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Potpourri

Summary:
==> Bari Weiss has annoyed me in the past, but her resignation letter from NYT is worth skimming. (In particular, her claims about co-worker treatment that management tolerated.) ==> Great review by Coleman Hughes of the book How to Be an Antiracist. It means a lot more than “speak up when your co-worker tells a racist joke.” ==> Try skimming this: The author refutes his own headline/premise in the article. Ishn’t zat veird? ==> For various reasons, I dug up Rothbard’s critique of the “modal libertarian”: And the Modal Libertarian (henceforth ML) is indeed a he, because the movement has always, of course, been overwhelmingly male. And unfortunately, the few female libertarian activists suffer from much the same syndrome as the males. The ML was in

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Robert Murphy writes Potpourri

==> Bari Weiss has annoyed me in the past, but her resignation letter from NYT is worth skimming. (In particular, her claims about co-worker treatment that management tolerated.)

==> Great review by Coleman Hughes of the book How to Be an Antiracist. It means a lot more than “speak up when your co-worker tells a racist joke.”

==> Try skimming this: The author refutes his own headline/premise in the article. Ishn’t zat veird?

==> For various reasons, I dug up Rothbard’s critique of the “modal libertarian”:

And the Modal Libertarian (henceforth ML) is indeed a he, because the movement has always, of course, been overwhelmingly male. And unfortunately, the few female libertarian activists suffer from much the same syndrome as the males.

The ML was in his twenties twenty years ago, and is now in his forties. That is neither as banal, nor as benign as it sounds, because it means that the movement has not really grown in twenty years; the same dreary people have merely gotten twenty years older. The ML is fairly bright, and fairly well steeped in libertarian theory. But he knows nothing and cares less about history, culture, the context of reality or world affairs. His only reading or cultural knowledge is science fiction, on which the ML is an expert, and which manages to keep him very nicely insulated from reality. As a result, the average rank-and-file member of the most ineffectual Trotskyite sect knows far more about world affairs than all but a tiny handful of libertarian leaders.

The ML does not, unfortunately, hate the State because he sees it as the unique social instrument of organized aggression against person and property. Instead, the ML is an adolescent rebel against everyone around him: first, against his parents, second against his family, third against his neighbors, and finally against society itself. He is especially opposed to institutions of social and cultural authority: in particular against the bourgeoisie from whom he stemmed, against bourgeois norms and conventions, and against such institutions of social authority as churches. To the ML, then, the State is not a unique problem; it is only the most visible and odious of many hated bourgeois institutions: hence the zest with which the ML sports the button, “Question Authority.”

And hence, too, the fanatical hostility of the ML toward Christianity. I used to think that this militant atheism was merely a function of the Randianism out of which most modern libertarians emerged two decades ago. But atheism is not the key, for let someone in a libertarian gathering announce that he or she is a witch or a worshiper of crystal-power or some other New Age hokum, and that person will be treated with great tolerance and respect. It is only Christians that are subject to abuse, and clearly the reason for this difference in treatment has nothing to do with atheism. But it has everything to do with rejecting and spurning bourgeois American culture; any kind of kooky cultural cause will be encouraged in order to tweak the noses of the hated bourgeoisie.

In point of fact, the original attraction of the ML to Randianism was part and parcel of his adolescent rebellion: what better way to rationalize and systematize rejection of one’s parents, family, and neighbors than to join a cult which denounces religion and which trumpets the absolute superiority of yourself and your cult leaders, as contrasted to the robotic “second-handers” who supposedly people the bourgeois world? A cult, furthermore, which calls upon you to spurn your parents, family, and bourgeois associates, and to cultivate the alleged greatness of your own individual ego (suitably guided, of course, by Randian leadership).

There is a certain raffish charm to adolescent rebels at twenty; at forty however, the same attitudes and outlook become odious. The charm has gone. Lew Rockwell’s critics conveniently leap to the assumption that what he and I have been attacking is noticeably “hippie” hair, manners, and clothing. But this is a highly superficial view. The only good thing about hippiedom is that it makes the modal nihilos easy to spot. But even those MLs who look like real people, who wear suits and ties, really aren’t. The important point is the personality, the attitudes.

In short: the ML, if he has a real world occupation, such as accountant or lawyer, is generally a lawyer without a practice, an accountant without a job. The ML‘s modal occupation is computer programmer; the ML was a computer nerd long before the invention ofthe personal computer. Computers appeal indeed to the ML‘s scientific and theoretical bent; but they also appeal to his aggravated nomadism, to his need not to have a regular payroll or regular abode. Furthermore, it is easy to call yourself a “computer consultant” when what you really are is unemployed.

The ML also has the thousand-mile stare of the fanatic. He is apt to buttonhole you at the first opportunity and to go on at great length about his own particular “great discovery” or about his mighty manuscript which is crying out for publication if only it hadn’t been suppressed by the Powers That Be. He is, like all fanatics, totally humorless; his idea of high wit is someone being on the receiving end of a hotfoot.

But above all, the ML is a moocher, a bunco artist, and often an outright crook. His basic attitude toward other libertarians is “Your house is my house.” How many libertarians in the rare privileged position of living in an apartment or house have not had the pleasure of hearing their doorbell ring, and being confronted with some guy on the doorstep who says, in effect; “Hey man, I’m a libertarian,” and expects to be put up for the night, the week, or whatever? How many libertarians have had to chuck such people out into the cold? Libertarians, in short, whether they articulate this “philosophy” or not, are libertarian-communists: anyone with property is automatically expected to “share”it with the other members of his extended libertarian ‘Family.”

Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

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