Corporatism etc.

Jason Kuznicki links approvingly to mistermix’s last post and points readers to this Cato Unbound series on corporatism which he says “may be the most important thing Cato Unbound has ever published.”

I agree, and highly recommend anyone interested in thoughtful libertarian discussion of corporatism to go check it out. Jason also has a really good explanation of his own libertarianism here.

As I said in the comments to mistermix’s post, I think a lot of the problems with current libertarianism boil down to its priorities. Rather than focusing so much on tax rates, welfare programs and so forth, libertarians should be focusing on crony-capitalism and how it distorts the markets and creates an uneven playing field, and on the security/police state (the Wars on Drugs and Terror) and the military-industrial complex. Libertarians do write about these things (Julian Sanchez and Radley Balko both leap to mind) but they aren’t nearly close enough to the top of the priorities list. This may be because a certain strain of right-wing revanchist philosophy has captured libertarianism in this country. Left-libertarians and liberaltarians are seeking to unravel this, but at this point the damage has been done.

I think libertarians would do well to focus on those issues which most aversely effect the little guy – the new healthcare law may indeed be an example of the government benefiting private corporations (vis-a-vis a mandate to purchase health insurance from a private insurance company), but it is hardly as liberty-destroying as increasingly militarized police forces or powerful multi-national oil companies whose carelessness leads to epic environmental disasters, let alone a military-industrial complex which foists one war after another on the American public at nearly a trillion dollars a year. Indeed, there are many ways the new healthcare law will help average Americans in spite of its many flaws. The libertarian narrative, in other words, needs to shift or come into focus – to differentiate itself, at the very least, from the Republican narrative.






109 replies
  1. 1
    DougJarvus Green-Ellis says:

    CATO is funded by the Koch brothers, so while they produce this kind of thing occasionally, it won’t be often.

    These things are always about money, careerism, etc.

  2. 2
    Zifnab says:

    Rather than focusing so much on tax rates, welfare programs and so forth, libertarians should be focusing on crony-capitalism and how it distorts the markets and creates an uneven playing field, and on the security/police state (the Wars on Drugs and Terror) and the military-industrial complex.

    But libertarians are objectively anti-regulation. And addressing crony capitalism almost inevitably leads to solutions involving regulation. When “the free market is never wrong” becomes an axiom of the faith, you’re always going to have these blind spots because your governmental philosophy doesn’t leave you with any viable (or, at least, popular) solutions.

    Addressing the police state and the military-industrial complex are actually two areas I’ve seen the modern internet libertarian regularly hit it out of the park. But libertarians are attached at the hip to Republicans, and are a minority too weak to influence GOP platform here. So while I do see a lot of sound and fury, when it comes time for a libertarian to cast his vote I rarely see their reservations matter.

  3. 3
    BB says:

    At least the health care law develops the exchanges, which are limited markets. There are hardly health care markets at all right now, so repealing the law is far worse from a libertarian perspective. Sure, it’s more corporatism, but at least it’s a tiny step in the right direction. The mass freak-out from McArdle et. al. about the health care law is telling. It’s by and large an anti-Democratic Party confirmation bias.

  4. 4
    Anonymous At Work says:

    Yup, and as I pointed out on Joyner’s blog, corporations are a government-created entity. They are partnerships given special protection and citizenship by the government for legitimate economic reasons but that protection and those special rights mean that any abuse by a corporation should be viewed as an abuse by the government.

  5. 5
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I have some doubts that this differentiation will occur. I tend to believe, based on my interactions, in person and online, with many professed libertarians that most are effectively Republicans in drag. I do not deny that others may exist, nor should this be taken as a finger pointed at anyone. It is just that my overall impression of the libertarians I know hews closer to the mold of “Republicans who smoke pot” or “Republicans who want to have sex with liberal girls.” Maybe I need to meet a better class of libertarians.

  6. 6
    matoko_chan says:

    It goes deeper than that.
    Soi disant libertarians need to admit that Hayek was wrong.
    There can be no progress until that happens.
    Libertarians and conservatives are only supported by first culture intellectuals, so the right is essentially doomed to extinction.
    argument from first principles is trumped by empirical evidence every time.
    As long american libertarians cling to counterfactual first culture philosophy and shun science and empiricism, american libertarianism is doomed.

  7. 7
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Anonymous At Work: I need to do a lot more research into this, but some of the mutualist critiques of corporations – the very existence of corporations – are pretty compelling to me. I don’t want to go too far out on a limb just yet, but I think this might be at the very heart of the problem.

  8. 8
    gnomedad says:

    As evidenced by the linked articles, I think that libertarianism puts forth some important ideas; libertarians, in contrast, may talk pretty about civil liberties, but when I see them once in a while vote based on civil liberties ahead of tax cuts, then I’ll take them seriously.

  9. 9
    matoko_chan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    most are effectively Republicans in drag.

    In America, this is true.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anonymous At Work:

    The very nature of a corporation, as a government chartered entity, means that the government has responsibility for the supervision of corporations.

    Which means regulation.

    Right now, the way things are, the creation of government, the corporation, is, like some bizarre creation of a mad scientist, out of control and calling the shots.

    You see corporations walking all over property rights and the rule of law (see massive foreclosure fraud) and this phenomenon, as was pointed out by Mistermix and DougJ repeatedly, doesn’t even exist as a blip on the radar of these great “libertarian” institutions.

    They should be screaming their heads off. But they’re not. Because it’s not in the interests of their paymasters for them to do so.

  11. 11
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I have similar doubts. But you know, I’m just mostly interested in ideas and the evolution of ideas. So if conservatives become more socially tolerant that’s a good step; if liberals and libertarians reconcile some differences on markets and both move in a better direction – great. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

  12. 12
    matoko_chan says:

    American libertarianism has been captured by the republicans. that is not disputable.

  13. 13
    matoko_chan says:

    @E.D. Kain: /spit
    more headfake.

  14. 14
    E.D. Kain says:

    @BB:

    There are hardly health care markets at all right now, so repealing the law is far worse from a libertarian perspective.

    I agree with this, actually, quite a bit. I keep hoping the law – warts and all – is a good first step to much better future reforms.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    I’m an insane person who has long been interested in how these questions were addressed by leftist libertarians, including the ultimately unsuccessful (i.e., killed) anti-private property anarcho-soshullist revolutions in Spain — all the more fascinating because such presumably fashionable, elitist philosophies rose up from decades of work by its advocates among some of the poorest peasants.

    But those sorts of questions are always deemed unworthy even of thought and consideration because everyone says ‘it’s impossible’ and unrealistic, while private property-based libertarianism is unceasingly discussed and promoted, particularly because it’s useful to our wealthiest, anti-regulation interests.

