The father of consumer sovereignty

by Henry on February 16, 2018

I hope to have a lot more to say about Quinn Slobodian’s Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism when it comes out next month. Short version: it’s a very important book that deserves to have a quite enormous impact. It does look at questions related to those of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains (specifically – to what extent is the version of libertarianism that flowed from Hayek, Friedman and others explicitly anti-democratic). However, it doesn’t mention MacLean (whose book likely came out too recently to be considered), and deserves to be treated as a major achievement in its own right rather than as a further contribution to a semi-related spat. Hence, this preliminary post which is intended to get all that stuff out of the way before I write about Globalists proper.

The short version is that this book is what MacLean’s book ought to have been. It reads its sources competently, and is fully alive to the differences within neoliberalism as well as to the commonalities across it. That is not to say that it draws upon the same source material. Indeed, one of the book’s major arguments is that the focus on purely American sources has blinded historians to the more important role that neoliberals had in forging international institutions. But when it does draw on those sources, unlike Democracy in Chains, it interprets them in context, and doesn’t claim e.g. that people’s speeches say things that they actually do not. I’m sure that this book is going to make a bunch of libertarians unhappy. I’m equally sure that they are going to have a hard time pushing back against the empirical research underpinning a book that has been enthusiastically blurbed by Bruce Caldwell.

However, there is one chapter of the book that calls into serious question a claim made by some of MacLean’s critics. Specifically, much of the argument over that book has centered on racism: to what extent was Buchanan’s account of public choice motivated by racism (or, in MacLean’s formulation, white Southern anger at desegregation). Some of MacLean’s libertarian critics have fixed upon Buchanan’s decision to invite the economist William H. Hutt to Virginia as evidence that he was not racist. Thus, for example, Phil Magness:

In 1965 Buchanan recruited an economist by the name of William H. Hutt to serve as a visiting professor at the Thomas Jefferson Center, his hub of operations at UVA. Hutt was a natural fit for the role. He had recently retired from his position as chair of the economics department at the University of Capetown in South Africa. He was also an early contributor to the public choice school of thought, and his work drew heavily upon Buchanan and Gordon Tullock’s The Calculus of Consent. Hutt’s own academic reputation is noteworthy though because he was one of the leading academic opponents in South Africa of that country’s notorious Apartheid regime.

Before he came to UVA, Hutt spent almost three decades criticizing the Apartheid government of his own country. His work repeatedly drew the ire of the South African government. In one notable instance from 1955, the Apartheid regime even suspended Hutt’s passport in an attempt to prevent him from presenting on the barbarism of this policy abroad. He regained his travel rights after a public controversy over his academic freedom, and remained undeterred in criticizing the South African government. Hutt’s work on Apartheid eventually culminated in a book length treatment of the subject entitled The Economics of the Colour Bar, which he published in 1964. The work notably employs an early version of public choice theory to explain the origins of Apartheid in South Africa as a form of regulatory capture to the benefit of white labor unions over black workers.

When Buchanan recruited Hutt the following year, his international reputation as an Apartheid critic was near its peak. Hutt joined the department at UVA over the winter of 1965-66 and remained there for about two years on an extended stay. Drawing upon his recent book, Hutt delivered multiple lectures at Virginia and other universities in the region about the economics of Apartheid. During his stay Hutt also noticed an alarming similarity between the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the segregation in the southern United States. His home country’s brutal laws were more overt and severe, but the two only differed in degree. In fact, Hutt noticed that many segregationist laws had similar origins to South Africa. Both aimed to keep the black workforce out of competition and other forms of economic association with whites, and both used race to achieve this end.

In short order, Hutt began extending his analysis of Apartheid to what he saw around him in the segregationist United States. … MacLean is certainly aware of Hutt’s presence at UVA because she mentions that Buchanan recruited him on p. 59 of her book. But she also conveniently leaves out any references whatsoever to Hutt’s research and activities during his time the Jefferson Center. … MacLean makes no mention of Hutt’s better-known book on Apartheid, or the fact that his academic work and lectures while at UVA explicitly targeted both Apartheid and the parallel segregation regime in the United States.

However, as Slobodian makes clear in his chapter on neoliberalism and race, the post-Mont Pelerin approach to race and hence Hutt’s position were considerably more ambiguous than Magness presents them as being.

First, Slobodian describes a clear split among neoliberal intellectuals. Some, most notably the one time president of the Mont Pelerin society, Wilhelm Röpke, were clearly racist. Röpke defended apartheid, referred to black Africans as ‘cannibals,’ and believed that the countries of the global South had inferior cultures which doomed them to economic failure. His main collaborator Albert Hunold, former European secretary of the Mont Pelerin Society, told Röpke in a letter that Hayek was advocating “one man one vote and race mixing” in South Africa, and that “[n]othing surprises me about Hayek any more.” As Slobodian discusses, these statements came after Röpke and Hunold had split with Mont Pelerin, and were forging a relationship with American conservatives – he sees Röpke as a crucial influence on William Buckley, and plausibly on Buckley’s famous National Review editorial opposing desegregation (which was, as Slobodian notes, “couched in a defense of European colonialism in Africa”).

Yet the mainstream of Mont Pelerin was, despite Hunold’s animadversions against Hayek, also problematic on apartheid, and William H. Hutt was at the heart of the problem. Hutt indeed condemned racism, and claimed that it was rooted in opposition to the market. Yet his condemnation only went so far. As Slobodian describes it:

Tactfully avoided by his admirers – but the focus of nearly all his other writing on the theme – is the fact that the political complement to this workplace liberation was not equality for blacks but their second-class status for the foreseeable future. Hutt’s proposals for a weighted franchise ended up being just as radical as Röpke’s proposition of the interest rate index of civilization. The problem of democracy was the central theme of Hutt’s writings. What he described as “the most vital point of my whole thesis” in The Economics of the Color Bar was not an economic but a political argument: a warning about the “tyranny of parliamentary majorities” under systems of universal suffrage. The fact that blacks were the majority population in South Africa made the situation exceptionally perilous. … Hutt expressed the need “to protect the minorities [that is, Whites] from spoliation and revenge” and suggested that the franchise be adjusted on “some principle of weighting.”

Hutt appears to have understood the term ‘consumer sovereignty,’ which he invented, in rather different ways than its modern connotation. Hutt did foresee the gradual introduction of more equality in some “very distant future (it would be very optimistic to assume 50 years).” Hayek, in a lecture in South Africa recorded by Hutt, appears to have argued instead that a “state captured by black voters would cease to be a problem if the state itself was stripped preemptively of its right to grant exemptions from the discipline of the competitive market” and proposed to strip the state down to an enforcer of competition and contract. Hutt then devoted a substantial portion of his later career to advocating for the Rhodesian system of rule, and “kept up a drumbeat of protest against the supposed injustice of the international mobilization campaign against Rhodesia and South Africa.”

These … subtleties … in Hutt’s position appear either to have escaped the libertarian critics of MacLean who championed, or to have seemed to them for some reason or another not to have been worth mentioning. But they do point up the problems of a specific variety of libertarian reasoning.

As Jacob Levy has written, there is an elective affinity between certain forms of libertarianism and racism:

.The claims MacLean makes are untrue about Buchanan. But the history of the postwar libertarian movement is rich with moments of flirtation or outright entanglement with the defenders of white supremacy. This is most conspicuous today in the explicit sympathy for the Confederacy in some quarters, a problem I’ve written about before. There’d be no trouble writing a better book than MacLean’s about the dark history of libertarian politics that ran from Murray Rothbard’s support for Strom Thurmond’s presidential campaign to Lew Rockwell’s celebration to the beating of Rodney King to the racism that went out under Ron Paul’s name in his newsletters in the 1980s and 90s to the case of then-aide to Rand Paul Jack Hunter. The generalized distrust of institutions that can be part of anti-statism easily falls back on the fantasy of a unified pre-political national people, and that populist nationalism in America is almost definitionally white populist nationalism.

That said, there are many Hayekian libertarians who genuinely, and sincerely, consider themselves to be anti-racist, and to believe (e.g. on the basis of the Beckerian arguments that animated Hutt) that racism and market freedoms are antagonistic.

Yet what happens if we take them at their word? In Hutt we have a libertarian economist who is currently being held forward by libertarians as an exemplar of market based anti-racism. Hutt’s actual position was that racism was bad, but the introduction of actual democracy to South Africa was bad too, since it would lead to expropriation. Hence, Hutt’s solution of a weighted franchise, and Hayek’s apparent suggestion that the South African state ought be limited to a minimal body designed to enforce contracts, protect market competition and no more, lest a democratic majority seize upon it as a tool for redistribution.

For sure, neither Hutt nor Hayek appear to have been racist as Röpke was, or direct supporters of the version of apartheid that then applied. But weighting the vote or crippling the state for fear of a black majority is weighting the vote or crippling the state for fear of a black majority, whichever way you slice it.

{ 115 comments }

1

Alex Tabarrok 02.16.18 at 5:35 pm

Trust me, libertarians fear majorities of any color–which is one reason libertarians tend to like a bill of rights and federalism both of which South Africa adopted.

2

bianca steele 02.16.18 at 5:36 pm

“He wasn’t racist because he didn’t believe ‘all whites should have rights and all blacks shouldn’t’, but rather ‘some whites should not have rights and all blacks shouldn’t’” is pretty subtle. As is “he wasn’t racist because he didn’t consider white trade unionists to be really white.”

And “he wasn’t racist because he was primarily interested in property rights and “freedom”, and just kind of thought of rich and poor in terms of white and black, but didn’t care about it or think about it often (especially when thinking in abstract intellectual terms rather than political and strategic ones),” isn’t much of an improvement.

I mean, I can see lots of reasons why MacLean’s book might have rubbed people the wrong way, especially academics. But when I’m farther left than CT front-pagers on an issue, something strange is probably going on.

3

Henry 02.16.18 at 6:20 pm

There are good arguments over what racism is, but I think that the above in #1 isn’t quite what I was trying to say, and is separate from the problems with MacLean as I see them. Here, let me disentangle three claims.

1. MacLean. MacLean’s argument is that Buchanan was an angry white Southerner, whose resentment of how desegregation was the inspiration for his center and his development of the Virginia approach to public choice. That claim might or might not be true, but MacLean doesn’t provide any strong evidence to support it.

2. Levy. Jacob Levy doesn’t believe, I don’t think, that libertarianism is necessarily racist (after all he used to be one, maybe still is one, sort of). Levy’s argument is that libertarianism, protestations to the contrary, has had a clear elective affinity with racism, such that many libertarians (not all) have been attracted to openly racist causes, and racists to libertarian arguments. There is a very good history to be written along the lines he suggests, which ideally would not simply replicate the standard myth of How the Bad Libertarians Went With Mises and the Good Libertarians With Cato, but interrogate it. Here, Levy’s argument is that there are a lot of racist libertarians, but that we don’t have good evidence that Buchanan is one of them. That seems right to me.

3. Bianca (and if I get this wrong, as I well might, you are obviously at complete liberty to correct me). Bianca Steele suggests that it’s a little much to suggest that effectively-racist attitudes that emerge from abstract notions of property rights and freedom are not racist. But I think that this too sounds right to me (perhaps the disagreement is due to my only having stated the argument in a somewhat confusing way).

Indeed, the last sentence of my post is a way of saying something pretty similar. When I say earlier that “neither Hutt nor Hayek appear to have been racist as Röpke was ,” all I am saying is that they did not appear to be motivated by racist beliefs of the kind that Röpke had. One could certainly interpret their final positions as racist, and certainly they gave succor to directly and obviously racist regimes in South Africa and (in Hutt’s case) Rhodesia. But there is a significant distinction between being racist because one believes that black people are “cannibals” and because one believes in a set of abstract principles that, in situations such as South Africa, lead to political ideas such as weighted franchises.

The extent to which this distinction is morally important, I’ll leave for debate – my interest here is largely explanatory. Figuring this stuff out, and the distinctions between different neoliberal is important, if one e.g. wants to understand how neoliberal ideas developed, and why they have sometimes been attractive to people who would not for a moment consider themselves to be personally racist. It is also, as Slobodian makes clear, implicated to some degree in the fracture between conservatives and Hayekians which emerged from Mont Pelerin. And one of the things I really liked about Slobodian’s book is that it provides a lively and convincing account of the differences between these positions, how they led to disagreement in some instances, and to tacit agreement or coordination in others.

Hope this at least helps clarify what I wanted to argue, and hence maybe to better disagreements …

4

bianca steele 02.16.18 at 6:45 pm

Henry, I want to eat something and find a real keyboard before I respond to 3, but w/r/t 1, I don’t see that as being MacLean’s argument. I think the objection is really to the idea that Buchanan’s ideas about political theory became popular because Buchanan and others saw they were good for fighting federally imposed desegregation and democratization with (instead of being the very best ideas, chosen for intrinsic reasons).

And I think it likely people read the first, narratively dramatic chapter, which is really more of an introduction, and their revulsion at such a non-spartan mode of writing colored their reading of the rest. She seemed emotional (though we don’t even know whether her publisher imposed that style on her for commercial reasons) so she must have been incapable of understanding a rational man as anything other than emotional. That’s speculation, though.

5

Gracchus 02.16.18 at 6:56 pm

Try actually reading MacLean’s work before repeating these stupid canards. Claim (1) is demonstrably false if you’ve read her book. She is not engaged in the ridiculous strawman project that her idiotic libertarian critics allege.

6

L2P 02.16.18 at 7:45 pm

Really, this is an issue of semantics. You’re interested in why it mattered to some people whether neo-liberalism explicitly furthered racist goals, or only implicitly furthered them. I think this raises a lot of hackles because many of us think distinguishing between the different intents is irrelevant and impossible. Buchanan is by definition racist. And so on the face of it, this looks like an apologia for racism.

Which it is not, obviously. It’s important and interesting to find out why some libertarians have qualms about some racist policies and not others. Whether Buchanan was racist or not, there’s something different between his arguments and those of others at the time.

7

Henry 02.16.18 at 8:05 pm

Gracchus, I’ve read the book four times, and the argument I repeat is not a canard. It is what, in fact she says. As I and Teles have written elsewhere:

in analyzing a letter Buchanan sent to the president of UVA, requesting funds for a new center, MacLean extrapolates his words to give us her interpretation of his reasoning: he wanted to “fight” the Northern liberals who looked down on Southern whites like him, by “us[ing] the center to create a new school of political economy and social philosophy.” The center would have a “quiet political agenda: to defeat the ‘perverted form’ of liberalism that sought to destroy their way of life, ‘a social order,’ as he described it, ‘built on individual liberty,’ a term with its own coded meaning.”

Those are her words. Feel free to check for yourself.

Bianca – as per the just above, she explicitly says that Buchanan founded the center that created the public choice approach in order to defend the social order created by Southern whites against Northerners. I think that there’s a good argument (and a compelling one) to be made along the lines that you make, but it clearly isn’t the argument that MacLean is making. She does believe this. I also don’t think it’s the major problem with the book – the big problem, as I see it, is its misuse of evidence. In particular, as we discuss in the Boston Review piece cited in the main post, the key part of her argument about Buchanan’s influence on Koch hinges on a document that simply does not say what she claims it does. I don’t have any particular brief for the libertarians in this fight, obviously, and think that some of them (e.g. Jason Brennan) are cynically detestable in a way that MacLean is not. But I also think that as soon as you begin to probe into the book you begin to see that it is simply not reliable in its use of evidence and its interpretations of that evidence. There are some really good books coming out on neo-liberalism/libertarianism – in addition to Slobodian I’d cite Kim Phillips-Fein and Angus Burgin. This is not one of them.

8

Phil Magness 02.16.18 at 8:15 pm

Henry –

I have not read an advance copy of this book and will accordingly withhold judgment of its interpretation until it is available. I will note for the moment though that Hutt was in correspondence with Mangosuthu Buthelezi shortly before his own death in the 1980s, and still clearly sympathized with Buthelezi’s cause.

I’d also argue that Hutt’s position on Rhodesia was primarily motivated by his fear of a Mugabe-style regime that was neither open to markets nor democratic. It’s true that Hutt was not an enthusiast for democracy as a virtue onto itself, but I suspect that Slobodian may be missing the primary motive for his position by supplanting it with racial objectives.

