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How Liberals and Conservatives Are Losing the Battle of Ideas

March 26, 2012 2 comments

The Young Activitists

New ideas, by their very nature, find root in the fertile soil of young minds. Liberals are no longer the bearers of new ideas. Conservatives are still ridiculous. Both groups are hoping enough interested people are out there who prefer their brand of statism and phony philosophies, both of which have been tainted (perhaps from their very inception) by an obvious desire to control individuals and individuality itself.

The young activists in the Republican and Libertarian Parties are truly the most progressive movement out there, 21st Century Libertarians: Homosexuals and Straights, Queers and Squares, Blacks and Whites, Capitalists and Voluntary Socialists, Anarchists and Government Employees, Soldiers and Peaceniks, Mothers and Fathers, Daughters and Sons. (Queue liberal heads exploding everywhere.)

The young activists are showing up and doing their best to drag the Bush Republicans out with the trash. And who would serve in their place? Who do you think? Do you think?

The new dynamic in American politics is Statism vs. Libertarianism. Remember when people use to make jokes about how the government made no sense and was terrible? Now they’re saying, “Wait, why are we joking about this?” Remember when people said, “Live and let live?” People are beginning to say, “Yeah, that’s something we should actually do.”

It is rather beside the point to mention Republicans by and large only pay lip service to Libertarianism. People are waking up to this fact and are saying enough is enough. Statism should be a thing of the past. The Bush Republicans are in trouble; they took first place in the contest to see who Libertarians would try to displace in the Swamp.

When Anti-War, Non-Violence, and Freedom are Truly Considered

However, the Left Statists are also in trouble. While Libertarians have taken up an electoral assault at all levels to the Republican Party, they have also meted out punishment to Liberals in the political conscience of the entire world.

Liberals have tried to keep clear of Libertarian political philosophy by claiming it all boils down to Bush Republicanism or worse by throwing out names like “racist” or “sexist” or “exploiter” instead of taking up fundamental issues like the freedom of association head on.

But it’s not that easy. Libertarian philosophers, economists, and politicians have gained access to media outlets, and more importantly, social networks and the internet. That’s right. More importantly.

Libertarians have become a force to be reckoned with in the minds of the American public, and we see support around the world increasing as well. Conservatives are trying to paint Libertarians as Liberals. Liberals, who used to be known for supporting personal freedom, are doing their best to paint the Libertarian message as Conservative, i.e., all things racist and sexist, with a broad brush of hate.

Behold the Name Calling Olympics

Libertarians are quite comfortable sitting back and watching while Conservatives call Liberals “sluts” and Liberals call Conservatives “racist” and “sexist.” It’s actually quite amazing when either group actually complains about what the other side is doing. It’s like when a child calls his sister stupid and then complains when she calls him stupid back. But when it’s adults on air with access to millions of people, the farce and entertainment factor grows a thousand fold.

The knee jerk reaction of either side these days is to simply call the other some sort of pejorative as if this settles the whole affair. Liberals are the most buffoonish when they do this, since they try to pass it off as actual intellectual commentary. You see Left Statists on the air talking about how the only reason someone would be against Obama is because they are racist. Deluded people are usually the only ones who don’t see the absurdity of their delusions. Many Americans see this sort of talking going on and think to themselves, “That’s really not an answer for all these valid critiques of Obama. Neither is pointing out that some people didn’t have those critiques of Bush. Some people did.”

Libertarians are simply answering all critics with consistent arguments. When these critics reply by impugning the personal beliefs and motives of Libertarians, it’s actually a win for freedom. Remember: a boxer isn’t great because he’s the best in the gym, he’s great because he wins. If Liberals and Conservatives weren’t so obviously bad at answering fundamental questions about freedom, whether economic, sexual, personal, professional, whatever, Libertarians wouldn’t be so obviously gaining ground in the realm of public opinion. Yeah, it’s all fine and good when a Libertarian writes a great book. It’s even better when he or she schools a Liberal or Conservative in public.

