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Salon: Libertarians don't know history or reality

It has long been customary to divide the Republican Party into three “camps”: big business or “Wall Street” Republicans, the religious right and neoconservatives or “national security” Republicans. The third group, it must be admitted, somewhat unsteadily combines neoconservatives proper (such as William Kristol) with old-fashioned defense hawks (such as Donald Rumsfeld), but perhaps this is the Republican “big tent” we keep hearing about.

In any case, this neat three-part logic was roiled by two events in 2008: the “Great Recession” and the election of Barack Obama as president. The latter’s decision to respond to the crisis with a fairly traditional mix of demand-side remedies — some tax cuts, some increased spending — ignited a fire storm on the right. CNBC’s Rick Santelli is often fingered as the principal arsonist. On Feb. 19, 2009, outraged by Obama’s plan to assist homeowners caught up in the collapse of the housing market, Santelli went on air to unburden himself of the following “ideas”:

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/05/18/libertarians_reality_problem...

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"It seems to many of us that

"It seems to many of us that some activities of the state — from civil rights laws to public schools to the Affordable Care Act — actually enhance freedom. The libertarian refusal to admit this strikes us as dogmatic and extreme, a bad case of monomania topped off with some serious myopia."

To write that certain things "actually enhance freedom" without explaining how they do it is not an argument just an assertion.

Then as usual the ad hominem attack, if you don't agree with this assertion then you are dogmatic and extreme with a topping of monomania and serious myopia.

"On its face this is puzzling. Power, after all, is power, and offhand there seems no reason why my freedom isn’t just as threatened by the enormous material resources of Exxon as it is by the depredations of the NSA or the ATF."

Do I even have to comment on this?

I started looking at some of

I started looking at some of the comments and it is the height of ignorance when people start arguing over whether totalitarian regimes like Mussolini, and Hitler, were left or right wing.

You are OK with totalitarianism so long as its your team winning, and you are against maximum freedom?



"He's this eccentric Ghandi-Like figure that you cant touch with the normal bribes that people respond to."
the man Doug Wead on DR. RON PAUL

I must admit that it is a well written article (from Salon?!)

That's right, I will give credit where credit is due. The person is not a belligerent moron like most people that write for Salon. That being said, I can easily point out some blatant errors in the philosophic cases made for liberalism, and some misunderstandings the author has regarding libertarianism. Unfortunately, since the article is well written, it is difficult to dispute the article with a short reply.

Good point. And it Deserves a respectful reply

But I will try to give a short bullet point reply.


Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" ...by author George Smith --
Buy it Here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/05211820

"Assist Homeowners"

"assist homeowners caught up in the collapse of the housing market"

This is newspeak for "bail out the idiots who were betting on the bubble, planning on making a killing flipping houses, who should have lost their asses when the bubble popped."

Freedom is my Worship Word!

Irony at its Finest

The author tries to make the claim that libertarianism is the only self-contradictory political philosophy. So... the Democrats being anti-war until a Democrat is elected President, pro-freedom except regarding what you do with your own money and guns; and the Republicans being pro-life, unless you're a brown person in the Middle East or Africa and pro-freedom, except regarding what you put into your body don't make them inherently contradictory? There are many more examples of hypocrisy within the two major parties. Libertarianism is in fact the only major party political philosophy that is NOT inherently contradictory as we believe you're free to do whatever as long as you don't hurt people and take their stuff (to quote a new book title).

Eat your vegetables, you'll get strong

I'm seeing a lot of comments talking about not posting this sort of stuff, and people saying they don't want to read it or it is a disgusting mess of lies and false truths.

That's all the more reason to read it!!! (excuse the multiple exclamation points, I promise I'm not a repeat offender)

We all need to understand that Salon is hugely popular and that this will be read by people who will accept it. You need to read it, analyze where the mistakes were made, and then be able to explain those mistakes logically and without insult to someone who may have originally agreed with it. That's how you change the minds of people.

This is a skill we all need to practice. Not to say, "Oh more Liberal tripe" or "this is stupid BS." You need to be able to read this and point by point show it up in a polite fashion with facts and proof. That's how we win people over.

It's painful. It's disgusting. It's not how we'd rather spend our time because it's not an article that pats our point of view on the back.

But lets not be lazy. Lets engage our brains and train so we can win these arguments once they occur at the dinner table. We might not swing the people making statements like this, but with training we can still show our position to be the superior one to everyone else at the table.

