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Posts tagged Arnold Kling

Losers of the World Unite!

Arnold Kling recently wrote that the problem with liberaltarianism is that generally speaking, and especially right now, technocratic Harvard liberals are primarily concerned with, and irrevocably committed to, expert control over the economy. Will Wilkinson writes in reply:

But the Harvard narrative is gauche. People can learn to have better taste if someone shows them how. More generally, you can't expect a way of thinking to become popular with the elite if you concede from the outset that it appeals primarily to losers. Anyway, yes, high school never ends.

Actually, I’d say that the real problem with liberaltarianism[*] is precisely the expectation that the point is to make libertarian thinking popular with the elite. Which strikes me as neither likely nor especially desirable. The elite generally aren’t in the market for significant alternatives to the political status quo; why would they be? Under the status quo, they’re already the elite. They don’t need or want another world to be possible; they’ve already got one of those.

But losers have have no real stake in maintaining the existing relations of political power. And if the existing political-economic arrangements are marked by statist exploitation, injustice, and petty tyranny, then it’s the losers who benefit most from the repeal of unjust laws and from movement towards a freer society. When that’s the case, if your ideas don’t appeal primarily to losers, you’re doing it wrong. Losers, unlike elites, have little more to lose, and plenty to gain.

(Incidentally, if you think that my speaking against elites and in praise of losers amounts to opting for Tea Partisans over Harvard liberals, then I’d like to suggest that you have an awfully constrained notion of the available alternatives. And have probably lost sight of how the American system of socioeconomic status actually works, by confusing it with the idiotic shouting match commonly dignified as American electoral politics. What I’m after is hardly belligerent Republican dudes posing as the scrappy underdogs. It’s pro-immigrant, pro-worker, libertarian Leftism, with a special emphasis on solidarity with the people who are the most criminalized, the most marginalized, the most exploited and oppressed.)

All power to the people.

* I mean, other than the problem with it being an abominable word that nobody should ever have committed to print. Or even thought of, really.

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