Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 23, 2013

Kinder, Küche, Kirche propaganda in Bookforum

Filed under: feminism,journalism — louisproyect @ 6:03 pm

Nick “Shoe Polish” Gillespie

Jonathan V. Last–mugshot taken at time of intellectual prostitution arrest

Over the past couple of years I’ve taken out subscriptions to a handful of edgy, left-leaning print journals that satisfy my appetite for better quality writing that cannot be found on the Internet: Bookforum, The Baffler, and N+1. I generally ignore the fiction and reviews of fiction found there and look for the social and political commentary I am addicted to. There’s an overlapping group of writers and editors that can be found in these journals including the ubiquitous Chris Lehmann and Choire Sicha, both of whom I encountered first on awl.com, a website that incorporates the same Young Turk sensibility that can be found in these print publications but sometimes makes me wonder if their unstated goal is to become as influential as The New Yorker Magazine. I hope that does not sound too cynical.

Lehmann is the editor of Bookforum, a magazine that was the progeny of Artforum, a publication of little interest to anybody like me who steers clear of Chelsea galleries, the Whitney Biennial, etc. Two days ago the April/May issue arrived in my mailbox and the table of contents looked promising. There was an article by George Scialabba, a sort of intellectual’s intellectual, on Camus’s newly published “Algerian Chronicles”, a collection of his wartime journalism. As someone with an intense interest in the Sartre-Camus wars over pacifism, French colonialism, etc., I was looking forward to sitting down with a glass of Johnny Walker’s Black Label and the article.

But what was that just three entries below Scialabba’s in the table of contents? What the fuck? Nick Gillespie reviewing some book about “America’s Coming Demographic Disaster”? Gillespie is the editor of Reason Magazine, a Koch-funded libertarian publication that fancies itself “rebellious” after the fashion of Spiked Online in Great Britain. In fact Gillespie has adopted the slightly punkish look of many Spiked writers, wearing a black leather jacket for his occasional Bill Maher appearance. My only advice to this 50-year-old man is to stop dyeing his hair. The shoe polish tint is just a bit too Reaganesque.

My first reaction to spotting this article in a magazine I paid good money for was akin to seeing a hair on an entrée that had just been delivered to my table at a pricey restaurant. It turned my stomach. At least in a restaurant I could send the dish back but what was I supposed to do with the Bookforum? Send it back to Chris Lehmann with instructions to replace Gillespie’s article by something written by Scott McLemee or Liza Featherstone? Fat chance of that.

After taking a swig of Kaopectate, I sat down to read Gillespie’s article. I figured that Lehmann, being a pretty smart young fellow, might have seen some wisdom in it that made it worth publishing. Boy, was I wrong.

The article begins with a reference to Paul Ehrlich, the neo-Malthusian who wrote a book about “the population bomb” in 1968. According to Jonathan V. Last, the author of “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster”—a book whose message Gillespie is touting, the opposite problem is looming:

As Jonathan V. Last notes in What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, Ehrlich was so way off that it’s stunning anyone ever took him and his neo-Malthusian assessment of overpopulation seriously. There were no mass starvations, and the famines that occurred all had political, not agronomic, causes. “What’s so wonderful about Ehrlich’s silly book,” writes Last, a senior writer at the conservative Weekly Standard,” is that he was wrong at the exact moment when the very opposite of his prediction was unfolding.” Total fertility rates, or the number of babies a woman is expected to bear over the course of her life, were already declining in the United States, but starting in 1968 “they sank like a stone.”

They continue to. By 1979 the global fertility rate was 6.0, and now it’s 2.52, according to UN data. All first-world countries are already below a 2.1 rate, the “replacement level” needed to keep a population constant, and fertility rates are plummeting through-out developing nations as well. “Today,” writes Last, “only 3 percent of the world’s population lives in a country whose fertility rate is not declining.” The UN projects that world population, currently around seven billion, will peak over the next eighty-five years between ten billion and twelve billion people before starting a long and inexorable decline.

I for one am worried more about the world’s population peaking at between ten billion and twelve billion in the next 85 years than I am about the “long and inexorable decline” afterwards. With the enormous strain on water and other natural resources with our current population of seven billion, what can we expect with a near doubling of that population, particularly in light of the greenhouse gases that will be produced to sustain the consumerist life-styles extolled by the idiotic magazine that Gillespie edits. Of course with funding by the Koch brothers, one can hardly expect that to matter much.

