November 19th, 2016

Rothbard and the alt-right

[NOTE: This is a post in which I continue to explore the more extremist wing of the alt-right, because I think it bears watching and comprehending. That doesn’t mean I think it’s an enormous group. Nor do I think Donald Trump or even Steve Bannon are members of it. However, this group exists, and it is a big mistake to dismiss them out of hand.]

I had never heard of Murray Rothbard before his name came up in the comments here a while ago in connection with the alt-right. Commenter “J.J.” had mentioned a libertarian strain within the alt-right, and I expressed skepticism about the alt-right’s devotion to libertarian principles.

J.J. responded by citing Wiki:

Matthew Sheffield, writing in the Washington Post, said the alt-right has also been influenced by anarcho-capitalist and paleolibertarian theorist Murray Rothbard, specifically in regards to his theorizing on race and democracy, and had previously rallied behind Ron Paul in 2008.

Those are two terms I’d never come across before, in addition to the name Rothbard: anarcho-capitalist and paleolibertarian. Sounded like some sort of especially extreme form of libertarianism.

So I got curious. And there was quite a motherlode of information on Rothbard (whom I always seem to want to refer to as “Rothbart,” as in the evil wizard/magician in “Swan Lake” named “von Rothbart”):

Michael O’Malley, Associate Professor of History at George Mason University, characterizes Rothbard’s “overall tone regard[ing]” the Civil Rights Movement and the women’s suffrage movement to be “contemptuous and hostile”. Rothbard vilified women’s rights activists, attributing the growth of the welfare state to politically active spinsters “whose busybody inclinations were not fettered by the responsibilities of health and heart”. Rothbard had pointed out in his ‘Origins of the Welfare State’ that progressives had evolved from elitist Gilded Age pietist Protestants that wanted to bring a secularized version of millennialism under a welfare state, which was spearheaded by a “shock troop of Yankee protestant and Jewish women and lesbian spinsters.”

Rothbard called for the elimination of “the entire ‘civil rights’ structure” stating that it “tramples on the property rights of every American.” He consistently favored repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, including Title VII regarded employment discrimination and called for overturning the Brown v. Board of Education decision on the grounds that forced integration of schools was aggressive.

So far that seems to be describing a very extreme form of the sort of objection a few people on the far right have to what they consider federal overreach, although Rothbard adds some extra-snarky tones.

However, that’s just the beginning.

Rothbard also urged the (state) police to crack down on “street criminals”, writing that “cops must be unleashed” and “allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error”. He also advocated that the police “clear the streets of bums and vagrants”, and quipped “who cares?,” in response to the question of where these people would go after being removed from public property.

I’m not sure exactly what to call those points of view, but although they seem to resemble an extreme wing of the alt-right I wouldn’t identify them as libertarian. And most people wouldn’t, either. That “paleo” prefix must cover an awful lot of territory.

J.J. offered more from Rothbard’s Wiki entry, and this bears especially strongly on the alt-right and its backing of Trump:

Paleolibertarianism sought to appeal to disaffected working class whites through a synthesis of cultural conservatism and libertarian economics. According to Reason, Rothbard advocated right-wing populism in part because he was frustrated that mainstream thinkers were not adopting the libertarian view and suggested that former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and Wisconsin U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy were models for an “Outreach to the Rednecks” effort that could be used by a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition. Working together, the paleo coalition would expose the “unholy alliance of ‘corporate liberal’ Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass.” Rothbard blamed this “Underclass” for “looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America.” Rothbard noted that David Duke’s substantive political program in a Louisiana governor’s race had “nothing” in it that “could not also be embraced by paleoconservatives or paleo-libertarians; lower taxes, dismantling the bureaucracy, slashing the welfare system, attacking affirmative action and racial set-asides, calling for equal rights for all Americans, including whites.”

That explains some of the strategy. Since Rothbard died in 1995, we’re not talking about a recent idea, either, but it’s an idea that has recently borne fruit. Rothbard’s liking for David Duke doesn’t necessarily transfer to a Trump approval of Duke, but it certainly indicates that within the alt-right there’s a strain that is very David Duke friendly, and that this strain has been working hard for a long time.

And here’s some more:

Rothbard’s colleague Joseph Stromberg notes that Rothbard made two exceptions to his general condemnation of war: “the American Revolution and the War for Southern Independence, as viewed from the Confederate side.” Rothbard condemned the “Northern war against slavery”, saying it was inspired by “fanatical” religious faith and characterized by “a cheerful willingness to uproot institutions, to commit mayhem and mass murder, to plunder and loot and destroy, all in the name of high moral principle”…

Rothbard’s The Libertarian Forum blamed the Middle East conflict on Israeli aggression “fueled by American arms and money.” Rothbard warned that the mid-East conflict would draw the U.S. into a world war. He was anti-Zionist and opposed U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Rothbard criticized the Camp David Accords for having betrayed Palestinian aspirations and opposed Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. In his essay, “War Guilt in the Middle East,” Rothbard states that Israel refused “to let these refugees return and reclaim the property taken from them.”…

He was influenced by and a champion of the historian Harry Elmer Barnes, a Holocaust denier. Rothbard endorsed Barnes’s revisionism on World War II, favorably citing his view that “the murder of Germans and Japanese was the overriding aim of World War II”.

That also does not fit Trump in the least, as far as I can see. But it certainly fits some on the alt-right vis a vis Israel and the WWII Holocaust.

But if you think that’s extreme, wait till you see this:

In the Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard explores issues regarding children’s rights in terms of self-ownership and contract. These include support for a woman’s right to abortion, condemnation of parents showing aggression towards children, and opposition to the state forcing parents to care for children. He also holds children have the right to run away from parents and seek new guardians as soon as they are able to choose to do so. He asserted that parents have the right to put a child out for adoption or sell the rights to the child in a voluntary contract in what Rothbard suggests will be a “flourishing free market in children”. He believes that selling children as consumer goods in accord with market forces, while “superficially monstrous”, will benefit “everyone” involved in the market:

Now, that I can see as a very extreme version of libertarian thought, but one that I doubt most libertarians would support (although nothing would surprise me at this point). My guess is that it’s not a big winner with the alt-right, either, although I can’t say I have my finger on the pulse of every policy they support. Rothbard seems like one of the fathers of what one might call loony libertarianism—that is, libertarian thought taken to its ultimate extreme, the dark place where libertarians meet the far left and where far left anarchism meets far right anarchism in a murky horror show.

There’s so much more in Rothbard’s Wiki entry—including this:

Writes Rothbard, “Suppose … police beat and torture a suspected murderer to find information (not to wring a confession, since obviously a coerced confession could never be considered valid). If the suspect turns out to be guilty, then the police should be exonerated, for then they have only ladled out to the murderer a parcel of what he deserves in return; his rights had already been forfeited by more than that extent. But if the suspect is not convicted, then that means that the police have beaten and tortured an innocent man, and that they in turn must be put into the dock for criminal assault”…Rothbard’s scheme gives the police a strong motive to frame the suspect, after having tortured him or her.

It also means that no one would become a policeman except sadists, because the police themselves would have no protection from being accused of wrongdoing. It also ignores a little something called the rule of law, and the entire idea of basic rules to protect the rights of the accused. And this guy is a libertarian?

Shudder.

101 Responses to “Rothbard and the alt-right”

  1. Big Maq Says:

    Though he would probably have denied it, just from these excerpts, it would be hard to see a world constructed in Rothbard’s framework to end up in anything but totalitarianism.

    L or l libertarianism, it is not.

    It is clear he would tolerate great abuses of power over fellow citizens, if to not tolerate it would be considered “a cheerful willingness to uproot institutions”.

  2. Hien Nguyen Says:

    Hi Neoneocon,
    I think Hillary confused act-right with alt-right. An easy mistake to make when you read from teleprompter without thinking. There is a conservative group called ActRight. (https://www.actright.com)

  3. Ann Says:

    Rothbard seems to have had more than few screws loose — from William F. Buckley’s obituary of him:

    Murray Rothbard had defective judgment. It pains even to recall it, but in 1959 when Khrushchev arrived in New York, with much of America stunned by the visit of the butcher of Budapest–the Soviet protege of Stalin who was threatening a world war over Berlin–Rothbard physically applauded Khrushchev in his limousine as it passed by on the street. He gave as his reason for this that, after all, Khrushchev had killed fewer people than General Eisenhower, his host.

