Tag Archives: Ron Paul

Why are there so many Right-Libertarians online?

Internet! Right there!
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Here’s the thing, the more I enter into political debates and discussions online, the more I notice the very large presence of people who would be classified to be on the “Libertarian” right. That includes proponents of Austrian Economics, Randroids, Ron Paul Stormtroopers, “Anarcho”-Capitalists and the occasional crypto-“Libertarian” Conservative/Republicans.

The weird thing about this, is how common they are, in the English speaking part of the net at least, compared to how scarce they are IRL. Before I went political on the net, I spent the better part of a decade without even encountering one such person, even though I found it impossible to not meet Communists or Anarchists. But online, the roles are reversed. Right-“Libertarians” and general proponents of Free Markets are dime a dozen, while one is hard pressed to find the occasional outspoken Anarchist or Communist in discussion boards or any other non-partisan location.

Obviously there is something in the Internet which gives the vulgar proponent of capitalism an advantage over their actual representation, at least in political debates. I’ve written in the past on why Conservatives are so few online, so I might as well throw my half-arsed opinion on the proliferation of this ideology.

1. The internet is full of IT geeks

Why is this important? Well IT geeks tend to generally be smart and extremely rational as these are aspects of personality which would make someone like stuff like programming and gaming. Incidentally these are the kind of interests that make people less social and more individualist. We are all familiar with the concepts of the lone gamer or the asocial programmer in his parent’s basement and while these are far from the norm, the archetype was not achieved without any basis in reality.

Then there’s the fact that the Internet and IT technology is extremely young, disruptive and on which comprehensive barriers to entry have not yet been erected by the big players. All of these as a result allow any geek with a dream of success to try his hand at a start-up with very little upfront cost, especially since the means of production are, if not free (such as programming languages), at worst very affordable.

Ther result of this mix, is a culture where it seems as if the smartest and more capable are the ones that can succeed. Add to this the obvious lack of government intervention and regulation of the online IT industry and one tends to draw the same conclusions: Rugged individualism works for the best.

In short, you have an environment skewed very much towards the progressive strata of society.

Unfortunately, these conclusions look at only half of the greater picture (eg, they ignore that it’s the workers which own the means of productions in this environment) and end up drawing the wrong conclusions. The current situation is quite similar on general with the pre-depression auto industry, when the economic boom and low maturity of the technology made it profitable for many to create cars. However it has little relation to the real world.

But for for asocial or antisocial IT geeks, the idea that looking at one’s immediate material self-interest is socially constructive and that the smartest will always prosper if the government doesn’t interfere makes obviously for a positive candidate for the right-libertarian ideology.

That is not to say of course that most geeks are right-“libertarians” or that most right-“libertarians” are geeks but it’s rather to point out the obvious fertile ground for such ideologies.

2. Economics

Mathematics is pure logic. It is the explanatory method we use to transfer arithmetic information and because of this it is quite interesting to those with more rational minds. This ties somehow with the first point above, specifically with the aspect of rationality that most geeks have.

But how does mathematics help increase the pool of right-“libertarians”? Economics.

Economics, at least the mainstream kind, attempts to describe reality through a mathematical perspective. As such, it promises to achieve a rational certainty that is impossible in any other social science. All the certainty of science, without any of that pesky scientific method or empirical evidence. All you need is to find the few irrefutable axioms and Bob’s your uncle.

It is then unsurprising that almost all right-“libertarians” you will meet online will at one occasion or other claim that you need to learn economics before you can argue with them. I’ve actually yet to meet a right-“libertarian” who’s advocacy of stateless (or minarchistic) capitalism does not follow from them accepting a particular economic school as correct.

3. Most people online are middle to upper class

This is pretty self-explanatory really. It is an obvious fact that those of us who can afford to waste time arguing and debating online, must come from the part of society which is well off enough to use it like this. The poor, the homeless and the exploited, in short, the vast majority of humans either do not have access to the Internet at all, and even if they do, it’s unlikely that they have enough time or interest to tackle with apologists of the system that is keeping them down.

As such, online discussions are generally full of middle-class progressives, students from better off families (which can afford them a PC and online connection) and the occasional struggling individualist who is annoyed at the guv’ment putting them down. Which is incidentally why you’re more likely to see a US Liberal (ie Social Democrat) vs Libertarian argument than anything else.

As the Internet is still a luxury for most, it is in fact those who’s life is on the better track which will be using it the most, and the perspective of those, is unlikely to understand the socialist point of view, as things are simply not bad enough.

4. English-speaking Internet is a USA (and friends) dominated zone

The last thing I believe adds to the popularity of this ideology is because most people who are active in the english-speaking online world are those who come from USA and the UK. This is understandable as those two nations especially have a hugely inflated middle class (see above).

Furthermore. both bastions of Capitalism and neoliberal policies. Especially US is so dominated by right-wing ideology where their whole political terminology needed to take a turn to the right as a whole so as to avoid the “Social Democrat” label.

