Rightbloggers Revel in "Libertarian Moment," Which Suspiciously Resembles Conservative Whenever [Updated]

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[Roy Edroso dissects the right-wing blogosphere in this weekly feature]

Last week the New York Times Magazine ran a story asking "Has the 'Libertarian Moment' Finally Arrived?" The editors of libertarian flagship Reason magazine and many fellow travelers hailed the story, which featured several prominent movement figures such as Nick Gillespie and former MTV veejay Kennedy.

Rightbloggers were by and large positive about it -- which makes sense as, in our experience, libertarianism is basically conservatism for people with social anxieties.

The Libertarian Moment has been predicted before; Reason's editors have been fluffing the idea for years -- see "The Libertarian Moment" by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, Reason, December 2008.

In May 2013, David Boaz of the Cato Institute asked, "Is This the Libertarian Moment?" and judged it was, because conservatives who did not identify as libertarians were expressing what he considered libertarian ideas -- that is, they were pushing "abuse-of-power stories," namely the various White House scandalettes conservatives are always going on about. Imagine, conservatives and libertarians coming together against Obama!

But lately outsiders have been getting into the act, too. Last August Molly Ball of the Atlantic told us "Libertarianism is on the march," and interviewed Boaz, who unsurprisingly agreed with her. The Times Magazine story is perhaps the fullest flowering of this tendency; author Robert Draper claimed "today, for perhaps the first time, the libertarian movement appears to have genuine political momentum on its side," mainly because more people are in favor of gay marriage and legalized marijuana, have "deep concern over government surveillance," and "appetite for foreign intervention is at low ebb."

Oddly undermentioned in the story was libertarian economics, though the political star of the piece, GOP Senator Rand Paul, was quoted as saying that "we can grow as a country, but government needs to be minimized and the private market needs to be maximized."

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Yeah, we know, but the guy says he's a "libertarian cartoonist." It's hard to find one of those you can even understand. (Via.)
Libertarians, like members of any underpopulated political group, like to portray their movement as a tent big enough to accommodate a wide range of liberty-lovers. For example: Want to free the weed and drink raw milk? You might be a libertarian! In our experience, however, some liberties are less important in libertarian land than others.

Take abortion, for example. In surveys, most libertarians come down pro-choice (57% against tighter abortion laws in 2013). But you wouldn't know this from reading top libertarian authors who, perhaps hoping to draw more conservatives to the cause, tend to portray abortion as an "agree to disagree" thing, as in this Reason symposium on the subject as described by The American Conservative: "Ben Domenech makes the important point in yesterday's Transom that all prominent politicians who identify themselves as libertarians -- Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie -- are pro-life."

When Arizona tightened its abortion laws in 2012, the Chairman of the Libertarian Party began with the harrumph, "Like so many others, Libertarians wrestle with the moral issues associated with abortion. While our party includes a significant number of people who describe themselves as pro-choice, nearly as many members describe themselves as pro-life..." Eventually he allowed that the Arizona legislation was an "insult" to women, but then returned to the pitch: "And we're REALLY pro-choice: we also defend the right of a woman (or man) to choose NOT to pay for some other woman's abortion or birth control." Now there's a pro-choiceness Republicans can get with!

Many libertarian writers are fiercely anti-abortion, like Reason's David Harsanyi ("Does life really begin on the say-so of a single person--even the mother?... That kind of elastic calculation grinds against reason") and the Washington Examiner's Timothy P. Carney: "Who is the real extremist on abortion?" asked Carney in 2012 and surprise, it was Obama, because he would actually continue to allow it! (Carney also says things like, "The Pill is not just a pill to them. It has become something holy. And they won't tolerate any burden between them and their Blessed Sacrament...")