9

Sebastian H 02.16.18 at 8:39 pm

“Hayek, in a lecture in South Africa recorded by Hutt, appears to have argued instead that a “state captured by black voters would cease to be a problem if the state itself was stripped preemptively of its right to grant exemptions from the discipline of the competitive market” and proposed to strip the state down to an enforcer of competition and contract. “

“In Hutt we have a libertarian economist who is currently being held forward by libertarians as an exemplar of market based anti-racism. Hutt’s actual position was that racism was bad, but the introduction of actual democracy to South Africa was bad too, since it would lead to expropriation.”

Isn’t Hutt’s position something more like: governments should be stripped down to an enforcer of competition and contract, which I would love to do elsewhere but can’t. However since we are already changing things in South Africa, we should change it to be more like the government I would like to see everywhere.

10

Adjudication Services 02.16.18 at 8:53 pm

Libertarianism shorn of the classical liberal tradition becomes hard to distinguish from being crudely anti-government. Because since the 1950s American government at the federal level has been officially anti-racist, being anti-government in the U.S. is attractive to racists, who then find commonalities with anti-government libertarians.

As for Hutt, MacLean’s point is that he was brought it because he was anti-union, but he was best known at the time for being anti-apartheid at a time when Virginia still had Jim Crow. So whatever his future views, the point re MacLean is not whether he was personally anti-racist, whatever that means to the reader, but that he was anti-government imposed segregation, which she accuses Buchanan of supporting.

11

Daniel Kuehn 02.16.18 at 9:12 pm

Phil, on this “I’d also argue that Hutt’s position on Rhodesia was primarily motivated by his fear of a Mugabe-style regime that was neither open to markets nor democratic.” I suspect you’re exactly right, but I’m not sure how much redemption of Hutt’s position that interpretation accomplishes. Defenses of slavery in the South ramped up after 1831 on the basis of precisely that logic.

I am not saying I feel one way or another on Hutt on all this – I’ve got no particular opinion because I don’t have enough background. But fear of a revolt of the oppressed is not a good reason to maintain oppression.

12

Roger K 02.16.18 at 9:16 pm

I think Sebastian H may have taken a view imputed to Hayek as that of Hutt. Anyway, I wonder if Hayek’s statements were correctly represented. We read that Hayek said black votes “would cease to be a problem” under limited government. Now, those exact words (“would cease to be a problem”) seem to have come from Slobodian, not Hayek. Is that right, Henry Ferrell? Without those words, the claim may be quite free of any taint of racism. It would seem to be just the liberal defense of liberty against majority rule. Liberals (“in the classical tradition”) were always democrats and remain democrats. The core of their defense of democracy, however, is nothing to the effect that a government should do whatever the current majority of its voters currently desires. Rather, the value peace implies that peaceful change of government is a high value, and you’re not going to have that without democracy. There are lots of reasons to favor democracy, but that’s the core of the liberal defense as I understand it. Liberals tend to think that the world runs on opinion. “Ideas have consequences” and all that. So an non-democratic regime may not be able to thwart popular opinion anyway, and it’s very likely to be wretchedly tyrannical to boot. Most readers of this note, I imagine, know the Acton quote about how power tending to corrupt. Well, if Hayek was just saying something along these lines — and, importantly, if those ugly words “would cease to be a problem” are either not his or badly out of context — then I don’t think I see where Hayek’s comments noted above are somehow racist.

13

Collin Street 02.16.18 at 9:46 pm

Because since the 1950s American government at the federal level has been officially anti-racist, being anti-government in the U.S. is attractive to racists, who then find commonalities with anti-government libertarians.

Both racism and libertarianism reflect similar underlying cognitive flaws. Or, rather, correlated underlying cognitive flaws, to whit:
+ stereotype thinking, all members of a class are typical members of a class
+ empathy impairment, difficulty understanding what others are thinking, which in turn produces
++ difficulty with comprehending resolutions to collective-action problems [or to be honest even the existence of collective-action problems], which after all rely on shaping your actions so that others will know what other others will do; empathy impairment kicks up problems three times here
++ in combination with the first a tendency to favour interactions with people who resemble you, or whom you believe resemble you, as they are easier to comprehend and predict.

[“strong military”, “law and order” and all the rest of the authoritarian panoply is all the same damned thing, it’s a push to reduce the amount of effort you need to put to thinking about what other people want.]

14

Phil Magness 02.16.18 at 9:50 pm

Daniel – My point with Hutt is that there are many non-racial reasons why someone might be skeptical of populist direct democracy. That also explains why he was willing to make similar overtures to black conservatives in South Africa, while remaining an opponent of Apartheid and generally rejecting the marxist wing of the anti-Apartheid campaign. It’s not clear to me from this description, or from his slim amount of other published work on Hutt, that Slobodian grasps this distinction. Perhaps he does & we shall see in the book.

I’m not asking for Hutt’s “redemption” by the way. I’m simply noting that it’s not surprising a market-oriented Tocquevillian with deep skepticism of unbridled democracy might fear that unbridled democracy could unintentionally empower a Robert Mugabe, who in turn proceeded to destroy both markets and democratic institutions in his country. And that can be true without appealing to a racial motive.

15

Adjudication Services 02.16.18 at 10:03 pm

“But fear of a revolt of the oppressed is not a good reason to maintain oppression.” Even if the revolt will likely leave the oppressed themselves worse off?

16

bianca steele 02.16.18 at 10:16 pm

Henry @ 7

Three points as to why I’m not convinced:

1. When you say “she explicitly says that Buchanan founded the center that created the public choice approach in order to defend the social order created by Southern whites against Northerners”, that seems to me to be closer to my reading of her book than to yours in @3.

2. I haven’t looked at your piece with Teles since I read the book. I admit I’m predisposed not to pay much attention to claims MacLean has misread historical documents given the sheer number of them deployed in what seemed to me a bad-faith way by so many econbloggers who probably haven’t read another history book than hers in years. The evidence she did give–of Buchanan’s influence in the process by which institutions were built, by means of which Koch was able to disseminate his ideas (very notably, George Mason University as a well-known, respected bastion of “conservative” ideas)–seemed persuasive enough. And the idea that Buchanan influenced Koch directly in an influential way seems to have been a fairly minor part of her argument. She is pretty explicit that Buchanan’s personal influence waned more or less quickly.

3. I don’t know whether MacLean is a good source for learning about public choice theory as an opponent of that theory would see it. I’m not at all surprised that her book isn’t adequate for learning about public choice theory, from the perspective of a public choice theorist. I don’t know why anyone would expect it to be, or why I should consider the fact to be damning.

17

bianca steele 02.16.18 at 10:30 pm

Henry @ 3 #3: “Bianca Steele suggests that it’s a little much to suggest that effectively-racist attitudes that emerge from abstract notions of property rights and freedom are not racist.”

That wasn’t my point. Obviously many if not most libertarians would reject the idea that attitudes and behavior that are only “emergent” from societies based on abstract property rights, should be called “racist.” There’s a whole spectrum of ways such attitudes or behavior could arise, from “they don’t care about excelling in a market system” through “they aren’t as equipped to compete by biology or culture” to “someone has to lose out, it’s random, and life’s not fair.” This is equally true of other types of system, but putting it that way seems almost designed to put off libertarians in particular.

“But there is a significant distinction between being racist because one believes that black people are “cannibals” and because one believes in a set of abstract principles that, in situations such as South Africa, lead to political ideas such as weighted franchises.”

Abstract principles, such as that the weight of a person’s vote should be determined by their wealth, their social class as determined by inheritance, or their participation in a national or elite culture, are abstract. How they’re implemented depends on other beliefs. If they’re combined with beliefs about the inherent inferiority of certain races, they are racist. Someone who says “I believe the descendants of slaves shouldn’t vote, because my abstract principles say voting is related to freedom and a certain view of citizenship,” isn’t a better or more rational person for having been handed a fancy word to describe what they’re doing.

(Re. 2, the same is true of “institutions,” and I don’t understand why Levy thinks libertarianism is more liable to racism than that kind of traditionalism would be.)

18

Daniel Kuehn 02.16.18 at 10:35 pm

Adjudication services – I did not say embrace the revolution, all I said was stop pressing people. If the revolution hurts the oppressed, as I would imagine it would in this case, the solution is to oppose the oppression and the revolution.

19

Daniel Kuehn 02.16.18 at 10:41 pm

Phil, but I think everyone is probably clear on non-racist reasons to be in why you would be skeptical of populist democracy. That’s not really edit shoe here is it? Franchise restrictions seem to require more justification than standard worries about populism. Mugabe is a legitimate fear, but not a reason in itself to abandon one man one vote.

20

Henry 02.16.18 at 10:50 pm

Bianca – I’ll leave it with this comment, since there doesn’t seem to be much point in arguing it (if you don’t choose to engage with our claims that MacLean has misread historical documents because: libertarians, then I would guess that you have your mind made up fairly solidly already). First, the error on MacLean’s part is a gross one (and one of many). She says that a speech shows that Koch saw Buchanan’s ideas as the “technology” that could be used to chain democracy. In fact, the ideas praised in the speech (available here) are Koch’s own, directly contradicting MacLean’s arguments.

Second, the claim that Buchanan influenced Koch directly is not a “minor part” of her argument. It’s key to it, as she describes it herself.

Charles Koch supplied the money, but it was James Buchanan who supplied the ideas that made the money effective. An MIT-trained engineer, Koch in the 1960s began to read political-economic theory based on the notion that free-reign capitalism (what others might call Dickensian capitalism) would justly reward the smart and hardworking and rightly punish those who failed to take responsibility for themselves or had lesser ability. He believed then and believes now that the market is the wisest and fairest form of governance, and one that, after a bitter era of adjustment, will produce untold prosperity, even peace. But after several failures, Koch came to realize that if the majority of Americans ever truly understood the full implications of his vision of the good society and were let in on what was in store for them, they would never support it. Indeed, they would actively oppose it.

So, Koch went in search of an operational strategy — what he has called a “technology” — of revolution that could get around this hurdle. He hunted for 30 years until he found that technology in Buchanan’s thought. From Buchanan, Koch learned that for the agenda to succeed, it had to be put in place in incremental steps, what Koch calls “interrelated plays”: many distinct yet mutually reinforcing changes of the rules that govern our nation. Koch’s team used Buchanan’s ideas to devise a roadmap for a radical transformation that could be carried out largely below the radar of the people, yet legally. The plan was (and is) to act on so many ostensibly separate fronts at once that those outside the cause would not realize the revolution underway until it was too late to undo it. Examples include laws to destroy unions without saying that is the true purpose, suppressing the votes of those most likely to support active government, using privatization to alter power relations — and, to lock it all in, Buchanan’s ultimate recommendation: a “constitutional revolution.”

Third, I’m not quite sure where you’re getting the “from the perspective of a public choice theorist” thing. I’m not a public choice theorist, and I can testify that the book is bloody awful on both the weaknesses and the strengths of the approach. Steve Teles, my co-author, isn’t a public choice theorist either, although his book on the rise of law and economics is a basic text that is cited nearly twenty times by MacLean. He can testify that the book is awful too.

To be honest, I don’t see the virtue of continuing to argue about this book. There are a lot of people on Team Left who have rushed to defend the book, because it says harsh things about libertarians and the Kochs. There are a lot of people on Team Libertarian, who have swarmed to attack it, sometimes with good criticisms, sometimes with bad ones. And there are a few of us on Team Left or Team Middle who dearly want good books on the flaws of libertarianism, but believe, on the basis of the evidence, that this is a thorough stinker, in contrast to Slobodian, Phillips-Fein, Burgin and others. I’m very happy with the position I’ve taken on it – in large part because I’ve taken a lot of time to go through the sources (where they are publicly available) and footnotes. You, very clearly are happy with your position. And I’m not sure that further argument will be particularly revelatory of new information – indeed, I largely wrote this post to get that stuff out of the way before I talk to the specifics of the Slobodian book (in a few weeks, when it comes out).

21

Peter T 02.16.18 at 11:49 pm

I find the academic habit of rooting around in the rubbish bins of the intelligentsia as much endearing as irritating (“there might be a valuable thought in this pile of dross!”). But a note of caution is in order when inspecting the finds, particularly when their interpretation hinges on reconstruction of the motives of the dead. We don’t really know why people do things – as in what processes mix the many inputs through the myriad complexities of the body to produce some behaviour. Heck, we often have to guess at our own motives for some act.

Ropke was overtly racist in speech (but did he have black friends?); it would be surprising if Hutt did not associate dark skin with (Horror!) marxist inclinations at some level, and both Hutt and Hayek evince a fear of the lower classes, who might steal their goodies [back]. These are easy broad brush observations. Trying to parse much beyond that would require us to have degrees in psychiatry and the subject on a couch for an extended period.

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Phil Magness 02.16.18 at 11:50 pm

Daniel – The versions of Hutt’s “weighted franchise” scheme that I’ve seen were all intended to be transitional, not ends to themselves. He believed that sudden regime transition was a point of exceptional vulnerability in which a society could succumb to a Mugabe-type figure. The point of the weighted franchise was to spread the transition over several electoral cycles so as to assure a continuity of law, which he saw as a bulwark against a populist or revolutionary type seizing power. Now we can debate the merits of such a scheme, and question whether it is likely to succeed. We can also mount a case for alternative transition mechanisms, including instantaneous franchise. But at least accurately represent it for what it was – an honest attempt to solve the difficult problem of Marxist autocrat types seizing power, ousting his opponents, and promptly reneging on all of the previous negotiated terms of the the transition…which is basically what Mugabe did.

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bianca steele 02.17.18 at 12:39 am

Henry, thanks for replying to my comments. I’m still curious why MacLean’s lack of facility with MacLean’s theory would make her history worthless. You see more serious flaws with the historical argument itself but I’d need to see more to be convinced they’re decisive.

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LFC 02.17.18 at 1:54 am

Collin Street (see @13) insists that libertarianism, and indeed apparently any other political view he disagrees with, is a product of cognitive flaws, i.e., he thinks there is something wrong with their neural wiring. It’s all a matter, according to him, of not wanting to make an effort to “understand what others want.” Actually, of course, a lot of libertarians, conservatives, etc. understand very well “what others want.”

When you make this kind of comment over and over, in thread after thread, as Collin Street does, what you are really doing, among other things, is devaluing politics and denying that politics is a realm of human activity deserving of attention in its own right.

Even if one agreed w CS that it was all a matter of “empathy impairment,” what would that mean or lead to? Simply accusing someone of cognitive flaws or impairments is not a useful mode of argument, istm.

I wonder if C. Street is even aware that people’s values, beliefs, convictions, and ideological (in the neutral sense of that word) dispositions do not necessarily stem in a simple, direct way from psychological traits or “impairments” but can be influenced by their class position, their education, their cultural milieu, random accidents in terms of exposure to certain books or teachers at a young age, and probably a whole bunch of other things that can never be known or disentangled. Was Max Weber a nationalist because some of his neurons were misfiring? Did he have a “cognitive impairment”? Was Freud’s endorsement of the view that humans are innately aggressive the product of a “cognitive flaw” or was it simply an empirically dubious idea? Is Charles Koch’s worldview the result of a cognitive “impairment” or is it rather a set of mistaken beliefs and assumptions, a set which as it happens in Koch’s case coincides with his material interests? When George Wallace declaimed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” was he manifesting a neurological impairment or a “difficulty with comprehending resolutions to collective-action problems,” or was he rather pledging ideological and political allegiance to an oppressive, immoral social order?

How many reductive comments from CS does one have to endure before saying ‘enough’?

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Collin Street 02.17.18 at 9:22 am

LFC:
+ I disagree with the neoliberal centre-right, with the anarchosyndicalists, with the nationalist left, with the feminist separatists, and with the vanguardist communists. I do not accuse all members of these groups of being affected by autism-spectrum conditions. Only and strictly the hard right, which is basically the libertarians and the racists. You can search if you like: I’ve been pretty strict and up-front about this, and I also vaguely recall having told you all this before.
+ if you had counterexamples you could name them and prove me wrong: my claims are deliberately broad to avoid the accusation that I was cherry-picking. But nobody, ever, names anybody they think might pass as normal, even after I make these sorts of posts, and after a while absence-of-evidence really does become evidence of absence.

