Learning from Milton Friedman's Rhetoric

via Mark Perry, here’s a delightful video of Milton Friedman arguing for the abolition of licensure for doctors at the Mayo Clinic. (Busting the monopolies in health care provision is the first item in my fantasy of health-care reform!)

The stark contrast between this class act and the histrionics of conservatives today got me thinking about Friedman’s rhetorical style. What’s so compelling about Friedman is his winsome combination of logic, lucidity, confidence, and geniality. He behaves as though the attention of even a hostile audience is a generous gift to be repaid with respect. And respect is paid by taking for granted the listeners’ intelligence and good will in the search for truth. He gladly accepts the burden of laying out the case for controversial propositions and addressing seriously even badly mistaken objections. He never assumes an antagonistic or combative stance, no matter how antagonistic or combative the audience may be. He is neither apologetic nor defensive about his unpopular positions. He evidently does take some small pleasure in his iconoclasm, and I think this can come across as smugness or self-satisfaction to those inclined to disagree with him. But the same wry twinkle can be received as well as a manifestation of the calm confidence that makes his intellectual independence possible and of his basic happiness as a person. His happiness, I think, was his rhetorical secret weapon. One doesn’t suspect a contented person of currying favor, seeking validation, or compensating for some unmet need. He makes it easy to believe in his good faith, and that makes him hard to dismiss.

Jonathan Chait on Ayn Rand

Jonathan Chait’s review essay taking off from two new books about Ayn Rand, one of the most interesting and influential intellectual figures of 20th century, somehow manages to take the form of an extended defense of the redistribution of income and wealth. The bizarro-Rumpelstiltskin of the welfare state, Chait could spin gold into a defense of the redistribution of income and wealth, and he probably has! The problem with his Rand essay is that he spins away with only haphazard reference to Rand’s work or thought. The root of the problem, I think, is twofold. First, Chait doesn’t much care to know about Ayn Rand’s work or thought, but wanted to pen a good Tea Party-pooping Ayn Rand slapdown anyway. Second, he lazily confuses a certain syndrome of anti-redistributive thinking common among Glenn Beck aficionados, in which some Randian themes certainly do appear, with Rand’s own thought.

The meat of Chait’s essay is devoted to beating up the false idea that levels of income and wealth roughly correspond to levels of effort, productivity, or some other exercise of virtue. This line of thinking eventually leads Chait into an examination of the overall progressivity of the American tax system. (Less progressive than you might think!) But what does this have to do with Ayn Rand?

Chait writes:

[T]he Randian inversion of the Marxist worldview … rests upon a series of propositions that can be falsified by data.

Let us begin with the premise that wealth represents a sign of personal virtue–thrift, hard work, and the rest–and poverty the lack thereof.

He then proceeds to beat up on some Republicans.

As Chait points out, Rand plumped for Wilkie in 1940, but she was no Republican. More to the point, Rand did not think income and wealth represents a sign of virtue — of hard work, productivity, or anything else. Being an intelligent person, she thought that who got how much of what depended on the complex interplay of culture and the structure of the political economy. She did think that those who through effort or industry improve others’ lives ought to see the value of their work acknowledged and rewarded in some form or other. But no one would infer from Rand’s novels and nonfiction that the United States looks, or in her day looked, anything like her ideal.

Rand was a radical critic of what she saw as our debased culture and “mixed economy.” In her biting words, a mixed economy is

a mixture of capitalism and statism, of freedom and controls. A mixed economy is a country in the process of disintegration, a civil war of pressure-groups looting and devouring one another.

Hey! That’s us! Massive political bailouts to banks and auto manufacturers and seething political strife over the expansion of redistributive “entitlements” are precisely the kinds of things Rand had in mind.

Let’s take a moment to think of the many ways worldly success and moral merit come apart in Rand’s immensely influential fiction. In The Fountainhead, Peter Keating traces the trajectory of the sell-out. He achieves professional success through slavish conformity to banal popular taste. He is the archetype of Rand’s despised “second-hander.” Rand’s point is not that pathetic second-handers with desperate cravings for external validation do not work their way into the top income decile. Her point is that they do! But they don’t really deserve it. If there’s cosmic justice, it’s in the fact that successful second-handers are miserable because they know they don’t deserve it. Rand’s condemnation of Keating is also a not-very-subtle condemnation of popular taste, which she generally judges execrable. Whatever else it might be, The Fountainhead is a searing critique of getting ahead by giving the people what they want. From a quick read of Rand’s lesser doorstop, one might suspect that, exceptional cases aside, the distributions of both income and social esteem bear a strong relationship to skill at peddling popular bullshit.

