The new radical ideology for our time

I had an epiphany while reading reports of protests in Europe against the various austerity measures being imposed due to the different government’s economic woes:  The radical ideology for our postmodern times is anarchism, the rejection of all authority.

Let me explain, but first read what is happening in Europe:

Already struggling to avoid a debt default that could seal Greece’s fate as a financial pariah, this Mediterranean nation is also scrambling to contain another threat — a breakdown in the rule of law.

Thousands have joined an “I Won’t Pay” movement, refusing to cover highway tolls, bus fares, even fees at public hospitals. To block a landfill project, an entire town south of Athens has risen up against the government, burning earth-moving equipment and destroying part of a main access road.

The protests are an emblem of social discontent spreading across Europe in response to a new age of austerity. At a time when the United States is just beginning to consider deep spending cuts, countries such as Greece are coping with a fallout that has extended well beyond ordinary civil disobedience.

Perhaps most alarming, analysts here say, has been the resurgence of an anarchist movement, one with a long history in Europe. While militants have been disrupting life in Greece for years, authorities say that anger against the government has now given rise to dozens of new “amateur anarchist” groups, whose tactics include planting of gas canisters in mailboxes and destroying bank ATMs.

Some attacks have gone further, heightening concerns about a return to the kind of left-wing violence that plagued parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. After urban guerrillas mailed explosive parcels to European leaders and detonated a powerful bomb last year in front of an Athens courthouse, authorities here have staged a series of raids, arresting dozens and yielding caches of machine guns, grenades and bomb-making materials.

The anarchist movement in Europe has a long, storied past, embracing an anti-establishment universe influenced by a broad range of thinkers from French politician and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Karl Marx to Oscar Wilde. Defined narrowly, the movement includes groups of urban guerillas, radical youths and militant unionists. More broadly, it encompasses everything from punk rock to WikiLeaks. . . .

A radical minority is energizing the anarchist movement, a loose network of anti-establishment groups that sprung up in force in the 1970s in opposition to Greece’s former military junta. Over the next two decades, anarchists would assassinate Richard Welch, a CIA station chief in Athens, as well as Greek politicians and a British military attache.

Greek authorities seemed to cut the head off the movement after the leaders of November 17th, the largest group, were arrested in the early 2000s before Greece hosted the 2004 Olympics. But it has been gaining new life. The December 2008 killing of a 15-year anarchist by a police officer in the Exarchia neighborhood of Athens sparked days of riots and became the impetus for a series of fresh attacks.

Since then, experts say, the economic crisis has helped the movement thrive, with anarchists positioning themselves as society’s new avengers. Long a den of anarchists, the graffiti-blanketed Exarchia neighborhood is alive anew with dissent. Nihilist youths are patrolling the local park, preventing police from entering and blocking authorities from building a parking lot on the site. On one evening at a local cafe, an anarchist group was broadcasting anti-government messages via a clandestine radio station using a laptop and a few young recruits.

In the most recent attacks, only one person has been injured, a courier who handled a letter bomb, but over the past two years, anarchist attacks have claimed four lives in Greece, including a journalist and a minister’s top aide. Left-wing radicals also appear responsible for the deaths of three civilians — including a pregnant woman — after a bank was firebombed during an anti-government protest last year.

Still, there is a line to be drawn between the far larger group of young anarchists hurling Molotov cocktails at street demonstrations and the smaller, more dangerous cells of urban guerrillas. But experts are increasingly concerned about growing militancy on the streets and the emergence of dozens of new anarchist groups on the Internet.

via In Greece, austerity kindles deep discontent – The Washington Post.

We have anarchist protesters here in the USA too.  They are the ones who wear masks and break windows during the protests at the various global economics conclaves.

Now of course in Europe it is beyond absurd to protest cut-backs in government services by advocating the elimination of government altogether!  But anarchists reject the authority of reason also.  I think their strategy is exploit people’s anger at their governments to turn them against government in general.  But I’m thinking that the fundamental ideology needs to be taken seriously because, to one degree or another, it has become pervasive.

There are many paths to anarchy, coming from both the left and the right.  Read the extensive Wikipedia article on anarchism:

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive.[5]Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism.[2] Strains of anarchism have been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications.[6][7] Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology,[8][9] and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics. However, anarchism has always included an individualist strain supporting a market economy and private property, or morally unrestrained egoism.[10][11][12] Some individualist anarchists are also socialists[13][14] while some anarcho-communists are also individualists.[15][16] The position known as anarchism without adjectives insists on “recognising the right of other tendencies to the name ‘anarchist’ while, obviously, having their own preferences for specific types of anarchist theory and their own arguments why other types are flawed.”[17]

The central tendency of anarchism as a mass social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon[18] which nevertheless did have an impact on the bigger currents[19] and individualists also participated in large anarchist organizations.[20][21] Some anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence (anarcho-pacifism),[22][23] while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.

The links show how many aspects of anarchism there are.  But briefly, left-wing anarchism opposes all established power systems, as well as private property.  Right-wing anarchism is an extreme libertarianism that believes the “invisible hand” of free market economics can also regulate all human interactions, making central governments unnecessary.

Anarchism accords well with postmodernism, which rejects  objective truth and objective morality, and which considers all cultural institutions to be ultimately grounded in social oppression and the imposition of power.  Anarchism also accords well with contemporary culture, which tends to reject all moral authority, including that of the family and religious institutions.

And isn’t  contemporary conservatism with its libertarianism, the Tea Party, and the overall antipathy to  government part of this climate?  That there may be good reasons for a certain reaction does not always justify everything that reaction turns into.  The horrible working conditions of the 19th century industrial revolution made Communism seem like a good idea at the time, even though that ideology turned into an even more horrible monster.  Bad government can make us want to limit it without going so far as anarchism.  Still, it seems to me that conservatives need to work out clearly what they think government should do and not do, as opposed to surrendering to the anarchist impulse.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    There would be no need for anarchism if government used a little restraint.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    There would be no need for anarchism if government used a little restraint.

  • Rich Kauzlarich

    You have put your finger on an issue that needs deeper examination. Unlike the 20th Century we are in an age where there is no global clash of ideologies (Capitalism vs Communism, Nazism vs Western democracy.) Rather than being in a multi-polar or uni-polar world, we are in a non-polar world because of the lack of an ideological flag around which people and states rally. Anarchism fits well into this ideological void. A good book to read for its description of 19th -early 20th Century European anarchism is Rik Coolsaet’s “Al-Qaeda The Myth.” (Academia Press, 2005)

  • Rich Kauzlarich

    You have put your finger on an issue that needs deeper examination. Unlike the 20th Century we are in an age where there is no global clash of ideologies (Capitalism vs Communism, Nazism vs Western democracy.) Rather than being in a multi-polar or uni-polar world, we are in a non-polar world because of the lack of an ideological flag around which people and states rally. Anarchism fits well into this ideological void. A good book to read for its description of 19th -early 20th Century European anarchism is Rik Coolsaet’s “Al-Qaeda The Myth.” (Academia Press, 2005)

  • Ryan

    Wan’t it an anarchist that lit the spark for WWI?

  • Ryan

    Wan’t it an anarchist that lit the spark for WWI?

  • Jimmy Veith

    I suppose we should not be surprised that there is anarchy within the different theories of anarchy. I have been given this matter some thought recently and it seems that there are two extremes within the theory of anarchy.

    One extreme version of anarchy is best expressed in John Lennon’s song Imagine:

    Imagine there’s no Heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    This seems to me to be a type of utopian anarchy which assumes that man is basically good, and only if we could eliminate all human institutions then the world would “live as one”. As a Christian, this view is fatally flawed as it ignores the reality of sin.

    The other extreme form of anarchy is an extreme form individualism that is motivated by a hatred of government. Followers of this type of anarchy often withdraw from society and have a desire to live completely independently of others, in bunkers in remote parts of the country. Unlike John Lennon, they have no illusions that man is basically good, so they protect themselves and their property from the government and other people with their guns. However, it is also a type of utopian philosophy in that it denies the reality of how we, in a modern society, are dependent upon one another.

    I suppose that another way to divide the philosophy of anarchy into different types is the degree to which they embrace violence as a means to accomplish their goals. John Lennon would certainly be a non-violent anarchist, while there are some in the exteme individualism movement that would embrace violence, such as the Unibomber and Timothy McVeigh.

    I must quit now. Because I am not an anarchist, I have to go to work. Ugh!

  • Jimmy Veith

    I suppose we should not be surprised that there is anarchy within the different theories of anarchy. I have been given this matter some thought recently and it seems that there are two extremes within the theory of anarchy.

    One extreme version of anarchy is best expressed in John Lennon’s song Imagine:

    Imagine there’s no Heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    This seems to me to be a type of utopian anarchy which assumes that man is basically good, and only if we could eliminate all human institutions then the world would “live as one”. As a Christian, this view is fatally flawed as it ignores the reality of sin.

    The other extreme form of anarchy is an extreme form individualism that is motivated by a hatred of government. Followers of this type of anarchy often withdraw from society and have a desire to live completely independently of others, in bunkers in remote parts of the country. Unlike John Lennon, they have no illusions that man is basically good, so they protect themselves and their property from the government and other people with their guns. However, it is also a type of utopian philosophy in that it denies the reality of how we, in a modern society, are dependent upon one another.

    I suppose that another way to divide the philosophy of anarchy into different types is the degree to which they embrace violence as a means to accomplish their goals. John Lennon would certainly be a non-violent anarchist, while there are some in the exteme individualism movement that would embrace violence, such as the Unibomber and Timothy McVeigh.

    I must quit now. Because I am not an anarchist, I have to go to work. Ugh!

