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Sunday, April 20, 2008

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And, Cthulhu knows, there's nothing as individualistic as being stuck in a massive traffic jam. There's freedom of movement in action!

Of course, in Rothbard's dream world, said independence would be impossible, because you would have to stop at every property line and pay another toll. After all, all roads must be privately owned by the property owners through which they traverse!

To amplify the above and agree with Duncan: There is nothing in history more "collective" and "socialistic" than modern automobile infrastructure. I suppose we could have private toll roads everywhere (all how they would be built I don't understand), but what about city streets? I suppose if each little burbclave is its own little private fiefdom, but how would such a situation encourge the free flowing joys of the boobsoisie?

Also: why does he assume that the middle class is universally so "productive"? Are corporate managers and lawyers and bureaucrats such a wonderful class worthy of his worship?

I had no idea Rothbard was such a wanker. I want to be a libertarian. I am sympathetic to the "chuck it all" ethos of the anarchists. But...a lot of their thought just becomes downright silly.

Become a libertarian socialistm then.

There must be a lot of different Rothbards, then. "cause the Rothbard quoted in your article sure sounds alot different than the Rothbard above. :)

Seriously-I love Kevin Carson and his school of "libertarianism." I'm just skeptical. (It's a better "dream" than the anarchocapitalism of Rothbard or State communism, though)

Burbclave? Someone's read their Neal Stephenson. If you'd like more fictional dismantling of this kind of lunacy, try the outstanding Sewer, Gas, and Electric by Matt Ruff.

I've only read a few other things by Rothbard, and like you I've been surprised (and dismayed) that he's considered a serious thinker by libertarians. He basically comes across as a standard issue right-winger with a king-size boner for capitalism, and to say that his conception of the left is a caricature would be an insult to caricatures.

I just put up a posting in which Chomsky addresses Rothbard in particular and (American) libertarianism in general.

Oh, heck-yeah, Brian! Being a Libertarian columnist is nice work when you can get it! See this comic for a handy guide.

Hey, the “caricaturing” of the other side’s position can go both ways! Just watch me –

I believe the people who espouse this sort of Mad-Max anti-government Libertarianism, all have one thing in common: they all imagine themselves to be more bad-ass in a fight, under conditions of anything-goes, than their fellow man. They espouse the removal of government because they fantasize that, if it weren’t for the government’s monopoly on force, they personally would be the one left standing in a no-holds-barred dust-up when somebody comes to try and take away what they’ve got. That fantasy may be less or more likely for any individual Libertarian -- in some cases laughably unlikely -- but that’s not the point. Inwardly they each fume and boil every time they pay a sales tax, stop at a red light, wait in a DMV line, or do any of the myriad tiny concessions necessary to live in a functioning populated culture. Despite espousing quotes like “There is no such thing as society” on the outside, scratch their surface and inwardly they feel like society is real and tangibly imprisoning and oppressing them 24/7. “If only I didn’t have to live in this emasculating society among these lazy good-for-nothing idiots, I’d just punch that old lady in the face instead of offering her my seat at the bus stop.”

Now there are a lot of ways to define bad-ass … almost as many as there are Libertarian columnists… Dick Cheney, for example, is probably not a formidable physical opponent, but one could easily imagine him carving out an empire in the American RadBack through sheer cunning, ruthlessness, and deceit, making trades and breaking alliances as it suited him. Many online Libertarians probably look to him as an example. It’s a debatable point as to whether people like Jonah Goldberg would ever actually be bad-ass under any rational definition whatsoever. But I’m saying, like that fat kid with the lightsaber on YouTube, these Libertarians would never admit to it in public but privately they sublimate their frustrations by fantasizing about kicking the @$$es of the people around them. And you can’t do that with a functioning government in place. Basically all of these people read “Atlas Shrugged” and imagine themselves to be Hank Rearden: oppressed by the rules and social conventions of the petty bourgeois; the world needs them more than they need the world; they could someday, finally, excel and break out of their mediocre real life if only these stifling moral considerations, of sharing and participating in a culture, could be done away with once and for all.

So when you and Chomsky patiently explain that such a society in real-life wouldn’t last three seconds, it doesn’t alter their beliefs one jot -- because fact can’t touch fantasies.

Here in Canada, we're already up to the equivalent or $5/gallon. Crazy. Unnecessary as well.. It's pure greed.

Gosh, Thomas and John. Great posts.

Have to admit I am wavering/confused politically right now. I've lost almost my faith in the American republic (Empire, by this point in time), and my skepticism toward Statism has grown (hilariously enough, I myself am a bureuacrat). Hence, I enjoy a lot of skeptical anti-Statist discussions at places like WhoIsIoz and Stop Me Before I Vote Again.

At the same time, I remain skeptical about libertarianism except, possibly, as a very enjoyable critique. I don't believe in the legitimacy of the American political system anymore, but I am no Reardon myself. :)

Stop Me Before I Vote Again is anti-statist?

I thought it was just humorous and mildly Marxist.

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