Rand emphasizes that in a world of second-handers, a great single-minded artist might die broke and mostly forgotten. That’s the sub-plot of Henry Cameron in The Fountainhead. And if not for the intervention of the surprising philosophical and oratorical talents suddenly summoned by the book’s taciturn hero at his bombing trial (one man’s terrorism is another man’s unflinching aesthetic vision!), Howard Roark would have gotten a good harsh dose of criminal justice and ended up rotting in jail, like notable theory-driven bombers Ted Kazcynski and Timothy McVeigh, instead of skating like Bill Ayers. That Roark ends up surveying the world that has become his oyster from his uncompromising skyscraper with his uncompromising gal is a triumph of hopeful narrative malfeasance over the bitter penniless ruin that is otherwise depicted as the great man’s predictable lot.

In Atlas Shrugged, Rand doesn’t much conceal her disgust at James Taggart, the immensely wealthy heir to a railroad fortune who tries to consolidate the position of his inherited company through political pull. In Rand’s taxonomy of villains, he is a “looter.” Rand’s point is not that looters don’t get ahead. Her point is they do. And it works because actually productive people are either too dumb or guilty to grasp that moralizing political rhetoric is as often as not a bullshit front for corporatist political predation. From a quick read of Atlas Shrugged, one might expect that the distribution of income and social esteem in a “mixed economy” bears a strong relationship to membership in pressure groups, and the quality of their lobbyists and PR flaks.

The mostly tragic world of Atlas Shrugged is one in which the truly creative and productive are rewarded with unending resentment and exploitation while politically-connected corporations pay Washington insiders to rig the mechanisms of redistributive democratic politics to reel in and lock down unearned gains. Rand thought the world we actually live in is dangerously close to the one she depicted.

Rand does not valorize the wealthy. She valorizes the uncompromising integrity of creative visionaries and the productivity of inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs. But there is little to assure the reader that the virtues she extols really pay. Rand’s view of the world was actually pretty bleak, pretty Russian. Her best novel, We the Living, is best precisely because she had yet to philosophically suppress her tragic instincts. One of the least plausible and certainly the saddest aspects of Rand’s thought is what she called the “benevolent universe premise” — a kind of as-if attitudinal stance of positivity meant to ensure “the inability to believe in the power or the triumph of evil.” She goes on:

No matter what corruption one observes in one’s immediate background, one is unable to accept it as normal, permanent or metaphysically right. One feels: “This injustice (or terror or falsehood or frustration or pain or agony) is the exception in life, not the rule.” One feels certain that somewhere on earth—even if not anywhere in one’s surroundings or within one’s reach—a proper, human way of life is possible to human beings, and justice matters.

“One feels…” This is Rand’s leap of faith, her animal spirit, her will to believe. She needed her silly, contrived happy endings — and she thought we needed them — to maintain the will to do the right thing, to fight for justice, despite every indication that it’s a bad bet. Rand thought we need to feel that effort and virtue will be rewarded, or else we will, rationally enough, stop supplying effort and virtue. And then we’ll all be good and truly screwed. Make of this what you will, but it is very far from the vulgar Calvinism that sees a person’s level of success as an indicator of their merit.

Now, I’m more than willing to snicker right along with Chait at ridiculously puffed-up computer engineers who threaten to “Go Galt” at the first hint of an impending tax hike while blithely enjoying the wage subsidy of the United State’s super-stingy H1-B visa cap. But he’s really just careless in conflating the views of Ayn Rand’s confused fans with Ayn Rand’s own. I’m delighted there are two important new books that take Rand seriously as a woman, writer, and thinker. It’s too bad that Chait uses their publication as an occasion to once again take a brave stand for the redistributive state.

Thomas Friedman's New Math of Democracy

Thomas Friedman’s New York Times column today would be astonishing in its incoherence if only Friedman hadn’t long ago sapped us of our ability to be astonished by his incoherence. Like many capital-‘d’ Democrats, Friedman has soured on democracy for failing to deliver on his policy wish list.

