Home > General > The end of shmibertarianism (updated)

The end of shmibertarianism (updated)

October 31st, 2007

As Andrew Sullivan notes, Glenn Reynolds no longer even claims to be a libertarian[1], and his repudiation of this former position is shared by a number of leading shmibertarians, who are now happy enough to identify as orthodox Republicans. I haven’t yet seen anything similar from some others, such as the Volokhs, but the idea that a relaxed attitude to sex and drugs, and support for economic policies that favour your own social class, can trump the authoritarian implications of militarism, from Gitmo to collusion in government lies, is now pretty much dead. Insofar as an idea can be tested by experiment, prowar libertarianism has been tried and failed (a bit more on this from Jim Henley)

The implications go further I think. Given that the Republicans are now definitively the war party (not that the Democrats have yet become the peace party, but that’s another story), it’s hard to see how libertarian Republicans can survive, any more than Dixiecrats survived Nixon’s Southern strategy. The recent decision by RedState to ban Ron Paul supporters is a pretty clear indication of how real Republicans think about this. This has big implications for a thinktank like Cato, which has opposed the war (but very sotto voce – a visitor to their website would be hard pressed to tell that there even was a war) while remaining within the Republican tent.

Of course, it goes the other way. It’s hard to witness the catastrophic government failure that has characterized every aspect of this war without becoming more sympathetic to certain kinds of libertarian (and also classically conservative) arguments, particularly those focusing on the fallibility of planning.

fn1. Apparently my ignorance of the further reaches of US party politics may have led me to overstate Reynolds’ candor. What’s being announced is, apparently, a break with the Libertarian Party, leaving him free to label himself a (small-l) libertarian. Thanks to Kevin Drum for pointing this out. Jim Henley, linked above, also commented on this distinction, concluding “I doubt it matters. In a corrupt political discourse, no label is much use.” and that’s about where I stand.

Categories: General Tags:
  1. al loomis
    November 1st, 2007 at 07:31 | #1

    hard to see how libertarians could be pro-war, i thought they respected private property. and who could they get to fight for them, mercenaries?

    well, yes. america does use a mercenary army now, apparently vietnam cured them of conscription. as does oz, the sas have become socii for the new rome.

  2. November 1st, 2007 at 09:38 | #2

    It is possible to imagine political positions that are theoretically possible but politically dead; trotskyism, right-wing libertarianism, an anti-capitalist fascism (Strasser, the first Italian fascist program etc.) Intellectuals love to theorise about these but some intellectual-political projects are sterile mules incapable of reproduction.

  3. November 1st, 2007 at 13:08 | #3

    That is a very unfortunate choice of title, because it casts aspersions on real people. Smibert is a real surname; in fact I know a couple of them (not well).

  4. November 2nd, 2007 at 00:20 | #4

    the idea that a relaxed attitude to sex and drugs, and support for economic policies that favour your own social class

    I like the way you snuck your own little tidbit of socialist propaganda in that paragraph John.

    Libertarians support the market because it’s better for everyone. The policies you and your fellow travellers espouse, such as minimum wages, high taxation and sin tax levies, hurt the poor more than they hurt anyone else.

  5. jquiggin
    November 2nd, 2007 at 06:22 | #5

    Not true of the people I’m talking about, Yobbo. US shmibertarians want the poor to pay more tax.

  6. November 2nd, 2007 at 07:52 | #6

    I read through that article and couldn’t find the bit where the WSJ says “poor people should pay more tax”. All I could see it that they are worried that the issue of tax relief might fall off the political radar.

    Correct me if there’s some invisible writing on that page that I would need commie-goggles to read.

  7. jquiggin
    November 2nd, 2007 at 07:56 | #7

    Apparently so, Yobbo, since everyone else who read that article saw the point. Or maybe you need to remove whatever filtered lenses you are wearing.

  8. Persse
    November 2nd, 2007 at 09:41 | #8

    Libertarianism – going from a nanny state to a ninny state.

  9. November 2nd, 2007 at 10:04 | #9

    Comedy gold right there Persse. You should apply to join The Chaser team.