Mix then the recent popularity of right-“libertarian” icons such as Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, Pen & Teller etc to the viral nature of Web2.0 and one can see what is cooking. It is precisely because of this recent rise of interest to the Free marketeer personas that more and more right-“libertarians” feel brave enough to state and argue for their chosen ideology.

Fortunately, this effect is mostly concentrated in the English speaking online world, as other nations have a far larger (and occasionally brighter) history with socialist movements. Unfortunately this means that those of us who have a international perspective cannot throw a virtual stone in an online location without hitting someone claiming that taxes are theft, greed is good or some other such nonsense.

So what is a socialist to do?

To tell the truth, in the English speaking online world there’s not much we can do. It’s impossible to do anything to reverse the turn towards the right political spectrum of UK and US  and as such we can expect their discussions to keep being dominated by “Liberals” and “Libertarians”. Two things are going to probably change the balance of opinions however. First the coming crisis is certainly going to make those who’s life is being turned upside down re-evaluate their positions. Those of them already used to the online interaction, might become allies.

Second, if the Capitalist system manages to persist, the Internet will slowly but surely start being dominated by larger and larger players (see: Google) which will lead to the classic barriers to entry starting to be erected. Perhaps it will take the form of removing or hijacking  “net-neutrality”. Perhaps it will be through “for the children” Internet censorship, but whatever it is, creating a start-up will not be as easy anymore. The obviousness of the progressive agenda will be weakened.

And finally, as the Internet is popularized more and more and the difficulty of getting online is reduced (See: netbooks and more cheap technology), the poor and downtrodden will find it easier to get online and state their opinion as well.

Of course, whether the Internet we will have by then will remain the same open environment we have now or transform into a politicized and propagandistic system such as the mass media is now, is another question altogether.

Whatever happens, it’s unlikely that it will serve as a bastion of right-“libertarians” forever.

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Selective Skepticism

Ron Paul being told Cory is in his house.
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Through my friendfeed channel I was surprised to find (an author of) the skeptic blog 2 days ago post an article promoting (right-)Libertarianism, of the Rothbardian type. That is, what the US Americans now call simply “libertarianism”1.

This is becoming a trend recently it seems to me. From Penn & Teller to Bill Maher, many self proclaimed skepticists seem to also take a second role of promoting right-libertarianism. Similar to how this “libertarian” movement has taken over the freedom-promoting words of Anarchism, they seem to be eager to strongly associate skepticism with themselves.

It is also weirdly ironic that many (most?) of them also are eager to claim themselves as “Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) skeptics” or that the 9/11 truther movement is primarily of the Ron Paul libertarian school, or the Fed conspiracist theorists generally tend to also be Austrian-economic school anti-central-bank.

But in truth, there is a very particular common denominator in all of these skeptics. While they seem skeptical of all the usual stuff (ie anything contradicting science, or having very little empirical evidence) They also tend to be skeptical of whatever is not compatible with what neoclassical economics would suggest.

This explains why so  many of these skeptics are very eager to jump to evidence against AGW, or even if they accept it, they wish to downplay its severity significantly in order to suggest that it would be solvable through “free-market solutions”. The reason for this is that neoclassical economics suggests that the role of the state should be reduced to simply to protector of private property. As such, request for the state to implement environmental solution or to jump-start the private market, go totally against the edicts of “free market knows best” and trigger an automatic denial instinct for all the skeptics espousing them.

But why does this particular bias emerge? After all Anarchists don’t seem to have (at least from my experience) any such blinds. And similar applies to Social Democrats (“Liberals” in the US). The reason why this is of course is because libertarians have absolute faith in economics, a faith so powerful that the bias it created is enough to overwhelm even empirical science.

Libertarians of course will wish to defend this by claiming that Economics is a form of science, and as consistent skeptics, they have to side with that. But the sad truth is that Economics are not scientific. Quite the contrary actually, with its insistence on theories that are empirically disproven it is rather the opposite and resembles a religion. Unfortunately, unlike normal science which is actually empowered by skepticism (which prunes false theories), Economics’ flimsy basis makes them particularly vulnerable to it.

Now it is actually possible to have skeptic theists. It is inconsistent on their part, since they are quite capable of rational skepticism over most concepts but as soon as a topic reaches close to their religion of choice, all skepticism flies out of the window. As such, a Christian might be skeptical of ghosts, UFOs, Muslims miracles etc, but will quite happily accept some basic absurd articles, such as resurrections, existence of demons, afterlife etc. This may in turn spill over to other matters that although generally rational, might skew their perspective. So for example they may be extremely “skeptical” of evolutionary theory or abiogenesis etc. This is selective skepticism at work.

And this is unsurprisingly very similar to the libertarian brand of skepticism. A skepticism that avoids looking at a whole school of thought (economics) with the same critical eye that it directs to theism and woo-woo and rather acts like apologist to various wrong practices, even in the face of scientific evidence.