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

Why does Friedman say the United States has one-party democracy? Because the Republican Party is effectively opposing the Democratic Party’s agenda! Not even kidding. Get this:

The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.

Only the Democrats are really playing! You might think that would mean they can do whatever they darn well please. But no! The Democrats can’t do anything! Because the other party‘s opposition is so effective! So it’s exactly as if there’s just one party: nothing gets done!

My hunch is that the Times’ editors see Friedman aiming the gun at his foot, but watching a man stupid enough to actually pull the trigger is so fun they hate to intervene. That or they’re trying to explode the myth of American meritocracy.

So where were we? Oh, yes: one-party democracy is aggravating because sometimes one party can’t do what it wants because the other party gets in the way. Sooo frustrating!!! Why have democracy at all when all you end up with is a single party stymied by the other one! And so it is that Friedman comes to wax romantic about communist central planning:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.

Nikita Kruschev, the enlightened leader of a now-defunct one-party autocracy, was also committed to overtaking the United States in technology and so much more. “We will bury you” is how he put it. At the time, more than a few left-leaning American opinionmakers suspected he was right. After all, how can inefficiently squabbling democracies possibly keep pace with undivided regimes wholly devoted to scientifically centrally planning their way into the brighter, better future? And that, children, is why we speak Russian today.

[Cross-posted from Cato@Liberty]

Where Have You Gone, Harold Rosenberg?

Weirdly enough, here’s David Prychitko talking about Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing in a blog post, which definitely argues for my being embarrassed at having never heard of the guy. I trust Prychitko’s judgment about Marxist thinkers, so what does he say about Arrighi’s book?

It is challenging, and he does have interesting and even fruitful things to say about the importance of decentralized, spontaneous development at the local level.  But I’m unimpressed with the concepts of natural and unnatural [economic development], as if history follows, or can be expected to follow, such a course.

As far as I can tell, the main point of the book relies on the distinction Prychitko rejects. So I guess I’m still not embarrassed.

I wonder if the n+1 guys have read much or any William Robert Fogel, Douglass North, Joel Mokyr, Avner Greif, or Acemoglu and Robinson — that kind of thing. One of the attractive features of intellectual life throughout much of last century was the sense of a common canon. But as intellectual specialization has developed, it has become harder for literary or philosophical intellectuals to stay abreast of developments in history, psychology, and the social sciences. I think that’s why I come away with an impression of erudite incompetence when I read something like a Tony Judt essay. The paradigm of the public intellectual has shifted and continues to shift away from Susan Sontag types toward Steven Pinker types, and this must be frustrating for those of us who still feel the allure of the old-timey New York literary intellectual who pops into gallery openings between psychotherapy sessions and lively coffee-house debates about “mass culture” or the elusive American class structure. Would Harold Rosenberg have kept up with the Journal of Economic Perspectives and Behavioral and Brain Sciences?  Probably not. And that’s probably why our latter-day Harold Rosenbergs matter less than Tyler Cowen.

What We Are Not Embarrassed by

Here is a good debate proposition: It ought to be less embarrassing to have been influenced by Ayn Rand than by Karl Marx.

The most powerful way to argue the affirmative is to compare the number of human beings murdered by the devotees of each. That line of attack ought to be decisive, but I’m afraid it won’t get you far with the multitude of highly-self-regarded thinkers influenced by Karl Marx. Fact is, commitment to some kind of socialism and fluency in the jargon of Marxism used to be mandatory for serious intellectuals. And there’s something glamorous in the very idea of the intellectual. Even for those of us who came of age after 1989, Marxism, like cigarettes, remains linked by association to the idea of the intellectual, and so, like cigarettes, shares in the intellectual’s glamour. I don’t know if cigarettes or Marxism have killed more people, but it’s pretty clear cigarettes are more actively stigmatized. Marxists, neo-Marxists, crypto-Marxists, post-Marxists, etc. have an enduring influence on intellectual fashion. So it is not only possible proudly to confess Marx’s influence on one’s thought, but it remains possible in some quarters to impress by doing so. It ought to be embarrassing, but it isn’t. Being a bit of a Marxist is like having a closet full of pirate blouses but never having to worry.