Eric Hoffer

Yes! this essay Absolutely deserves our Most Respectful Replies!

If you cannot reply beyond a smear, a swipe, a quip, a spin, a deflection... please don't bother. I agree!

This essay is what I like to call a "Foundational Essay".

Foundational Essays are very much like the white Cue-ball on a billiard table. They go on to "hit" many other balls and send those balls off in all kinds of directions. Foundational Essays get repeated and repeated in many different ways. Hence their importance.

We have Foundational Essays too. Think of the essays found in Ayn Rand's For A NEW INTELLECTUAL and CAPITALISM THE UNKNOWN IDEAL. Think of the essays found in Murray Rothbard's LIBERTARIAN MANIFESTO and "What Has Government Done With Our Money. Think of THE LAW by Fredrick Bastiat, think of I PENCIL by Lenard Reed and think of any number of essays that you may call "very important". These are Foundational Essays. Again, hence their importance.

So, you can decide right here and now, do you want to deal with every colorfully numbered cue-ball that is spouting off and parroting this essay? Or do you want to shut that Fundamental Essay down, at its source?

When shutting down a Fundamental Essay such as this, use the concise bullet point method. First, restate the writer's goals. In this case, its in the headline. [Libertarianism is out of touch with reality and its history is off base]. Further, start by restating the bullet points that the author got right. Then next, go after the "low hanging fruit". This is easily done by "quoting" a sentence, and then stating clearly and shortly after it one of many short takedowns such as --

"Opinion, not fact".


"Conjecture, where are the facts?"


"Wishful thinking. Why assume that?"

"Name calling. Not a rational argument. Ad hominem"


"Libertarians scream loudly for liberty. There are other values too". Yes but you say we are out of touch with Mankind's history. Well slavery ended (or did it? We are still all serfs). And judging how susceptible Mankind is to making slaves of others, should we not be EXTRA careful about pushing "other values" that, in the end, will make slaves of us all?"

If history and reality are to be the authority, or the judgemental backdrop whereby we discuss solving our social ills and the best ways to help the unfortunate among us, libertarians welcome with history & reality with wide open arms. We love history and we certainly want to stick to reality.


"Do you know libertarians see 3 fundamental sectors in any society? There is the Voluntary Sector, the Free Market Sector, and the Government Sector. The Voluntary Sector is where things get done with out the use of force. In the Voluntary Sector we find such things as private clubs such as the reading clubs, hiking clubs, baseball leagues, Boys & Girl Scouts, YMCA, Red Cross, Churches of all kinds and Charities of all kinds. Then there is the free market, where people make and trade goods to the general public, think of mom and pop businesses and Apple & McDonalds with "billions served". Then there is the Government sector. Unlike the other two, this sector is build upon power, specifically power to tax, regulate, legalize, and rule over. What is most troubling to libertarians is that this sector is encroaching heavily into the other two sectors. Worse still, a new kind of "gov-company" has arisen, one that has government as its sole or main "customer". Think Halliburton, Lockheed, and the firm that Edward Snowden worked for. So when you here libertarians like me call for "shrinking government down to size", we are also at the same time calling for these other two sectors to grow and fill in the void left by government shrinking "down to size". And to get there, government growth and spending must stop. Perhaps now, you can see where we are coming from?"


"It seems to me that you want everyone to be better off. You have great intentions and you are deeply suspicious of my intentions. I see you as a person who is seriously concerned for Mankind in general and specifically the less fortunate among us, and so, you are saying what you are saying. So yes, I am standing up from my chair and I am giving your intentions, a loud applause. But forgive me, it is your favorite solution that I question. Your solution reminds me of my long passed great grandmother. She was very well meaning and just like you too, her intentions were 100% pure & good. As I said, you are a lot like her. It did not matter to her if we kids had "just a bump", a bruise, a headache, a stomach ache or even a bad mood, her cure all was castor oil, and lots of it. Now as I said, she meant well. The problem was it was simply impossible to point out to her that she was doing more harm than good. Despite the children's screams, (and me) she chased us around the house and out into the yard with that big spoon of hers, ready to force us to the ground and make us swallow it down. Well just as castor oil is not a cure-all, more government power, even if its meant to "do good" can often make social problems WORSE. We asked and pleaded with our great grandma to "put the spoon down before someone gets hurt". In the same way here, we are asking you, indeed we are pleading with you before someone gets hurt, "stop calling for MORE government power". Government power can and does cause more social problems than it cures. Government power, like the hammer in the wack-mole game, is a never ending game of social violence. And some clever moles (corporations) soon learn how to get their hands on government's hammer. Indeed, with lobbyists all around us, that is what we see today. To "give our government back to the people" we must severely shrink the power & size of government. We must abolish the income tax, its life blood over us all. We must shrink its power and influence and allow the Voluntary sector of society to rise up large and big in its place."


