76 votes

We are not going to hold your hand, Kotecki

James Kotecki garnered some minor fame in the libertarian movement when Ron Paul came to his dorm room last campaign for an interview, something I can't imagine any other Presidential candidate doing. However, in a recent Huffington Post column, Kotecki expressed his reservations about Paul's candidacy and declared that he will not support Ron Paul. The basic formula of Kotecki's reasoning is that he was associated with evangelicals at some point and Ron's supporters remind him of those experiences.

I don't know how much James Kotecki spent on his college education, but appearantly the sticker price didn't include any classes on logic or argumentation. What follows is a string of logical fallacies in the format of A is C and B is C, therefore A is B, or Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle. These fallacies are acceptable work at Huffington Post though. As Ron Paul supporters, we see this often. Rather than merely pointing out the fallacy, let's discuss Kotecki's feelings regarding Ron Paul's supporters.

"They have a simple solution to every problem. For evangelicals, it's more God. For Ron Paul supporters, it's less government."

This is both a logical fallacy and a version of the utopian charge, so let's address that. Libertarians often get charged with promoting utopianism by the uninformed. I'm sorry that Mr. Kotecki, despite the graciousness of Ron Paul to visit his dorm room for a one hour interview, couldn't be bothered to spend one hour himself researching libertarianism.

The earliest utopian writings come from Plato and Lycurgus. The theme was a bureaucratic, state run paradise where slaves would be kept to do the dirty work, but everyone else would live in peaceful and blissful communes.  The wisest and noblest of the functionaries would make the important decisions, leaving everyone else to happy ignorance.  Everyone is free to skip through the meadows all day (except the slaves, of course.)

In Europe, utopianism became closely associated with socialism. In 1516, Thomas More wrote a book about communal living and perpetual peace called Utopia. In the centuries that followed, many socialist writers ruminated on the utopianism to come once socialism succeeded in changing human nature, for example Charles Fourier and comte de Saint-Simon. They made fantastic promises. The oceans would turn to lemonade and the lions would become so tame you could ride them. All this would happen as soon as poverty was eradicated through minimum wage laws and unemployment insurance.

Murray N. Rothbard, the great economic and political historian (among other things) put the utopianism charge to rest here.  Libertarianism is not a solution to every problem, or panacea, nor do libertarians claim it to be.

Murray refused to accept any theory that is based solely on outcomes.  He broke with his mentor and rejected the utilitarianism of Ludwig von Mises, stating in Ethics of Liberty that, "one must go beyond economics and utilitarianism to establish an objective ethics which affirms the overriding value of liberty."

For Rothbard and many libertarians, the question is not about outcomes.  This isn't to say we expect bad outcomes in libertarian society. We expect some positives and some negatives.  We seek liberty as the highest political ideal because we believe it provides ethical answers (not optimal outcomes, per se) to the problems of human affairs.  On the other hand, you can gather a group of central planners - all those adults who as little kids said "I wanna be President when I grow up!" - and you'll get lots of plans seeking optimal outcomes.  You may not think that is utopianiasm, but what would you call it then?  The State's planners have nothing but utopian promises based on outcomes precisely calculated by technocratic anti-capitalists.  (Of course, they always fail to reach those outcomes, which is a topic for another blog.)

As you can see, libertarianism is the antithesis of the State and hence, does not offer the utopianism of the State. Libertarians offer the uncertainty of liberty.

So no, libertarians do not think that less government solves all problems. However, it is fair to say that we believe the government causes many problems, and that getting out of the way can certainly help in some cases.  If someone is stabbing you in the neck with rusty scissors, you improve that situation by getting rid of the stabber. This is not difficult material to comprehend.  However, libertarianism today must face the reality that simply removing government wholesale from areas of society grown accustomed to the false sense of security government provides would cause social unrest.  I think most libertarians do understand that.

I also think most libertarians understand that America must change first.  We don't wish to change America through the exercise of power and violence. We certainly do not compromise on the Non-Aggression Principle. When America changes and seeks liberty, they will go about the task of dismantling the State, the ultimate source of violence and coercion in this world.  You may not think this can happen, but that was how English liberals ascended to power in the 19th century. Sadly, after dismantling the State, they did a complete 180 and took all that liberty away within the same generation. See Herbert Spencer's Man Versus the State for more on the rise and fall of liberty in England under the liberals.

