Ridiculous Strawman Watch (Part 2 of ???)

(Via Roderick Long @ Austro-Athenian Empire 2009-05-30.)

For the moment, I’ll set aside the contemptuous mocking that Bruce Bartlett richly deserves for prolonging the life and expanding the scope of the utterly vile portmanteau liberaltarianism. Let’s focus on the content of his article, instead; here’s Bartlett’s advice to libertarians on libertarian priorities

The reason [libertarians don’t typically vote for Democrats] is that most self-described libertarians are primarily motivated by economics. In particular, they don’t like paying taxes. They also tend to have an obsession with gold and a distrust of paper money. As a philosophy, their libertarianism doesn’t extent much beyond not wanting to pay taxes, being paid in gold and being able to keep all the guns they want. Many are survivalists at heart and would be perfectly content to live in complete isolation on a mountain somewhere, neither taking anything from society nor giving anything.

. . . [T]here is a theoretical case to be made for liberals and libertarians at least continuing a dialogue. But for it to go anywhere, libertarians must scale back their almost single-minded focus on economic freedom as the sole determinant of liberty. They must work harder to defend civil liberties and resist expansion of the police state whether it involves suspected terrorists, illegal aliens or those who enjoy smoking marijuana.

Libertarians should also be more outspoken about America’s disastrous foreign policy, which Obama seems to be doing very little to fix. This would seem like an obvious area for cooperation. The main problem seems that neither liberals nor libertarians are up to challenging the loudmouthed bullies on talk radio and Fox News who equate anything less than a 100% commitment to the war on terror as treasonous.

It’s a fair cop: after all, libertarians hardly ever talk about encroachments on civil liberties, the police state, onerous immigration laws, the War on Drugs, or interventionist foreign policy. It’s true: I read it on the Internet.

I mean, look, dude, if your point is just that libertarians need to put more rhetorical and political distance between themselves and the Right, including even supposed small government conservative types, then, hey, I dig. But if your impression of what the modal libertarian is like is something that could be refuted by picking up a couple issues of reason (reason-fer-Christ’s-sake) at your local Barnes & Noble — or, hell, just walking by the newsrack and looking at the cartoons on the damn cover — well, then, sir, you have definitely earned a place in the R.S.W.

P.S. Also, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to pay your taxes.

Advertisement

Help me get rid of these Google ads with a gift of $10.00 towards this month’s operating expenses for radgeek.com. See Donate for details.

10 replies to Ridiculous Strawman Watch (Part 2 of ???) Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Bill R

    Nice post. It drove me to look up modal libertarian again and I found this gem link at Urban Dictionary of all places.

  2. Roderick T. Long

    Having … unpleasant … flashback …

  3. Gabriel

    You need cute icons to go with the categories, like a small icon of a scarecrow.

  4. Darian

    Wow, you know it’s a quality essay when it’s posted on Urban Dictionary. Cuz that’s what that site is for. ;)

  5. Roderick T. Long

    I wish left-libertarians really were modal! I guess the aim of our movement is to make the charge come true.

  6. Rad Geek

    Well, I certainly don’t think that left-libertarians are modal, but I’d say that the contents of reason have as good a claim as anything to being modal libertarianism in the U.S. (is there any libertarian publication with wider circulation?), and reason routinely covers all the issues that Bartlett is talking about.

    I mean, complaining about how libertarians don’t talk enough about the War on Drugs, of all things, is leveling a pretty loopy charge.

  7. Bill R

    Wow, you know it’s a quality essay when it’s posted on Urban Dictionary. Cuz that’s what that site is for. ;)

    It was a strident paleo polemic in an interesting place– to say the least– so I thought others would appreciate it.

    Bartlett is pretty ridiculous. Did he not see the anti-war, anti torture and pro-civil liberties campaign of Ron Paul? In the the GOP primaries no less! He outflanked even the Left Bartlett unquestioningly gives a pass to for being antiwar and pro-civil liberties. And for this he was savaged by the right wing media.

    While Bartlett was hemming, hawing, and scribbling in the rush to war in Iraq Ron Paul was putting his seat on the line to oppose it. Same goes for the Patriot Act. Not to mention his “obsession with gold and a distrust of paper money.” led to him drafting this remarkable prediction that even someone like Joe Scarborough can appreciate link. Ron Paul’s motivation? All of it based on the of “reading obscure books” and “interest in ideas” Bartlett credits to the “urbane” crowd.

    That is scores more than what can be said for Bartlett and his ilk in the Beltway crowd. I can’t even find any of his scribblings until his 2006 book well beyond the time needed for stepping up in opposition. I also read– but alas cannot currently find– a statement that said Bartlett planned the timing deliberately so as not to affect the 2004 election most likely to placate his “conservative” critics.

    It’s quite annoying to have someone like him pose as the principled and broad minded libertarian while bashing Ron Paul and the people around the Campaign for Liberty he created who were fighting these battles long before Bartlett got axed from some shill think tank.

    Anyway he has a book coming out on the “Failure of Reaganomics” (even after a book that says Bush “betrayed” the Reagan legacy..which one is it?) so it I guess it makes good business sense for him to market himself to the left.

  8. Discussed at www.amptoons.com

    Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Why Are So Many Libertarians Republicans?:

    […] Rad Geek and Roderick Long both argue that Bartlett unfairly ignores those libertarians who do, in fact, argue quote a lot about foreign policy and civil liberties — although Long concedes that the Libertarian Party has pretty much the focus Bartlett describes. I also think that Bartlett’s case about CATO is fair. Since CATO and the Libertarian Party are hardly small and irrelevant parts of American libertarianism, I don’t think it’s true that Bartlett’s argument is, as Rad Geek says, a “ridiculous strawman.” But it’s true that there are some kick-ass libertarians (like Rad Geek and Long) who aren’t all about how paying taxes is just! like! being! mugged!, and those folks deserve more notice and acknowledgment. […]

— 2010 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2010-06-20 – Ridiculous Strawman Watch (Part 4 of ???):

    […] readers may remember that Bartlett was already named as an R.S.W. laureate a little more than a year ago (in which he decided that the problem with American libertarians is that they never talk about […]

— 2012 —

  1. Discussed at www.amptoons.com

    Why Are So Many Libertarians Republicans? | Alas, a Blog:

    […] Rad Geek and Roderick Long both argue that Bartlett unfairly ignores those libertarians who do, in fact, argue quite a lot about foreign policy and civil liberties — although Long concedes that the Libertarian Party has pretty much the focus Bartlett describes. I also think that Bartlett’s case about CATO is fair. Since CATO and the Libertarian Party are hardly small and irrelevant parts of American libertarianism, I don’t think it’s true that Bartlett’s argument is, as Rad Geek says, a “ridiculous strawman.” But it’s true that there are some kick-ass libertarians (like Rad Geek and Long) who aren’t all about how paying taxes is just! like! being! mugged!, and those folks deserve more notice and acknowledgment. […]

Post a reply

By:
Your e-mail address will not be published.
You can register for an account and sign in to verify your identity and avoid spam traps.
Reply

Use Markdown syntax for formatting. *emphasis* = emphasis, **strong** = strong, [link](http://xyz.com) = link,
> block quote to quote blocks of text.

This form is for public comments. Consult About: Comments for policies and copyright details.