  • Joe

    “And isn’t contemporary conservatism with its libertarianism, the Tea Party, and the overall antipathy to government part of this climate? ”

    No. Limited gov’t is not the same as no gov’t. If one were to accept this premise, then wouldn’t the premise that the progressive left is part of a statist/communist climate have to be equally valid? Any ideology can be reduced to its extreme absurd but that is not a valid critique of the ideology. The whole concept of libertarianism is that while too much gov’t is bad, a certain amount of gov’t is absolutely necessary. The debate is over how much and in what form is it necessary. Anarchism says there is no need for any gov’t at all. They are not the same thing.

  • Joe

    “And isn’t contemporary conservatism with its libertarianism, the Tea Party, and the overall antipathy to government part of this climate? ”

    No. Limited gov’t is not the same as no gov’t. If one were to accept this premise, then wouldn’t the premise that the progressive left is part of a statist/communist climate have to be equally valid? Any ideology can be reduced to its extreme absurd but that is not a valid critique of the ideology. The whole concept of libertarianism is that while too much gov’t is bad, a certain amount of gov’t is absolutely necessary. The debate is over how much and in what form is it necessary. Anarchism says there is no need for any gov’t at all. They are not the same thing.

  • Tom Hering

    Neither Anarchism nor Libertarianism recognize civil government as something instituted by God. The remedies offered by both philosophies are unrealistic because they’re based on a wrong understanding of civil government as something purely human.

    There are Christian Libertarians, but they seem to limit their understanding of civil government to a very narrow reading of Romans 13 alone.

  • Tom Hering

    Neither Anarchism nor Libertarianism recognize civil government as something instituted by God. The remedies offered by both philosophies are unrealistic because they’re based on a wrong understanding of civil government as something purely human.

    There are Christian Libertarians, but they seem to limit their understanding of civil government to a very narrow reading of Romans 13 alone.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “And isn’t contemporary conservatism with its libertarianism, the Tea Party, and the overall antipathy to government part of this climate? ”

    NO.

    Govt. abuse and confiscation of private property and rights are what animate movements such as the Tea Party. Sort of like the original Tea Party.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “And isn’t contemporary conservatism with its libertarianism, the Tea Party, and the overall antipathy to government part of this climate? ”

    NO.

    Govt. abuse and confiscation of private property and rights are what animate movements such as the Tea Party. Sort of like the original Tea Party.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Tom @6,

    I repeat: there wouldn’t be a need for an extreme reaction against government if government would stay within proper bounds.

    Government is necessary, but government is not infallible, and people who shrug their shoulders about it (not necessarily you personally) don’t help matters any. When government prosecutes businesses and individuals for corruption, yet gives itself a pass on the very same matters, it’s hard to take government seriously.

    And yes, I realize that government is instituted by God. Absolute lawlessness is a dangerous and sinful thing, you’ll get no argument from me on that. But again, that government is instituted by God does not give government a carte blanche pass on all matters.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Tom @6,

    I repeat: there wouldn’t be a need for an extreme reaction against government if government would stay within proper bounds.

    Government is necessary, but government is not infallible, and people who shrug their shoulders about it (not necessarily you personally) don’t help matters any. When government prosecutes businesses and individuals for corruption, yet gives itself a pass on the very same matters, it’s hard to take government seriously.

    And yes, I realize that government is instituted by God. Absolute lawlessness is a dangerous and sinful thing, you’ll get no argument from me on that. But again, that government is instituted by God does not give government a carte blanche pass on all matters.

  • K Hammer

    I don’t think Dr. Veith has been following the libertarians very closely to see what they are really saying. He’s pretty well lumped them all together with the extreme forms of European bomb-throwing anarchism, which is wrong. The libertarians want a return to Constitutional govt and that the central govt (especially the Executive branch) be limited in its scope. To return to our Constitution is not anarchism, but a return to our original law. It is rather our present central govt that is becoming lawless as it deviates from the Constitution with every executive order to circumvent our system, federal agencies making laws without review or vote by Congress, every time a federal judge re-interprets a law so as to make it of no effect, every time the President orders troops to foreign wars without the express approval of Congress–that is the beginning of lawlessness. This will lead to anarchism of the worst kind.

    The American libertarians want a return to the letter of the Constitution, which had limited central government. Would you say our Declaration of Independence was anarchist? Or the 10th amendment? “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Our Civil War began over the right of the states to preserve their power against the predations of the central government. All central governments in history have ended up as tyrannies in time and a law unto themselves only. Ours is heading down the same path. What I see from both Republican and Democrats is that these traditional parties have behaved over the last 100 years in lawless ways and have deviated very much from the supreme law of our law–the Constitution. Some even hold it in derision or at best say that it’s a “living document”–subject to wild interpretation. Now our central government is on the brink of becoming a lawless tyranny and the only people I see that are actively trying to prevent it are the libertarians.

  • K Hammer

    I don’t think Dr. Veith has been following the libertarians very closely to see what they are really saying. He’s pretty well lumped them all together with the extreme forms of European bomb-throwing anarchism, which is wrong. The libertarians want a return to Constitutional govt and that the central govt (especially the Executive branch) be limited in its scope. To return to our Constitution is not anarchism, but a return to our original law. It is rather our present central govt that is becoming lawless as it deviates from the Constitution with every executive order to circumvent our system, federal agencies making laws without review or vote by Congress, every time a federal judge re-interprets a law so as to make it of no effect, every time the President orders troops to foreign wars without the express approval of Congress–that is the beginning of lawlessness. This will lead to anarchism of the worst kind.

    The American libertarians want a return to the letter of the Constitution, which had limited central government. Would you say our Declaration of Independence was anarchist? Or the 10th amendment? “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Our Civil War began over the right of the states to preserve their power against the predations of the central government. All central governments in history have ended up as tyrannies in time and a law unto themselves only. Ours is heading down the same path. What I see from both Republican and Democrats is that these traditional parties have behaved over the last 100 years in lawless ways and have deviated very much from the supreme law of our law–the Constitution. Some even hold it in derision or at best say that it’s a “living document”–subject to wild interpretation. Now our central government is on the brink of becoming a lawless tyranny and the only people I see that are actively trying to prevent it are the libertarians.

  • Porcell

    Jimmy gets to the heart of the issue, the tendency of the utopian left and libertarian right to deny the evil in men and women. Both strive for a utopia that in the long run causes its extremists to either passively or viciously attack the rule of law. Another group of utopian anarchists is the Islamic terrorists who wish to impose Shariah Law on the world.

    In my view a form of anarchy was involved in the recent Madison Wisconsin events in which in the unions took over and trashed the capital building along with some legislators who abandoned their posts after a duly elected majority Republican governor and legislature proposed to revise the laws on collective bargaining.

    Governments need to be very strong and decisive when dealing with lawless anarchists who deserve no quarter.

  • Porcell

    Jimmy gets to the heart of the issue, the tendency of the utopian left and libertarian right to deny the evil in men and women. Both strive for a utopia that in the long run causes its extremists to either passively or viciously attack the rule of law. Another group of utopian anarchists is the Islamic terrorists who wish to impose Shariah Law on the world.

    In my view a form of anarchy was involved in the recent Madison Wisconsin events in which in the unions took over and trashed the capital building along with some legislators who abandoned their posts after a duly elected majority Republican governor and legislature proposed to revise the laws on collective bargaining.

    Governments need to be very strong and decisive when dealing with lawless anarchists who deserve no quarter.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It is just a bit disturbing. Anarchy simply can’t work in this world. It does have a long history in Europe. It was more popular in the states at one time too. But it is such a naive view of the world and man at it’s heart.
    I don’t find it disturbing that teenagers dabble in it, or graffiti the sidewalks with symbols most of them know nothing about.
    But I do wonder what is in store for Europe in the coming decades. Greece being so close to Turkey, and having won its independence in the not so distant past, cannot afford to be this internally weak.
    Turkey may be a secular country officially, but it still harbors Islamic sympathies. It is a wild card. Recently it has been trying to gain acceptance with western Europe, but how long does that last? Couple this with the reality that no country can really tolerate having such unrest in it’s neighboring country for long, and you have a recipe for disaster.
    finally what is needed is an ideology that captures the hearts of the people and moves them away from Anarchy. These things cannot be fought with guns alone. Though that is also a necessary component when the anarchists are rioting and murdering.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It is just a bit disturbing. Anarchy simply can’t work in this world. It does have a long history in Europe. It was more popular in the states at one time too. But it is such a naive view of the world and man at it’s heart.
    I don’t find it disturbing that teenagers dabble in it, or graffiti the sidewalks with symbols most of them know nothing about.
    But I do wonder what is in store for Europe in the coming decades. Greece being so close to Turkey, and having won its independence in the not so distant past, cannot afford to be this internally weak.
    Turkey may be a secular country officially, but it still harbors Islamic sympathies. It is a wild card. Recently it has been trying to gain acceptance with western Europe, but how long does that last? Couple this with the reality that no country can really tolerate having such unrest in it’s neighboring country for long, and you have a recipe for disaster.
    finally what is needed is an ideology that captures the hearts of the people and moves them away from Anarchy. These things cannot be fought with guns alone. Though that is also a necessary component when the anarchists are rioting and murdering.

  • Louis

    What Jimmy, Porcell and Bror said.

    Steve, K et al – Veith mentioned “extreme” libertarianism. The adjective is very important here. I have certainly seen what he writes about. That doesn’t mean that all libertarians are violent anarchists. But, the problem with libertarianism is that it means so many different things to so many people. For Marxism. You read Marx. But who gets to define libertarianism? I’m all for limited government, but I avoid terminology with weakly defined defintions.

    But government is necessary, always. And with a big and complex world, the government is going to be relatively complex. Thus one should always guard against the extremes, which are anarchism or statism. But for the latter, the issue is not so much politicians that want to help people, but: Governments who spend beyond their means, and an out-of-control bureaucracy. Unfortunately, some folks take this as meaning that government is bad and you should be suspicious of it, and that bureaucracy is evil. That is simple-minded. Just like some, more often than not on the left, view the police and military as evil. Sure they can be, but they are not evil by definition. And neither is government, tax, bureaucrats etc.

