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October 08, 2020

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David

What they mean is Libertine

From Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertine

A libertine is one devoid of most moral principles, a sense of responsibility, or sexual restraints, which are seen as unnecessary or undesirable, especially one who ignores or even spurns accepted morals and forms of behaviour sanctified by the larger society. Libertinism is described as an extreme form of hedonism. Libertines put value on physical pleasures, meaning those experienced through the senses. As a philosophy, libertinism gained new-found adherents in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, particularly in France and Great Britain. Notable among these were John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and the Marquis de Sade.

georgesdelatour

I read “Libertarianism”, used in a technical sense, as referring to roughly the same set of ideas as “Anarcho-Capitalism”. Is that a reasonable conflation?

There’s a folk usage, where being a libertarian basically means having a live and let live attitude or being non-judgmental. To take a topical example: a (folk) libertarian would defend adult trans people’s right to call themselves whatever they want, and to modify their bodies and hormone levels any way they want. That doesn’t require the libertarian to take an ideological position on the question of whether a trans woman actually is a woman ontologically.

The “liberty” part of Libertarianism sounds appealing. But all liberties have price tags. For instance, a libertarian drug policy might allow people to purchase any drug, from marijuana to fentanyl. But only if the purchaser can guarantee that their drug use won’t impose costs on others. This means purchasers first having to obtain addiction insurance, which means some people won’t be insurable. In many cases the uninsurable will be the majority of people who actually want to make drug purchases.

I’m not a Libertarian. The ideology feels like a thought experiment based on an imagined perfect human population. It’s not the only ideology to make that mistake. But it has an additional weakness. Even if some group could create a viable Libertarian society somewhere, it would be exceptionally vulnerable to takeover or conquest by just about any more collectivising group or society.

Shaftoe

Good stuff !

ltr

"One strand of Tory thinking in recent years has been the denial of collective action problems...."

October 8, 2020

Coronavirus

UK

Cases   ( 561,815)
Deaths   ( 42,592)

Deaths per million   ( 627)

Germany

Cases   ( 312,679)
Deaths   ( 9,664)

Deaths per million   ( 115)

Phil

Reclaimed? As far as I'm concerned it's only been *lost* relatively recently - "libertarian" (always lower case) used to go with "left" much more often, and more comfortably, than "right". I blame the Internet. (British readers: do you remember when you first heard of Ayn Rand? How many years was it after that before you saw the name in print? I'd say 20.)

Miguel Madeira

I suspect that there is another thing here: a kind of cult of "hero", of force and courage (perhaps a defense of "jock values" against "nerd values"?).

The right-wing in some issues seems "libertarian", in others "authoritarian", but in all cases we have a glorification of "heroic values", from the opposition to masks (against the cowards who have fear of a virus...) to opposition to cannabis (a drug associated with escapism) to the glorification of the police and the military.

Even some apparent opposite economic stance could be seen in this way - welfare is bad (money should be earn with hard work), but protectionism could be good, if it benefits industry or agriculture ("hard work" sectors, for "real men") in detriment of services ("soft work, for women, sissies and eggheads")

georgesdelatour

@Miguel Madeira

Just about all the values you claim as right wing were superabundant in Stalinist Russia and Maoist China, from the heroic statues of proletarian factory workers wielding sledgehammers to the glorification of the Red Army and the PLA.

Many Libertarian right wingers like Liechtenstein a lot. It’s culturally conservative yet really open for business, and it’s the antimatter of heroic. In general, Libertarians look more favourably on smaller dispensations such as city states which, by definition, can’t really do the puffed-up “Dear Leader” heroism thing. They like Cowperthwaite’s Hong Kong or Lee Kuan Yew’s China, or even the old Venetian Republic or the city states of the Hanseatic League.