It’s all “how dare you say that”, never “and this is why you’re wrong”. I mean, once or twice or a dozen times maybe… but I’ve been making this claim for years now and not one person has even attempted to offer a counterexample. Not even you, right here. Why not?

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Faustusnotes 02.17.18 at 9:52 am

Isn’t Hayek the dude who refused to move to America to advocate for the end of the state until he was guaranteed his social security benefits? Given this, what is the point in trying to second guess his real motives or reasons for having a specific position? Dude was a hypocritical arsehole, endov. You can’t infer anything about the real motives of liars from their public statements, for obvious reasons. I would go so far as to suggest that this theory applies to all libertarians. They say what they need to say to feather their masters nests and so there’s no point inferring their motives from their speech. Liars lie, and we can’t learn anything about their inner life from their lies.

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Roger K 02.17.18 at 12:35 pm

Not willing to answer my question, Henry? Recall that I said, “Now, those exact words (‘would cease to be a problem’) seem to have come from Slobodian, not Hayek. Is that right, Henry Ferrell?” That’s a fair question, isn’t it?

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Layman 02.17.18 at 8:14 pm

LFC: “When George Wallace declaimed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” was he manifesting a neurological impairment or a “difficulty with comprehending resolutions to collective-action problems,” or was he rather pledging ideological and political allegiance to an oppressive, immoral social order?”

Why can’t the answer be ‘both’? What sort of mind leads one to pledge ideological and political allegiance to an oppressive, immoral social order? Isn’t ‘inability to empathize with the people you’ll torment’ one of the features? I mean, if your point is to say that Wallace didn’t have a seriously fucked-up mind, why should anyone care what you have to say about Collin Street?

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F. Foundling 02.18.18 at 12:03 am

@ OP
>But weighting the vote or crippling the state for fear of a black majority is weighting the vote or crippling the state for fear of a black majority, whichever way you slice it.

What’s more, I hear dark rumours the Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies and Prince of Hell, while gorging himself on tormented souls in darkest pits of the Inferno, has evinced some signs of racial bias in the torture of his victims and may even have let the n-word slip at one point. I’m beginning to have some serious misgivings about his moral character. I think that he needs to come forward with a statement to the public and explain himself. The world needs to know: is he a racist or not? A written apology for the fact that he might have made such an impression even for a second might be in order.

Seriously, it almost seems as if the only thing considered indisputably evil in modern Western liberal-progressive circles is being a racist; if one is ‘just’ an anti-democrat and ‘simply’ wants to disenfranchise most of one’s fellow human beings, or let them rot in poverty, *without* evidence of specifically racial bias, that’s within the bounds of the acceptable. To prove truly and conclusively that someone is bad, you have to prove that s/he has been less than perfect on issues of race or gender. This reminds me of the treatment of Nietzsche: yeah, he may have been a rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral thinker, but as long as you can argue that he wasn’t really a clearcut anti-Semite, all of that can still be shrugged off as a couple of charming eccentricities and he is still welcome in polite society, unlike his Nazi fans. This is a fairly sinister ideological development: a left that has lost sight of its general principles and retains only a couple of taboos instead.

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J-D 02.18.18 at 3:19 am

F. Foundling
Can you give examples of people in ‘modern Western liberal-progressive circles’ suggesting that being ‘an anti-democrat’ who ‘wants to disenfranchise most of one’s fellow human beings, or let them rot in poverty’ is ‘within the bounds of the acceptable’? How about examples of people suggesting that being ‘a rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral thinker’ amounts to only ‘a couple of charming eccentricities’ that don’t exclude being ‘welcome in polite society’? I suppose such examples might exist, but on the face of it the suggestion is implausible, and I can’t figure how your case can be sustained without them.

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J-D 02.18.18 at 3:23 am

Collin Street
Since somebody else has mentioned the example of George Wallace, it occurs to me to wonder: if you think that political attitudes like those of George Wallace are the product of cognitive impairments that prevent people from recognising their own errors, how do you explain the fact that George Wallace himself, later in life, declared that his earlier views had been wrong?

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LFC 02.18.18 at 3:58 am

@ Collin Street

It seems to me the burden of persuasion is on you to support your claim that everyone on the ‘hard right’ is suffering from autism-spectrum disorder, and in my view you’ve failed to carry that burden. Instead you’ve simply asserted it, over and over. For you it seems to be true by definition, but actually it’s something that you have to demonstrate by more than circular reasoning, which in my view you’ve failed to do.

Hatred, bigotry, lack of empathy, being a reactionary are not, in themselves, anywhere near conclusive evidence of autism-spectrum disorder, and you have failed to produce, as far as I can recall, any evidence that they are. You’ve simply argued by assertion.

One problem with your argument is that there are whole groups of people, for example the first generation of American neoconservatives, who moved from left to right, and in some cases hard right, at some point in their lives, usu. in middle age (though it varied). Did they all suddenly develop autism-spectrum disorder at the age of 35 or 40, say, having displayed no signs of it before? That’s quite a feat and quite a coincidence.

The range of empathy in ‘normal’ people is wide, I would suggest, because the range of normality is wide. This may not be a comforting or comfortable statement, but it happens to be correct. Person X may have more empathy than person Y. Indeed Y may be at the low end of the empathy range. That in itself doesn’t prove that Y is suffering from autism-spectrum disorder, and I cannot recall your citing any scientific or clinical lit. to the contrary.

One last thing: if everyone on the hard right is suffering from autism-spectrum disorder, why should we hold them responsible for their views? After all, according to you, they can’t help their views: they’re suffering from a neurological condition that, presumably, they didn’t choose.

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Peter T 02.18.18 at 4:32 am

Given that for most of recorded history politics and indeed ordinary society was brutal and oppressive, and that for much of the world’s population it still is, Collin Street’s definition of “normal” would appear to be idiosyncratic. Everyone’s made save thee and me, end even thee’s a little queer?

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Peter T 02.18.18 at 4:33 am

Make that “Everyone’s MAD…”

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Faustusnotes 02.18.18 at 6:22 am

F foundling, the quote you’ve pulled by itself suggests the possibility that Hayek wouldn’t have weighted the vote or crippled the state without the racism. Which would make the racism important. But more broadly, only a fool would interpret the op as saying Hayek was only bad because of his racism. It’s simply exploring the possibility that he was made even more undemocratic because of his racism.

I have noticed that some of the Trump curious lefties on this blog (like you) are shall we say more than a little eager to discount racism as a separate issue in American politics. This is convenient given the bed you’ve made for yourselves, but that doesn’ten the rest of us have to lie in it.

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John Quiggin 02.18.18 at 7:43 am

As Alex says @1, propertarians are opposed to democracy in general, preferring a state that will use its monopoly of violence to guarantee existing property rights (backed up by a more less fanciful history in which these rights can be traced back to some form of social contract). Buchanan and Hayek are leading figures in contemporary thought, but this goes right back to Locke and his support for slavery.

How does this relate to race. One can imagine a completely race-neutral version of this, and Locke comes close, backing both chattel slavery for Africans and hereditary indentured serfdom for whites. But in a society with existing racial divisions, there are only two real possibilities for the propertarians

(a) Support the racist status quo to protect property, while not endorsing its specifically racist aspects
(b) Use racism to support the status quo (either sincerely or strategically – it’s hard to say which is worse).

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Collin Street 02.18.18 at 8:35 am

It seems to me the burden of persuasion is on you to support your claim that everyone on the ‘hard right’ is suffering from autism-spectrum disorder, and in my view you’ve failed to carry that burden. Instead you’ve simply asserted it, over and over. For you it seems to be true by definition, but actually it’s something that you have to demonstrate by more than circular reasoning, which in my view you’ve failed to do.

It’s not a conclusion I came to based on explicitly-political beliefs. I actually used to focus more on that, “all people &c display obvious signs &c in their non-political actions”; the pattern of behaviour which actually did first strike me was this distinctive question-denial/dodging strategy/behaviour

And of course “autism” is protean and massively variable, so there’s no master-list of universal symptoms.

I… guess I felt I’d established all the baseline framework at least to my satisfaction, and shifted to the implications. I will try to write something up, but I’m going to be honest here:
+ this is icky material to write at the best of times
+ I never did bother getting all my evidence nailed down straight such that I can write it up as required; I was working from one firmly and carefully formed impression to another, but nothing was ever written down beyond what I wrote here, and recreating the chain and writing it all out is a lot of work.
+ I’ve been meaning to do it for other reasons for months now and made no real progress: I’m a terrible procrastinator at the best of times.
So I may not, or I may get half-way and give up, or I may do it and produce a frankly-inadequate result. But I will _try_. I don’t know how long it will take. I probably won’t be making much-if-any comment on this point until it’s done, though.

[geh. I’ve been putting this off for years. Don’t expect too much, people!]

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Layman 02.18.18 at 12:02 pm

J-D: “…how do you explain the fact that George Wallace himself, later in life, declared that his earlier views had been wrong?”

Yes, he changed his views so much that he became a Republican and voted for Republicans until he died. I’m not sure the evidence of any change is strong, despite what he said about being wrong.

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Layman 02.18.18 at 2:31 pm

LFC: “The range of empathy in ‘normal’ people is wide, I would suggest, because the range of normality is wide. This may not be a comforting or comfortable statement, but it happens to be correct. Person X may have more empathy than person Y. Indeed Y may be at the low end of the empathy range. That in itself doesn’t prove that Y is suffering from autism-spectrum disorder, and I cannot recall your citing any scientific or clinical lit. to the contrary.”

Strangely, this reads to me like an endorsement of what Collin Street proposed in the first place, i.e. that some people are more empathy-impaired than others, that empathy-impaired people will quite obviously more often adopt views that lack empathy, so that political views that lack empathy are largely supported by people more lacking in empathy. Surely you agree with that? If so, it’s the label ‘autism’ which bothers you, or perhaps the view that a lack of empathy is a disorder of some kind regardless of the label.

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Cranky Observer 02.18.18 at 4:05 pm

= = = Can you give examples of people in ‘modern Western liberal-progressive circles’ suggesting that being ‘an anti-democrat’ who ‘wants to disenfranchise most of one’s fellow human beings, or let them rot in poverty’ is ‘within the bounds of the acceptable’? How about examples of people suggesting that being ‘a rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral thinker’ amounts to only ‘a couple of charming eccentricities’ that don’t exclude being ‘welcome in polite society’= = =

Rahm Emanuel.

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Sebastian H 02.18.18 at 4:26 pm

J-D “Can you give examples of people in ‘modern Western liberal-progressive circles’ suggesting that being ‘an anti-democrat’ who ‘wants to disenfranchise most of one’s fellow human beings, or let them rot in poverty’ is ‘within the bounds of the acceptable’? “

Well there is the majority of the liberal-progressive discourse around Hugo Chavez to start with, Mugabe in the early years, and Fidel Castro before him. Chavez and Castro were much too useful in their anti-American role and too close to ‘good Communist’ fantasies to bother with serious concern about things like locking homosexuals in concentration camps (Castro) or pretending that all of the craziness Chavez inflicted on his political enemies wasn’t anti-democrat. Mugabe had a mixed role, with both sides in the West supporting him at various early points. Or maybe you mean that ballot box proceduralism is all there is to being a good democrat. So long as you get to vote, it doesn’t matter if we’ve killed or imprisoned all the ruling party’s political enemies? That doesn’t rate well with concerns about gerrymandering and the like, but it would be an interesting position.

If those examples aren’t to your liking, there is decades of Western liberal-progressive circles excuses for Communist regimes going all the way back to Stalin. (Note we don’t have to get sucked into the “were they ‘real Communists'” rabbit hole to note the Western liberal-progressive excuses.)

It seems to me that at least as far as tarring Hayek or Hutt with a ‘racist’ label, we are using the same type of proof that would be considered out of bounds in associating liberals with Communists, or to take a more recent example it seems to be the kind of thinking would allow us to accept clearly wrong arguments like “objectively pro-Saddam Hussein”.

Letting someone like Mugabe, Castro, or Chavez grab the state apparatus seems like something you might want to TRY to avoid completely without racist motives. Just as if we said “we need to try to grow democratic institutions such that people like Trump can’t get in power” would also be true and not ‘anti-white’.

The argument that libertarians draw a majority of their concern with Marxists gaining power from the fact that some of the Marxists are people of color seems odd. Do you think Hayek would have voted for a white Stalin over a black Obama in head to head elections? If not, perhaps something is going on other than race. It might even be political beliefs…

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Sebastian H 02.18.18 at 4:35 pm

The above is probably too confrontational to move the conversation anywhere useful. How about this.

To what extent is worrying about a Mugabe like figure gaining power a legitimate concern in transitional government structures? Can you be concerned about it without being racist or is that pretty close to impossible? If taking steps against that is going to initially cut along racial lines in Africa (and it almost certainly is, as the class divides from colonialism have strong racial components even in the best case scenarios) is that pro-racist, or anti-strongman? (It can probably be both in many cases).

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b9n10nt 02.18.18 at 5:29 pm

Collin Street et al.

I think the more accurate concept is “attachment” rather than “cognitive impairment”. I have (don’t we all these days?) relations who espouse bigotry but who can be brought to tears at the sight of or thought of suffering in other contexts or espouse and enact skillful means in addressing such suffering…thus displaying empathy.

Or, “cognitive impairment” is fine so long as we recognize that it is irreducibly situational and socially-constructed even as we suspect that it is neurologically over-determined (“us us us us us us us AND them them them them them them them”).

I am perceiving that contemporary lefty thought is generally inspired by a clearer, less-emotionally/cognitively-impaired perception of Reality. But these are too moments of clarity: they do not abide as a persistent cognitive trait.

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TM 02.18.18 at 5:52 pm

Layman: “What sort of mind leads one to pledge ideological and political allegiance to an oppressive, immoral social order? Isn’t ‘inability to empathize with the people you’ll torment’ one of the features?”

If oppression is a result of neurological disorder or pathology, it’s a bit hard to explain why almost all known social orders established and maintained by humans have involved oppression, and still do.

Regarding George Wallace, those who wish to explain his politics a result of “cognitive flaws”, I hope you’ll extend the same courtesy to his many voters. “Cognitive flaws” btw is a rather weak standard since many cognitive researchers now believe that “cognitive flaws” are rather widespread if not universal. Perhaps an analysis of cognitive flaws and their political effects could be a useful and legitimate aspect of political analysis, but you’d have to include a much wider population than just the leaders of the extreme right.

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Jim Harrison 02.18.18 at 5:53 pm

Libertarians afraid of the end of colonialism and apartheid had another option besides bewailing democracy and trying to prevent its establishment. Not all the Athenian aristos were Critos. Cleisthenes and Pericles were also high born and wealthy. In lieu of hating the people you can throw in with them. Most revolutions are simply disastrous, but the ones that work work because of the participation and loyalty of elites. In a broad sense, that’s a good part of why our revolution was a success.

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bianca steele 02.18.18 at 6:06 pm

Pace Quiggin and Tabarrok, a number of American libertarians appear to be convinced that their beliefs are compatible with democracy. Increasingly, it seems, some are becoming convinced “institutions” and/or “the state” are becoming important, by which they mean (as best I can judge from my encounters with them) that Christian, Northern European culture (as they understand it, usually from the kind of book that was popular 1920-1960) is superior, and outsiders should either join or “bend the knee.” But some stick with a belief that “all” people are capable of excelling under libertarianism, unless they’ve been corrupted by their culture, or are the kinds of exceptions that don’t really count.

(In either case, they often enough seek thoroughly convinced that their categories are not inherently racial.)

One thing that makes them different from ordinary, unthinking middle of the road people is that if you tell them the principles of liberty forbid what their neighbors consider basic decency, they will often decide not to be decent. (This is different from lack of empathy: they often seem well aware that their ideas distress others, and to have decided to let themselves be energized by the opposition they meet with.) Most people are comfortable with logical contradiction and would (reasonably enough) resist an argument that their acceptance of the status quo in one respect forced them to extremism in a different respect.

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J-D 02.18.18 at 7:31 pm

Layman
‘What do you think of George Wallace?’ is one question, and ‘How do you explain the fact that George Wallace, later in life, declared that his earlier views had been wrong?’ is another; an answer to one of them is not an answer to the other. I don’t want to get them confused.