"Defining a political belief as psychologically damaged requires a fully detailed and long explanation. Otherwise, its just a smear. Two can play the smear game but what does that prove? The best in that smear business is Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly. I thought you were better than that."


"Guessing, supposing, believing, does not make a rational argument."


"Starting out with an assumption, then disagreeing with the result all because of your own questionable assumption, is not a rational argument. Stop assuming. To prove your point, stick to the facts or make assumptions that we both find reasonable."


"When discussing what libertarianism is and is not, let me add how I interpret its few guiding principles. I respectfully agree that all humans have the right to their own Life, Liberty and Property. That is, what would the "right to life" mean if Man did not have the right of liberty to enjoy that right to your own life? And what would it mean to have the right to Life & to Liberty, but not the right to your own body let alone the clothes you wore or the food you eat or the ground you walked on? After all, you and I are not ghosts. We live in a material universe, have bodies. Having self ownership means, for me at least, that Man is a slave to no Man. Having self ownership means, while I am born into a family of humans, young or old, big or small, my human self ownership is equal to them all. Now yes, if a group of people force me, against my will, to use my Liberty to provide some of my Property to them, I am in a real sense, their slave. Even if this group of people point out to me that when I use my Liberty to make property and give them it, I will benefit in some way, I am still being forced against my will. If I am forced to use my Liberty to make Property and turn it over to a group of people against my will, it might make me happy that I will get some benefit from it, but I still am being treated as a group child, or worse, a group slave. I prefer the group convinces me, appeals to my reason and emotions, gains my will and full cooperation. To me, to libertarians, this is how we build a civilized culture, one not build upon force, hierarchical dominance, slavery, trickery, and deceit. And for this, I am willing to take full responsibility for my actions & property and pay the full consequences should I violate another human being's same identical and equal rights to Life, Liberty & Property. Yes, libertarian may mean many things to you, but to me, it means that and so I respect your individual rights, so long as you respect the same rights of others around you. And if I must sadly disagree with you my friend, I do so, only to make this world a more civil and peaceful place."


"Where is the historical facts to support this assumption? Yes, many people believe it true, but you and I know that many people believe in all kinds of things, from Bigfoot to Tooth Fairies. So where are the historical facts to support this assumption?"


"I doubt anyone in 1800 could imagine 2000. But thankfully, those in 1800 held to the principle of maximizing human liberty as best they could. I think libertarians are following this historical lesson here by holding to the principle of maximizing human liberty. Unlike Utopians who have solutions to force upon Mankind, libertarians say they have no idea "what's best for society" other than human liberty itself. Its a belief that things COULD get better with more freedom, but its also a strong fact that each time Mankind is deprived of freedom, nothing good ever happens and its never "worth it"."


"If libertarians appear to be off the beaten historical path, its because when they read the histories of Mankind, they see it littered with "wars for a good cause" and "government tyrannies" of all kinds. They do not want to advocate those evils that entrapped and enslaved and murdered so many millions of their fellow man. So perhaps they have learned from history, where others have not. Perhaps that is why they scream "Freedom" above and beyond all other values. Perhaps they have learned the lessons from history, even contemporary history. Hence they are against all wars of aggression, stand tall for the First Amendment and want the general public to be able to back up their First Amendment rights with the Second. They have noticed that Tyranny begins when Free Speech is shut down (liberty violated) and whole populations are disarmed (private property taken & the right of self defense denied)."