    Someone needs to bring order to the Force… :)

  • Louis

    What Jimmy, Porcell and Bror said.

    Steve, K et al – Veith mentioned “extreme” libertarianism. The adjective is very important here. I have certainly seen what he writes about. That doesn’t mean that all libertarians are violent anarchists. But, the problem with libertarianism is that it means so many different things to so many people. For Marxism. You read Marx. But who gets to define libertarianism? I’m all for limited government, but I avoid terminology with weakly defined defintions.

    But government is necessary, always. And with a big and complex world, the government is going to be relatively complex. Thus one should always guard against the extremes, which are anarchism or statism. But for the latter, the issue is not so much politicians that want to help people, but: Governments who spend beyond their means, and an out-of-control bureaucracy. Unfortunately, some folks take this as meaning that government is bad and you should be suspicious of it, and that bureaucracy is evil. That is simple-minded. Just like some, more often than not on the left, view the police and military as evil. Sure they can be, but they are not evil by definition. And neither is government, tax, bureaucrats etc.

    Someone needs to bring order to the Force… :)

  • CRB
  • CRB
  • Joe

    Louis, @ 12 “For Marxism. You read Marx. But, the problem with libertarianism is that it means so many different things to so many people.”

    I would hope you would read more than Marx for Marxism. After, Marxism an mean different things to different people too. But as for Libertarianism – its not that hard to find some well accepted theorists to read.

    you could start with this list: http://www.cato.org/research/ccs/rl-constitutional-studies.html

  • Joe

    Louis, @ 12 “For Marxism. You read Marx. But, the problem with libertarianism is that it means so many different things to so many people.”

    I would hope you would read more than Marx for Marxism. After, Marxism an mean different things to different people too. But as for Libertarianism – its not that hard to find some well accepted theorists to read.

    you could start with this list: http://www.cato.org/research/ccs/rl-constitutional-studies.html

  • SKPeterson

    There is a strain within libertarianism that describes itself as “anarcho-capitalist,” and advocates the abolition of the state as an entity inimical to private property. Now, I have my misgivings about such an extreme, but it’s advocates do have some powerful arguments, most of which come down to evil v. Evil. The argument for much of government is to correct and punish little “e” evil – murders, thefts, frauds, and things that are “local” or individual in scope. The anarcho-capitalists will note that it takes government, especially heavy duty authoritarian governments on either the fascist or communist side of the socialist spectrum, to turn little “e” evil into big “E” Evil . So, best to live with the small “e” and avoid the big “E”, by limiting, if not outright eliminating, the possibility of the big “E” Evil coming into play. The mediating factors in society are then argued to be non-state institutions such as the family, the church and the market facilitated by free trade, free movement and private property. (Interesting side note – many early “governments” did not necessarily come into existence to stem evil, but came about as a means of gaining rents from those engaged in trade, i.e. “We’ll build a fort on this river and then charge any boats coming along for passage – or we’ll kill them and take their stuff.” The first “lord” to do so gets to proclaim himself “legitimate” and his rivals as “pirates” unless they’re far enough up the river to secure a territorial monopoly.)

    Now, the standard objection is “That’s all fine and good as long as everybody plays by the same rules, but what happens when Group A (comprised of individuals 1 through 10) over there decides they’ll just take stuff from individuals 11 through 20?” Fine objection. What happens? Do 11 – 20 give up, or do they fight back? Do they form a defensive pact known as Group B? Thus, the problem of evil rears its ugly head again, and some form of government as collective protection comes into play. The question then comes about, what exactly is “protection.” I also don’t buy Louis’s complexity argument. Just because modern economies are complex and social institution are complex, does not equate to having a complex government structure. It is merely an excuse to have a complex structure.

    Interestingly, some of the leading proponents of the anarcho-capitalist idea are in the Reformed tradition and some in the Roman. I’m more sympathetic to the Roman view, especially that view which embraces the concept of subsidiarity, but my biggest misgivings are that they have yet to provide a coherent road map towards how such a society would take shape. I guess I’m just more practical minded that you need to first concentrate on defeating the monster you have at the door rather than planning on what you’ll do once it’s dead.

  • SKPeterson

    There is a strain within libertarianism that describes itself as “anarcho-capitalist,” and advocates the abolition of the state as an entity inimical to private property. Now, I have my misgivings about such an extreme, but it’s advocates do have some powerful arguments, most of which come down to evil v. Evil. The argument for much of government is to correct and punish little “e” evil – murders, thefts, frauds, and things that are “local” or individual in scope. The anarcho-capitalists will note that it takes government, especially heavy duty authoritarian governments on either the fascist or communist side of the socialist spectrum, to turn little “e” evil into big “E” Evil . So, best to live with the small “e” and avoid the big “E”, by limiting, if not outright eliminating, the possibility of the big “E” Evil coming into play. The mediating factors in society are then argued to be non-state institutions such as the family, the church and the market facilitated by free trade, free movement and private property. (Interesting side note – many early “governments” did not necessarily come into existence to stem evil, but came about as a means of gaining rents from those engaged in trade, i.e. “We’ll build a fort on this river and then charge any boats coming along for passage – or we’ll kill them and take their stuff.” The first “lord” to do so gets to proclaim himself “legitimate” and his rivals as “pirates” unless they’re far enough up the river to secure a territorial monopoly.)

    Now, the standard objection is “That’s all fine and good as long as everybody plays by the same rules, but what happens when Group A (comprised of individuals 1 through 10) over there decides they’ll just take stuff from individuals 11 through 20?” Fine objection. What happens? Do 11 – 20 give up, or do they fight back? Do they form a defensive pact known as Group B? Thus, the problem of evil rears its ugly head again, and some form of government as collective protection comes into play. The question then comes about, what exactly is “protection.” I also don’t buy Louis’s complexity argument. Just because modern economies are complex and social institution are complex, does not equate to having a complex government structure. It is merely an excuse to have a complex structure.

    Interestingly, some of the leading proponents of the anarcho-capitalist idea are in the Reformed tradition and some in the Roman. I’m more sympathetic to the Roman view, especially that view which embraces the concept of subsidiarity, but my biggest misgivings are that they have yet to provide a coherent road map towards how such a society would take shape. I guess I’m just more practical minded that you need to first concentrate on defeating the monster you have at the door rather than planning on what you’ll do once it’s dead.

  • Kimberly

    @12
    If only that would help! :-) Unfortunately, bringing “order” to the Force results in Galactic Civil War a few times over in that Universe. Maybe we just need to figure out how to live within disorder…

  • Kimberly

    @12
    If only that would help! :-) Unfortunately, bringing “order” to the Force results in Galactic Civil War a few times over in that Universe. Maybe we just need to figure out how to live within disorder…

  • DonS

    The real issue in Greece seems to be the expectation of free government benefits — the population grew used to sucking at the teat of government, failing to appreciate that they were really receiving a portion of the earnings of their neighbors, and, even worse, the proceeds of borrowing against the future of their children. The question is whether we will learn that lesson, before we fall into the same trap as Greece.

    Mainstream libertarian movements in the U.S., such as the tea party movement, are not about anarchy. They are about limited government, recognizing two things. One is that the U.S. federal government is properly limited by the Constitution, and is presently engaging in a lot of activity that the founders would have regarded as outside of its purview. The second is that all governments, federal or local, operate best when they restrain themselves to performing traditional governmental functions, prime among which is maintaining social order and ensuring that we have an adequate infrastructure. Prioritizing transfer payments over these two functions, as we see in most U.S. governments today, is inappropriate, and leads to corruption, waste, and abuse, as well as dependency on the part of many in the governed population. There is nothing wrong, or anarchist, in exerting political power, in a democratic society, to remind the voters of these things, to expose the corruption and waste in our present government, and to bring to light the evil we are doing to our future generations through our profligate, selfish, and irresponsible borrowing.

    The biggest risk of anarchy in this country will be if the libertarians fail politically, and our governments ultimately fall of their own weight and debt.

  • DonS

    The real issue in Greece seems to be the expectation of free government benefits — the population grew used to sucking at the teat of government, failing to appreciate that they were really receiving a portion of the earnings of their neighbors, and, even worse, the proceeds of borrowing against the future of their children. The question is whether we will learn that lesson, before we fall into the same trap as Greece.

    Mainstream libertarian movements in the U.S., such as the tea party movement, are not about anarchy. They are about limited government, recognizing two things. One is that the U.S. federal government is properly limited by the Constitution, and is presently engaging in a lot of activity that the founders would have regarded as outside of its purview. The second is that all governments, federal or local, operate best when they restrain themselves to performing traditional governmental functions, prime among which is maintaining social order and ensuring that we have an adequate infrastructure. Prioritizing transfer payments over these two functions, as we see in most U.S. governments today, is inappropriate, and leads to corruption, waste, and abuse, as well as dependency on the part of many in the governed population. There is nothing wrong, or anarchist, in exerting political power, in a democratic society, to remind the voters of these things, to expose the corruption and waste in our present government, and to bring to light the evil we are doing to our future generations through our profligate, selfish, and irresponsible borrowing.

    The biggest risk of anarchy in this country will be if the libertarians fail politically, and our governments ultimately fall of their own weight and debt.

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    K Hammer
    Excellent point.
    We have already arrived at a state of tyranny.
    -Unchecked Presidential power (executive orders)
    -Covert illegal domestic spying.
    -Collusion between government and corporations to put the taxpayer on the hook for corporate losses.
    -Activist judges and courts scrapping the Constitution.
    - Deliberate destruction of the middle class by the Fed and US economic policy.
    -A booming industry in the building, staffing and servicing of prisons.

    How is this not tyranny?

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    K Hammer
    Excellent point.
    We have already arrived at a state of tyranny.
    -Unchecked Presidential power (executive orders)
    -Covert illegal domestic spying.
    -Collusion between government and corporations to put the taxpayer on the hook for corporate losses.
    -Activist judges and courts scrapping the Constitution.
    - Deliberate destruction of the middle class by the Fed and US economic policy.
    -A booming industry in the building, staffing and servicing of prisons.