But the title of the book reveals Last and Gillespie’s true agenda: America’s loss of power due to a declining population. He cites Stalin’s attempt to increase the fertility rate in the USSR by awarding “Motherhood Medals” to women who bear six or more children, as well as Japan’s stipends and cash bonuses to women who agree to be breeders for the fatherland. Ah, just what an edgy magazine like Bookforum should be up to, giving space to books that fret over the consequences of women deciding that their bodies belong to them and not to the state.

Indeed, Last’s primary interest is in America being able to remain a hegemonic power in the face of declining population, as his April 23, 2012 Weekly Standard article would indicate. Even though it references Japan, it is clear that the U.S. faces the same dilemma:

Population is the wellspring of power, both economic and military, and the reordering of global power is…inherently destabilizing. Consider Japan. Faced with some of the lowest fertility rates on earth, Japan’s population has already begun aging and shrinking…In a sense, Japan could fall into the same trap that Western Europe already faces: the inability to formulate proportional military responses.

So you get the idea, American women have to have more babies in order to be able to police the world better.

Last also sides with the Catholic Church’s opposition to Obamacare on the grounds that its right to control a woman’s body took priority over any government health plan, biased as it was to corporate interests:

It is now a requirement of Obamacare that every Catholic institution larger than a single church—and even including some single churches—must pay for contraceptives, sterilization, and morning-after abortifacients for its employees. Each of these is directly contrary to the Catholic faith. But the Obama administration does not care. They have said, in effect, Do what we tell you—or else.

God, I feel like Larry David in that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode with the hair stuck in my throat. At least that hair was a result of enjoying oral sex with his wife. Mine is the result of reading Kinder, Küche, Kirche propaganda in a magazine that I spent good money on.

35 Comments »

  1. thank you,
    less ppl less consumers less profits; or plus more ppl less money easier soft (neo-lib) control ~ hegemonic to be sure

    Comment by William Crain — March 23, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

  2. Hilarious! I was thinking, even before I read your remarks, that this guy is too old for that look.

    Glad I don’t subscribe to this trash. Good old fascism, always wanting more breeders, less choice. Anyone who is concerned about declining population should be sent to live in one of the world’s worst slums. Oh, I forgot, those brown people don’t count; what is truly worrisome is a declining Caucasian population. This crap makes me sick.

    Comment by Tobysgirl — March 23, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

  3. Right, Tobysgirl. It’s more white “realist” hand-wringing about the coming “Demographic Winter.” After all, if a white person has a baby but it’s not a white baby because their partner isn’t white, then it’s not a real baby. :-/

    As for Reason magazine, I retch every time I see a place like Boing Boing fall for its faux hip, anti-“nanny state” stories.

    Comment by aspergum — March 25, 2013 @ 12:42 am

  4. Not surprising. The Feb/March issue showed up with a long review by the Weekly Standard’s senior editor Christopher “Muslims are ruining Europe” Caldwell on Angus Burgin’s Hayek praising The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets Since the Depression. I’ve let my subscription expire – the mundane to good ratio has dipped decidedly in favor of the former.

    Comment by Rick — March 25, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

  5. Immigration to the U.S. is drying up because of the shitty economy. That will play a much larger role in any demographic decline the U.S. has. Net immigration from Mexico is now zero, despite what you we hear about everyone wanting to be in the good ole U.S. It’s simply not true.

    Same with the young professionals from Asia who study here , many are going home not because they can’t get a visa (despite what Bloomberg, et all say), but because they see the future is back at home.

    Comment by purple — March 26, 2013 @ 4:31 am

  6. You suggest Gillespie endorses a Stalin-esque forced breeding policy, when an actual reading of his review shows the opposite opinion. Have that mote in your eye checked.

    Comment by Walt G — March 28, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  7. Wow. I mean, I know one has to be a real scumbag to have a different opinion of the proper role of government in society, but one usually has to go to Free Republic or Red State to get a taste of such thoughtless, knee-jerk, ad hominem attacks in this post and the comments here. I guess it’s easier than considering arguments, before you disagree with them.

    I’m not a libertarian by any stretch, but their positions on criminal justice, foreign policy, and civil rights are more liberal than those of the Democratic Party.

    (Also, Gillespie doesn’t dye his hair, but don’t let facts get in the way of your junior-high judgment party.)