    I doubt that non-interest will ever change, much less be attempted. But then I get tired of the lazy and stupid assumption that we’ve basically reached the final, most advanced form of human civilization before our transformation into undying energy beings or consciousnesses floating in the computersphere, and this will basically be how civilization is at best (dystopias are certainly pondered) for the next 500, or 1,000 years if we’re lucky.

  16. 16
    matoko_chan says:

    @E.D. Kain: this is a major headfake.

    if liberals and libertarians reconcile some differences on markets

    there is no “reconciliation.”
    libertarian/conservative phailosophy CAUSED the Econopalypse that Ate Americas Jobs.
    the “free market” was a ponzi scheme that collapsed when OBL junk-punched America in the economic nads.

  17. 17
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Interesting that you brought it back to the original issue. The discussion had strayed to a comprehensive review of libertarianism. But sitting here trying to define true libertarianism does nothing to change the fact that there is little outcry over this.

  18. 18
    RalfW says:

    If libertarians really did, in any big way, focus “on crony-capitalism and how it distorts the markets and creates an uneven playing field, and on the security/police state (the Wars on Drugs and Terror) and the military-industrial complex” I’d be with ya’ll in about 5 seconds!

    edit: mako-chans comment about libertarian capture by the GOP holds me back substantially.

  19. 19
    les says:

    @Anonymous At Work:

    I’m with you to a point; corporations got their status from a combined need (perceived and, I think, real) to protect inactive/passive investors from liability they didn’t directly create, and the need under the law for a “person” to be liable and subject to court jurisdiction. It’s the more recent extension of the corporate “personhood” to encompass idiot notions that corps have speech rights and such, and to use such personhood to shelter the actual people who actually do act in ways that create liability, that fucks things up. I wonder how long it will be before Scalia pens an article on corporate right to vote.

  20. 20
    matoko_chan says:

    @El Cid:

    while private property-based libertarianism is unceasingly discussed and promoted, particularly because it’s useful to our wealthiest, anti-regulation interests.

    in America, libertarianism has been co-opted to support business elites and been suborned to support the anti-civil rights tyranny of the religious right.
    it is utterly corrupt.
    EDK just continues to promote and spread the “free market” eumenes that nearly destroyed our country.
    Is he stupid or dishonest?
    you decide.

  21. 21
    va says:

    I wonder if some smart “left-libertarian” will ever hit on the notion that to lessen corporate power and advance “mom and pop” or “little people” interests, one could do worse than to distribute corporate wealth to the little guy.

  22. 22
    dmbeaster says:

    Read Jason’s article. It still doesn’t articulate much as to what libertarians believe, or why libertarian philosophy implies any particular set of beliefs. Under his definitions, he is correct in articulating that everyone is a little bit libertarian. No one favors over-reaching, ineffective or needless government controls – libertarianism contributes nothing when it comes to that insight.

    It seems to be about how one formulates a value judgment about what societal controls make sense and which do not. He does nothing to articulate how libertarianism answers this.

    His key concept seems to be coercion. What is odd about it is that he seems to be primarily concerned about government coercion power as opposed to private coercion power – as if a private voluntary arrangement is always non-coercive, or at least a perception that it is inherently good because it is private. That makes little sense.

    Also, it makes little sense to focus on coercion, since the social contract amongst societal members has to be enforced by coercion of some kind. What matters is the value judgments we make as to what makes sense to include in that social contract. Our culture has decided, for example, to require certain pollution standards for your automobile, which standards require coercion to be enforced. The wisdom of those standards has nothing to do with coercion, and the presence or absence of coercion tells us nothing as to whether or not it is wise to adopt such a rule.

  23. 23
    Michael says:

    Free markets work great in terms of allocating resources for discretionary purchases, but don’t work well at all in dealing with necessities.

    Thus free, unregulated markets in the provision of salt shakers is good, but free markets in water in times of scarcity are bad.

  24. 24
    Stillwater says:

    Rather than focusing so much on tax rates, welfare programs and so forth, libertarians should be focusing on crony-capitalism and how it distorts the markets and creates an uneven playing field, and on the security/police state (the Wars on Drugs and Terror) and the military-industrial complex.

    Two questions EDK, about this (serious, not snarky). 1) If libertarians focused on these issues, how would they be differentiated from run of the mill liberals? 2) Why don’t they focus on these issues when they are clearly right in the strike zone of libertarian first-principles?

  25. 25
    Karmakin says:

    The goals in terms of libertarianism should be to maximize freedom and choice for a maximum number of people. I think it’s the latter part that causes the conflict. For example, I think a strong social safety net results in a society where those in the lower classes have much more choice and freedom and as such it’s worth the lack of freedom that progressive taxation brings.

    Likewise, if I wanted to maximize liberty for most folks, the first thing I would do is a single-payer health care system. No ands ifs or buts. This would allow people to be much more flexible with their employment, again, increasing freedom for working people.

    That said, I do think the goal for some ‘libertarians” is to create a world where the working people have no real choices in what they do. I don’t think this is libertarian in any sense of the word, but they do seem to be taking up most of the memespace right now.

  26. 26
    El Cid says:

    @matoko_chan: There are and have long been different strains of libertarian thought, and the ones which focus on the value of private exchange based on the protection and ownership of property with absolute minimal or zero government interference as the basis of human freedom aren’t illegitimate in their origins. I don’t agree with the philosophy, wouldn’t like that form of society, but it wasn’t merely the tool of big money to use as a pseudo-philosophical hammer to break the notion of the sane application of limits and controls of private interests by our presumably democratically elected.

  27. 27

    This may be because a certain strain of right-wing revanchist philosophy has captured libertarianism in this country.

    This one sentence sums things up quite nicely. And until the public face of libertarianism ceases to be captured, it’s going to be very difficult to have a meaningful conversation that involves libertarianism and what libertarians do or do not believe. Which is one reason I found the James Joyner article absolutely absurd.

    Now what we CAN do is discuss specific policies and issues. You don’t see a tremendous amount of defense against attacks on liberals on this site (for several reasons). I don’t see a problem with that and I absolutely consider myself a liberal. I’m happy to make the case for my beliefs about torture and taxing the rich to help the poor, etc , but once the labels start, who really gives a crap about defending it. Likewise, I can’t imagine that you need to defend libertarianism or libertarians. It’s a losing proposition.

  28. 28
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @E.D. Kain: Single payer is the good reform. It works very well for everyone else…and Matoko Chan’s point about empiricism is very well taken.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    Two questions EDK, about this (serious, not snarky). 1) If libertarians focused on these issues, how would they be differentiated from run of the mill liberals?

    This.

    I posted this on an earlier post this morning; discussions about libertarianism seem pretty moot to me, because with very few exceptions, the libertarians I know all seem to be either liberals or conservatives in practice. Down with the government programs we don’t like, up with those we do like. There may be a libertarian movement that’s an actual third way between the two, but beyond a few intellectuals and the people who read them, I don’t see that they have much support.