  4. Ann Says:

    *a few*

  5. TommyJay Says:

    Why is Neo wasting any time on Rothbard? Because Mathew Shefffield said so?? There is a reason why you and I never heard of him. Sounds like you’ve really bit into the tripe hook-line-and-sinker.

    Many years ago I read a book called “The Libertarian Primer” a collection edited by a Cato guy named Boaz. Now THAT is something I would rate as in-the-realm of real libertarianism, though it was 25 years ago. I mean REALLY; should not one automatically ignore anything that a lefty labels as Paleo-xxx??

    Another great old libertarian book is Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose.”

    The sad thing for me was the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson pitching himself as a Purple candidate, positioned half-way between Hillary and Trump. Though I don’t think his stated policy pos. comported with that claim. Unfortunately his VP pick Weld DID comport.

    I’m not especially keen on libertarianism, but the old guard occasionally got a few things more correct than the GOPe.

    I used to read the NYTimes and WaPo frequently in the early days of WebNews, but have concluded that they are just not legitimate barring the odd Krauthammer article etc. The front page articles at the NYTimes were truly appalling and I was always surprised that no one ever did a linguistic analysis of those articles to show the massive bias. (Maybe it happened and I missed it.)

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    No, Rothbard was not a libertarian. He was a demagogue pretending to be a libertarian. His positions cannot withstand rational scrutiny. They can only be supported through deceit, which is one of the hallmarks of a demagogue. And deceit, whether motivated by self-delusion or cynicism is a sure sign of falsity.

    That some on the alt-r have been influenced by Rothbard’s extremism is to be expected. Nature abhors uncorrected imbalance. Arguably the rise of the alt-r is a counterbalance generated by the embrace of extremism on the left and the ever deepening entrenchment of that cultural, legal and political extremism into society. The alt-right’s racism is arguably a reaction to the establishment of the racist “white privilege” theories of the left. It’s misogyny a reaction to the left’s emasculation of the male gender. Arguably, the alt-r is the mirror image of its counterpart on the left.

  7. OM Says:

    Nature abhors a vacuum.

    Geoffrey abhors uncorrected imbalance.

    What can’t stand will fall.

  8. DNW Says:

    FYI

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world?utm_term=.chRXQaL6R#.eyEpwn1dO

  9. J.J. Says:

    I agree that Rothbard’s form of libertarianism is not of the sort that most of us are familiar with.
    Basically, I see his ideas as being against all government and most law, which is what libertarians want but is tinged with a racist and misogynist outlook, which is not exactly libertarian. I once engaged in a debate with an extreme libertarian who believed no government, none, was necessary. His idea, much lime the left is that human nature is perfectible. Unless humans are perfectible, no government at all is, IMO, a synonym for “might makes right.” Not something most people would endorse.

    I agree with Geoffrey that the alt-right has risen in objection to the ant-white racism that is becoming the meme on college campuses and the aggressive feminism that has branded all white males as rapists or worse. These forces have clearly stepped outside the social contract where all ethnicities, sexes, and religions are equally acceptable to a world where it is okay to denigrate and libel certain groups because they have been labelled as “oppressors.” When that happens, if no one pushes back, Orwell’s 1984 becomes more likely.

    I think the alt-right is a small but relatively powerful group because they are young, tech savvy, and very sure of themselves. They fit the “True Believer” model as described by Eric Hoffer. I agree that we must all be willing to push back against their totalitarian ideas should they gain more adherents and power.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    OM,

    It is not just a vacuum that nature abhors. The rationale I advanced stands or falls upon its own merits. That you didn’t challenge that rationale directly says much both as to its possible validity and directly to your mentality.

  11. Ira Says:

    If the facts set forth in the Wikipedia entry for Murray Rothbard are correct, then one sentence in neo-neocon’s article needs fixing:

    Rothbard seems like one of the fathers of what one might call was loony libertarianism—that is, his libertarian thought taken to its ultimate extreme, thoughts went to the dark place where libertarians meet the far left and where far left anarchism meets far right anarchism in a murky horror show.

  12. parker Says:

    GB,

    Yes, every action brings a reaction. The hard left, BLM for example, creates the demons they fear. And the left accuses the right of what they themselves do to hide their hypocrisy. The smart ones know what they do, others are along for the ride, to be in with the in crowd (think Miley Cyrus). Some on the right are also guilty of group think.

    This Rothbard creature is another run of the mill fascist with intellectual pretentsions.

  13. parker Says:

    J.J.,

    I call people who want a lawless society anarchists.

  14. Big Maq Says:

    Square this with the britebarf circle…

    “What is the purpose of whatever I’m doing with this wealth? What is the purpose of what I’m doing with the ability that God has given us, that divine providence has given us to actually be a creator of jobs and a creator of wealth?

    I think it really behooves all of us to really take a hard look and make sure that we are ***reinvesting that back into positive things***” – steve bunion – a conference focused on poverty hosted by the Human Dignity Institute
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world?utm_term=.nd433Ak8br#.bsyZZeMgK3

    Well, it’s all for a good cause, isn’t it?

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Tommyjay:

    Your idea of a waste of time and my idea of a waste of time differ. When you start your own blog, you can waste time in your own very special way 🙂 .

    I already explained in the “NOTE” that prefaces my post why I want to write about this. There are plenty of people who agree with at least a goodly portion of what Rothbard wrote, even if they have never heard of him, either (and I can assure you that some of them almost certainly have).

    The point of this post isn’t whether Rothbard was a libertarian or not. I already expressed doubt on that score; he’s certainly no sort of libertarian as I understand the movement. The point is whether ideas like this influence the alt-right.

    By the way, Rothbard’s Wiki page says that his “writings and personal influence played a seminal role in the development of modern libertarianism” and calls him “a central figure in the twentieth-century American libertarian movement.” Wiki also quotes economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe as calling Rothbard “the creator and one of the principal agents of the contemporary libertarian movement.”

    The guy clearly had something to do with libertarians.

  16. parker Says:

    neo,

    Wikipedia is not always a good source if one is looking for accurate info. But, I do not know the history of the Libertarian Party. From what I know about L/libertarians in my area this Rothbard fellow would be an anathema of the first order.

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    parker:

    Wiki isn’t always a good source. But it often is a very good source. When Wiki was new, it was more iffy, but over the years it’s better. There are still pages that are biased, of course. But most are pretty objective, and are basically collections of articles from a bunch of other sources that are listed.

    I find that when I take the time to read lots of other sources and then go to Wiki, it’s usually quoting the other sources I’ve found. Wiki is usually fairly comprehensive, if you have limited time and can’t read books or reams and reams on a subject.

  18. Cornflour Says:

    I’m not a libertarian, although I’m interested in what some libertarians have to say. Milton Friedman is an obvious example. For more current economic analysis by libertarians, I often read the group blog EconLog.

    According to Democrats/progessives/media, Taki’s Magazine, The Unz Review, and VDARE are swamps of racism and the alt-right. Predictably, I think it’s more complicated then that.

    With Google’s “site:” search option it’s easy to search EconLog, Taki’s, Unz, and VDARE for the word “rothbard.” Both formal and informal discussions of Rothbard indicate that he was a controversial figure among even fellow paleolibertarians, and there are some libertarians who hate him with a passion.

    Unfortunately, sorting out Rothbard’s role in current libertarianism and in the racism of the extreme alt-right is going to be a long and messy job. In the end, I’m not sure what would be achieved. On the other hand, for those on the Left, it’s clearly true that Rothbard provides a rich source for tarring libertarians and the alt-right with all manner of awfulness.

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    Cornflour:

    What is achieved is awareness and alertness.

  20. Rufus Firefly Says:

    No offense to anyone, but many years ago I decided to give these folks as little room in my head as possible.

    No matter the name or nation they are always about, poking and testing. When they have leverage they poke more, until they get control.

    The Unions on the Left are full of these types. All major religions have had splinter groups of these types who sometimes gain control. Look at the Weather Underground. College educated rich kids.