James Charles

"This is why Cold Warriors opposed the USSR . . . "
'They' may have opposed the USSR, 'others' 'supported' it?
“Taken together, these four volumes constitute an extraordinary commentary on a basic weakness in the Soviet system.
The Soviets are heavily dependent on Western technology and innovation not only in their civilian industries, but also in their military programs.
An inevitable conclusion from the evidence in this book is that we have totally ignored a policy that would enable us to neutralize Soviet global ambitions while simultaneously reducing the defense budget and the tax load on American citizens.”
“ His book tells at least part of the story of the Soviet Union's reliance on Western technology, including the infamous Kama River truck plant, which was built by the Pullman-Swindell company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of M. W. Kellogg Co. Prof. Pipes remarks that the bulk of the Soviet merchant marine, the largest in the world, was built in foreign shipyards. He even tells the story (related in greater detail in this book) of the Bryant Chucking Grinder Company of Springfield, Vermont, which sold the Soviet Union the ball-bearing machines that alone made possible the targeting mechanism of Soviet MIRV'ed ballistic missiles. “
http://www.crowhealingnetwork.net/pdf/Antony%20Sutton%20-%20The%20Best%20Enemy%20Money%20Can%20Buy.pdf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sah_Xni-gtg

The Truth

Chris

You do know that on a per violent arrest (and per violent crime) basis blacks are less likely to be killed by police than whites.

Why are you promoting woke lies?

Blissex

Right-wing can mean either authoritarian tories (or actually-existing soviet communists) or liberal whigs, and libertarianism for both means really propertarianism: the rights (and powers) of incumbent property owners.

Right-wing libertarianism is all about freeing incumbent property owners from state interference, and their being free to use the power it gives over those without, and the state enforcing aspects of that power.

georgesdelatour

@Blissex

I don’t understand exactly how Stalin’s forced collectivisation of agriculture can be spun as propertarianism in disguise.

All of the post-Soviet states have had real problems unravelling the Soviet era’s massive disruption of property rights, and figuring out exactly who has the legal right to what.

Blissex

«benefits industry or agriculture ("hard work" sectors, for "real men") in detriment of services ("soft work, for women, sissies and eggheads")»

As an aside, the preference by many on the centre/centre-left for industrial activities is due not to cultural prejudice but real advantages: because of social and technical factors industry (agriculture much less so) generates much higher value added, and is much easier to unionise, than many services, and thus tends to result in better jobs for more working class people.

Blissex

«how Stalin’s forced collectivisation of agriculture can be spun as propertarianism in disguise.»

The authoritarian right includes both the tories and actually-existing soviet communists, but not all those in the authoritarian right are propertarians, just like not all those in the whig right are propertarians either. Indeed actually-existing sobiet communists were authoritarian but not propertarian, and in a different way some gullible parts of the whig right think that libertarianism is not just about the rights of property owners.

Blissex

«not asserting liberty so much as denying the existence of collective action problems»

That is not quite right, that's the usual demonization of opponents implying that they are ignorant or stupid.

The libertarian argument is that *externalities* do exist but are less important than individual choice, therefore collective action is unjustified. Someone described it as the "fiat libertas, ruat caelum" point of view, that absolute liberty is more important than good outcomes. If someone without a mask results in your illness, you should have taken personal responsibility and not exposed yourself to that risk.

Some libertarians argue also that the outcomes of externalities should be dealt with *individually*, by suing those imposing them: if someone without a mask results in your illness, sue them for damages. This is an argument not that externalities are less important than individual liberty, but that preventive measures to restrict liberty should not be imposed merely because of the possibility of externalities.

Some more sophisticated (often explicitly darwinist) libertarians add that actually in the long run not taking into account externalities or not preventing bad outcomes related to externalities actually works out better overall than collective or individual preventive action against externalities.

I think that all these positions have big flaws, but they are not as stupid as "denying the existence of collective action problems".

BTW in the 19th century "libertarians" argued powerfully against raising taxes to build acqueducts and sewers in cities, because of the argument that some people wanted the liberty to wallow in filth and of risking getting cholera and other plagues.
An argument that was actually propertarian (the richer taxpayers had private acqueducts and sewers or resided in country mansions).
That despite conservative propertarians like the romans building 2,000 years earlier acqueducts and sewers (and public saunas and baths) as a matter of course using public funds, simply as a measure of civilization. But such is the savagery of the english tory mentality.

ltr

"One strand of Tory thinking in recent years has been the denial of collective action problems...."

October 9, 2020

Coronavirus

UK

Cases   ( 575,679)
Deaths   ( 42,679)

Deaths per million   ( 628)

Germany

Cases   ( 319,053)
Deaths   ( 9,676)

Deaths per million   ( 115)

Miguel Madeira

"industry (...) generates much higher value added, and is much easier to unionise, than many services, and thus tends to result in better jobs for more working class people."

