Thursday, August 27, 2015

Oh libertarians. You're always wrong.

My FB friend Corey Robin got another shout-out from the Mighty Krug-Man the other day:
Actually, nothing — because those alleged principles were never real. Conservative religiosity, conservative faith in markets, were never about living a godly life or letting the invisible hand promote entrepreneurship. Instead, it was all as Corey Robin describes it: Conservatism is
a reactionary movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace.
It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars.
Krugman referenced that Robin piece before as I talked about here. It's a very good piece.

The funny thing about Krugman giving a nod to Robin is that every time it happens a bunch of Robin's Facebook friends say something like "Congratulations Corey for the mention, and BTW, Krugman is a running dog of capitalism and a big poopy-head."

Many of Robin's friends consider themselves Marxists or anarchists or some other such useless leftist posturing. So it's especially amusing that Krugman was criticized by a libertarian for being an extremist leftist and a big poopy-head. Someone named Kevin Vallier at "Bleeding Heart Libertarianism" writes:
Krugman’s opponents aren’t just wrong: they oppose fundamental moral and political values (equality) that any reasonable, decent person should accept. How are Very Serious Progressives like Krugman to share a country such individuals? Krugman’s answer is clear: support state power to crush conservative policies and criticize their intelligence and character. 
It is easy to see the moral vice and animus in the post. Krugman dehumanizes his opponents by refusing to regard even some of them as fundamentally well-motivated and informed. Conservatives are foes and nothing more.
He doesn't even say Krugman was wrong to characterize conservatives that way - apparently to accurately describe conservative views is to "dehumanize" them.

I think this is the key to the whole thing: "Krugman’s opponents aren’t just wrong: they oppose fundamental moral and political values (equality) that any reasonable, decent person should accept."

What really bugs Vallier is the notion that anybody would believe that equality is a value that all reasonable decent people should hold. Krugman has values, and expresses those values, and Vallier finds this unacceptable.

And of course it's deeply ironic that any libertarian would complain about someone dehumanizing opponents - their heroine Ayn Rand specialized in dehumanizing her ideological opponents - anybody who doesn't believe that hasn't read "Atlas Shrugged." I talked about that in 2013:
The most prominent feature of Atlas Shrugged is its extreme binary view of the world - it is the most common criticism of the novel: the good guys are uniformly physically attractive and skillful and smart, the bad guys are uniformly unattractive (even Lillian Rearden who is constantly described as having "dead eyes") and stupid and incompetent and cruel. It is this extreme dichotomy that renders the novel ridiculous to so many people. Atlas Shrugged has been jokingly compared to The Lord of the Rings, except, the punchline goes, that LOTR "involves orcs." But I would argue that Rand so dehumanizes her ideological opponents that in fact Atlas Shrugged and Lord of the Rings both involve orcs.

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