    They can pop up from any ideology and any circumstance.
    Fight them when you detect them. Don’t let them get power.
    Vigilance. Constant vigilance.

  21. Rufus Firefly Says:

    To try to predict whom we have to fear is folly. Any group, given enough control, is susceptible to tyranny and fascism.
    Limit central power and central authority and work to keep checks and balances strong.

  22. OM Says:

    Geoffrey:

    “Nature abhors a vacuum” Aristotle

    Geoffrey says nature abhors something else. Your were riffing on Aristotle. Others have said things that are unsustainable will not continue. Get the trend here? You were trying too hard to be “profound’ and “deep” IMO. 🙂

  23. Frog Says:

    I think attention to long-dead Rothbard, a serious oddball, and to the so-called “fringe” of the so-called “alt-right” is badly misplaced.
    The enemy stands unrepentant before us, hostile, lying, scheming and demagogic as always: the Democratic Party.
    Worrying about the fringe alts is like worrying about your umbrella in a hurricane. As best I can tell, they are few in number and villification of one alleged member of the group, Steve Bannon, is classic Leftist misrepresentation. The Left uses Alinsky well: isolate, personalize, villify. Not my game.
    After Fiorina and Cruz caved, I got aboard the Trump train, and I have no regrets. Sessions as AG! Wow and hallelujah! As best I can tell, I was/am one of a small pro-Trump minority here.

  24. The Other Chuck Says:

    Neo:

    You are only scratching the surface with Rothbard by quoting from Wiki. He is a seminal thinker in economics associated with the Austrian School. That he was also a racist, bigot, and misogynist is irrelevant to his Austrian followers who include a number of well known businessmen and economists.

    The Mises Institute is an Austrian School think tank that is the center of it all. Here is the link to the first page of their library listing, with a picture of Rothbard at the blackboard:
    https://mises.org/library

    Another website is Lew Rockwell. Again a library listing includes the works of Rothbard, but also note the others from Paul Craig Roberts, who posts at the far left/communist website Counterpunch as well as at zerohedge, Pat Buchannan who needs no introduction other than he is a big supporter of Trump, Ron Paul, ahem, and David Stockman.

    I would venture to say that all these people and many, many more well known libertarian leaning figures are familiar with Rothbard. Ron Paul certainly is.

    I believe you have landed on the nexus of the alt-right movement. Call it anarcho-capitalism or whatever, at its root is white identity as espoused by Murray Rothbard.

  25. The Other Chuck Says:

    Here is the link to Lew Rockwell’s columnist page. Note the names:
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/columnists

  26. The Other Chuck Says:

    Frog, you can belittle the alt-right and dismiss it easily, but you can’t dismiss the names associated with Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute and by extension Murray Rothbard. Those names include supporters of Trump like Pat Buchanan. It isn’t a far stretch to include Bannon since he has tolerated and encouraged the alt-right. And now he’s Trump right-hand man!

  27. Glen H Says:

    I remember Rothbard from the 70’s as an economic libertarian who worked with, and eventually split from, Ayn Rand.

    It’s funny you want to call him “Rothbart”. As I recall, one of the rumored reasons for his split from Rand was her constant tendency, in her thick Russian accent, to call him something resembling “Rossbutt”.

  28. The Other Chuck Says:

    Glen H, Rothbard spent 6 months as a part-time member of Rand’s “collective” in the late 1950’s. This was during the time when Alan Greenspan was around. Rothbard gave as his reason for splitting the cult-like nature of the early Objectivist movement. Rand was more honest in stating that Rothbard and the libertarians were like right wing hippies and she wanted no part of them. She read them out, as she did almost anyone who didn’t agree with her 100%.

  29. hhh Says:

    Jared Kushner

  30. Matt_SE Says:

    Frog Says:
    …villification of one alleged member of the group, Steve Bannon, is classic Leftist misrepresentation.

    How would we know these were lies if we never researched Bannon or his influences? Take your word for it?
    Researching the alt-right is perfectly legitimate because it discredits their supporters when they’re found to be lying about the alt-right’s positions.

  31. Matt_SE Says:

    The Other Chuck Says:
    I believe you have landed on the nexus of the alt-right movement. Call it anarcho-capitalism or whatever, at its root is white identity as espoused by Murray Rothbard.

    Funny you should mention Zerohedge in there, since that was probably my gateway to the alt-right.
    I have mentioned before that there is an unmistakable strain of anti-semitism, anti-PC on that site, and I think it comes as a reaction to the gaming of financial systems by certain cabals.

    I think most of those people attribute to Jewishness the faults of being greedy and/or progressive. It’s a form of displacement.

    A lot of the alt-right feels like it embraces anarchy in a reactionary response to the corruption of the modern world (which is IMO a result of leftism). The seeds of mistrust are planted, and then they grow into reflexive rejection of institutions.

  32. Frog Says:

    Matt S_E:
    I’ve done my homework, so you do yours before calling people out.
    As you say, “How would we know these were lies if we never researched Bannon or his influences?”
    You ever research that?
    Kim Strassel is no fool:http://www.wsj.com/articles/steve-bannon-on-politics-as-war-1479513161

  33. The Other Chuck Says:

    Matt_SE:
    The names I listed from Ron Paul to David Stockman have articles regularly posted at zerohedge. Ron Paul was disgraced years ago by letting Lew Rockwell manage his newsletter which had a racist tone. Rockwell helped set up the Mises Institute. Birds of a feather…

    You are too generous and too forgiving when it comes to zerohedge. The place is not only internet central for every Jew hating bigot but is also a sounding board for Russian subversives. The comment section uses ((name)) to indicated members of “the tribe” meaning Jews.

    Oh, and a few of their articles on business and the stock market are OK – if you ignore the oozing slime elsewhere.

  34. Sergey Says:

    Pure libertarianism always roots for anarchy and ridicules culture in general and all traditional social and government institutions in particular. The prime examples are Leo Tolstoy and Friedrich Nietzsche. Ayn Rand took a good part of her philosophy from the both. Another important source of this streak is, of course, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Here extreme left meets extreme right in one common point: paganism or atheism and rejection of Judeo-Christian moral. In more honest adherents of this streak this rejection goes further and (rightly) sees nothing inherently new in Christianity, which for them is just another sect of Judaism. So, they (rightly, again) see the real source of all they hate in Jews, both as a race and as a religion.

  35. Sergey Says:

    Anti-cultural crusade of Rousseau, his disciple Tolstoy, anarchists, nihilists and all liberal Left is based on pursuit of non-existent animal, that is, of non-oppressive culture. Such thing does not exist and, more important, can not exist. Culture by its very nature is inherently oppressive and repressive, and in Judaism is openly described as an Yoke of Heavenly Kingdom, a heavy burden taken voluntary by Chosen People as a part of Covenant. Christianity never objected this and only made this yoke universal, applicable to all its adherents. As a justification of this bargain it was claimed that the alternative, the yoke of Nature or paganism is much more burdensome and lacks a compensation such as salvation and eternal life.

  36. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I just made up a maxim:
    Excess leads to resistance; extremism leads to extreme resistance.

    Nextly, the difference between excess and extremism depends on one’s point of view. Which depends on where you are.

    If the city takes half of your backyard for a bike path, that’s extreme. If you hear the city took half of somebody’s back yard for a bike path, that’s excess.

    Given a little extreme or a lot of excess, one may begin to sympathize with libertarians. Once you find out they think they’ll be living off the grid with power from a perpetual motion machine and a rack of machine guns in the foyer, you may back off some. But….with sufficient excess and a bit of extreme in your own experience with government, you’re going to keep wondering…..
    The character of somebody like Rothbard will not be of much interest.

  37. sdferr Says:

    “Anti-cultural crusade” is a mighty funny way of posing Immanuel Kant’s introduction of the concept of culture in the modern sense into our language (following Kant’s own expression of his awakening on account of Rousseau’s influential inspiration to him). It may be a bad teaching to leave Kant aside, therefore, if one wishes to help our contemporaries themselves awaken to their own culture-addlement. Possibly too leaving out Mr. Hume’s role in anti-position to Kant. Either of these, I’d wager, are far more influential in American thought (whether the Americans recognize it or not) than the novelist Tolstoy.