    Comment by LJM — March 28, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

  8. You suggest Gillespie endorses a Stalin-esque forced breeding policy,

    Sorry if I did not make this clear. It is Jonathan V. Last who is into the women as breeder paradigm, but more out of what appears to be a Catholic tradition–although I can’t be sure he is like that other skunk Ross Douthat. Gillespie’s libertarianism does not seem to extend to the right of a woman to control her own body apparently. He feels that Stalin medals, stringent laws, etc. are not feasible but does not address the question of principle. Here’s Gillespie dismissing abortion rights as a “culture wars” intrusion into more important questions: http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/29/is-obama-an-abortion-absolutist-and-why. I can only guess what they are. Snot-nosed rich kids getting their taxes reduced? The Koch brothers enjoying the right to spew greenhouse gases even if New York City ends up looking like Atlantis?

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  9. (Also, Gillespie doesn’t dye his hair, but don’t let facts get in the way of your junior-high judgment party.)

    That’s a relief to find out. I still would advise him to lose the black leather jacket the next time he is on the Bill Maher show. I understand that he is trying to look “edgy” but his Koch Brothers politics would be better suited to a boxy Brooks Brothers junior exec’s special and a regimental tie.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

  10. Since Gillespie is anti-war, pro-drug legalization, and pro-gay marriage, I guess he conflicts with Obama, who bombed Libya, was anti-gay marriage until five minutes ago, and prosecutes the drug war with more vigor than Bush did. Is this why he drives you to rant before you even read?

    You write: “[Gillespie] cites Stalin’s attempt to increase the fertility rate in the USSR by awarding “Motherhood Medals” to women who bear six or more children, as well as Japan’s stipends and cash bonuses to women who agree to be breeders for the fatherland. Ah, just what an edgy magazine like Bookforum should be up to, giving space to books that fret over the consequences of women deciding that their bodies belong to them and not to the state.”

    Go back and read the article again: in no way does Gillespie endorse this, either here or in ANYTHING he’s ever written. He’s simply agreeing with Last that government incentives to breed don’t work, even when they are draconian. You are one intellectually lazy motherfucker.

    Comment by dkenner — March 28, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

  11. Is this why he drives you to rant before you even read?

    Are you one of those people who thinks that Obama is a Marxist? That’s the only explanation for you assuming that I have anything in common with him or would prefer the liberal arsenic to the libertarian strychnine. Frankly, I am not interested in what motivated Gillespie to review Last’s encomium to breeding. My problem is with Bookforum giving a forum to a book that espouses the values that are destroying American society. It is a book by an anti-abortionist. Unlike the average Catholic knucklehead who thinks that a fertilized egg is a human being, Last is more interested in the geopolitical ramifications of a declining demographic. He sees a rising population as key to continued American domination of the globe, as I pointed out. I am sorry that my pointing this out upsets you. Can you imagine how I feel with the Koch brothers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to spread their rightwing filth, starting with Reason Magazine and the Cato Institute? My little blog has the balls to call Gillespie and Last creeps and all of a sudden their defenders swarm down like a plague of locusts.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

  12. Louis Proyect,

    Your superciliousness fails in comparison to your actual comprehension. Gillepsie did not dismiss “abortion rights” or even advance a position that suggests he is opposed to “abortion rights”; he simply stated that since the tide in popular culture was increasingly in support of abortion, that the Obama admin was using it as a wedge issue to inflame weakening divisions, rather than focusing on other more severe matters at hand.

    You may not agree with Gillepsies’ positions, but if you’re intent is to be taken seriously as a public intellectual, you at least owe it your opponents to present their views objectively, and save the flashes of snarkiness for when there’s an obviously stated position to contend with.

    Comment by Stephen Perry — March 28, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

  13. Mr. Proyect, some of your criticism seems a bit ad hominem.
    Last is anti-abortionist, Gillespie gets funding from the wrong sort of people and both of them are creeps… I’d think a Marxist would be more sympathetic towards those with unpopular views.
    And you seem shocked that a Bookforum would provide a forum for a book. The “geopolitical ramifications of a declining demographic” is certainly a topic worth discussing and someone whose philosophies and prejudices are open and well known would seem the ideal reviewer.
    I’d rather see more on your thoughts of the book’s thesis and less on your cultural allergies.

    Comment by Walt G — March 28, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

  14. You “for one” can feel free to fret over the Neo-Malthusian concerns brought to the table by an erstwhile lepidopterist, even now, four decades after his predictions have proven not just false, but ludicrous. Just as free as you can feel to be unrepentant in your Marxism, even now, sixteen decades after his predictions have proven not just false, but ludicrous. You have that freedom because the mixed ideological bag of America isn’t quite as murderously inclined against dissent as Marxists have proven. I still see a pattern in your thought, that rational people might find disconcerting.

