Curiouser & Curiouser

Over at Crooked Timber, it seems we've been namedropped by Belle Waring in what appears to be a random non-sequitur in the course of responding to Eugene Volokh:

Now, I say this in the full knowledge that Eugene Volokh holds all sorts of views on many topics with which I completely disagree. Furthermore, since some of these views concern matters of serious moral import, I would seem to be pretty well committed to the idea that he is, in some sense, a bad person. But, in real life, we share polite aquaintanceship with all sorts of people who think all kinds of wrong and crazy stuff. We just don’t usually have to hear about those crazy things. At a party we will edge away from the crazy “let me tell you about my views on minarchy RIGHT NOW” guy. Then again, we might have a great time discussing the latest Italian election results, say, or poor draft choices recently made in the NFL, with someone who was, in fact, a crazy minarchist, but who didn’t go out of his way to tell you about it. Unfortunately, the blogosphere is like an extended drunken party in which the probability of you having to hear the crazy minarchist’s theories about government asymptotically approaches 1. But while it’s appropriate to get into high dudgeon if one of the Catallarchy guys (maybe they’re actually anarchists, but never mind) says something you find morally repugnant, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to start picturing him to yourself as some sort of moral monster, slavering away in a basement. (Unless it’s Captain Ed, in which case, go right along.)

Aherm. Several things come to mind from this passage, first of which being that if you think we're crazy then you haven't really delved much into the hard core libertosphere. Secondly, while some of us are minarchists proud and true, I imagine more than not would check 'anarchist' in the either-or box, or like me check 'other.' I'm personally a 'lessarchist'- less archos, please, and pass the gravy. I've no philosophical commitment to a state or lack of one, so unlike a true-blue minarchist I wouldn't draw the line and say "no, we can't privatize these last few bits of the state, just because," but unlike a radical market anarchist I would never press Rothbard's Magic Button, either[1]. Thirdly, Belle's got plenty of company in thinking minarchists are morally repugnant, though probably not the kind she imagined.

Still, I'm scratching my head as to the actual moral repugnance here at Catallarchy. Is merely questioning the assumed premise[2] of most welfare-statism and social democracy morally repugnant now? What is this, 1972? And what is morally repugnant about minarchism per se? Surely the moral repugnance needs some sort of bad consequence or some other argument rather than simply 'ceteris paribus, less government is repugnant.' Though maybe it was the suicide post?[3]

I think, though, that probably its a backhanded compliment, in that the first people to come to Belle's mind when she thinks "crazed drunken minarchists" is Catallarchy. We are party animals, after all, so hey, it's all cool.

Following in Belle's example of the non-sequitur seque, she does engage in one of my pet peeves later on, and that is the dodgy expansion of 'feminism' as a catchall phrase for anything vaguely pertaining to women (in a lefty sort of way, I suppose). The peeve comes from the common & obnoxious bumper sticker definition of Feminism as "the radical concept that women are people." Oh really?

COMMON GUY/GAL: Well, I do think women are people.

FEMINISTA: Then you're a feminist.

CG: OK. Cool.

FEMINISTA: ...which means you're also in favor of employment laws that specially protect female workers and divorce laws that seem to favor women, restricting rights for men, such as free speech (specifically, the right to produce and consume pornography)...

CG: Ok, ok I suppose, er-wait what was that about the porn?

FEMINISTA: ...and that the results of the sexual revolution were beneficial only to men, marriage is an institution that oppresses women and men, that monogamy was originally conceived of as a way for men to control women...

CG: Whoa, wait a minute-

FEMINISTA: ...that human society would be better off with dramatically fewer men, that there are no essential differences between the sexes, and that the roles observed in society are due to conditioning, of course views that separate the sexes rather than unite them are considered to be sexist rather than feminist...

CG: What the fvck?

FEMINISTA: ...and that science reflects a masculine perspective and in light of that we need to examine science's claims to objectivity. [gasps for air]

CG: That's some pretty fvcked up stuff there. I don't believe most of that.

FEMINISTA: O RLY? So you're saying you're in favor of the Rapemongering Phallocracy, eh? Oppressor!

