“Libertarians Are the New Communists”?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 7, 2013

I think not. Far more accurate to say that Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu are the new Joseph McCarthy:

Hanauer and Liu’s mode of argument consists of repeating negative statements (“Radical libertarians would be great at destroying,” they are “fanatically rigid,” they are “economic royalists” who are “mirror images” of communists, etc.) and writing opponents out of serious discussion (libertarians are not “reasonable people,” so there is no reason to actually represent their viewpoint even while attacking it).

If this sort of ultra-crude and unconvincing style of argument (communists=bad; libertarians=bad; thereore, communists=libertarians) is the best that opponents of libertarian influence and policy can do, our future is indeed bright.

More here. The following is properly scathing:

The idea that the libertarian tendency is identical to the sophomoric cult of egotism found in Ayn Rand novels is more than outdated — it was never true in the first place. Miss Rand’s fiction is part of the libertarian intellectual universe, to be sure, but so are Henry David Thoreau and Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Jesus. Citing as examples of libertarian extremism Ted Cruz, the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, and Rand Paul, they argue: “It assumes that societies are efficient mechanisms requiring no rules or enforcers, when, in fact, they are fragile ecosystems prone to collapse and easily overwhelmed by free-riders.” Of course societies are complex — that is one reason why you want multiple, competing centers of power and influence rather than a single overgrown Leviathan blundering around your fragile ecosystem. As for the claim of “no rules or enforcers,” I have spent a fair amount of time around Senators Cruz and Paul, have debated Mr. Norquist, and have observed the elusive Koch in its natural habitat, and I have not yet heard one of them make the case for anarchism, which is what is meant by “no rules or enforcers.” Senator Cruz, like most of those with a Tea Party orientation, is intellectually devoted to the Constitution, which is many things but is not a covenant of anarchy. Senator Paul is an admirer of Grover Cleveland. Mr. Norquist believes that our taxes should be reduced. Anarchy should be made of more disorderly stuff.

Mr. Hanauer and Mr. Liu run the gamut from the ignorant to the dishonest. Consider this: “A Koch domestic policy would obliterate environmental standards for clean air and water, so that polluters could externalize all their costs onto other people.” Among the many enterprises that the Koch foundations have supported (though that support is more modest than their fevered critics imagine) is the Property and Environment Research Center, which is explicitly dedicated to the cause of aligning property rights with environmental interests, i.e. precisely the opposite of externalizing environmental costs onto other people.

If these gentlemen would like to have a discussion about libertarian thinking, then they should discover what it is that libertarians think. There are anarchists and near-anarchists among them, as well as constitutionalists, conservatives, and even a few Eisenhower Republicans. Perhaps we could organize some kind of emergency book airlift for the people at Bloomberg.

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