    Fascist “loss of hegemony” concerns [which appear to concern Gillespie little from his writing] notwithstanding – how about the plain fact that the society producing the current conditions has produced a time period in which more people than ever before can access almost any information at almost any time? We’re living in what is approaching a utopia full of unprecedently long-lived individuals, unlike any period in human history prior, and you prefer to retrumpet empirically false rants of decades past decrying the existence of humanity generally? It’s sad to see crazy so willing to demand attention. Oh wait, your “big relief” is that Gillespie doesn’t dye! Well, never mind then, your priorities are straight. From start to finish, down to being unable to say something simple like “Apologies, my mistake, I misjudged his hair” I found your writing nauseous.

    Comment by Kevin Wagner — March 28, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  15. Gillespie gets funding from the wrong sort of people

    That’s right. Anybody who takes funding from the Koch brothers should be horsewhipped.

    Plus, a quick check at reason.com revealed an item that establishes the magazine’s imperialist mindset no matter the assurances that it is “antiwar”. Check out the blast at Hugo Chavez written by Thor Halvorssen, the president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation.

    http://reason.com/archives/2013/03/23/hugo-chavezs-legacy-of-conflict-and-prop

    It could have been written by one of the stooges on the WSJ editorial page like Mary Anastasia O’Grady. The Human Rights Foundation has one hell of a toxic board of directors, with Cold Warriors like Vladimir Bukovsky and Elie Wiesel on board. Plus, the late James Q. Wilson, the architect of Mayor Giuliani’s racist “broken window” policing measures.

    You people make it sound like Reason and Nick Gillespie are daring dissidents when they reek of the American Enterprise Institute, The Hoover Institution at Stanford, the Cato Institute, and every other well-funded think-tank spawned by the Olin Foundations, the Koch Brothers, and every other rancid plutocrat anxious to turn the U.S. into something resembling the Victorian England of “Oliver Twist”.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  16. “That’s right. Anybody who takes funding from the Koch brothers should be horsewhipped.”

    Well, at least that’s a step down from the usual Marxist tactic of lining philosophic enemies against the wall and shooting them.

    Comment by Walt G — March 28, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

  17. We’re living in what is approaching a utopia full of unprecedently long-lived individuals, unlike any period in human history prior, and you prefer to retrumpet empirically false rants of decades past decrying the existence of humanity generally?

    Yeah, ain’t capitalism great… It’s people like you that make me want to throw a brick through my TV screen every time some idiot like Nick Gillespie, Penn Gillette or Tucker Carlson shows up on the Bill Maher program. Don’t you know how lame you people are with your Atlas Shrugged, your Hayek manifestos, your grubby materialism, your snot-nosed hatred for poor people? It is hard to believe that educated people can worship mammon the way you do, making tax cuts the defining issue for civilization.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

  18. Among those begging for a whipping are the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History.

    Comment by Walt G — March 28, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

  19. Well, at least that’s a step down from the usual Marxist tactic of lining philosophic enemies against the wall and shooting them.

    Actually the last time a “Marxist” government got involved with mass killings was in the USSR under Stalin. Meanwhile Pinochet, with his advisers from the Chicago school, killed Victor Jara for the sin of singing leftwing folk songs. And here’s reason.com claiming that Pinochet and Milton Friedman had nothing in common: http://reason.com/archives/2006/12/15/the-economist-and-the-dictator

    That takes a lot of gumption considering the fact that Pinochet’s economic advisers were all from the U. of Chicago. From Wikipedia:

    The Chicago Boys (c. 1970s) were a group of young Chilean economists, most of who trained at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, or at its affiliate in the economics department at the Catholic University of Chile. The training was the result of a “Chile Project” organised in the 1950s by the US State Department and funded by the Ford Foundation, which aimed at influencing Chilean economic thinking. The project was uneventful until the early 1970s. The Chicago Boys’ ideas remaining on the fringes of Chilean economic and political thought, even after a 500-page plan based on the Chicago School’s ideas called El ladrillo (“the brick”) was presented as part of Jorge Alessandri’s call for alternative economic platforms for his 1970 presidential campaign. Alessandri rejected El ladrillo, but it was revisited after the 1973 Chilean coup d’état on 11 September 1973 brought Augusto Pinochet to power, and became the basis of the new regime’s economic policy. Eight of the ten principal authors of “The Brick” were Chicago Boys.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

  20. Among those begging for a whipping are the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History.

    Recipients of the Koch brothers largesse while my fucking unemployment benefits just got cut by 10 percent. The robber barons have been funding museums since the days of J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. Compared to human garbage like the Koch Brothers, these guys were St. Francis of Assisi.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

  21. “Yeah, ain’t capitalism great… It’s people like you that make me want to throw a brick through my TV screen every time some idiot like Nick Gillespie, Penn Gillette or Tucker Carlson shows up on the Bill Maher program. Don’t you know how lame you people are with your Atlas Shrugged, your Hayek manifestos, your grubby materialism, your snot-nosed hatred for poor people? It is hard to believe that educated people can worship mammon the way you do, making tax cuts the defining issue for civilization.”

