Monday, February 27, 2006

Ok, So You Wanna Be A Phucktard

digamma in the past expressed wishes to be a Wingnut All-Star. I told him he'd have to work harder. Well, he has been quite the busy wingnut beaver.

In comments to this post, digamma, eager to defend not so much Randroids as wingnut economic principles, calls bullshit on Johann Hari's assertion that "Rand is the only novelist whose work has been read by every single US Congressman":

That is almost certainly bullshit, and calls into question any other generalizations the writer makes about the US.

If you read the rest of Hari's piece, you'll see why digamma reacts the way he does. Hari's accuracy on the literacy much less taste of Our Rulers is not the issue so much as the generalisations Hari makes on the state of social darwinism in American policy. Even if policy-makers haven't literally read Rand's novels, they've internalised her philosophy: an obvious conclusion that digamma must deny.

digamma's general schtick pretty much consists of denying that propertarianism and social darwinism are the legs upon which modern libertarianism, his ideology of choice, stands.

Taking semi-seriously the argument that genocide instantaneously and eternally damns the ideology that causes it, he then is compelled to strenuously if laughably deny that laissez-faire murdered the Irish and that propertarianism, quite as much as any other ideological instigation, was responsible for the genocide of the mostly communitarian if not communist American Indian. According to digamma, the former was caused by protectionists and the latter caused solely by nationalists; thus he neatly preserves libertarianism from condemnation and at the same time deals a blow to his mortal enemies, fair-traders and "statists".

The thing is digamma is not a glibertarian nor, most of the time, is he an overt propertarian. He just defends such people when he sees that an attack on them will damn the "true" libertarianism to which he swears fealty. He is not, then, a walking lying typing abomination like Glenn Reynolds and his immitators, Republican hacks who hide behind "libertarianism" so that they may say when called on their bullshit, "But I'm independent!"

But then neither is he so much different from them as he may think or wish. Sarcastically, in response to my various and admittedly uneven diatribes against libertarians, he's accused me of building strawmen, of unfairly attacking all libertarians, of making gross generalisations based on "the libertarians you see when you close your eyes."

Actually, my eyes are wide fucking open: Neal Boortz; Glenn Reynolds; Stephen Green; Jeff Goldstein; Eugene Volokh; John "Make Shit Up" Stossel; Thomas "Kidneys R Us" Sowell (whom I heard on Michael Reagan's show blame post-Jim Crow blacks for everything they ever were dealt from White America), whose ideas on selling body parts William Shockley would find thrilling; the Pinochet-loving CATO goons; the Von Mises "Scrooge was right!" Institute; the Alito-loving, cheering-at-police-beating-hippies, Randroid fuckfaces at Reason; Matt Chomsky-And-Vidal-Are-Bigger-Menaces-Than-George-Bush-and-the-Neocons Welch; and, last but not least, the most vocal libertarian at mine and digamma's common site, the absolutely horrible David Nieporent, a character so vile, whose politics and personal pronouncements are so odious, it is only with the slightest hyperbole that I say he's worse than Hitler, Pol Pot, Osama bin laden, Stalin, Ted Bundy, and Gilles de Rais combined. Mine eyes indeed have seen the glory of their goring of the poor, their raising of their skirts to plutocrats, these propertarian whores.

I'm not making strawmen*: these idiots have made themselves. At best, these fucks have ostentatiously retarded judgment; more likely, they would, as readily as any Stalinist or fascist, just as soon wipe their posterior with the Bill of Rights, or support a Dear Leader who uses it for TP, all in all amounting to the same thing. And secretly and not so secretly, they take joy in the suffering of the poor whom they regard as inferior: our society, in their estimation, is a meritocracy so those who haven't enjoyed success are eating their just dessert. digamma would say that these idiots are exceptions. Are they? Libertarians are insane. Period. And just because a precious few are anti-war, or, like Jim Henley, are honest enough to admit they underestimated the damage Bush would do vis-a-vis their traditional dread of the "damage" the left could do doesn't redeem the general ideological cretinism that is part and parcel with people who claim with a straight face that the New Deal was totalitarian or that the Swedes have created a terrible, liberty-destroying society. One can still be a batshit wingnut without being a Republican hack.

Maybe digamma doesn't understand what libertarianism is? It's possible. Here, after bitching about the hurdles a poor poor business has to go through to set up shop, he offers a stunning admission:

I think we can have government that makes sure poor, young, and old people get food, shelter, education, and healthcare. I don’t think that requires making people get approval for every god damn thing they do. So my brand of left-libertarianism will accept government that’s big in SIZE in return for government that’s small in SCOPE.

A safety net is very different from an obstacle course.

To which I sarcastically replied, "But that's Socialism!" And so it is. digamma's prescription couldn't be more dialectically-opposed to what libertarianism is or what it has come to mean. You can't be for any social spending, for any altruistically-purposed government funding, and still be a libertarian.

Shorter RETARDO so far: digamma has a huge contradiction he's not even bothering to resolve.

When I attempted to define and codify propertarianism, digamma replied along the lines of, buhbuhbuh but you're just reverse-engineering actions from ideology when it's not all that clear-cut. He implied that it was merely accident that Friedmanite libertarians chose property freedom over personal freedom. But I demonstrated a pattern; my whole point was that it's not accidental but rather consciously causal: Friedmanite libertarians, aka propertarians (who comprise the vast vast vast majority of those who self-identify as libertarians) will always choose property and autocracy (Chile, China, Singapore) over soft socialism and personal, non-economic freedom (Netherlands, Sweden, Canuckistan, where one has privacy and speech) because they, whether they admit it or not, value property more than anything else: if any rights are to be mitigated, the last for them is the right to property, hence its obviously superior value in their calculus.

