The Corey, Freddie and Erik Show


The Flame Robin, a small passerine bird native to Australia. h/t @thurnandtaxis

This is a supplement to my last post, mostly for entertainment purposes. Consider it a walking tour of the liberal waste dump if you will.

I mentioned that Corey Robin mischaracterized a detractor. This is what that detractor, Bleeding Heart Libertarians blogger, Jason Brennan, actually said that Robin described as a call for a ‘purge’:

[Replying to Chris Bertram of Crooked Timber, where Robin contributes]

“Chris, you should really consider kicking Robin off the blog. I’m not convinced that he’s not just pulling some sort of extended Sokal Hoax on the pseudo-intellectual Left.”

Let’s completely put aside the most important thing, which is that Brennan has absolutely zero influence over Crooked Timber, and simply consider his  remark, which seems to be a jab at Robin’s scholarship, not his ideology. As I am a huge fan of the Sokal Hoax, I think it’s a good one, too. Since it’s about integrity, not ideology,  it’s not a call for a purge, and that makes Robin’s mischaracterization — which Freddie DeBoer obligingly parroted —  a self-serving smear.

For a chuckle, bear this incident in mind and, in particular, recall the gravity with which DeBoer traced the lineage of Brennan’s remark to Nietzsche and  ‘murderous despot Augusto Pinochet.’  Then read the first comment on another Corey Robin piece about Nietzsche at the liberal site, Crooked Timber:

I wonder if perhaps it is time for certain philosophers to be drummed out of polite society…Maybe it’s time to purge not only Nietzsche but also Strauss, Plato (the root cause) and possibly Hegel as well from the curriculum. Make it clear that these people and their views are evil and discredited…Plato, via Leo Strauss, caused the Iraq War…

Clearly the Crooked Timbers are not all about the epistemic whatsit the way libertarians are. Remember how they championed Erik Loomis’s academic freedom to say people he disagrees with should go to jail?

For more amusement, compare the snark, stonewalling and smears by which DeBoer and pals ‘defended’ his post on libertarians, with the civil, substantive, very heterodox discussion of Robin’s piece taking place between libertarians and lefts at the very site DeBoer cited as his bad example. Even by his own stupid yardstick, DeBoer is, once again, a loser.

Finally, it is with a great deal of schadenfreude, no, actually just freude, that I direct you to this post on Lawyer, Guns and Money, where our old pal, the aformentioned Stronzo di Tutti Stronzi, Erik Loomis — who intensely dislikes DeBoer for all the wrong reasons — unfairly implicates him in race science advocacy on his way to slamming Andrew Sullivan. DeBoer foolishly enters the fray and gets gleefully, meanly and unjustly skewered.

It’s terribly unfair but it’s undeniably delicious seeing DeBoer’s chosen comrades, the liberals, so wonderfully not anarchist nor libertarian, beating him senseless at his own smeary, dismissive game, mere hours after he’d keenly observed the ‘snarky dismissal and invective’ with which less evolved tribes discourage independence. He returned to his blog to complain:

I signed the petition insisting on Loomis’s academic and intellectual freedom. Today, despite his loud stand for his own academic freedom, he threatens my own.

To which Professor Loomis replied:


Ah poor Freddie, but it’s not like I didn’t warn him.

Authoritarianism advances when authoritarians advance…ensuring that an obvious authoritarian can keep his job and advance professionally toward greater influence must surely be a tactical draw at best from the standpoint of entrenching free speech as a social good.

Oh, liberals, please never change. We need the laughs.

Related Reading

Freddie DeBoer Smears Again

A Radical Look at Free Speech

On The Authoritarian Asshole Erik Loomis’s Free Speech Problems

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25 Responses to The Corey, Freddie and Erik Show

  1. skeri says:

    The best part is DeBoer reads your blog but will absolutely miss the point, somehow, as always. He’s the perfect mix of intellectual sharpness and genuine uncomprehending idiocy. A baffling, compelling character.

    • ohtarzie says:

      No, that’s the worst part of all of them. They’re too thick and vain to ever feel the sting.