Yes, he changed his views so much that he became a Republican and voted for Republicans until he died. I’m not sure the evidence of any change is strong, despite what he said about being wrong.

The repudiation of his segregationist part came while he was still a Democrat, and before his election to his fourth and last term as a Democratic Governor, so his becoming a Republican is not part of the explanation for his repudiation of his earlier attitudes.

It is possible that the explanation, or part of the explanation, for his saying that his earlier views had been wrong is that the repudiation was insincere. When I framed the question I deliberately refrained from making any explicit suggestions about the answer, but I did reflect to myself on the possibility of insincerity. If you have any actual evidence that his declared change of heart was insincere, I’d be interested in it, but I can’t figure how his later voting Republican counts as evidence of that kind.

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Stephen 02.18.18 at 9:04 pm

Collin Street: how many of those on the hard left, in your opinion, suffer from autism-spectrum disorder? Question-denial/dodging strategy/behaviour? Are there perhaps no hard left in always-lucky Australia?

And, from a point of view perhaps more relevant to me than to you: how many of Sinn Fein?

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F. Foundling 02.18.18 at 10:20 pm

@John Quiggin 02.18.18 at 7:43 am
> But in a society with existing racial divisions, there are only two real possibilities for the propertarians
>(a) Support the racist status quo to protect property, while not endorsing its specifically racist aspects

Well, they can argue that once all backward cultural racism and, perhaps, all demoralising welfare is erradicated, the status quo will gradually cease to be racist, because any gifted and deserving members of the minorities will inevitably rise to the top. Eventually. After all, the basic tenet is that the free market, if left alone, leads to just outcomes.

@J-D 02.18.18 at 3:19 am

As usual, you are disputing things that should be self-evident, as if you are living in world separate from mine. I think that it’s an obvious characteristic of today’s intellectual climate that many centre-leftists consider neoliberals, libertarians and market fundamentalists like Hayek, in spite of their more or less open opposition to democracy, to be quite respectable (albeit perhaps wrong and misguided), as long as they are not racists. This is seen in highly respectful references to various libertarians here on CT, too. Similarly, Nietzsche is much appreciated by many around here, and I remember people defending him, both here and elsewhere, exactly on the grounds that he wasn’t some kind of vulgar anti-Semitic nationalist. Even CT’s comments policy excludes only ‘blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic comments’; blatantly anti-democratic or classist comments are clearly fine. I also remember discussion threads here where many supposedly left-of-centre commenters openly stated that they were opposed to democracy – even apart from the many threads where they have taken a de facto anti-democratic stance. If you prefer to insist that you have never noticed or even heard of any of the things I have mentioned, you are free to do so and I’ll just leave it there.

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F. Foundling 02.18.18 at 10:28 pm

@Faustusnotes 02.18.18 at 6:22 am

>It’s simply exploring the possibility that he was made even more undemocratic because of his racism.

The very focus on that issue is striking. Instead of an emphasis on the undemocratic nature of their positions, it is discussed whether it was motivated by racism. The question immediately arises – who cares, and why should we? How about the possibility that, instead of their anti-democratism being motivated by racism, their anti-democratism was motivated by, you know, just plain anti-democratism? And if so, does that make it better? At all? And why? Further, in response to:

>I have noticed that some … like you are shall we say more than a little eager to discount racism as a separate issue in American politics.

America is not the world. Neoliberalism is a worldwide phenomenon. In most of the world, race doesn’t play a role remotely close to the one it plays in the US. What unites neoliberals all over the world is anti-democratism, and racism is just one local form of that. People like Hayek, Mises, Schumpeter weren’t even American and were anti-democrats far before they moved to the US. Reducing this to racism means deflecting the discussion from the general evil principle at work here (and acting as if it weren’t truly evil, or evil enough).

>This is convenient given the bed you’ve made for yourselves, but that doesn’ten the rest of us have to lie in it.

Well, if you want to make this a discussion about people’s alleged deep personal motives for taking a position, I think that the overwhelming focus on race and gender found in mainstream left-liberal circles is due in large part to a loss of commitment to democracy and economic equality among people like you. Instead, an alternative elite ideology is embraced. Such an accusation can’t apply to the OP, obviously, since it does attack the right people, even though its focus is influenced by its target audience.

And as for your habit of characterising me as a ‘Trump-curious leftie’, I’d humbly suggest that you should amend this to ‘*not* a loyal fan of HRC, the Democratic mainstream, US war hawks, the US secret services, and the international neoliberal establishment’. I think that such a description is far better justified by my commenting history here, especially given the number of times when I’ve used slightly unflattering terms such as ‘fascist’, ‘con man’, ‘plutocrat’ and suchlike in reference to my supposed love interest. But – your mileage may vary, as the Americans say.

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dbk 02.19.18 at 12:23 am

Difficult concepts, and comments, for those of us uninitiated into the mysteries of Public Choice theory.

I read the post twice, the comments twice, went back to the Boston Review piece as well and reread it, and have Maclean’s book in front of me (haven’t finished it).

It’s not entirely clear to me that the overall argument – i.e. that the far right libertarians who have funded a passel of think tanks and been funneling almost-inconceivable amounts of money into election campaigns and state advocacy for very specific “reforms” (via ALEC and the SPN) over the past decades got their political/philosophical underpinnings from somewhere, and have made very efficient use of them indeed – is ultimately affected, though.

Of course, poor scholarship is poor scholarship, and Henry and other critics are right to call it out.

I’d be interested to hear alternative theories of where Virginians came up with the intellectual underpinnings and political strategies that allowed the state to continue school segregation in defiance of Brown, and in a rather novel fashion.

Re: the back-and-forth above (Collin Street, LFC) about whether those on the right politically suffer from autism disorder (which would suggest impaired empathy): actually, Brain Behavioral Research (Jan. 18) has a study published about the way liberals v. conservatives process disgust. I won’t give the link, but it’s easily located. The gist is that liberals display a greater tolerance for scenes that evoke disgust than conservatives, who prefer to look rather at faces that display the emotion of disgust rather than the scenes themselves.

The authors associate this heightened sensitivity on the part of social conservatives (measured by controlled visual tracking) with such traits as fear/disgust of any “outgroup,” a preference for familiarity-sameness in the environment (fewer opportunities to encounter some image/thing/being that elicits disgust), and a fear of pathogens (as would be evinced, for example, by a modern-day germophobe).

To return to empathy: it would appear that liberals and conservatives are both quite capable of displaying empathy along the broad “normal” spectrum, but–and this is the key–the empathy of (social) conservatives tends to be displayed towards a smaller group (family, friends, etc.) than that of liberals, who extend their empathy beyond known individuals/groups to strangers, including distant ones.

This in turn has plenty of implications for social policy.

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F. Foundling 02.19.18 at 1:41 am

To partly reformulate and partly build upon my point above: is a Dickensian world more acceptable, because Scrooge and Tiny Tim, the Prince and the Pauper, Javert and Jean Valjean are both white? Our entire history and cultural memory (especially, I suppose, that of non-Americans) shows that the mechanisms that produce and maintain inequality can and do function perfectly well in the absence of any racial distinction between the unequal. The more people obsess over the specifically racial aspects of inequality (and of anti-egalitarian thought) as the deepest root, cause and essence of the evil that they observe, the more they are leaving these mechanisms undisturbed, and allowing them to take over (again).

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faustusnotes 02.19.18 at 3:29 am

Foundling, the focus on the issue is hardly striking because it’s in a review of a book that talks about it, and because understanding the causes of people’s positions is important to responding to their positions.

To take an example close and dear to your own heart, Trump-curious lefties were fluffing Trump in 2016 for three plausible reasons: 1) because they were stupid enough to believe that the gold-toilet plutocrat was less neoliberal and less militarist than Clinton; 2) because they can’t bear to vote for a woman; 3) because they were paid by Russia. Obviously our response to these fluffers will depend on the cause of their positions. If it’s 1) well then there’s really nothing you can do – dumb arsed people are gonna be dumb arsed. If it’s 2) you could try to gently point out that they’re maybe acting from other impulses, and see if the more thoughtful ones might reconsider their position given their prejudices. Unfortunately we didn’t know about 3), but we do now. Which of the three options do you think were driving the Trump-curious left, Foundling?

As for your point about the global reach of neoliberalism, it doesn’t actually have that global a reach – it is challenged in parts of Europe, latin America and East Asia, for example – and a lot of its global reach is driven by America. Given that America’s founding principles are racist in the extreme, is it not reasonable to think that this might be part of the wellspring of neo-liberalism? Especially given neo-liberalism is itself a highly racist order? It is by interrogating these questions that we understand how to tackle these challenges.

But your objection to anyone talking about race is noted.

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engels 02.19.18 at 3:46 am

Re: the back-and-forth above (Collin Street, LFC) about whether those on the right politically suffer from autism disorder (which would suggest impaired empathy)…

Ahem

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G. B. Robinson 02.19.18 at 6:52 am

Indeed, the ancap/conservative blogosphere is all in a dither over Nancy MacLean tarring libertarians with the autism brush.

Or maybe that’s better read the other way around.

In any case, a better term than “autism” should be found for the phenomenon of letting one’s empathy deficiences inform one’s actions, including the speechs acts of politics. I suggest “sociopathy”.

http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2018/02/professor-nancy-maclean-claims-founders-of-libertarianism-are-on-the-autism-spectrum

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TM 02.19.18 at 8:45 am

“In most of the world, race doesn’t play a role remotely close to the one it plays in the US. What unites neoliberals all over the world is anti-democratism, and racism is just one local form of that.”

One of the problems with that statement is the fact that racism is an important reason why neoliberalism has been able to gain majority (that is, white majority) support and win democratic elections, especially in the US – a fact that you need to come to terms with and can’t be dismissed by decrying neoliberal “anti-democratism”. And while it’s true that the US isn’t the world, understating Reagan’s importance is a bit too much humility.

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J-D 02.19.18 at 10:15 am

Sebastian H
Western apologists for Stalin were not examples of people who asserted that it was perfectly acceptable to be anti-democratic; what they asserted was that Stalinist rule was democratic. (You know and I know that Stalin was no democrat, but what you and I know is not therefore automatically universal knowledge.) Sympathisers of Castro, Chavez, or Mugabe would make similar assertions. I find the example of Mugabe particularly interesting for two reasons.

I have a distinct recollection of being told, for the first time, about the massacres in Matabeleland, and how the person who told me recoiled from some opinion I had expressed about Zimbabwean affairs, and obviously felt that I badly needed to know about the massacres. It’s true that my opinions about Mugabe’s rule now are different from what they were before I knew about the massacres. It seems to me right that opinions should be susceptible to change in the light of new information; but lacking information is not an intellectual or moral failing. Before I knew about the massacres I was not a villain, or a hypocrite, or a fool, but only a person who didn’t know some things. I’m still a person who doesn’t know some things, and so are you, and so is everybody. I expect there are lots of people whose evaluations of Stalin’s rule, or of Castro’s, or of Chavez’s would be changed if they became aware of particular relevant pieces of information previously unknown to them. The two premises ‘They find Stalin’s rule acceptable’ and ‘Stalin’s rule was despotic rule’ are not sufficient to justify the conclusion ‘They find despotic rule acceptable’, because the ‘they’ under discussion may not have recognised Stalin’s despotism. So I’m looking for examples of people in ‘Western liberal-progressive circles’ endorsing authoritarianism, militarism, and the other offensive traits mentioned by F. Foundling–not just examples of endorsements of people that you and I know to be authoritarian militarists, but endorsements of the traits themselves, or if not endorsement at least toleration–because without that I can’t figure how the case advanced by F. Foundling can be made to stand up.

There’s a particular difficulty in trying to use toleration of Mugabe as an example; he won’t work as an example of how somebody who is anti-democratic can be accepted so long as he’s not racist, because his policies were racist as well as anti-democratic. For a positive evaluation of Mugabe’s rule, it’s necessary not only for his anti-democratic policies not to count negatively but also for his racist policies not to count negatively. For people in Western liberal-progressive circles who evaluated Mugabe’s rule positively, it’s simplest to assume the same explanation in both respects. If you think they were prepared to excuse authoritarianism and treat it as acceptable in that particular instance, why wouldn’t you think they were also prepared to excuse racism and treat it as acceptable in that same instance? But then, it doesn’t work as an example in support of F. Foundling’s case. Or, if you think they could have failed to recognise the racism, why wouldn’t you think that they could have failed to recognise the authoritarianism? Then again it doesn’t work as an example in support of F. Foundling’s case. To make it work as an example in support of F. Foundling’s case, don’t you have to argue that people recognised and excused the authoritarianism, but failed to recognise the racism, and isn’t that trying to have it both ways?

F. Foundling

As usual, you are disputing things that should be self-evident, as if you are living in world separate from mine.

That reads a lot like a description from the inside of the ‘false consensus effect’ (defined by Wikipedia as ‘an attributional type of cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others’). Do I seem abnormal to you? Well, perhaps I am, but then what of it–what if I really do live in a world separate from yours, where the things that should be self-evident in your world are not self-evident to me: what then? If your position is that it’s just not worth the effort it would take to explain to me the things that you know and I don’t, and that you have better things to do with your time, then I’m happy enough to part company on those terms; but if you suggest that my not understanding the things that you understand is a sign of some defect (something the Wikipedia article suggests is a frequent corollary of the false consensus effect), then I must demur.

Even CT’s comments policy excludes only ‘blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic comments’; blatantly anti-democratic or classist comments are clearly fine.

Is it too much work, before making an assertion like that, to double-check the exact words of the comments policy? If you wrote that blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic comments can lead to being banned from the site, it would be true enough; but you added the word ‘only’, which the comments policy does not use in that context, and so create a gross misrepresentation. I won’t quote the rest of the paragraph, because it’s right here for anybody who’s sufficiently interested to check, but it is impossible to reconcile your severely distorting use of the word ‘only’. There is no basis for your suggestion that under the comments policy ‘blatantly anti-democratic or classist comments are clearly fine’; that is not clear: far from it.

and again here

Instead of an emphasis on the undemocratic nature of their positions, it is discussed whether it was motivated by racism. The question immediately arises – who cares, and why should we?

Some people are interested in investigating different ways in which racism can manifest, and different ways in which it can affect patterns of thought and behaviour. Nobody is obligated to be interested in that kind of discussion, but also nobody is obligated to be uninterested.

If somebody set up a blog or a discussion board for the purpose of discussing racism and related issues, it would be dominated by those issues far more than Crooked Timber is, but there would be nothing wrong with that, and it would be misconceived to criticise it for distracting people from more important issues, because people who felt they had something more important to discuss would leave it alone in favour of going somewhere else for their more important issues. Crooked Timber is, obviously, not that sort of place. It is a place where the bloggers and others discuss whatever topics happen to take the fancy of (primarily) the bloggers and (secondarily, within that primarily defined scope) those who choose to comment (and don’t get excluded by the bloggers). That doesn’t define it either as a place for discussion of those issues most important to the world or as a place for discussion of those issues most important to you, and it would again be misconceived, for the same sort of reason, to criticise it for distracting people from those more important issues.

If you don’t care about the topic, you have readily available to you the obvious solution of ignoring the discussion (nobody was suggesting that you had to take part). Instead, you have plunged into it as if you object to any such discussion even taking place. The more vehemently somebody protests ‘It doesn’t matter! I tell you it doesn’t matter!’, the more false it rings.

and again here

To partly reformulate and partly build upon my point above: is a Dickensian world more acceptable, because Scrooge and Tiny Tim, the Prince and the Pauper, Javert and Jean Valjean are both white?

Obviously not; you pose the rhetorical question not only because your answer to it is ‘No’, but also because you are confident that nobody here would dare to answer it ‘Yes’–or rather, you are confident that nobody here would explicitly give an affirmative answer, and you think it’s worth hammering that point home because you suspect that some people harbour an implicit sympathy with an affirmative answer, and you want to confront them with the inconsistency. (I should say, rather, that’s an interpretation that makes sense to me, as a rhetorical approach, and I can’t figure out any other interpretation that makes sense. But perhaps you will disavow my interpretation and reveal a possibility that I missed.) But your suspicion (if I have read you correctly) is without solid foundation.

