The way in which a kind of left discourse I call pop anti-libertarianism proliferates in direct relation to the abysmal shittiness of Obama’s presidency merits at least one full post on its own. Suffice it to say that the huge, stenchful dump pop anti-libertarian Corey Robin recently took on the pages of The Nation, just at the moment the flood of Democratic scandal reached eyeball level is, at the very least, highly symbolic. Suffice it also to say that for leftier lefts wishing to sit at the Serious table, making a Robin-like ass of oneself on the topic of libertarians is highly advisable, particularly for those who can’t yet stoop to partisan apologetics.
Those of us who see behind Freddie DeBoer’s handwringy earnestness an increasingly run-of-the mill, disingenuous liberal aren’t too surprised to see him jumping on the anti-libertarian bandwagon. Nor are we surprised that he took Robin’s widely-disparaged essay as his inspiration, where it functions as Robin normally does in pop anti-libertarianism: as an ostensible scholarly foundation for breathtakingly stupid boilerplate smears, entirely unnecessary for anything but a facade of high-mindedness. DeBoer lingers on Robin only long enough to draw a smeary line between Hayek, Pinochet and Libertarians, and to parrot Robin’s smeary mischaracterization of a libertarian detractor.
After the familiar inventory of his own virtues – prolific and expansive reading; open-mindedness; intellectual fearlessness; and eternal hope for, and openness to, alliances with his political inferiors — DeBoer unlocks the secret of libertarianism with his customary rigor, briefly considering one web site (Bleeding Heart Libertarians) and a handful of Facebook acquaintances.
Regular readers may recall that Freddie recently exposed the unworthiness of anarchists as allies via a single window-smasher he knew eight years ago. His study of one libertarian blog and some Facebook pages is no less fruitful, crucially revealing that libertarians are a bunch of school lunch-hating, sick-person killing, Pinochet admirers. Moreover, because of a uniquely ferocious proclivity for orthodox close-mindedness — ‘epistemic closure’ in Freddie-speak — it’s unlikely they will ever amount to much else.
Even if you accept Freddie’s idiotic premise that a perusal of one libertarian website and a handful of Facebook pages tells you all you need to know about libertarians, ‘epistemic closure’ seems rather an odd benchmark. Is it better, for instance, that liberals aren’t disciplined on anything except unconditionally supporting Democrats? To attempt to refute shit this arbitrary, sloppy, stupid and dishonest is to dignify and thereby encourage it. So I won’t. Instead I will simply quote DeBoer himself, when the rhetorical project of smacking down the ‘bullshit social climber faux anti-racism‘ of African-American radio and video personality Jay Smooth necessitated this robust defense of libertarian Radley Balko:
Jay Smooth makes videos on the Internet. So he’s got that going for him. Radley Balko, meanwhile, has gotten actual black people out of actual jail. He has worked tirelessly against police abuse and corruption, the drug war, and mass incarceration, and specifically the mass incarceration of young black men. He’s been cited in court cases where innocent people were freed. His journalism– you know, the kind where you go out into the world and find out facts in order to create change, rather than sit in front of a webcam and use tired slang– has helped to create material change in the world.
Clearly, there are worse things than ‘epistemic closure.’ Like being smeary, sloppy, and unprincipled, for instance.
I’ve posted an amusing supplement to this piece: The Corey, Freddie and Erik Show
If You Are Not A Libertarian, Why Are You Always Defending Them? (From the Rancid Honeytrap FAQ)