      I don’t find DeBoer compelling anymore. He’s definitely choosing a conformist path that’s really off-putting and I really can’t stand the defensive cluelessness that goes with it. He’s too much of a creep.

      • alhambralahomo says:

        I love gang warfare. All their little pistols and switchblades to prove who is more the man of the block. And they mostly wind up back in their girlfriend’s or their mom’s bathroom, getting soigné and crying not to be taken to the hospital cuz they’ll get in trouble from the cops. But nerd gangs are even better: they cry about being impolite.

        Furthermore, I was almost on my way to not crawling in a hole and dying. After reading your free speech quandary post, I now despise, to my bowels, everyone. Thanks a lot, asshole.

      • ohtarzie says:

        ” I now despise, to my bowels, everyone.”

        My work is done. You’re welcome.

  2. Pingback: Freddie DeBoer Smears Again | The Rancid Honeytrap

  3. Pingback: A Radical Look at Free Speech | The Rancid Honeytrap

  4. ninjascience says:

    Worth pointing out that that Crooked Timber comment by Josh G. is followed by several posts telling him he either an idiot or joking, after which he claims the latter.

    • ohtarzie says:

      ninjascience —

      Right, I saw that, and because I don’t find his tepid disavowal at all convincing in light of the language and context of his comment, nor in the language and context of the disavowal itself, I didn’t waste words on it in my post. What I saw was embarrassed Crooked Timber members, led by high status member Robin, attempting to discipline a member who was taking too blunt an instrument to an authoritarian project he feels is implicit in Robin’s work. It’s noteworthy that before the high-status Robin intervened, the other commenters were happy to take him at face value.

      I find it interesting that in attempting to cast doubt on my interpretation of the comment, you didn’t quote anything. Wouldn’t a direct quote have been more persuasive? I, of course, provided a link in my post so my readers could make of the discussion what they want, but to show my good faith, I am quite happy to reproduce a chunk of the alleged ‘disavowal’ here:

      Well, I was being half-facetious. I really think that Plato’s philosophy is terrible and is at least indirectly responsible for all kinds of bad real-world results, but obviously someone so central to the whole enterprise of philosophy isn’t going to be drummed out. The question then becomes what should be done to inoculate people against harmful memes?

      Do I really have to tease out how little that differs qualitatively from his original comment? I’m not going to waste my time on it except to note that ‘half-facetious’ is weaselspeak and that his only problem with ‘drumming out’ Plato is the impracticality of it.

      That other commenters disagreed with him is of no interest to me, since unlike Robin and DeBoer, I am not attempting to use one comment to get at the secret evil essence of a political tendency. I am showing the foolishness of pulling such a stunt and Robin’s double standard when he encounters one of his own talking explicitly of purges, as opposed to a libertarian who is simply ridiculing his dishonesty as a scholar.

      Now I’m going to invite my readers to linger briefly on the bad faith of your visit here and place it in the context of this whole wonderful conversation Freddie started about online behavior and political tendencies.

      • ninjascience says:

        Thanks for responding.

        Even if his disavowal was insincere (I think it’s hard to say–the initial post was so cartoonishly over the top, but, Poe’s Law.), I think the fuller context is important in case any of your readers got the impression that that sort of thinking characterizes liberals (not that you intended to convey that impression).

        I suppose if you’re operating under the hypothesis that this is what everyone actually thinks, but all the other academic liberals and socialists @CT were trying to keep a lid on it, then, sure, I guess it would confirm that hypothesis.

        On the other hand, if you suppose that most posters on an academic leftist blog have very strong beliefs in academic freedom, you might expect to see them react strongly when anyone argues that great philosophers should be “drummed out”. You might also expect other posters would hear any call to get rid of Plato and Hegel as too ridiculous to be taken as sincere. So I suppose that thread confirms whatever one wants to see.

        One thing I don’t see is how linking Nietzche to Hayek (rightly or wrongly) represents a project to drum either author out of anything. Certainly not Nietzche who’s been linked to far nastier things than Hayek (e.g. Nazis, Rand). Vice-versa with Hayek (Pinochet, Salazar).