  1. For the rest of the article, whenever I mention “libertarianism” I will mean the right-side one for brevity) ((I then spend the last 2 days arguing with the Rothbardians in there. Take a look and laugh []

Anarcho-Capitalists, pay attention! I will not tolerate your bullshit.

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To all anarcho-capitalists, Libertarians, Ron Paulites, Randroids and whoever else comes here to defend your idols and your ideologies, take heed of what I write here so that our discussions will be pleasant.

I have had enough twisting of truths, covered insults, elitism and outright lies to last me a lifetime so the buck stops here. Either shape up and follow the reasonable rules I lay here, or GTFO.

Lies

This is a big no-no, alright? The last thing I want to do is correct your blatant disregard for (historical) facts when you wish to make a point. This quote is sample of this cancer.

History has proven me correct in both instances. The freest country on earth became the most prosperous and every country that ever had communism or socialism has suffered great losses in productivity and the rise of authoritative forces. What has happened to Cuba since the revolution? What happened to Russia and China. Each of these countries was once considered wealthy and then they became communist. The systems broke down.

I can live with honest mistakes that come from simply being ignorant of some historical facts but phrases such as the above are unacceptable. The fact that it is painfully easy to verify its falsity only means that you are being deliberately dishonest in order to propagandize. And I do not care for that. If that’s what you’re after, go find out some Ron Paul drones to talk to.

Outright lies such as the above will be served with a warning the first time, and a ban the second. And even the warning is too much but I’m prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt in that you’re simply that ignorant. But be aware that if you are really so ignorant, you’d better get a clue. Quickly.

Finally get it into your thick heads that Correlation does not equal Causation

Yes I know that you think that everything good comes from Capitalism and everything bad from Socialism and the government but you have to understand that the world is a complex place. Your arguments simply boil down to “Any place that prospers must be because of Anarcho-Capitalism and any place that falters must be because of the government” and then look for facts to support this.

I have seen this more than enough times and I’m not impressed. Especially when someone points out a nation with a neoliberal policy which you’ve been praising for the last couple of years which when it failed, now suddenly you find out that the government did it. Why didn’t you say anything before?

This applies to the reverse of course, when you rush to blame Socialism (or whatever the fuck you think Socialism is) and the government for any failure, disregarding any and all external factors. Dictatorships in Africa? It has nothing to do with the US funding the dictators and everything to do with Socialism. US Economy failing? It has nothing to do with the last 30 years of neoliberal economics and all to do with Socialism/The Fed/The Government/Any other boogeyman.

You’re not convincing anyone but yourselves. If you’re going to make such an argument, you’re better off not commenting at all.

Read what I write, not what you think I mean.

When I say that Communism requires no government, I do not really mean “Communism requires government”. If you cannot understand how something might work without a government or another authority then ask! Do not assume that in this or that argument I must mean the government, jump to that conclusion and then accuse me in the same breath of being an authoritarian.

I have had enough of this shit.

If you show a failure to grasp this simple concept, once again you will get a warning and then a ban. I do not care to repeat myself all the time to someone who is unwilling to even read what I write in favour of his own preconceptions.

Know thy enemy

If you come here with the purpose to argue against Communism, you’d better have a clue on what it actually is. I have no intention of educating you as I go and there are quite a few books you can read. If all you’ve read is the Communist Manifesto, a propagandistic piece with as much detail as the Declaration of Independence, then you do not know Communism.

If you do display a blatant lack of knowledge of this aspect, I will most likely direct you to an article on my Misunderstanding Communism series that hopefuly dispels your misunderstanding or at least gives you my take on this issue. If you come after that and use the same goddamn argument you should have just read my refutation of, then you will get a warning. If you do not want to read what I’ve written on this subject, then you’re not here to discuss or learn, but to evangelize and you should GTFO!

I laugh at your courtier’s replies

When I criticize any argument you or one of your idols might make, I do not attempt to argue against your whole worldview. I simply refute what has been laid in front of me. If you then start quoting books that I should read before I can argue, I will just ignore them.

I can just as well suggest that you read anything I have in order to be able to argue with me, but this is simply absurd and we would never be able to converse. If you think an argument I make I wrong, point out the errors, do not suggest books and claim that they will convince me. I will not look at them.

The only way you can get me to possibly look at a book is to make coherent arguments which actually make sense so that my interest in raised in this topic. Then you can suggest a book that goes into detail on this matter and I will have an reason to check it out.

Finally

Since all of the above seem to be the bread & butter of anarcho-capitalists, a link will go to the Comment Policy to hopefully stop the inanity that has been spreading around here lately. If you do not like them, feel free to GTFO as you wouldn’t be adding anything to the conversation anyway. If you choose to ignore them in order to evangelize, then your hypocricy knows no bounds, you stalwart protectors of private property.

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