Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Kochtopussy

...........though I'd always thought of the brothers Koch as more Blofeld than Khan.

My personal distaste for libertarianism is rooted in dislike of its moral principles and disdain for its impracticality, but gets a big boost from the idea that libertarians are really just front men for the oligarchy.

The Cato Institute probably had as much claim to intellectual seriousness as any of the right wing "think" tanks - by which I mean a little, but not much, and apparently had some people in it who occasionally allowed an independent thought to invade their minds. This was apparently too much for the brothers Koch, who used their money and power to stage a putsch against the management. Noahpinion has a masterful dissection:

Given my history of critiquing libertarianism, it would hardly be surprising if I felt a flash of gleeful schadenfreude to see the dismay with which so many movement libertarians are reacting to the Koch takeover of the Cato Institute. But I don't. I just feel sad. Here are a bunch of smart people who truly, honestly believe in their worldview - a worldview that shares some key elements with my own - discovering for the first time that they are in fact merely a proxy army for people who don't take them or their worldview seriously at all.

To those of us outside the movement, the fact that libertarians are a proxy army has always been painfully obvious. The key piece of evidence was always the set of issues that libertarians chose to emphasize. Most Americans share the belief that civil liberties are good, war is to be avoided, and high taxes are bad. But the fact that our country's libertarian movement spent so much time fighting high taxes and so little time fighting the encroaching authoritarianism of conservative presidential administrations was a clear sign that some priorities were seriously out of place. Should we really be more afraid of turning into Sweden than turning into Singapore? The contrast between libertarians' continual jeremiads against taxes and their muted, intermittent criticism of things like warrantless wiretaps, executive detention, and torture was a huge tip-off that the movement was really just some kind of intellectual front for America's right wing.

The thing is, the soldiers in this proxy army didn't seem to realize they were a proxy army. They appeared, and appear, to truly believe in their synthetic ideology; they seemed deeply convinced of the Rand/Nozick idea that taxes and environmental regulation represented a more dire threat to human freedom than the authoritarianism that had been the bane of earlier freedom advocates since Enlightenment.

Read the whole thing.

Hat Tip Eli R