  38. Frog Says:

    Sergey said nothing of Kant, or Hume. I appreciate the totality of his post. He did not post Philosophy 101, just some thoughts with relevant references.

  39. sdferr Says:

    Indeed, he said nothing about them, which was the point. If people can think about the origin of culture in their political discourse (and we can see there is quite the shit-ton of culture blather, everywhere), then we can believe they can think of Kant, and if Kant, then of Hume. This needn’t be a problem.

  40. Trimegistus Says:

    You want to hate and fear the “alt-right.” Conveniently, other people who also want you to hate and fear the “alt-right” have provided you with a villain to hiss: Emmanuel Goldstein. Oops, I mean Murray Rothbard.

  41. Sergey Says:

    The importance of Tolstoy is not that he has a major influence on USA, which he has not, but that the same cultural dynamics can be seen in modern USA as was on display in Russia 150 years ago. In a sense, USA recapitulates many things which lead to Russian cultural catastrophe 100 ago, and Tolstoy was a raw nerve of this catastrophe. Your nihilists repeat what Russian nihilists said and did, your bomb-throwers do what Russian terrorists did, and delusions of American liberal intelligentsia are almost the exact repeat of the delusions of Russian liberals. Watching current American politics is like a look from time machine to those who seen this all and now has a strong deja vue experience.

  42. Sergey Says:

    Today read brilliant text by Richard Fernandes on the topic:
    One of the literary precursors of the the left was Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor who saw his task as relieving man of the burden of meaningless freedom — since all choices are ultimately futile — and enclosing him in a bubble of perfect assurance. Only the Inquisitors knew the assurance was fake and nobly took the secret despair upon themselves to spare the masses the agony of doubt.

    In socialism’s 1930s heyday cadres were exhorted to bear on their shoulders the task of murder, genocide, deceit etc — so that the masses might be happy in their simple hopes for a Worker’s Paradise. The ones in the know knew the earthly paradise would never come. The Grand Inquisitor wore Chekist uniform but his function was otherwise the same. In 2016 the Inquisitors no longer shoot people but they still kept the secret. The reason the liberal project will never perform an autopsy on itself is because that would reveal there’s no there there. It’s the pretend that counts. The big secret the Left never wants to face is there’s no “arc of history” they control.

  43. OM Says:

    Sergey:

    Those serfs never knew how good they had it.

  44. Big Maq Says:

    “I agree with Geoffrey that the alt-right has risen in objection to the ant-white racism that is becoming the meme on college campuses and the aggressive feminism that has branded all white males as rapists or worse.” – JJ

    When looking at the election results and the switch, particularly in the rust belt, of those former dem supporters towards trump, it does seem to indicate the meme of “white privilege” that has dominated the culture the last several years, coupled with the economic loss these folks have experienced, provides fuel for an alt-r movement.

    Yet, how many of those voters are motivated by white identity (and other alt-r themes) vs their economic circumstance. It is one thing to vote for trump because they felt abandoned by the dems. It is another for them to “buy in” to the alt-r.

    It is on this point I am wary of any “Nature abhors uncorrected imbalance,” thus “the rise of the alt-r is a counterbalance.”

    The alt-r are doing their darnedest to make their framework the grand explanation for what is happening, but I don’t believe there is any “natural” fit for it, as one has to ignore or twist a huge amount of facts to make it so (e.g. “flight 93” case).

  45. sdferr Says:

    Heh, and along the lines of some mystical arc of history, together with unifying these various current questions of politics, “culture”, and political buzz-words (such expressions as “value”, “culture war”, even “liberalism” in its reconfiguration referring to leftists) see Steven Hayward’s short piece, “Liberals Having Second Thoughts”, its included quotes and links at Powerline this morning.

    Damon Linker, linked by Hayward there as attesting to a culdesac in identity politics (another of our associated buzz-wordings), writes of “dogmatic slumber”, and not for nothing.

    On merely American grounds, though, I sometimes think working (thinking) our way through the history of the National Mall in the District of Columbia — its development as a symbolic place and the things upon it — can be as helpful in understanding American politics and where that has gone, as aught else. Not to say this “thinking through” will tell us why American politics goes where it goes, but that the what of its going can give us an indication where to seek its why.

  46. Sergey Says:

    When so many resources were invested in identity politics, no wonder that White Identity movement emerged. How it could be otherwise?

  47. J.J Says:

    For a short summary of Steve Bannon’s ideas ands what he believes here’s an interesting story.
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/steve-bannon-trump-tower-interview-trumps-strategist-plots-new-political-movement-948747

    My take? He’s a believer in the idea that the business of America is business. He’s seen that the globalists have used cheap labor to reap big profits while beggaring the American working man/woman. What the globalists don’t get is that, when you kill the golden goose of wealth creation (mining, agriculture, oil&gas production, logging, hydro-power, electric power generation, fishing, manufacturing, etc.), the market (The U.S.A.) for low cost goods dries up. That is why the economy hasn’t recovered normally during the Obama years. Not enough wealth creation to expand jobs, opportunities, and consumption.

    Even with higher labor costs, U.S. companies can compete internationally if they pay less tax (15%) and are unencumbered by anti-business regulations that the progressives favor because they think it makes things more equal.

    I think Bannon’s nationalist economic views make sense. I’m not so sure about his idea for big borrowing to spend on infrastructure. Done right, (making sure the projects are ready to go, easing up on environmental impact studies, barring environmental legal challenges, etc.) such projects can create lots of jobs. I would prefer to see them paid for with user fees. (Gas taxes, bus and airline fare taxes, etc.)

    Done right it could be wildly successful. Done wrong it might hasten our path to national bankruptcy.

  48. Brian E Says:

    “During the campaign, Trump got away with everything from calling Mexicans rapists or promising to ban Muslims from entering the country. In fact, he won because of comments like that. The best political science evidence we have suggests that Trump mobilized a new coalition of white voters, particularly during the primary, who were positively attracted to Trump’s overt racism and bigotry.
    This coalition has now delivered Donald Trump the presidency. Appointing Bannon suggests that, far from running from this form of politics, Trump is doubling down on it.” –from Vox.com “Steve Bannon, the Trump adviser who spent years mainstreaming white nationalism, explained”

    To simplify is to exaggerate.

    I’ve never followed libertarianism, other than a brief exposure to the Rand classics and loved being counter-culture with “The Virtue of Selfishness” , but it seems to be a philosophy without much application.

    Rothbard’s influence seems to be more economic than moral and trying to make sense of the various libertarian factions is difficult. Libertarians are for open borders, except the faction that isn’t. That’s to be expected, I suppose, as trying to create a cohesive philosophy to guide oneself is bound to create conflict. At some point, we all have to resort to “I believe” and let it go at that.

    I’m not sure that Rothbard’s position on race has formed the extreme right congregated by what we traditionally refer to as racists.

    In his second of 16 principles, Vox Day formulates:

    “The Alt Right is an ALTERNATIVE to the mainstream conservative movement in the USA that is nominally encapsulated by Russel Kirk’s 10 Conservative Principles, but in reality has devolved towards progressivism. It is also an alternative to libertarianism.”

    I think you might want to go to Kirk to see what is driving a few/some/lot of the alt-right.

  49. Ray Says:

    “U.S. companies can compete internationally if they pay less tax”
    I owned a business and assure you businesses don’t pay taxes. They simply collect the taxes for the government by passing them on to the consumer as higher prices. So called business taxes are actually consumer taxes.

  50. The Other Chuck Says:

    Big Mag, you make an excellent point that the alt-right is claiming credit for something they had little or no hand in creating. Until a year of so ago no one had even heard of them. And without websites like Breitbart giving them a megaphone, they would have remained unknown.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    Sergey:

    About Russian and American history, please this and this.

    Also, about the Grand Inquisitor, I’ve quoted that passage many times. For example, please see this.

  52. neo-neocon Says:

    Trimegistus:

    Your comment is absurd.

    Nobody here wants to hate and fear the “alt-right.” In fact, I’d much rather they were 100% composed of wonderful people with great ideas and fabulous plans for the world.

