Libertarian Lads

"Name me, if you can, a better feeling than the one you get when you’re half a bottle of Chivas in the bag with a gram of coke up your nose and teenage lovely pulling off her tube top in the next seat over while you’re going a hundred miles an hour down a suburban side street." That’s PJ O’Rourke, essayist, humourist and — according to some Catallaxy commenters — the only person you need to read in order to understand libertarianism.

And maybe that’s right. A lot of libertarians seem to have no idea why libertarianism might be a good way to do politics. For these guys the reasoning seems to go something like this:

Premise 1. Under libertarianism people who are stronger, smarter and just generally better than other people will do well. People who are stupid and useless will do badly and have to put up with other people telling them what to do.

Premise 2. I support libertarianism.

Therefore: I must be stronger smarter and just generally better than losers who disagree with me. If I wasn’t, why would I be supporting libertarianism?

So you put a “No Fear” sticker on the back window of your WRX, slag off fat chicks and other losers and whoop it up until your missus makes you trade in your cool car for something sensible, ploughs all the money into the mortgage and puts you on a diet.

Eventually you find out that your 14 year old daughter is going out with a fat ute-driving libertarian. You then start delivering moral lectures about how freedom is all about taking responsibility.

Your daughter pokes your beer gut, pats you on your bald patch and laughs at you.

“Have you put out the garbage yet?” asks the wife.

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Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

that’s just silly, Don, and obviously an attempt to lure Yobbo out for a bit of a punch-up. PJ O’Rourke’s books are very well researched and certainly make the case for libertarianism on far richer terms than that potted summary above.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

What about libertarian lasses, Don? Or are you wearing your special boyvision specs?

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

I’ve going to sit here with a bottle of red and enjoy the show …

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

I do expect you to call out the cavalry (ie Yobbo) if needed, Jason.

whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

What – surely not the whole bottle Jason? Sighhh – there was a time I could consume a whole bottle while enjoying a show! But of course what you really meant was a glass and a bit and then re-cork, didn’t you. Or perhaps you have your beloved with you, sharing. No, I don’t think so – you wouldn’t be at your computer then would you?

Forgive me, Satty night trivia with after a glass or so of semillon sauvignon blanc.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

I’ve heard the McConvill thread is good tonight.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

Methinks Don has walked away from his rod. He’s certainly not responding to any bites, and by now all his bait’d be gone.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

Spoke too soon, but looks like he’s decided to ‘toss back a tiddler’ ;)

Tim Lambert
15 years ago

I think the libertarian lass version of this argument looks like this.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

are you a misogynist or something, Tim?
Is there something wrong with a woman being choosy about her partner?

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
15 years ago

Oh come on, Jason. You don’t think there’s a bit of a difference between “being choosy” and boasting about one’s manifest superiority on a blog? Jacqui’s a major wanker at the very least, but might well have much more serious psychological problems than that. There are a few misplaced synapses in her giant brain, methinks, ones having to do with modesty, restraint and appropriate social behaviour.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

Ahh, in the lefty universe, only men do stuff like that, Jason. And since they’ve decided that’s not nice, any woman who does likewise is also, ehrm, not nice.

Feh.

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
15 years ago

Helen

I’d have exactly the same opinion of any bloke who posted something of that sort on the Internet, irrespective of their ideological orientation. It has nothing to do with gender or politics. A wanker is a wanker.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

On the lads vs lasses issue — here are some US demographics from Pew:

Libertarians are much more likely to be male (59%) and young (33% are under age 30) than are any of the other groups; they are also more numerous in western states.

Tim – I just love that post & the follow up where Jacqueline explains how much it improved her blog’s stats.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

Ahh, Don’s rebaited his hook and is now waiting patiently for more bites – better leave the girlie stuff alone :)

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

skeptic – There’s a good chance I’m going to regret starting this.

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
15 years ago

Maybe a bit of tagteam fishing might help. Then again … P.J. O’Rourke is a great populariser for libertarianism, but it’s a mixed blessing. Pick just about any O’Rourke book and he’ll spout the simplified libertarian gospel: minimal state, rule of law, low tax, protection of private property = success. But surely there’s more to Fred Hayek, and even Nozick, than that.

But O’Rourke’s standard picture of the ideal libertarian state ignores the countries that largely adopted the recipe and didn’t do as well as you’d expect e.g. Mexico, Thailand and even New Zealand. And it ignores the countries that have done extraordinarily well with a recipe involving substantial government intervention to nurture an internationally competitive economy, especially China and India.

Most of all, it ignores the fact that the US’s dominant position in the world economy was achieved through a range of factors that have included (and still include) stacking the deck in international agriculture in its own favour; and massively subsidising/protecting its own industries through defence spending.

