The spirit of progress
The American left continues to spiral down into madness, unable to cope with the reality of life here in the grim darkness of the far future. Everything president Trump does or says sends them into paroxysms, which is great fun for those of us whose job it is to make fun of stupid things people said last week. Particularly fun is the president’s ongoing feud with the news media, which has recently reached such a pitch of hilarity that the president has actually begun banning the mainstream press from official White House news conferences, preferring to rely on so-called "alternative" news outlets and the endless stream of comedy that is his personal Twitter account.
The mainstream media being so thoroughly demonized and disgraced is rather a new experience, though it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch of worthless petty tyrants. Why do I say that? Well, here’s MSNBC’s other resident hag, Mika Brzezinski, to explain for you.
Because, since apparently nobody else is willing to do it, it falls to me to defend Milo Yiannopoulos. After years of gleefully dismantling the shibboleths of political correctness and getting away with it, Milo has finally gone too far; in a podcast appearance recently, he had the audacity to poke at the taboos surrounding pedophilia, which was, to be sure, a very poorly thought out decision. Milo, of course, is used to having the correct identity cards to say outrageous things and get away with it; in this case, he probably should have considered that the homosexuality card is a positive detriment, as homosexuality and pedophilia have been linked in the popular imagination for so long that a prominent homosexual playfully discussing pedophilia pushes all the wrong buttons with the conservative crowd. That is the politically correct line you do not want to cross.
Yet cross it he did, and the reaction was swift and fierce: his CPAC speech was canceled, his book deal was withdrawn, and he was resignated at Breitbart. Milo is sufficiently energetic and sufficiently entrepreneurial that I suspect he’ll survive it, but he’s lost a lot of cachet over this, to the point where even his friends seem to be distancing themselves from him. Since I’m already a pariah, though, I don’t fear the hornets’ nest; I’ll dive right in there!
I’m not prepared to let go of this Richard Spencer thing just yet. Sorry, everybody who’s desperately sick of it, but it’s hip, topical stuff that exposes a quite frankly worrying trend in the liberty movement. Quick recap for the benefit of anybody who has wisely ignored my previous diatribes on the subject but who has foolishly chosen to read this one: The International Students For Liberty Conference was this past weekend, and a faction of students in the SFL calling themselves the "Hoppe Caucus" invited Richard Spencer to come get together with them at a bar near the conference to discuss his ideas. Mayhem then ensued, Jeffrey Tucker got involved, and then everybody got kicked out, which is a win for liberty because it made it harder for Richard Spencer to talk to people who wanted to talk to Richard Spencer, and I guess we’re supposed to think that’s absolute aces.
That’s not really what I came to talk about today. I came to talk about this one narrow little concept that I’ve seen echoed in a lot of libertarish responses to the Spencer fiasco. Because he’s handy, I’ll pick on Robby Soave again, but this is purely illustrative; Soave is nowhere near the only person saying things like this.
We all had a good laugh at Jeffrey Tucker’s expense the other day, when he got the usual Bumbling Bees treatment: I found a goofy picture of him, artlessly slapped a DC Funk Parade foam finger on it, and then made fun of a stupid thing he’d done. I was prepared to leave it there; I’m a merciful guy, after all, and I’m sure that, now that he’s been shamed in Last Week in Weird, Tucker will renounce his madcap ways and return to being an actual principled libertarian with a functioning sense of irony.
Then Robby Soave had to open his big mouth.
A man and his dream
The International Students For Liberty Conference has been an annual event for ten years now. The conference, organized (expectedly enough) by Students For Liberty, is a three-day event featuring a number of libertarian — and, let’s face it, libertarish — speakers on a wide range of topics. It’s open to the public; one doesn’t have to be a student to attend. Indeed, the conference web site positively encourages attendance by non-students, as it suggests that one of the primary goals is to connect young libertarians with established "professional" libertarians. Networking, I think the buzzword still is.
So. Aces. It’s also worth noting that Students For Liberty has anticipated the factional squabbling among libertarians; they state unambiguously on the conference web site, in response to the goofy question "Am I ‘libertarian enough’ to attend":
Definitely. Students For Liberty prides itself on taking a "big tent" approach to promoting liberty. This means not only that pro-liberty people of all types and backgrounds are welcome to join in the fun, but also that there’s no requirement to have prior knowledge of libertarian thought, economics, or any particular approach to liberty. We’re all here to learn and ISFLC is meant to bring together many different approaches to liberty. We’d love to have yours represented!
So everybody is welcome, regardless of his ideology.
Everybody except Richard Spencer, that is.
Contra Reason’s Nick Gillespie, the best thing that happened for the liberty movement in 2016 — indeed, arguably the only good thing in what was otherwise a catastrophic year — was the sudden explosion in popularity of the wonderful libertarian mantra "taxation is theft." In addition to being absolutely true and correct, this is also a powerful slogan that portrays libertarianism at its best, as a philosophy that does not waver and does not compromise with evil for political expediency.
So, naturally, there are libertarishes who hate it.
Ah, congress. That branch of the government most beloved by rubes who’ve convinced themselves that they’re being represented, have ever been represented, and should be represented. Speaking for myself, I’ve never been represented in my life; still and all, I’m compelled to admit that there is probably a significant constituency that is quite thoroughly represented by good ol’ Maxine Waters, arguably the stupidest congressman in history.
Poor Maxine. She can’t even get anti-Trump hysteria right. Here’s a charming presser she gave last week in which the press corps deliberately baits her into saying completely false things, and she fails to notice.
Years back, I was arguing philosophy with a friend of mine, and he asserted that the difference between us was that he would be willing to embrace socialism in a heartbeat if it could be shown that people would be better off under socialism, but that he didn’t believe I would. Uncharacteristic though it may be, I had no response to that; on the one hand, I surely don’t want to believe that I would gladly condemn the human race to immiseration before I would back down from my libertarian purism, but, on the other hand, I really cannot conceive of a reality in which I would endorse socialism.
This gave me quite a bit of trouble. As I’ve written before, if there’s a conflict between your ethical system and the survival of mankind, surely the former and not the latter is the problem. How was this to be reconciled with deontological libertarianism, though? Am I compelled to become a utilitarian?
Putting his money where his mouth is
How the man finds the time to do all these things is beyond me, but, prior to his rather eventful evening in Berkeley, right-wing troublemaker and official Donald Trump #1 Fan Milo Yiannopoulos (whose name I can finally spell under my own power) headed to the southern border with a crew of shirtless musclemen to get started building that wall we’ve heard so much about.
No, that’s true.
"This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley," Mike Wright of Berkeley College Republicans, the group that invited Yiannopoulos to the campus, said outside the student union building as smoke bombs went off around him.
As he spoke, someone threw a glass bottle of red paint at him. The bottle shattered and splattered paint on his clothing. "It’s sad," he said.
Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak to a sold-out crowd at Berkeley a few days ago. His speech never occurred. Let’s be blunt: the reason for this is that Berkeley is infested with barbarians. Which may come as a surprise to the sort of person who believes the mainstream press, the barbarians don’t come clad in "Make America Great Again" hats swilling from cans of Bud Light as they drive their pickup trucks to Super Bowl parties. Quite the opposite. The barbarians wrap themselves in rainbows, carry signs about love and peace and unity, and then smash windows, spraypaint their slogans on other people’s buildings, assault innocent people, and set fire to the campus. Welcome to the modern left, where tolerance has become what it beheld.