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(47,992 posts)
Tue Sep 18, 2012, 12:31 AM Sep 2012

Why even Robert Nozick, the philosophical father of Libertarianism, gave up on the movement

he inspired.


Aside from being just a really fun and informative read, I want to evaluate this model relative to recent discussion here regarding freedom of speech.

The Times Literary Supplement ranks Anarchy, published in 1974, as one of the "100 Most Influential Books Since the War," and that, I think, is underselling it. To this day, left intellectuals remember where they were when they first heard Nozick's arguments against not just socialism but wealth redistribution of any kind. "It is no exaggeration to say," the Telegraph wrote, after Nozick died in 2002, "that Nozick, more than anyone else, embodied the new libertarian zeitgeist which, after generations of statist welfarism from Roosevelt's New Deal to Kennedy, Johnson and Carter, ushered in the era of Reagan and Bush, pere et fils." Prior to Anarchy, "liberty" was a virtual synonym for rolling back labor unions and progressive taxation, a fig leaf for the class interests of the Du Ponts and the B.F. Goodriches. After Anarchy, "liberty" was a concept as worthy of academic dignity as the categorical imperative.

And the screw takes one last turn: By allowing for the enormous rise in (relative) income and prestige of the upper white collar professions, Keynesianism created the very blind spot by which professionals turned against Keynesianism. Charging high fees as defended by their cartels, cartels defended in turn by universities, universities in turn made powerful by the military state, many upper-white-collar professionals convinced themselves their pre-eminence was not an accident of history or the product of negotiated protections from the marketplace but the result of their own unique mental talents fetching high prices in a free market for labor. Just this cocktail of vanity and delusion helped Nozick edge out Rawls in the marketplace of ideas, making Anarchy a surprise best-seller, it helped make Ronald Reagan president five years later. So it was the public good that killed off the public good.

Sustained it is, though. Just as Nozick would have us tax every dollar as if it were earned by a seven-foot demigod, apologists for laissez-faire would have us treat all outsize compensation as if it were earned by a tech revolutionary or the value-investing equivalent of Mozart (as opposed to, say, this guy, this guy, this guy, or this guy). It turns out the Wilt Chamberlain example is all but unkillable; only it might better be called the Steve Jobs example, or the Warren Buffett* example. The idea that supernormal compensation is fit reward for supernormal talent is the ideological superglue of neoliberalism, holding firm since the 1980s. It's no wonder that in the aftermath of the housing bust, with the glue showing signs of decay—with Madoff and "Government Sachs" displacing Jobs and Buffett in the headlines—"liberty" made its comeback. When the facts go against you, resort to "values." When values go against you, resort to the mother of all values. When the mother of all values swoons, reach deep into the public purse with one hand, and with the other beat the public senseless with your dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged.

Another way to put it—and here lies the legacy of Keynes—is that a free society is an interplay between a more-or-less permanent framework of social commitments, and the oasis of economic liberty that lies within it. The nontrivial question is: What risks (to health, loss of employment, etc.) must be removed from the oasis and placed in the framework (in the form of universal health care, employment insurance, etc.) in order to keep liberty a substantive reality, and not a vacuous formality? When Hayek insists welfare is the road is to serfdom, when Nozick insists that progressive taxation is coercion, they take liberty hostage in order to prevent a reasoned discussion about public goods from ever taking place. "According to them, any intervention of the state in economic life," a prominent conservative economist once observed of the early neoliberals, "would be likely to lead, and even lead inevitably to a completely collectivist Society, Gestapo and gas chamber included." Thus we are hectored into silence, and by the very people who purport to leave us most alone.

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Why even Robert Nozick, the philosophical father of Libertarianism, gave up on the movement (Original Post) patrice Sep 2012 OP
Good article. Posted to my facebook. frazee Sep 2012 #1
I love seeing the evolution of understandings within their native contexts. patrice Sep 2012 #2
The separateness of persons. tama Sep 2012 #3
I think some people call that psycholinguistic programming. What an interesting parameter you patrice Sep 2012 #4
Sensing tama Sep 2012 #5
Intermediating tama Sep 2012 #6


(47,992 posts)
2. I love seeing the evolution of understandings within their native contexts.
Tue Sep 18, 2012, 11:26 AM
Sep 2012

I believe I personally have a passion for what is referred to as freedom, but I have always had an uneasy sense about Libertarians assumptions about what constitutes liberty.

Is liberty the same thing as freedom? Perhaps that's a question to be examined in the milieu of "free speech".