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Z 02.19.18 at 10:30 am

Henry in the OP (or actually Jacob Levy) I have argued elsewhere that American libertarianism’s dependence on Lockean traditions brings with it the fantasy of a unified pre-political people that might reclaim its liberty from distrusted governing institutions. And in the American political tradition, that kind of holist populist nationalism has always been white nationalism.

My respect for Jacob Levy has grown immensely while reading the linked essay, in particular the quote above. The next logical reason should be: why is it so? There, I disagree with the particulars of the answers he suggests, but still, kudos to him for raising the question.

Collin Street Both racism and libertarianism reflect similar underlying cognitive flaws. Or, rather, correlated underlying cognitive flaws

And that could be due to psychological so to speak internal characteristics of the agents, theoretically. But isn’t it prima facie much more plausible that our cognitive capabilities are shaped by social structures, so that people immersed in an authoritarian/propertarian/racist/feudal… system, even though they are typically distributed along the same curve as people in a democratic/welfare/inclusive system in terms of empathy, cannot and do not express their capability of empathy or general modular theory of mind capability in different ways, yielding the cognitive traits you note? Or in shorter version: cognitive capabilities are themselves social.

J-D How about examples of people suggesting that being ‘a rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral thinker’ amounts to only ‘a couple of charming eccentricities’ that don’t exclude being ‘welcome in polite society’?

The general media treatment of Jacob Rees-Mogg? Of Betsy De Vos? Of Erik Prince? Of Paul Ryan? Oh wait, thinkers? Of Finkielkraut, of anyone on the Neo-Reaction (explicitly and proudly), of Jason Brennan, of most disciples of Carl Schmitt?

F. Foundling I think that the overwhelming focus on race and gender found in mainstream left-liberal circles is due in large part to a loss of commitment to democracy and economic equality among people like you. Instead, an alternative elite ideology is embraced.

That seems absolutely true to me, and important, and like you I consider it a “fairly sinister ideological development” (though I would perhaps dispute the ideological nature of the development, , it’s a sociological development though and through). Of course, to paraphrase Jacob Levy in the linked essay, None of this means that human equality is not a worthwhile, and true, ideal.

F. Foundling What unites neoliberals all over the world is anti-democratism

Also true and important.

F.Foundling , and racism is just one local form of that.

Nah, I don’t think that is true, and I think you would miss something important in thinking so (I think we have interacted often enough on CT that by now you know I agree with most of what you write). I believe that within a proto-ideology of individual liberty and embrace of the fundamental inequality of individuals, the only alternative is 1) democracy and explicit extreme racism or 2) anti-democracy and racial tolerance (though probably with extremely racist outcomes). Racist liberalism is not the local American form of liberalism, it is American liberalism. And in a sense, American neo-liberalism is escaping from racism.

Sebastian H To what extent is worrying about a Mugabe like figure gaining power a legitimate concern in transitional government structures? Can you be concerned about it without being racist or is that pretty close to impossible?

In order to answer the last question for a particular individual X, instead of in abstract generality, it is probably enough to compare X’s attitude to a Mugabe like figure with a different skin color. I’ll let the treatment of X=Hayek as an exercise to the interested reader.

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dbk 02.19.18 at 10:55 am

@Engels: Thank you, the linked article was both interesting and suggestive.

Note, however, the very significant overlap between ASD and alexithymia, with 50% of those having ASD suffering from alexithymia as well.

This would suggest that, at least potentially, there is a biological / genetic connection – not always, but in a significant percentage of cases – between the two conditions.

Interestingly, the Guardian published (today) a piece on research at the Univ’s of Warwick/Bologna/ Birmingham based on analyses of young children’s blood/urine. They have discovered that those with ASD have damaged proteins in their blood plasma: higher-than-normal levels of dityrosine and of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). How this sort of protein damage might be linked to specific manifestations of ASD remains to be sorted out by neurobiologists/biochemists/ molecular biologists.

The study I referred to that employed visual tracking to monitor reactions of disgust / fear / sadness (only disgust proved salient) had subjects who fell within the normal emotional range. The study said nothing about ASD; rather, it suggested that conservatives deploy their (normal capacity for) empathy in more limited ways than liberals.

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casmilus 02.19.18 at 11:35 am

Meanwhile, in Brexitland, stirrings about sinister RW thinktanks

http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86775

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Layman 02.19.18 at 11:35 am

TM @ 44, first you express doubt that oppression etc. can be the result of cognitive problems because that would mean that such cognitive problems are as widespread as oppression etc; then you acknowledge that cognitive problems are indeed widespread.

J-D @47, to be more clear: I doubt that Wallace’s repudiation of his earlier views was sincere because he joined the political party that had adopted those views (e.g. racism and the politics of racial oppression) as its primary electoral strategy. Once upon a time, it was southern Democrats were were openly institutionally racist; then it became Republicans who were openly institutionally racist, and Wallace followed racism to the Republican Party. It is a case of deeds speaking louder than words.

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Layman 02.19.18 at 11:47 am

Sebastian H: “To what extent is worrying about a Mugabe like figure gaining power a legitimate concern in transitional government structures? Can you be concerned about it without being racist or is that pretty close to impossible?”

If you have used the power of government to oppress a racial majority and along the way eliminated all of your reasonable opponents, Mugabe is what you get. He’s a monster, of course, but you made him. It’s worth noting that the things people said about Mugabe to justify continuing to oppress the majority were exactly the same things that people said about Mandela to justify continuing to oppress the majority. So, I don’t see how being ‘concerned’ about the possibility of a Mugabe is anything other than a means of continuing the oppression.

Also, yours at 41 is frankly execrable. None of the people you named openly said that they were anti-democracy, or that they wanted to disenfranchise people, or that they wanted people to suffer in poverty. They said the opposite, and you know that very well. Of course they were lying, or were corrupted, but their supporters could not know it at the time; and each of them were responding to regimes that were anti-democracy, that disenfranchised people, that left them to suffer in poverty! Of course you must know that, too – how can you not? – which makes the post incomprehensibly hard to justify.

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Layman 02.19.18 at 11:53 am

dbk: “The study said nothing about ASD; rather, it suggested that conservatives deploy their (normal capacity for) empathy in more limited ways than liberals.”

It seems odd to call it a normal capacity. If could see or hear my loved ones, but not see or hear anyone else, we would not say that I had a normal capacity to see or hear, but that I simply deployed it differently for loved ones than for others.

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dbk 02.19.18 at 2:13 pm

Layman:

I think one could say just that conservatives deploy their empathy differently that liberals do. But this obviates the argument of the study I was referring to.

The piece I was trying to summarize suggests that this difference originates in the disgust response as elicited by visual images, where conservatives show a stronger aversion to such images than liberals. This in turn suggests that conservatives tend to confine their empathy to that which does not arouse disgust: the known, the familiar, the “in-group.”

I’m not a psychologist or neuropsychologist, so those interested in the researchers’ conclusions re: political preferences might wish to read the article itself.

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casmilus 02.19.18 at 2:21 pm

Wyndham Lewis would be an example of a “reactionary” thinker (at least for part of his career) was not considered to be beyond the pale; Auden and others had positive things to say about him. The Human Age novels are his renunciation of the pro-fascist stuff.

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Layman 02.19.18 at 2:32 pm

Z: “In order to answer the last question for a particular individual X, instead of in abstract generality, it is probably enough to compare X’s attitude to a Mugabe like figure with a different skin color.“

Indeed, given that those who at the time worried about a Mugabe-like figure were in effect supporting white minority rule – anti-democratic and disenfranchising as such rule is – it isn’t at all hard to make the comparison.

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Miguel Madeira 02.19.18 at 2:34 pm

About the hard-right/ASC thing, if anything I suspect that is the opposite, and the hard right is the LESS (or one of the less) autistic ideology – look to the typical persona of the hard-right leaders (Trump, Farage, Wallace, etc.): the “man of the people in touch with ordinary guys, more emotional and impulsive than intellectual, more practical than theoretical, who likes action and direct personal contact; and against the pointy-headed out-of-touch intellectuals in their ivory tower”; if anything, there are more traits of ASC (or perhaps schizophrenia-spectrum conditions; at the mild levels the two spectrums are very similar) in the stereotypical “left-wing intellectual full of theories to save humankind, but with few contact with real, flesh-and-bone, persons near him”).

If we go by the systematic/empathizing thing, it makes some sense that “systematizing” people will be more worried with general, social problems, the fate of humanity, etc. (all things that can be processed at an intellectual and systematic level), and “empathizing” people more with the problems of the people whom they have direct personal contact (and, because that, can “feel” their problems, instead of simply analyzing them from a cerebral point of view), and them be more attached to family, small community, etc. (the classical hard right values).

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SamChevre 02.19.18 at 2:58 pm

J-D @ 30
Can you give examples of people in ‘modern Western liberal-progressive circles’ suggesting that being ‘an anti-democrat’ who ‘wants to disenfranchise most of one’s fellow human beings…’ is ‘within the bounds of the acceptable’?

Easily; I actually remember how gay marriage became the law of the land, and democratic it was not. And it’s possible that members of the “liberal-progressive” circles were up in arms about the lack of democracy, but I certainly didn’t notice any of them.

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Z 02.19.18 at 2:59 pm

Sebastian H Well there is the majority of the liberal-progressive discourse around Hugo Chavez to start with, Mugabe in the early years, and Fidel Castro before him.

I don’t think this can be construed as arguing in good faith: J-D, in reaction to F. Foundling, asked for people in ‘modern Western liberal-progressive circles’. It is clear that, for F. Foundling, these adjectives apply to politicians like Obama and Macron and to thinkers like… whoever is their political thinker of choice (I actually have a hard time filling this blank myself). People like that not only never produced anything like a pro-Castro, pro-Mugabe or pro-Chavez discourse, they usually despised those who did (and are usually despised by them in return).

Sebastian H again The argument that libertarians draw a majority of their concern with Marxists gaining power from the fact that some of the Marxists are people of color seems odd.

Well, in that slightly tongue in cheek formulation, it is perhaps a little odd. But how about the following statement: “As actual political movement, American propertarianism is indissociable* from White Supremacy.” It might be uncomfortable, but I would encourage you to evaluate it rationally. Starting with Jacob Levy’s article, for instance.

*Because of my lack of fluency with the English language, I feel I should point out that to me, this adjective is not symmetric but closer to a logical implication, that is X can by indissociable with Y without Y being indissociable with X. I obviously don’t subscribe to the absurd proposition that White Supremacy is indissociable with American propertarianism. My dictionary gives me no indication whether this use is permissible in English or not.

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TM 02.19.18 at 3:26 pm

Layman 61: I refer to “neurological disorder or pathology” on the first sentence and “cognitive flaws” in the other. These words were used by yourself and others as well. It is not hard to maintain that “cognitive flaws” are widespread and contribute to poor political choices. In fact when I put it this way, it seems obvious, almost tautological. But referring to disorder or pathology is a different matter. Pathology is understood to be outside of “normal” but when large numbers, even majorities of people support oppressive policies, what is the point of interpreting that as a disorder?

It remains unclear whether those who favor the pathology explanation are willing to extend it not just to the right wing leaders but to the many followers as well. A lot of the discourse on CT ignores the mass following of what is considered “pathological” politics and I’m deeply dissatisfied with just disregarding a big part of the problem.

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TM 02.19.18 at 3:27 pm

Why can’t I post with url any more?

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Z 02.19.18 at 3:50 pm

TM A lot of the discourse on CT ignores the mass following of what is considered “pathological” politics and I’m deeply dissatisfied with just disregarding a big part of the problem.

Indeed. That mass effect, and especially the great diachronic and geographic variation it exhibits, is precisely the reason why I find the (so to speak) internal analysis of Collin Street (people with cognitive impairments support certain politics) untenable. The external analysis, I happen to find very convincing (core cognitive faculties, like empathy, are used differentially in function of the social structures at play so that, for instance, in a society where systemic oppression is a fundamental characteristic, many people will display signs of empathy impairment towards the oppressed group).

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Layman 02.19.18 at 4:12 pm

TM: “It remains unclear whether those who favor the pathology explanation are willing to extend it not just to the right wing leaders but to the many followers as well.”

Why is it unclear? If I think oppressive people have cognitive problems, I think so whether they are the leaders or the followers. I think that should be obvious, so I don’t think you are unclear on it so much as you think that pointing it out reveals consequences of my view, consequences you think I wouldn’t like to acknowledge. But I don’t see those unpleasant consequences myself. If people are cruel because they’re fucked in the head, they are still cruel, and I’ll still treat them as if they were cruel, whether they are leaders or followers.

I’ll wager, in fact, that you feel the same way. You’re just drawing the line in a different place than I am. You would agree, I bet, that torturers have cognitive and/or empathy problems, as do murderers, etc. I just extend that thinking to include those who want to punish people because of what their parents did 30 years ago (DACA).

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steven t johnson 02.19.18 at 4:13 pm

I was interested in the forthcoming book itself. Doing just a few minutes googling the author, I found a few items of interest.

“Mainstream accounts narrate globalization since the 1970s as markets set free. Yet the story is more one of encasement than liberation as proliferating trade treaties, investment agreements, justice reform projects, Rule of Law indicators, balanced budget amendments and forums for non-state arbitration have shifted the world economy from the purview of government to that of law. This project offers the first intellectual history of this transformation. It shows that the field of international economic law developed since the 1970s from the belief that decolonization and democracy were threats to the global economy. Experts proposed that global capitalism and democracy could only co-exist by legally limiting state sovereignty or ‘tying Ulysses to the mast.’ This project provides an archival history and genealogy of the legal architecture of globalization as an outcome of political struggle and the clash of competing visions of the world.” https://www.acls.org/research/fellow.aspx?cid=9a1f3a84-20ee-e611-9450-000c29879dd6

The notion that setting world trade free from national governments isn’t markets set free is provocative, but not immediately enlightening. The notion of encasing the market doesn’t help. The notion that neoliberalism demands more aid from political actors, not just the national state but international bodies, than the glory days when empires simplified world maps should be a commonplace about why neoliberalism isn’t just liberalism, but maybe that’s just me. Neoliberalism as globalism seems to require the context of the fall of the empires/decolonization, which doesn’t seem to be entirely an intellectuals’ project. Or to put it another way, the clash of arms and states were inseparable from the clash of visions. But again, maybe that’s just me.

Off hand I think globalization isn’t something that dates back to the 70s. Equally offhand I tend to think of the architects of the international order as including state officials, such as presidents, prime ministers and central bankers, as well as theoreticians. And so far as international law goes, I also offhandedly thought it had a great deal to do with lawsuits and court decisions. On the plus side, I am offhandedly prepared to accept that a fifty year prehistory to the 70s might be of interest. But my overall impression here is that there’s a certain amount of stating the obvious as a new discovery.

http://www.focaalblog.com/2018/01/12/quinn-slobodian-against-the-neoliberalism-taboo/ doubles down on the novelty of discovering that neoliberalism isn’t old liberalism, and re-emphasizes “encasing the market.” Strait-jacket? Armor? Merely Gore-Tex for foul weather? Or maybe those straps that are supposed to keep athletes from straining muscles unduly?

The Amazon blurb for the new book starts off with the shocking discovery that neoliberals don’t hate the state, then tells us “such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions―the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law―to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.” States and global institutions are not the same things, not even the same category of thing, a point not clearly communicated here. Also, so far as the book goes, it is promising to show how these men’s ideas played a role in the events that created the latest iteration of the world system. Myself, I think things like WWII had a great deal to do with it, and remember vaguely Gabriel Kolko’s Politics of War. Or remember Roy Harrod’s biography of Keynes dealing with the negotiations with the US. Somehow I get the impression this book is much smaller in focus and doesn’t address these things at all.

Here https://ces.fas.harvard.edu/people/000656-quinn-slobodian I discover that Slobodian has written Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany, and edited Comrades of Color: East Germany in the Cold War World. The Duke abstract of the first emphasizes how Slobodian rediscovers the agency of Third World students and how the collaboration with West German students developed. His introduction, here https://www.dukeupress.edu/Assets/PubMaterials/978-0-8223-5184-, cites this agency as a corrective to the charges of Habermas et al. that an imaginary identification on the part of West German youth led to violence etc. I’m not following the logic here. But then I wouldn’t have cared so much what Habermas thought either, so what do I know?