    Nor does anyone here equate Rothbard with the entire alt-right, as has been made crystal clear many times. “Conveniently,” however, you ignore that.

    And I couldn’t care less what “other people” want me to think. Nor has anyone “provided” me with “a villain to hiss.” There is no two-minutes hate here, there is merely a look at a person whose views may be somewhat influential in the far-fringe white supremacist wing of the alt-right—a wing that exists and that is up to no good. It is Rothbard who made himself into a villain, not anyone else.

    It’s important to be aware and alert to these things and these influences. You seem to want people not to notice them.

  53. J.J Says:

    Ray: “I owned a business and assure you businesses don’t pay taxes.”

    Just so. The companies don’t pay taxes, their customers pay them as a cost of the product/service they buy. Why have corporate taxes at all if that is true? With the communitarian tendency so strong in our society, total elimination is impossible. The next best thing is to get them as low as possible.

  54. Sergey Says:

    Dostoevsky once wrote in his diary that he believes that the mission of Russia in the world was to give everybody a terrible lesson: what not to do. This lesson, it seems, mostly fell on deaf ears. The chapter in Karamazov Brothers containing the Legend about Great Inquisitor was censored out by the Church and printed only after abolition of censorship in 1908.

  55. Bill Says:

    Frog:

    I’m trying to reconcile these two statements from one of your comments upthread:

    “The Left uses Alinsky well: isolate, personalize, villify. Not my game.”

    and

    “The enemy stands unrepentant before us, hostile, lying, scheming and demagogic as always: the Democratic Party.”

  56. Brian E Says:

    I owned a business and assure you businesses don’t pay taxes. They simply collect the taxes for the government by passing them on to the consumer as higher prices. So called business taxes are actually consumer taxes.” – Ray

    When competing globally, corporate income tax has an effect on your competitiveness, along with labor and environmental regulations.

    If American companies are already saddled with higher labor costs, higher taxes and regulations are a drag.

    The company I work for was in the process of merging with a Finnish company because the corporate tax rate in Finland is 20%, so US taxes do affect companies. In a competitive environment expenses can’t necessarily passed on.

    The 15% rate is in line with other developed countries.

    As an aside, the personal income tax rate in Finland is 50% and the sales tax is 24%, and social security tax paid by companies is 23.6% while employees pay 8.45%

    The inversion talks broke down for several reasons, but one of the companies largest divisions was sold for cash and stock.

  57. Otiose Says:

    I’ll admit upfront to ignorance for most all of these quotes and anecdotes on Rothbard above. I have a much different impression of the guy. For one – another point of ignorance – I don’t know what the Alt-right is. Just based on a few YouTube samples I’m guessing it’s a new construct to smear the anti-establishment movement that so recently showed its teeth by having the effrontery to elect someone like Trump. The wiki entry on Rothbard seems light on the actual meat of his theoretical accomplishments.

    My first impression of the collection of horrible quotes of what he said and did is that it reminds me of someone taking Abraham Lincoln’s quote about what he really thought about Negros and ignoring the Gettysburg Address and everything else he did and said. Or, more recent when Trump said he would nominate Sessions for DOJ AG the smear campaign got underway about the KKK comment he made some 30+ years ago. I really don’t care. I like Lincoln despite many Austrian Economists not liking him and I think Sessions is a great choice for AG to help enact the agenda Trump got elected on.

    Rothbard: I was first introduced to him in his book ‘America’s Great Depression’ the last edition of which has a great intro by Paul Johnson. Johnson’s history of the American people for its economic framework seems to draw upon Rothbard’s theories. It’s fascinating how someone’s theoretical framework filters the facts they see. A Keynesian could not see the facts that Rothbard brings to the fore in this book. Rothbard’s interpretation beats the Monetarists and the Keynesian versions of that history.

    Another book that is worth the time is relatively short – ‘A History of Money and Banking in the US: the Colonial Era to WWII’, which makes it clear why the founding fathers were broadly in agreement on using gold as the basis for our currency – lessons forgotten. It details all the failed attempts prior to the Revolution to use paper money which all ended in hyper inflation.

    His book ‘Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays’ has an essay from the late 60’s in which in passing he explains why affirmative action policies promoted by the government and the Left are flawed in that they won’t achieve their nominal goals. I did not see anything in any of the essays remotely like the horrible quotes cited above from Wikipedia. Makes me wonder if that Wiki article is deliberately trying demonize or discredit him in order to make sure no one reads his actual works much of which is effective in discrediting the Left. However, flawed Rothbard’s Libertarian ideals it doesn’t diminish his commentary on the Left’s centralization goals.

    I’m reading off and on his two volume set called ‘An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought’. Most of modern core economic ideas about profit and capitalism (aren’t unique to Austrian economics) did not come easily and based on some samples listening to Reid and Warren still don’t.

  58. Frog Says:

    Bill:
    The two are not mutually exclusive. Alinsky did not rely on facts. He invented the politics of personal destruction. Personal.
    The Democratic Party is every bit of what I’ve written, and worse. Not personal at all.
    What part of my two comments do you disagree with? And why? Or are you just trying to grade my papers?

  59. Bill Says:

    Frog

    I see both camps absolutely demonizing the other. No one listens to anyone with a different viewpoint anymore. It’s just total war. The Alinskyite left thinks their opinion of Republicans is based on facts and logic as well.

    I’m a conservative without a team anymore. Never would be on Team Blue. Disgusted now with Team Red. Partisans on both sides are bitter enders, and the war is going to continue to escalate and escalate.

    So, yeah, I was calling you an Alinskyite. This kind of constant demonization is a cancer on our civic life and it won’t end well for most of us.

  60. Bill Says:

    Speaking of the alt right, this is an eye opener

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/us/alt-right-salutes-donald-trump.html?_r=2&referer=https://t.co/toXPRBbPtk

  61. Sergey Says:

    I blame Internet communications for coarsening of the tenor of political discourse and its growing disconnect from reality. If this virtual world is a mirror of real world, we must always remember that it is a very curved mirror, greatly distorting reality in the most random and unpredictable way and creating armies of bogeymen out of thin air. Every day some strange meme becomes viral and flooding all channels of communications, and than just as quickly fades into oblivion. This is a direct consequence of the network structure of the media and the fact that reading, coping and dissemination of any meme costs nothing in terms of money, effort and time. As a mathematician who studied epidemic dynamics I can assert this makes Internet an ideal vechicle of spreading panic, phobies and all other kinds of mental epidemics, even generating them from random noise. It is one thing to be vigilant to dangerous developments, and the other to become an easy prey of trolls and provocateurs, the ultimate attention whores.

  62. Sergey Says:

    Bill, the link you provided displays an article which ends by outrageous lies that Breitbart News is the main platform of alt-Right and that Trump campaign embraces them. Neither is even remotely true. This all is a Big Lie disseminated by all liberal media and repeated so many times that many people began to believe it. For a very well sourced debunking see
    pjmedia.com/spengler/2016/11/15/why-the-bie-lie-about-steve-bannon/.

  63. Bill Says:

    Sergey, my point was more about the alt right, not Bannon or Trump. It was a description of neo Nazism emboldened and out in the public now.

    I’ve read the competing stories about Bannon. I’ve concluded he’s a very nasty piece of work, a socialist to boot w his 1Trillion stimulus plan, and I have no idea what’s in his heart regarding racist feelings, but that the racist alt right is pretty thrilled to have him in his new position. I think both Trump and Bannon winked at the alt right and used them as a tool and they are now emboldened.

    But let’s get to some common ground – can we agree that this not something we want taking hold in our country? )(from the link above)

    But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

    As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.

  64. Sergey Says:

    Mr.Spenser and his organization are nobody. Any clown can gather 200 people for any ridiculous cause. Do you really believe that Nazi ideology can ever be popular in USA?

  65. Bill Says:

    “Do you really believe that Nazi ideology can ever be popular in USA?”

    Well, I don’t think it’s something to take lightly. I never thought Donald Trump could be elected President either. . .

  66. Bill Says:

    Addendum: Look, Sergey, there are commenters on this site who believe that an actual shooting Civil War II is imminent, and that we should suspend the first amendment because we’re in the moral equivalent of a war. I don’t think my views about the alt-right are all that extreme.