    I am poor, o Carnac the Wise; certainly not by some sub-Saharan standard, but nevertheless by the standards of the society in which I live, which is thankfully high. I don’t have the self-loathing problem, nor do I preface my every thought with “how will this advance my self-interested narrative?”. By the way, is dialectic materialism better than the grubby kind? So sorry to find myself made of material rather than Hegelian bullshit. You do understand that ad hominem is a logical fallacy, right? Not truth preserving? Epistemic trash? Certainly not the form of the mind of God and all? I wonder if you dye your hair?

    And that crack about tax cuts is laughable in the face of your hatred for the principle of free association of the individuals you’d be claiming to champion. Capitalism, laissez-faire and not the statist proto-socialist mess that exists, is predicated upon respect for individual right to choose in voluntary trade. Fuck taxes as a defining issue, how about just gettting your nose out of your neighbors’ assholes for having the audacity not to flee the instant you start telling them how they should be living their lives? How about rejecting the state as the sovereign overlord of the individual’s body and activities, much less the dictatorship of the proletariat?

    Bluntly, I see you as a sad joke upon the world of thought. It’s a toss up whether your unselfaware, hypocritical hatred of the market success that enables you to spew your nonsense across the ether or your completely unselfaware advocacy of Marxist assault on individual rights as you whine about transfer payments is more maddening.

    Comment by Kevin Wagner — March 28, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

  22. “Recipients of the Koch brothers largesse while my fucking unemployment benefits just got cut by 10 percent. ”

    Those benefits are going to be cut much more deeply as our birthrate continues to fall. I think it’s hilarious that you complain about overpopulation, and then in the next breath, complain that your unemployment check is not big enough for your taste.

    Comment by retiredlady@mac.com — March 28, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

  23. “Actually the last time a “Marxist” government got involved with mass killings was in the USSR under Stalin.”

    Yeah, China’s authoritarian slavery of its people, warmongering, summary executions, etc., well who would even pay attention to that? Ba’athist Iraq as an explicitly socialist regime murdering upwards of 200,000 Shiites? Meh. Is Asia even part of history? The real outrage is that US citizens don’t want to spend much of their working day paying other people not to work and that business owners offer low pay for unskilled labor. Pay proportional to productivity in jobs freely offered? Outrage, I say! The real outrage is Pinochet’s self-contradictory cloaking of an outright dictatorship in capitalist veneer. Sheesh.

    Comment by Kevin Wagner — March 28, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

  24. “and every other rancid plutocrat anxious to turn the U.S. into something resembling the Victorian England of “Oliver Twist”.”

    Terrible Victorian England spawning the terrible Industrial Revolution paving the way to the terrible Internet allowing this Marxist stooge to contradict his rhetoric with his every action. Why would we blame ethically untutored people reproducing themselves without concern for consequences for the plight of orphans, rather than free economic association which has plainly increased quality and length of life wherever it’s been practiced? O tempora, o mores!

    Comment by Kevin Wagner — March 28, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  25. Who funds Louis Proyect?

    Comment by Stephen Perry — March 28, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  26. Capitalism, laissez-faire and not the statist proto-socialist mess that exists, is predicated upon respect for individual right to choose in voluntary trade.

    American capitalism breeds plutocracy. The Koch Brothers have the right now to spend hundreds of millions of dollars backing candidates who believe that Adam and Eve strolled around with brontosauruses. You people are destroying civilization just as surely as Hitler’s stormtroopers did.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  27. Those benefits are going to be cut much more deeply as our birthrate continues to fall.

    That’s the argument made by the ineffable Jonathan V. Last, the pro-imperialist maggot that Gillespie thinks is worth reading. Who’s next to be reviewed in Bookforum? Dennis Miller? Michele Malkin?

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

  28. Terrible Victorian England spawning the terrible Industrial Revolution paving the way to the terrible Internet allowing this Marxist stooge to contradict his rhetoric with his every action.