And then, towards the end, wrap it all up with a liberal mind-expanding grenade: ---

"What about "regulatory capture", whereby the first corporations to that get their man or woman to sit on the regulatory board will effectively win a great advantage over all other not-so-lucky competitors? How is the disinterested general public ever going to be savvy and up-to-speed on all the power and influence that corporations? The Homebuilders will watch like a hawk their industry regulators, the general public will watch the Yankee Baseball game. Pick any industry and "regulatory capture" is real and on going. Even dedicated citizen groups can't keep up and can't get the general public's attention most of the time. So, adding more regulators, adding more regulations, can only mean one thing, more "regulatory Capture". The evidence is all over the place; just count the lobbyists. So by growing government, we are effectively growing giant corporations. "Take back our government" can therefore only mean one thing, "Shrink government power" all the way down to zero, or as close to zero as possible. Force the big corporations to fight it out in the market and not seek special favors by taking over our government. Take the "Punch bowl of Government Power" away from big corporations, thereby ending "regulatory capture". Use court room based tort laws and private property laws to protect the general public from damages and pollution. Indeed, government created the Corporation and it has now given it rights that you and I share. Perhaps its time to end the corporation."


Here is a list of the 15 bad arguments they often use: http://listverse.com/2012/11/08/15-bad-arguments-we-all-abuse/

I hope that helps.

Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" ...by author George Smith --
Buy it Here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/05211820

Lazy? I agree with the

Lazy? I agree with the spirit of what you're advocating, that understanding the landscape of all discussions is an essential part of daily liberty activism but listen... I work in a company of 100 women and men in heels and ties, and 90% of them vote. I sell them liberty carefully, subtly, steadily, and it's working. It's done by casual references in the kitchen while I'm grabbing a coffee and see an opening and jump in with "Well me, you'll see me working for the guy or girl least likely to make my son go to a Middle East war, and least likely to listen in on my phone calls dammit," then I return to my office stirring my coffee. It's one silly example. I use the respect they have for me as an opening into a new way of thinking. And for the life of me (I interact with all 100 in one way or another) I cannot imagine one, not a single person who would even get to the 2nd paragraph of this ridiculous Salon article and further, that if there was one, he/she is in too deep anyway, unpersuadable.

10-15 million more voters need to believe in non-interventionism (liberty) at home and abroad to change America. Minds changed on Syria. Minds changing on privacy. "Printing money" is part of the dialogue. Win minds through focus, strategy.

Sorry, but you don't win people from Salon over.

After 5 years of trying to talk to people on hostile venues like Salon, I had a much needed epiphany regarding political reprobates. You have to understand that at a fundamental level, these people hate the idea of a society based on voluntary relations, to the core. There is something to be said for having a reasonable discussion with someone who is actually reasonable, but being humble in the face of willful ignorance and hostile rhetoric is not effective, it's counterproductive.

Concentrate on fence-sitters, not sworn enemies, and you'll see far better results.

“My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.” - G.K. Chesterton


I'm not saying for the turns on Salon for the most part, because those people are for the most part made up, at least over the internet. But again, maybe you'll be sitting at a dinner with multiple people, one of which is spouting off from that article. Wouldn't it behoove you to know how to shut it all down quickly and articulately?

I'm not saying we have to respond to all of these, we don't have nearly that much time, but to think about it and know how to articulate our points - that's the major goal.

Eric Hoffer

I agree with that, except

"Concentrate on fence-sitters, not sworn enemies, and you'll see far better results." I agree with that, except that there are probably a lot of fence sitters who happen across articles like this. Sure the people who write for salon and maybe the constant posters there are sworn enemies, but these lib hit pieces do make their way to the lemming public.

Andrew Napolitano for President 2016!

"Patriotism should come from loving thy neighbor, not from worshiping Graven images." - ironman77


Ben Swann pointed this out. Don't just read what you agree with and what is reassuring. Challenge yourself and read what's outside your comfort zone. You will be more informed and better prepared, even surprised once in a while, and those once in a whiles is where you can form coalitions like Ron Paul did and advised others in the freedom movement to do.

also salon was one of the first to publish greenwald, and they sometimes publish paglia, so they can't be all bad.

and salon has no standing to

and salon has no standing to even comment.

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good things is my religion. Thomas Paine, Godfather of the American Revolution

Not clicking on that. Please

Not clicking on that.
Please stop posting these.

Southern Agrarian


we need to ready these and be ready to dismantle the arguments since they will come up over and over.

"Endless money forms the sinews of war." - Cicero, www.freedomshift.blogspot.com


Why are we still linking to this website? It makes the Huffington Post appear rational by comparison. It has the greatest collection of idiots I've ever seen absent maybe Democratic Underground and The Daily Kos.