In his introduction to Comrades of Color, here 9_601.pdfhttp://www.berghahnbooks.com/downloads/intros/SlobodianComrades_intro.pdf,, is interesting, in a strange way. The introduction makes it clear that it is basically a detailed, close up critique of East Germany’s international pretensions with a particular focus on individuals, up to a critique written by a young Chinese Maoist during the Cultural Revolution. Considering the universal disrepute of the GPCR amongst the wise, the good and the rich, (well-born instead of wise?) treating a Maoist tract as a left critique is…interesting. If I thought for a moment Slobodian actually believe a Maoist critique might genuinely be of intrinsic value, it would be even more provocative. I also thought East Germany was clearly a target in a way West Germany was not. Well, historians will write the history they want. The introductory discussion of East Germany’s role in the Third World didn’t seem to include acknowledging a role in Angola (not even in the footnotes, I think.) This seems somewhat less introductory than it should be, I think.

Checking Slobodian’s Twitter leads here, http://www.publicseminar.org/2018/02/neoliberalisms-populist-bastards/, where Slobodian asserts that right wing bigot parties like AfD and FPO (imagine the umlaut!) are family feuding with neoliberalism, not opposites. Personally, I’m not sure a good family feud isn’t more bitter an opposition than mere not being opposites, but again, what do I know. I will say that in the US context, racism is a huge part of American nativism. I can’t help but wonder how many people will accept his reading of sources?

Slobodian’s very notion of leftism appears to be highly individualistic, moralistis, psychological. His notion of politics appears to be highly intellectualized, and shaped by issues of identity and agency that seems to ignore mundane politics. There is a powerful tendency to rely on narrow questions, unanswerable problems of motives, insupportable periodization, the selective citation of complexity and nuance to avoid drawing conclusions when unwanted so that all the canons of scholarship can be observed…yet the result is not really worth a whole lot.

The less said about ostensible topic of the OP, the politer.

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steven t johnson 02.19.18 at 4:19 pm

Next to last sentence “I’m uncomfortable how much of this seems to apply to Slobodian” omitted when I moved it from the start of the paragraph.

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Layman 02.19.18 at 4:55 pm

SamChevre: “Easily; I actually remember how gay marriage became the law of the land, and democratic it was not.”

What an odd claim! It became the law of the land through the function of an institution of democracy. If that’s ‘anti-democratic’, then you’re using a special definition of the term.

(Is every ruling of the Court anti-democratic, or only those rulings you don’t like?)

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engels 02.19.18 at 7:38 pm

The way that this thread has turned into a polite debate about Collin’s Vast Autistic Conspiracy seems to be testimony to the fact that if you repeat something enough people will start to take it seriously. Would you be having this discussion about a group of people with any other disability or stigma? I hope not.

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J-D 02.19.18 at 7:41 pm

Z

J-D How about examples of people suggesting that being ‘a rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral thinker’ amounts to only ‘a couple of charming eccentricities’ that don’t exclude being ‘welcome in polite society’?

The general media treatment of Jacob Rees-Mogg? Of Betsy De Vos? Of Erik Prince? Of Paul Ryan? Oh wait, thinkers? Of Finkielkraut, of anyone on the Neo-Reaction (explicitly and proudly), of Jason Brennan, of most disciples of Carl Schmitt?

Nowhere in the general media will you find statements like ‘Jacob Rees- Mogg is a rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral thinker, but these are only a couple of charming eccentricities that don’t exclude being welcome in polite society’. Just because you evaluate Jacob Rees-Mogg as being an example of the category cited, it doesn’t follow that the general media evaluates him the same way, and in fact they don’t. As a result, the general media treatment of Jacob Rees-Mogg does not provide evidence of their willingness to treat the combination of traits described as only eccentricities and welcome in polite society.

The same applies if you substitute, for Jacob Rees-Mogg, Betsy DeVos, Erik Prince, or any of the other people you mentioned.

SamChevre

J-D @ 30
Can you give examples of people in ‘modern Western liberal-progressive circles’ suggesting that being ‘an anti-democrat’ who ‘wants to disenfranchise most of one’s fellow human beings…’ is ‘within the bounds of the acceptable’?

Easily; I actually remember how gay marriage became the law of the land, and democratic it was not. And it’s possible that members of the “liberal-progressive” circles were up in arms about the lack of democracy, but I certainly didn’t notice any of them.

I also remember the marriage equality survey, and I can’t figure how it justifies your evaluation: on the one hand, it generally wasn’t endorsed by ‘liberal-progressive circles’, unless that’s how you describe Malcolm Turnbull; on the other hand, I can’t figure how you consider it undemocratic.

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SamChevre 02.19.18 at 7:51 pm

Is every ruling of the Court anti-democratic, or only those rulings you don’t like?

It’s far from every ruling (many are technical statutory interpretation), but most rights-based rulings are anti-democratic. That’s sort of the point of defining something as a “right” in a constitutional system.

I object to treating “those people who want a counter-majoritarian system to protect their rights (to property) from democratic majorities” as a different phenomenon from “those people who want a counter-majoritarian system to protect their rights (to privacy approval) from democratic majorities”. I think they are the same thing–a recognition that a majority vote isn’t the only criterion of justice.

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LFC 02.19.18 at 8:48 pm

Layman @39:

What bothers me is the application of the language and categories of abnormal psychology in contexts where to me, as admittedly a non-expert, that language and those categories seem misplaced and misused, e.g. the assumption that “normal” people operate with a lot of empathy, “abnormal” people with a smaller amount. I’m in favor of empathy — not only to in-group members but to strangers also (cf. dbk @64 and earlier) — but I don’t think it’s helpful or accurate to have a highly constricted view of what counts as normal. (Repeat caveat: am not a psychologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist, etc.)

Now obviously at some point a lack of empathy can become so extreme as to qualify as abnormal. But I think I would draw the location of that line differently than C. Street does.

First postscript: Among CT front-page posters, Ingrid Robeyns is probably the one who knows the most about autism. But I’m pretty sure that, given her responsibilities, she hasn’t been reading this thread.

Second postscript: I don’t think I have time to participate in this thread much further. I know it can be slightly annoying to direct comments to X and then have X not answer them, so I apologize for that in advance. But I may try to check back before the thread closes.

Third postscript (to steven t johnson): I was tempted to judge the Slobodian book on the basis of the publisher’s blurb too, but that’s probably a mistake. Why not wait until it’s published, plow through the 400 pages, and then tell us what you think of it? And please don’t complain, as you have here in the past w/r/t other books, that you can’t obtain it. Even an under-resourced public library almost certainly has some inter-library loan system, and if you persist you can probably get it that way. Of course, if you simply don’t want to plow through a 400-page book, that’s a whole other story. Alternatively, since Henry Farrell thinks it’s a great book (he’s presumably seen the advance proofs) you might prevail on him to send you a free copy…

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Aaron Lercher 02.19.18 at 10:15 pm

The normative assumptions in Calculus of Consent are just horrible. Buchanan and Tullock require that every decision on the rules of society must be unanimous. (Then they say no other normative assumptions are allowed.) That is the strongest possible status quo bias. If you are positing this for a racist society, then that’s pretty damning.

If they were talking about a highly idealized sense of moral persons, like Rawls or Rousseau, this status quo bias would make sense in philosophical terms, although not for political science. Instead, Buchanan and Tullock are requiring consensus for grubby rules about property and taxes.

As I understand McLean’s book, the main topic is Buchanan’s implicit normative commitments, given his situation and political context. Whether or not he was an overt or even a conscious racist is beside the point, and I think McLean makes that clear. I suppose it’s possible to read the book in a much narrower way, only about very narrow claims.

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TM 02.19.18 at 10:30 pm

Layman 73: Perhaps on some level I “feel” that way, but intellectually I don’t think it’s good analysis.

Sam 68: Your statement is noxious. Nobody was disenfranchised by the SC ruling that extended certain hitherto unrecognized rights to a minority, without taking any rights away from the majority. Still it behooves us all to recognize that what is democratic and what is undemocratic or anti-democratic is not as straightforward as those who accuse their political opponents of being “anti-democratic” – whether from the corner of the left that stj represents or (more common these days) from the so-called populist right – want the public to believe. Empirically, in most countries, neither of these fractions can remotely claim to represent the “will of the people”, but repeating the claim often enough is often effective as a propaganda technique. Although these days far more effective for the right than the left.

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Faustusnotes 02.19.18 at 11:12 pm

It also necessary the law of the land in many countries through democratic processes, including referendums and plebiscites. I guess another opportunity to remind samchevre that America isn’t the world.

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J-D 02.20.18 at 12:26 am

SamChevre
I gather that when you referred to the law of the land you actually meant the law of some other land; I think you should have been explicit about that.

Most rights-based rulings are technical statutory interpretation; there’s no good case to the contrary, so the distinction you’re trying to make won’t stand up.

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Sebastian H 02.20.18 at 2:05 am

Z “I don’t think this can be construed as arguing in good faith: J-D, in reaction to F. Foundling, asked for people in ‘modern Western liberal-progressive circles’. It is clear that, for F. Foundling, these adjectives apply to politicians like Obama and Macron and to thinkers like… whoever is their political thinker of choice (I actually have a hard time filling this blank myself). People like that not only never produced anything like a pro-Castro, pro-Mugabe or pro-Chavez discourse, they usually despised those who did (and are usually despised by them in return). “

This seems like a weird limitation on the thread. The context is Hayek (died 1992) and William Hutt (died 1988). The thread is about to what extent a bunch of dead libertarians can be labelled racist and to what extent that can be used to tar modern libertarians who believe some of their arguments.

So if we want to look at liberal contemporaries of Hayek and Hutt who offered cover for Mugabe and Castro, that is super easy to find and J-Ds challenge of that looks ridiculous. And if we want to look at modern living liberals who offered cover for Chavez, that isn’t hard to find either.

Layman “None of the people you named openly said that they were anti-democracy, or that they wanted to disenfranchise people, or that they wanted people to suffer in poverty. “

But they weren’t idiots either. They knew they weren’t getting good democratic structures at the time. When they supported Mugabe, and Castro, and Chavez they were supporting them because they believed that they were better than the more capitalistic alternatives, and that it was worth putting up with their authoritarian tendencies AS A TRANSITIONAL PERIOD. Even most of the support of Stalin and Mao (which was much worse in my opinion) was mostly of that flavor: sure things are nasty for a little bit, but it will be worth it as a transition to a better more democratic system later.

But that is EXACTLY what Hayek and Hutt are being attacked for here. Hutt says that in the transition from apartheid we need to be careful to avoid getting a Mugabe. Hayek says that to avoid communism in Chile we might have to put up with some Pinochet.

I think there are great arguments that ALL of those beliefs were misguided. What irks me is the blatantly different levels of proof applied depending on what side you’re on. If verbally supporting Pinochet is a black mark on Hayek (AND IT IS) than supporting Castro is every bit the black mark. And supporting Chavez is even worse, because at least the supporters of Castro could pretend not to know what was going to happen, while the supporters of Chavez had seen it happen multiple times–including with Castro, who Chavez repeatedly said he wanted to model his regime after. And if it tars the whole philosophy, that applies on the left as well.

But really it doesn’t tar the whole philosophy. Great philosophers get a useful insight, and then seem to run it all the way into the ground pretty much every time. That doesn’t make the core insight terrible, it just means that no one insight is for every situation. (Which I know isn’t something that Marxists or Libertarians want to hear).

As far as the specific charge of racism, it doesn’t make much sense. Hayek hated Stalin (white), was nervous about Mugabe (black), and thought Pinochet didn’t get a fair shake (Latin American). His most frequent opponents were Germans (white). It is almost exactly as if he didn’t care about their race, but instead cared about how much they hewed to his market ideas.

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J-D 02.20.18 at 3:25 am

Sebastian H

The thread is about to what extent a bunch of dead libertarians can be labelled racist and to what extent that can be used to tar modern libertarians who believe some of their arguments.

That’s not what the specific remarks I was responding to (the ones from F. Foundling) were about. It’s possible that F. Foundling’s point is not relevant to what this thread is about, but in that case a different kind of response (from the one you’ve given) is called for.

If you could cite examples of people from Western liberal-progressive circles saying that Stalin (or Mugabe, or Castro, or Chavez, or whichever other example you choose) was rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral, but that was within the bounds of acceptability in a way that being racist is not–or something approximating to that–those examples would provide support for F. Foundling’s case. But you have cited no such examples, and neither has F. Foundling, or anybody else, and I suspect that’s because no such examples exist and that F. Foundling is complaining about an imaginary phenomenon. My suspicions could be wrong, though. Provide the citations, chapter and verse, and I’ll reconsider.

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faustusnotes 02.20.18 at 6:31 am

Sebastian H, Hayek didn’t just “verbally support” Pinochet. He visited him, he provided him with a draft of a chapter of one of his books and incorporated feedback, and he ran an extensive campaign defending Pinochet in the American press (Corey Robin gives the background here. He already knew about Pinochet’s human rights abuses, which were an order of magnitude worse than Chavez’s, so it’s not right to say that supporting Chavez was worse than supporting Pinochet – quite the opposite. Now can you find an example of a western liberal or leftist who has a) visited Chavez, b) incorporated Chavez’s critical opinions into his work and c) extensively defended him in the western press? I think you’re inventing an imagined body of work from leftists on Chavez, then comparing it to an imagined non-body of work by Libertarians on Pinochet.

For example, here is Chomsky criticizing Chavez in 2011 – 7 years ago. Did Hayek ever criticize Pinochet, let alone at the very beginning of his excesses? No, he went to Chile and defended Pinochet after his excesses were well known.

I just don’t think you can make this comparison so easily. Chavez was many things, but he was never a Pinochet. I certainly can’t find any reports of people being thrown out of helicopters, or thousands of people disappeared, under Chavez. Perhaps you should moderate your comparison?

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Z 02.20.18 at 11:09 am

J-D Nowhere in the general media will you find statements like Jacob Rees- Mogg is a rabidly reactionary, militaristic, authoritarian, classist, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian and pro-aristocratic as well as generally anti-humanist and amoral thinker, but these are only a couple of charming eccentricities that don’t exclude being welcome in polite society

That is true, nowhere in the general media will I find this exact sentence word for word. If it is indeed your standard, OK, you have scored a victory. I hope you realize how narrow it would be though. If you are OK with paraphrase, Jacob Reese-Mogg wikipedia page section Political ideology starts with “Rees-Mogg’s political views have been described as High Tory,[93][94] reactionary,[93][95] traditionalist,[96][97] right-wing populist,[93][98] and socially conservative.[99][93] He has been located on the hard right of the Conservative Party.[92] Rees-Mogg is a staunch monarchist.[100] He is a member of the Cornerstone Group.[101]”. All references are to general media outlets. The rest of the section is also of interest, if you insist that no general media outlet would describe him as classist or anti-proletarian. I take it you agree that he is not excluded of polite conversation.

But more generally, I really don’t understand your objection. The Neo-Reaction foundational values are precisely all these things. They self-describe in this way and are proud of it. Just check their Wikipedia page if you doubt me. Ditto for, for instance, my charming compatriots Eric Zemmour or Vladimir Volkoff. All these adjectives are precisely what they like. Damn, they wrote whole books defending these values (the second name guy, whom I assume you don’t know, wrote a pair of books called Why I’m not a Democrat and Why I’m rather an Aristocrat). And though undoubtedly marginal, they are treated by the general media as charming eccentric and are certainly not shunned from polite society.

Say “nigger” in public and you are out of it, for ever (don’t get me wrong, I obviously think it is a good thing). That was F. Foundling’s point I believe, expressed with rhetorical flourishes, sure, so evidently not literally true (for instance, I doubt he could provide direct sources for the rumors he claims to have heard about Beelzebub) but nevertheless easily understandable if you make a good-faith effort to do so.

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Faustusnotes 02.20.18 at 12:05 pm

Foundling was talking about the left. Since when is the general media the left?

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Katsue 02.20.18 at 2:36 pm

@89

I don’t recall Foundling mentioning the left, he talked about “modern liberal-progressive circles”, i.e. the likes of Barack Obama, Emmanuel Macron and David Cameron.

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Layman 02.20.18 at 5:44 pm

Sebastian H: “When they supported Mugabe, and Castro, and Chavez they were supporting them because they believed that they were better than the more capitalistic alternatives…”

Who were the ‘more capitalistic alternatives’ to Mugabe? Do you mean the white anti-democratic oppressors who had robbed the majority of their franchise for decades?