Obama, Obama

Left Statists really don’t have much to hang onto when it comes to the current President. Their philosophy has been reduced to, “Vote for the guy who will make sure we can do what we like on the weekends, the hell with anti-war and civil liberties. We’ll care about that when a Republican is President.”

One need only become a regular reader of Glenn Greenwald’s blog to understand the extent to which Obama has further dragged the United States into a fascist, menacing police state that claims life and death over all people and their freedom, ownership over all resources, and the ability to wage war without the consent of anyone but the President and associated counselors.

Liberals constantly like to paint Libertarians as hypocrites. Why don’t you avoid using roads if you think government shouldn’t have a monopoly on the roads you can’t avoid using!? (Hysteria ensues.) That’s really the topic of another blog post, but the point is that if Liberals are asking, “Oh, well, look, you actually do use some government services. How do you explain that?” why can’t Libertarians ask, “Oh, well, look, your preferred road builder is actually killing and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people every year. How do you explain that?”

Neither Conservatives nor Liberals are Anti-Corporatism

Many people who identify as Christian Conservatives, Romney Republicans, Left Statists and Occupy Wall Street Punching Bags don’t want to see an end to the current power structure in the United States. The television news and print media discuss fundamental issues about power as if it is the personalities wielding these powers that are insufficient and lacking.

Only Libertarians are advancing popular political thinking by questioning whether a political system now well over 200 years old needs some revisiting and self-reflection rather than cheerleading, ever greater legalized plunder, and nonstop attacks on human freedom.

But not your typical Statist! Why, if only we had the best and brightest, I’m sure our perfect political system would work! If only the subsidies were handed out correctly! If only the power to compel a certain morality were given to this President or that President! If only the central bank were more/less politicized! If only taxes were higher/(a little) lower! If only spending were (much) higher/higher!

Republicans aren’t looking for real cuts in spending, and Democrats are looking for more spending. Neither side is doing anything to stop bailouts in any meaningful way, and the feast of rent-seeking at the teat located on Capitol Hill goes on unabated.

Libertarians are the only ones discussing truly anti-corporatist measures like ending all subsidies, ending all bailouts, ending all government-issued monopoly advantages, ending all public school monopolies, and ending all incarceration for victimless crimes. These are radical policies. These are the ideas invigorating young folk, not half measures and unkept promises. People don’t want to see something a little different. They want a lot different, and they want it now.

Even if you throw some of the corrupt players on Wall Street in jail, doesn’t the game go on? Even if you increase (or even decrease) taxes on the rich, aren’t you leaving in place a system that allows rent-seeking to go on, letting people get rich based on government fiat and the enforcement of monopoly advantages with courts and police forces? Even if you elect a Democratic Nobel Peace Prize winner, won’t you still have an increase in the number of wars, war spending, and abuses of civil liberties?

A healthy conscience demands answers to these questions. Conservatives and Liberals offer none.

All Your Intertubes are Belong to Us

As the 24-hour news cycle settles comfortably into its third decade, people are beginning to see the entire forest, not just the trees. Politicians and talking heads are no longer heroes; they’re actors in a script that most people see is just a script.

The real discussion about political events and philosophies happens on the internet. When you load up CNN or Fox News or any other mainstream outlet, the comments are about as interesting as a dry water fountain. However, when you see friends and friends of friends and amateur bloggers duking it out on social networks and blogs, crowd-sourced criticism becomes very valuable. The internet is a crucible into which lies and stupidity go to be smashed apart and die.

Libertarians are using this medium to highlight all the critical thinking that was going on when all the glowy boxes in houses were one way streets. Back in the day, when something stupid and obviously ridiculous was said on TV about the government, you had a smaller group of people at your disposal with which to reflect upon that stupidity. The thought of it is chilling. How terrible it must have been to get an inkling that something stupid was said and you didn’t quite know how to put it.

