Real libertarians step up

I am no libertarian. I desire a ginormous welfare state, and I love me some trade unions. I stipulate that as preface to a comment on some of the grousing by some liberals on the alleged evanescence of the “libertarian moment.” The civil liberties catastrophe in Missouri was a chance for them to demonstrate their bona fides on liberty, and supposedly they blew it. As examples we hear cited the failure of politicians like Rand Paul and writers like — I can hardly bear to type this — Jonah Goldberg. Fellas, you just haven’t found real libertarians. You need to look harder. Try Radley Balko. Try Brian Doherty. I couldn’t bring myself to look at anything Goldberg may have excreted, but Paul did publish a pretty good column that I previously referenced. He might have said more, but he didn’t.

There is also an interesting packet of articles on the bizarre local public finances of Ferguson, again from libertarians like Alex Tabarrok and Anthony Fisher.

Meanwhile, what about the goddamn Democrats? Would anybody, oh maybe the president, have the temerity to comment on the disgraceful performance of the state and local authorities in Missouri? Please spare me the babble about studies, commissions, hearings, and investigations. Couldn’t anybody utter a simple word, calling out the authorities for their denial of basic rights when it counts, in real time? No?

This was at least as much a failure of liberalism as of libertarianism. It’s not so hard for conservatives to heckle Democratic office holders; they don’t need an intellectually honest reason. It’s a cheap date. Of course they do not apply the same standards to their own team.

What are the liberals’ standards? You need a bloodhound and a magnifying glass to find them, when it is Democratic officials whose performance is in question.




Real libertarians step up — 6 Comments

  1. OK, did I miss a sudden spate of people calling out libertarians on this? I mean, yeah, I know some people do, but you’re referencing something in particular, yeah?

  2. Hi Avedon. I wouldn’t call it a spate, more like a sprinkling. Paul Waldman, Jonathan Chait if memory serves. Atrios had something, no? I’m just trying to goose the liberals. Not much luck so far.

  3. This post makes some good points, but I think you’re conflating categories. You’re comparing libertarian intellectuals – who have been pretty good about Ferguson – to (white) liberal politicians, who have been completely pusillanimous. But I think if you align your categories right – (white) liberal intellectuals and libertarian* intellectuals; (white) liberal politicians and libertarian* politicians – you see that intellectuals on both sides have done reasonably well, and politicians on both sides have done really badly. With maybe an edge to Rand Paul, who gets points for speaking out but maybe loses them for dropping the issue.

    *Of course I don’t need to add the qualifier “white” to the libertarian descriptor…

  4. has been very good. They’re mostly a mix of paleoconservatives and libertarians, though they welcome most antiwar viewpoints.

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