  10. November 3rd, 2007 at 06:34 | #10

    Yobbo is right. JQ is talking crap, Libertarians support everyone paying less tax, not poor people paying more tax.

    Either he doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it.

  11. aw
    November 3rd, 2007 at 08:01 | #11

    No, Yobbo is obtuse. The article is very clearly in favour of the poor paying more tax so that they will take pity on the oppressed rich and demand “tax relief”.

    Also, JQ specifically said “not true of the people I am talking about”, which means Stephen Lloyd is obtuse also. No need of commie goggles to see that.

  12. November 4th, 2007 at 02:27 | #12

    Point out where “The article is very clearly in favour of the poor paying more tax” “aw”

    Shouldn’t be that hard to copy/paste the relevant paragraph, unless of course, it doesn’t exist.

  13. aw
    November 4th, 2007 at 05:46 | #13

    You seem to be having a bit of trouble mate, so I’ll help you out.

    Who are these lucky duckies?

    The phrase “lucky ducky” is used to refer to people who are getting something they don’t really deserve.

    What they supposedly don’t really deserve is tax exemption.

    as fewer and fewer people are responsible for paying more and more of all taxes, the constituency for tax cutting, much less for tax reform, is eroding. Workers who pay little or no taxes can hardly be expected to care about tax relief for everybody else. They are also that much more detached from recognizing the costs of government

    WSJ editor wants “tax relief”.

    If poor people pay relatively little tax, poor people have no incentive to agitate for “tax relief”.

    Therefore, tax exemption is bad.

    Therefore, the poor should pay more tax.

    Eventually, the GOP will get around to “porkbusting” and cut all tax. Eventually. Give them another 100 years and they’ll think about it.

    Shmibertarianism.

  14. Fritz
    November 4th, 2007 at 12:45 | #14

    I don’t know what to think of your post. Is it that you are too lazy to read the post you reference, or is it that you don’t comprehend the English language will enough to understand what Mr. Reynolds wrote? In either case your post does not reflect well upon you. Mr. Reynolds has frequently stated that there is a difference between being a libertarian and being a member of the Libertarian Party. Perhaps that is to nuanced for you. Of course one who uses Mr. Sullivan as a standard of truth and accuracy is only setting himself up to be very wrong, many times.

  15. jstrocch
    November 4th, 2007 at 13:50 | #15

    Pr Q says:

    the idea that a relaxed attitude to sex and drugs, and support for economic policies that favour your own social class, can trump the authoritarian implications of militarism, from Gitmo to collusion in government lies, is now pretty much dead. Insofar as an idea can be tested by experiment, prowar libertarianism has been tried and failed

    Sociology, in its most profound moment of discovery, has revealed that tight-knit working families are the best foundation for a free society. It is no accident that tough-minded conservatives and old-fashioned libertarians make a good ideological fit. Think Hayek.

    So a “relaxed attitude” to open borders, toxic drugs and reckless sex will get us where we are now. With a sizeable proportion of the population headed for some form of govt funded rehabilitation facility or fertility clinic. (Some minorities are esp prone to the post-modernist traps.)

    Libertarians who want to want to curb the growth of both the warfare and welfare state should concentrate on the cultural sub-structures of invididual autonomy. Rather than the fuss voer the formal superstructures of institutional authority.

    And they should lose the habit of trying to foist liberal institutions on illiberal peoples. Concentrat on making Libertarianism in One Country” work properly.

    A Dovish foreign policy + a Scoogish fiscal policy + a Dryish cultural policy = Libertarianism.

    Pr Q says:

    Of course, it goes the other way. It’s hard to witness the catastrophic government failure that has characterized every aspect of this war without becoming more sympathetic to certain kinds of libertarian (and also classically conservative) arguments, particularly those focusing on the fallibility of planning.

    The failure of the war is certainly proof that REPs are prone to “catastrophic govt failure”. But this is not surprising as REPs are a moral hazard in govt. They believe in disabling institutional accountability and substituting it with ideological fidelity. A somewhat Maoist approach, with similiar results.