Their positions are logically consistent, but only if you accept strict, specific interpretations of key documents. For evangelicals, it's the Bible. For Ron Paul supporters, it's the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

I'm going to level with you. I'm an anarchist in the tradition of Lysander Spooner, and as such the Constitution does not get my nipples hard. I do prefer American Constitutional government to many other forms of government, but it's not ideal by any stretch. So I have a hard time defending Ron Paul supporters against logical fallacies like this, but I'll try.

I can say that Ron Paul infers not-too-subtely that the Constitution does not protect individual liberty in many cases. He noted in the excellent Tonight Show interview last month that often the individual states abuse the power that the Consitution delegates. Judge Napolitano, as guest speaker at last year's Mises University, openly questioned whether the Constitution is an obstacle to individual liberty rather than an assurance of it. Hans Herman Hoppe, a prominent libertarian thinker and former student of Murray Rothbard, has argued that the Constitution was a power grab by the politically connected and constructed for the purpose of laying the ground work for big government.

Being a strict Constitutionalist like Ron Paul, and the majority of his supporters, is not based on a dogmatic belief that every aspect of American Constitutional government provides strict adherence to libertarianism. It is based on the reality that we have this Rule of Law available to us which is far superior to the tyranny which accompanies the Rule of Men. Why don't we try using it every once in a while?

They have an "us against the world" mentality in which business, government, and media elites are all working against them.

It seems rather silly to say on the one hand, "libertarians want to shrink government because they believe doing so will solve their problems" and on the other hand, "those kooky libertarians think the government is against them!"  Well, James..... I'm sorry we have to spell these things out for you.

It's also a strawman to imply libertarians are anti-business or even anti-big business. Libertarians rejoice in the fact that some people are so good at satisfying the needs and wants of others that their business grows to new heights. That's part of the joys of capitalism. It lifts the living standard of all. Crony capitalism, on the other hand, is something most mainstream Americans recognize as immoral and unproductive.  Why is Kotecki baffled that people receiving corporate welfare would prefer to keep that money flowing, and therefore oppose anyone trying to stop it?

Kotecki clearly thinks we're being childish. I suppose he believes that the media is an objective institution that never lets its bias influence its reporting, too. Everyone has biases. I'm unaware of any person in human history that consistently approached the world with the objectivity of a Randian super hero. The media's bias against Ron Paul and libertarianism is quite simple to explain. In exchange for stories that paint figures of the State in a positive light, they receive access to the Temple. Being close to the power center is good business for the media. Again, I don't know what is so hard to understand about this. Just the other day, a Pentagon reporter was caught on mic complaining that a Ron Paul presidency would mean fewer Pentagon journalists. (As if losing this unproductive service would somehow be a bad thing.)

Before I move on, I'd like to point out that this criticism of using the "us against the world mentality" can be applied to pretty much every single sports team or competitive group in world history.  The New York Giants had an "us against the world" menatility in which the fans, gamblers, and media elites were all working against them in their Super Bowl XLII match up with the Patriots.

In general, passionate and dedicated individuals and groups will have a chip on their shoulder. It's not necessarily a bad thing. (My favorite Tupac album was "Me Against the World").  James might be a little lost right now, moving through life without passion.  It is his Unbearable Lightness of Being, perhaps.

They believe our civilization teeters on the brink of destruction and only their philosophy can save it. Evangelicals predict apocalyptic tribulations for the unsaved; Ron Paul supporters warn of a tyrannical socialist police state.

On the 10th anniversary of State Failure Day (9/11), it was reported that 50 people were pulled off planes before take off based on anonymous tips from cowardly passengers. Not only were they held without charges for several hours, many were stripped naked and searched by fat, stinking, welfare parasites known as DHS agents. Each suspect was eventually released hours later, afer being thoroughly terrified and violated, without charges in what one DHS agent called "people seeing ghosts." None of the suspects were allowed to face their accusers.  All were minorities (several of them were Middle Eastern.)

This is strictly personal opinion, but I feel that Americans who think there is no police state have to be white. Or maybe they just don't get out much. Either way, our American non-white friends don't appear to be so flip about what is going on around them.  