Perhaps; but in my region (Algarve, Portugal) my experience is the half-the-opposite, comparing the times of canned fish industry (until the 1980s) with the modern economy driven by tourism (since the 1980s); yes, canned fish industry was much more unionized (and, btw, with an almost 100% female workforce) - but wages were much lower than in tourism.

I usually read British and American articles talking about the good jobs in manufacturing versus the bad jobs in services, but (because of my regional experience) I wonder if there is some confounding factor here and the real determinant variable could be some other thing instead of manufacturing vs. services.

Blissex

As to canning in the 1980s having lower wages than tourism mire recently, my guesses are:

* Canning can be a primitive industry, with low capital intensity and low productivity.
* Portugal in the past had anyhow a much lower level of wages than today, in part still following the backwardness and isolation of salazarism (even if it became more pro-development after WW2) and the complications after its fall.

https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=ny_gdp_pcap_kd&idim=country:PRT

«about the good jobs in manufacturing versus the bad jobs in services, but (because of my regional experience) I wonder if there is some confounding factor here and the real determinant variable could be some other thing instead of manufacturing vs. services.»

It is not merely "manufacturing", it is "because of social and technical factors industry", and those mostly are: capital intensity and oil intensity.
Industries that are oil-powered are enormously more productive than human-powered ones, and those with high capital intensity are also more productive (but the contribution of capital is much smaller than that of oil), and more susceptible to unionization, both because usually the capital used to be geographically concentrated, thus bringing workers together: thus workers are easier to organise and because strikes make a lot of costly capital idle and unprofitable, workers have more leverage.

So anti-trade unions consultants advise executives to locate capital intensive industries in countries where trade unions and strikes are suppressed (for example China), and in multiple locations and countries to reduce the chances of workers coordination anyhow; also otherwise to switch to low-capital intensity, labour-powered activities like coffee shops, deliveries, retail parks, etc.; if the workers of one Starbucks strike, it gets closed and reopened on down the street after a while, with little impact on the overall profits.

ltr

Libertarian values come to Sweden:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/08/business/coronavirus-sweden-social-welfare.html

October 8, 2020

Pandemic Exposes Holes in Sweden’s Generous Social Welfare State
Decades of budget-cutting and market reforms laid the ground for a wave of death in Swedish nursing homes.
By Peter S. Goodman and Erik Augustin Palm

In the popular imagination, Sweden does not seem like the sort of country prone to accepting the mass death of grandparents to conserve resources in a pandemic.

Swedes pay some of the highest taxes on earth in exchange for extensive government services, including state-furnished health care and education, plus generous cash assistance for those who lose jobs. When a child is born, the parents receive 480 days of parental leave to use between them.

Yet among the nearly 6,000 people whose deaths have been linked to the coronavirus in Sweden, 2,694, or more than 45 percent, had been among the country’s most vulnerable citizens — those living in nursing homes.

That tragedy is in part the story of how Sweden has, over decades, gradually yet relentlessly downgraded its famously generous social safety net....

rsm

"Sometimes, what each individual wants to do is bad for all individuals. Not wearing masks is one such example."

The establishment left uses that same argument against drugs (Biden and Sanders voted for the 1990s era crime bill) and free speech.

The problem is that "what is bad for all individuals" changes. One day pot is bad for all individuals, and President Clinton is proposing Drug Boot Camps. The next, marijuana stores are an essential business.

The science clearly showed marijuana fried your brain like eggs, until for some arbitrary capricious reason, suddenly the science showed the opposite.

The right are just as bad. There is plenty of hypocrisy to go around.

ltr

October 10, 2020

Coronavirus

UK

Cases   ( 590,844)
Deaths   ( 42,760)

Deaths per million   ( 629)

Germany

Cases   ( 323,365)
Deaths   ( 9,691)

Deaths per million   ( 116)

Jim

As a totally amateur psychologist, I analyse Trump as a spoiled brat who learned early the arts of cheating and lying and went on to become a street brawler with his business and legal battles. Essentially he had the upbringing and training of a young prince and a selfish one at that.

This is the sort of schooling money can buy but few learn as completely and as excellently as Trump. An A1 student at the Machiavelli College. In the abrasive brutalist forum of American politics he has been number 1 appealing to the rednecks and the Ivy League frat boys alike. Many would like to be rich, selfish, lie outrageously and grab women by the pussy and have the cash to buy them off.