  30. 30
    Linnaeus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Agreed. Corporations in the early years of the Republic were strictly limited in what they could do and how they could operate. It was government abjuration of its prior ultra vires view of corporations that helped to create the situation we have today.

    That is, corporations were at one time more regulated than they are now.

  31. 31
    ChrisS says:

    Libertarianism doesn’t exist as a political force outside of getting republicans elected.

  32. 32
    RP says:

    Health care reform is the perfect example of the problems with modern libertarianism. IMO, our current system inhibits entrepeneurialism and individual freedom by forcing people to stay at corporate jobs they don’t like simply because they need the health insurance. Seems to me that a principled libertarian should support reform as a means of increasing fluidity in the job market and competition in the economy as a whole.

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @El Cid:

    The fundamental flaw in a lot of libertarian thought is that property does not exist without government. It can’t. Otherwise, you just have armed mobs proclaiming “mine!”.

    Which is why it seems that most libertarians are basically looking for a veneer of respectability for a philosophy that boils down to a three year old screaming “mine!”

  34. 34
    Violet says:

    E.D. Kain:

    The libertarian narrative, in other words, needs to shift or come into focus – to differentiate itself, at the very least, from the Republican narrative.

    Har har har. This is pie-in-the-sky thinking. It may happen at some point, but not now. No way.

    Libertarians must join with the GOP if they want to get elected. So they do. And their goals get pushed way down the list, if not ignored and/or forgotten completely.
    Also Kain:

    I think libertarians would do well to focus on those issues which most aversely effect the little guy – the new healthcare law may indeed be an example of the government benefiting private corporations (vis-a-vis a mandate to purchase health insurance from a private insurance company), but it is hardly as liberty-destroying as increasingly militarized police forces or powerful multi-national oil companies whose carelessness leads to epic environmental disasters, let alone a military-industrial complex which foists one war after another on the American public at nearly a trillion dollars a year. Indeed, there are many ways the new healthcare law will help average Americans in spite of its many flaws.

    Although your tone is different, the content of this excerpt sounds like it could come from GOS. Careful or people will start accusing you of being a commie pinko. :P

    But seriously, you are very right about that. And helping the little guy would ultimately be helping the country. Our lawmakers don’t seem to get that, or not enough of them do. It seems once they get to Washington their goal is to keep taking that sweet, sweet corporate money. To hell with their constituents and the country. Not all of them, I know. But a lot more than there should be.

  35. 35
    aimai says:

    @Anonymous At Work:

    Yes, but you can point this out until you are blue in the face and the libertarians will just stick their fingers in their ears and chant nonsense syllables.

    aimai

  36. 36
    Xenos says:

    “the new healthcare law may indeed be an example of the government benefiting private corporations (vis-a-vis a mandate to purchase health insurance from a private insurance company)”

    Just keep in mind the history that nobody is allowed to talk about – the history of for-profit health insurance corporations. These have little history. They were an innovation in the last 40 years, and the laws of all fifty states had to be changed to allow them to do business, which was an expensive victory for an army of lobbyists.

    No other country in the world lets private, for-profit corporations sell policies and then profit from denying coverage. None. Fraternal and non-profits? Sure, including some healthy income for the people running the companies. But profits for shareholders? Never. An absurdity. And now we have them they are so powerful that they can’t be shut down.

    When libertarians are willing to grapple with these problems, then I will be willing to listen to them. Instead there seems to be just McArdleisms – unhistorical ramblings by people who know enough to research the history, but prefer constructing ‘just-so’ stories that justify their own pettiness and flatter the corporate crooks who fund their think-tanks.

  37. 37
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @dmbeaster:

    His key concept seems to be coercion. What is odd about it is that he seems to be primarily concerned about government coercion power as opposed to private coercion power – as if a private voluntary arrangement is always non-coercive, or at least a perception that it is inherently good because it is private. That makes little sense.

    That’s not odd at all. That’s Libertarianism 101.

  38. 38
    Mr. Poppinfresh says:

    @El Cid: Don’t feed the troll.

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    @El Cid:

    There are and have long been different strains of libertarian thought, and the ones which focus on the value of private exchange based on the protection and ownership of property with absolute minimal or zero government interference as the basis of human freedom aren’t illegitimate in their origins.

    Okay, I’m no expert on philosophy or libertarian philosophy, so I’m happy to be corrected… But it seems to me that what you’re describing isn’t two separate strands of the same ideology, but two actual separate ideologies.

    Property-based libertarianism, “right-libertarianism,” the face of libertarianism today, seems to be an outgrowth of classical liberalism. Free markets, minimum government intervention, private property rights, and all that stuff. It’s not the only strand of classical liberalism, but that’s where it comes from.

    The libertarianism you’re describing, on the other hand, seems to be simple anarchism. Proudhon thusly; “What is private property? It is theft.” That’s the original basis for anarchist philosophy, and what you’re describing seems to be that under a different name.

    So, it’s not that there’s a libertarian school of thought that’s branched out into two different strands… it’s two completely different philosophies that just happen to claim the same label (one more successfully than the other). Or at least that’s how it seems to my (admittedly limited) knowledge.

  40. 40
    liberal says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The fundamental flaw in a lot of libertarian thought is that property does not exist without government. It can’t. Otherwise, you just have armed mobs proclaiming “mine!”.

    That’s the first flaw. (Unfortunately, when you point this out, you get many responses like “even animals exhibit ‘posession’!” Which shows a misunderstanding: property is more than possession.)

    Many libertarians will then fall back and say, “Well, we’re not anarchists; we’re minarchists.” The problem there is that they think it’s OK that things other than the fruit of one’s labor can be private property, like land.

    Which is why today’s libertarians are NOT the true descendents of the classical liberals. The latter understood that land (understood in more general terms, to include things like the electromagnetic spectrum) is not provided by any person, and returns from land ownership is ill-gotten gains.

    Thus, ultimately, so-called libertarianism is incoherent. As one blog commenter put it, “Claiming an exclusive property right in land and natural resources implies coercion against everyone else who would want to use the land and natural resources. Thus, libertarianism is inherently self-contradictory.”

  41. 41
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Xenos:

    Again, with McArdle and her ilk, the nature of cause and effect eludes them.

  42. 42
    liberal says:

    @Chris:

    It’s not the only strand of classical liberalism, but that’s where it comes from.

    Nope. It’s a complete bastardization of classical liberalism. In its fetishization of privileged parties who have access to wealth neither they nor anyone else created, it’s closer to feudalism.

  43. 43
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Stillwater: To your #1 I think it might put them in line with many on the left, but certainly not all. To your #2 – I don’t know, I’m not really involved in any libertarian goings-on.

  44. 44
    liberal says:

    @Xenos:

    But profits for shareholders? Never. An absurdity.

    I don’t think it’s quite an absurdity, which to me kind of implies it’s self-evident.

