The Problem With Libertarians

We really hate to bother with this, but since We Have a Master’s Degree — in Philosophy! — it’s our job to take out the trash:

Meanwhile, the candidate has faced increased scrutiny over racially incendiary newsletters published under his name. When pressed by CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, on Wednesday in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Paul was defensive – and eventually ended the interview.

The candidate reiterated comments he’d said in the past, “I didn’t write them, didn’t read them at the time, and I disavow them.”

That was Wednesday, before yesterday’s revelation that he did read at least one of them, and once stood by its content. And we’re going to stop the clock at Wednesday, because there’s something about that “disavowal” that’s nagging at us.

In short: It’s a cop-out.

Let’s take the feigned ignorance of a racist newletter published under his name at face-value. Let’s further ignore the intriguing suggestion that the newsletter writer wasn’t personally a racist, but a cynical Libertarian trying to attract bigoted crackers to the cause. (Don’t worry, we’ll come back to that.)

Instead, let’s imagine something incredible: That your name appeared on those newsletters.

Do you disavow them? Well, of course you do! But do you stop there?

No. No, you do not.

First, you’ll find yourself apologizing profusely and endlessly. Next, you’ll find yourself wondering whether you can outlive the shame of it all. Finally — and this is the important part — you’ll take fucking responsibility for them, whatever your lack of involvement in their production. You paid for them, that’s your name on them, and you’re going to own up to them, because that’s what a Responsible Adult does. Something about — how you say? — personal integrity.

You know, like Libertarians are fond of claiming for themselves.

Except when it counts.

Think of it: Here’s Ron Paul, standard-bearer of Libertarianism, Idol of Misbegotten Youth, finally presented with a chance to show his mettle, on an issue that personally affects him, and not some broad issue he doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning. Now’s his chance to show what Libertarianism is really about.

And he blows it.

Not because he made a mistake — we all do — but because he won’t own up to it.

There’s a word for that. No, not “hypocrite”. Craven. Nice philosophy, Doc! Drop a line when you have it worked out!

Oh, but Ron Paul is but one man. Surely we can’t tar an entire movement with his transgressions. No, that requires a conspiracy:

During the period when the most incendiary items appeared—roughly 1989 to 1994—[Lew] Rockwell and the prominent libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard championed an open strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist “paleoconservatives,” producing a flurry of articles and manifestos whose racially charged talking points and vocabulary mirrored the controversial Paul newsletters recently unearthed by The New Republic. To this day [in 2008] Rockwell remains a friend and advisor to Paul—accompanying him to major media appearances; promoting his candidacy on the blog; publishing his books; and peddling an array of the avuncular Texas congressman’s recent writings and audio recordings.

See, Libertarians aren’t racist — they don’t even have the integrity for that. No, they’re so convinced of the rational truth of their beliefs that they have no problem cynically appealing to racists for support.

So, assembled Libertarians, and we say this from the heart: Fuck your empty principles and don’t come back until you grow a pair.


Deregulation also includs personal principles.

Wait… does this mean the Paultards won’t come out to play in 2012?

Knocked this one out of the park, Dear Leader – bravo.

What made you decided to get a master’s degree in philosophy?

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Fig leaf. Bailed on my dissertation.

But that’s not the question you want answered. One day philosophy wasn’t on my radar at all, and the next day it was. Literally.

The story of that day, and the events leading up to it, is somewhat long, and even now I don’t have a short version of it. I was pursuing Wacky Ideas on my own, and then I met someone who was in philosophy, and he told me that’s what I was doing. He was right. I was a natural. I had run away from journalism to join the circus, and I found it.

Andrew Sullivan’s blog is to place to go now for Ron Paul stuff. Sullivan made the mistake of endorsing Paul and his readers are raking him over the coals for it. Plenty of examples suggesting that the theory that Paul embraced these ideas as a devil’s bargain to reach out to the rednecks just doesn’t hold water. The guy honestly believes this shit.

@Serolf Divad: It’s one of the more irresponsibly shocking things Sullivan has done. Preposterous.

@nojo: I’m enjoying reading about the Epicureans in The Swerve. Kind of makes sense.

@Serolf Divad: The fun part is that they’re equally damning. I actually prefer the Devil’s Bargain version, because that’s presented as the excuse.

@Benedick: Alfred North Whitehead: “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”

The Greeks had first crack at the issues we still address. And their gods loved to party.

@nojo: M.A.A.B.D. is a perfectly respectable and very popular degree, however apocryphal.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: I’m quite happy with it. All I wanted out of a doctorate was to piss on some PhD-dropper at a party, and that situation rarely arises. (“Yeah, well, I have one, too. Now what were we talking about?”) Everything I needed to know, I had already learned.

No interest in a tenure-track job. Which is all doctorates are good for.

@Benedick: Isn’t that book fascinating? I catalogue a lot of early printed copies of Lucretius, and it’s great to have the background story.


Q: “Is there a doctor in the house??!!”

A: “Well, I have a PhD in Botany…”

There has already been a race war. It wasn’t fought with bombs and bullets, but with legislation and economics. The black and latino middle class has been completely destroyed by the new kleptonomy.

In 2004, the median net worth of white households was $134,280, compared with $13,450 for black households, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute. By 2009, the median net worth for white households had fallen 24 percent to $97,860; the median black net worth had fallen 83 percent to $2,170, according to the EPI.

Algernon Austin, director of the EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy, described the current wealth gap this way: “In 2009, for every dollar of wealth the average white household had, black households only had two cents.”

@¡Andrew!: I regret that I’m not accredited to cure an existential crisis.

It’s a cop-out. C’mon, Kevin Smith has apologized again and again for that movie.

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