        Other writers at Crooked Timber have praised some of Hayek’s economic insights (particular on distributed knowledge and hierarchy). Obviously they aren’t buying the overall project of Austrian economics, but it’s mostly Hayek’s terrible yet deeply influential theory of politics in Road to Serfdom that they have a problem with. Leftist totalitarianism was unspeakably terrible, but I’m not aware of any examples of it coming into being by the process described in RtS (a democratic government following a slippery slope of industrial policy and the welfare state to a complete command economy). There’s a lot that socialists and liberals should learn from Hayek, but, in turn, there’s a lot that libertarians and anarchists should learn from Hayek’s mistakes.

        In my view Brennan’s judgment of quality is poor, at least in this case. Kevin Vallier’s post was long, but the vast majority of “errors” he cited were just counter-arguments–differences of opinion, not matters of fact that Robin had got wrong. (Probably the serious accusation isnumber 2, that Robin is misreading quotes from Hayek. But I don’t think Vallier’s explanation for what Hayek really meant actually works.) If you read the comments at that BHL post, I think CK MacLeod characterized the argument pretty well (and didn’t seem to be sympathetic to Robin.) It’s certainly reasonable to disagree with Robin, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to pretend that what Robin wrote was so obviously wrong that other writers should dissociate themselves from him. Or, at least, if it is so obviously wrong, someone’s going to have to do a much better job than Vallier did of explaining why.

      • ohtarzie says:

        I don’t find the matter of Josh’s comment and the disavowal at all ambiguous. I just don’t. I think he’s an authoritarian dipshit and said a dipshitty thing, which, as I’ve already noted, all subsequent commenters took at face value until the high status Robin intervened. Therefore, I don’t think I had any obligation to do but what I did, which is link to the original, especially since I was deliberately aiming for short and sharp. In any event, your interpretation doesn’t undermine by point about Robin’s hypocrisy, since clearly he assumes the best of faith when the purge talk comes from an ally – even generously helping with a revision – and the worst faith when the talk comes from a libertarian critic. I don’t think Crooked Timber’s hive mind on free speech or anything else puts him on solid ground to assume the best about Josh any more than it does you.

        The basis for the corralling behavior of Robin and co is more speculative certainly. I do think Robin’s initial intervention smells rather strongly of embarrassment and certainly of an attempt to put new words in Josh’s mouth. This doesn’t mean he endorses what Josh said, though I think there may be some concern about how Josh’s apparent inference reflects on him. In any event, as I’ve already made clear, I didn’t introduce the quote to damn an entire tendency, though I do think authoritarianism is a huge problem for liberals. If you’re going to keep sowing doubt on this topic, please introduce something I haven’t already addressed. I think all intelligent lurkers have what they need to make a judgment. I am unlikely to assume good faith if you continue to sow doubt without any evidence as your first comment did.

        Not going to respond on Robin’s intentions about drumming people out since I never made any such claim. I simply said Josh seemed to see that in Robin’s project. I also don’t really care, at least in the context of my posts, what Crooked Timber writers say about Hayek. I do, however, find some of your comments interesting and appreciate that you think each ‘side’ has something to learn from the other.

        Brennan’s discernment on what constitutes scholarship worthy of Crooked Timber is also not very interesting to me or relevant. My assertion is simply that his remark was clearly not a call to purge and that Robin’s mischaracterization does not at all undermine Brennan’s claim that he’s dishonest.

      • ninjascience says:

        It makes discussions less confusing if you explicitly label any edits you make to your comment. Sadly, you’ve changed your post to imply some kind of dishonesty on my part (which is odd–as if you clicked over there and saw something you hadn’t seen before.)

        Anyway, you’ll note that I said he “claimed” he was joking. The important part I was pointing out was that other people rejected them. (Which is why I didn’t quote–I’d have to quote six or seven posts).

        “That other commenters disagreed with him is of no interest to me, since unlike Robin and DeBoer, I am not attempting to use one comment to get at the secret evil essence of a political tendency. I am showing the foolishness of pulling such a stunt and Robin’s double standard when he encounters one of his own talking explicitly of purges, as opposed to a libertarian who is simply ridiculing his dishonesty as a scholar.”

