Thursday, October 3, 2019

On Libertarian Virtue Signalling

By Robert Wenzel

On Tuesday, I posted an essay by Laurence M. Vance, Libertarians and Trump, which originally appeared at LRC.

I viewed it as a sound response to an earlier LRC article by Jim Cox, also titled Libertarians and Trump, where Cox listed a number of libertarian-type achievements that he argued Trump had accomplished.

I thought it was a stretch and was glad to see the Vance essay offering an opposing view.

Now, Cox under the blogger name, Concise, has responded to Vance in the comments section here at Target Liberty.

Most of it is directed at Laurence and I will let Laurence respond to that if he so chooses.

However, Jim dragged me into the rebuttal comment.

He writes in part:
 I see his article and Bob’s reprinting of it from as the libertarian virtue signaling I mentioned. Peace to both of you!
In his original article, he wrote:
 I’m enjoying these crumbs we are finally getting and do not understand the blanket criticisms from libertarians who can be as prone to virtue signally as the liberal/progressives. 
I thought it would be pretty tough to accuse me of virtue signaling. 

I have regularly made clear that I consider all of politics rearguard action to mostly just slow down government advancements and occasionally roll back some interventions.

I see the intellectual arena as the arena where the most important battles must take place.

With politicians, it is about tactical support.

For example, throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, I supported Hillary over Trump because I viewed her as providing a ready-made anti-Hillary crowd that would be open to hearing libertarian ideas and that Trump would not provide such an opening.

Indeed, immediately after the election on November 10, 2016, I wrote:
Heading into the election, I felt that for strategic reasons Hillary Clinton was the best alternative for libertarians. Not because she is good on many issues, she is not, but because she would come with a ready-made opposition that would listen to libertarian arguments against her.

It would have been a great opportunity to reach out to Trump supporters and spread the libertarian message. That opportunity is now gone with the Trump victory. Trump supporters are rabid, they will likely follow him down almost any hell hole.

These people are not going to listen to our arguments for smaller government. Their man is in power.

There will be opposition to Trump but it will be coming from the Left, not the Trump right.

The Left is all about expanding the state. Thus, it will be very difficult to reach out to these people and present state shrinking anti-Trump ideas. They are a perfect target for the socialists...

 The socialists are going to experience a boom in followers under Trump.

Thus, neither the left nor the right is going to be open to libertarian ideas at the present time.
I continue to hold that my view was accurate.

We have lost much of the youth.

That said I am now against his impeachment and against his conviction if it comes to a Senate trial, although I consider Trump a street-hustling buffoon who has no deep principles and can turn on any position or person at any time and has no libertarian streak.

He has already done the damage he is going to do with America's youth. He now must be used as a tool to prevent a Democratic sweep of Congress and the White House, which a conviction would surely advance.

I am not sure how I am virtue signaling when I am willing, on the political level, to get into bed for tactical reasons at various times with such repulsive creatures as Hillary and Combover Man.

Of course, this is not going to mean that I will not point out that Trump is anti-freedom when he implements tariffs, uses eminent domain to build his wall, and call for even greater Fed manipulation of the economy.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. It's a nasty world out there. If you fight in the trenches, you're gonna get dirty. Keep fightin', RW.
    P.S. Dorian was a BITCH. Gonna be Stateside for a while.. (sigh).

  2. The people complaining about virtue signaling are signaling their own virtue. It's just a different virtue signaled to different people.