    How is this not tyranny?

  • Porcell

    Don, at 17, Gene and Jimmy Veith made clear that the issue has to do with extreme leftists and libertarians who are contemptuous of lawful order.

    I share your view that the federal government has become a monstrosity that needs to be drastically scaled down, though I haven’t come close to advocating unlawful, anarchical means of redressing this.

    Maybe someday the country shall need to fight a war on this issue, though for now I have confidence that we can reasonably accomplish the goal of downsizing the bloated federal government through lawful means. Knowing you from this blog, I suspect that you agree with this.

  • Porcell

    Don, at 17, Gene and Jimmy Veith made clear that the issue has to do with extreme leftists and libertarians who are contemptuous of lawful order.

    I share your view that the federal government has become a monstrosity that needs to be drastically scaled down, though I haven’t come close to advocating unlawful, anarchical means of redressing this.

    Maybe someday the country shall need to fight a war on this issue, though for now I have confidence that we can reasonably accomplish the goal of downsizing the bloated federal government through lawful means. Knowing you from this blog, I suspect that you agree with this.

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 19: Yes, I most certainly am not advocating the use of unlawful means to address governmental problems. My point was that we may well be at our last chance of addressing our governmental failings, and our mushrooming public debt, without having to go through the pain that Greece is now experiencing, where the population has become so addicted to the opiate of government handouts that it no longer recognizes or accepts the reality that the golden goose is dead.

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 19: Yes, I most certainly am not advocating the use of unlawful means to address governmental problems. My point was that we may well be at our last chance of addressing our governmental failings, and our mushrooming public debt, without having to go through the pain that Greece is now experiencing, where the population has become so addicted to the opiate of government handouts that it no longer recognizes or accepts the reality that the golden goose is dead.

  • Jonathan

    “…where the population has become so addicted to the opiate of government handouts that it no longer recognizes or accepts the reality that the golden goose is dead.”

    DonS, so when will you start demanding the end of oil subsidies and other tax breaks for the super rich and their corporations?

  • Jonathan

    “…where the population has become so addicted to the opiate of government handouts that it no longer recognizes or accepts the reality that the golden goose is dead.”

    DonS, so when will you start demanding the end of oil subsidies and other tax breaks for the super rich and their corporations?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I get so confused.

    On the one hand, I’m told that there’s essentially no difference between modern liberal ideas and socialism/communism, or at least it’s all a slippery slope, and these people influence those people, so it’s all the same.

    On the other hand, a very clear line has been drawn between libertarianism and anarchy, with Joe noting (@5) that “limited gov’t is not the same as no gov’t” and that “any ideology can be reduced to its extreme absurd but that is not a valid critique of the ideology.”

    I wonder if the same standard is being used on all sides.

    Still, it seems to me that right-wing anti-government types have actually killed more people than all those idiots running around in black hoodies you see on the nightly news.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I get so confused.

    On the one hand, I’m told that there’s essentially no difference between modern liberal ideas and socialism/communism, or at least it’s all a slippery slope, and these people influence those people, so it’s all the same.

    On the other hand, a very clear line has been drawn between libertarianism and anarchy, with Joe noting (@5) that “limited gov’t is not the same as no gov’t” and that “any ideology can be reduced to its extreme absurd but that is not a valid critique of the ideology.”

    I wonder if the same standard is being used on all sides.

    Still, it seems to me that right-wing anti-government types have actually killed more people than all those idiots running around in black hoodies you see on the nightly news.

  • Louis

    Todd, you are not the only one who noticed that.

  • Louis

    Todd, you are not the only one who noticed that.

  • Joe

    No tODD your not the only one who noticed it – in fact I did when I said:

    “If one were to accept this premise, then wouldn’t the premise that the progressive left is part of a statist/communist climate have to be equally valid?”

    Thus, I am not drawing clear lines “on the other hand” as you characterized my statement. I am even handedly drawing lines on both sides.

  • Joe

    No tODD your not the only one who noticed it – in fact I did when I said:

    “If one were to accept this premise, then wouldn’t the premise that the progressive left is part of a statist/communist climate have to be equally valid?”

    Thus, I am not drawing clear lines “on the other hand” as you characterized my statement. I am even handedly drawing lines on both sides.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Fair enough, Joe (@24), as far as your part goes. But, if I may say so, you’re a pretty fair-minded guy. (“Fair-minded” as defined by a deranged, left-wing lunatic like me, so, you know, for what that’s worth.)

    Anyhow, I will note that you were not the only one here who rejected the libertarian/anarchist “climate” notion. And there are certainly many folks on this fine blog (seemingly including our esteemed host, for a week or two back in 2008, if I recall) who have no problem floating the connection between modern American liberalism and more extreme political ideologies.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Fair enough, Joe (@24), as far as your part goes. But, if I may say so, you’re a pretty fair-minded guy. (“Fair-minded” as defined by a deranged, left-wing lunatic like me, so, you know, for what that’s worth.)

    Anyhow, I will note that you were not the only one here who rejected the libertarian/anarchist “climate” notion. And there are certainly many folks on this fine blog (seemingly including our esteemed host, for a week or two back in 2008, if I recall) who have no problem floating the connection between modern American liberalism and more extreme political ideologies.

  • SKPeterson

    Liberalism is a funny thing. The United States is a liberal nation, it’s just that we cannot agree on what that means, so we have different varieties of conservatives – those that think that the basic, limited form of government that existed between say 1780 and 1825, or 1840, is the ideal for maximizing the benefits of liberty and protecting the rights of all individuals and therefore needs to be conserved, and those that think the best period of the United States was 1930 to 1970 which represents the American ideal with the advent of the welfare state and more participation by minorities and women in the general society and which needs to be conserved.

    Then we have the anarchists.

    I offer up this from Ludwig von Mises (patron saint of Austrian School libertarians btw) on Liberalism v. Anarchism from his Liberalism:

    There is, to be sure, a sect that believes that one could quite safely dispense with every form of compulsion and base society entirely on the voluntary observance of the moral code. The anarchists consider state, law, and government as superfluous institutions in a social order that would really serve the good of all, and not just the special interests of a privileged few. Only because the present social order is based on private ownership of the means of production is it necessary to resort to compulsion and coercion in its defense, [they claim}. If private property were abolished, then [they assume] everyone, without exception, would spontaneously observe the rules demanded by social cooperation.

    It has already been pointed out that this doctrine is mistaken in so far as it concerns the character of private ownership of the means of production. But even apart from this, it is altogether untenable. The anarchist, rightly enough, does not deny that every form of human cooperation in a society based on the division of labor demands the observance of some rules of conduct that are not always agreeable to the individual, since they impose on him a sacrifice, only temporary, it is true, but, for all that, at least for the moment, painful. But the anarchist is mistaken in assuming that everyone, without exception, will be willing to observe these rules voluntarily. There are dyspeptics who, though they know very well that indulgence in a certain food will, after a short time, cause them severe, even scarcely bearable pains, are nevertheless unable to forgo the enjoyment of the delectable dish. Now the interrelationships of life in society are not as easy to trace as the physiological effects of a food, nor do the consequences follow so quickly and, above all, so palpably for the evildoer. Can it, then, be assumed, without falling completely into absurdity, that, in spite of all this, every individual in an anarchist society will have greater foresight and will power than a gluttonous dyspeptic? In an anarchist society is the possibility entirely to be excluded that someone may negligently throw away a lighted match and start a fire or, in a fit of anger, jealousy, or revenge, inflict injury on his fellow man? Anarchism misunderstands the real nature of man. It would be practicable only in a world of angels and saints.

    Liberalism is not anarchism, nor has it anything whatsoever to do with anarchism. The liberal understands quite clearly that without resort to compulsion, the existence of society would be endangered and that behind the rules of conduct whose observance is necessary to assure peaceful human cooperation must stand the threat of force if the whole edifice of society is not to be continually at the mercy of any one of its members. One must be in a position to compel the person who will not respect the lives, health, personal freedom, or private property of others to acquiesce in the rules of life in society. This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.

  • SKPeterson

    Liberalism is a funny thing. The United States is a liberal nation, it’s just that we cannot agree on what that means, so we have different varieties of conservatives – those that think that the basic, limited form of government that existed between say 1780 and 1825, or 1840, is the ideal for maximizing the benefits of liberty and protecting the rights of all individuals and therefore needs to be conserved, and those that think the best period of the United States was 1930 to 1970 which represents the American ideal with the advent of the welfare state and more participation by minorities and women in the general society and which needs to be conserved.

    Then we have the anarchists.

    I offer up this from Ludwig von Mises (patron saint of Austrian School libertarians btw) on Liberalism v. Anarchism from his Liberalism:

    There is, to be sure, a sect that believes that one could quite safely dispense with every form of compulsion and base society entirely on the voluntary observance of the moral code. The anarchists consider state, law, and government as superfluous institutions in a social order that would really serve the good of all, and not just the special interests of a privileged few. Only because the present social order is based on private ownership of the means of production is it necessary to resort to compulsion and coercion in its defense, [they claim}. If private property were abolished, then [they assume] everyone, without exception, would spontaneously observe the rules demanded by social cooperation.

    It has already been pointed out that this doctrine is mistaken in so far as it concerns the character of private ownership of the means of production. But even apart from this, it is altogether untenable. The anarchist, rightly enough, does not deny that every form of human cooperation in a society based on the division of labor demands the observance of some rules of conduct that are not always agreeable to the individual, since they impose on him a sacrifice, only temporary, it is true, but, for all that, at least for the moment, painful. But the anarchist is mistaken in assuming that everyone, without exception, will be willing to observe these rules voluntarily. There are dyspeptics who, though they know very well that indulgence in a certain food will, after a short time, cause them severe, even scarcely bearable pains, are nevertheless unable to forgo the enjoyment of the delectable dish. Now the interrelationships of life in society are not as easy to trace as the physiological effects of a food, nor do the consequences follow so quickly and, above all, so palpably for the evildoer. Can it, then, be assumed, without falling completely into absurdity, that, in spite of all this, every individual in an anarchist society will have greater foresight and will power than a gluttonous dyspeptic? In an anarchist society is the possibility entirely to be excluded that someone may negligently throw away a lighted match and start a fire or, in a fit of anger, jealousy, or revenge, inflict injury on his fellow man? Anarchism misunderstands the real nature of man. It would be practicable only in a world of angels and saints.