    Rather, I think it’s an empirical result. Namely, by a detailed examination of other nations’ health insurance systems and the messy details of how the health insurance and medical industries interact in the US, one comes to the empirical conclusion that the private insurance system in the US is a massive waste of money that’s woefully inefficient compared to a single payer system.

  45. 45
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Violet: Every good idea was once a pie-in-the-sky idea….so who knows?

  46. 46
    Chris says:

    @liberal:

    Fair enough. In either case, I would argue that it’s so different from what El Cid is describing that I have a hard time saying it’s the same ideology, or even strands of the same ideology.

  47. 47
    justawriter says:

    I considered libertarianism as a political philosophy for about 20 minutes as a teenager. I rejected it because it never recognized that corporate power over individuals was as bad or even worse than government control. I phrased it, “The only difference between a government bureaucrat and a corporate bureaucrat is the corporate bureaucrat doesn’t even have to pretend to give a shit about you.”
    Granted, the worse excesses of corporate based rule are from the past – paying workers in scrip that could only be redeemed in company stores or hiring armies of Pinkertons to attack union organizers. But the effort to mandate people to make ever more profitable (for the corporations) changes in our lives continues. Just remember a few years ago insurance companies wanted to move all health care into HMOs. A wide range of policy makers helped make it a political fight, but the idea was sick people cost insurance companies too much money.
    Personally, I think progressives need to start painting C level salaries as a fatcat tax that everyone is required to pay. Maybe that will bring the idea home to libertarians that power is power, no matter who wields it. But I doubt it.

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @liberal:

    one comes to the empirical conclusion that the private insurance system in the US is a massive waste of money that’s woefully inefficient compared to a single payer system.

    Or, as, long ago, our genial host pointed out, what exactly do health insurance companies do? I mean, aside from take a massive cut of everyone’s health care dollar for their own with absolutely no value of any sort returned on it?

    The health “insurance” companies are parasites. This much is obvious. They don’t actually provide health care. In fact, it’s not in their financial interest to provide health care. It’s in their financial interest to deny it. Whenever they can.

  49. 49
    Xenos says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: It is worse than just eluding them… they seem determined to mislead and to misdirect the discourse into decontextualized nonsense. Dougj has covered this ground in detail.

    In the last few days she has made several posts about foreclosures, strategic default, ‘jingle mail’, and so on. The first couple posts had some decent debate in the comments, but each successive post took a new stab at the issue in ways that avoided the critiques of anyone on the left. In the end nobody is left to comment but her fellow libertarians (everybody else quitting out of boredom and disgust), and she lets that post stand for a few days as some sort vindication.

    At one point she had the brain-fart that liberals can’t honestly be anti-corporate because unions are corporations, too. I must have spent a week hectoring her about the difference between a non-profit and a for-profit corporation, but she always redirected, evaded the argument, and declared victory. It was like debating with Darrell.

  50. 50
    DBrown says:

    I wonder how long it will be before Scalia pens an article on corporate right to vote.

    Wait – it already is in the consitution for the most part … Scalia the insane will count every worker in a corporation as 3/5ths a person and then the corporation will be allowed to cast that number of votes in every state.

  51. 51
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @justawriter:

    “The only difference between a government bureaucrat and a corporate bureaucrat is the corporate bureaucrat doesn’t even have to pretend to give a shit about you.”

    Which leads us back to the entire issue of the evils of “Obamacare” being “ZOMG, some bureaucrat is going to dictate my health care!”

    You stupid motherfuckers, private bureaucrats are doing that RIGHT NOW and have been for decades!

    But because they’re corporate, not government, they’re not evil!

    I’ll go pound my head against a desk now.

  52. 52
    Xenos says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    what exactly do health insurance companies do?

    They used to make a market, helping modern health care develop by making it much easier for people to pay cash for services when they needed it. They did a lot of good back when they were not allowed to make a profit

  53. 53
    Ash Can says:

    In all seriousness, and despite my snotty comment in the other thread, I do see some value to libertarianism, at least on a fundamental basis (hell, I married a libertarian; they’re not all bad). There’s not much to argue about personal freedom and not having a government that makes value judgments on personal choices that in no realistic way harm others. And its focus on capitalism is based in reality; capitalism has proven to be the most efficient single method for building and spreading (relative) affluence. Where libertarians lose me, however, is when they start applying inappropriate and unrealistic paradigms to their priorities — capitalism as an entire socio-political value system, to give my favorite example, rather than just an economic tool to be used when appropriate, and relegated to the tool box when a different tool can do the job at hand better. A corollary is the supposed flawlessness of the free market if it’s just left to operate unhindered, a perennial favorite target for mockery around here, and rightly so.

    To me, libertarianism is like economics — it identifies and analyzes a variety of forces at work in the economy and in society, and can do it well, but it’s not comprehensive enough to run an entire polity on its own, first and foremost because by its very nature it comes up short on the political side. But libertarians don’t let this stop them from trying to apply their belief system essentially whole-cloth to politics. The results can be beneficial, as in the case of reproductive rights, anti-discrimination, legalization of drugs, and other social policies. But the other results range from laughable (free markets solve everything) to actively harmful (eliminating and preventing government services that are clearly beneficial, even necessary). And it’s at this point that way too many libertarians commit what I consider the unpardonable — they shrug their shoulders at the harm their policies do, and compound the problem by saying that it’s the price that must be paid for upholding their principles. In other words, ideology trumps reality. In their minds, the harm they do is nothing more than temporary dislocation — even if that dislocation persists indefinitely, without improving.

    If you’re going to say that real libertarians fight corporatism, personally, that’s fine with me. I don’t care enough about libertarianism as a creed to identify and analyze all the details, variations, apostasies, etc. that may or may not go along with it, so I have no idea if in fact this is what “real” libertarians do. But that’s all so much window-dressing to me. All I care about is that it’s the right thing to do, and the effective thing to do, and if it’s parsing the tenets of libertarianism (as you see them, at least) that leads you to this conclusion, I may scratch my head a little, but I won’t complain.

  54. 54
    Special One says:

    Left-libertarians and liberaltarians…

    It’s called Syndicalism and it is, like the Special One, fantastic.

    Be champions.

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    You stupid motherfuckers, private bureaucrats are doing that RIGHT NOW and have been for decades!

    The illusion is that the free market gives them the ability to keep the private bureaucrats under control. Or something.

    What I really love is the death panel/triage freakout, when private hospitals have been on record doing it for decades.

  56. 56
    Violet says:

    @E.D. Kain:
    True enough. Are there others who think like you? Is there a plan of action? Or is this just in the early stages of rumination?

  57. 57
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Violet: Well I think there are. I think there are a number of liberals and libertarians in the very broad umbrella liberal-tarian camp, and even a few conservatives who might fit into that camp as well. I think you have examples of a more egalitarian libertarianism in Europe (free democrats, liberal democrats, etc.) that could translate into American politics. But there are a lot of issues that make it tricky, especially labor issues. Early stages, for sure.