And then there’s the Scandinavian countries (especially Norway and Denmark) that have done just about as well as the US on

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

Oh for chrissakes Ken
It sounds like you actually haven’t read any O’Rourke first hand and are going by second hand reports. If anything O’Rourke does more research than Nozick who is just an a priori philosopher. I would rather recommend O’Rourke than Nozick myself to any beginner. A lot of fact checking and first hand reporting goes into O’Rourke’s books. Just because he’s not a Harvard academic and writes in an entertaining style doesn’t make him less rigorous. He makes it look easy because of his lucid style. And no, he doesn’t make absolutist statements in his books (as opposed to some of his speeches) as you imply and he is if anything far more nuanced than an a priori guy like Nozick. He isn’t even particularly purist as a libertarian if you look more closely at what he says. try his Parliament of Whores or All the trouble in the world.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

It certainly sounds like Ken hasn’t read Ricardo. “stacking the deck in international agriculture in its own favour”. Now how would one do that? One can stack the international deck in favour of one’s own agricultural sector – but that’s not stacking it in one’s own favour – and can’t plausibly be related to America’s economic success.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

O’Rourke’s latest stuff hasn’t been that great, he’s been in the game for a long time. But books like Parliament of Whores and All the trouble in the world are classic. And he does discuss and castigate the US government’s pork. He’s more of a libertarian-sympathetic Republican than a true believer libertarian btw.

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
15 years ago

All the Trouble in the World, Picador 1994

Chapter 1 page 16 (Fashionable Worries). After quoting Malthus, O’Rourke summarises the theme of the chapter (and the book):

“Property rights, rule of law, responsible government, universal education: that’s all we need.”

Chapter 9 page 340 (Economic Justice) – the very last paragraph in the book:

“Maybe this isn’t such a hopeful moment in history. Really, it’s something of a disappointment to know that when mankind – through noble struggles, grim sacrifices (and a lot of money-making) – does achieve such things as property rights, rule of law, responsible government, and universal education, the fruit borne of these splendid accomplishments is, um, me.”

I concede that he includes an equality of opportunity ingredient in the recipe (namely universal education), and so he’s marginally more nuanced than I had recalled, but otherwise the message is every bit as simplistic as I suggested in the previous comment. And all the country and region examples in between are argued to vary on a continuum of success and prosperity depending on the extent to which their governance systems comply with PJ’s libertarian recipe. At best it’s a huge oversimplification of reality, albeit hugely entertaining.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

‘”Property rights, rule of law, responsible government, universal education: that’s all we need.”

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

The purpose of his chapter on ‘Economic justice’ is to demonstrate why the sort of spoils system that is created by excessive interventionism and legalism is counterproductve for wealth creation. As such the takeaway message is in fact a nice summary of all that. He is constrating the US and Vietnam and this happens to be the most relevant determinant of the differences for our purpoises, not the specifics of health care policy or unemployment insurance or industrial relations laws. So I don’t see what the point of your complaint is. That he didn’t write a different book?

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Even O’Rourke admits that the Swedes like their system and that it works — even if he thinks it makes them boring (see ‘Good Socialism: Sweden’ in Eat the Rich).

O’Rourke has mellowed a bit as he’s become… er… more mature. As the Republican Party Reptile he was prone to saying things like “by the time I blasted my way through the reception area and raped my secretary…” But by the time he becomes the CEO of the Sofa his wife is packing his drunken carcass into the back of the family SUV (after removing the toddler seat).

O’Rourke does a good job at turning Cato Institute briefing papers into something more entertaining.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

yep, good example Don. Forgot about that.

I will reiterate my claim that you will learn more about the world and how to think about it in libertarian terms but realistically by reading O Rourke than by reading Nozick.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Nozick is using Locke to argue with Rawls. It makes more sense to read Anarchy, State and Utopia in that context than as part of some libertarian top 10.

In the same way, if you’re going to read Rand you really ought to read (or read about) Aristotle, Marx and Nietzsche (it’s not hard to read her as a bizarro-world Marxist).

People who read O’Rourke on economics and politics are in the market for something like Friedman’s Free to Choose. I wouldn’t recomend Nozick to someone who wasn’t already suffering from philosophy.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

Out of all the Libertarians in the world, why would Don want to lure me out to a fight?

Most other libertarians I know are pacifist weaklings. I, on the other hand, enjoy punching on for the pure love of fighting itself.

John Humphreys and Steve Edwards im sure could attest to this.

Not fighting is the only thing worse than losing a fight.

Don makes a good point though. Why would superior individuals rationally support anything other than Libertarianism, unless it was to suck at the teat of government?

P.S. Im willing to bet $500 that no other Australian blogger could beat me in a fight. Any rules you like.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

Actually Yobbo, c8to’s been in a few scraps himself. And he beat Bird in an arm wrestle so i’m sure he could take on you.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

Yobbo – Why would a pacifist weakling want to be libertarian?

