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Salon is Not Your Friend, Herr Caplan!

Salon demonstrate their balance and good sense in trying to rubbish Bryan Caplan. Specifically Michael Lind spends paragraph after paragraph lobbing invective like highly acidic candy. Enjoy! And read the first comment below the article!

Or, just in case, I'll supply the full text of said comment below.

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May 31, 2014

I normally avoid commenting on Salon articles, due to the extremely poor quality and almost erotic obsession with sadistic ad hominems. (Incidentally, I don't have this opinion about 90% of the leftish leaning media - Salon alone stands out as a deeply unpleasant publication, particularly when it comes to swivel eyed attacks on libertarians).

But this article is so utterly intellectually bankrupt that it requires a response. I am also aware (and this is the kind of the thing that makes me hate Salon) that the author knows better. You have entirely purposefully constructed a straw man account despite the fact that you could easily have properly engaged with Caplan's views (and perhaps even given good arguments for why they are wrong). Instead, you have done a Salon.

Caplan's point is not that the rich automatically have the best views. Rather, the idea is that (perhaps for various independent factors) the rich are more likely to subscribe to certain libertarian ideas, which are themselves valuable. Libertarians believe (correctly or incorrectly) that this would be to the benefit of the majority. Indeed, one could emphasise that, whilst the rich(er) support libertarianism admittedly for self-serving reasons, these are not the overwhelming reasons for supporting it from an objective standpoint.

It is also worth noting that the libertarian critique of democracy is not the individuals are stupid (a premise that, for instance, most left wing theories rely upon). Rather, democracy presents them with a perverse set of choices that they could not possibly have information about. It is the fact that people are asked to choose as a collective about a huge and unfathomable set of variables (affecting one another and others) that is the problem. The argument (whether correct or incorrect) is that it would be preferable for individuals to be limited to choosing for themselves and not using collective mechanisms to enforce decisions on minorities. Whilst I do support that argument, my point here is just to emphasise how much you have avoided laying that out and engaging with it. I assume this was entirely purposeful.

Furthermore, there are a significant number of libertarian leaning academics and intellectuals. Here is a cursory list:

Nozick (who actually mitigated and moderated his libertarianism - he never completely abandoned it)
Anthony Flew
Bruno Leoni
Rose Wilder Lane
Murray Rothbard
Roderick Long
John Tomasi (who is more moderate, almost left-libertarian, but still free-market centric)
Wendy McElroy
Cathy Reisenwitz
Gary Becker
James Buchanan
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Isabel Patterson
Hans Herman-Hoppe
Von Mises
Ayn Rand

These vary in quality and in how much they can be called philosophers - but that's besides the point. They are all serious academic and intellectual figures, *whether or not you agree with them* (and despite being a libertarian, I would disagree on a lot with a lot of them).

It is also worth mentioning that, whilst 'classical liberalism' is a very ambiguous term and entails some very disputed territory and legacies, we can pick out some figures who could only really be categorised as libertarians:

Frederic Bastiat

Herbert Spencer
Auberon Herbert
H. L. Mencken
A. J. Nock
Lord Acton
Richard Cobden

And, of course, a large portion of classical liberal thought (Mill, Locke) heavily influences libertarianism (indeed, my own libertarianism begins with Mill - your bullshit first principles of Caplanism haven't as yet registered as a good equivalent of the Categorical Imperative - on that note, there are libertarian readings of Kant - just saying...).


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