  58. 58
    matoko_chan says:

    @E.D. Kain: all your “good ideas” have been PROVEN to be disasters.
    That is what i keep saying about first culture vs third culture philosophy.
    and btw our last email exchange was far from harmonious.
    you tried to tell me that Newton and Galileo were first culture intellectuals– they are SECOND CULTURE, the culture of science.
    Of which there are almost none on the right today.
    As numerous supersapients here have pointed out, libertarianism is based on first principles and ignores empiricism; eg, the invisible hand of the free market just punched american working class families in the face, and yet you keep fapping that “markets” bullshytt.
    Why?

  59. 59
    Xenos says:

    @liberal:

    I don’t think it’s quite an absurdity, which to me kind of implies it’s self-evident.

    It is an absurdity because, historically, private for-profit corporations had to perform some public good in order to justify their existence. They had to supply coal to heat someone’s house, or maintain a railroad, or build a canal system.

    In the old days it was against the law for an insurance company to be for-profit, because such a scheme was obviously contrary to the public interest. How can they pay claims fairly if executives are being paid on how efficiently they can deny policy holders their money? It is stupid.

    Then the laws were changed, quietly and without much notice, in state house after state house. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies were privatized, for example. Now many states have only for-profit health insurance companies, and those companies own the legislatures.

    The ultimate example of evil government-corporate collusion is the health insurance industry. And the libertarians find any excuse to defend it. Go figure.

  60. 60
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ash Can: Sounds good to me.

  61. 61
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Xenos:

    They did a lot of good back when they were not allowed to make a profit

    Yeah, but they were soshulist or islamic or something otherwise utterly evil and terrible then, too.

    Now they are as pure as the driven snow, adhering to the Rules of Acquisition, morally correct and at one with Jeebus.

  62. 62
    liberal says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    That’s the thing, though. One can imagine a universe where there are private insurers who actually do something useful, or at least as a byproduct of their business model. Like keeping health care costs down, not funding doctors or therapies which are ineffective, and so on. (Sometimes they do do the latter, but it’s more like a stopped clock being right twice a day.)

    So, all I’m saying is that it’s not a priori evident, just from a knowledge of basic economics, that it’s a terrible system. Rather, it’s an empirical result. Unfortunately, it’s a result we’re all paying for, out of our pockets.

  63. 63
    Stillwater says:

    @E.D. Kain: Damn dude, is that the best you can do?

    I feel like Ralphie when he finally decoded the secret message: ‘drink more ovaltine’.

  64. 64
    Sloegin says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Another fundamental flaw in libertarian thinking is that law and the courts somehow exist nigh independently of government. In a libertarian fantasy universe, I can stop my neighbor doing something profit related that that devalues my property by taking him to court. Yeah. Right. Courts, law and justice don’t exist in a vacuum.

    Multinationals are effectively out of the legal reach of national governments. Bring up the idea of a world governing body to a libertarian and see how quickly his head explodes.

  65. 65
    Chris says:

    @Xenos:

    In the old days it was against the law for an insurance company to be for-profit, because such a scheme was obviously contrary to the public interest.

    Damn, I’m learning a lot here. Those were the days, eh?

  66. 66
    liberal says:

    @Ash Can:

    …I do see some value to libertarianism, at least on a fundamental basis…

    No. It’s a useless philosophy, because of the three factors of production known to classical liberals of yesterday (land, labor, capital), it conflates land and capital, committing the marxist heresy.

    Unfortunately just about everyone else makes the same mistake, too.

  67. 67
    matoko_chan says:

    @El Cid: yes, but libertarian thought in America has wholly been suborned by the GOP, w/e strain it existed as prior to civil rights.
    Libertarian thought is going to be a faerytale in books written by cyborgs tho….because it is anti-empirical.
    For example, the conservative/libertarian version of the market just destroyed our economy, or at the very least rendered it so fragile that OBL was able to bring its collapse with one junk punch to the economic junk.
    its a dead paradigm. like all anti-empirical first culture thought based on first principles.

  68. 68
    matoko_chan says:

    @Stillwater:

    Is that the best you can do?

    lawl.
    it took you this long?

  69. 69
    liberal says:

    @Xenos:

    The Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies were privatized, for example.

    Unfortunately, they can be crooked even if not privatized. Here in MD or maybe the DC area one of the Blues tried to get itself privatized; IIRC the deal was a rip-off for the community. But the guys at the top of the Blue were going to make handsome payoffs from the conversion. Talk about a principle-agent problem.

  70. 70
    Violet says:

    @Xenos:

    such a scheme was obviously contrary to the public interest

    How incredibly quaint. Imagine such a thing. What is this fabulous world of which you speak? Did they not consider the interests of the shareholders and the poor, poor put-upon CEO?

  71. 71
    liberal says:

    @matoko_chan:

    like all anti-empirical first culture thought based on first principles.

    Yes, one major flaw of libertarianism is that it’s too absolute to admit of empirical results which contradict its holy writ.

    Unfortunately, it’s flawed even from first principles: libertarians think individuals should have absolute and untrammeled property in the earth itself. Which makes libertarianism incoherent, as I posted above.

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @liberal:

    But the guys at the top of the Blue were going to make handsome payoffs from the conversion. Talk about a principle-agent problem.

    It always comes back to this.

    Naked Mammon worship.

    Trumps all other factors, every single time.

    Fuck it. Our civilization deserves to collapse. Perhaps people will learn from it.

  73. 73
    Xenos says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I am living in Europe for a while, and the little country where I live has several mutual insurance companies that make it easy to pay for medical care and keep expenses and administrative overhead to a minimum.

    A pediatrician’s office is a room in her house, she has a part time receptionist, and when the visit is over I hand her my credit card and runs it through herself. The visit costs 50$, and she keeps about half of it in profit. A few weeks later I get a 40$ refund from my insurance. Total overhead is about 1/10th of the same transaction in the US. The complexity, inefficiency and lack of transparency in the US exists only to allow corporations to profit. And the best we can do about it is to limit the profits at the price of compelling the populace to buy their insurance.

    Only in America.

  74. 74
    El Cid says:

    @Chris: Anarcho-soshullism is not simple, nor is the argument that large-scale private property is harmful. Just because someone used simple phrase “property is theft” in no way eliminates the argument, and is an incredibly simple-minded response.

    And that’s just to mention a phrase having to do with the economy. It doesn’t even begin to address generations of thought on how society should come together to involve every single person in active societal, voluntary, consensus-based decisionmaking even on ‘national’ scale matters — in other words, a definition of democracy much more involved and (as argued) deeper than occasional votes for representatives who decide on their own what to do once in office.

    Anyone can make an argument that large scale (i.e., usually not personal goods and maybe not homes) private property is the basis of freedom — what kind of simpleton nonsense would it be to question such an assertion?

