Friday, March 28, 2014

Libertarian Feminists Make A Move On Von Mises (Or, V-Day For Vagina-Centric Libertarians? Not So Fast.)

By Ilana Mercer

As I paged through the dog’s breakfast of an essay titled “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises,” I found myself wondering:

What does midwifery have to do with Mises? Both find their way into the stream-of-consciousness non sequiturs that is the article. I suppose midwifery is an occupation dominated by women. Mises was an old-fashioned, European economist whose legacy women are attempting to occupy. That must be it!

Incidentally, naming the solipsistic feminists (a redundancy, I know) who’ve made a move on the Austrian-School economist is unnecessary. “Avoid naming names when dealing with marginal characters,” I was once instructed by a veteran journalist, who was responding to a devastating critique I had penned in reply to some self-important, insignificant sorts. Joseph Farah e-mailed one of his lacerating missives: “Good job. But who the hell are these people? Their arguments are of a piece with Yasser Arafat’s. Next time, tackle the Arafat argument instead,” he admonished.

Alas, “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises” is devoid of argument to tackle. From the fact that Mises taught and mentored capable lady scholars, the FEE.org* feminists have concluded that the Austrian-School economist “actively promoted the interests of women in academia” and “saw women intellectuals in Vienna as an undervalued human resource.”

As difficult as it is for a cloistered American feminist to imagine a time before Sandra Fluke and "Vagina Monologues"—the women Mises taught were nothing like those currently claiming him as “a feminist before it was cool.” Today, fem affirmative action infects private and state-run establishments alike. Mises, however, lived in a time before the ladies got a leg up. His circle of students would have included a highly select sample of women, of the caliber absent in academia and elsewhere nowadays. Put differently, Old World Vienna would have had no truck with the female author of “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises.” She is a libertarian version of S. E. Cupp, who, when opening her mouth all too frequently, says nothing at all.

Mises was worldly. Our FEE.org feminists are provincial. Their world is rocked by women qua women, so they presume the world of Mises was likewise rocked. Using the illogic of mind-reading, psychologizing, and post hoc ergo propter hoc, “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises” arrives at yet another “conclusion”: This experience of teaching [marginalized female students] must have had a big impact on [Mises]. He began writing his book ‘Socialism’ at this time ...”

“Socialism” was written in 1921 and 1922. During those tumultuous years, the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed. Germany was saddled with crippling war reparations and hit by hyperinflation, which reached 1426 percent in Austria. Adolf Hitler was nascent. The Red Army romped into Georgia. Lenin launched the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy. Joseph Stalin rose to head the Communist Party. Libya was vanquished by Italy and Greece by Turkey. The Irish Civil War began, to mention but a few of the events that rocked the world.

At the very least, could it be that socialism, and not "marginalized" women, “inspired” a book about socialism? Perish the thought.

Indeed, it takes a degree of provincialism unique to our country’s feminists to claim that a European gentleman, born in Austria-Hungary in the late 1800s, was one of them—a rib from the feminist fraternity’s ribcage. This writer grew up in Israel at a time when quite a few elderly, highly educated Austrian gentlemen were still around. Grandfather, a master chess player, hung out with these men in Tel-Aviv chess clubs and caf├ęs. Having actually encountered this creature in his natural habitat, I put this to you, gentle reader:

The proposition that Ludwig von Mises was a feminist is an apodictic impossibility.

Messy, wishful thinking also leads our authors to collapse the distinction between first- and second-wave feminism. They quote Mises as saying that he approved of feminism’s quest “to adjust the legal position of woman to that of man.” Who doesn’t? That position is the position of first-wave feminists, who strove for equality under the law, demanding only that existing law be applied to women. But then, using the telltale postmodern word-salad, the writers proceed to portray Mises as one who would likely protest what today’s radical feminists term structural or institutional under-representation, “the wrongs of sexism,” “sexual objectification” and “gendered expectations.” This is the language of second-wave feminism, whose collectivists hold that to be a woman is to be part of a group that has been and still is institutionally abused.

In addition to being a flaming feminist, Ludwig von Mises, to go by the authors of “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises,” “sought to help the world understand that although they were discounted and pushed out of academia, if allowed, women could offer tremendous value to the study of scarcity.” Some rare individuals do just that. In aggregate, though, women pose a threat to scarce resources. One has only to trace the statistically significant “growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote”—as did John R. Lott, Jr. (Yale University) and Lawrence W. Kenny (University of Florida) in "Did Women’s Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?"—to grasp the severity of this threat.