Why am I thinking about this? Because I ran across this N+1 blog post by Benjamin Kunkel about a recently departed Marxist historian named Giovanni Arrighi. I had never heard of Giovanni Arrighi. Should I be embarrassed about this? I’m not, though I’m willing to be convinced. Kunkel seems impressed with himself for being impressed with Arrighi. I wonder whether this should be a source of embarrassment for Kunkel. Knowing nothing about Arrighi I can’t be sure, but I can suspect. Here is something Kunkel says:

Not the least way that Marxism is opposed to capitalism is in its relationship to time. Capitalist culture approaches a pure instantaneousness: no future, no past. Marxism, by contrast, is a discipline of deep memory and long anticipation. It situates the effervescent eternity of our current way of life in the long sequence of the modes of production, from hunter-gathering, to early agriculture, through slave society, feudalism, the notorious “Oriental despotism,” and our own capitalism as, over four centuries, it has swamped the globe.

Do you understand the point of contrasting actually-existing economic culture to a doctrine? Neither do I. Standard, non-Marxist economic history is not only better history, but equally sweeping. Should we therefore say that the New Institutionalist school of economic history, for example, “is opposed to capitalism in its relationship to time”? Not if we don’t want to sound silly.

Here’s another thing Kunkel says:

People in the rich countries live longer today than ever before, even as the lifespans of our ideas, our feelings, our commitments, our fashions, our jobs, and the objects with which we surround ourselves shrink and shrink. One lives one’s long life in a cloud of mayflies.

Perhaps the fear of marrying a mayfly, of being a mayfly, explains Kunkel’s enthusiasm for intellectual vintage. Whatever else Marxism may be (“a discipline of deep memory and long anticipation”!), it’s not a mayfly. Like other time-tested creeds, Marxism is safer than having perishable ideas of one’s own. Unlike most other time-tested creeds, it’s not embarrassing in Brooklyn, whether or not it should be.

Easter Thoughts of Culture War

I was recently reading somewhere about Christopher Hitchens’ debate with William Lane Craig at Biola and someone in the comments of whatever blog I was reading made the observation that there are tons of Christian schools like Biola and Wheaton and so forth full of smart kids who undergo training in arguing for the existence of God. It’s not like it’s treated as an open question at these places. The Christian schools and their Christian students know the result they need, and they practice in the most persuasive arguments that deliver that result. None of these arguments are any good, of course, as there is no God, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, and so on. But my sense is that there are about a gazillion works of theistic/Christian apologetics for every God Is Not Great. But write a God Is Not Great or a The End of Faith and you’re colored as some kind of obnoxious disrespectful lout out to set the lions on all those downtrodden Christian. Why is that? Even other atheists are encouraged to deplore the brazen “New Atheists'” alleged in-your-face lack of humility. I find this completely ridiculous. They’re right, after all. I also think it’s ridiculous that Christopher Hitchens represents the atheist side in approximately 75 percent of all debates about the existence of God. (Why should he hoard all the speaking fees!?) Why aren’t more philosophy professors–few of whom believe in God–standing up to fight for truth? Well, lots of them don’t like the dog and pony show of public debates, I’m sure. Lots of them don’t want to be impolite. But I’d also guess that they find the arguments so boring that it’s a drag to prepare. Nevertheless, this stuff matters and it’s important to wean the culture off superstition. Hitchens is more than pulling his weight, but I’m afraid most intellectuals who also happen to be atheists aren’t taking this culture war stuff seriously enough. So get in there faithless people! Mix it up! It’s true that pretty much only other Christians care about Alvin Plantinga or William Lane Craig, but there are hoards of bright young Christians who really do think this stuff is more than polish on their parochial cultural inheritance, and that’s really too bad.

Some Technocrats Are Ideologues

Felix Salmon says:

I do have some sympathy for Dani Rodrik’s skepticism when it comes to technocrats, but surely a government of technocrats — which is what I think we now have — is nearly always to be preferred to a government of idealogues.

Perhaps Felix should consider that a large part of the set of technocrats is always a subset of the set of ideologues. I think he means that one prefers technocrats who share one’s ideology. Of course!