    I mean, good lord, in the situation I mentioned such as the anarchist experiments in Barcelona / Catalonia and Andalusia, just take a look at the myriad levels of decision-making bodies and shared prioritized values that were set up just to try and run the places. It’s hardly analogous to the stereotypes (often lived up to) of tiny groups of youth wearing black who at best manage to run around in the streets protesting some event, mixed often with bravado about police confrontation.

    Right wing libertarianism is no more complicated — one could use the expression “The exchange of property is the base of all freedom.”

    Anarcho-soshullism is also an outgrowth from classical liberalism (though both such philosophical approach have much older precedents) in its examination of the relationship between individual liberty and the role of democratic governance in assuring freedoms (including non-interference in domains of life such as religion), and the role of free and individual choice-based market exchange as necessary to sustain a society and a free expression of individual choice, and even to allow the maximal development of each human.

    Here for example is a view of this from Oscar Wilde. Agree with it or not, there’s certainly a lot more to it than a phrase about property and theft.

    It will benefit in this way. Under the new conditions Individualism will be far freer, far finer, and far more intensified than it is now. I am not talking of the great imaginatively realised Individualism of such poets as I have mentioned, but of the great actual Individualism latent and potential in mankind generally.
    __
    For the recognition of private property has really harmed Individualism, and obscured it, by confusing a man with what he possesses. It has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain not growth its aim. So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be.
    __
    The true perfection of man lies not in what man has, but in what man is. Private property has crushed true Individualism, and set up an Individualism that is false. It has debarred one part of the community from being individual by starving them. It has debarred the other part of the community from being individual by putting them on the wrong road and encumbering them.
    __
    Indeed, so completely has man’s personality been absorbed by his possessions that the English law has always treated offences against a man s property with far more severity than offences against his person, and property is still the test of complete citizenship.
    __
    The industry necessary for the making of money is also very demoralising. In a community like ours, where property confers immense distinction, social position, honour, respect, titles, and other pleasant things of the kind, man, being naturally ambitious, makes it his aim to accumulate this property, and goes on wearily and tediously accumulating it long after he has got far more than he wants, or can use, or enjoy, or perhaps even know of.
    __
    Man will kill himself by overwork in order to secure property, and really, considering the enormous advantages that property brings, one is hardly surprised. One’s regret is that society should be constructed on such a basis that man has been forced into a groove in which he cannot freely develop what is wonderful, and fascinating, and delightful in him in which, in fact, he misses the true pleasure and joy of living. He is also, under existing conditions, very insecure.
    __
    An enormously wealthy merchant may be – often is – at every moment of his life at the mercy of things that are not under his control. If the wind blows an extra point or so, or the weather suddenly changes, or some trivial thing happens, his ship may go down, his speculations may go wrong, and he finds himself a poor man, with his social position quite gone. Now, nothing should be able to harm a man except himself. Nothing should be able to rob a man at all. What a man really has, is what is in him. What is outside of him should be a matter of no importance.

    Whatever someone thinks about such an argument, it’s pretty obvious that it shares with free market-emphasizing libertarians a concern for the maximal ability to express individual human freedom, and views private property (which is not clearly defined by Wilde) as one of the main barriers — as well as any authoritarian government.

    Market-oriented libertarians see government as the nearly exclusive barrier to individual freedom and democratic decisionmaking, and concentrated economic power as generally a non-threat. (With a typically advocated limited role of gov’t as preventing and being the sole authorized center of the use of violence, and to control other basic crimes, and the enforcement of contracts.)

    Both value the furthering of individual liberty and choice as a primary goal of life, and as little hierarchical and coercive government interference as possible.

    There are many small-to-medium scale examples of both property/market exchange-oriented libertarianism within modern liberal and market-regulating society, as there are the same for democratic decision-based economic efforts, including those which appear to mix the two.

    Cooperative and worker-owned companies, or all volunteer, consensus-based groups or small institutions, on the one side. Or informal markets outside the knowledge or purview or control of government regulation, on the other. The latter way is a natural development which happens on its own out of necessity, and is often the only way to survive and to distribute goods and labor for a huge portion of the world’s poor and those living under venomously oppressive and thieving regimes.

    People are free to be uninterested in the question of whether or not medium and large scale market-based exchange is inherently antithetical to the concept of maximally participatory democratic decisionmaking, perhaps because of the assumption that such a goal is simply not feasible on a societal level.

    Or that it’s actually a bad thing to want. Maybe because the assumption that the vast majority of people would hate having to do all this meeting & decisionmaking etc., including on minor shit they couldn’t care less about.* Or that it would inevitably trend either back to the classically liberal market-exchange / low government restriction on liberties-based society, or worse into the centralized, horrible soshullism we’ve so often seen.

    But to suggest that it’s just a simple reduction to “property is theft” — well, there are certainly those among that tendency’s advocates who are that simplistic, or even stupider.

    Like those advocating the murder of particular government and business leaders which would lead to the revolution or something, like the assholes shooting leaders like President McKinley, imperialist bastard as he was. Yeah, that worked out well for them and for ‘anarchism’ (in all of its iterations) in general. Morons. Assholes.

    Anyway, I happen to find it a really interesting question as far as a view of maximizing individual democratic participation in society and of individual development not having to be based on the exchange of property and money. I think it’s interesting even if it never, ever, ever even comes close to happening.

  75. 75
    ChrisS says:

    @Stillwater:
    Shorter EDK: “Maybe, I don’t know, I’m not a true libertarian, so who am I to say?”

    Compared with:

    “That is a grossly unfair characterization of decades of well reasoned essays from highly intelligent libertarian thinkers … blah blah blah”

  76. 76
    Stillwater says:

    @matoko_chan: its a dead paradigm.

    More like a zombie paradigm, still walking the earth doing damage.

  77. 77
    The Moar You Know says:

    Libertarianism is childishness. A people need a government of laws to have a functioning society – and if you’re such a fucking freak who never grew out of the “nobody tells me what to do” mentality, so far down the tubes of not understanding that with rights come responsibilities, I hear Somalia is taking immigrants. We damn sure don’t need you making an already fucked up situation that much worse.

    Libertarianism is not serious. They cannot address the issues that 7 billion human beings trying to share a planet are going to run into; and you’ll notice that they don’t even try, they merely frame the argument as “one against the tyranny of seven billion” and walk away, as though they’ve proven something. They have proven their monumental ignorance and lack of vision, but that’s about all.

    It’s been said before but I’ll say it again; libertarians are Ayn Rand Republicans worshiping at her altar of viciousness, greed, rot, and despair…who happen to smoke pot.

    I keep reading Kain’s postings and others, and while I find Kain likable and somewhat entertaining, it’s just a timekiller and some interesting mental gymnastics.

    Nothing worthy of serious consideration.