Then there are the libertarians who are mush-mouthed on the subject, like Megan McArdle, who describes herself as pro-choice but hastens to assure her rightwing readership, "that doesn't mean I view abortion as having the same moral weight as a haircut or a nose-piercing -- just another personal choice about what you do with your body," and who sees "a lot of appeal" in arguments for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Gay rights is generally an easier lay-up for libertarians -- remember, many gays are male and white! -- but it still presents problems of the sort you don't find among the statist Democrats, again probably owing to the need to peel off Republican voters. For example, one of the more comical sections of the NYTM story showed Mollie Hemingway, a "self-described libertarian," trying to explain why denying gay people the right to marry is consistent with libertarianism; she ended with "I don't know. I feel like I need to think about it more," which, considering Hemingway is a hardline Catholic Lutheran, seems unlikely to lead to a conversion.

At Reason, you're far more likely [* -- see update] to see defenses of the poor bakers who are being forced to bake gay wedding cakes than defenses of gay marriage. When NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay in 2013, Matt Welch explained to Reason readers "The Importance of Allowing People to Say That You Can't Be a Gay Basketball Player and a Christian," in which he focused on the real victims of the controversy, such as ESPN's Chris Broussard, who was "beaten to a rhetoric pulp" (that is, briefly criticized on Twitter) just for saying gay people are Hell-bound. (Hilariously, Welch managed to work Martin Luther King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" into this article.)

And regarding women's rights, you are less likely to see libertarians identifying as feminists -- who, after all, are always trying to get you to pay for their slut pills -- than to see them embracing the Men's Rights Activist movement. The kingpin of libertarian rightbloggers, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, is straight-up MRA; he promoted their convention at USA Today, and at his blog is given to bizarre outbursts like "we subsidize unwed mothers, we give women a pass on sexual behavior that would be considered predatory if it were done by males, we give them all sorts of 'choice' that men don't have..." and "to a certain class of women in the media, it's always about them, and their various mucous membranes." His wife, Dr. Helen Smith, is also down with the movement, and at her website offers advice to male clients who claim victimization by women. And MRA advocate Karen Straughan has been appearing at libertarian events to spread the good news about men's rights ("Among those of us who talk about these issues, it's called 'taking the red pill'").

In our experience, there's only one liberty that libertarians unfailingly support, and that's the freedom of money from the tyranny of government. Libertarians may not be quite sure that you deserve control over your own womb, but they are certain that someone with money should be able to do what he wants with it, whatever do-gooder statists may think about the public consequences.



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26 comments
joec522
joec522

Two things struck me about this article. First, Edroso's tone is absolutely hysterical. He seems to be in complete panic mode over the idea of a rising libertarian tide in American politics. He resorts to countless strawman arguments about the consequences of libertarian policy while ignoring the actual history of economics.


The second thing that struck me was Edroso's desire to lie about Paul's positions. For example, Paul never gave an anti-drone filibuster. Paul stated on numerous occasions in the filibuster that he supports the use of drones if they are used in a constitutional manner. He gave a pro Fifth Amendment filibuster, which was in response to the Obama's Administration's inability to state that it would be an unconstitutional use of power to use drones to kill Americans on American soil who don't pose an immediate threat to anyone. Edroso also lied about Paul's opposition to the Civil Rights Act. All Edroso had to do is watch the 2010 interview Paul gave where the CRA was discussed to see Paul stating unequivocally that he supports the CRA.


Edroso's inability to distinguish between being pro-liberty and being a bigot only demonstrates that Edroso is a supporter of tyranny as long as tyranny is being used to push an agenda that he agrees with.

lv.agorist
lv.agorist

The Village Voice should be embarrassed, promoting this drivel as intellectual in any manner. It is fairly apparent that Edroso hardly understands the philosophy underpinning the swell in attention that libertarianism has been seeing across the country, and around the world. Trying to claim that it is the sibling of conservative political ideology more than proves that the fears are unsubstantiated, as the author's claims tend to focus on Conservatism rather than classical liberalism. This piece is little more than sensationalism with the intent to confuse the reader and conflate two markedly different ideologies. 