Now On the Liberaltarianism Channel: Reflections on Liberaltarianism

It’s sort of gratifying to be unable to keep up with all the people talking about your ideas. But I really can’t keep up. I promised Jonah another reply, but haven’t done it yet. We’re doing a Bloggingheads tomorrow, so maybe I can get some of it out then. Here’s another reply from Ross. Let me say something about this bit:

Yes, there’s a best-case scenario in which the dumbening of the American Right works out fine for libertarians, because the infusion of “liberaltarianism” suddenly makes the left-of-center much smarter and more freedom-friendly about issues of economic policy. But I think the more likely scenario is that the liberaltarians vanish into the center-left without much of a ripple, leaving a right-wing rump to battle eternally with a fat, lazy, none-too-libertarian left-liberalism. And in fact, that worst-case scenario already exists: It’s called the state of California.

I want to emphasize for all the conservatives who’ve come ’round these parts complaining about me calling them dumb that I swear it was Ross Douthat, the conservative Catholic Republican, who brought up the topic of “the dumbening of the American Right.” I admit that I leapt on the idea and indulged in some “jingoistic fagbasher” sort of rhetoric, which is a poor strategy for winning the affection of both those conservatives who do and do not fit the description. I assure you that many of my closest friends are Republicans, and those approving of gay sex on burning flags are closer still. To clarify further, Ross and I were not talking about the relative IQ scores of Democrats and Republicans. We were talking about “intellectuals,” an elusive species of social parasite paid to publish their worthless thoughts, and whatnot. I noticed that some among those who thought I was saying that they are dumb simply on account of their ardent belief in the Good Book seemed to be a bit hostile to the very idea of an “intellectual.” Because who the heck are intellectuals to think they’re so much smarter than the rest of us when they probably can’t even change the oil or gut an elk? It’s a good point. But there you have it.  

But that’s neither here nor there. Pardon me if my series of blog posts is not internally coherent, because I’m truly working things out in real time. But again I find myself wanting to stress that all this farseeing speculation about the relevance or irrelevance of liberaltarians is interesting to me, but decidely secondary. I’ve now spent well over a decade devoted to the study of philosophy and political economy and for what?! I have had many periods of doctrinal enthusiasm, but let me now congratulate myself by publicly admitting that my aim has always been to get it right. As a human, I’ve liked being on teams and have taken some real satisfaction in ideological partisanship. It seems I can’t help but listen to arguments against my side because I’m so aggressively partisan I mean to personally undo them all. Through dumb repetition, I eventually gained a distinct awareness of the singular subtle sensation of intellectual aggravation. Allow me to generalize here, so that this is not about me only.

The more one feels aggravated by a line of reasoning, the more one resolves to unravel it. Our methods for disposing of the obviously spurious vary, and we may become attached to our methods. But not all methods are equally useful for swift and total disposal. Those especially inefficient in this are prone to become intrigued by arguments whose indubitable spuriousness is deviously hidden. One may pick at the knot a while, but become distracted by, say, a beloved but dubious proposition simple to sadistically dissect. So certain problem thoughts are shunted off to obviously spurious storage. One assumes one will return, soon, better equipped to straigten things out. The day of reckoning will come. But then one night, while sniffing the hamper, one recalls with mild alarm earlier in the day deploying, with no trace of devil’s advocacy, an argument previously locked in obviously spurious storage. There may be a problem! Tiny spiders of self-suspicion canvass the web of belief. Heretofore unquestioned doctrines may be quietly accused of undetected spuriousness. In the end, one makes the minimum necessary adjustments. No, there is no problem at all, one is relieved to conclude. There is yet so much in common with the team. The best team!

These are not conversion experiences. These are periodic tune-ups. But how many periods until the boat you’ve rebuilt one plank at a time while sailing in it is a distinguishably different model? What if you like your boat, but you’re lonely on it? Oh what a team our regatta would be! This is liberaltarianism to me. If the question was what to do with my voter registration card, I’d make an origami cat.

Back to Ross’s passage. Regarding the state of California, I’m told the problems more than anything have to do with their ill-designed scheme of direct democracy. And the prison union.

The Hope and Horror of Liberaltarian Alignments

Tyler Cowen and Arnold Kling have both discussed some or all of this passage from Ross Douthat, in which he expresses concern for the possible damage of a possible flight of libertarian intellectuals toward the left. I’ll take it in two pieces. 