        Brennan didn’t have much evidence for “dishonesty”, only disagreement that he calls dishonesty. If Brennan wants to claim that he was “half-facetious”, then I guess you could start talking about a double standard.

        In any event, both your OP and this comment that I’m replying to certainly spend a lot of time characterizing pathologies of liberalism as a political tendency. Immediately following your quote of Josh G., you write “Clearly the Crooked Timbers are not all about the epistemic whatsit the way libertarians are. Remember how they championed Erik Loomis’s academic freedom to say people he disagrees with should go to jail?” I took that to mean that you were using that to characterize Crooked Timber in general, not just this one poster. I see that was a misreading on my part, but I suspect other people would make the same misreading–it’s kind of hard to tell which of your attacks on liberalism are sincere, and which are just attempting to demonstrate some kind of double-standard.

      • ohtarzie says:

        ‘Sadly, you’ve changed your post to imply some kind of dishonesty on my part (which is odd–as if you clicked over there and saw something you hadn’t seen before.)’

        Sorry, I am not usually commenting with an interlocutor who is waiting to respond. If you tell me what I’ve changed to make you look dishonest, rather than simply accusing me of doing that, perhaps I can address the problem directly.

        ‘it’s kind of hard to tell which of your attacks on liberalism are sincere, and which are just attempting to demonstrate some kind of double-standard…I mean “sincere” as opposed to “ironic”, not as opposed to “insincere”.’

        Maybe I should just summarize my point of view: I think online partisan liberalism is pretty much a toxic waste dump though was not attempting to prove it here. Was simply demonstrating that it’s shitty enough to make DeBoer’s project of rooting out the terrible essence of libertarianism from one website and some facebook pages extremely hypocritical, putting aside how egregiously stupid it is from a sampling standpoint. Thought it would be funny to demonstrate via our featured players: DeBoer, Robin, Loomis.

        [there have been some revisions to this paragraph]
        As for specifics about my meaning, I think Crooked Timber’s campaign for Erik Loomis stunk for reasons I have gone into at length elsewhere on this site, but my remarks were not so much ironic as simply using the wonderfully symbolic contradictions of Loomis’s case – authoritarian, anti-free speech asshole as free speech martyr – for comic effect and also because I think he embodies a certain kind of smeary, dishonest personality that increasingly dominates in partisan liberalism. I think the thrashing he and his fellow creeps gave DeBoer considered against the civility at BHL, and considered against DeBoer’s poorly supported insistence that there are no worthy allies but liberals is funny, to say the least and also hints that he should contend at some point with the rot in liberalism and why, exactly it doesn’t matter, if he is going to write off everyone else based on broken windows and ‘epistemic closure.’

        Also irony about Crooked Timber’s epistemic closure. POV simply that, what does ‘epistemic closure’ even mean weighed against some asshole that thinks Plato should be drummed out of the academy.

      • ninjascience says:

        I’m not saying you changed something to make me look dishonest, I’m saying your edited post goes a lot further in questioning my honesty than the original did. I regret mentioning it now–I certainly admit I misunderstood your original post. (Yes, you can delete the extra post).

        To be honest, I’ll admit that I also perceive some toxic elements among fellow liberals/socialists (I’m not sure I see anything worse than I see among libertarians or conservatives, and don’t really have enough experience with anarchists to judge). DeBoer has problems, Loomis is terrible, and I can see decent arguments for and against that CT petition for Loomis.

        But I’m not with you at all on Robin/Brennan. It’s common for literal ideological purges to be accomplished by spurious accusations of academic dishonesty. Robin, no doubt, believes Brennan’s accusations are spurious and ideologically motivated. And I’m pretty sure that they’re ideologically biased, at least. Given that, I don’t think there’s anything dishonest about Robin describing Brennan as calling “for me to be purged from Crooked Timber”. In other words, I don’t think it’s enough to avoid the charge of “purge” to convince yourself that you’re not ideologically motivated.