CEOUNICOM
CEOUNICOM

""At Reason, you're far more likely to see defenses of the poor bakers who are being forced to bake gay wedding cakes than defenses of gay marriage.""

 Unless, of course, you actually read the magazine, instead of just make things up.



While I appreciate the progressive need to create boogeymen = you'd think there's more than enough material to *honestly disagree about* without people having to resort to outright lies, distortions and misrepresentations in order to make sure their Boogeymen remain as close to their deluded, cartoonish invented-persona as possible.


Reason was out in public defending Gay Marriage long, long before the Voice, or any mainstream liberal publication made an issue of it.  For that matter, it was there on ending the Drug War well before mainstream liberals as well.  Its been more sincere and consistent in its opposition to Federal violations of the 4th amendment via NSA invasions of privacy than the Democratic party by a long shot.


Pretending that "not forcing people to do business with you" equates somehow to 'insufficiently pro-gay marriage' is ridiculous.


That's like saying you're "racist" unless you *force* your children to marry minorities. Simply 'permitting' people to do whatever they please is not enough for progressives apparently - objecting to the idea of FORCING people to accommodate politically-approved groups makes one exactly the same as a 'bigot'.

Maybe this article needs a link to that recent piece about "How liberalism became intolerant dogma"

http://theweek.com/article/index/264546/how-liberalism-became-an-intolerant-dogma

(this came as a surprise only to liberals, FWIW)

 


StringOnAStick
StringOnAStick topcommenter

Ah, libertarians; so sure that this time, THIS TIME DAMMIT, the school day won't end with another round of swirlies.  And yet it always does. 

Jeanne Cuddy
Jeanne Cuddy

They're also making the ego-inflated cloud-coo-coo-land mistake of thinking they're the ones making the legalization of cannabis possible, when they'd have one hell of a much harder, and likely even IMPOSSIBLE, sell if it weren't for OLD HIPPIES, most of whom are Democrats. I know this from first hand experience around the Occupy.

AtticusDogsbody
AtticusDogsbody

"Don't poop where you eat."

Poop where someone else eats and when they come to complain, chase them off your property with buckshot... Yay Freedom!

McSalmon
McSalmon

Libertarians, for all their self touted intellect and reason, have never actually put in the work of governing beyond "let the Free Market take care of it - it may hurt at the beginning, but in the Long Run, it will sort itself out." That they can only make that claim from the vantage point of living in a technologically advanced society which only asked them to pay some taxes and vote once in a while is lost on them. There are multiple nations on this planet which have minimal if not entirely absent government, and strangely they haven't up and moved there as a group. I'm sure the people of a humble fishing village in SE Asia wouldn't mind being advised how to maximize their investment portfolios or integrate Six Sigma into their process. 



editor92
editor92

Hayek gets a bad rap. She's a decent actor and quite lovely, in a scary way. Who cares if her economics have an accent?

roy84
roy84 topcommenter

@joec522 "First, Edroso's tone is absolutely hysterical."

Finally, someone is getting my jokes! 

roy84
roy84 topcommenter

@lv.agorist "This piece is little more than sensationalism with the intent to confuse the reader and conflate two markedly different ideologies."

Have my trolls been outsourced to India?

McSalmon
McSalmon

@CEOUNICOM While I appreciate the need for libertarians to preen about any stance they have which doesn't make them out to be utter assholes, I seriously doubt that Reason was pro-gay rights before we were. As evidence, I point to the 2/1976 issue, where they gave the keys to Holocaust deniers to throw poop on a wall and have their subscribers pay good cash money for the privilege.And I can't find any mention of gay rights prior to 2007 in Reason - maybe I'm not looking hard enough or something, but I submit that, at the minimum, that puts us on the left a wee bit ahead of y'all.

RogerAiles
RogerAiles

@GlockH.PalinEsq. But Reed also had talent.  Gillespie is an asshole who has no talent, except for lying.  He's the Libertarian Fonzie.

triclops
triclops

@McSalmon Yes, the liberal method of governance is far preferable.  Claim credit for everything good that ever happens, and blame everything bad on not enough government.


