If they can't read how can they read Kos?

In a post called "Where are the Libertarians on FISA?", Kos writes:

For all the talk of "freedom" that the Paulbots claim to believe in, they sure as heck have been silent on the horrible FISA bill we're fighting to fix in the Senate right now. Same for Ron Paul. Why the silence? And the CATO people and the libertarian publications like Reason, where are they?

Here we are engaged in a huge civil liberties issue, and progressives are being forced to fight this thing alone. It's easy to talk about "liberty". It's much more impressive to actually do something about it.

I don't know if he means Libertarians as in the Libertarian Party or libertarians generally (a distinction often lost on outsiders), or Ron Paul fans, who have slight overlap with the first two. Nor if he realizes that Ron Paul is running for the Republican nomination, as a commenter pointed out. Plus, to me, the answer is obvious what a Libertarian opinion of FISA would be. Plus, anyone who cared to check would find what Ron Paul's take on it is.

What's really silly is the comments. There are quite a few comments like this one:

Why do Libertarians care so much about liberty from taxes, but not from oppression or government interference in one's private affairs?

If they genuinely gave a crap about civil liberties... well, they wouldn't all be Republicans, anyway.

And this one:

The truth is that many so-called liberatarians just don't really give a damn about civil liberties. Do you think your average 25-year-old white male frat boy Paultard cares about anything other than taxes and some obscure idea that the "government has to get off my back" so he his natural superiority will allow him to express his inner codpiece.

And this one, which would be hilarious if a presumably real human being didn't actually think it:

~60% of libertarians merely use the term as a more benign version of Republican/conservative. They have no problem getting behind social conservatism, and unlike Paul, the war/Patriot Act/wiretapping/irresponsible taxation and ruining people's lives with things like the death penalty and the War on Drugs.

And, bizarrely, in light of the previous comments:

I'll say it again -- "libertarians" are simply wingnut Republicans trying to describe themselves in more fashionable terms. That's all they are.

Having been a libertarian since I became politically aware, I wonder what the hell these commenters are talking about. I've met people who self-describe as libertarians from all over the country, and while there are a few bad apples (a problem not unique to us) I am genuinely puzzled by what caused these Kos readers to form these impressions.

In all the places I've been, calling yourself a libertarian was not fashionable among conservatives, and you could easily show your differences by talking about the complete legalization of all drugs, or by talking about how the government should get its filthy hands off of the institution of marriage entirely, or any of a number of other things.

Moreover, the Democratic Party has offered only token resistance to Bush's many requests for tyrannical powers before approving them for more than six years now, with no signs of slowing in 2008. They continue to throw a media-directed temper tantrum each time war funding comes up for vote before--you guessed it!--aligning with Bush every time.

If any of them read this, let me go on record here: As a libertarian, I oppose any and all warrantless wiretapping. I further oppose the concentration of police power in monopolistic hands, a move guaranteed to fuck over the least powerful in society, the people abandoned by Republicans and Democrats alike. I want to legalize any drug you can name, as fast as you can name it. While we're at it, let's open the borders.

Does that illuminate a libertarian position on civil liberties for you?

Next episode: libertarians point out that the government legally stacks the deck in favor of the corporate mode of organization!

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Big ups to the Beltway?

I haven't checked out the Kos thread, but perhaps they'd get the wrong impression from "libertarian" defenses of FISA like this one (from the "Beltway" crowd):


(This comment's subject courtesy of Micha: http://distributedrepublic.net/archives/2008/01/11/treating-sunk-costs-sunk )

Gotta love the argument from

Gotta love the argument from authority at the end

The Federalist's authors, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, all agreed. 

Silly me, if Hamilton and Madison agree, how could it be possibly wrong !



>In all the places I've been, calling yourself a libertarian was not fashionable among conservatives

I just graduated from college and there was definitely a tendency for statists of left or right to call themselves libertarian. Conservatives would do it if they wanted less government than Bush did and I guess progressives did it to sound more radical. But that doesn't excuse the blatant ignorance shown by the writers of those comments.