But nowadays, there is much criticism of the government’s public statements as well as the statements coming out of the traditional news media. Hackers and whistle-blowers are cracking the edifice of government secrecy that journalists have failed to breach in a very long time. If journalists are the watchmen of government, your average internet user has become the watchmen of journalists.

As a rule of thumb, most established news outlets are largely uncritical of government no matter what era or government you’re talking about, including ours. Perhaps especially ours. Previous to the advent of the internet, both official and news media propaganda was harder to criticize. In addition, the duopoly Democratic and Republican parties control was harder to avoid since the obvious answer to something you didn’t agree with was the most widely available criticism of that thing.

No longer is this the case. Now when people turn on the cable news, it’s with the understanding that within a day or two, they will have come across no less than 500 opinions about what was said. Now a typically Statist debate can be shown for what it is: thinking within a very dimly lit and confused box. Libertarians are now able to ask why anyone should have to settle for picking one sort of government harassment over another.

The Future Looks Great

No longer does the sun set so gently on Bush’s successors–Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich–nor their Left Statist critics. Let’s be clear here. Much to the GOP’s chagrin, (they’re resigning over it), and the Democrat’s chagrin (anti-war when convenient), a large number of people from all walks of life are rejecting the idea that government is their best friend just because they’re homosexual, or minorities, or Christians, or women, or men, or veterans, or soldiers, or anything else. The Libertarians are here to stay.

The problem with establishing a legal duopoly in the electoral process, or trying to perpetuate a duopoly in the realm of ideas that has already broken down, is that if you ever lose control of either, you’re on the outside trying to get in. Now you’re the one being smashed in the crucible.

Libertarians need only keep doing what they are doing to grow their numbers, to show old ideas for what they are, and to keep lighting the fires of new ideas wherever the fuel of human curiosity is available. Peace is no longer a concept that applies only to nations, but also to the state of affairs among all men and womenTrue freedom is not licensed or granted by a group, but recognized as necessary for the blossoming of the individual. And the more critics of freedom try to reduce it to hate and selfishness, the more firmly will it take hold in the minds of thinking people who are not so easily dissuaded from rational discourse.

Murphy-Krugman

November 4, 2010 2 comments

In case you hadn’t heard, Bob Murphy, Austrian school wunderkind, has come up with a novel way to get Paul Krugman to finally debate and put up or shut up about his particular flavor of pilfer-thy-neighbor economics.

It’s pretty cool. Murphy has raised fifty thousand dollars, that’s right, fifty thousand, that will be given to charity if and only if Krugman debates. You can see more details at http://www.KrugmanDebate.com. You can also pledge toward the 100K goal. Your credit card won’t be charged unless the debate actually occurs.

I like the idea of making Krugman choose between hunkering down in his Ivory Tower and denying hungry people this winter an extra 100K in warm meals or getting his head taken off in a debate against an Austrian economist like Dr. Murphy.

Maybe someone should remind Dr. Krugs this release of money would only help his stated goal of increasing aggregate demand and money flow.

Please visit http://www.KrugmanDebate.com for more info.

Message from Tom Vendittelli: Libertarian Candidate for Congress from New York 13th Congressional District

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

This November, the theme seems to be “throw the bums out.” Americans are angry, and with good reason. Most people don’t agree with trillion-dollar bailouts for multi-national banks, endlessly expanding wars, and the alarming rate we are losing our liberties at home. Though many recent badly made policy decisions can be rightfully be blamed on Democrats, Republicans are far from innocent in the current, frightening state of affairs.

President Bush, along with a Republican Congress, did much to increase the size of government, add to the national debt, and erode our civil liberties. President Obama promised to reverse the tide, yet he and the Democratic Congress have picked up right where Bush and the Republicans left off. Now Republicans are positioning themselves as the party of strictly limited Constitutional government. Not so.  The Republicans are the ones that gave us the PATRIOT act, two trillion-dollar wars, a half-trillion dollar expansion of government health care, and the 2008 banker bailout.