    ‘Twas not ever thus. REPs can run Big Govt well if they put their mind to it. Eisenhower is a good example.

    The take home political lesson from the “Global War on Terror” is about the scale of national, rather than the governmental, activity. It is about the coherence of cultural, rather than fiscal, policies both at home and abroad.

    Iraq has taught us that the Weberian question “Who rules the state” is more important than the Platonic question “What sort of state is best”. The failure of the war-party to address this question is the source of the catastrophe in Iraq.

    If we want a guide to foreign policy we need to look to ethnology rather than ideology. The End of History is upon the post-modern states. Neither invade the world nor invite the world. Respect other nations borders and oblige other nationals to respect our borders.

    Adams, one of the spiritual godfathers of libertarianism, got it right when he proposed a philosophy of isolationism:

    “[America} should not go abroad looking for monsters to destroy.”

  16. WAL
    November 4th, 2007 at 13:53 | #16

    Quiggin,

    You took Andrew Sullivan’s word on something.

    This is forgivable mistake once, but I’d recommend not doing it in repetition.

    If you read Reynolds’ posts, it’s pretty clear he makes a distinction between being a libertarian and being a member of Libertarian Party. The latter he isn’t – but the former he most definitely still is, something he’s made clear on a number of occasions.

    As to the specific posts Sullivan got this from -

    What Reynolds stated was:

    http://instapundit.com/archives2/010940.php

    “STEPHEN GREEN explains the obvious. But note that no longer being a member of the Libertarian Party is hardly the same thing as not being a libertarian. If it were, there would be precious few libertarians left.”

    “I can’t help being seductive — it’s just how I was made. But I don’t see my failure to lead a conservative blogging revolution as a failure at all, since I’m, you know, not a conservative. People who don’t like gay marriage can do their own blogging thing, and I’ll link to ‘em sometimes — I do, after all — but not with approval. I’m not on board the anti-gay-marriage, anti-abortion train, and never have been.”

    Now it’s pretty hard to read into that that he is tossing away libertarianism, but Sullivan manages to do it.

    —-

    “The recent decision by RedState to ban Ron Paul supporters is a pretty clear indication of how real Republicans think about this. This has big implications for a thinktank like Cato,”

    If you have had to deal with Ron Paul supporters at all (hopefully, you’re lucky enough to have avoided that) you’d know that this goes way beyond libertarianism into a bunch NAU-conspiracy theorists, 9/11 Truthers, and the occasional white supremacist. Seriously, there are a substantial portion that go around Googling sites for any mention of Ron Paul in order to spam the comments. Supporters of the guy have even put out tips to people on how to go about this. “Getting fed up with Ron Paul supporters” does not equal “getting fed up with libertarianism.”

  17. G Williamson
    November 4th, 2007 at 19:13 | #17

    Mistake number 1: believing anything Sullivan says about someone who doesn’t hate Bush as much as Sullivan does.

    Mistake number 2: not bothering to even click on a link to see what Reynolds actually said.

    Amazingly silly mistake number 3: where on earth did you get the mind-boggling idea that the Wall Street Journal is libertarian? WTF!?

  18. November 5th, 2007 at 10:28 | #18

    “Aw” it’s funny, because all I see in your comment is what was actually written in italics, and then your own thoughts about it which are not at all connected to what was written.

    In other words, you’re just projecting.

  19. G Williamson
    November 5th, 2007 at 21:46 | #19

    In which dictionaries does “overstate X’s candor” allow the meaning “tell a stupid, obvious lie about X”?

  20. aw
    November 8th, 2007 at 07:13 | #20

    “Aw� it’s funny, because all I see in your comment is what was actually written

    Yes it is funny, isn’t it? Thanks for the acknowledgment that I was right.

    In which dictionaries does “overstate X’s candor� allow the meaning “tell a stupid, obvious lie about X�?

    The same dictionary where “libertarian” allows the meaning “boosts US Republican Party”.

Comments are closed.