By Robert Wenzel
Ok, I am going to jump into the middle of this thing while admitting I haven't listened to the full Tom Woods-Michael Malice podcast under discussion.
Tom's broadcasts are almost always extremely insightful but listening to the first minutes of this one did not leave me with the impression that it was going to reach the high degree of insight that
usually occurs in a Woods' podcast. When it first came out, I listened for maybe three minutes and moved on. Bionic Mosquito, who apparently did listen to the entire podcast, makes this point:
Tom Woods and Michael Malice discuss “Healing Libertarian Rifts.” They are reviewing an earlier discussion hosted by Malice between Woods and Matt Welch.
There is discussion between Woods and Malice about this rift – let’s say the rift is between the Mises / Rothbard (meaning Rockwell) wing and the Cato / Reason (meaning Koch, although I think they recently disavowed this label) wing. Woods asks “if we can resolve it, that’s valuable.”
Malice offers a key comment at about the 8:50 minute mark (captured as best as I can without listening to it ten times):
It’s also just bizarre that a movement that’s rooted in individualism and regards value as subjective is going to be baffled that other people have different priorities and different perspectives, and not only just baffled but insist that those priorities are wrong.Mosquito appears to me to have hit the vein here of the podcast in draining this Malice comment from the discussion.
The problem that is hidden by Malice's point is the nature of the individualism. The view of the Rockwell team is much more consistent in applying liberty (though maybe not so much with immigration). The Cato / Reason team deviates very often from the consistent application of liberty. There are just a lot of calls by Cato / Reason people for government interventions all over the place.
Thus, the situation is not about accepting individualism, as the Malice comment implies, but of accepting a Cato / Reason view that often calls for limitations on individuals, that is, the use of government coercion against some individuals. It is the kind of calls for government intervention that correctly result in knee-jerk horror by team Rockwell. It is this kind of attack on individualism by government actors that is the problem.
Malice's framing of Cato / Reason as just different individualists misses the point that the Cato / Reason departures from team Rockwell are departures in limiting individual choices. To suggest this is just a different subjective view is way off. I can think of some pretty bad actors that have roamed this planet, without going into the specific führers, that it could be correctly said had different perspectives and value scales than the rest of us. Are we to support them because they were "individualists"? In other words, the individualism of libertarianism is based on leaving others alone. The minute we bring those who "hold different subjective values" into the libertarian tent who want to coerce others, we are deviating from the core of the live and let live individualism of libertarianism.
I hasten to add that Mosquito does hint his version of libertarianism appears to require some kind of coercion when he writes:
If libertarianism is rooted in individualism, there is no movement. No libertarian who holds conservative values will fall on their libertarian sword for your right to have a sausage orgy.He doesn't come right out and say it but it seems to me that he has a problem with non-conservative libertarians and he objects to this type of subsection of libertarianism even when it doesn't include government coercion.
Well, I am unlikely to raise a sword for any libertarian much less an individualistic subsection practicing sausage orgies. But I am going to leave them alone.
Further, my game is to keep an eye out for the location that allows me to do the most that I want to do and allows me to hang out there with civilized people. If I were to ever take up sword, it would be to smash statists if they really got to irritate me, not because I consider it some libertarian requirement. I consider this, and this is in line with my #PPS live and let live (with a respect for private property) philosophy, my guide.
I really don't care what goes on other properties, sausage orgies or whatever. The people I have a problem with are those that want to institute rules on my property that I want nothing to do with.
Yeah, they have a different subjective value scale but the authoritarian nature of their value scale is the problem.
Mosquito is correct to sting Malice for not understanding this.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of