Indeed, both establishment parties have a strong record of disregarding the rules and laws established by our founders and embodied in our Constitution. If one carefully traces the course of political events, especially of the last 10 years, it is obvious that among both Democratic and Republican parties, there exists a state of open contempt towards the Constitution and rule of law.

This campaign is about one thing more than any other. The American people need the option to stand up and say “No” to the events that seem inevitable to befall this country. No question, the Democrats have done much damage to our Republic since taking control of Congress and the Presidency. Democrats betrayed those who voted them into power by disregarding nearly all of their campaign promises in pursuit of an agenda that strongly benefits banks, large corporations, the insurance industry, unions, and government workers, all at the expense of the American people. They deserve to be voted out of out office, no question. However, do not be fooled by this strategic Republican about-face. If one believes the rhetoric, one is to believe that Republicans have suddenly learned the virtues of a Constitutionally limited government, and are poised to restore us to the principles of Thomas Jefferson’s America. Again, not so.

If one examines the Republican voting record when they controlled Congress, it is obvious that they will abandon all of their campaign promises at the precise moment they are voted in, the same as the Democrats did. The growth of government will continue unabated, and our Constitution and civil liberties will be further eroded. Everything in the Republican voting record indicates that they care little about the Constitution and limited government, favoring instead unlimited powers for what can only be deemed an “elitist ruling class.” Unlimited government power, unfortunately, has broad bi-partisan support.

This campaign is about standing up and saying “No!” to the entrenched special interests on both sides of the aisle, and “Yes!”, to the Constitution. This campaign is about offering to thousands of my fellow citizens in the 13th Congressional district, the choice of a candidate who really believes in the Constitution and strictly limited government.If the message of Constitutionally limited government, sound money, and a sensible foreign policy is ever to reach the ears of those who pull the strings in Washington, it starts at home by rejecting the status quo. I am doing my part by being that choice for liberty. It is up to my fellow citizens to do their part by sending a loud and clear message on November 2nd, by pulling the lever for Libertarians, the real liberty candidates.

Tom Vedittelli for Congress Website

Obama and the Art of Class Warfare

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

When it first becomes obvious that you bet the farm and lost you had better find someone to blame.

 The best target is someone everybody already hates. First they went after those greedy bankers. It was the Wall Street greed that caused the meltdown despite all the good work the government could do. Never mind the Fed and decades of interest rate manipulation and creating fiat money out of thin air. Never mind Fannie and Freddie and decades of policies designed to buy votes with houses regardless of the cost to the economy. Never mind the risk and uncertainty created by seizing companies, strong-arm bailouts, handouts to unions, further cartelizing health care and threatening to raise taxes (yes – letting the Bush tax cuts expire is RAISING taxes). Never mind an extra $2 trillion in debt . None of those government policies harmed the economy. It was those greedy bankers. Let’s get ‘em.

 After a while even banker bashing loses it’s luster. And besides some of those bankers are really big campaign contributors – really big.

 Who’s next? It’s the rich people. Let’s get the rich people! Oh wait a minute – we are already soaking the rich people. Well who is next after the rich people? The upper middle class –let’s gets the upper middle class. Let’s get the people that earn more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples).

You see according the President the nation can’t afford to stop plundering the upper middle class because lower taxes on them would – god forbid – raise the deficit. This President assures us he will stand firmly against raising the deficit – any more than he already has. Two trillion is just about right.

 The Democrats didn’t seem to be too concerned about deficits for the last 18 months when they had political cover of stimulus spending for their $2 trillion vote buying operation. But now when it’s the tax payer’s own money in question any alternative to government plunder is just plain irresponsible.