What could happen … is a bigger-tent liberalism – somewhat chastened, perhaps, by some big-government failures in the Obama era – that makes libertarian intellectuals feel welcome, engages them in conversations about smarter regulations and more efficient tax policy, and generally woos them away from their culturally-dissonant alliance with people who attend megachurches and Sarah Palin rallies. This would make for a smarter left-of-center in the short run, but I think in the long run it would be pernicious. It would further the Democratic Party’s transformation into a closed circle of brainy meritocrats, and push the Republican Party in a yet more anti-intellectual direction. And it would produce an elite consensus more impervious to structural critiques, and a right-wing populism more incapable of providing them. The Democratic Party would hold power more often, and become more sclerotic as a result; the GOP would take office less often, and behave more recklessly on those rare occasions when it did manage to seize the reins of state. 

First, I think Ross is right to see this as a game about the distribution of opinion elites. Second, I think he’s right to imply that a GOP with a weakened libertarian influence would become a more “right-wing populist” party. Which I think helps me make my point. Why would an intellectual libertarian want to keep company with a group of flag-waving moral reactionaries? Masochism? Now, if I interpret this as an argument aimed at people like me, it’s an exceedingly odd one. Ross seems to say that a more liberaltarian Democratic party would both produce better regulatory and tax policy and win more elections.

Why shouldn’t I, an incrementalist classical liberal, think that’s an awesome result? Because on the rare occasion the GOP manages to govern they’ll wreck the country? And so thinky libertarian types should remain the redheaded stepchild of old fusionism so that right-populists don’t actually indulge their terrifying instincts? I’m not sure that’s what Ross is saying, but that sort of sounds like what he’s saying.  

This is obviously a political gloss on what is essentially an intellectual project, and I know Will, like many libertarians I admire, prides himself on not thinking in terms of partisanship. But for anyone who cares about political outcomes, I think it’s important to consider the correlation of forces when you set out on ideological projects – especially in a country where the two-party structure has been as durable as it’s been in ours. I understand the impulse for smart, independent-minded libertarians to flee what seems like an increasingly anti-intellectual American Right and seek conversations and alliances with the friendlier parts of the left-of-center. But the vacuum on the Right also militates in favor of smart, idiosyncratic thinkers trying to fill it, instead of fighting for a seat at the crowded liberal table. That doesn’t mean registering as a Republican, attending CPAC, or casting a vote for McCain-Palin (or the next iteration thereof). But it means being open to the possibility that the old fusionism, battered and bruised as it is, may still hold as much promise for the advancement of libertarian policy goals as “liberaltarianism” ever will.

I’m glad that Ross sees that the American Right is increasingly anti-intellectual. But I don’t think that’s best combatted by sticking it out and raising the intellectual tone of an increasingly hostile group of egghead haters. As I think Ross agrees, the balance of elite opinion matters. And I think intellectual capital flight from the right really does threaten the GOPs future success. If Republicans keep bleeding young intellectual talent because increasingly socially liberal twenty-somethings simply can’t stand hanging around a bunch of superstitious fag-bashers, then the GOP powers-that-be might start to panic and realize that, once the last cohort of John Birchers die, they’ve got no choice but to move libertarian on social issues. Maybe. I like to imagine.

But Ross’s crystal ball is no better than mine. So I think my best bet is just to go ahead and try to come up with a more coherent and effective version of practical market-friendly liberalism. I’d like to think that would be attractive to the tens of millions of Americans who think conservatives are vile, that conventional liberals are too deep in the pocket of the Democratic Party to actually promote prosperity and opportunity, and that libertarians are dogmatic, weird, and irrelevant.

Naomi Klein Quote of the Day

From Lloyd Grove’s Portfolio interview:

So I think reality is really causing the crisis for the true Friedman fanatics. There’s kind of a retreat going on into sacred text. They don’t want to deal with reality because for a long time it was just about trying to get policymakers to accept their ideology. But now they had those policymakers and they’ve created such a disaster, and indicted the ideology with their legacy, now there’s just a desire to go back to the sacred text and say that everything was a distortion. And what I see is a really striking similarity that I’ve seen on the left, on the far left, where you’ve had these kind of Trotskyite people who sell newspapers outside of my events, and they have no interest in looking at the reality of authoritarian communism in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, anywhere. These are all distortions and what they want to do is, they just want to go back to the sacred texts, and say that we have nothing to learn from these lived experiments. The Cato Institute now, essentially, they are Friedmanite Trotskyites.


Please debate me, Naomi Klein!