The Democrat as Other

I have more sympathy for Kyle's position than I would like to admit:

Which brings us to back to the 2004 election. Giant Douche versus Turd Sandwich. And I am not torn. I am not aloof. I flat out want Kerry to lose. I want all the self-righteous Hollywood assholes gnashing their teeth. I want my landlady pulling out her hair. I want all the Wild-Oats-shopping, Michael-Moore-watching, “If You Aren't Outraged, You Aren't Paying Attention”-bumper-sticker-having yuppie pricks to all move to Canada in protest.

Geez. What the hell is wrong with me? I feel like I should know better. This sort of jingoism is everything wrong with the human race. But I am them and they are other. I am Cocks. They are Taters. Watching the non-stop barrage of VERY nasty North Carolina political ads with my Memaw, I questioned her seeming belief that every ad for a Democrat was a lie. But deep down I felt what she did. The smirk of the Democrats always seems a little more seedy to me.

W. is my Randy Moss. I just can't see him the way I see Kobe Bryant.

Happy, Kyle?

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

13 thoughts

  1. Will, not sure if you look at comments from older posts, but I thought this post (“Please discuss”) was relevant to your more recent postings on liberaltarianism & the possibility of big and free so would be interested in your thoughts. In reading this post, my only question would be why conflate coercion with liberty. I agree that corecion is coercion, no matter if they are taking a lot (90% tax rate) or a little (5% tax rate). But the issue of liberty, it would seem to me, would depend on what use the coercer (is that a word?) put to the funds that it expropriated. i.e., if the funds were used to finance a highly regulatory nanny state that would reduce liberty. Conversely, if the funds, even if we are talking about a larger amount of funds, are necessary to protect the conditions in which an ordered liberty can exist, then liberty is not reduced, and in fact may even be increased. In any case, as a practical matter, I suspect that economic freedom and low tax regimes will have a very high correlation with each other as human nature predicts that government actors will spend tax dollars not in ways that increase the freedom of its citizens but rather in ways that will increase their base of power and reduce the freedom of its citizens. But your point is very well taken.

  2. …or those that have the most libertarian foreign policy…
    Well, the real problem there is that there’s no such thing.
    By which I mean, as far as I can tell, there is no specific sort of foreign policy that follows from libertarian assumptions.
    Libertarianism can justify both isolationism and adventuring (as long as the latter is in the name and for the actual purpose of liberation of those incapable of liberating themselves).
    There are numerous alternative foreign policies that nobody could demonstrate as being more or less libertarian than the other, because libertarian theory is either silent or permissively contradictory* on the matter.
    * By which I mean that there are those, like Rand, who hold that no Totalitarian state, for example, is legitimate – and thus that it would be a perfectly libertarian action for a Free State to invade a Totalitarian state to make it Free.
    (Following from the corollary to basic libertarian theory that States Are Not Persons, and that while a person has a right to not be interfered with, States have no such right – only the persons composing them. And when the State is enslaving or oppressing them without recourse…)
    And there are others who take a more common isolationist tack, either by simple preference or by forgetting that States Are Not Persons and expanding principles valid towards individuals towards States. In either case, it’s very hard to argue that libertarianism requires interventionism.
    Since libertarian theory per se can’t be said to definitely require or forbid foreign actions, I describe it as permissively contradictory; the two branches contradict each-other, but the underlying theory is broad enough to reach either conclusion, and preclude neither.)

  3. I think part of the problem is that if you hold up the Civil Rights Act as an example of libertarian success, most libertarians will deny that you are one. I think both the Civil Rights Act and the women’s movement did in fact lead to tremendous net increases in liberty.

    And another part of the problem is that if you show a picture of various graphs of metrics that would measure racial progress (income and wage parity, etc.) against time but without the years labeled on the appropriate axis, it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint on the graph when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The social and economic situation for blacks was improving before the Civil Rights Act of 1964– indeed, in some ways it was only politically possible to pass the act because the situation had already improved.
    Looking at those graphs, you can’t even see that the rate of improvement quickened with the passage of the Act. Would it have been slower? Perhaps, but it’s a counterfactual that’s hard to prove. Did the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make no real difference, help consolidate gains that had already begun, give a push to a process that would have stalled, or what? It’s extremely difficult to tell, and your answer to that question will affect your opinion on the Act.

  4. To put it another way, the civil rights movement certainly did lead to a tremendous net increase in liberty. Some of those gains of liberty preceded the one particular piece of legislation, and some were afterwards. Whether that particular egg had to be broken to make an omelette is a difficult question.

  5. Hi, how can I contact you?
    I want to start, a list of philosophy BLOGS. A small presentation of the thing, a library or address book. But one question I don’t know is, how to contact people through blogs, I’m not familiar with this medium.
    If time permits, I want you to make a post here,
    It will get stickied and start a list of philosophy blogs. You could write a small intro too, like “Here is a index and library of PHILOSOPHY blogs ….”
    Already an index of BBS is here,
    Kind regards,
    – Niki

  6. teageegeepea – If you're willing to do a little legwork you can probably find out who I really am, and then be disappointed when you find I'm nobody.
    TGGP says:

    By which I mean, as far as I can tell, there is no specific sort of foreign policy that follows from libertarian assumptions.
    Sure there is. Hayek doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. The most thorough-going of libertarians are the anarcho-capitalists. The exemplars who merit the title “Mr. Libertarian” include Murray Rothbard and Walter Block. Would you like to take a guess on what their preferred foreign policy is?

  7. “Will himself once made the point very well that the libertarian crowd is preoccupied with the blind application of theory, and the libertarian worldview is pretty ahistorical. ”
    Just as big is the problem that it is *not* ahistorical, as the debate about civil rights and feminism (and now, gay liberation) shows. Traditionally libertarianism has been on the right, and has shared ties with racism, sexism, etc. Note that even now, after the GOP did its level best to alienate libertarians, most are still more sympathetic with the GOP than the Democratic Party, and more vituperation is directed at liberals than at right-wingers.
    What it will take is the passing of another generation, until the bulk of libertarians are people born *after* the Cold War ended, *after* feminism became mainstreamed, and who came of age with gay marriage and the destigmatizing of homosexuality.

  8. Freedom House has a political freedom index (
    I think it is true though that Libertarian realize that political freedom can lead to a lack of economic unfreedom through democratic methods. What the Economic Freedom indices do is show that Economic Freedom is an important predictor of economic outcome REGARDLESS of underlying political freedom.
    Political freedom is good, but if politically free people are not aware of the need for Economic Freedom, political freedom won’t do them much good economically.

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