outside of that tiny bubble of insignificance cares. Then again, if your intention truly is to create a pseudo reality designed to self soothe and pull the wool over your own eyes to the extent that you think you’re actually making a dent in the world or being a “very objective, non-nonsense, just-the-facts kind of guy/writer” by posting confirmation bias seeking drivel on the internet… let’s just say ignorance is bliss. And I’m not just talking to Robby Soave & Reason here.

It also sounds dangerously close to one of those safe spaces Soave spends so much time railing against. Irony’s a bitch.

Maybe you become like my younger brother and literally fight the state every day in court, depose and cross examine crooked cops, and get unjustly shackled arms and legs of falsely accused indigent brown and black faces freed from their statist coils. Much respect to the knuckleheads at Popehat for the same reasons.

But whatever is going on within institutionalized libertarianism doesn’t even come close to fighting the state. It’s actually more of an exercise in frivilous vanity and self validation. In fact, those who work at such institutions unknowingly, or perhaps knowingly in some instances, act as agents for the political right. I’d call that aiding and abetting the state, but hey.

Perhaps Kevin Carson said it best in, potentially his greatest, C4SS piece The End of Libertarians:

Frankly, I’m sick of libertarian outreach being sabotaged by the need to apologize for people like this. I’m sick of trying to challenge the perception of libertarianism as the movement of entitled 20-something middle-class white males who think “big business is the last oppressed minority,” and the world is going to hell in a hand-basket because of women and racial minorities — and then going to, Lew Rockwell, Cato and Reason and seeing a bottomless cesspool of people saying that very thing.

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