Monday, July 2, 2018

Can a Socialist Be Flipped?

Since my launch of #CommitteeTo FlipAlexandriaOcasioCortez, I have received a number of emails questioning the notion over whether a socialist can be flipped.

I have two names for these people:

Friedrich Hayek and Thomas Sowell

Hayek was a Fabian Socialist before Mises flipped him.

Hayek wrote:
I had looked in at one of his [Mises'] lectures and found that a man so conspicuously antipathetic to the kind of Fabian [socialist] views that I then held was not the sort of person  to whom  I wanted to go. But  of course things  changed. 
And Hayek said of Mises' work Socialism, which attacked socialism and changed Hayek:
To none of us young men who read the book when it appeared was the world ever the same again. If Roepke  stood here, or Robbins, or Ohlin (to mention only those of exactly the same age as myself), they would tell you the same story. Not that we at once swallowed it all. For that it was much too strong a medicine and too bitter a pill. But to arouse contradiction, to force others to think out for themselves the ideas which have led him, is the main function of the innovator. And though we might try to resist, even strive hard to get the disquieting considerations out of our system, we did not succeed. The logic of the argument was inexorable.
Sowell has
Back in the days when I was a Marxist, my primary concern was that ordinary people deserved better, and that elites were walking all over them. That is still my primary concern, but the passing decades have taught me that political elites and cultural elites are doing far more damage than the market elites could ever get away with doing... 
While my desires for a better life for ordinary people have not changed from the days of my youthful Marxism, experience has taught the bitter lesson that the way to get there is the opposite of what I once thought.
I rest my case.

As for the possibility of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flipping. I have no idea if that is possible. A politician is probably more difficult to flip than an intellectual. Maybe there is a 3% chance but that is why in my essay launching the #CommitteeToFlipAlexandriaOcasioCortez  I wrote about the failure of the Burgundy Circle in its focus on one person and went on:
We need to attempt to flip her away from wacky socialist ideas and show her the pitfalls of central power in any sector. At her young age, she is probably still susceptible enough to truth and honesty to listen to libertarian views...Now there are dangers with focusing on one person...

Thus, I  propose that The Committee to Flip Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, issue open letters to Ocasio-Cortez here at Target Liberty and at EPJ outlining the many confusions and contradictions in her socialist policy views. By being open letters, they will have the potential to reach far beyond Ocasio-Cortez.
Another point that has been raised is that Ocasio-Cortez would not be getting the support she has received if she didn't promise so many socialist style giveaways. But I believe this underestimates her. I see her as more than just a politician. She is a skilled communicator. A very strong secondhand dealer in ideas. And I write as someone who spotted her potential before the upset election victory and before mainstream media did.

In my view, if she somehow recognized the power of free markets, and the coercion and failure that is inherent in socialism, she would have the skill to know how to communicate that message as few would.

That said, if the #CommitteeToFlipAlexandriaOcasioCortez does nothing but counter Ocasio-Cortez socialist policy proposals, it will be a valuable service to anyone attempting to understand the alternatives to socialism.




  1. The best I can tell Cortez is seeking power. The statement from her mother is what keyed me to that. You can't flip a person who is seeking power because they are doing only what gets them power. Maybe I am wrong. But to be flipped a person must honestly believe what they are saying and have the capability to accept new data and modify their views accordingly.

    1. You are right on the money Jimmy. She reminds me of a another parrot squawking the freebie socialist platitudes ... Bernie Sanders!

  2. Hayek and Sowell are the rarest of intellectuals. Their concern was logic, evidence, and the fundamental immorality of coercion; they never sought political power in order to make bad public policies even worse. AOC is a cute and clever ex-bartender who has strong political ambitions and knows what ideas "sell" in democratic and progressive voting districts. Let's ask Sowell whether this comparison is fair or, alternatively, whether he thinks that Cortez can be flipped.

  3. Is there even any precedent here? When has a successful political ever seen the light and flipped to libertarian? Top of my head the only 2 possible examples I can think of are Karl Hess and Walter Jones, neither of whom have much in common with AOC as far as I can tell. Stockman was always kind of libertarian though he’s gotten better.

    I just feel like even if she was personally convinced, she knows that her base would never buy it. We know what a hard sell liberty is, and most of us have been thinking about this stuff for decades.

  4. FWIW... Gary North, among many others, talks about the 80/20 rule. As I see it a given person is in the 20% in some particular area of endeavor. That same person is in the 80% in another type endeavor.

    Ocasio-Cortez and people like her on both the right and the left and in the middle are in the 20% who know how to successfully take advantage of the political system we have. They are, in short, political organizational entreprenuers. They see an opportunity and they know how to take advantage of it by bringing the together other resources and skills that enables them have to be "successful" in the US political system. The "system" is based on coercion as opposed to the free market system which is based on Peaceful persuasion.

    The rest of us, generally, are not good at the "system" and its use of political coercion. Even if we see what's happening we still don't have what it takes to succeed in that system. For example you may not have the willpower, the passion or the stomach lie your way and abuse other people to "take" power in politics and reap the rewards. That puts you at a disadvantage of those like
    Ocasio-Cortez or Carl Rove who are willing to use coercion in the political system to receive personal above-market profits to their actions.

  5. For most people political affiliation is a sort of fashion statement. This is especially the case for young,hip socialists.

  6. God save us from the "intellectuals".

  7. If she thinks Puerto Rico doesn’t have enough socialism and that’s why it is failing so bad, then she probably is unreachable.

  8. Pinochet knew how to flip them...out of helicopters.