Sunday, April 7, 2013

Libertarians vs. Reason

Reason.Com is the latest libertarian publication to enter the center ring in a bizarre attempt to join with the illiberal in their quest for ... I have no idea what their quest is, beyond getting page hits, and whipping up a froth of discontent from their readers. Page hits might have something to do with it.

The Reason.TV Editor-in-Chief, Nick Gillespie, spent quite a few words (444) on the continuing Bill Maher entertainment bit about his "libertarianism" (rimshot!): Is Bill Maher Right That "Libertarians Have to Stop Ruining Libertarianism"? That link is to the article and I encourage all to look at the comments and see if libertarians are in agreement with the editors of Reason.TV
I am the last person to ask about what publications like Nick's require of their writers or editors, since I have yet to crack that code. Obviously, reading what they quote is not one of them, since he kicked off his article with a quote:
Libertarians have to stop ruining libertarianism! Or at least do a better job of explaining the difference between today's libertarian and just being a selfish prick. Now, many years ago on a television network far, far away, I expressed support for libertarianism because back then it meant I didn't want big government in my bedroom, in my medicine chest, and especially not in the second drawer of the nightstand on the left side of my bed. And I still believe that. But somewhere along the way, libertarianism morphed into this creepy obsession with free-market capitalism based on an Ayn Rand called Atlas Shrugged, a book that's never been read all the way through by anybody with a girlfriend....

Libertarians also hate Medicare and Social Security and there are problems with those programs but here's the thing: It beats stepping over lepers and watching human skeletons shit in the river and I also like not seeing those things. I’m selfish that way!
Bolding mine, and anybody out there not familiar with libertarianism at all, economic liberty (free market capitalism) is a pretty hefty piece of the philosophy.  The counter to the capitalism Maher finds creepy is called crony capitalism. The same economic blending of government and commerce that Mussolini and Obama espouse, the same qualified version of "capitalism" that Maher supports with his flamboyant political donations.

From this, Nick concludes stating:
But for anybody interested in growing the influence and impact of liberatarian ideas, it's worth thinking about the ways in which the libertarian identity fails to move a guy who is anti-prohibition, anti-empire (belatedly!), pro free expression, and pro-much more that falls in line with a libertarian perspective. For better or worse, a Venn diagram of Maher and libertarianism is going to show a huge amount of overlap on things. The same is common among right-wingers too, where many people agree with libertarians on anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent of issues but recoil from any association with the label or the beautiful, clean-smelling, super-smart, and just-swell folks who self-identify as libertarian.
Bolding mine there too, just to ask who is recoiling from the label? Ronald Reagan used it, as did Maher, but Reagan knew what it meant.

In light of what the Reason.TV boss-man quoted, it is impossible to get to his conclusion, or even the open ended question, with any logic at all.  You don't get there if English words mean anything either.  How could Maher be sympathetic to liberty when he does not support it at all?  Here, try this and see if you can get to the same conclusion:
  • "Years ago I was a Christian, but then something weird happened.  All these Jesus freaks showed up and started preaching on Wednesdays and Sundays.  I didn't leave the church, it left me!" - So how do we reach out to a guy like this who is pro-religious freedom ...
  • "I was a vegan, many years ago in a McDonald's far, far away. Then something weird happened. Some asshole ruined it by putting meat on the menu!" - So how do reach out to a guy like this who obviously appreciates food ...
  • "I was a Muslim a while back, but when they began that praying five times per day business, I just couldn't take it anymore." - So, brothers and sisters, how can we reach out to someone who has so much on common with us yet he recoils from the label?
In the first place, Bill Maher was never a libertarian. Why anybody would accept his self labeling, or even his claim of sympathy, is incredible. As incredible as anybody believing Glenn Beck's similar claims.  Rush Limbaugh is more libertarian that Bill Maher ever thought of being and never claims it (not saying Limbaugh is a libertarian of any kind, he is just a lot closer to it than Maher.)

Maher injects the Rand business, as if that is libertarian, while she was usually against anything libertarian (h/t Say Uncle) no matter how much libertarians agreed with her. I am here to testify, you don't have to read a lick of Rand to be a libertarian. The Objectivists (Rand followers) arrive in the libertarian ranks all the time, but it is certainly no right of passage.

If you are interested in the nuances between libertarianism and Austrian Economics (Laissez-Faire), how they are related, and especially how libertarianism is not atheistic Objectivism (but lots of libertarians came from there), this is a good video from Dr. Walter Block:
More detail on libertarianism from Dr. Block and he mentions the atheism/Objectivism aspect about 9 min. in:
Part of Nick's analysis is on Maher's "positions" on things, none of which are based in liberty at all but Nicks dreams them into something related: anti-prohibition, anti-empire (belatedly!), pro free expression, and pro-much more that falls in line with a libertarian perspective ... He is not anti-prohibition, he is pro-drugs that he likes and wants them all taxed/regulated. He is not anti-empire and never was, and he is only pro-expression for the expressions that he makes or agrees with. For example, lots of people are pro-roads, but how many of them are pro-private roads?

Maher alluded to his nightstand, not your nightstand and he does not support you storing a machine-gun in there unless he decides that he likes them. Even then, you are going to have to pass his licensing scheme. To be fair, he may not have been referring to guns at all.

What about this: I didn't want big government in my bedroom ... Again, his not yours, and I doubt it includes storing your machine gun in your bedroom.  He supports licensing of your relationship with one person at a time. He does not support four licensed spouses, nor any of them first cousins, in your bedroom. Other than that, sure, he was down with libertarian principles of keeping the government out of marriage and the bedroom.  By the way, gay bedrooms are not the ones being raided today. Polygamous ones are.

Even interns at Reason should know that getting high does not make you a libertarian. Why the boss doesn't know this is odd.
Another odd thing about the Reason.Com article, Nick Gillespie has been on Bill Maher's show and no telling how much they hang out.  Is it really possible that the only thing Nick conveyed to Bill about libertarianism is getting high and getting laid, until a recent mention that Atlas Shrugged makes for bad rolling paper and worse pickup lines?

Of course, there is a plausible explanation that makes Maher a victim of changing times. He could have gotten into this libertarian stuff in the days of John Locke, got frozen in a glacier and recently thawed, and is truly blindsided by the changes that have occurred.

Update: From the grave, William F. Buckley, Jr. interviews Margaret Thatcher and Thatcher gives Nick Gillespie an answer:
At 4:44 (opens new window) - "But, you see, for years now in British politics, this word, you must use it, consensus, has reared it's head. 'You must have a consensus.' Again, it is a word you used to not to use when I first came into politics. We had convictions, and we tried to convince people that our convictions were the right ones. And it is of no use of having convictions unless you have the will of translating those convictions into action. But politics was more, if you had convictions, than a matter of multiple maneuverings to get through the problems of the day. 
I often think, when you are going for consensus, so often it means that those who believe, as I believe, tend to give in to the left wing and who steadily move further and further left. "
If libertarian convictions are valid, they should stand on their own and not be subject to the tyranny of the statist, collectivist, Left. Why should we seek consensus with the likes of Bill Maher, when he has no intention, and never had, to even entertain a thought of liberty? Convince his audience, since you will never convince him of anything.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

No comments:

Post a Comment