One such extraordinary woman was the Objectivist Ayn Rand. Mises referred to Ms. Rand as “the most courageous man in America.” If that doesn’t say it all about the economist’s man-centric frame of reference, I don’t know what does.

* Robert Wenzel, editor at Economic Policy Journal, has already illustrated how the FEE.org writers misleadingly cite tracts from Mises’ “Socialism” as proof of the economist’s Betty Friedan feminism. This, the authors accomplished by strategically truncating the text to support their claim that the views of Mises and “Ugly Betty” on marriage were not dissimilar. See “Was Ludwig Von Mises a Feminist?”

Ilana Mercer is author of Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. She blogs at BarleyABlog.

17 comments:

  1. The proper Libertarian view...................Vive la difference!
    .
    Personally, as a man, I've never been jealous that I don't sit upon a goldmine.
    .
    (and stop shaving your heads).

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  2. I always appreciate the writings of women such as Ms. Mercer within the libertarian movement. Good thing we have them among our ranks (Like Bretigne, Karen DeCoster, Lila, etc.) to counter balance those off the mark.

    It's much harder to dialogue without being accused of being a "brutalist" or "sexist" for men that might disagree with the viewpoint of certain libertarians(using the term loosely) on the topics of claimed feminist perspectives. It's really not the label that hurts, it's the interference in hashing out the truth as a result.

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  3. The formatting seems screwy in the second to last paragraph, which makes it kinda hard to tell what the meaning is. Good article though!

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  4. I think it's grossly BRUTALIST and a violation of the civil rights of Tucker, Reisenwitz & the rest
    to pit one whole Mercer in full throttle against them.

    It's downright violent and violence will not be tolerated... unless we're for it.

    I call for UN sanctions, economic sanctions (no more blintzers for you, Ms. Mercer), and carpet-bombing.....

    Let the humanitarianism begin.....

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  5. Natives of the US (males and females_ are on the whole less likely to be engineers. White females in the US are less likely to be engineers than Asian non-native females. Asian non-native females are usually far more traditionalist in their outlooks and choices, yet they are still better represented in the hard sciences and engineering. In other words, the more exposure to contemporary feminist activism, the less hard sciences training. Simply conclusion: want more women in the hard sciences, engineering, and computers? Stop talking about "down below" so much, and spend more time cracking the books.

    "Nativity is a large influence on Asians' choice of field. U.S.-born Asians are similar to whites in terms of field. Non-U.S.-born Asians, on the other hand, as well as non-U.S.-born members of other racial/ethnic groups, are disproportionately likely to be engineers. Non-U.S.-born scientists and engineers are about twice as likely as U.S.-born scientists and engineers, no matter what racial or ethnic group, to be engineers. (See appendix table 5-33.)"

    http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf96311/5minor.htm

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    1. One of the problems with feminism is that there is no reason for the very few women who want to study computer science or engineering to persevere. Instead, they can breeze through some nonsense major and become an advocate, or PR flak, or "Tech Evangelist," HR Rep, or some other bullshit position. The problem is that men used to be self-confident enough to ignore losers and posers, even if they had a pretty face. Nowadays, the legions of sad eunuchs will promote and heap lavish praise on incompetents if they have sex appeal (see Cathy Reisenwitz), and give them plum positions.

      For example, Adria Richards calls herself a developer (https://twitter.com/adriarichards) but her actual job is to bitch and moan about gay and trans issues. She was even fired for getting mad at two tech nerds for making a dick joke at a conference (in private conversation no less).

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  6. I was listening to a Christian AM radio station a little earlier, and the woman was giving a speech on how political correctness is twisting God's word and basically ruining society. She said she used to get miffed when men didn't stand up and offer her their seat on crowded busses, but she came to realize that she can't really blame them. If we're all supposed to be equal, then why should they? If you ever needed proof that the devil is the prince of this world, look no further than the modern day Jezebel's of feminism.

    If ever the Devil was born without a pair of horns
    It was you, Jezebel, it was you
    If ever an angel fell
    Jezebel, it was you, Jezebel, it was you!

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  7. "Libertarian Feminists"

    Could this phrase be any more contradictory? That's like saying "libertarian Nazis".

    "That position is the position of first-wave feminists, who strove for equality under the law, demanding only that existing law be applied to women."

    That's certainly a persistent myth. It was NEVER about equality (a silly Marxian construct anyway):

    http://mises.org/daily/1259

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  8. You know what?