  67. Brian E Says:

    Bill,
    In some sense we already have diminished the first amendment in this country, though not suspended it.

    Hate crimes legislation, where speech is considered the equivalent of action is very much antithetical to free speech.

    How many colleges have imposed speech restrictions? Administration officials fired? Speakers shouted down with the tacit approval of administrators?

    Are you as much revolted by that as you are against racist speech? What do you propose to combat that?

    I think this is one reason why the alt-R may gain a following. Not so much for the overt racism, but because they have a philosophy of confrontation. When SJW’s scream, they scream back.

    You may abhor the tactic, but until we develop a way of pushing back, speech rights in this country will continue to diminish.

  68. Big Maq Says:

    “Bill, the link you provided displays an article which ends by outrageous lies that Breitbart News is the main platform of alt-Right and that Trump campaign embraces them. Neither is even remotely true. – Sergey

    “I think both Trump and Bannon winked at the alt right and used them as a tool and they are now emboldened.” – Bill

    I have to agree with Bill. There is plenty to quote of their own words and behavior.
    .

    “Not even remotely true”: An instance of using their own words, using the article reference Sergey is disputing, unless Mother Jones is making up bunion’s quotes from whole cloth, and NYT couldn’t be bothered to validate it (I wouldn’t say impossible, but then Sergey ought to link to a place showing bunion denying he said so), they quote HIM as saying:

    “We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July.”
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news
    .

    It is up to them to distance themselves from all this, through their words and behavior – the same way it became a question.

    trump’s one time “Stop it” on 60 minutes is rather minimal, and required a prompt, but it is a possible start, not enough to end the question.

  69. Big Maq Says:

    “You may abhor the tactic, but until we develop a way of pushing back, speech rights in this country will continue to diminish.” – Brian

    Brian, there are plenty of ways to push back, legally.

    But is “pushing back” all that some of these people really want?

    I have no doubt there are forces on all sides that want to (ab)use political power to advance their own personal agenda and benefit.

    THAT’S precisely why big government is a problem.

    It leaves the mechanisms of power available to whosever hand gets to steer them.

    Many are claiming their own “flight 93” case justification to go well beyond “push back”. That some of those voices are alt-r and a few in power now have been allowing those flames to be fanned for their own purposes is rather disturbing, as disturbing as how college campuses have become safe spaces for a leftist bubble.

    It’s no accident that both crowds want even more government intervention.

  70. Bill Says:

    “Are you as much revolted by that as you are against racist speech? What do you propose to combat that?”

    YES.

    I get really tired of “Bill, come on. We know a world ending meteor would be bad, but why aren’t you as upset at the prospect of our sun going supernova???”

    A truth to live by: Two things can be bad and unsupportable at once. Being able to think this way will really expand your outlook.

    Postscript: supporting the Alt-Right because they use the same tactics the left (that you despise) uses means that when they win you will have become what you hated.

    Addendum: the Alt Right and the Left are kind of the same thing in many ways. The only difference around here is an awful lot of you think the left should all be terminated with extreme prejudice but you’re kind of OK with the alt-right because they back your man.

    Sidenote: I mean, you’re personally opposed to anti-semitism and racism, but … those guys fight. So go team!! The enemy of my enemy is my friend!!

    “You may abhor the tactic”

    I do. How about you? Do we have common ground here?

    “but until we develop a way of pushing back, speech rights in this country will continue to diminish.”

    I agree completely. But “pushing back” by becoming the misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-semitic racist monster the left always thought we were is probably not a winning strategy in the long term. Even if you win, what have you won?

    Colleges that promote speech codes and kick out speakers who don’t agree with the liberal line are businesses that you need to not patronize.

    Your President-elect, on the other hand, continues to make noise about people who speak against him, using his usual long-standing habit of insults and veiled threats. Unfortunately, he now has his own military, Executive enforcement arm, weaponized IRS, weaponized Justice department, and a long history (even during the campaign) of threatening to open up the libel laws.

    The first amendment is a great guideline for colleges to follow, and I’m all for the Federal government tying strings to their grants and subsidies related to a college honoring the spirit of the First Amendment. But your guy IS the Federal government now. I want to hear him absorb, just once, critical or satiric speech about him from a newspaper or TV show without tweeting out insults and shouts of “Unfair!”. I want him to live and breathe fidelity to the First Amendment. I’d like to hear him to publicly disavow the white nationalist wing of the alt-right.

    Because the Federal Government is where danger to the First Amendment lies. And I don’t care if it’s leftish or rightish or if I agree or disagree with any restrictions that would be put on speech. The First Amendment needs to be unleashed in this country and we need to honor it.

    Politics is downstream of culture. So we need to work within the culture to change the trajectory. The alt-right appear to be successfully doing that and I for one am not optimistic about where this ends up.

  71. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Actual conversation with my mother:

    “Trump is the most divisive president we’ve ever had!”

    “Unless he starts a civil war, he can’t be. That honor belongs to Abraham Lincoln.”

    “I can’t believe you want a civil war!”

    “I can’t believe you would prefer a civil war to admitting being wrong about Trump.”

    And that’s why I’ll be spending Thanksgiving by myself again this year.

  72. DNW Says:

    “I’m a conservative without a team anymore.”

    That’s remarkable.

    I’ve been marveling for some time now at these frequently repeated expressions (assuming they are sincere) of an intense if frustrated desire to belong.

    Is that a conservative thing? Not being a conservative, I don’t know.

    But a Texan – and I lived there for a few years myself – should know that Naziism is about as congruent with western [geographically U.S.] cultural values as crying circles

    Cheer up. You would be lucky to fill a couple good size Beer Halls if you wrangled up every latent gay Nazi wannabe in the U.S. and dragged them into the same buildings. I believe I have met only one in my life, back when. And he was a late middle aged butcher; a Romanian refugee who got here sometime in the 50’s as youth. I guess he had been part of some junior Nazi boys club back in Serbia, or Romania, or wherever it was.

    Unless the German American Bund members produced some huge families, and stored them somewhere out of sight until Der Tag, it seems unlikely that you are going to come up with many non-leftist American kids who are really big into that kind of thing.

    On the other hand I run into wacko totalitarian leftists on a quite regular basis. They are currently parading in the streets and threatening to kill electors unless they vote for Clinton.

    Hell, we just had one of their leaders as president. There is now even a left-fascist social insurance “health care mandate” the “individual shared responsibility payment” named in honor of the ideology.

    In any event, if you figure that you can convert members of La Raza into Jeffersonian liberals with just a little TLC and argument, I am sure that you could accomplish just as much with some socially alienated twerp stomping around in Doc Martens.

  73. Brian E Says:

    “Your President-elect, on the other hand, continues to make noise about people who speak against him, using his usual long-standing habit of insults and veiled threats.” – Bill
    ____

    Kind of like Teddy Roosevelt, who changed the role of President in America. I’m sure you would have been just as appalled at him.
    ___

    How Teddy Roosevelt Invented Spin
    He used public opinion, the press, leaks to Congress, and Upton Sinclair to reform unconscionable industries, like the meatpackers.

    For decades after his death, Theodore Roosevelt was written off as a grandstanding performer—remembered more for his rhetoric than his accomplishments. H.L. Mencken, for example, bridled at Roosevelt’s grandiosity: “What moved him was simply a craving for facile and meaningless banzais, for the gaudy eminence and power of the leader of a band of lynchers, for the mean admiration of mean men.” Even Woodrow Wilson, once an admirer, came to regard TR as “the monumental fakir of history.”

    Over time, however, Roosevelt’s reputation changed. Many historians now agree that TR revolutionized the presidency. Previously, presidents had accepted the Framers’ view of the executive as an administrative office, with Congress the seat of policymaking. But Roosevelt’s vision required not just that Washington meet the “needs of the nation,” as he wrote, but also that the president take the lead in doing so. He embraced the job of leading the public, striving to discern the public interest and engage the citizenry directly. He courted publicity aggressively, not simply to boost his ego but also to effect vigorous reform. “Yes—it is true that TR liked the centre of the stage—loved it in fact,” wrote the journalist Henry Stoddard, “but when he sought it he always had something to say or to do that made the stage the appropriate place for him….”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/how-teddy-roosevelt-invented-spin/426699/

    Roosevelt would have been tweeting up a storm if such technology existed back then.