Same question for Castro. Was there some capitalist revolutionary group trying to topple Batista that I’ve somehow missed reading about? Wasn’t it the ‘more capitalistic alternatives’ who propped Batista up?

I mean, what are you going on about? Mugabe and Castro and Chavez were the _results_ of systematic oppression by anti-democratic rulers. If you say “we can’t topple apartheid, we might get something worse”, what do you mean by ‘something worse’? Worse for _whom_, the white minority oppressors of the status quo, or the victims of their regime?

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Sebastian H 02.20.18 at 9:37 pm

J-D I don’t know what you’re saying at this point. It looks like you are adding modifiers and then crowing that I can’t prove that any particular True Scotsman used all of your modifiers simultaneously on December 13th 2017 between 3am and 3:15 am Pacific Standard Time therefore you win! But if you’re agreeing that there are lots of examples of liberal-people defending Chavez and Castro that is the point I was making.

Faustusnotes: Hayek counseled Pinochet on how to run an economy the way that Hayek thought an economy should be run because Pinochet professed to be interested in running an economy that way. (I would tend to believe that Pinochet was playing Hayek, but what do I know). Hayek wrongly believed that the charges against Pinochet were overblown, and that they were being overblown to attack Pinochet ideologically for wanting to be more capitalistic in the Hayekian vein.

Now that is almost certainly the case of a person who is letting his ideological commitments get in the way of the truth. But if the sentence was changed to X believed that the charges against Chavez/Castro/Mao/Pol Pot/Stalin were overblown and that they were being overblown to attack Chavez/Castro/Mao/Pol Pot/Stalin ideologically for wanting to be more Communist in the Marxist vein, you can easily find hundreds of prominent people on the left taking that position.

In fact you mention one such person in the very next paragraph. Chomsky professed to believe for at least a decade that tales of the Cambodian genocide were overblown to attack the Communist enterprise. In an article for The Nation he supported the point of view of “Starvation and Revolution” which believed that the reports of atrocities were systematic attempts at mythmaking. He called this book which relied extensively on Communist sources “a carefully documented study”.

He called “Murder of a Gentle Land”, the book which was based on refugee accounts, “A third rate propaganda tract”. He attempted to dismiss the refugee accounts by appealing to authorities which ” have provided analyses by highly qualified specialists who have studied the full range of evidence available, and who concluded that executions have numbered at most in the thousands; that these were localized in areas of limited Khmer Rouge influence and unusual peasant discontent, where brutal revenge killings were aggravated by the threat of starvation resulting from the American destruction and killing. These reports also emphasize both the extraordinary brutality on both sides during the civil war (provoked by the American attack) and repeated discoveries that massacre reports were false. They also testify to the extreme unreliability of refugee reports, and the need to treat them with great caution, a fact that we and others have discussed elsewhere”

Of course know now that the reports were if anything underplaying the massacres, that they were not limited at most to the thousands, that they were not just ‘localized in areas of limited Khmer Rouge influence’, and that the refugee reports turned out to be very reliable.

Almost 20 years later, he came around to the idea that there was an actual genocide in Cambodia. So you can pull quotes after that period. But in 1977 Chomsky was very much a believer that the charges against the Khmer Rouge were mostly trumped up to discredit Communism. Hayek said essentially identical things about Pinochet in 1979–that the charges were inflated to discredit his socio-economic project. Hayek was dead before Chomsky wrote in 1993 (in Manufacturing Consent) that the genocide was real.

Now my opinion is that BOTH men let their ideology blind them to the reality. Humans do that regularly. But they also both have important insights which can’t easily be dismissed by “they disbelieved reports of atrocities”.

Layman “Same question for Castro. Was there some capitalist revolutionary group trying to topple Batista that I’ve somehow missed reading about? Wasn’t it the ‘more capitalistic alternatives’ who propped Batista up?”

You accidentally truncated important pieces from my quote. I wrote “But they weren’t idiots either. They knew they weren’t getting good democratic structures at the time. When they supported Mugabe, and Castro, and Chavez they were supporting them because they believed that they were better than the more capitalistic alternatives, and that it was worth putting up with their authoritarian tendencies AS A TRANSITIONAL PERIOD.”

So yes. As I said, they supported Castro because they believed he was better than the more capitalistic alternatives (see for example even the particularly nasty Batista), and claimed that it was worth putting up with Castro’s authoritarian tendencies AS A TRANSITIONAL PERIOD (just as Hutt suggests taking less than democratic procedures in a South Africa transition, though note that even immediately he is suggesting a more democratic government than Castro ever went to).

Now I think the evidence is pretty clear that it is dangerous to modify certain basic principles during transitional periods because the transition ends up going on indefinitely. We could probably have an interesting discussion about exactly which basic principles we are talking about.

But the argument HERE is that Hutt and Hayek are evidencing some deep flaw in their underlying thinking by discussing that concept–but that very same kind of discussion from the left (with far more brutal consequences than has been seen from the followers of Hutt and Hayek) is NOT seen as a deep flaw with their underlying thinking.

And then there is the semi-ridiculous idea that someone who opposed Stalin (white) embraced Pinochet (Latino) and was afraid of Mugabe (Black) is making his decisions on the basis of skin color when it is obvious that he is making it on the basis of ideology.

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bruce wilder 02.20.18 at 9:48 pm

I am sure Sebastian H counts Eisenhower’s support for Batista and arch-capitalist, Meyer Lansky, against someone, somewhere, sometime.

(I especially love the counterfactual fantasies in which continuing with Batista results in steady economic growth and Cuba is the richest country in the Caribbean in counterfactual 1993 and it is all the fault of NY leftists that this fine result was not arrived at.)

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Faustusnotes 02.21.18 at 12:34 am

Katsue, foundlings original complaint regarding the op was clearly intended to be about the left.

But let’s take your example of Cameron Obama and Macron, it’s beautiful. Cameron took the UK out of the EU – which you consider a neo liberal institution – in order to erect a protectionist barrier around British workers. He is not a neo liberal. He is also not progressive, no matter how many hoodies he hugs. Corbyn, on the other hand, is a classic progressive who supports free movement of workers – way more favourable to the EU than cameron. Yet he isn’t in your list, hmmm. Meanwhile we have Obama, who led the largest expansion of the welfare state in the USA since WW2. Do you think that’s a neoliberal? And how is Obama progressive? He never passed any progressive legislation. Does progressive mean “black”. Is that what you were thinking? Or do you consider his administrative efforts to prevent cops killing black men evidence of his progressivism? In the rest of the developed world that is a kind of minimum standard of governance. Also how is “progressive” a slur?

You have taken a bog standard economic nationalist tory and a bog standard centrist right wing politician and called them both neo liberal progressives, even though neither is progressive and the signature achievement of both of them is the opposite of neo liberal (by your definition of this much abused term). In one case you have ignored a perfectly good example of a neoliberal progressive from one of their countries – Corbyn – because you admire him even though he is much closer to your definition of what you hate.

Your political theory is a joke. I refer you back to my example 1) of why people like you are Trump curious. If you have a political theory this incoherent you are going to be an easy mark for people like Trump, and you will never be able to build a coherent left wing analysis of the world’s growing and dire problems.

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J-D 02.21.18 at 9:01 am

Z

That is true, nowhere in the general media will I find this exact sentence word for word. If it is indeed your standard, OK, you have scored a victory. I hope you realize how narrow it would be though. If you are OK with paraphrase,

Of course. ‘Statements like’ (the phrase I actually used) is not a synonym for ‘the exact statement that’. Was that not clear?

If you are OK with paraphrase, Jacob Reese-Mogg wikipedia page section Political ideology starts with “Rees-Mogg’s political views have been described as High Tory, reactionary, traditionalist, right-wing populist, and socially conservative. He has been located on the hard right of the Conservative Party. Rees-Mogg is a staunch monarchist. He is a member of the Cornerstone Group.”. All references are to general media outlets. The rest of the section is also of interest, if you insist that no general media outlet would describe him as classist or anti-proletarian. I take it you agree that he is not excluded of polite conversation.

Within modern Western liberal-progressive circles, is it considered that the views of Jacob Rees-Mogg are within the bounds of acceptability? I’m asking you this question because I don’t know the answer. You have established that he is reported on by the general media, but the general media reports on people whose views it considers not to be within the bounds of acceptability; and even if the general media does consider his views to be within the bounds of acceptability, modern Western liberal-progressive circles, however we understand that expression, are not synonymous with the general media. Can you produce any evidence of the view being taken, within modern Western liberal-progressive circles, that Jacob Rees-Mogg’s views are anti-democratic but within the bounds of acceptability, or authoritarian but within the bounds of acceptability, or anti-humanist but within the bounds of acceptability, or anti-proletarian but within the bounds of acceptability, or anything like that? You can’t be an example yourself, because although you consider his views to be anti-proletarian you don’t consider them to be within the bounds of acceptability.

But more generally, I really don’t understand your objection. The Neo-Reaction foundational values are precisely all these things. They self-describe in this way and are proud of it. Just check their Wikipedia page if you doubt me.

I have to check Wikipedia to find out what it is. Seriously, had you given no consideration at all to the possibility of encountering people who have never even heard of ‘Neo-Reaction’? If not, perhaps it will astonish you even further when I inform you that until a couple of months ago I had never even heard of Jacob Rees-Mogg. I suppose you can attribute my ignorance to some character defect if you like, but if so it must be an extremely widespread character defect; the world is full of people who have never heard of Neo-Reaction or even of Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Wikipedia redirected my search for ‘Neo-Reaction’ to a page titled ‘Dark Enlightenment’, where I found a few individuals named as prominent in the movement, with one of them, Curtis Yarvin, appearing in the only photograph illustrating the page. Wikipedia has a page specifically about him, on which I read ‘Yarvin’s opinions have been described as racist …’ He’s not an example that supports F. Foundling’s thesis then, is he? Clearly he’s not an example illustrating F. Foundling’s assertions about what views are considered to be within the bounds of acceptability if his neoreactionary views are not in fact considered to be within the bounds of acceptability; but if his views are considered to be within the bounds of acceptability, he doesn’t illustrate how far you can go and still be deemed acceptable so long as your views are not judged racist, because his views have in fact been judged racist.

Ditto for, for instance, my charming compatriots Eric Zemmour or Vladimir Volkoff.

Another poor choice of example, for similar reasons: in 2011, Éric Zemmour was convicted of a crime whose French name appears to be equivalent to ‘incitement to racial discrimination’. If he is a person whose views are treated as unacceptable, he won’t do as an example of what F. Foundling asserts about the kinds of views that are treated as acceptable; but if he is a person whose views are treated as acceptable, then he illustrates how you can be considered acceptable even though your views are considered racist, and once again F. Foundling’s case is undermined, not supported.

Say “nigger” in public and you are out of it, for ever

I am not prepared to accept the truth of that assertion without illustrative evidence, partly because illustrative evidence might help to clarify the meaning of the assertion (what specifically is meant by ‘you are out of it, for ever’?).

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J-D 02.21.18 at 6:13 pm

Sebastian H

I don’t know what you’re saying at this point.

I’m saying that the assertion made by F. Foundling is not supported by evidence.

It looks like you are adding modifiers

I am quoting the language used by F. Foundling

But if you’re agreeing that there are lots of examples of liberal-people defending Chavez and Castro that is the point I was making.

I don’t know why you’re bothering to try to make that point. It’s not the assertion that F. Foundling was making and that I was disputing.

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Faustusnotes 02.21.18 at 11:29 pm

I would like to point out that Bill Maher made a very tasteless comment a short while back about being a house nigger. There was uproar and he kept his job and his show is still popular. He remains an insufferable prat, a condescending shit, but he’s still popular. He’s the classic refutation of foundling’s point: his economic views and his approach to democracy and freedom speech are very soldily left wing, but he’s an anti feminist and a racist (or at least very friendly racists) and he remains popular on the left.

Really this stuff is so trivial and stupid.

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Layman 02.22.18 at 12:26 am

Sebastian H: “When they supported Mugabe, and Castro, and Chavez they were supporting them because they believed that they were better than the more capitalistic alternatives…”

I’m still waiting for you to name those ‘more capitalistic alternatives’. Maybe it would help to frame the problem properly.

The problem in Rhodesia (and South Africa) was that a minority white government oppressed and all but enslaved a majority black population. What were the alternatives? Well, you could let the majority black population participate in choosing the government, which of course means letting them choose the government since they have the numbers.

Some people – white people, of course – objected to this because of the fear that a majority black government might oppress the white minority. This is a real fear, I’m not disputing that, but my question is, what was the other, more capitalistic alternative? I’m assuming you don’t mean the white minority government, since they were the actual problem, right? You can’t solve the problem of an oppressive white minority government by having, instead, an oppressive white minority government. So who were the other alternatives ‘they’ failed to support instead? And what was the nature of the ‘more capitalistic’ alternative if it didn’t involve letting the black population participate in forming – effectively choosing – the government?

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Layman 02.22.18 at 2:08 am

Faustusnotes: “I would like to point out that Bill Maher made a very tasteless comment…”

Bill Maher is a Personage of some kind? Philosopher, economist, politician? I mean, if you’re saying ‘rude tasteless comedians attract fans’, I’m with you, but no takes them seriously or thinks they’re serious people.

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faustusnotes 02.22.18 at 3:36 am

Layman, Bill Maher is an atheist left wing comedian with a tv show that offers commentary on political issues, including a panel that debates shit. He is pretty famous in America. I’m offering him as an example because a) he’s a renowned left winger and b) he made a tasteless nigger comment and c) nobody has pushed him out of the public square, contra Foundling’s idea that you can be the purest of pure in every other political aspect of your character, but if you say nigger you’re beyond the pale. This is transparently false and it took me about 5 seconds to find an example of how it’s transparently false.

Foundling, Wilder et al just want all debate in the US to be reduced to the issues of the white industrial left, because they think every issue can be solved by a revolution of the white industrial left, because their ideas haven’t updated in 100 years. That’s why Puchalsky sneered at BLM, that’s why Foundling, Wilder and Katsue and Yan love them some Trump-fluffing – they don’t want to share the political space with women or black people. Maher is a good example of the same thing in the public square – he interviewed Yiannopoulos – a known defender of paedophilia – because the only thing that matters to this type of lefty is that all the people in the debate are white men.

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faustusnotes 02.22.18 at 9:35 am

Sebastian H, I missed your response to me above. You’re right that in the 1970s there were a bunch of western communists defending various ugly dictatorships and communist atrocities. But were they doing this because they were racist? I don’t think you could accuse Chomsky (for example) of anything except perhaps the unconscious racism most of us in the west have. Whatever his reasons for supporting e.g. the Khmer Rouge, it wasn’t because he was scared of Asians overwhelming white people and wanted to hold them down. This is the point being made in the OP – that the motives for these people’s anti-democratic impulses were based in a certain fear of black people. It’s possible that different political tendencies at the time made the same mistakes for very different reasons – and it’s important to understand why.

Also you really need to drop Chavez from your comparisons. For all his economic mistakes, his human rights abuses are an order of magnitude different to Pinochet’s, and the false equivalency doesn’t do you any favours. Also don’t undersell what Hayek did – he didn’t just give Pinochet a bit of advice on economics (and wasn’t it Friedman who did that and helped Pinochet destroy the Chilean economy?), he tried to defend him in the western press. He and the chicago boys were cheerleaders for the dictatorship, as well as economic wreckers, and you shouldn’t become one too.

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Orange Watch 02.22.18 at 10:20 am

Maher is a member in good standing of the liberal status quo, and he showed modest contrition while being properly tribal – note that while he’s an obvious and unrepentant misogynist, he was loudly Team Hillary. He’s a hawkish cheerleader for liberal capitalism and the entrenched establishment so the liberal media won’t crucify him for sins others would be torn to pieces for, his fans are contrarians who adore his “straight talking” shtick, and he likewise engenders good will from portions of the right because he advocates against “political correctness” and hates Islam. Trying to draw broad conclusions from his fairly unusual circumstances is a rather dishonest notion. Rules frequently have exceptions.