        Anyway, I apologize for my earlier misreadings.

      • ohtarzie says:

        I appreciate your concerns about Brennan, and I understand your point about how an attempt to purge someone can be concealed under non-ideological pretexts. But thing is, he has no power to purge Robin from Crooked Timber anyway, so I am content to take the remark at face value. On DeBoer’s site he pointed out that he openly admires people from across the political spectrum and if that is, in fact, true, his concerns about Robin probably are about how Robin reaches and expresses his conclusions more than the conclusions he reaches. Surely Brennan differs ideologically with everyone at Crooked Timber, and even by Robin’s own account, his recent essay has been widely criticized across the political spectrum.

        In short, I don’t think this is murky enough to warrant changing or regretting my characterization of the incident, especially since the meat is in two things: the contrast between Brennan’s remark and Josh’s far more explicit purge language and the silliness of making this remark indicative of something other than Joseph Brennan, even if it were about purging. I know you think there is ambiguity to Josh’s remark but I don’t concede that either and we’ve already gone around on that.

        No need to apologize for anything.

        I appreciate being intelligently pressed to explain things for people who don’t belong to the chorus.

      • ninjascience says:

        I’ll concede the meat of your post–Josh’s example makes DeBoer’s post look foolish.

        I still think Brennan is acting really shitty. No, Brennan doesn’t have any power to purge, but he was calling for a purge. It’s one thing to disagree with a writer, but it’s kind of a serious thing to try to tell their colleagues (Bertram) that the writer is not merely wrong but dishonest–so dishonest that they shouldn’t associate with the writer any more. Someone who does that had better make sure they have the goods, and I don’t think Brennan did.

        It’s not fair to characterize all libertarians with that–though it’s a bit disappointing that nobody at BHL had any problem with this.

      • ohtarzie says:

        As we continue in this conversation the more convinced I become that someone without any real power to influence a purge can’t really call for a purge. But I also don’t really care that much. I am tired of these dudes with access out the ass getting bent out of shape when someone suggests perhaps they have more than they warrant. Also sick of this knee-jerk equating of condemnation with suppression, a la fucking Loomis. Regardless of his intentions, Brennan has no power to remove Robin from Crooked Timber, so this is all about his motives. In other words, it’s one more quasi-religious attempt at getting at a political opponent’s terrible secret essence which is really Robin’s ‘scholarship’ in microcosm. I’m sick of this shit.

        Between the two of them, I think Brennan is acting in better faith. I don’t respect Corey Robin at all. I have read a fair number of his online pieces – though not most of this essay – and I find his writing both uninspired and dishonest. I’ve interacted with him on line and he is a fucking asshole who argues — if it can even be called that — in the worst possible faith. He’s working an agenda, which is ok, but when you’re working an agenda and your main audience is made up of people who don’t really care if you’re rigorous or not, there is a high risk of sloppiness. I think this story told at BHL rings true and conveys a lot of people’s misgivings about him.

        I concede Brennan should probably be more specific about Robin’s deficiencies, but my gut feeling is he wouldn’t have much trouble making a case – remember he’s talking about his whole career, not just this essay – and Robin would probably be wise to not press the issue. There’s no need, because of course Robin’s post at Crooked Timber is completely secure. But Joseph Brennan said he’s a fraud! Boo fucking hoo.

      • ninjascience says:

        I think calling for a purge is precisely what one does when one can’t actually initiate one.

        I posted a comment in response to that BHL story.

        I can’t speak to Robin’s entire body of work. I didn’t agree with everything in The Reactionary Mind, but he had some important insights, most especially that critics of conservatives and even some right-leaning moderates are completely mischaracterizing Edmund Burke when they say that modern conservatives are somehow anti-Burkean, imagining Burke to be some kind of proto-Karl Polanyi. Burke was totally fine with radical disruptions introduced by market reforms.