  74. Bill Says:

    “Kind of like Teddy Roosevelt, who changed the role of President in America. I’m sure you would have been just as appalled at him.”

    Well, I’m not a huge fan. But I don’t know enough about Roosevelt to have a strong opinion. And he’s not currently the President Elect.

    If you’re point is that my concerns about world ending meteors aren’t valid because I haven’t denounced the sun going super nova, then I guess you have a point.

    I was sincerely hoping for a conversation and perhaps some common ground. Maybe my response was too strong or sarcastic and that meant I don’t deserve one? Fair enough.

  75. Sergey Says:

    Big Mac: Bannon has his own definition of alt-right which is very different from the bogeyman Leftist press assumes. Since the real meaning of this term is very umbiguos and debatable, his alt-right and your alt-rigt can be two very different things.

  76. n.n Says:

    The so-called “alt-right” seems to oppose reconstitution of institutional racism and sexism under Pro-Choice/[class] diversity that judges/discriminates between people by the “color of their skin”. They seem to oppose progressive wars for social justice adventurism and securing natural resources. They seem to oppose trials by sodomy, abortion, and assassination. They seem to oppose opportunistic regime changes. They seem to oppose resetting the cold war with Russia and other nuclear powers. They seem to oppose immigration “reform” and other coverups of refugee crises and mass emigration. They seem to oppose sustaining and progressing the status quo of economic monopolies and practices including Obamacare. They seem to oppose destruction/redistribution of capital and labor through progressive debt and excessive leverage.

    I would hope that they oppose the Pro-Choice/abortion doctrine and other scientific mysticism used to normalize the termination of life unworthy of life.

  77. Brian E Says:

    Bill,
    I wish Trump wielded his tweets with a rapier instead of a battle ax.

    I cringe at times, but Trump speaking his mind is preferable to the measured response of the politician, always looking sideways at the polling.

  78. Brian E Says:

    Bill,
    The current iteration of conservative is a recent phenomenon and may fade into obscurity.
    Any philosophy of governance outside of the university needs to have an aim, grounded in reality. It’s a handbook, a guide, but it better produce results.

    It’s why I’ve never had any interest in libertarians. It’s a philosophy grounded in fantasy. Applied to reality it’s only path is anarchy or it’s equivalent totalitarianism.

    Whether Roosevelt’s new deal was the best course to stave off the more fanatical revolutionary elements wreaking havoc world-wide, in which case he did the country a service, or was the proverbial nose under the tent, in which case we’ve just prolonged the march to utopia, will be debated forever.

    What demonstrates to me the limitations of any political philosophy is the left’s obsession with trying to bring socialist/communist “equality” here when it’s failed so miserably there. Any philosophy that doesn’t account for the evil lurking in the human heart is doomed to failure– unless totalitarianism a feature, not a bug.

    Even traditional conservatism relies on an acceptance of a common morality to succeed. What’s the chance of that succeeding at this point in history?

  79. Big Maq Says:

    “Trump speaking his mind is preferable to the measured response of the politician, always looking sideways at the polling.”

    You really think he is not looking at polls?

    News to me.

  80. Bill Says:

    “Any philosophy that doesn’t account for the evil lurking in the human heart is doomed to failure– unless totalitarianism a feature, not a bug.”

    Agree 100%.

  81. Bill Says:

    Regarding Trump’s tweeting – I think it’s actually very strategic.

    I, of course, support the cast of Hamilton exercising their right to petition government for the redress of grievances, but they handed Trump a gift.

    His response to that and all the controversy that ginned up knocked his Trump U $25MM lawsuit right off the front page. Exhibit #1049322039 as to why our press SUCKS. They’ve been “squirrelled!” by Trump about a million times in the past 18 months. I don’t like the guy but man is he good at that.

    Regarding the Hamilton controversy, Mike Pence was the only one talking rationally. “This is what freedom sounds like” – yes.

    Way better than Trump’s “Unfair! Apologize!” tweets and all the Republican snowflakes on their fainting couches because an actor deigned to speak respectfully about his concerns and the concerns (as he saw them) of non-white Americans to an elected official. New found respect for Mike Pence from me (I still look at him as a politician who sold his soul for power but I realize there’s at least a chance I’m misjudging him.)

  82. Big Maq Says:

    “Any philosophy that doesn’t account for the evil lurking in the human heart is doomed to failure”

    The dichotomy with that is with placing one’s bet on stronger, more centralized power in one political office, headed by one person.

    You have elsewhere advocated policies that depend on people who are not only benevolent / empty of this “evil”, but somehow knowledgeable enough and smart enough to figure out the optimal policies.

    Human fallibility is with us forevermore. Seems the Founders saw this and sought to create a system that limits the exercise of centralized power.

    Power is not some Excalibur sword that only those of pure heart can wield it.

    We have and will continue to hear all kinds of calls from all quarters of how the future would be “better” or “safer” or …, if only we could use that power for xxxxx. Red vs Blue.

    Like the light to flies, it is irresistible to many, and all kinds of justifications can then be made for its acquisition and use against others, as those lumped together “others” are in some way the incarnation of the “evil” the acquirers claim to oppose. Red vs Blue.

    Some call that “libertarian”, IDK. In the end, power is a tool, and the more we let a few have of it, the less we will ultimately have.

    Just the way I see it.

  83. Ira Says:

    1.

    Frog Says:
    November 19th, 2016 at 9:49 pm
    ***
    After Fiorina and Cruz caved, I got aboard the Trump train, and I have no regrets. Sessions as AG! Wow and hallelujah! As best I can tell, I was/am one of a small pro-Trump minority here.

    We traveled similar paths.

    2.
    I think the alt-right is a non-issue.

    3.
    Now that a self-identifying Republican is entering the White House and conservatives and/or Republicans control the House and the Senate, Republicans have the chance and the obligation to show what they can do.

    4.
    So far, I like Trump’s appointments.

  84. Brian E Says:

    “You really think he is not looking at polls?

    News to me.” – Big Maq

    I don’t think so.

    Here’s the transcript of an interview he gave Bob Woodward and Bob Costa in April.

    He talks in the interview about the thought process he had in choosing to run for president. Talking to himself. I think that’s the same process he uses in his speeches (and even tweets). Now I’m not sure he has actual conversations, but people process decision making in different ways. Some people do it internally, some people make lists.

    He talks about people trying to influence his reactions, mostly to temper them.

    It will reassure you or scare you.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/04/02/transcript-donald-trump-interview-with-bob-woodward-and-robert-costa/

  85. Brian E Says:

    “The dichotomy with that is with placing one’s bet on stronger, more centralized power in one political office, headed by one person.” – Big Maq

    Come on, Big Maq. There are branches of government. And they’re going to spring to life when Trump is president.

    Even Orin Kerr is willing to cut Trump some slack.

    “My biggest fear with Trump is that he ran as an authoritarian who would ignore the rule of law,” said former prosecutor Orin Kerr, who previously described himself as in the “Never Trump” camp. “But Senator Sessions is no authoritarian, and the announced members of the transition team are mainstream and establishment GOP.”

    Sessions nominations has the civil rights division hugging teddy bears and seeking safe spaces.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/jeff-sessions-attorney-general-civil-rights-division-exodus-231646

  86. Bill Says:

    Brian E

    There’s nothing mainstream about Steve Bannon. I don’t know who’s favor Orin Kerr is trying to carry, but that’s a ridiculous take.

    As far as safe spaces. There are people on this very site who will run to their safe space if I say “Syrian Refugee”. Both sides have their fears. Of course, liberal college admins brought it on themselves by actually instituting literal safe spaces. Dumb. But as I mentioned earlier I had conservative friends freaking out about the audacity of the Hamilton cast spending one minute talking to Mike Pence. They seemed to need their safe space too. And I long for the good old days when conservatives thought it was Great to take politicians to task. It’s nice to live in a country where we can still do that.

    Some safe space talk is loony. For others I begin to consider that maybe I think the alarm some people feel is dumb just because as a white guy I don’t particularly feel threatened. I might feel different if my situation was otherwise. The whole walking in others shoes for a mile thing applies.