    Liberalism is not anarchism, nor has it anything whatsoever to do with anarchism. The liberal understands quite clearly that without resort to compulsion, the existence of society would be endangered and that behind the rules of conduct whose observance is necessary to assure peaceful human cooperation must stand the threat of force if the whole edifice of society is not to be continually at the mercy of any one of its members. One must be in a position to compel the person who will not respect the lives, health, personal freedom, or private property of others to acquiesce in the rules of life in society. This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 21: If you had paid even the least amount of attention to my commenting on this blog, you would know that I have repeatedly advocated the elimination of all tax preferences, credits, and deductions, in favor of much lower, broad-based tax rates which are the same for everyone. Better yet, I have advocated for the elimination of the income tax in favor of broad-based consumption taxes, on the basis that the income tax is the greatest single tool by which the government tramples on our privacy rights without the need for any kind of warrant or due process.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 21: If you had paid even the least amount of attention to my commenting on this blog, you would know that I have repeatedly advocated the elimination of all tax preferences, credits, and deductions, in favor of much lower, broad-based tax rates which are the same for everyone. Better yet, I have advocated for the elimination of the income tax in favor of broad-based consumption taxes, on the basis that the income tax is the greatest single tool by which the government tramples on our privacy rights without the need for any kind of warrant or due process.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at twenty-two: Still, it seems to me that right-wing anti-government types have actually killed more people than all those idiots running around in black hoodies you see on the nightly news.

    This is perhaps clever but not true. The left-wing communists including the Soviet Union and China were responsible for about ninety-five million civilian and military deaths in the twentieth-century; The German Nazi statists were responsible for about twenty-five million deaths.

    The leftists downplay the Communist states responsibility and ignore the evil of German statism, preferring instead to concentrate on the perfidy of the German “right.” The truth is that both the Nazis and Communists were involved in a vicious form of central statism.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at twenty-two: Still, it seems to me that right-wing anti-government types have actually killed more people than all those idiots running around in black hoodies you see on the nightly news.

    This is perhaps clever but not true. The left-wing communists including the Soviet Union and China were responsible for about ninety-five million civilian and military deaths in the twentieth-century; The German Nazi statists were responsible for about twenty-five million deaths.

    The leftists downplay the Communist states responsibility and ignore the evil of German statism, preferring instead to concentrate on the perfidy of the German “right.” The truth is that both the Nazis and Communists were involved in a vicious form of central statism.

  • utahrainbow

    To be charitable toward the Greeks (is that called for?), my understanding is that they are angry not just because they have an overactive sense of entitlement, but also because their government allowed the big financial players to transfer their losses to the public. With that piece of the picture, it is more understandable why one would at once be angry about austerity and at the same time hate the government and wish for its demise.

    Not that understanding better helps anything…

  • utahrainbow

    To be charitable toward the Greeks (is that called for?), my understanding is that they are angry not just because they have an overactive sense of entitlement, but also because their government allowed the big financial players to transfer their losses to the public. With that piece of the picture, it is more understandable why one would at once be angry about austerity and at the same time hate the government and wish for its demise.

    Not that understanding better helps anything…

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 28: Not to mention that to equate the Nazis to American libertarian types is a ridiculous analogy, merely because both have somehow been labeled as “right-wing”. Nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists — they both were top-down big government power-mad self-aggrandizing statists who had no regard for individual dignity or liberty. The polar opposite of those having a libertarian philosophy.

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 28: Not to mention that to equate the Nazis to American libertarian types is a ridiculous analogy, merely because both have somehow been labeled as “right-wing”. Nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists — they both were top-down big government power-mad self-aggrandizing statists who had no regard for individual dignity or liberty. The polar opposite of those having a libertarian philosophy.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@28), my statement (“right-wing anti-government types have actually killed more people than all those idiots running around in black hoodies you see on the nightly news”) was intended to be understood in the context of our country.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I can think of several right-wing anti-government types that have killed people in recent years, but homicidal left-wing anti-government types do not leap to mind.

    Moreover, Porcell, your comment completely fails to address this point, as it goes on to discuss not right-wing or left-wing anarchists, but completely unrelated groups like the Nazis and Communists.

    Speaking of which, Don said (@30), “Nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists.” Oh, well, clearly. Which is why they were such good buddies and never, ever fought each other, instead teaming up to form an Axis of Statism.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@28), my statement (“right-wing anti-government types have actually killed more people than all those idiots running around in black hoodies you see on the nightly news”) was intended to be understood in the context of our country.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I can think of several right-wing anti-government types that have killed people in recent years, but homicidal left-wing anti-government types do not leap to mind.

    Moreover, Porcell, your comment completely fails to address this point, as it goes on to discuss not right-wing or left-wing anarchists, but completely unrelated groups like the Nazis and Communists.

    Speaking of which, Don said (@30), “Nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists.” Oh, well, clearly. Which is why they were such good buddies and never, ever fought each other, instead teaming up to form an Axis of Statism.

  • SKPeterson

    DonS and Porcell – I don’t think Todd is making a comparison to the cases of the Nazis or Stalinists , but contrasting the terroristic effectiveness of modern anarchists of the right with those of the left. At least here in the States the rightists have done more damage to life and limb, although the case is much to the reverse in Europe.

  • SKPeterson

    DonS and Porcell – I don’t think Todd is making a comparison to the cases of the Nazis or Stalinists , but contrasting the terroristic effectiveness of modern anarchists of the right with those of the left. At least here in the States the rightists have done more damage to life and limb, although the case is much to the reverse in Europe.

  • SKPeterson

    And, I see Todd has already responded since I waited to hit the submit button. Oh well.

  • SKPeterson

    And, I see Todd has already responded since I waited to hit the submit button. Oh well.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – regarding Don’s point about the differences or lack thereof between the Nazis and Communists is fairly accurate from a historical point of view. Mussolini’s Fascists started out as anarcho-socialists, but they added a convenient veneer of nationalism instead of embracing the Communist infatuation with “internationalism.” Both ideas are part of the overall Socialist stream of thought which includes fascism/nazism, communism, standard democratic socialism, syndicalism, the anarcho-socialists, mutualism, and others.

    And don’t forget Poland and the little tryst between Hitler and Stalin circa 1939-1940.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – regarding Don’s point about the differences or lack thereof between the Nazis and Communists is fairly accurate from a historical point of view. Mussolini’s Fascists started out as anarcho-socialists, but they added a convenient veneer of nationalism instead of embracing the Communist infatuation with “internationalism.” Both ideas are part of the overall Socialist stream of thought which includes fascism/nazism, communism, standard democratic socialism, syndicalism, the anarcho-socialists, mutualism, and others.

    And don’t forget Poland and the little tryst between Hitler and Stalin circa 1939-1940.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 31:

    Oh, well, clearly. Which is why they were such good buddies and never, ever fought each other, instead teaming up to form an Axis of Statism.

    Which, of course, only goes to show that big government, power-hungry, statists who have no regard for individual rights and dignity are too power mad to share the same stage.

    You are not seriously arguing that left-wing anti-government types in our country don’t kill people, are you? How about the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, right off the top of my head. Not to mention the many radical, violent anti-war groups of the ’60′s and ’70′s. Earth First environmental activists also engaged in a lot of violence over the years. Not to mention Jared Loughner, the shooter of Congresswoman Giffords, who appears to have had leftist sympathies.

    Of course, as you know, I consider this kind of political scapegoating to be silly, anyway. Those fringe lunatics claiming to be on either end of the political spectrum who engage in violent tactics typically cannot espouse a cogent political philosophy. They have too many other psychological problems.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 31:

    Oh, well, clearly. Which is why they were such good buddies and never, ever fought each other, instead teaming up to form an Axis of Statism.

    Which, of course, only goes to show that big government, power-hungry, statists who have no regard for individual rights and dignity are too power mad to share the same stage.

    You are not seriously arguing that left-wing anti-government types in our country don’t kill people, are you? How about the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, right off the top of my head. Not to mention the many radical, violent anti-war groups of the ’60′s and ’70′s. Earth First environmental activists also engaged in a lot of violence over the years. Not to mention Jared Loughner, the shooter of Congresswoman Giffords, who appears to have had leftist sympathies.

    Of course, as you know, I consider this kind of political scapegoating to be silly, anyway. Those fringe lunatics claiming to be on either end of the political spectrum who engage in violent tactics typically cannot espouse a cogent political philosophy. They have too many other psychological problems.

  • Joe

    tODD @ 25 “(“Fair-minded” as defined by a deranged, left-wing lunatic like me, so, you know, for what that’s worth.)”

    Gold, my friend, gold.

  • Joe

    tODD @ 25 “(“Fair-minded” as defined by a deranged, left-wing lunatic like me, so, you know, for what that’s worth.)”

    Gold, my friend, gold.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@35), I’m glad you reject such scapegoating as “silly”, because some of the examples you gave may have come from a different region of the body than “off the top of your head”. :)

    For instance, where did you get the idea that Ted Kaczynski was “left-wing”? I have already pointed out to you before, when you made this claim, that his manifesto is riddled with excoriations of “leftists” (and precious few mentions of “conservatives”).

    Not to mention Jared Loughner, the shooter of Congresswoman Giffords, who appears to have had leftist sympathies.