 Here is Peter Orzag, Obama’s OMB director in his recent New York Times blog :

In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether. Ideally only the middle-class tax cuts would be continued for now. Getting a deal in Congress, though, may require keeping the high-income tax cuts, too. And that would still be worth it. Why does this combination make sense? The answer is that over the medium term, the tax cuts are simply not affordable. Yet no one wants to make an already stagnating jobs market worse over the next year or two, which is exactly what would happen if the cuts expire as planned.

Translation: Plunder the upper and upper middle class now and then in two years plunder the middle class too.

But now listen to President Obama in Ohio 2 days later on Sep 8.

Let me be clear to Boehner and everyone else. We should not hold middle-class tax cuts hostage any longer. We are ready, this week, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less. “For any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton. This isn’t to punish folks who are better off — it’s because we can’t afford the $700 billion price tag.

 Translation: Let’s pit middle and upper-middle class taxpayers against each other, dividing them roughly along lines that will yield lots of Democratic votes. If we control the press spin few people will remember that my administration just added $2 trillion to the deficit.

Mr. President – this nation can’t afford you.

Liberals, Libertarians, and Civil Rights

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment
Libertarians have come a long way.  Previous to Ron Paul’s presidential bid in 2008, topics such as civil rights legislation and monetary policy were considered settled.  While the current brouhaha about Rand Paul is hardly a victory for libertarians, it is certainly an opportunity to discuss issues no one ever questions.

It is important to note the reason for the present civil rights discussion was not to give libertarians an opportunity to seriously discuss criticism of civil rights legislation.  Rand Paul’s appearance on the Rachel Maddow show was meant to characterize libertarians as racists, or out of touch with reality, or simply incapable of ensuring the liberal vision of the world championed by the left since FDR and LBJ.

But libertarians should not cringe when faced with discussing the most controversial of their beliefs.  If anything, as I’ve already said, it should be viewed as an opportunity to take ideas that are rarely discussed into the mainstream.

But by refusing to discuss our most unpopular positions, we lend credence to the idea that there might be something wrong with them.  And it is most necessary to become well-read and well-spoken about these particular issues given the disadvantage of conventional wisdom being set against us.

So what is the opportunity presented to libertarians at this time?  To demonstrate the Civil Rights Act (CRA), like many liberal policies and programs, is given too much credit for advancing racial minorities when all it really does is persecute ideological minorities for not voluntarily embracing liberal beliefs and acting accordingly.

I doubt liberals actually use laws like the CRA for the sole purpose of discrediting their ideological critics.  I’m sure many believe the CRA is responsible for “fixing” society the way they give government credit for curing all sorts of social and economic ills.  However, this does not change the fact that whenever their beliefs regarding race and government are questioned their immediate response is to smear their critics as racist.

The reason they often get away with this is because of the widespread but mistaken belief that only liberal laws, institutions, and policies promote the well-being of racial minorities.  Thus, whenever anyone criticizes them, the initial response is invariably, “You’re racist!” or “You don’t really care about racial minorities because the only way to care is to support liberalism.”

The dynamic liberals often describe is one of having to give up some freedom for a larger benefit that far outweighs the loss of liberty involved.  For racial minorities to advance, the freedoms of ideological minorities must be taken away.  Liberals love the drama and rhetoric they can dream up when they present issues as zero-sum games in this way.

As is often the case with economic questions, it is in this instance the libertarian’s job to show the black-and-white, zero-sum view of the world liberals take is childish and intellectually lazy.

In several articles on the Huffington Post, liberal writers give their darkest, most abysmal prognostications of a world without the CRA.  It is a place where racial minorities are nothing more than property and permanent members of an underclass who have no way of escaping the corporate monopolies that will succeed in returning blacks to the chains of bondage they previously bore.

In other words, liberals are civil society fear mongers who like to scare people into believing they are the saviors of man’s better nature.

For the last forty to fifty years, Americans have been programed to live under that fantastical delusion.  Media and political elites have sold us on the idea that government is responsible for all progress and that we are dependent on government to ensure a fair, orderly society.