As far as apocalytpic fears of the end of the world, that is strawman nonsense. The vast majority of libertarians are so because of their unshakable optimism.  Do you know how easy it is to give up, to be despaired by the corruption and violence, to want nothing to do with political or economic debate?  In order to keep at it, you must be optimistic.  Fear and depression only take you so far.  

Besides, so many libertarians I know have advanced degrees or advanced technological savvy that will not play very well in our future war against zombies. If we say the currency crisis will certainly happen one day, that doesn't necessarily mean that day is tomorrow. Nor does it mean this event will usher in the Zombie Apocalypse. Humans are special because they can adapt.

Kotecki would clearly prefer it if we kept our mouths shut and obeyed our overlords. As Brittney Spears once famously remarked, "I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes, you know, and be faithful in what happens."  Maybe James prefers the Philosophy of Spears to that of Ron Paul.

They reflexively lash out against any perceived criticism of their philosophy or its leader (see: every comment section on the Internet).

In my first blog here, I referred to the cowards at RedState.com banning Ron Paul supporters in 2008 for debating too intelligently. I guess that character "flaw" annoys Kotecki as well. Yes, we are passionate. Yes, some libertarians prefer typing with the CAPS LOCK on.  But I am so very proud of the intellectual arguments consistently presented by Ron Paul supporters on every comment thread and forum I visit.  Their arguments are vastly superior to the snarky, fallacious, and condescending arguments from non-Ron Paulians. This is why our base is so strong.  Ron showed us the way, but so many of you blazed that path with gusto. You took the words about self reliance and individual responsibility to heart.  Now you kick tail in every debate, in every setting. Anyplace. Anytime. Anywhere.  Naturally, such confidence and competence inspires jealousy, which is what drives people like Kotecki to criticize the passion of the argument while ignoring the content.

My own feeling is that Kotecki should look in the mirror and examine why this is the best argument he can make against Ron Paul.  I'm sure if he studied harder, he could find something worthwhile to criticize. Maybe with some hard work, he could even construct an argument to exploit one of Ron's important positions.  

In other words, James Kotecki may not like us, but that's his problem, not ours. We're not going to hold his hand while he figures this out.

David in Liberty
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I love these people who are scared of God.

Like God threatens your little world. This guy should join the liberal party, his career is going to be over before it ever starts -losersville! Religion is not God, And most of us consider ourselves Christians! Not some extreme term such as "Evangelicals". Really a dumb label.

Oh for Heaven's Sake

I respect your freedom of choice, James. And, patting your hand, I completely agree being raised Fundamentalist is no fun; and it's not fun to be "pressured" or told how to think. Ron Paul would urge you to follow your heart and mind, and think for yourself. I certainly don't hold anything against you.
Good Luck!

Gwen Kraft

"Personal Liberty & Personal Responsibility" -- Dr. Ron Paul

"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." -- Bob Dylan

Great Post!

I'll have to check out Man vs The State.

I'm tired of seeing the word

I'm tired of seeing the word "Kotecki". That is one of the most annoying words I have ever.

Please, Let. This. Thread. Die.

If you don't care for Kotecki

If you don't care for Kotecki then don't give him more exposure by posting threads that involve him. Frankly his name didn't ring a bell and I'm sure I'm not the only person on this site who didn't recognize it.

I cannot stand this Kotecki guy

This is not the first time he aired his feelings about Ron Paul - he did it 4 years ago, with different nauseating reasons. The guy does not get it. He has a slave mentality.

Just remove him from our faces - he's an opportunistic nobody.

Kotecki probably feels a thrill up his leg

He probably feels a thrill up his leg every time he sees Chris Matthews on TV.

Resist the temptation to feed the trolls.

So, he isn't a libertarian

So, he isn't a libertarian then...

What is the big deal?

Or is he one of those socialist libertarians?


You hit it! Dead on on the links too. Man vs The State is in my top 10 literature and I highly recommend it.

I would've included a quick lesson for him in Persuasion vs Force by Mark Skousen

but other than that I think you hit on pretty much all of the remaining axioms of libertarian principles. Good job. You're a evident example of why we are the most qualified to beat Obama.

5 dollar freind

He steals five dollars from you and that ends the freindship. Well worth the five dollars.