You are so nuanced!


GO TEAM!

triclops
triclops

@McSalmon So your method to proving that Reason wasn't pushing for gay marriage is to lie about a connection to Holocaust deniers?  A fine example you set.

CEOUNICOM
CEOUNICOM

@McSalmon 

Make sure you start every comment by looking down your nose at people and making snide remarks that indicate that you don't take them seriously or in good faith - THATS how you retain 'moral superiority'.

I love how this sort of attitude of 'we *own* issue X, Y, and..' is supposed to give you some kind of 'moral credibilty', but you shred it in the process of your own "preening'

(do you see no irony in your effort to ensure that TEAM PROG remain #1, you seem to entire overlook the larger point - that these are issues which people should ostensibly be on the Same Side??)

To my original point - attacking Libertarians as 'not gay friendly enough' is an absurd  effort, and one completely lacking any basis in fact.

To my original point - if you want to find things libertarians and progs disagree about, you really don't have to look far! Engaging in those criticisms would result in an "Honest Debate"

howeber, what we see here is nothing of the sort.  what is vastly preferred in the pages of Salon, Slate, Mojo, etc. are ridiculous, pitchfork weilding cultural witch-hunts, pretending that Libertarians are all some Koch-funded, crypto-racist/anti-gay, cartoon-enemy of Progress...


Its retarded.


If you had the slightest degree of self awareness, instead of this idea that "you're all enlightened, and everyone else is crazy", you'd see it too, and probably tell writers like this dude @ the voice to chill, and pick better fights to pick.


but i'm not holding my breath.

 

k.kaprow
k.kaprow

@RogerAiles @GlockH.PalinEsq. Every editor at Reason is a lying propagandist. They're not even trying to hide it at this point. And why should they? The gullible and devoted puppets who comprise their chatroom lap up the propaganda like it's marijuana pudding. The whole enterprise has become an over-the-top experiment in bias confirmation. And denial, of course.

McSalmon
McSalmon

@triclops @McSalmon As opposed to the libertarian version of governance, which sums up to "In the long run, letting wealthy sociopaths do what they want will lead to a better society, because they will let me do what I want and pay as little as possible for it." Liberalism may not be perfect, but it's a far sight better than one that would turn the nation into a feudal society with wifi.

editor92
editor92

@attymix1 I am grateful to you for having broadened my economic horizons. We should start an institute.

McSalmon
McSalmon

@triclops @McSalmon Dude - it's the Feb 1976 edition. I know it's from the Long Long Ago, but it's also, you know, real. And, I'm not saying that you aren't for it now - I am pointing out that Reason was hardly in the lead pushing those rights in the first place. 

McSalmon
McSalmon

Dude, your first post basically looked down your nose at liberals for constructing a boogeyman, called the author a liar, asserted that libertarians 'owned' the issues of gay marriage, espionage and the drug war before anyone else and then posted a link about how we're all dogmatists. You didn't exactly earn yourself a cookie.

And while I will concede that the libertarians have a handful of stands I agree with, I have generally found that the reasons they hold them are borderline crazy. Paired with the myriad of crazy ideas they actually profess, and Roy makes his point. When the rubber meets the road, the libertarians are republicans until it's time to get their freak on.

And if you don't want your movement to be tagged as a billionaire funded enterprise comprised primarily with white males who think that they should be immune to criticism because they have a 'lively debate' amongst themselves, you might try not being a movement full of aggrieved white guys getting their funding from a handful of sugar daddies.

But I won't hold my breath.

triclops
triclops

@k.kaprow @RogerAiles @GlockH.PalinEsq. I invite you to actually check out the "chatroom".  You will find that the editors and commenters often disagree quite vehemently.  You might even learn something.


But I know you just "know" the truth so well that you needn't waste time going there.


Confirmation Bias indeed.

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