    My, my, you certainly seem willing to engage in the same behavior you ostensibly decry. According to Wikipedia’s sources, “classmates characterized Loughner as a nihilist”, he thought “that women should not hold positions of power”, and his best friend said Loughner “did not watch TV, he disliked the news, he didn’t listen to political radio, he didn’t take sides, he wasn’t on the Left, he wasn’t on the Right.” And yet you conclude that he “had leftist sympathies”.

    I assume your more vague references to other “left-wing” groups are more factual than these two would-be examples, Don. I certainly hope so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@35), I’m glad you reject such scapegoating as “silly”, because some of the examples you gave may have come from a different region of the body than “off the top of your head”. :)

    For instance, where did you get the idea that Ted Kaczynski was “left-wing”? I have already pointed out to you before, when you made this claim, that his manifesto is riddled with excoriations of “leftists” (and precious few mentions of “conservatives”).

    Not to mention Jared Loughner, the shooter of Congresswoman Giffords, who appears to have had leftist sympathies.

    My, my, you certainly seem willing to engage in the same behavior you ostensibly decry. According to Wikipedia’s sources, “classmates characterized Loughner as a nihilist”, he thought “that women should not hold positions of power”, and his best friend said Loughner “did not watch TV, he disliked the news, he didn’t listen to political radio, he didn’t take sides, he wasn’t on the Left, he wasn’t on the Right.” And yet you conclude that he “had leftist sympathies”.

    I assume your more vague references to other “left-wing” groups are more factual than these two would-be examples, Don. I certainly hope so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I also love how any fact can be used to argue that there’s no difference between Nazism and Communism.

    The USSR and Germany enter into a non-aggression pact? That’s proof there’s no difference between those ideologies!

    But if that pact fails and the two countries enter into full-scale war against each other? That’s also proof there’s no difference between those ideologies!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I also love how any fact can be used to argue that there’s no difference between Nazism and Communism.

    The USSR and Germany enter into a non-aggression pact? That’s proof there’s no difference between those ideologies!

    But if that pact fails and the two countries enter into full-scale war against each other? That’s also proof there’s no difference between those ideologies!

  • Jonathan

    tODD, to be fair, DonS would likely find “leftist sympathies” in the Cub Scouts.

  • Jonathan

    tODD, to be fair, DonS would likely find “leftist sympathies” in the Cub Scouts.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 37: And I responded to you in that earlier thread, which is where the conversation ended. Kaczynski’s motivations for beginning his bombing campaign were rooted in radical environmentalism — he was allegedly attempting to prevent wilderness development. He was an ardent primitive anarchist. Hardly hallmarks of the “right wing”. Loughner was an admirer of The Communist Manifesto, also hardly on the favorite book list of those having conservative sensibilities.

    I do not engage in labeling terrorists as political adherents, except as a response to attempts to do so by others who desire to score some cheap political points.

    I did not say that there is no difference between Communism and Naziism. What I said was there is no overarching political philosophy which distinguishes them. I’ll amend that statement to clarify that I mean in practice, not in theory. Obviously Mein Kampf is a far different read than the Communist Manifesto, or at least so I have been told (neither are on my favorite book reading list). But in practice, they are both oppressive, evil, power-mad, individual-destroying big government systems, godless, corrupt, and murderous.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 37: And I responded to you in that earlier thread, which is where the conversation ended. Kaczynski’s motivations for beginning his bombing campaign were rooted in radical environmentalism — he was allegedly attempting to prevent wilderness development. He was an ardent primitive anarchist. Hardly hallmarks of the “right wing”. Loughner was an admirer of The Communist Manifesto, also hardly on the favorite book list of those having conservative sensibilities.

    I do not engage in labeling terrorists as political adherents, except as a response to attempts to do so by others who desire to score some cheap political points.

    I did not say that there is no difference between Communism and Naziism. What I said was there is no overarching political philosophy which distinguishes them. I’ll amend that statement to clarify that I mean in practice, not in theory. Obviously Mein Kampf is a far different read than the Communist Manifesto, or at least so I have been told (neither are on my favorite book reading list). But in practice, they are both oppressive, evil, power-mad, individual-destroying big government systems, godless, corrupt, and murderous.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 39: No, the Cub Scouts are fine. The Girl Scouts, having fallen prey to post-modernist feminism, are another story ;-)

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 39: No, the Cub Scouts are fine. The Girl Scouts, having fallen prey to post-modernist feminism, are another story ;-)

  • Jonathan

    DonS @27 I have paid attention, and I have never once read your call for an end to all tax breaks for oil and other mega corporations. Do so now – without qualification – and shut me up.

    Also, please describe the characteristics of an American right wing terrorist?

  • Jonathan

    DonS @27 I have paid attention, and I have never once read your call for an end to all tax breaks for oil and other mega corporations. Do so now – without qualification – and shut me up.

    Also, please describe the characteristics of an American right wing terrorist?

  • DonS

    Jonathan: I categorically call for an end to ALL tax preferences, credits, and deductions, and, preferably, to the income tax system entirely. Without qualification, I believe that all taxpayers should be treated equally and fairly by our government, and that the tools by which power-hungry politicians select winners and losers according to their political power and influence, and needlessly complicate our tax code, be stripped from them. I hate corporate welfare just as much as I hate all other kinds of politics wherein some citizens are favored at the expense of others. This is especially so when the favored citizens are so favored because of their political influence. It’s sickening.

  • DonS

    Jonathan: I categorically call for an end to ALL tax preferences, credits, and deductions, and, preferably, to the income tax system entirely. Without qualification, I believe that all taxpayers should be treated equally and fairly by our government, and that the tools by which power-hungry politicians select winners and losers according to their political power and influence, and needlessly complicate our tax code, be stripped from them. I hate corporate welfare just as much as I hate all other kinds of politics wherein some citizens are favored at the expense of others. This is especially so when the favored citizens are so favored because of their political influence. It’s sickening.

  • DonS

    Jonathan, I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about, relative to an American right-wing terrorist, or a left-wing terrorist, for that matter. So I cannot respond to your inquiry.

  • DonS

    Jonathan, I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about, relative to an American right-wing terrorist, or a left-wing terrorist, for that matter. So I cannot respond to your inquiry.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@40), are you running for president of CherryPickedDatastan?

    You somehow spin “attempting to prevent wilderness development” and “environmentalism” into proof of Kaczynski’s leftism — as if those could never be found in a conservative! — even as you completely ignore the nearly 200 references (all derogatory, that I could see) to “leftists” or “leftism” in his manifesto (compared with his 5 references to “conservatives”).

    I would at least think this would lead you to choose better examples when you make your case about left-wing anarchist homicides, but no. You’re in a defensive crouch against perceived “cheap political points”, and you’ll toss out anything to fight back, even if the facts don’t quite work out.

    I mean, consider your statement that “Loughner was an admirer of The Communist Manifesto“. I hadn’t heard that, so I went to look up some of his other favorite books. Hey, guess what, your argument is ludicrous!

    Because your would-be left-winger Loughner also happened to love George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. Oh, and Ayn Rand’s We the Living. How terribly left-wing of him!

    As to “scoring cheap political points”, one may notice that you didn’t say word one about Veith’s remark that, in the US, anarchists are “the ones who wear masks and break windows during the protests at the various global economics conclaves” — which, per your argument here, would be “cheap political points” at the expense of left-wingers.

    No, you only chimed in when I noted that, in this country, right-wing anti-government types seemed to have killed more people than the left-wing variety. Timothy McVeigh leaps to mind. As does the recent Oregon bank bombing I linked to earlier. I’m sure a little research would come up with quite a number of other incidents from the militia world.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@40), are you running for president of CherryPickedDatastan?

    You somehow spin “attempting to prevent wilderness development” and “environmentalism” into proof of Kaczynski’s leftism — as if those could never be found in a conservative! — even as you completely ignore the nearly 200 references (all derogatory, that I could see) to “leftists” or “leftism” in his manifesto (compared with his 5 references to “conservatives”).

    I would at least think this would lead you to choose better examples when you make your case about left-wing anarchist homicides, but no. You’re in a defensive crouch against perceived “cheap political points”, and you’ll toss out anything to fight back, even if the facts don’t quite work out.

    I mean, consider your statement that “Loughner was an admirer of The Communist Manifesto“. I hadn’t heard that, so I went to look up some of his other favorite books. Hey, guess what, your argument is ludicrous!

    Because your would-be left-winger Loughner also happened to love George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. Oh, and Ayn Rand’s We the Living. How terribly left-wing of him!

    As to “scoring cheap political points”, one may notice that you didn’t say word one about Veith’s remark that, in the US, anarchists are “the ones who wear masks and break windows during the protests at the various global economics conclaves” — which, per your argument here, would be “cheap political points” at the expense of left-wingers.

    No, you only chimed in when I noted that, in this country, right-wing anti-government types seemed to have killed more people than the left-wing variety. Timothy McVeigh leaps to mind. As does the recent Oregon bank bombing I linked to earlier. I’m sure a little research would come up with quite a number of other incidents from the militia world.

  • Jonathan

    @44 Gutless.

  • Jonathan

    @44 Gutless.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to this, Don (@40):

    I did not say that there is no difference between Communism and Naziism. What I said was there is no overarching political philosophy which distinguishes them.

    No, what you actually said (@30) was, “Nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists”. I presume your subsequent clarifications are accurate as to your intent, but that’s definitely not what you actually said.

    What’s funny is that you said that “nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists” right after complaining that “to equate the Nazis to American libertarian types is a ridiculous analogy, merely because both have somehow been labeled as ‘right-wing’.”

    Would you forgive me for concluding that it seems what most makes an analogy “ridiculous” to you is to what degree it offends your personal political sensibility?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to this, Don (@40):

    I did not say that there is no difference between Communism and Naziism. What I said was there is no overarching political philosophy which distinguishes them.

    No, what you actually said (@30) was, “Nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists”. I presume your subsequent clarifications are accurate as to your intent, but that’s definitely not what you actually said.