Very much enjoyed this post

In the spirit of another commentator: it reflects the diversity of RP supporters.

I had to laugh about I'm an anarchist in the tradition of Lysander Spooner, and as such the Constitution does not get my nipples hard.

Deserves thorough reading.

Ron Paul was right

BTW Kotecki's "arguments"

sound like a conspiracy theory. Really.

"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself." - Thomas Jefferson

Kotecki's complaints are funny to me (and sad)

because, as a typical collectivist he suffers from an ability to self-reflect properly.

As an agnostic myself, I can say that statements such as:

"They have a simple solution to every problem. For evangelicals, it's more God. For Ron Paul supporters, it's less government."

are comical, given that the association makes more sense if you flip around the "less" qualifier to "more". I've always been of the impression that many who CHOOSE to be atheist (not all) feel a cosmological void of sorts, and they often resort to Government to fill it in. To me Kotecki's "point" is ironic.

Why does he have so much faith in the ability of politicians and bureaucrats to manage our affairs? Isn't that more similar to a big politician/bureaucrat in the sky, than a lack of one? I'm definitely not dogging on religion here. I'm merely pointing out the absurdity of Kotecki's "argument" since, as a self-avowed non-theist, he points to our NOT WANTING to have faith in Big Brother as evidence that we're somehow zealots.

I don't think it's an accident that those countries that shine(d) atheism are the one's with the biggest governments: USSR, North Korea etc. But that's what I'd expect to be the case in lands governed by people who, like Kotecki, FEEL the need to replace the big man in the sky, with the big men in Government. Kotecki is rediculous.

"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself." - Thomas Jefferson

It's Obvious That...

...Kotecki's belief in (if any) the concept of a
"Higher Power" is evidently the embodiment of
"Bigger Government"..in short he is an "Humanist".
The now much-defunct USSR was riddled with this brand of
"true believers".sad, very sad.

"Beyond the blackened skyline, beyond the smoky rain, dreams never turned to ashes up until.........
...Everything CHANGED !!

Many people have had bouts of idealism and brief europhoria

associated with their participation in a "collective" for a cause. Viewed from that perspective Kotecki's comments are reasonable.

However I think he is more like this ;)

If only people spent as much time

to write this blog post, on fundraising letters to help the campaign.

James Kotecki is irrelevant.

Freedom and Reason, the highest ideals.

"It reminds me too much of the evangelical Christianity..."

We're doing fine with the college vote. It's the evangelical vote we need more of. Statements like these from introspecting, self-serving "Occupy" types only help us in that cause.

I enjoyed every last word

Thanks for that great blog, I hardly ever read these but this was interesting. And yeah I remember Kotecki I am not surprised at all by this. This is what happens when you don't get breast fed.

Kotecki ... Kotecki ...

Kotecki. I know that he's an atheist, and that anytime he says anything that could possibly resemble a criticism of Ron Paul he gets jumped, but really? I thought he admired logic more than "oh, Ron Paul's evangelical. Evangelicals are illogical and dumb. And some of his supporters are fanatics, like they worship him. Therefore, I won't support him." For something as insignificant as this, he'd be against someone who trying to save our country?

However, I'd understand if, as a satirist, he wants to stay politically neutral so he could freely make fun of anyone at anytime. I'll have to find out if the Washington Post is correct or just changing his words around to make it an anti-Paul article.

"Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice." -- Thomas Paine

Kotecki was ok in the beginning

Kotecki was ok in the beginning. But he seemed to have become more MSM-like to try to get noticed and employed by the MSM, so he became another one just like the other ones. It's understandable that, like Romney, he became who he thought he needed to become to get ahead. What's annoying is that he thinks he's clever about it. He is not clever. He's an annoying tool with an attitude. The world has more than enough of those already.

Resist the temptation to feed the trolls.

Forgive me, I thought less

Forgive me, I thought less government equaled more God?

If you walk blindly through life, you will run into a lot of walls.

The Guy Is a Waste of Time and He's a Slime

Your 5 minutes of fame is up. We're moving on, he needs to instead join the Revloveution!

Couldn't agree more with you

He probably likes to think that he is famous or deserving "attention" just because Dr. Paul spoke with him.

