Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Social Justice Doctrine is Infesting Libertarianism

David Gordon has pointed out to me an essay by John McCaskey, New Libertarians: New Promoters of a Welfare State.

David emails:
This is an interesting criticism of the Bleeding Heart Libertarians by an Objectivist philosopher and historian of science.
I consider the essay must reading for every libertarian. It provides essential background material on how the developing trends in libertarianism fit into the history of libertarian thought, and it provides updates on important players currently operating in the greater libertarian distortion field.

Most shocking to me was the revelation by McCaskey that Brink Lindsey, a spear carrier for social justice libertarianism, who was booted from the Cato Institute, is now back at Cato as, get this, the Vice President for Research.

I hasten to add that while I consider the historical context and detail provided by McCaskey extremely important. His concluding paragraphs, that attempt to defend pure libertarianism, are very weak. The defense could have been much stronger. Indeed, his use of a  grandchildren analogy leaves me completely baffled.

The paper is here.


  1. Right-wing Fascism claimed, under the mantel of Progressivism, to be the inheritor of the "Left" and the "Liberal," both which turned the historical meanings 180 degrees. But that's the way Doublespeak works. As Orwell noted, "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

  2. How the CEO of HFT Firm Virtu Financial is Demanding a Taxpayer Bailout in Florida

    What the financial crisis, subsequent taxpayer bailouts, zero prosecutions of financial industry participants and further consolidation of the economy by oligarchs has taught us more than anything else is that the super rich and politically connected are not allowed to fail. Apparently, this may also apply to the head of one of the largest firms in what is quickly becoming the most despised sub-industry in the nation.

    By now, pretty much everyone in America knows about Michael Lewis' book Flash Boys, which exposes the high frequency trading (HFT) industry for the money sucking parasite it is. However, what will really get your blood boiling, particularly if you live in Florida, is how the CEO of one of the biggest players in the HFT space, Virtu Financial, is looking for taxpayers to bail-out his poorly performing investment in the Florida Panther NFL hockey franchise. This takes having "some nerve" to a whole new level of absurdity.

    From Bloomberg:

    Vincent Viola, whose high-frequency trading firm plans to raise millions of dollars in an initial public offering next month, is seeking tax dollars to help cover the bills for the Florida Panthers hockey team he bought six months ago.

    Viola asked lawmakers in South Florida’s Broward County to use $64 million in taxpayer funds for arena bond payments owed by the team, which says it’s losing money as attendance has fallen to a 14-year low. Officials in Broward, which encompasses Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic Coast, disagree on how to proceed, with some saying that if they don’t pick up the tab, the team may move and leave taxpayers with $225 million in debt and an empty arena.

    Sounds a lot like the nonsense we all head that went something like "we must bail-out and not regulate banking criminals otherwise they will leave the U.S." Oh the horror, these crooks might take their organized crime elsewhere...


  3. Very good read. My biggest objection to the piece is his claim that Hayek is today's standard-bearer outside of these New Libertarians. That is only the case if one limits his view to government-focused NGO's, think tanks, and publicly funded university professors.

    The standard bearer for the proverbial average Libertarian remains Murray Rothbard. Website data doesn't lie, and Lew's site continues to be among the most popular political websites on the right.

    Otherwise, I see this New Libertarianism as just the next ideology in line for Generation X and Y college professors. As they dicker around trying to achieve tenure, they have to come up with something original, so the next "original idea" is apparently to pander to our decivilizing and decaying society and its terrible habits by offering lefist ends and facist market means.

  4. Now you see, this is why we need to be concentrating on the peaceful stuff because these pretend libertarians are trying to turn into some sick leftist religion. They need to be cast OUT!

  5. In addition to what I wrote earlier (anon at 6:12), this "New Libertarian" philosophy is indefensibly loose. The basic claim is that "private property" as a definition encompasses the Hoppean/Rothbardian conception of property only insfoar as a certain result is achieved with respect to the "poor".

    A few comments. First, "poor" is an arbitrary distinction not capable of definition. Second, these Rawlsian philosphies cannot define what the proper "result" for the poor is. Completely imprecise.

    Third, the philosophy essentially requires that a person, in orginally acquiring property (like breating in air or picking a berry from a wild berry bush) take into account, as a matter of binding obligation, whether part of that berry or air must be redistributed to another person.

    And fourth, this approach of redefining a right to essentially limit the right (but be able to say you aren't limiting the right) is the exact same approach the Supreme Court has taken in limiting constitutional rights. As in, you cannot engage in slander because the right to free speech does not include a right to slander. Which is nonsense when you hear it, but there it is.

    I just don't see how one can square any of this theory, and demonstrate how you get from A to B, i.e., how you rigorously and precisely determine how much compulsory sharing there must be as persons engage in the exchange of property, or the original acquisition of property. It would be all the more "scientistic" to see a bunch of bureaucrats adopting a magic system of weights and measures to figure it out. But the modern approach is simply to rely on the fuzzy logic and let the political system come up with completely capricious redistribution edicts and then use the fuzzy logic to justify it after the fact.

    Can you imagine this ridiculous exercise in a pre-industrial society? The one downside of industrial society is that it has allowed for the flourishing of a large parasite class that has forgotten the precarious nature of human existence and the fact of scarcity.

    Lastly, this is all the more offensive because the Left has done nothing more than appropriate the mercy and charity of Christian doctrine and stripped it of its soul and beauty. Instead it has become an edict. Honestly, how dare these charlatans pretend they care about the poor. Instead, they will doom them to a sloven life of dependence and indignity. There is so much to be said about the horrors of the welfare state, and these clowns probably do not even address these horrors in coming up with their "new theory" of New Libertarians.

  6. This is an incredibly eye opening article, and I found within in the link to Brink Lindsey's commentary even more enlightening as to the "playbook" being used to corrupt libertarianism and why.

    I really appreciate Gordon & EPJ pointing it out.

    The Brink Lindsey piece makes some notable points that should make anyone interested in focusing on libertarian goals sit up and take note. Specifically the word "fusion" is used 10 times in it, here are the more interesting comments by Lindsey using 'fusion':

    "Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods. " then
    "But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends. "

    "Can a new, progressive fusionism break out of the current rut? "

    "If a new kind of fusionism is to have any chance for success, it must aim beyond the specifics of particular, present-day controversies. It must be based on a real intellectual movement, with intellectual coherence. A movement that, at the philosophical level, seeks some kind of reconciliation between Hayek and Rawls." (paging Tucker and Richman!)

    So we have Lindsey actively promoting a "progressive fusionism". Wow. You also have references to "feminism" in the article.

    We all know that Cato rejects the NAP, but to have a senior administration official speaking openly about tying progressive goals with their form of "libertarianism" is really quite astounding to me. I wonder how many Cato members really know this.

    I don't see how the word 'libertarianism' survives without distortion to the average Joe myself. The focal point for the battle has to be the NAP and property rights if the word is to maintain its meaning. I really think the battle might already be lost as far as the word 'libertarian' myself. I know that might be an unpopular view, but we shouldn't ignore reality even if it's unpleasant.