    What’s funny is that you said that “nothing really distinguishes the Nazis from the Communists” right after complaining that “to equate the Nazis to American libertarian types is a ridiculous analogy, merely because both have somehow been labeled as ‘right-wing’.”

    Would you forgive me for concluding that it seems what most makes an analogy “ridiculous” to you is to what degree it offends your personal political sensibility?

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 46: Gutless? I really have no idea what you are talking about. Really I don’t. So at least explain yourself before you call me “gutless”.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 46: Gutless? I really have no idea what you are talking about. Really I don’t. So at least explain yourself before you call me “gutless”.

  • DonS

    tODD: Nazis and libertarians are polar opposites. They have nothing in common. Libertarians value individual rights, liberties, and dignity above all else. Nazis subsume individuals to the state, torturing and sacrificing those deemed enemies or weak, or useless.

    Communists are like Nazis.

  • DonS

    tODD: Nazis and libertarians are polar opposites. They have nothing in common. Libertarians value individual rights, liberties, and dignity above all else. Nazis subsume individuals to the state, torturing and sacrificing those deemed enemies or weak, or useless.

    Communists are like Nazis.

  • Jonathan

    @48. Please.
    You facilily describe everyone from Kacynski [environmentalist, anarchist] to Loughner [once read a book by Marx] as ‘left wing.’ So, what would an American right wing terrorist believe in, in your view?

  • Jonathan

    @48. Please.
    You facilily describe everyone from Kacynski [environmentalist, anarchist] to Loughner [once read a book by Marx] as ‘left wing.’ So, what would an American right wing terrorist believe in, in your view?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 45:

    You somehow spin “attempting to prevent wilderness development” and “environmentalism” into proof of Kaczynski’s leftism — as if those could never be found in a conservative!

    Not a sane one. Radical environmentalism is a left-wing hallmark. And as for Loughner, I was countering your point that he was a right-winger, which is also clearly not the case. He was, in fact, a nut.

    Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army, Black Panthers, etc. But, what’s your point, really?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 45:

    You somehow spin “attempting to prevent wilderness development” and “environmentalism” into proof of Kaczynski’s leftism — as if those could never be found in a conservative!

    Not a sane one. Radical environmentalism is a left-wing hallmark. And as for Loughner, I was countering your point that he was a right-winger, which is also clearly not the case. He was, in fact, a nut.

    Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army, Black Panthers, etc. But, what’s your point, really?

  • Porcell

    Todd, at thirty-one: Moreover, Porcell, your comment completely fails to address this point, as it goes on to discuss not right-wing or left-wing anarchists, but completely unrelated groups like the Nazis and Communists.

    Actually, the Nazis and Communists were quite related in that they were extreme statist ideologies that took the lives of respectively about twenty-five and ninety-five million civilian and military people during their heyday. Both are related to the anarchists in that they were contemptuous of any rule of law that respected the civil rights of individuals and businesses.

    An interesting book on the tendency of the left, including Wilson and F. Roosevelt, to use extreme force to accomplish its views is Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning . Anarchism is at base a way of accomplishing political results through the use of force without the consent of most people.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at thirty-one: Moreover, Porcell, your comment completely fails to address this point, as it goes on to discuss not right-wing or left-wing anarchists, but completely unrelated groups like the Nazis and Communists.

    Actually, the Nazis and Communists were quite related in that they were extreme statist ideologies that took the lives of respectively about twenty-five and ninety-five million civilian and military people during their heyday. Both are related to the anarchists in that they were contemptuous of any rule of law that respected the civil rights of individuals and businesses.

    An interesting book on the tendency of the left, including Wilson and F. Roosevelt, to use extreme force to accomplish its views is Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning . Anarchism is at base a way of accomplishing political results through the use of force without the consent of most people.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 50: Oh, so that’s what you were getting at. Thanks for explaining. Well, I only disputed the folks tODD brought up who weren’t (or aren’t right-wingers). There is nothing that distinguishes Loughner as a right-winger, though he was falsely accused as such by the media and Democratic operatives trying to score cheap points at the time of the Gifford shootings. He was just a crazy, mixed-up person. Similarly, the Unabomber was no right-winger, though he was also crazy and mixed up, his most notable motivation was environmentalism, a left-wing cause.

    On the other hand, I didn’t dispute that McVeigh was right-wing. So, does that answer your question?

    By the way, as I have also repeatedly stated to tODD, these kinds of lone violent nuts aren’t cogent enough to fall into a defined political camp. They are typically angry at government, for a host of mixed-up reasons that defy political characterization, because to have a cogent political philosophy is to be sane, which they are not.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 50: Oh, so that’s what you were getting at. Thanks for explaining. Well, I only disputed the folks tODD brought up who weren’t (or aren’t right-wingers). There is nothing that distinguishes Loughner as a right-winger, though he was falsely accused as such by the media and Democratic operatives trying to score cheap points at the time of the Gifford shootings. He was just a crazy, mixed-up person. Similarly, the Unabomber was no right-winger, though he was also crazy and mixed up, his most notable motivation was environmentalism, a left-wing cause.

    On the other hand, I didn’t dispute that McVeigh was right-wing. So, does that answer your question?

    By the way, as I have also repeatedly stated to tODD, these kinds of lone violent nuts aren’t cogent enough to fall into a defined political camp. They are typically angry at government, for a host of mixed-up reasons that defy political characterization, because to have a cogent political philosophy is to be sane, which they are not.

  • Jonathan

    @53 McVeigh was right wing? Why?

  • Jonathan

    @53 McVeigh was right wing? Why?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@51) said, “as for Loughner, I was countering your point that he was a right-winger”. Which is funny, because I never brought him up. You were the first to do so (@35). So … you intentionally brought up a bad example to counter an example I didn’t make? Hmm.

    And you’re still (intentionally, it would seem, at this point) ignoring the actual content of Kaczynski’s manifesto, in favor of just characterizing him however you see fit.

    “He was, in fact, a nut.” Yeah, this is your go-to retreat every time this comes up. You have never shown an aversion to “cheap political shots” when it comes to tying left-wing ideology to violence and killing. But when anyone does the same for right-wingers, out come the cries of “but those [right-wing] guys are crazy!” Why is it I never hear those cries from you when we’re only discussing left-wingers, I wonder.

    “Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army, Black Panthers”. Hey, you know what, these are actually good points — thanks for bringing them up. All before I was born, of course, so not ones that leap to mind as much as those in the past 20 years (in which the right-wingers seem to have learned a thing or two from the 60s-70s left-wingers). It’s too bad you only bothered to bring them up after doing your best to work in all manner of specious examples.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@51) said, “as for Loughner, I was countering your point that he was a right-winger”. Which is funny, because I never brought him up. You were the first to do so (@35). So … you intentionally brought up a bad example to counter an example I didn’t make? Hmm.

    And you’re still (intentionally, it would seem, at this point) ignoring the actual content of Kaczynski’s manifesto, in favor of just characterizing him however you see fit.

    “He was, in fact, a nut.” Yeah, this is your go-to retreat every time this comes up. You have never shown an aversion to “cheap political shots” when it comes to tying left-wing ideology to violence and killing. But when anyone does the same for right-wingers, out come the cries of “but those [right-wing] guys are crazy!” Why is it I never hear those cries from you when we’re only discussing left-wingers, I wonder.

    “Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army, Black Panthers”. Hey, you know what, these are actually good points — thanks for bringing them up. All before I was born, of course, so not ones that leap to mind as much as those in the past 20 years (in which the right-wingers seem to have learned a thing or two from the 60s-70s left-wingers). It’s too bad you only bothered to bring them up after doing your best to work in all manner of specious examples.

  • steve

    Jonathan #54,

    The same reason he was a Christian. He said something, at some point, or went to catechism as a kid, or made some meaningless gesture, that allowed someone from an opposing side, with an axe to grind, to tout him as such.

    Much of this debate seems meaningless to me because there will always be individuals, usually of questionable sanity, that commit violence in the name of this or that ideology. It really means nothing but that individuals of all stripes are capable of anything.

    The real question is which ideologies, when carried out–by political groups or governments over a period of time–lead to greater social development and prosperity and which lead to greater oppression and death.

  • steve

    Jonathan #54,

    The same reason he was a Christian. He said something, at some point, or went to catechism as a kid, or made some meaningless gesture, that allowed someone from an opposing side, with an axe to grind, to tout him as such.

    Much of this debate seems meaningless to me because there will always be individuals, usually of questionable sanity, that commit violence in the name of this or that ideology. It really means nothing but that individuals of all stripes are capable of anything.

    The real question is which ideologies, when carried out–by political groups or governments over a period of time–lead to greater social development and prosperity and which lead to greater oppression and death.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Ah, and now Steve chimes in along with Don with his professional psychiatric assessment as to these people’s sanity. I wonder: how many of those that Don and Steve write off as insane were actually deemed so by our legal system? And if our legal system found these people — even the seemingly right-wing ones! — sane enough to stand trial, on what authority do you two claim otherwise?

    I mean, I’m willing to bet I can get you to drop the insanity defense like a hot rock merely by bringing up the subject of Islam. Suddenly, the ideology is to blame and these people are not crazy!

    Ah, but when it’s someone potentially connected to a pet cause of ours, well… He must be crazy!

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Ah, and now Steve chimes in along with Don with his professional psychiatric assessment as to these people’s sanity. I wonder: how many of those that Don and Steve write off as insane were actually deemed so by our legal system? And if our legal system found these people — even the seemingly right-wing ones! — sane enough to stand trial, on what authority do you two claim otherwise?

    I mean, I’m willing to bet I can get you to drop the insanity defense like a hot rock merely by bringing up the subject of Islam. Suddenly, the ideology is to blame and these people are not crazy!

    Ah, but when it’s someone potentially connected to a pet cause of ours, well… He must be crazy!