(9,137 posts)
3. The separateness of persons.
Thu Sep 20, 2012, 05:15 AM
Sep 2012

That is very European idea and can be difficult to delearn, as it is founded on fear. Native or indigenous being is well expressed by 'Mitakuye Oyasin', whole of relations. Borders can be closed walls or separation or open border zones of creative and fruitful variety.

Some Europeans say that our language has "poorly developed category of person", as we can speak and form sentences also without person in "indefinite person" that is inclusive and has fuzzy open boundaries if any.


(47,992 posts)
4. I think some people call that psycholinguistic programming. What an interesting parameter you
Thu Sep 20, 2012, 07:10 AM
Sep 2012

bring up; one I have not heard about, but it's pretty interesting to think about how "separateness" assumptions would generalize from persons to everything else.

That's one of my frustrations, not only do we treat one another as though there are no connections, or whatever connections there are do not matter, we also talk about everything in our physical world that way too, that is, unless, for whatever reason, someone decides that there is a connection and that connection is exclusively as s/he defines/owns it and no other way.

I wonder (inspired by Julian Jaynes) whether aural hallucinations, hearing voices and such, isn't the senses of collective apprehension (older powers of knowing), natural to people's minds, just knocking at the doors of some people's perception. Obviously, like any form of "understanding", they can be in error, but the impulse could be no less motivated by knowing, anyway, just that what happens in some instances (because of more situational factors?) gets bent on its way into awareness.



(9,137 posts)
5. Sensing
Thu Sep 20, 2012, 07:47 AM
Sep 2012

There is story I like about anthropologist visiting a tribe, let's say in Siberia. Hunters of the tribe came back empty handed, the deer where not where they usually were during this time of year, probably their migration disturbed by oil industry. Hunters went to seek council from the tribe's shaman. Shaman told hunters to look for the deer in another valley, hunters did as advised and came back happy, tribe would now have enough to eat for the winter. Anthropologist asked the shaman how did it know where the deer would be. Shaman answered: "Hod do you know where your hand is?"

"Psycholinguistic programming" aspects of English notions of "subject" and "understanding" are quite peculiar expressions of spatial relation of being 'below', which to my ear speaks of subjugation to hierarchic power-relation. The knowledge-hero of English culture understands from the mythical apple of knowledge dropping on his head (and giving a sore bump), while actively curious Greeks picked and took down (katalambaino) the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In our language the related spatiotemporal relation is about surrounding and center, "to be/go around"

This was also a nice read:



(9,137 posts)
6. Intermediating
Thu Sep 20, 2012, 08:58 AM
Sep 2012

PS: Our word for discussion ('keskustella') is iterative verb derived from noun for center ("keski&quot , so what our language means by 'keskustelu' can be better translated as 'intermediating' or 'intermiddle'. Comprehension ('taking together') or understanding (ymmärrys) follows from intermediation (keskustelu). These are not really translations but rather just pointers towards the center, which is not an object and cannot be objectified as "it", what Greeks grasps down (katalambaino) and Latin grasps together (comprendre) to subjectively "get it", the object of knowledge as personal desire. In the center there is no object of knowing or subject wanting to know, just gnosis-knowing as such, in our language 'tajunta', cognition. What is projected from center, from the heart, are not separate objects "out there" that person separation projects as you said and enlightened, but "other" centers here now.

What do these cultural layers speak of and from, the "grabbing" of "it" by Greek and Latin 'katalambaino' and 'comprendre', the standing under or ahead of English and German 'understanding' and 'verstehen'? The Tree of Knowledge and Tree of Life is a myth well known from many creation myths, in Judeo-Christian mythology it represents the Fall, the layers of alienation. Our founding myth is centered around and beginning not from the Fall of man but the falling of the Tree, Big Oak, which had grown too big and shadowed all other life. The fallen Big Oak gave many blessings, so there is question if it is good or bad. just that the elements of nature saw fit to grow the Tree and then to fall it. And we have yet another word for knowing, "tietää", which is derived from "tie" the word for 'path' or 'road' or 'Tao'. To walk in the wood of many trees to go around and look from all sides to comprehend their meaning more fully, and adding your voice and songs to the whole of the forest you and your center are surrounded and intermediated by.

Back to the OP, the nature relation of participation instead of objectification and control is typical for anarchic indigenous and shamanic/animistic peoples. Great active care of tribal anarchic politics is taken to feed this wolf, the good dog that feels home in the pack, and not to feed the other wolf that wants to grow into Big Man and stand as shadow over all other people, other beings and nature as whole.

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