He is best described by the timeless idiom "Empty vessels make the most noise." LOL

Revolt and crush the status quo! My ancestors didn't die in vain during the first revolution when they rose up with fellow patriots and fought for our freedom against tyranny!

Bravissimo. Bella. Ita vero, mi amice.

Harrumph Harrumph.
Here here.

To debate, or not to debate, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.

dlind in optimism.

Great article on why Koteki is either a retard or slime

This is like a Neo-NAZI saying, "Ron Paul supports gay marriage so he must love queers!"

Or an another adorable line from lazy-eye O'Reilly: "Ron Paul wants to legalize drugs, all his supporters are pot heads and addicts!"

Funny how all simple minds think alike regardless of affiliation.

Fight the Ron Paul blackout on the Daily Paul (now 'P AU L'), put his removed poster back as your avatar:

Ron Paul supports gay marriage?

Ron Paul suggests that the legalization of unions be left up to the states.

Some people would say they need and want the Fed to PROTECT same sex unions from states (especially in the Bible belt) that would NOT condone same sex unions.

Very Interesting David

Well written. I hope that knucklehead reads it. I gotta admit though...my fave line in the whole piece was "fat, stinking, welfare parasites known as DHS agents." LMAO !!!
Again, well thought out and well written piece.

I wondered what happened to

I wondered what happened to that guy because that was a really cool interview that made RP look like a man of the people - I really liked it. Too bad this guy turned out to be a turn coat or a zombie.


...and further proof that we are unmatched in our diversity of individual perspectives, united fervor and optimism about what degree of prosperity can and will be achieved again once America gets it's eyes of the prize(carrot) of unrealistic freebies, handouts, creature comforts, and temporary pleasures; and understand the collectivist outcome that fiat currency financed Marxist bread and circus shows are meant to produce for a society's "rulers"!

Liberty is BEST, liberty for all under the Rule of Law...remember when Ron Paul LAUGHED (virtually) in Chris Matthews face when he implied the idea of total freedom doesn't work? We're really not all high-minded; it's just that the media attitude is so condescending because they have been told "we've arrived" at somebody's utopia - the utopia that America is now so dumbed-down that we're unable to recognize statism, as well as ready to roll over and beg for a communist dictator now!

BTW: This line was perfect...thank you...I will forever characterize the corporate media this way - In exchange for stories that paint figures of the State in a positive light, they receive access to the Temple. That was John Locke 101; "when princes, aided by flattery, are taught to have distinct and separate interests from their people"

Everyone has feet of clay; and these people are no different from any of us...like the famed record producer Bruce Dickinson...we all put our pants on just like the rest of you -- one leg at a time.

Excellent David!

Excellent David!

Thanks David...

Thanks for the post David. Really Good. :D

I concur

I concur

This is insane

Some Americans can really be rather dense. Ron Paul takes the time out to do an interview. I imagine that Ron Paul explained the message in a plain spoken manner. You couldn't have misinterpreted the philosophy. But apparently James didn't get it.

"Their positions are logically consistent, but only if you accept strict, specific interpretations of key documents. ... it's the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence."

So basically James is saying that politicians shouldn't follow the rule law. They should just make it up as they go along.

Congress has an 8% approval rating. The White House has a 40-45% approval rating. It isn't because they are fervent believers in the rule of law. It is the opposite. They lie and cheat and get us involved in conflicts over the world. And at an expense of 30-40% income tax rate for ever working American.

Ron Paul wants to follow the rule of law and live within our means. Why is that so difficult to understand? Why is that philosophy so wrong?


Also, what other candidates are going to bring up the Constitution or liberty or freedom? Ron Paul is a cut from a different cloth. Even if you have some reservations about Ron Paul's message, you have to admit that it is way more refreshing than any other candidate we have seen in a while.

No one is going to remember Romney's speeches, "We need a vision for America. America is the greatest country in the world".

Ron Paul isn't a cheerleader for a America, he actually wants to bring out beneficial change, "We shouldn't attack Iran or get involved in another conflict. We need to end the war on drugs"

wolfe's picture

I usually skip long posts...

But yours was exceptionally well written, accurate and interesting to read.

Well done.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

Very nice piece. Well done!

Very nice piece. Well done!

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