Looking to Desmond Swayne. He seems to represent a 'type' in the English class system. A close study of his Wiki entry tells us a great deal about where he fits in. His post-nominal letters TD and his age - tells us a little more about the type and the system into which he fits. Add being MP for the New Forest area - about as posh and 'nice' as one could get and his voting friends in Parliament add to the picture.

So are both Trump and Swayne 'Libertarians'. The word libertarian is carrying several interpretations here. The noble interpretation is freedom, but freedom with responsibility and honour. Not so noble is the idea we should do as we please and to hell with other people. Swayne and Trump and their friends want to have the word both ways, the good way and the bad way, they want their cakes and also want to eat them.

In the Covid context the politicos and the Tory press still push for more 'freedom' but are too cowardly to say what they mean - 'let it rip'. No politician wants to be tarred with the 'Granny Killer' label. So do it slowly, make sure control systems are ineffective but deniably so. Today's Telegraph cartoon says it all.

Blissex

«I analyse Trump as a spoiled brat who learned early the arts of cheating and lying and went on to become a street brawler with his business and legal battles.»

That may be, but is a bit superficial. On a personal level he can be a jerk, but I doubt that he is spoiled, he seems to just care a lot about his image. But my main two points about him are:

* He is a dyed-in-the-wool newyorker, from Queens (a tough place), and (like his father) a NY/NJ real estate developer, which *requires* a brash mobster mindset, one obvious in his foreign policy (not that USA foreign policy has been ever soft and nice, but the brutality was coated in more diplomatic style).

* His politics and political persona are not in any way new or surprising, he has been near or in politics for decades. There are plenty of interviews in which he lucidly and intelligently expresses them, and they have always been of the Perot/Buchanan "one nation (and nationalist) paternalistic tory" type, and also determinedly antiracist. The character assassination by globalist whigs against him is as ridiculous as that against Corbyn, and is usually based on "misreporting".

His campaigning style is simply opportunistic, too oriented at simplistic pandering, so it does not fully reflect his intelligence and knowledge.
I don't agree with his politics, but I don't underestimate him either, and I can understand why many of those shafted by globalist whig policies end up supporting him rather than centre-left socialdemocracts like Sanders, who have been suppressed even more effectively by the globalist whig factions.

Blissex

«a NY/NJ real estate developer, which *requires* a brash mobster mindset»

And here my usual story about Trump and the Democrats: a NY/NJ real estate mobster routinely uses blackmail, intimidation and bribery to do "business", and no doubt Trump has used political bribery on a massive scale in NY/NJ and elsewhere. Why aren't the Democrats trying to find dirt on Trump about that? Because most NY/NJ politicians he would have bribed are democrats...

Some context: Trump has been for decades one of the biggest donors to political campaigns (usually to republicans, many republicans owe him a lot), and some real estate developers in any country routinely travel with a briefcase full of brown envelopes with wads of cash, and the first thing they do when meeting anyone who is someone is to automatically give out one, without asking for anything in return, just to start the meeting on a warm note.

Real estate is a nasty business anywhere, from Moscow to Rome to Bombay to Seoul, but especially so in the USA, both because of the enormity of the stakes, and ingrained cultural factors, and in NY/NJ even more so.

ltr

Thanks to libertarians for teaching us about social responsibility:

October 11, 2020

Coronavirus

UK

Cases   ( 603,716)
Deaths   ( 42,825)

Deaths per million   ( 630)

Germany

Cases   ( 324,596)
Deaths   ( 9,697)

Deaths per million   ( 116)

rsm

«a NY/NJ real estate mobster routinely uses blackmail, intimidation and bribery to do "business"»

And yet economists blithely maintain that prices are efficient and markets achieve Pareto-optimality ...

eg

Much depends upon the meaning of the apparently protean term “libertarian.” I generally encounter what appears to be a rather juvenile sort that might be defined as “no government” (or government shrinking asymptotically to zero).

This variant has always struck me as an empirical absurdity, since I can never find any examples either past or present. I presume this is because human beings are pack animals, and socio-political arrangements advantageous to pack size and pack integrity defeat those less so over time and space.

ltr

Simple, here we have libertarian thinking made policy:

October 11, 2020

Coronavirus

UK

Cases   ( 617,688)
Deaths   ( 42,875)

Deaths per million   ( 631)

Germany

Cases   ( 327,924)
Deaths   ( 9,704)

Deaths per million   ( 116)

Blissex

«economists blithely maintain that prices are efficient»

Not quite, they sort of *assume* that. Most research in Economics is based on the concept of "internal consistency" (that is consistency with standard assumptions like either exactly one or infinite competitors on both the demand and supply side, and infinite frictionless markets) rather than "external consistency" (with actual political economies).