  78. 78
    Ash Can says:

    @liberal: I don’t care about the ideological aspect. Marxist heresies, classical liberalism, and all that junk have nothing to do with what I’m talking about here, and how I evaluate libertarianism. To me, all you’re doing is making the same error the libertarian purists make. If a system has good outcomes, then there’s at least some value to it. If it has bad outcomes, then at least part of it is suspect. To describe it as “useless” simply because its philosophical underpinnings don’t jive with other philosophical underpinnings is inane.

  79. 79
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @liberal: We’ve had some insurance companies here in MN get into a lot of trouble over the money, benefits, and junkets it was providing to executives. They were clearly realizing a profit by denying claims, but spending it on themselves to remain non-profit.

    ETA: And here is where I think libertarianism falls down. There are huge pockets of inefficiencies within corporations that seem not to concern them.

  80. 80
    Tonal Crow says:

    @gnomedad: When libertarians support the ACLU en masse, I’ll consider believing that they’re not just blowing smoke in order to sucker people into voting Republican.

  81. 81
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ash Can: I broadly agree with your point, but I think that principles and/or empirical standards are necessary. One cannot determine if a particular policy or action has a good outcome unless one has defined what constitutes a good outcome.

  82. 82
    Tonal Crow says:

    @matoko_chan:

    …OBL junk-punched America in the economic nads.

    OBL junk-punched Islam in the credibility nads. Not that Islam (and religion generally) were doing so well before 9/11, mind you.

  83. 83
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tonal Crow: Doesn’t junk-punching mean hitting someone in the nads? One sees a certain redundancy.

  84. 84
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Indeed.

  85. 85
    MonkeyBoy says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex):

    And here is where I think libertarianism falls down. There are huge pockets of inefficiencies within corporations that seem not to concern them.

    Corporations don’t need to be efficient, they only need to be more efficient than their competitors. It is like the advice that if you go camping in the woods you should always include somebody that you can run faster than – in case a bear attacks.

    Many insurance companies are near monopolies – given that only a limited number operate in each state. Efficiency doesn’t matter to monopolies. When insurance companies do compete on efficiency it is about their efficiency in generating a profit for their investors, not efficiency in providing for health care.

  86. 86
    The Moar You Know says:

    OBL junk-punched Islam in the credibility nads.

    @Tonal Crow: Really, that’s kind of a stupid argument, even if true. Islam has never had any credibility in the West, and 9/11 sure as hell didn’t weigh down any Muslim with guilt and self-doubt, stopping them from going to the mosque the day after.

    matoko_chan’s point still remains valid, although I would argue that the real damage that OBL did to America was to panic the populace enough into accepting the surrender of all their constitutional freedoms and protections.

    As he knew it would.

  87. 87
    russell says:

    In the link, Kuznicki begins his explanation of his libertarianism like so:

    With that said, here goes. I think libertarianism rests on two basic premises:

    1. Individuals are generally far more competent at running their own lives than they are at running the lives of others. This insight is not sufficiently reflected in our existing political institutions.

    2. When coercion is used, it should be considered either a failure or a last resort. Likewise, this insight is not sufficiently reflected in our existing political institutions.[2]

    This is all well and good, but nobody lives in a world where the only issue of concern is how they run their own life.

    Everything anyone does, effects other people. Especially in a world with 6 or 7 billion people on it.

    Libertarianism only makes sense in a universe where everyone is only affected by their own choices and actions, and where their choices and actions affect noone else.

    In any other universe, it’s inadequate.

  88. 88
    Zifnab says:

    @ChrisS: They’ve been known to get Republicans not-elected. See Perot, Ross.

  89. 89
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Xenos:

    In the old days it was against the law for an insurance company to be for-profit, because such a scheme was obviously contrary to the public interest. How can they pay claims fairly if executives are being paid on how efficiently they can deny policy holders their money? It is stupid.

    I can’t tell if you mean this to be restricted to health insurance companies, or if you mean all insurance companies. In my view, it should be the former. For profit auto, life and home insurance companies can work just fine.

    The key difference is that, in those other fields, we accept the idea that people who are poor risks shouldn’t be able to get insurance. With health insurance, very legitimately, we tend to think that the people who are poor risks are the ones who should be most able to get it.

    The problem isn’t that you have companies that make profits by denying claims. If this were the issue, the free market could solve it through customers moving to insurers with better policies. The problem is that what we want from health “insurers” isn’t really insurance at all. It’s simply a way of distributing costs.

    Where an insurance company can add value to society is through its actuarial models and its incentive to correctly price risk. With a for profit company, the incentives actually align properly for that in a way that is harder to do for the government.

    With health insurance, we don’t WANT the companies to price risk. That’s why it’s easy, and largely correct, to conclude that health insurance companies don’t add any value to society. It’s because we don’t want them to do their job. So we shouldn’t let them make a profit, either.

  90. 90
    Tonal Crow says:

    @The Moar You Know: You’re spot-on about us rushing to sacrifice our Liberty on the altar of security.

    But I disagree with the idea that 9/11 didn’t lower Islam’s credibility, both perceived and objective. Arguing that Islam “never had any credibility in the West” is counterfactual; while Islam pre-9/11 didn’t get anywhere near the mainstream recognition and approbation of Christianity, it was still often viewed as a religion worthy of at least grudging respect. 9/11 clearly cut that respect, as exemplified by the increase in violent attacks on Muslims and mosques, as well as by the increase in anti-Islamic rhetoric. And on the more objective side, an attack like 9/11 raises the probability that the attacker’s religion — which claims to constitute worship of an all-good God — is false.

  91. 91
    Irving says:

    I think libertarians would do well to focus on those issues which most adversely effect the little guy…

    Never going to happen. Modern libertarians are a self-selecting elite. The little guy is a fool who’s meant to be stepped on. Reread Ayn Rand if you need help with the concept.

  92. 92
    Stillwater says:

    @Irving: Never going to happen.

    Exactly. There ain’t no money in it.

  93. 93
    matoko_chan says:

    @Tonal Crow: not a’ tal.
    None of you understand Islam.
    for example, shaheed does not mean martyr– it means witness.
    and the context is that the shaheed witnesses injustice and tries to remedy it.
    Islam is all about justice. The Prophet said a nation can exist without god, but a nation cannot survive without justice.
    American has become an unjust nation.
    OBL’s act was serendipitous junkpunching Big White Christian Capitalist Bwana in the economic junk. and it succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
    it collapsed the republican/libertarian/conservative house of cards that was the American economy with one blow.
    bi la kayfah
    (it is understood)

  94. 94
    matoko_chan says:

    @Tonal Crow: let me put it this way.
    OBL is a “muslim” in the same sense that Scott Roeder is a “christian”.
    killing innocents removes one from the ummah in exactly the same way murdering innocents like Dr. Tiller prevents one from following the teachings of christ.
    in name only.
    Islam has only gained in stature and global influence since Iraq and A-stan.
    Out-group converts to Islam have now surpassed converts to catholicism.
    OBL wanted to convolve the war on terror with Islam. he succeed beyond his wildest dreams.
    70% of americans opposed the “terror” mosque.
    point, set, match.
    OBL wins.

