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Tue Jul 30, 2013, 12:36 PM

Libertarian populism is a fraud

BY MICHAEL LIND

Question: What is a libertarian populist? Answer: A libertarian in disguise.

That is my conclusion, after perusing much of the recent discussion of whether a new “libertarian populism” (or “populist libertarianism”) could prove to be a winning formula for the exhausted and discredited American right.

At first glance, creating a common ideology to unite the libertarian and populist wings of today’s right must be an appealing idea for GOP strategists. But to succeed, both parents would have to contribute to the genetic makeup of the libertarian populist baby. The leading advocates of libertarian populism, however, look very much like run-of-the-mill libertarians to me.

Ben Domenech, for example, tries to define libertarian populism by arguing that it takes “a few of its aims from the Rand Paul approach – a balanced budget amendment, flatter and simpler taxes, and more – but there is also a stronger focus on issues which cut across party lines, including reform of higher education, prison and justice systems, civil liberty protections, and an assault on D.C. cronyism from green energy to Big Banks.” But all of this is standard-issue libertarianism, including libertarian critiques of “prison and justice systems” and “civil liberty protections.” Nothing new here, folks, move along.

What Domenech and others mean by “populist” appears to be “popular.” They want a popular libertarianism, a libertarianism that majorities of Americans might vote for, not a movement that has anything to do with actual historic populism in the United States, which has generally been, to coin a phrase, illibertarian.

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http://www.salon.com/2013/07/30/libertarian_populism_is_a_fraud/

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 30, 2013, 12:40 PM

1. Libertarian populist is code word for racist anarcho-capitalist.

 

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 30, 2013, 01:56 PM

2. Thomas Frank also notes that "both" the mainstream parties moved into this whole thing

Last edited Tue Jul 30, 2013, 02:34 PM - Edit history (1)

where they talk like the Revolutionary Left Movement but act like Pinochet, basically: since 1994 the Dems are increasingly for dismantling economic regulation and social support as much as they're okay with gays and abortion (even if they make some pretty speeches against inequality, they're still Wall Street tools: cultish denial of this is just a ploy to keep complaints down until the changes have been finalized)

the right-libertarian movement was a corporate astroturf thing that started in the 70s with things like the Hunt brothers, Proposition 13, and the "Sagebrush Revolt," linked to attacks on the Great Society like Moynihan's: they were central to the 80s Reagan Coalition (alongside Cold Warriors/Team B, the Religious Right, and corrupt big business); they provided half of Perot's talking points and most all of talk radio's; at the same time the DLC and cyberselfishness guru Gingrich started consolidating right-libertarian views as the New Normal in their respective parties: now it was just common sense that Welfare Has To Be Reformed, that Guns Lost Dems The Election, that There Is No Alternative, that freedom of speech was the same as freedom of money and guns; anything intrusive is called "nanny-state"--which is like calling gas mileage improvements "Rainbow-Six-esque": it's a complete surrender of political language to the corpos

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 30, 2013, 03:11 PM

3. "Libertarian populists" have nothing in common with real historical populists.

If they really are inspired by the American populist legacy, and are not just opportunists trying to rebrand libertarian ideology, then self-described libertarian populists should be able to point at least to some elements of the populism of a hundred years ago that still inspire them.

Do libertarian populists agree with the original populists in supporting unions? According to the People’s Party platform, “The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection…”

What? What’s that you say? Libertarian populists aren’t for labor unions?

Point Three of the People’s Party platform was a progressive income tax
: “We demand a graduated income tax.” Sorry, populists—if Ben Domenech is an authoritative spokesman for libertarian populism, you can’t have that one, either. Remember, according to Domenech:

The libertarian utopia, or the closest we’ve come to it, is America itself, up to about 100 years ago. It was a country with no income tax and no central bank.

Thanks for finding and posting this, n2doc.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 30, 2013, 03:23 PM

4. Are they trying the "what's good for GM must be good for America" approach again?


I don't think they're going to have much luck convincing Americans that corporate America is anything but the enemy of the working people. It's going to take a generation of mending fences before the public has that 1950s mindset again.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 30, 2013, 03:50 PM

5. K & R

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