    I actually think it truly is a great point that those don't deserve it should not even have their names acknowledged. Every time I've used her name before gagging, i'm wondering if helping to put her name out there isn't benefiting her somehow.
    So if i *must* reference her, maybe i should just call her "Clueless Cathy" or something like that.

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  9. @Tony

    I think we should be truthful. She and Tucker ARE widely published so what's the point of saying they are non-entities?

    They are not. It just makes you sound as over-emotional as they are.

    That was one thing with which I disagreed in this otherwise excellent piece.

    Dispassion and professional standards entail that when you read someone, you should cite them. Leave "vanishing" people to the state and to propagandists and hypesters.

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    1. She is a non entity to ME, which even people i disagree with but otherwise have respect for are not.
      That's why, as of yet anyway, i still do not consider Jeffrey Tucker a non-entity. Whether i like his current positions or not, at least the man has quite some history as someone supporting genuine libertarianism.

      But Clueless Cathy? Yes, for the simple fact that she has YET to contribute anything of any worth whatsoever to libertarian thought. Trying to infuse libertarianism with typical PC liberal garbage is not making a "contribution". It's trying to "fix" a libertarianism that doesn't need fixing, with the very crap libertarianism is supposed to be avoiding: collectivist thought. Gender issues; race issues, etc are collectivist issues; not individualist, libertarian ones. They are about "vanishing" the unique female or ethnic individual to promote group interests. I mean, even if Von Mises was a "feminist", who GIVES a damn, as a libertarian?
      Why would i give full recognition to someone who some may claim is a libertarian but in my view simply is not, but aside from that also serves to poison the general conception of libertarianism by turning it into liberalism-light?

      I'm not a "professional", i'm an individual who tries to give opinions that are - mostly - based on logic or fact. I have no interest in "professionalism" or "ethics".
      P.S. in a libertarian society one of the main ways in which to deal with people you don't care for is to either boycott them or ostracize them, in a sense this is "vanishing" them.

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  10. Respectfully, you're wrong. You are looking at this storm in a C-Cup from the insular world of the libertarian. My piece was written for a wider audience. Good or bad, the bigger picture is that the two alluded to are insignificant, the one more so than the other. The one has the run of a publishing house, and, unethically in my opinion (as it involves a conflict of interest), uses the imprint to publish his own books. Yet these books have hardly any buyers (Amazon rank #840,644: http://www.amazon.com/Bourbon-Breakfast-Living-Outside-Statist/dp/1479252336). My contention that in the bigger picture these people are unknown entities is correct. The female of the duo is certainly a non-entity. Given her aptitude, no matter how well promoted she is, and no matter how much she suctions face to camera, she will never muster an opinion or an analysis that isn't second-hander material. She's not working with much. To properly gauge the significance of these two one has to exit the libertarian orbit. Thus, addressing non-entities by name is unnecessary in a piece meant for popular consumption. On this topic, my dear friend and mentor, the influential and talented Walter Block, demeans himself and his stature by constantly addressing nobody bloggers by name, rather than just dealing with their arguments, to the extent these sorts make these.

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    1. Your characterization of "Bourbon for Breakfast" as a book with hardly any buyers is incorrect, because you're looking at the wrong ASIN. The correct link is:

      http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0041HXMNU

      Which ranks as follows:

      Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,913 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

      #20 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Radical Thought
      #36 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Anarchism
      #46 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Humor & Entertainment > Humor > Political

      Not bad for a book that's available for free ( http://mises.org/books/bourbon_for_breakfast.pdf ). It's also fairly well reviewed: 19 reviews averaging 4.3 stars.

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    2. Yes, at $2.99 a copy!

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  11. @Hi Ilana,

    I agree with you in the wider world. But, in the wider world, since they are unknown, they don't need to be rebutted at all.

    However, in terms of libertarian in-fighting, everyone knows who Tucker is...

    Still, it was an excellent piece. I am sick of this waving of the V. I actually thinks it's some kind of propaganda offensive that began in 2012 with Naomi Wolf's book.

    Get us to talk, one way or other, about genitals all the time. Mainstreams the stuff, like the Lewinsky trial did.



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  12. I see what you're saying, Lila. As expected, we both make valid points. "Respec," as Ali G. would say.

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  13. Warning. Brutality alert. See: http://barelyablog.com/v-day-for-vagina-centric-libertarians-not-so-fast-brutality-alert/

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