Dependence begets power with the balance going to those who are depended upon.

And as liberal pundits are currently dreaming up the most heinous set of circumstances imaginable to describe a world without the CRA, we can see this justification of empowering government taking place through fear mongering.

The Rand Paul/Rachel Maddow interview is part of this liberal exposition.  It is a form of political theatre that mimics a true inquiry into someone’s opinion on a controversial issue.  Instead, it was a way for Maddow to discredit libertarianism now that everyone knows libertarians are a growing force in the political arena.  If there’s one group of people that threaten the liberal agenda more than republicans, it’s libertarians.

Others will say my accusations are not true.  Maddow was simply asking Dr. Paul valid questions about his beliefs and his inability to respond persuasively (or at all, really) illustrates the shortcomings of libertarianism with respect to race.

But Maddow’s line of questions betrays her liberal bias and intent to smear libertarians by framing their beliefs as racist, or at least as nothing more than a fetish for freedom that cares nothing for the welfare of blacks.  This is the zero-sum game liberals try to push on everyone.

Not once during the interview did Maddow ask how someone could believe the CRA was unnecessary and/or wrong to implement while at the same time wishing to promote the advancement of blacks.  It is simply inconceivable to her that libertarian beliefs can be reconciled with a concern for racial minorities.

For Maddow, the only reason a person would support the position of not having the CRA is because they care about abstract, unrealistic, libertarian ideals more than racial minorities.  And since Rand Paul was not successful at conveying the idea that freedom does not mean the end of racial equality and progress, libertarians have suffered a minor setback in the effort to combat the prevailing liberal wisdom that  has had such a pernicious effect on freedom for the past fifty years.

But Rand Paul was never supposed to convey that message on Maddow’s show.  Instead, Maddow was intent on hammering home the point that racism still exists, from which the audience is supposed to infer equality would collapse if ideological minorities were allowed to associate with whomever they wish.  Somehow, liberals go from a few racists choosing to be racist to a world where blacks are nearly slaves again without any good explanation.

However, they are entirely sure the only thing that stands between us and this horribly racist world they’ve dreamed up is the CRA.  This is why the CRA and the advancement of blacks are the same for a liberal like Rachel Maddow.

When she asks if Woolworths should have been allowed to remain segregated and demands Dr. Paul give a simple yes or no answer, it is because a simple yes or no answer is intended to paint him in a certain way depending on how he answers.  (Thank you to CR for this following analysis.)

If he answers yes, he’s either a racist or a wildly misinformed libertarian idealist.  If he answers no, he’s being inconsistent since it’s already assumed that without a law against segregation it would never go away.  If he tries to explain why he’s answering the way he answers, he’s evading the question.

This is what is known as a loaded question.

Maddow needs to maintain this bit of theatre with her yes or no demand in the interview.  Without it, Dr. Paul may have actually explained how one can say, yes, it should have been allowed to remain segregated as a matter of law, but, no, this does not mean segregation would never end, nor would have blacks remained a permanent underclass.

But this bit of clarification is necessary given the prevailing liberal order.  Without further explanation from Dr. Paul, Maddow’s question remains loaded and the simple yes or no conveys exactly the message it’s supposed to:  libertarians don’t care about racial minorities and libertarian philosophy is incapable of “protecting” racial minorities if actually implemented in US law.

So what should libertarians do now?  Not shrink before the challenge of releasing American politics from the grips of modern liberalism.  And also, remember that avoiding certain issues is the equivalent of conceding the shortcomings of one’s own philosophy.

What should Rand Paul do?  Stick to issues that are actually in play.  No one is calling for a repeal of the CRA and it’s not like there’s a foaming-at-the-mouth, racist, grassroots movement to subjugate blacks.  (And, no, the Tea Party is not that either.)  The liberal smear job Maddow perpetrated against Dr. Paul has created an opportunity for libertarians to go mainstream and for the doctor to sharpen his game.
Let’s get moving.

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