    The jury is out on Sessions for me.

    Regarding Never Trumpers. I followed a number of them on Twitter. Most have jettisoned that stance now that Trump is the PE. They now sound just like you or any other Trump supporter.

    2016 – the year spines disappeared.

  87. Brian E Says:

    Bill, what are your reservations about Sessions?

    My reference to safe spaces with supposed to be derisive.

    As to the Hamilton thing, Neo has a good take on it.

    No safe spaces here!

  88. Big Maq Says:

    “Come on, Big Maq. There are branches of government. And they’re going to spring to life when Trump is president.”

    Come on, yourself. You are advocating policies that are just as much reliant on centralized power as the left wants.

    In a team red world, of course, a GOP dominated Congress will largely go along with what trump wants, despite their opposite positions on many of those in years past.

    I have little doubt that trump would extend well beyond obama on use of executive orders and similar means, had the GOP not retained control of Congress. The GOP would be behind him all the way.

    Remains to be seen, come 2018 and beyond.

  89. Brian E Says:

    “I have little doubt that trump would extend well beyond obama on use of executive orders and similar means, had the GOP not retained control of Congress. The GOP would be behind him all the way.” – Big Maq

    Big Maq, the government you idealize doesn’t exist and certainly hasn’t existed since Coolidge. I suppose you can dream.

    No laissez-faire president is going to be elected. And even if one were elected, so much authority has been ceded to the bureaucracy and the Fed that the government will meddle anyway.

    Nixon expanded government yet block-granted funds to the states.

    Reagan promised limited government, but was unable to deliver on the promise. Was it a Faustian bargain to build up the military?

    GW Bush certainly wasn’t your guy.

    No doubt the business executive will bristle at the reality of his limited powers and will try and extend them. Whether they will have the same corrosive effects that Obama has had in such a short time remains to be seen.

    Over at Never Yet Melted, jdz had these thoughts:

    “I’d like to think that the Sessions appointment is leading to not only firings, but explicit reversals of Obama “Second Reconstruction Era” policies, in particular the disavowal of Russlynn Ali’s “Dear Colleague” Letter and a new proclamation warning universities that this administration will withhold federal funding unless all the Sexual Harassment Star Chambers set up in compliance with Russlynn Ali’s edict are shut down and sexual harassment witch-hunting is suspended forthwith.

    Then, the Sessions Justice Department should turn to finding out whether it is possible to prosecute some of that department’s previous officials.”

    http://neveryetmelted.com/

    He was a never/probably not/OH NO! Trumper during the campaign.

    Is their a possibility there will be some pushback to the leftist insanity in our colleges? Is this surreal hallucination we have been suffered the past few years going to end? Is it going to take a authoritarian to wrest back some control of our society that the left has seized?

  90. OM Says:

    Brian E:

    Condensed version – I like big government (or won’t complain) when it’s “OUR” big government. Everyone has failed to roll it all back so just roll over. 🙂

  91. Brian E Says:

    OM,

    Since you’re going to get big government, whatever your particular philosophy, it might as well be government that benefits the most people.

    A thriving economy fits the bill, not some moribund, artificial economy measured by the stock market and not by GDP growth).

    And a thriving economy should have lots of good paying, productive jobs at the base.

    I do think we should pay for whatever size government we choose, so, in that respect I’m nervous about a $1 trillion dollar infrastructure bill. That said, we’ve ignored infrastructure, preferring to spend it on fluff.

    I supported Kasich in the primary because of his experience with the federal budget. Trump has other priorities, though as a businessman, I don’t think he’ll ignore the deficit.

    There are so many challenges facing the country, I might have preferred a different priority list, but it all has to get done.

  92. Big Maq Says:

    “No laissez-faire president is going to be elected. And even if one were elected, so much authority has been ceded to the bureaucracy and the Fed that the government will meddle anyway.” – Brian

    And that’s a reason to support big government interventions?
    .

    I may find GOP candidates less than ideal on several measures, but most have largely been campaigning on “less government”.

    I’m not expecting “purity”, but trump has been a huge exception of recent generations, deliberately co-opting many dem policies / positions.

    A great many, particularly in the “conservative” media, only 12 months or so ago, complained that the GOP too often sought to expand their support by trying to adopt “me too, dem-lite” positions. Often, that ended with cries of “RINO!!!”

    So now, all is good, in pursuit of getting elected (“Winning!!”)?!
    .

    trump won some of the disaffected dem voters in the rust belt and elsewhere to eek out an ecv majority.

    My question is, with policies that are likely to disproportionately impact those voters (e.g. oil price supports, trade embargo on ME oil, etc), what are the chances of retaining them long term?
    .

    My other question is, since many would be GOP voters being evidently “lost” this election, what is going to attract them back?

    This is critical, as, while clinton devastatingly lost millions of previous dem votes this election, we cannot count on that to be the same in future.

    A large portion of those GOP voters who didn’t come to trump have to be attracted back to counter the gains the dems are likely to make.

  93. Brian E Says:

    “My other question is, since many would be GOP voters being evidently “lost” this election, what is going to attract them back?” Big Maq

    How did George Bush get re-elected after it became abundantly clear with No Child Left Behind and Part D Medicare that George Bush was a big government liberal?

    Where were those limited government conservatives then?

  94. OM Says:

    All the talk about the Gramsian march through the institutions of academia, K-12, the arts, the press which of course is part and parcel of a big government approach to “solving” the problems that have been ignored too long. But is mainly about power and control of the people. And yet Brian E is all good with big government “solutions” now that Trump is in charge. It didn’t take long to embrace the tipping point. Come aboard, the water will be fine.

  95. OM Says:

    The limited government conservatives were being ignored and didn’t like it. If you recall GW Bush was fighting two geographically constrained wars and a third war of global extent. While dealing with a disloyal opposition and trying to placate the non-limited government types. Have your forgotten the daily body count tallies, the Scooter Libby farce/Colin Powel’s machinations, Katrina, and of course Valerie Plame? But all will be better with Yuge Gubment and 1 trillion in stimulus/infrastructure (payoff to the big unions and CE/AE firms).

  96. Brian E Says:

    OM, let’s see if we can agree on one thing. The government provides the framework for our economic system to work.
    Since I can’t personally audit a bank before I deposit my paycheck, I rely on the government to oversee the bank’s solvency.

    What is the minimum amount of regulation necessary for the system to work efficiently? That’s where the disagreement begins. What are the things that we can’t do as private citizens that we want done?

    So we end up believing that one of us wants the government to do too little, and the other wants the government to do too much.

    I’m going to be disappointed, as will you over the next four years, just as we were during the Bush administration, I suspect.

  97. OM Says:

    Brian E:

    As in FDIC and Dod Frank and the Saving and Loan regulations?

    As in Fannie and Freddie, unsecured derivatives, housing bubble,,,,yet it provides the framework for our economic system to work.

    Actually, it seems our economic system is still working in spite of the framework, so far anyway. Just how it is IMO disappointment or not.

  98. Brian E Says:

    OM, Yes those. Sometimes they seem too restrictive, sometimes not enough, like the 2003 Bank Modernization Act that allowed the 5 investment banks to essentially self-regulate within the CSE.
    Whatever the rule, people will push the boundaries and figure out ways to defeat it. That’s the nature of people.
    Our economy wouldn’t function without a sense that there are rules to our transactions and recourse when the rules are broken.

  99. Ymarsakar Says:

    “Unless he starts a civil war, he can’t be. That honor belongs to Abraham Lincoln.”

    Since it was the Slave lords that started CW2 over the issue of federal rights and spreading slavery to the US territories, that honor belongs to somebody else entirely.

  100. Ymarsakar Says:

    Why is OM transforming into a kinder, gentler, version of his true self now of all times. He should go back to the months of the Republican primaries, and go with the truer, meaner, grittier version, as that fits OM better.

  101. Ymarsakar Says:

    Trimegistus Says:
    November 20th, 2016 at 10:29 am

    And what proof does Trim have that he had Alt Right views before he ever heard of the Alt Right… otherwise he’s just regurgitating online culture memes now that’s he has enough Courage to Return here to comment.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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