Maybe if you think you’re smarter than other people but not stronger it makes sense to outlaw violence. It’s all about picking rules that increase the likelihood that you’ll come out on top.

GT
GT
15 years ago

Yobbo, how about Rule Three-oh-three. Forested location of your choice. Kick-off at 0200 hours.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

That Jacqui chick is great.

I particularly liked this line:

The above list explains why I typically receive 50-100 (sometimes more) responses whenever I post personal ads.

Also that, you know, you have a vagina and lots of men like to stick things in those.

She really seems like an Ayn Rand disciple who would have the utility-maximising amount of sex, but always remember to put her rubber gloves on first.

Also she’s about a 5/10. And that’s before I apply the -2 modifier she gets for being white.

Just yet another western girl who thinks the world revolves around her vagina. I hope she falls in love with a meth addict who beats her.

Rococo Liberal
Rococo Liberal
15 years ago

Yobbo

A year or so back, I found out that a friend of mine was a devotee of your site. He too has a fixation on what he and his fellow chartered acounting buddies refer to as “rice,” i.e. he won’t even consider a caucasian woman as a partner. In the last few years he has dated a handful asian women of less than sensational socio-economic status.

His friends put his predilection down to the fact that has a very low opinion of himself.

Rococo Liberal
Rococo Liberal
15 years ago

Tim

Thanks for the link to Jacqueline Mackey Whatsy Finebum. I’ve sent it to quite a few people in the office and we are all having a great laugh over her incredible earnestness. She is almost left wing in her utter lack of any humility or sense.

Jc
Jc
15 years ago

Ken
Are you serious? You actually don’t like that chick? I reckon she’s great. She seems she has it all together. No one has to support her and she likes sex and says she won’t be passive about it. She also seems to have a brain and would be great company. If I wasn’t happily married, i would apply and keep my fingers crossed. She’s drop dead gorgeous to boot.

I think Tim Lambert snuck this one in because he’s interested, but like me unfortunately happily married.

Don, I was kidding about O’Rourke being the only person to read. He’s actually very funny and makes good points too. He makes his points through humor, which is something very few people can do.

Robert
15 years ago

unfortunately happily married

Er…

Jc
Jc
15 years ago

” So you put a “No Fear”

Jc
Jc
15 years ago

Robert
Just a turn of phrase. Delete ” unfortuntely” as it was an unfortuante word choice.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

In the last few years he has dated a handful asian women of less than sensational socio-economic status.

What possible relevance is the socio-economic status of your partner? It may be a consideration for women, but never has been for men. In fact, most men prefer their partner to be of a lower status than themselves.

I suppose you only date lawyers?

His friends put his predilection down to the fact that has a very low opinion of himself.

His friends (and you) are racists then. As if preferring asian women is a case of settling for second best?

BTW A well-respected Australian blogger has a daughter who is asian. I guess if anyone wanted to date her (in the very distant future), it would be because they must have a low opinion of themselves to want to lower themselves to her level?

You’re a dickhead.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

Ummm, Yobbo, you just bit big time. Rococo Liberal is Toryhere over at Catallaxy. He’s a tax lawyer, and he loves to shit-stir.

Just sayin.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

Yikes, I was making a few laddish comments in the spirit of the title of this post but now this debate is getting ugly.

Yobbo is entitled to his preferences, leaves more hot semitic, slavic and celtic chicks for the rest of us.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
15 years ago

“I’m willing to bet $500 that no other Australian blogger could beat me in a fight. Any rules you like.” Obviously didn’t think that one through did ya Yobbo? I’ll sneak into your bedroom one night and wack you over the head with a piece of 2-by-4. My rules.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

The smell of testosterone in this locker room is overpowering …

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

I hope you do Chris. Make sure you make the first one a good one.

Jc
Jc
15 years ago

Yobbo
why a fight? Why are you so interested in getting into a fight. How about you and Don in a Ultimate Fight contest?

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
15 years ago

If Don had any sense, he’d nominate Chris Lloyd to take his place.

Jc
Jc
15 years ago

This is so funny…. Yobbo. Where did that come from? You got to tell us how you got from talking about this post to fighting all comers.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

I was under the impression that we were having some kind of celebrity battle-of-the-ideologies and I was the nominated fighter for the libertarian team.

If nobody actually wants to fight I will go back to blogging and red-baiting if that’s alright with everyone.

skepticlawyer
15 years ago

That’s what I thought for a bit, Yobbo, but then it sort of fizzled.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

“If Don had any sense, he’d nominate Chris Lloyd to take his place.”

No, I nominate Dr Troppo. He wants nude wrestling in strawberry jelly. Would a venue in Northbridge be OK?

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago