Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Washington Post Smears Libertarianism (Again)

Libertarian pipeline.
By Robert Wenzel

Here we go again.

The Washington Post has published another essay smearing libertarianism via the Pipeline Theory. This essay comes via John Ganz, executive editor of, alleging that, as a previous essay did, there is a "pipeline" between libertarianism and the alt-right.

If there is such a pipeline it is the damn leakest pipeline that has ever existed.

Consider what
Tom Woods, recently observed:
Michael Isaacson, an adjunct professor of economics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, just learned a lesson.
When you're an adjunct professor, you're a dime a dozen. You don't have tenure. You're the lowest of the low. Say something outrageous that creates bad publicity for your institution, and you're fired.


Here's what Professor Isaacson tweeted:

"Some of ya’ll might think it sucks being an anti-fascist teaching at John Jay College but I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops."

Now here's the thing: this Antifa professor who delights in violence and death told Tucker Carlson he "used to be a libertarian."

Add that to all the former Ron Paul supporters who wound up supporting Bernie in 2016, and it makes you wonder:

Is there a "pipeline" from libertarianism to leftism?
But don't forget the obvious. There is a damn website called Bleeding Heart Libertarians whose stable of writers carry the flag for every cultural Marxist theme and plain old lefty theme going---including a guaranteed basic income---and they pretty much vomit every time they hear the words Mises Institute.

It simply amazes me that these pipeline theorists have such a poor understanding of revolutionary movements. There are all sorts of splits and deviations which occur, some good, some bad.

To put this in perspective, I quote from the 1944 book of the Trotskyite James P. Cannon, The History of American Trotskyism 1928-1933: Report of a Participant:
The revolutionary labor movement doesn't develop along a straight line or smooth path. It grows through a continuous process of internal struggle. But splits and unifications are methods of developing the revolutionary party. Each under given circumstances, can be either progressive or reactionary in its consequences… Moralistic views on the question of splits and so forth are simply stupid.
In other words, all kinds of people pass through revolutionary movements, some advance the cause, some are nuts. But there is nothing specifically inherent in the libertarian movement that causes the nut jobs. It is inherent in the nature of revolutionary movement.

I mean the splits can get pretty nuts. Cannon again:
There was the little group of Wisebrod which at one time reached a total of 12 or 13 members, but made enough noise to make one think they represented a great historical tendency. Moreover, the Wisebrodites, not satisfied with forming an independent organization, insisted--under what appears to be the compulsion of natural law for such arbitrarily created groups---on going through a couple of splits within their own group.
So, as I have written before, It's Good to See the Left Fretting Over the Future Soul of Libertarianism.... after a nut job or two have gone crazy alt-right, but we will survive--as libertarians.

It is at this point that I must enter a specific quarrel with the executive editor of He writes:
The problem is that libertarian principles, which revolve the abstract notion of self-interest, are really not principles at all; they have no content and allow anything to be attached to them.
The libertarian principle is not about self-interest. Advocacy of self-interest as a primary principle is a Randian notion and Ayn Rand famously disavowed libertarians. Libertarianism is simply about the  non-aggression principle. A hermit priest who has disavowed all self-interest beyond serving others could be a libertarian. Further, as I have argued elsewhere, nothing is properly attached to libertarianism qua libertarianism. It is about freedom, about live and let live, that is all.

There is no room in libertarianism for nutty neo-Nazis who call for the government to make a region, that they don't own, pure in terms of race, creed or color. There is no room in libertarianism for those who want to tax to provide a basic income. These are all infiltrators of pure libertarianism or passersby. If they think of themselves as libertarians they should be called out as infiltrators. If they have passed through, well then lots of stuff passes through us daily and, thank the heavens it passes. Some Quilted Northern, Koch Industries produced, toilet paper, and a flush, ends our thought about such.

A few further comments on the Ganz essay.

He writes:
A self-confessed admirer of Joseph McCarthy’s political tactics, Rothbard wanted to put some emotional meat on the spare, abstract bones of libertarian economics.
And he links to Rothbard's book, The Betrayal of the American Right, where it must be emphasized Rothbard made clear that it was the political tactics and not McCarthy's political goals that he found attractive:
My own quip at the time, which roughly summed up this position, was that in contrast to liberals, who approved of McCarthy’s “ends” (ouster of Communists from offices and jobs) but disapproved of his radical and demagogic means, I myself approved his means (radical assault on the nation’s power structure) but not necessarily his ends.
Ganz also states that Rothbard was in favor of a program of "economic nationalism." This is absolutely false. Rothbard was always for open trade, even unilateral open trade. Ganz misunderstands Rothbard's call for "America First." It wasn't about protectionism. By this Rothbard advocated the end of overseas military adventures nothing more.

Ganz ends with this slap:
For this reason, the intellectual wasteland of libertarianism continues to provide a safe space for fascists: It simply has philosophical room for them, and no particular injunctions to turn them away.
The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics explains fascism this way:
As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces, the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax...

Under fascism, the state, through official cartels, controlled all aspects of manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agriculture. Planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission. Levels of consumption were dictated by the state, and “excess” incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or “loans.” ...

To maintain high employment and minimize popular discontent, fascist governments also undertook massive public-works projects financed by steep taxes, borrowing, and fiat money creation.
It boggles the mind to think that this political philosophy of overflowing interventions, fascism, can somehow be considered a safe space for the political philosophy of non-intervention. It doesn't take a genius to see the differences. But perhaps one can see the problem in recognizing the differences when an author considers the philosophy of liberty, of freedom. a philosophical wasteland.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Sunday Morning with Robert Wenzel.


  1. As the old air force pilot saying goes, you know you're over the target area if you're taking flak. If people feel like they have to attack libertarianism, maybe they're feeling threatened?

  2. maybe the geniuses over at should take a look at what Murray had to say about conservatism and how empty that is.

  3. The mass defections of libertarians to the authoritarian right has been disappointing, and we'll probably see many more articles like this. However, in hindsight, it seems fairly simple to explain, and has little to do with libertarian ideology as such:

    1.) Alt-righters hated the sitting government (liberals, Democrats, the establishment, globalists, Jews, Hollywood, PC, etc...)

    2.) Libertarianism offered the best ideological framework for criticizing government policy, both in terms of espousing the soundest arguments and in terms of appearing non-threatening by eschewing power.

    3.) Alt-righters allied themselves with libertarians based on their shared opposition to the current government.

    4.) An alt-right presidential candidate, who opposed the same establishment they hated, rose to prominence.

    5.) The alt-righters abandoned libertarianism because it was no longer in their interest to criticize the state, now that one of their own was in power.

    6.) Actual libertarians kept on opposing the state.

    1. Many of us defected because we realized that the LP was more concerned about weed and anal sex than anything else. We also realized that the philosophy of libertarianism takes an IQ higher than room temperature to understand, and that importing massive amounts of stupid, third world socialists won't lead to a free society.

    2. Yes, don't hurt people and don't take their stuff, that's High IQ territory.

  4. Libertarians have always had common ground with the Left's dislike for crony corporatism and the Right's dislike for government corruption. The fundamental difference is that haters are motivated by various bigotries (typically of race, class or nation) while real Libertarians are motivated by the moral imperative of the non-aggression principle. Sometimes those motivated by hate and those motivated by love will intersect, but that does not make them similar. As they say, Hitler was a vegetarian, but obviously not all vegetarians are Nazis.

  5. It seems the goal is to endlessly confuse people what libertarianism is and keep them away from it. Nobody on that 3x5 card of acceptable thought bothers to study the difference between Ayn Rand, Rothbard, and the Koch brothers. They lump it all together even though those D and R fans wouldn't like it much if their little divisions weren't understood.

    Besides Somalia and the roads there's always what some libertarian once said even if there's nothing remotely libertarian about it. Various smear articles feed this debate distraction technique with ever new material.

    Just pointing out that fascism and nazism are forms of socialism outside sites like this will cause a comments section storm of outrage. People are so very miseducated that it's easy for them to be manipulated away from libertarianism.