But the point is not another re-hash of propertarianism, but the fact that digamma can't admit the obvious crassness (the right to property trumps the right to free speech, privacy, and existence -- i.e. freedom from starvation and death due to absence of medical care) of his chosen ideology. He refuses to acknowledge that such crassness is the inevitable product of libertarianism's Spencerian roots in social darwinism. This denial has many repercussions, one of which is his silly insistence that Randianism is unrepresentative of mainstream libertarianism when it is, in actuality, its essence.

However, it is no doubt difficult to admit a crassness that one so fundamentally shares. Here's an example:

One of my favorite refutations of libertarianism is the assertion that without government in our lives all the time, life would be like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

Note the sarcastic tone: only an idiot would think that the events in Sinclair's novel, taken as they are from the historical record, demonstrating such flagrant forms of human misery, single-handedly caused by the social darwinist, laissez-faire policy of the time, would refute libertarianism! I mean, really, when libertarianism enabled child labor, horrific working conditions, soul-destroying poverty, and death-dealing consumer products (about which Sinclair famously described in nauseating detail), what reasonable person could conclude that such was a powerful argument against libertarianism? It boggles the mind!

A particularly disturbing scene in the novel is when an unmarried couple decides to buy a house and live there with their three children! In the laissez-faire nightmare, no government agency was there to stop them. Fortunately, we now live in a more enlightened time:

Note the reference to "an unmarried couple." He writes this as a sarcastic joke but it also serves the purpose of establishing his libertarian bona-fides: he's no prude. Implicitly, he's arguing (speciously) that neither were the libertarians of old, so weren't they the cool South Park libertarian cats?

And then to the ostensible point of his post; he quotes from the St Louis Post-Dispatch:

Olivia Shelltrack finally has her dream home. Her family moved into the five-bedroom, three-bath frame house in Black Jack last month. But now she fears she and her fiance face uprooting their children because of a city ordinance that says her household fails to meet Black Jack’s definition of a family.

His sarcastic conclusion, then, is inevitable: "Thank God for government regulation!" See? If it weren't for the horrible horrible "statists" wanting to outlaw child labor, create the Pure Food and Drug Act, eventually come up with OSHA and the EPA, and if it weren't for labor unions agitating for better working conditions and higher pay, stupid laws like the one preventing this family from moving into their house would never have come to pass! So bring it all back, and let the poor persecuted meat packers in Sinclair's novel -- so exactly like the meat packers in the historical record -- go back to building their corporate shantytowns stuffed with starving immigrants; let them have the freedom to grind wholesome rat meat, raw sewage, and the occasional human finger into their fine sausages and canned hams; let them employ 12 year old boys and demand that they work 80 hours a week! Good god, anything but government regulation!

In other words: the wrongs suffered (a denial of possession) by the family in his St. Louis example are of a greater magnitude than any (intentionally not mentioned) suffered by Sinclair's subjects, thus the economic and social milieu in which Sinlair's subjects acted is preferable to the one in which the St. Louis family lives. Here we are again, the right to property > the right to accurately labeled food that will not kill you upon its consumption, the 40 hour week, pollution and safety standards, any other right under the sun. What was it I was saying about propertarians?

And here he is indulging, like so many other libertarians, in cynical agnosticism about global warming. While it's true that most libertarians, in my experience, are hardcore deniers of global warming, the agnostics and "sceptics" (who could have been forgiven 15 or 20 years ago, but not any more) aren't much better. Note the moral equivalence: each side, according to digamma, believes what they want to believe, nevermind that the basis for one belief is science; for the other, greed.

Then there's free trade, for digamma the sine qua non of universalist dogma: fair trade is not just stupid, it's the tool of Satan. Actually, in his allegiance to free trade, too, what's obvious is not so much principle as propertarianism. His "right" to a good car absolutely trumps the right of a Vietnamese woman to not get braindamage from glue fumes in a shoe factory, the right of a Chinese to not work with a gun to his temple, the right of a Brazilian to not be kicked off his land to work on a corporate farm, etc. Put another way, his "right" to self-determination -- in this case being a better consumer market for whatever product -- trumps the rights (no quotes) of self-determination for Third Worlders who are forced, through their unrepresentative and/or corrupt governments, to accept neo-liberal shock therapy.

Which brings me to popular soveriegnty, a concept crucial to democracy and one to which libertarians are congenitally averse. When I blasted an idiot Virginia politician for wanting to ban low-rise jeans soon after I'd praised another state or city level politician for standing up to Wal-Mart, digamma was quick with a "gotcha" attempt. Why, that's inconsistent, he argued. But it wasn't, and here we come to the crux of the matter for American libertarians: wretched souls, they must hate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The protections in the constitution against state power, against democracy run amok, are Jeffersonian, not Friedmanite. The very preamble endorses "providing for the common defence, promoting the general welfare". This latter, along with the commerce clause libertarians (and, for years, the Supreme Court) knee-jerkly belittle, plainly contradicts the central libertarian concept of separation of government and economy. The right to property simply isn't protected as fiercely in the Constitution as are the Jeffersonian rights to free expression, free assembly, privacy, fair trials, religion. Moreover, the rights guaranteed in the Constitution were meant for people, not for property (corporations) masquerading as people. Thus The People, through their government representatives, do have a constitutionally endorsed right to popular soveriegnty over the realm of business; and if such right is exercised, aside reasonable protections against eminent doman abuses, in a way that lessens the right to property, then libertarians must accept this, accept that George Mason not Uncle Miltie created the Bill of Rights, or go fuck themselves. Naturally, digamma would rather not fuck himself, so he continues to pretend that the Constitution is a propertarian document, causing him to make silly attempts at "gotchas", and to otherwise share in the dim view that libertarians hold for democracy.

*Okay, maybe I am in Nieporent's case. But only slightly; he really is an awful awful human being.