“My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.” - G.K. Chesterton

FiresofFreedom's picture

Even with the social liberal things they post

Such as anti-spying I tend to ignore because this site has been guilty of nothing but slander against anyone who wants true liberty. This article makes the argurement that public schools, civil rights laws and the affordable care act make us more free. It reads like someone went out of there way to use rare and unused vocabulary. They use that as a shield to make themselves sound intelligent. You might know 5 different ways to say something but if you believe that a monopoly on tax money to force people to pay for public schools or a 27000 page law forcing people to pay for healthcare or risk being fined grants us more freedom, are you really that intelligent or blissfully ignorant?

The article was brutal to read.

After dismissing the source, I decided to page through the article anyway just to see how bad it was. This guy was trying way too hard to be verbose and literally made zero sense. Constantly paging through the thesaurus in order to up the ante in rhyme schemes and alliteration with synonymous terminology is a poor substitute for actually making a valid point.

“My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.” - G.K. Chesterton

A verbose whitewash

I skimmed the article, because it is unreadable. It reads like a philosophy PhD dissertation. I don't mind an academic style of writing, but it still needs to make a clear and concise point to be effective. It seems like an attempt to gain credibility by academic-sounding prose, while pushing a preconceived agenda against libertarianism.

There is an easy, irrefutable argument for libertarian philosophy. Throughout history, prosperity is correlated with freedom and limited government. Efforts to make society equal through government force results in death, destruction, and poverty. Would the soviet union have succeeded if they just managed better? Would North Korea become a utopia if they could just find the right dictator to control everything?

Then, I scroll down to the comments below the article. The tired Somalia argument. Stating Ron Paul supports crony capitalism. On and on with lies and misleading statements. I just hope that robots were paid to write them.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

-C. S. Lewis

FiresofFreedom's picture


They are in the school of thought that complex vocabulary and the complex breakdown of philosophy is the hallmark of intelligence. Obviously if you use these methods to try to explain something to the general population it will show your completely out of touch with the general populous. They do this on purpose in order for people to see them as intellectual elites. I can use fancy words and complex philosophy too but if you believe that Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz are libertarians and the ACA, public schools and civil rights laws make us more free then you just showed your true intelligence.

I found it ironic that the

I found it ironic that the author's name was Kim Messick because that article was a mess.

"Villains wear many masks, but none as dangerous as the mask of virtue." - Washington Irvin

and then I started reading

and then I started reading the comments...that was a bigger mistake.

"Villains wear many masks, but none as dangerous as the mask of virtue." - Washington Irvin

"Liberals, after all, also

"Liberals, after all, also value freedom and in general want us to have more of it rather than less."

In what world? Certainly not today. Modern liberals (and modern "conservatives" for that matter) do not value freedom in any way...except their one "choice" banner of protecting abortion.

"Villains wear many masks, but none as dangerous as the mask of virtue." - Washington Irvin

So True

Those who characterize passing a law that restricts human behavior as a "legislative accomplishment" simply do not understand freedom.

"Bipartisan: both parties acting in concert to put both of their hands in your pocket."-Rothbard

Ron Paul

Don't confuse Obama with "liberals" (he never was one).

As Ron Paul has said himself, most Liberals are good about civil liberties, opposing Wars, cutting military spending, government transparency. And some like Alan Grayson, Dennis Kucinch, Bernie Sanders have worked hard to audit the Federal Reserve. Ron Paul liked to work with these people.

So instead of flogging "liberals", the smarter thing to do is to build a broader coalition made up of libertarians and liberals to bring about real change.

It is the reich-wing Neocons (in both parties) that need to be defeated, before any reform can ever take place.

I understand your point, but

I understand your point, but the problem is that there aren't many in congress today that actually follow through on those beliefs (being "good about civil liberties, opposing Wars, cutting military spending, government transparency"). They might express those beliefs campaigning, but once in power, few follow through on either side of the aisle.

"Villains wear many masks, but none as dangerous as the mask of virtue." - Washington Irvin

I stopped reading it after this clueless quote...

"So one increasingly hears certain prominent Republicans referred to as libertarians or as members of the party’s “libertarian wing.” Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan have been identified as such at one time or another, as have (with slightly more reason) both Pauls, Ron and Rand."

Rand Paul 2016 for Peace


I don't think anyone has ever called Paul Ryan a libertarian prior to this article. It's part of the "red herring" theme of the article though--deliberately mischaracterize the libertarian platform and then attack that mischaracterization in an attempt to discredit it.