I’d also note he represents a tragically common breed of centrist liberal – the sort that professes liberal as much or more because it affords them status and lets them look down on others as ignorant savages than any particularly clear dedication to social justice, anti-racism, or feminism. Unsurprisingly, these culture warriors are typically white cisgender mid-to-upper-class males from reasonably affluent backgrounds. That they so freely exist within the popular liberal establishment does more to undermine its credibility than to prove its dedication to deeply-held leftist principles rather than shallow tribal markers and kulturkampf.

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Ray Lopez 02.22.18 at 1:43 pm

Author tries to project US style anti-racism to the southern part of Africa, as a sort of exemplar, which is apples and oranges. For one thing, the US south did not have Africa’s tribalism. And this: “Hutt’s actual position was that racism was bad, but the introduction of actual democracy to South Africa was bad too, since it would lead to expropriation. Hence, Hutt’s solution of a weighted franchise, and Hayek’s apparent suggestion that the South African state ought be limited to a minimal body designed to enforce contracts, protect market competition and no more, lest a democratic majority seize upon it as a tool for redistribution.” – So Hutt had a rather convention option then. How is Hutt’s opinion any different than: (1) the founding fathers of the USA setting up a Senate and a House of Representatives, and, (2) 3/5ths of a vote for representation of South states, and (3) isn’t white expropriation exactly what happened in Rhodesian aka Zimbabwe? Let’s face it: it’s easy to be a non-racist in northern USA, pre-Black emigration to the same, aka to be an antebellum Abolitionist. Much harder when you are on the wrong side of 8 Mile Road in Detroit or in some ghetto in DC, NYC, San Jose or pretty much in every US city. Speaking as a Caucasian who is in the Philippines with a Filipina. If you really want to show you are not a racist, and you’re white, you must be prepared to date, cohabitate and marry a non-white. That’s the litmus test, not shock and pretend awe over a conventional opinion like Hutt’s.

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Katsue 02.22.18 at 2:15 pm

@91

I bracketed Obama and Cameron together as liberal progressives because they are rightists of the same type, not because I think they are or were pro-immigrant, pro-woman or pro-black, which clearly they aren’t. If Obama had actually been pro-black, he wouldn’t have presided over the foreclosure regime that destroyed the prosperity of America’s black middle class. The ideological closeness of Obama and Cameron can be seen from the fact that Obama praised Cameron’s management of Britain’s economy during the 2015 election campaign, from the fact that Jim Messina felt able to work as campaign manager for both, and from their nigh-identical foreign policy.

I am not, contrary to your slurs, anti-black or anti-women.

I am not pro-Trump. The reason I object to Russiagate talking points is because (a) Russiagate is transparently ludicrous and (b) the main purposes of the fake Russiagate scandal are to prevent the Democrats from moving left in the wake of Hillary’s defeat and to drum up support for the US military and US intelligence agencies, for endless war, mass surveillance and the overthrow and attempted overthrow by the US of non-compliant regimes like those of, among others, Dilma Rousseff, Nicolás Maduro, Manuel Zelaya, Victor Yanukovych and Bashar al-Assad (who I am bracketing not because of any similarity between their governments but because the US has assisted in attempting to overthrow them).

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Layman 02.22.18 at 3:35 pm

Ray Lopez: “How is Hutt’s opinion any different than: (1) the founding fathers of the USA setting up a Senate and a House of Representatives, and, (2) 3/5ths of a vote for representation of South states, and (3) isn’t white expropriation exactly what happened in Rhodesian aka Zimbabwe?”

1) If your view is that representational democracy isn’t democracy, then of course representational democracy isn’t representative. But that’s an odd view.

2) Yes, the founding fathers were on slavery just as bad, perhaps worse, than Hutt. So what?

3) Hutt’s view seems to have been that it was better for the white minority to oppress the black majority than the other way around. I think that speaks for itself.

As to this: “If you really want to show you are not a racist, and you’re white, you must be prepared to date, cohabitate and marry a non-white. ”

However do you measure that preparedness other than by the deed? Do you mean to say that every person who has not dated, cohabited with, or married someone from another race is a racist? If not, what’s the point of the standard you’re establishing here, since you can’t measure the preparedness any other way?

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b9n10nt 02.22.18 at 3:54 pm

@103 demonstrates how conventional racism is, thus undermining the idea that “conventional” is in opposition to “racist”.

The idea that it’s harder for a white person to be “non-racist” in urban black America, however representative such thinking might be in the virtual community of Tyler Cowen’s blog comments, is racist.

Please no more from Mr. Lopez, here.

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steven t johnson 02.22.18 at 5:15 pm

The real solution to criticisms of Hutt as ambiguous on race is to cite his record on segregation in the US. Interventions in controversies, public outreach, papers, etc. Just letting it be known that somewhere, sometime Hutt allowed segregation wasn’t good doesn’t really establish this. Such activity in Virginia is obviously the relevant issue when claiming Buchanan’s importation of Hutt showed Buchanan was actually against racism.

Buchanan’s school choice doesn’t accomplish its purported goals of improving school education for minorities, nor does it help desegregate the school system in any way that helps mitigate inequalities in education. Modern day defenders of school choice will claims so, but they distort the evidence. What seems to be forgotten here is there was never any reason to believe multiple school systems would be beneficial because “Competition!,” or that public education was actively bad because “Government!”

As near as I can make out the Nobel was for rationalizing that nonsense, not for discovering it. Part of the disingenuity of the conversation is ignoring the question of why Buchanan was selected in favor of defending his motives on the grounds one can’t read minds and nobody is allowed to offer their own interpretation absent a confession.

The conclusion that advocacy of a policy that is racist in its effects is racist is logical. The additional inference that the motivation for a policy that has no likelihood whatsoever of achieving its purported aim has an ulterior motive is reasonable, though defense counsel may claim grounds for reasonable doubt. It seems ill advised to take legal briefs as historical analysis. The only serious prima facie objection to MacLean is that she overemphasizes one set of villains, the Kochs and their hirelings. How curious no one notices this.

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john c. halasz 02.22.18 at 6:27 pm

I’m just wondering why Faustusnotes comment e.g. #94 and @100 aren’t violations of the reformed comments policy at CT . Not only are those comments rather wildly distorted in relation to ascertainable facts and full of ad hominem invective, sneeringly insulting while mis-characterizing and mis-attributing other commenters views, (i.e. strawman fallacy), but there seems to be a compulsion, not untinged with grandiosity, to always get in the last word, hence a high frequency of commenting with little informational or analytic value.

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faustusnotes 02.23.18 at 4:33 am

Katsue, your contortions just get more … contorted. So Obama and Cameron are “liberal progressives” but are not pro-black, pro-woman [what does that even mean?] or pro-immigrant. In your sneering identity politics definition of “liberal progressive”, isn’t your problem that they spend too much time being pro-black and pro-woman? But now your definition of “liberal progressive” is “anti-black, anti-woman and anti-immigrant”? So a “Liberal progressive” in your revised definition is actually a reactionary conservative, and Cameron and Obama are both reactionary conservatives? Who you label as liberal progressives because of reasons?

So again you insist that Obama and Cameron are the same on economic issues. This time as your evidence you give us the fact that they shared a campaign manager. Interesting that you don’t choose to illustrate their closeness on economic policy by considering their actual policies – presumably because one presided over the largest increase in the welfare state in post-war history, while the other did everything he could to smash the welfare state. As for foreign policy – the UK always does what the US wants. Every UK leader has the same foreign policy as the US leader in power at the time. This is not a sign of ideological closeness, but of lapdog status.

You then go onto a strange tirade about how the Democrats are planning to attack Maduro and Assad. I would have thought it was abundantly clear from what is happening and has happened in Syria that the US is doing nothing at all to overthrow Assad, and as to the idea that there is a democratic plan to overthrow Maduro – where do you get these ideas from?

This political approach is incoherent, illogical, completely bereft of evidence, and it is leading you down a blind path. This is why you are still convinced “Russiagate” is a hoax despite the indictments and the evidence – because you’re concocting conspiracy theories in defense of a wild political theory with no basis. And the part of this weird political theory in which the mainstream left is distracted from the real issues by a heavy focus on racism and sexism, is insulting and demeaning to those of us who actually are able to think about more than one issue at once – and to the extent that large parts of the mainstream left buy into your idea, it also holds back progress on these important issues.

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Katsue 02.23.18 at 1:57 pm

Leaving your bizarre ad-hominems aside, it is a publicly admitted fact that the US has spent billions of dollars over the past decade arming the Syrian rebels, has supported sanctions on them, and has bombed Syrian government forces under both Obama and Trump, to say nothing of illegally setting up military bases on Syrian territory – bases which the US government has announced its intention to maintain indefinitely.

The US has also imposed sanctions on Venezuela and frequently calls for the overthrow of Maduro, by military coup or otherwise, as they called for the overthrow of Chavez before him. As in the case of Assad, this is of course a bipartisan effort, not restricted to Democrats.

You are also incorrect when you say that I don’t believe Russiagate in spite of the indictments and the evidence. The indictments and the evidence in the Russiagate case are a joke, and it is because of them that I don’t believe in Russiagate.

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Sebastian H 02.23.18 at 7:55 pm

Faustusnotes “You’re right that in the 1970s there were a bunch of western communists defending various ugly dictatorships and communist atrocities. But were they doing this because they were racist? I don’t think you could accuse Chomsky (for example) of anything except perhaps the unconscious racism most of us in the west have. Whatever his reasons for supporting e.g. the Khmer Rouge, it wasn’t because he was scared of Asians overwhelming white people and wanted to hold them down. This is the point being made in the OP – that the motives for these people’s anti-democratic impulses were based in a certain fear of black people. It’s possible that different political tendencies at the time made the same mistakes for very different reasons – and it’s important to understand why.”

This is what happens when you try to make the whole world about US style-racism. Hayek opposed Stalin (white), Lenin (white), Mao (Asian), and Marx (white) while he supported Pinochet (Latino). He did that because of ideology regarding the market, not because of race. Leftists of all sorts supported Stalin (white), Mao (Asian), and Pol Pot (Asian) while opposing Pinochet (Latino). They did that because of ideology regarding the market, not because of race.

“Also don’t undersell what Hayek did – he didn’t just give Pinochet a bit of advice on economics (and wasn’t it Friedman who did that and helped Pinochet destroy the Chilean economy?), he tried to defend him in the western press.”

Gack. I didn’t undersell it. I SPECIFICALLY pointed to the parallel between what Hayek did in defending Pinochet to the press and what Chomsky did to wave away the Khmer Rouge atrocities in the press. I said that they were the same kind of nasty thing that powerful thinkers were drawn to do in support of ideologies they had affinity with.

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Faustusnotes 02.24.18 at 1:24 am

Sebastian H I don’t think the article or the op are applying western style racism ideas here (I agree the tendency to do this is frustrating). They’re discussing the politics explicitly in light of the studied authors experience of apartheid, and their statements on the same. So they’re not making this general error that Amercians so often do. And the implication is that their experience of apartheid affected their view of democracy – it’s not about the market. I think!

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J-D 02.24.18 at 2:03 am

This is an affirmative statement of my views, expressed, in the hope of greater clarity, without specific reference to earlier comments.

In my observations, what happens to people who make racist statements, or behave in a racist way, varies from case to case: sometimes they experience severe negative consequences for their words or deeds; sometimes they experience only minor negative consequences; sometimes they experience no negative consequences, or only ones that can fairly be dismissed as negligible. The same variation exists if we consider cases where people have been accused (rightly or wrongly) of being racists. In my observations, also, the same variation exists if we consider cases of people who are not racists, or not accused of racism, but who make equally noxious statements or take equally noxious actions, of one or another kind but not falling within the category of racism: sometimes major negative consequences, sometimes minor ones, sometimes none.

Yet further in my observations, some people, contrary to the observations described above, assert that if a person is deemed to racist the major negative consequences are inescapable, but similar negative consequences never befall people for other kinds of words or actions, no matter how negatively evaluated, so long as they are not deemed racist. This view taken by these people is not backed up by the kind of supporting evidence that would be needed to justify it. Are there any of those people, expressing that kind of view in this discussioin? It seemed to me as if there were, which is why I thought it relevant to challenge that view and to inquire into whether evidence could be produced to support it. If, in fact, nobody here espouses the kind of view I’m describing, then that’s good and I’m happy. But if there are people here who do espouse that kind of view, they haven’t cited the kind of evidence that would justify it.

There have been some other issues discussed here; I have had less to say about them, and in any case they are separate issues; if I’ve been wrong and other people right about other issues, it doesn’t affect this one.

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Faustusnotes 02.24.18 at 3:34 am

Katsue, Obama imposed sanctions on 7 Venezuelan officials connected to human rights abuses, not on “Venezuela”. This was done after years of Chavez expling US diplomats and attacking us politics including Obama personally. The only sanctions on the country were imposed by Trump. This is hardly a bipartisan effort. You really need to get your story straight if you want to try and push these kind of silly ideas.

You really sound like someone who has no idea how politics works,can’t understand policy, and believes every single lie that foreign dictators tell you about America. I mean, Yanukovych, really? Obama and Cameron the same? You’re living in a fantasy land.

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Z 02.24.18 at 4:00 pm

Hayek opposed Stalin (white), Lenin (white), Mao (Asian), and Marx (white) while he supported Pinochet (Latino). He did that because of ideology regarding the market, not because of race. Leftists of all sorts supported Stalin (white), Mao (Asian), and Pol Pot (Asian) while opposing Pinochet (Latino). They did that because of ideology regarding the market, not because of race.

Sebastian H, several times now you have written a variant of this, but you must realize that all this shows is that – as nobody doubts – Hayek was first and foremost someone who liked free markets and authoritarian systems that kept the rabbles in their proper place (and part of the virtue of the market was that it kept the rabbles in their proper place). What your list conclusively shows is that ethnicity was not the main determinant of, or played the most important role in, Hayek’s political choices (again, nobody doubts this). However, your list does not show that ethnicity played no role. In order to decide this, one has to look to two cases identical in every respect, except ethnicity. And if you do that, it is immediately apparent that Hayek was always fearful of democracy, sure, but especially so when the majority of voters was Black. So he did not like one white man/one vote in South Africa, but one man/one vote was especially worrisome.

In some sense, that is natural. As John Quiggin noted above, in a world with racial oppression, propertarians will almost necessarily be on the side of the racists, if not as a matter of principle (I’m ready to take at their words Hayek’s friends and to believe that he had no racial animosity), at least as a matter of political choices. As Henry says, weighting the vote or crippling the state for fear of a black majority is weighting the vote or crippling the state for fear of a black majority, whichever way you slice it.

But more importantly (except if you are really a fan of Hayek’s private opinions), the fact is that the American propertarian movement (and there are essentially no such movement outside of the US) have always come hand in hand with White Supremacy. This has been true since the inception of this movement and has remained true to the Trump era without a single exception. There are dozens of important historical instances where the propertarian movement explicitly and actively campaigned against the liberty of Black people, and not a single historical instance where it campaigned in favor of it. Not a single one. None.

That’s a fact of intellectual and socio-political fact that you have to confront. And if you are tempted to say that nothing in the ideological corpus of propertarians condones White Supremacy (quite the contrary, in fact) well, then, think about what you think of the relation of the marxist-leninist ideological corpus with the historical reality of its political achievements.

what Hayek did in defending Pinochet to the press and what Chomsky did to wave away the Khmer Rouge atrocities in the press. I said that they were the same kind of nasty thing that powerful thinkers were drawn to do in support of ideologies they had affinity with.

That is not at all up to your standards. What Hayek did in favor Pinochet is well documented, our own Corey Robin has done so in his usual meticulous style here for instance

http://coreyrobin.com/2012/07/18/when-hayek-met-pinochet/

Nothing in what Chomsky did about the Khmer rouges compare even remotely. Beside you wrote several times that Chomsky underplayed Khmer rouges atrocities because he was favorable to their ideology. That is not true at all. Chomsky’s ideology is that atrocities of US enemies are exaggerated in the US, and atrocities of US friends are minimized. He applied his ideology consistently to the case of the Khmer rouges so he thought (mistakenly) that their atrocities were exaggerated by the US ideological system. As soon as the Khmer rouges ceased to be official enemies of the US (and in fact became allied of the US, remember that Sebastian?), Chomsky ceased to believe that their atrocities were exaggerated (and in fact he correctly pointed out that they started to be underplayed by the US).

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