«and markets achieve Pareto-optimality ...»

The cleverness of their propaganda is that when they say "We have proven that policy X is optimal" they don't feel like adding "but only under assumptions that have been carefully chosen to allow that and are applicable to an actually existing political economy".

Blissex

«“libertarian.” I generally encounter what appears to be a rather juvenile sort that might be defined as “no government” (or government shrinking asymptotically to zero).»

That's more like "anarchist" or "minarchist". Most current libertarians (right wing ones that is) believe in a government that strongly enforces but never interferes with the incumbent property distribution and with private contracts. The more extreme ones regard government not as an institution but as something that emerges from a set of private contracts for private police, courts, prisons etc.

Their point of view is "wealth makes right" and "social darwinism".

Blissex

«and are applicable to an actually existing political economy»

that was meant to be "aren't applicable"...

Blissex

«a government that strongly enforces but never interferes with the incumbent property distribution and with private contracts.»

To translate: in practice libertarians want a government that protects the rich from the poor but not vice-versa, because of wilfully ignoring (or celebrating, in the case of explicit social darwinists) the disparity of negotiating power.

ltr

October 12, 2020

The anti-lockdown crusade gains oxygen from this government's ineptitude

If anyone still doubts that Brexit was our Trump moment, look at some of the same characters (Tory MPs, newspapers, even voters) who supported Brexit getting behind what has become an anti-lockdown crusade. I use the word crusade deliberately. Rather than religion it is ideology that drives most anti-lockdown proponents. That ideology is libertarian, although to borrow a phrase from Chris Dillow on mask phobia, this libertarianism is just solipsistic narcissism. What the crusade isn't, for most of the anti-lockdown brigade, is evidence led....

-- Simon Wren-Lewis

rsm

@ltr: The problem with Wren-Lewis is that he cherry-picks his "evidence". He is broadly happy if lockdowns drive me to suicide as long as carefully massaged statistics mask it.

eg said: "human beings are pack animals". But pack animals need no government. Birds do not have a police force defending nests ...

Blissex said:

«That's more like "anarchist" or "minarchist". Most current libertarians (right wing ones that is) believe in a government that strongly enforces but never interferes with the incumbent property distribution and with private contracts»

There is also Libertarian Socialism which I interpret to respect private property rights only so far as the Lockean Proviso has been observed. Private enclosure is only morally justified when "enough, and as good" land remains in common.

ltr

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-10/13/c_139435351.htm

October 13, 2020

Herd immunity against COVID-19 “scientifically and ethically problematic”: WHO chief
“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.”

[ Simple and ethical as that. ]

rsm

Why is it ethical to lock me out of public lands when I am not infecting anyone? Why isn't it ethical for the vulnerable to protect themselves without forcing others to engage in the performative show of wearing a mask?

The truth

Ltr,

Why are you burying your head in the sand. Lockdown has failed and the UK is all the evidence one needs (although there is plenty more)

The world is finally seeing the light and going for a manner herd immunity approach (basically Sweden but with better protection of the elderly.

The WHO recently came out publicly against lockdown and a HUGE number of academics have signed the Great Barrington declaration in just the last week.

WHO has now come out against lockdowns

ltr

of such policy has been:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-10/13/c_139435351.htm

October 13, 2020

Herd immunity against COVID-19 “scientifically and ethically problematic”: WHO chief
“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.”

GENEVA — The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday termed herd immunity against COVID-19 “scientifically and ethically problematic.” ...

ltr

Sorry, I left out part of my sentence:

Thinking about the matter of “herd immunity” as policy and this necessary statement, I better realize how unfortunately misleading consideration of such policy has been...

ltr

"The world is finally seeing the light and going for a manner herd immunity approach...."

This is of course and as always rubbish.

Stuart

I did not consider myself a libertarian until the lockdown, mask-wearing and 100 other arbitrary and stupid and damaging diktats were imposed by a remote authority, which taught me the true value of individual freedom. The blogger is a Dominic Cummings type – someone who has read so much they can't think straight and who would be right at home in government figuring out what everyone else should be made to do to reach the goals that seem to them to be self-evidently desirable.

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