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(((E. Glen Weyl))) @glenweyl
, 34 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Over the last days I've been in a debate over the relationship between libertarianism and white power. It has been strange as for the most part I agree with what is being said by those I am debating with and disagree with the conclusion they are ostensible defending
But usually do not explicitly state. I worry we are talking past each other. I have therefore not found this particularly productive, but because I have profound respect for some participants such as @kimmaicutler, @GeeDee215 and @jcohen570 I want to try to
Coherently state my views her to clarify them.
I was responding to two claims: 1) The correct inference to draw when someone self-labels or until recently self-labeled as a libertarian is that they are either a white supremacist or so compromised with collaboration therewith that one should not seek them as allies.
2) Libertarianism as a doctrine is per se logically identical to or extremely close to white supremacy even in the abstract. I view both of these views as false and pernicious. However, I think many if not most steps in arguing for the first view are correct.
Let me quickly go through the second view because this one I thinks is just clearly wrong. To clarify though, if you think I have sympathy for libertarianism as a doctrine, please see my recent critique of the @NiskanenCenter project. I am no libertarian fellow traveler.
However, I do not think there is really any relationship whatsoever at a abstract logical level and divorced from historical context between the doctrine of white supremacy and that of libertarianism. In the right circumstances, libertarianism could support
Say, supremacy of a Japanese imperial elite, the supremacy of Hindus over muslims, even the supremacy of black folks over white folks, and certainly commonly the supremacy of whoever has a lot of capital over everyone else.
So while the the doctrine is clearly a false and pernicious one, it is not abstractly "raced" in any particular direction, because ultimately race is a social construct.
so let me turn to the more relevant, first point: should one infer that someone, when self-describing as a libertarian, is really a white supremacist or hopelessly compromised thereby.
Ultimately I think the answer is no in most contemporary US contexts and for most listeners, but there's a lot more to be said in favor of this view.
Before going there, let me say that even in the US context, I think that if, say, the literal platform of the libertarian party at an average point over the second half of the twentieth century had been implemented, it is not obvious if this would have on average been good or bad
For racial justice. It would have been terrible on issues of economic disparities, segregation, etc. But the War on Drugs has been such a horrific war against black and brown people that its suspension might have more than canceled this out.
But the truth is that those views of libertarians never really had a fighting chance and that the main impacts the libertarian movement had on mainstream politics were through alliances with the Republican party, especially through figures like eg Reagan, Gingrich and Ryan.
Died-in-the-wool libertarians are clearly quite rare in the US so many to most (and probably much closer to the latter) of the people who voted for figures like this were likely white supremacists.
If you doubt this, think why is it the case that there was a huge white supremacist contingent until around mid 1960s and there is one today, but there was none in between? Or read any of the endless studies such as… that show this beyond reasonable doubt
Thus whatever Ronald Reagan may have meant when he said “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem" what most of his strongest supporters her was "the problem=the end of white supremacy".
And what they heard was "the government used to help enforce white supremacy, but now a bunch of liberals have forced it to be against white supremacy, so help me dismantle government so you can work on white supremacy in a "decentralized" fashion.
Thus, during most of the last 30 years, when you talked to people who used libertarian rhetoric, praised Ayn Rand etc., it was probably correct to infer this was a rouse for white supremacist (or other oppressive identity politics such as misogyny).
I actually spent about 5 years as a movement libertarian Republican and I can attest that this was the case and is most of what drove me out of that worldview. (I later became persuaded it was profoundly mistaken on other points as well).
And I think is quite reasonable to conclude, based on my experience, that most people who chose during that period to spend more than a few years as a young person in that movement were either white supremacists, did not much mind making common cause with such people
or had some serious cognitive/social limitation that blinded them from seeing that alliance (or a motivated thinking version where they were making so much money off lower taxes that...).
However, even during that period I think that if you were relatively steep in the movement and not completely socially blinkered, it was reasonably easy to categorize people into each of the above categories, none of which is terribly appealing, but which are non-identical.
But I believe things have changed somewhat significantly in the last few years. The issues is that the emergence of the Neo-Reaction movement since the late 2000s and the alt-right/Trumpist movements since roughly 2015 have made it much easier to be an open white supremacist
This is almost certainly a bad development for the world at least for the medium term (though it is very hard to predict what medium term political changes like this mean in the long-term), but it has the somewhat convenient side effect of causing those who really
were in one of the later camps with the libertarian elements of the Republican party and those younger people who were just getting their bearings after being attracted by libertarian ideals to say "Ick!" at the top of their lungs and run.
This means that those who did not do this are almost certainly closer to the white supremacist or "perfectly happy to be best friends with white supremacist" end of the spectrum. But it has also surfaced a large chunk of people who were libertarians but either
socially blinkered, young, just getting their bearings or all of the above but who were not very sympathetic to white supremacy and other forms oppression. And these folks are quite visible as you can see the running away from the Trumpist version of the Republican party
like people fleeing a burning building...many have left the party, others are Never Trumpers (including the @NiskanenCenter folks).
In my view, this makes it actually reasonably easy to identify a coherent group of people who self-identify as (usually recovering) libertarians and have a fair bit of affection for various ideals of the abstract doctrine still but are worth making common cause with.
Furthermore, given that these individuals constitute a large share of all of those in the Republican party who are not white supremacists (but there is also a chunk of genuinely deeply Christian folks and there is a similar thing going on with many of them now)
and that Republicans or Republican-inclined people constitute a large chunk of the country (probably around 45%), and given that I suspect it will on average be harder to win over people who are committed white supremacists than these folks to appealing coalitions,
it seems like if you believe in something vaguely resembling an electoral but not fragilely majoritarian system where major social change requires something like a 60+% super majority of the country and you believe we need radical social change in this country as I do
then I do not see how one can escape the need to seek alliances, cooperation and even friendships with these folks.
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