Granted, most feminists don't believe *all* of that, or even most of that. The folk who have laid claim to 'Feminism' and spoken and argued in its name are fairly broad and their arguments are often contradictory to others in who so argue. Which is fine, since libertarianism is likewise full of sometimes odd and often contradictory voices of authority. But if the definition of feminism is so broad that having any functional overlap in view with something to do with advancing or enhancing women makes you one, then the term has little meaning; if feminism is supposed to connote social democratic or left-in-general politics, then the term is disingenuous. It reminds me, in fact, of the flip side tendency of some libertarians to proclaim something similar to the feminist slogan, such as 'libertarianism is the radical idea that people should be respected' or some other equivalent straw man. 'Sure, I think we should respect people' does not equal 'Great! You're Libertarian', as much as the owners of the World's Smallest Political Quiz would like folk to believe.

fn1. That sounds kind of dirty and skeevy, stripped of context. Context being Rothbard's odd notion that to be a libertarian one must be committed, a priori, to the idea that if you could magically end the state overnight, you would do so without hesitation. Being a dilettante Hayekian, I find the idea of radical overnight change such as that to be quite distasteful and just asking for bad consequences. And yes, that position has caused the revocation of my libertarian card & cred many times. Fortunately there's a free market in lib cred cards so I get a new one in the mail every other week.

fn2. The premise being "Yes, of course state intervention is both necessary and proper, as a given starting point of any policy discussion."

fn3. But, we did argue that suicide was a bad...

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"I’m personally a

"I’m personally a ‘lessarchist’- less archos, please, and pass the gravy. I’ve no philosophical commitment to a state or lack of one, so unlike a true-blue minarchist I wouldn’t draw the line and say “no, we can’t privatize these last few bits of the state, just because,” but unlike a radical market anarchist I would never press Rothbard’s Magic Button, either."

Permit me to just give a big, hearty "AMEN!" to that. The perennial anarchy/minarchy arguments that I see every time you stick a few random libertarians in a room together (literally or figuratively) are generally characterized by glib dogmatism on both sides of the argument. One side makes silly noises about Somalia and the other gives little or no consideration for the kind of institutional arrangements and cultural capital necessary to make a radical capitalist society viable. Both seem to me to be operating in a sterile theoretical environment without the richness and texture of real world. (And given that we're pretty far from the optimum in either case, it has a resemblance to arcane theological dispute...)

I just read four awesome

I just read four awesome Catallarchy posts. Hot damn, that's a good blog day.

Matt, "One side makes silly

Matt,

"One side makes silly noises about Somalia and the other gives little or no consideration for the kind of institutional arrangements and cultural capital necessary to make a radical capitalist society viable."

Whereas you're getting a much better political return as a result of such considerations?

Brian, "Aherm. Several

Brian,

"Aherm. Several things come to mind from this passage, first of which being that if you think we’re crazy then you haven’t really delved much into the hard core libertosphere."

Like everyone doesn't know who you mean.

Where are the footnotes?

Where are the footnotes?

Thats odd, they were there

Thats odd, they were there last night. :???:

There we go. They were

There we go. They were hidden by an extraneous MORE tag.

"Libertosphere". Is that

"Libertosphere". Is that pronounced "lih-BERT-o-sphere" (like BLOG-o-sphere) or "liber-TOE-sphere" (like liber-TARE-eean)?

The liberto-sphere sounds like a device invented by a 19th century mad scientist. Either a weird precursor to the gramophone or a doomsday device.

I imagine its lih BERT

I imagine its lih BERT osphere. But being a neologism, pronunciation can and will vary by region. :)

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"John, in my experience

"John, in my experience people are a lot less likely to dismiss arguments for radical capitalism out of hand if they take such considerations into account."

And still virtually all of them will stop taking such considerations into account whenever you walk out of the room because they have negligible incentive to take them into account. You might as well be building sand castles for their entertainment.

"So at least in discussion with others, yes I am experiencing a better return."

That's not a political return. When do the institutional arrangements and social capital show up?

John, in my experience

John, in my experience people are a lot less likely to dismiss arguments for radical capitalism out of hand if they take such considerations into account. So at least in discussion with others, yes I am experiencing a better return. If you'd rather ritually intone slogans, be my guest.

When we finish our snowball

When we finish our snowball fight in hell.

John, your anti-intellectual

John, your anti-intellectual streak is showing. Why don't you just come right out and say that you believe rational discussion about these issues is pointless? And why are you wasting so much time arguing with other people in that case?

"Why don’t you just come

"Why don’t you just come right out and say that you believe rational discussion about these issues is pointless?"

I said it has negligible political return.

There's no private cost for political irrationality. Hence sand castles.

"I said it has negligible

"I said it has negligible political return."

And? What you're doing now has a negligible political return too (I dare say smaller than mine), so why do you do it?

JTK doesn't engage in

JTK doesn't engage in discussion for political return, because he thinks most of it is likely to produce little political return. Rather, he does it because he likes it and it draws people he finds interesting to him.

We are, if nothing else, interesting. Sabotta is in a class of "interesting" by himself.

- Josh

Matt, For non-political

Matt,

For non-political returns.