    That industrial revolution was made possible by genocide and slavery, just as the rapid industrialization of the USSR was made possible by forced labor camps.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  29. I like the part where you characterize libertarians as supporting expanding state power.

    Comment by Brett Ruiz (@BrooklynBrett) — March 28, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

  30. “American capitalism breeds plutocracy. The Koch Brothers have the right now to spend hundreds of millions of dollars backing candidates who believe that Adam and Eve strolled around with brontosauruses. You people are destroying civilization just as surely as Hitler’s stormtroopers did.”

    Utter nonsense. Paid killers are paid killers, whether NKVD or Nazi troops, and nothing at all like paid political advertising in kind or effect. Even if you subscribe to some black magic theory of communication such that it subverts free will, in reality, it’s up to the individual to listen to what other people tell them or make up their own minds.

    And yes, success in providing what people want to buy does tend to accumulate wealth. So what? American capitalism is state socialism, plain and simple. You’re indicting the Marxian transitional phase to communism. Get the government out of economy and business and the Koch’s have no reason to spend dime one on influencing politics. Until then, we will have a bribe and graft ridden system just like the USSR.

    Comment by Kevin Wagner — March 28, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

  31. Get the government out of economy and business and the Koch’s have no reason to spend dime one on influencing politics.

    The government has always been in the economy in the U.S. How do you think the railroad system of the 19th century got built? How else did industrial capitalism emerge in Britain, except through the merchant capital of the East India Company? I am getting the impression, Kevin, that you lack any familiarity with the history of the capitalist system. I invite you to have one last say and then I think you need to go away for a year until you get up to speed with economic history. Contact me offline and I will supply you with a reading list.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 28, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  32. Are you offering the argument from tradition, a logical fallacy? To my knowledge there has not been a single government that has per se invested sovereign rights into citizens individually rather than the state. I don’t understand this to entail that the state of affairs which happens to be the case is ideal in any sense, from any standpoint of morality or utility. In short, yes, even the US government has always intervened in the economy [although I will note that private industry during the railroad expansion included 100 year bonds, an achievement hard to imagine when today sovereign governments are simply siphoning people’s bank accounts and randomly inflating sovereign currency] but that there is no particular reason why that has to be the case and no particular reason why that should be the case. I assumed this was a discussion of prescriptive, not descriptive ethics. In any case, I always like reading lists and thanks for the more civil discussion.

    Comment by Kevin Wagner — March 28, 2013 @ 11:58 pm

  33. “Actually the last time a “Marxist” government got involved with mass killings was in the USSR under Stalin.”

    What a weird thing to say.

    Comment by godoggo — March 29, 2013 @ 2:48 am

  34. wow, a lot of hair pulling here

    Comment by Frank Pitz — March 30, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

  35. “I like the part where you characterize libertarians as supporting expanding state power.” – Comment by Brett Ruiz (@BrooklynBrett)
    ——–

    Actually, the kinds of thinkers that are admired by most libertarians have often been know to openly support dictatorships that espoused free market economics, or at least capitalism. Louis has already made mention of Milton Friedman’s support for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Likewise, Friedrich Hayek was another strong supporter of Pinochet. In an interview given in Chile during the eighth year of the extremely brutal military dictatorship there, he declared that “at times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power” and that “as you [in Chile] will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way.” (From an interview published in El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile (12 April 1981),

    When Hayek made his remarks advocating dictatorship, he was the Honorary Chairman of the Pinochet government’s Centro de Estudios Públicos. Nor was this phenomenon of avowedly libertarian thinkers supporting fascist dictatorships something new or just confined to Friedman and Hayek. Back in the 1920s, Hayek’s mentor, Ludwig von Mises gave his endorsement to Mussolini’s dictatorship in Italy. In 1927 von Mises wrote (in his book Liberalismus):

    ““It cannot be denied that Fascism and all similar strivings for dictatorship [Diktaturbestrebungen] are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization [Gesittung]. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. Yet the policy which has brought salvation for the moment is not of the kind which could promise lasting adherence to its [own] success. Fascism was a momentary expedient. To view it as something more would be a fateful [verhängnisvoller] error.”

    For more on Hayek, see the article, “The Strange Case of Dr Hayek and Mr Hayek,” by Mark Lindley and myself:

    http://www.academia.edu/3291616/The_Strange_Case_of_Dr._Hayek_and_Mr._Hayek

    Comment by Jim Farmelant — June 23, 2013 @ 9:33 pm


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