        More relevant to this exchange, I think Robin’s overall project with regard to conservatives is worthy–we are missing an explanation for why conservatives take the positions that they do. It’s not a matter of secret essences–with each particular issue, the best explanation is to take conservative arguments for that issue at face value. But when it comes to asking why all of these issues cluster together–why is it that the combination of laissez faire markets, social tradition, and hawkish foreign policy seem to go together so frequently when, if you actually think about each of those positions, they’re in tension with the other two.

        I think Robin is on surer ground when talking about conservatives than libertarians. (Maybe that’s even leading him astray here–conservatives explicitly make Nietzschean arguments (that they proudly label as Nietzschean) in favor of the market system.) But, as I think anarchists should understand, the definitions of freedom and liberty used by libertarians are far more arbitrary than libertarians are willing to admit. Property and formalized markets represent state-imposed coercion–not as much coercion as a absolutely planned economy would be, of course, but still coercion. By far, the most absolutely infuriating thing about (non-utilitarian) libertarians is the habit some of them have of threatening others with lethal force to enforce their claims while claiming to be nonviolent. Their definition of freedom is more complicated than they’re willing to admit–so understanding that definition necessarily means offending the people claiming that it’s only possible or simplest definition.

  5. Satchel Paige says:

    Interesting that Corey Robin comments here as “ninjascience.” Concern trolling is what “professor” Robin does best. Give with one hand, take back with the other, all while being very “concerned” about the presence of “reactionaries” and what that portends for American Consumerist Yuppies Who Identify As Progressive.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Ha ha. I’m flattered that you think Robin considers me important enough for a lengthy sock puppet routine, but pretty sure ninjascience is on the up and up. I don’t think Robin could manage so much civility over such an extended period.

      Agree with your succinct encapsulation of Robin’s racket, though.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Seriously? You can go to his blog and the links he’s put up to people disagreeing with that Nietzche piece. I think you can safely assume he’s got his hands full.

      • ninjascience says:

        Well, okay, I have multiple pseudonyms on different sites (old habit), but I assure you none of them are “Corey Robin” 😉

      • Satchel Paige says:

        “Professor” has his “hands full”? With what?

        “The Reactionary Mind” could have been written over a weekend (and a dissolute debauched one at that), it’s so empty of substance despite the profuse foot-note/end-note Fancy Academy Style of its final product.

        Anyway, “ninjascience” doesn’t have to literally be Corey Robin. The point is that “ninjascience” sounds much like Corey Robin’s writing, which suggests “ninjascience” either fancies him/her/itself a Junior Corey Robin, or comes from the same delusional academia kind of perch from which empty, wordy profundities are cheeped and chirped.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is unrelated to this, so feel free to delete. This is regarding your recent weird twitter fight with Brave Progressive, Max Blumenthal and how you keep getting trolled by Ames/Levine (who seem to have dragged down Blumenthal too, sadly). Anyway they like one-liners (i.e. GLENN GREENWALD CATO SHILL) so here’s one you can use if you feel like it:

    1) Yasha Levine “exposes” CloudFlare (which actually does seem creepy)
    (I have no idea where Cloudflare falls on the evil scale but the P.S. section is classic Ames/Levine guilt by association where they connect Cloudflare with Palantir because they received the same award one time)

    2) Cloudflare funds NSFWCorp

    Are Mark Ames and Yasha Levine Crypto-Shills For Cloudflare And The Fascists at Palantir?????????

    Anyway, sucks about Blumenthal. I like his stuff.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Hi. Thanks for the tip. A post about Mark Ames and co is definitely in our future.

      Quite shocked about Blumenthal. My original wasn’t intended as a troll but might have come across stronger than I intended. I don’t however, thinks that warrants all truly idiotic shit he said afterward and I am content to write him off completely. He made a complete douchebag of himself.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nice! I’m looking forward to that post. Ames is a real tragedy – the eXile was pretty cool (minus the glorification of violent misogyny) and I like his book on rampage shootings. His quality has been steadily but surely decreasing over the years but still, I wasn’t expecting him to become a small-minded hack. Oh well. People suck.

        Blumenthal’s comments seemed like piling on to impress his cool older friends at NSFW who could buy him beer at the strip mall. Classic douche.

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