  95. 95
    matoko_chan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    raises the probability that the attacker’s religion—which claims to constitute worship of an all-good God—is false.

    lawl. the xian god is the muslim god to muslims. the doctrine of the people of the book. all children are born muslim.
    Islam evolved from xianity and thus is the refined….umm…..evolutionarily superior model.
    xianity isnt false….its just dated …. past its sell by date.
    ;)

  96. 96
    matoko_chan says:

    @The Moar You Know: and JulianAssange just junk punched America in the security junk. He did the same thing in cyberspace that OBL did in meatspace.
    And we have learned nothing, we are overreacting in EAXCTLY the same fashion.
    It is Assanges prediction that America will become a police state on its way to nonlinear systems collapse.

  97. 97
    matoko_chan says:

    @Stillwater: yes! worse, conservatism is a zombie culture.
    the intellectual elite and the cultural elite have wholly fled the right, leaving only the business elite and the religious elite on Team Conservative.
    And american libertarianism is irrationally fused to the bankstahs and the socons.
    its a shaitan bargain, as we say in dar ul Islam.
    that is why we still have glibertarian assclowns like EDK fapping away on “markets”.
    and they will never stop.
    that is why conservatism is doomed to perpetual defeat….well that, the demographic timer, Salam-Douthat stratification on cognitive ability, and accelerating nonlinear systems collapse.
    :)

  98. 98
    Tonal Crow says:

    @matoko_chan: __

    @Tonal Crow: let me put it this way.
    OBL is a “muslim” in the same sense that Scott Roeder is a “christian”.

    In other words, he’s a Muslim, according to the lights of Muslims in his camp, just as Roeder is a Christian according to the lights of Christians in his camp. So many religious believers in so many mutually-contradictory faiths are simultaneously claiming that their own camps have the singular authentic understanding of “God”. And, worse, none of them have any empirical evidence to support their faiths; on the contrary, the empirical evidence is that none of their “Gods” exist.

    __

    Islam has only gained in stature and global influence since Iraq and A-stan. Out-group converts to Islam have now surpassed converts to catholicism.

    Kewl…so religionists have deceived more people into believing stuff that empirical evidence suggests has no basis. Again, kewl.

    __

    OBL wanted to convolve the war on terror with Islam. he succeed beyond his wildest dreams.
    70% of americans opposed the “terror” mosque.
    point, set, match.
    OBL wins.

    As you seem to be defining “win” as “made America compromise its ideals”, then, yes, he’s won so far.

  99. 99
    Tonal Crow says:

    @matoko_chan: That sidestepped the issue, which is that believers claiming worship of an all-good “God” ought to exhibit a much stronger (statistical) tendency to do good and eschew evil versus nonbelievers. But that’s not what the evidence shows. This suggests that believers’ “God” does not exist.

  100. 100
    maus says:

    @matoko_chan:

    American libertarianism has been captured by the republicans. that is not disputable.

    It hasn’t been “captured”, it’s been willingly co-opted. Republicans get to be republicans and pretend to be Libertarians, the Libertarian institutes are run by Republicans, and all “independent” Republicans get something sexy and new to call themselves.

  101. 101
    matoko_chan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    This suggests that believers’ “God” does not exist.

    are you a moron or what?
    the muslim god IS the christian god. The muslim god is the superset of the christian god, because the muslim god incorporated the monotheistic gods that went before.
    muslim god > christian god > jewish god.
    its evolutionary theory of culture in action.

  102. 102
    matoko_chan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    As you seem to be defining “win” as “made America compromise its ideals”, then, yes, he’s won so far.

    No, OBL brought down the american economy with one junkpunch in the economic nads. … and this has accelerated the ongoing nonlinear collapse of the american system.
    the empire is dying.
    you cant see that?
    we have the british disease.

  103. 103
    matoko_chan says:

    And, worse, none of them have any empirical evidence to support their faiths; on the contrary, the empirical evidence is that none of their “Gods” exist.

    lawl. but you cant stop the believing.
    religion is hardwired in homo sap.
    read Dr. Atran (in gods we trust) or Dr. Boyer (Religion Explained).
    The global prestige and recruiting power of al-Islam has only been enhanced by the american overreation to 911.
    ppl danced in the Arab Street.
    Are you one of those “whydo theyhateus” ppl?
    you are a retard.
    they hate us because of Operation Ajax, missionariism, colonialism, propping secular dictators like the Shah and Saddam, Israel, fighting proxy wars in their backyards, general meddling and crony capitalism with the Saud Princes and Mubarak and other oppressive oligarchs.

  104. 104
    matoko_chan says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    And on the more objective side, an attack like 9/11 raises the probability that the attacker’s religion—which claims to constitute worship of an all-good God—is false.

    that is simply an outrageous and incredibly stupid lie. Does Roeders assassination of Dr. Tiller invalidate christianity?
    cudlip alert.

  105. 105
    THE says:

    @matoko_chan:

    No, OBL brought down the american economy with one junkpunch in the economic nads. …

    I categorically disagree. There is a great deal more going on than that.
    Peak Oil, the rise of China and the dislocating effects that is having on world trading patterns, the failure of Classical liberal economic theory.
    You forget that it wasn’t just the American economy that failed. Europe went into crisis at almost the same instant.
    This is not just an American economic crisis, this is a North Atlantic economic crisis.
    Asia alone has so far escaped very lightly. In Australia we haven’t even had a true recession yet.

    religion is hardwired in homo sap.

    Yes but religion doesn’t have to be supernatural.
    Asia has had numerous naturalistic quasireligious philosphies and religions.
    Confucianism, Secular Taoism, even some forms of Buddhism and Vedanta could be called metaphysical theories rather than truly supernaturalistic religions.
    Although they often have popular supernatural forms as well.

    So the secular world too could be said to have quasireligious philosophical beliefs, humanism, scientism, progressivism.
    Marxism, which incorporates some of these ideas, is very close to being a secular religion.
    Transhumanism is properly called the Eschatology of the Geeks.

  106. 106
    Tonal Crow says:

    @matoko_chan: Oy vey. Your insulting answer is a non-sequitur. Let me put it even more clearly: empirical evidence suggests that no all-good supreme beings exist. Get it now?

  107. 107
    Tonal Crow says:

    @matoko_chan: You’re really into the non-sequiturs and baseless accusations today. Once again, empirical evidence suggests that all-good supreme beings don’t exist.

  108. 108
    Tonal Crow says:

    @matoko_chan: Don’t like the truth, eh? And yes, anti-abortion killings ARE evidence that Christianity is bunk, just as 9/11 is evidence that Islam is bunk.

  109. 109

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