Do you have a link for the Kos thread?

Ask and ye shall


I inserted the link.


I was staring at that page the whole time but that part must have slipped my mind. It's certainly more helpful now.

old Kos

I saw this guy talk a few weeks. My impressions from a Libertarian viewpoint on my link . . .


My favorite comment was from Buzzer, who claimed libertarians don't exist: "There is no such thing as a libertarian. It's simply a fictional concept put together in the abstract for purposes of argument, but there are no actual, real senitent [sic] beings who actually believe in classic 'libertarianism', as we academically understand the word. The word has simply drifted in meaning to describe warmed-over Republicanism. It's a way for embarrassed Republicans to claim a hipper label."

"The truth is that many

"The truth is that many so-called liberatarians just don't really give a damn about civil liberties. Do you think your average 25-year-old white male frat boy Paultard cares about anything other than taxes and some obscure idea that the "government has to get off my back" so he his natural superiority will allow him to express his inner codpiece."

I never joined a frat.

Nor I

Yeah, thinking back on the college libertarian club, I think we had one member out of a dozen who was a frat guy, and the rest of us constantly ripped on him for it.  I mean, what's more collectivist than that?  We were, however, all white and all male.  Like most frats, we did drink a lot, but that's because we didn't want the chimpanzee to feel lonely when he did his tequila shots.

Something big missing from the quoted comments above is acknowledgement of the huge amount of (often quite strident) atheism in libertarian circles.  That clearly cuts libertarians apart from Republicans, and indicates that, while similar, the libertarian is a different genus entirely.  I have never understood the why for the correlation, but it's a significant one nonetheless.

I think many libertarians

  1. I think many libertarians are not born in libertarian families, therefore they need to overcome their political loyalty to become libertarians. Thus, they are also more likely to become atheist which also often requires overcoming religious loyalty.
  2. Rational and analytical mind...
  3. Many religion teach respect towards established authority.


Yeah, that pretty much exhausts the list of typical candidates, plus Micha has a theory about spontaneous order being akin to evolution, which is clever.  All the hypotheses are possible, none are convincing.

"No god nor master" is also

"No god nor master" is also a usual suspect. Although libertarians claim to respect natural authority I think they tend to be mostly anti-authoritarian. Non serviam !


An atheist rejects the heavenly divine (God). A libertarian rejects the earthly divine (the state). They both involve a loss of faith, in different spheres.


After being convinced by Will Wilkinson on some AFF roundtable talk on atheism and religion that most "agnostics" are in fact atheists who wish to avoid the negative reaction wrapped up in that word, I suppose I'm an atheist too.

But the whole secularism vs. religion thing isn't a priority for me, and in fact if anything I'm sympathetic to the religious folks, seeing as how in the 21st century it is they who are more often than not the subject of political assault. The political class, as a subset of the ruling class (in the tradition of Mosca) in the wealthiest states of the first world assuredly, and even in most second and third world nation states, have been disproportionately attracted to either secularism of the nationalist, social democratic or Marxist bent, and the victims of these regimes more religious. The book by Mark Jurgensmeyer on secular states vs. the religious masses has good info on this. Peter Berger's comments about "a nation governed by Swedes" comes to mind.

I come less from a conservative background in my defense (not advocacy) of religious folk, and am rather more influenced by leftist defenders of pluralism, critical of the imposing secular state ala France. Talal Asad, etc. Criticism of Humanism as a quasi-religion of its own, exalting the abstraction called Man and using the vehicle of the state as the great proselytizer, is also no small influence.

You're missing the point

The issue is not whether you libertarians and associated groups have formed an opinion about the FISA travesty. The point is that the left-wing blogosphere has been actively organizing and lobbying our Senators to actually make a difference. We've made hundreds of thousands of phone calls, emails, and faxes and have been fighting this issue hard. And it sure would be nice to get the participation of CATO/Reason instead of having to do this ourselves with the ACLU and EFF. That's the point. We know you agree with us, but there has been no activism or help from your side to actually affect the outcome of this battle.