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – Check out Mises Socialism, although it is a tad long. He makes a pretty convincing argument that fascism and communism are variants of socialism, although their motivations are different and they draw on different strands of socialist thinking. The fascists and the communists do tend to get at each others throats, primarily because each views themselves as the “true” socialist paradigm. Therefore, rival claimants to the “socialist throne” are viewed with even more hostility than the liberals or monarchists they are ostensibly opposed to on principle. That does not mean that they cannot find common cause, but it is rare. Nazi/Communist detente had as much to do with geopolitical realities and the personalities of Hitler and Stalin, as it did to some rapprochement between the two socialisms.

    As to insanity of the right or left, I would hold that the ideals of fascism and communism and islamism or even christianism elevate and celebrate violence and dehumanizing the other. One could say that the ideology encourages and thrives on finding sociopaths to do the dirty work from Stormtroopers and the SS, to the Cheka and the KGB, to individual fellow travellers like Kaczinski or McVeigh or Loughner. Yet, I don’t think Stalin or Hitler or Himmler or Beria or Mao were insane. They were merely evil men, who espoused violent and destructive ideologies that became Evil incarnate. Now, Pol Pot – he was a nutter from what I’ve read, but he was able to unleash his pathology on a large scale because he was part of an ideological movement that celebrated and rewarded the type of sadistic brutality he favored.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd – Check out Mises Socialism, although it is a tad long. He makes a pretty convincing argument that fascism and communism are variants of socialism, although their motivations are different and they draw on different strands of socialist thinking. The fascists and the communists do tend to get at each others throats, primarily because each views themselves as the “true” socialist paradigm. Therefore, rival claimants to the “socialist throne” are viewed with even more hostility than the liberals or monarchists they are ostensibly opposed to on principle. That does not mean that they cannot find common cause, but it is rare. Nazi/Communist detente had as much to do with geopolitical realities and the personalities of Hitler and Stalin, as it did to some rapprochement between the two socialisms.

    As to insanity of the right or left, I would hold that the ideals of fascism and communism and islamism or even christianism elevate and celebrate violence and dehumanizing the other. One could say that the ideology encourages and thrives on finding sociopaths to do the dirty work from Stormtroopers and the SS, to the Cheka and the KGB, to individual fellow travellers like Kaczinski or McVeigh or Loughner. Yet, I don’t think Stalin or Hitler or Himmler or Beria or Mao were insane. They were merely evil men, who espoused violent and destructive ideologies that became Evil incarnate. Now, Pol Pot – he was a nutter from what I’ve read, but he was able to unleash his pathology on a large scale because he was part of an ideological movement that celebrated and rewarded the type of sadistic brutality he favored.

  • steve

    tODD,

    I could be wrong but you may be the only one here taking my statement as a real diagnosis. The diagnosis of whom is unclear to me since I never named anyone specifically but lets assume you thought I was referring to some of the people mention above. Does that seem like a proper context? Kaczynski was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by a court appointed psychiatrist. McVeigh was a paranoid transient who told friends the government was tracking him though a chip implanted into his backside. Is it a stretch to think he might be mentally unstable? Loughner clearly has a mental disorder. I’m going out on a limb with that one, I know, but I’m willing to say it. I never claimed what their respective mental states meant in court proceedings. That was not my point.

    I assume you know a colloquialism when you read it but you take my statement its absolute most literal sense. Okay, fair enough. I’ll remember that for future conversations. Regarding the rest, let’s say you stick to giving me flack for things I actually said, not things you think I believe. Fair?

  • steve

    tODD,

    I could be wrong but you may be the only one here taking my statement as a real diagnosis. The diagnosis of whom is unclear to me since I never named anyone specifically but lets assume you thought I was referring to some of the people mention above. Does that seem like a proper context? Kaczynski was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by a court appointed psychiatrist. McVeigh was a paranoid transient who told friends the government was tracking him though a chip implanted into his backside. Is it a stretch to think he might be mentally unstable? Loughner clearly has a mental disorder. I’m going out on a limb with that one, I know, but I’m willing to say it. I never claimed what their respective mental states meant in court proceedings. That was not my point.

    I assume you know a colloquialism when you read it but you take my statement its absolute most literal sense. Okay, fair enough. I’ll remember that for future conversations. Regarding the rest, let’s say you stick to giving me flack for things I actually said, not things you think I believe. Fair?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    “Still, it seems to me that conservatives need to work out clearly what they think government should do and not do…”

    The Founders already clearly worked out what the government “…should do and not do…”
    it is clearly written in the original CONSTITUTION …
    let’s shed the ‘living breathing’ one and go back to the original!!
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    “Still, it seems to me that conservatives need to work out clearly what they think government should do and not do…”

    The Founders already clearly worked out what the government “…should do and not do…”
    it is clearly written in the original CONSTITUTION …
    let’s shed the ‘living breathing’ one and go back to the original!!
    Carol-CS

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@59), pick a tactic, will you? On the one hand, you feign surprise at my taking your statement (“individuals, usually of questionable sanity, that commit violence” @56) “as a real diagnosis”. On the other hand, you then go on and make, by all appearances, real diagnoses of various people mentioned in this thread, in defense of this statement.

    And, of course, those diagnoses hardly make your case. Thanks for the tip on Kaczynski’s mental state, but he was nonetheless ruled competent by our legal system to stand trial. I couldn’t find any basis for an actual diagnosis on McVeigh along the lines you suggested, though of course, “paranoid” isn’t always an actual diagnosis. As to Loughner, you basically conceded you’re guessing, anyhow.

    Still, I think you missed my point, which is how conservatives like Don (and, it appeared to me, you) wave the “oh, but he’s insane” flag the moment you suggest any conservative’s negative actions have anything to do with his ideology. But such an insanity defense is almost never forthcoming when a non-conservative does the same thing. Thus, it appears to me, this insanity defense is just a way to dodge the issue.

    But if you didn’t want me taking into account your use of the phrase “usually of questionable sanity”, maybe you shouldn’t have stuck it in there?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@59), pick a tactic, will you? On the one hand, you feign surprise at my taking your statement (“individuals, usually of questionable sanity, that commit violence” @56) “as a real diagnosis”. On the other hand, you then go on and make, by all appearances, real diagnoses of various people mentioned in this thread, in defense of this statement.

    And, of course, those diagnoses hardly make your case. Thanks for the tip on Kaczynski’s mental state, but he was nonetheless ruled competent by our legal system to stand trial. I couldn’t find any basis for an actual diagnosis on McVeigh along the lines you suggested, though of course, “paranoid” isn’t always an actual diagnosis. As to Loughner, you basically conceded you’re guessing, anyhow.

    Still, I think you missed my point, which is how conservatives like Don (and, it appeared to me, you) wave the “oh, but he’s insane” flag the moment you suggest any conservative’s negative actions have anything to do with his ideology. But such an insanity defense is almost never forthcoming when a non-conservative does the same thing. Thus, it appears to me, this insanity defense is just a way to dodge the issue.

    But if you didn’t want me taking into account your use of the phrase “usually of questionable sanity”, maybe you shouldn’t have stuck it in there?

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Anarchism is a main theme of Chesterton’s “The Man Who Was Thursday”.

    I think Chesterton gets at the fact that the main stream of anarchism is nihilism and relativism, not anti-government sentiment.

    In that sense one need not be anti-government to be an anarchist. One can use the government to undermine social institutions and organic forms of authority.

    Today many people seem to despise social institutions and organic forms of authority and are strangely tolerant of government authority.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    Anarchism is a main theme of Chesterton’s “The Man Who Was Thursday”.

    I think Chesterton gets at the fact that the main stream of anarchism is nihilism and relativism, not anti-government sentiment.

    In that sense one need not be anti-government to be an anarchist. One can use the government to undermine social institutions and organic forms of authority.

    Today many people seem to despise social institutions and organic forms of authority and are strangely tolerant of government authority.

  • steve

    tODD #63

    My “tactic” is posting what I believe. Sometimes, through reading and discussion, I’m able to more clearly define what I believe and sometimes I need to rethink aspects of it. I hope I haven’t given anyone the impression otherwise.

    I wasn’t trying to feign surprise but I really didn’t expect anyone to interpret a phrase that–when used in the course of general discussion–most commonly describes a perception of mental instability, as a clinical diagnosis or a legal declaration. In fact, outside the courtroom, a claim of insanity is quite vague. Clinicians don’t use the term. No, rather, it seemed so obvious to me that healthy, stable people don’t attempt mass murder that the phrase “of questionable sanity” didn’t strike me as something with which most people would disagree. Most people who weren’t looking to pick my statement apart, that is. So, sure, maybe “of questionable mental stability” would have been more apropos.

    Now, with regard the use of such a term to describe people with whom I disagree politically, I wouldn’t hesitate to describe liberals, Leftists, fascists, neo-Luddites, or any of the myriad of political philosophies differing from my own, who who has visions of mass murder, as seriously mentally unstable. In fact, I just did. Three times.

  • steve

    tODD #63

    My “tactic” is posting what I believe. Sometimes, through reading and discussion, I’m able to more clearly define what I believe and sometimes I need to rethink aspects of it. I hope I haven’t given anyone the impression otherwise.

    I wasn’t trying to feign surprise but I really didn’t expect anyone to interpret a phrase that–when used in the course of general discussion–most commonly describes a perception of mental instability, as a clinical diagnosis or a legal declaration. In fact, outside the courtroom, a claim of insanity is quite vague. Clinicians don’t use the term. No, rather, it seemed so obvious to me that healthy, stable people don’t attempt mass murder that the phrase “of questionable sanity” didn’t strike me as something with which most people would disagree. Most people who weren’t looking to pick my statement apart, that is. So, sure, maybe “of questionable mental stability” would have been more apropos.

    Now, with regard the use of such a term to describe people with whom I disagree politically, I wouldn’t hesitate to describe liberals, Leftists, fascists, neo-Luddites, or any of the myriad of political philosophies differing from my own, who who has visions of mass murder, as seriously mentally unstable. In fact, I just did. Three times.

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