The latest issue of the Tom Woods Letter, which all the influential people read. Subscribe for free and receive my eBook The Deregulation Bogeyman as a gift.
First, a quick announcement: on April 11 Jimmy Morrison and I will be holding the New York City premiere of The Bubble, our documentary on the 2008 financial crisis — whose consequences and false diagnoses haunt us to this day.
Joining us for a discussion afterward will be an all-star panel consisting of David Stockman, OMB director under Ronald Reagan; Jim Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer; Gene Epstein, formerly of Barron’s and now director of the Soho Forum; and David Tice of the Prudent Bear Fund.
We’ll have venue and ticket information soon, so please watch this space.
Now, on to the latest left-libertarian bizarrerie.
First of all, some people reading this won’t agree with me at all.
Others will stand up and cheer.
Unlike my critics, who spend their time excommunicating people, I’ll point this out: you can be a libertarian in good standing no matter which of these stances you take.
I begin with a reminder. Libertarianism commits its followers to one proposition: it is wrong to initiate physical force against anyone else.
That is all.
We have a subset of libertarians, however, who have taken it upon themselves to validate every misunderstanding the public might have about our philosophy.
For example, one libertarian favorably posted this Tweet:
I am seeing a lot of libertarians speaking like this. I happen to believe that this way of thinking is evil, destructive, and dehumanizing. What’s more, it has precisely zero to do with libertarianism.
So I replied.
Why should a libertarian be required to consider “sex work” a “valuable community resource”? Have we lost our minds?
If you want to say that voluntary interactions between consenting adults should not be criminalized, you’ll hear no objection from me.
But if you hope to see “sex work” thought of on the same level as “piano lessons,” well, that’s your private project, and should not be confused with libertarianism.
Am I supposed to look hopefully to a future in which a man says, “I need to stop at the dry cleaners, then have sex with a prostitute, and then ship a package at FedEx”? That is your vision of a good society and of human flourishing?
Unless “normalize” has some Critical Legal Studies definition I’m unaware of, it means precisely this: a society in which sexual intercourse is just another pastime, just another labor service.
When Aldous Huxley portrayed such a society, he meant it to be a dystopia.
I further noted in my reply that the reason rape carries higher penalties than ordinary assault is that people have recognized the unique kind of violation involved in rape.
Now if sexual intercourse were really just another activity and not particularly unique at all, such that we would want to “normalize” “sex work” and think of it as being fundamentally no different from piano lessons, it is not obvious how in the long run one could continue to argue that rape is particularly heinous.
If we are to believe that there is nothing particularly significant about human intimacy, such that it’s just an enjoyable pastime like watching The Office or collecting stamps, why should there be anything particularly significant about rape?
Is that point hard to understand?
But so uncomprehending was the response, you’d think I’d just lectured on a proposition from Wittgenstein.
Nutso-libertarians took to social media to make sure everyone knew they disagreed — not so much with what I was actually saying, which seems obvious and unobjectionable enough to reasonable people, but with what they wished I had said, the better to demonize me.
Some people claimed I didn’t know the difference between rape and consensual sex, as if that had anything to do with my point. The reference to rape was intended only to point out that people do generally perceive something unique about sexual intercourse, such that violating someone in this way carries a special penalty. Regardless of what they may say, in real life people do not think and act as if intercourse is just like piano lessons — and thank goodness they don’t.
(And honestly: if your argument depends on assuming that I don’t know the difference between intercourse and rape, it’s probably stupid.)
Others thought my religious views had clouded my judgment and were making me an inconsistent libertarian (even though I had not advocated coercion) — as if someone would have to be a “religious extremist” to think there might be a fundamental difference between sexual intercourse and, say, mountain climbing or eating pita pizza.
One comment summed up the left-libertarian response: “I don’t know what it is about this post that has made everyone lose their comprehension abilities, but I’ve seen some of the dumbest replies from people upset by this.”
I’ll tell you what’s happening here.
It’s not a matter of IQ this time, although most of the folks commenting aren’t exactly putting the finishing touches on a cure for cancer.
For some libertarians, the whole point of the philosophy is not property rights, not the international division of labor, not peace — none of this boring Misesian stuff — but rather to wage a relentless war on bourgeois institutions and tradition.
That means not just decriminalizing but positively celebrating prostitution, the drug culture, and even the SJW preoccupation with egalitarianism and the other isms that have been the Viagra (if I may use a metaphor they will understand) of the state.
So we have libertarians saying on the one hand that society can manage its affairs without the state, and then at the same time doing everything they can to make society itself completely dysfunctional.
Unfortunately, the present drift of the libertarian movement is such that it’s risky to take even the kind of position I’ve laid out here, which until recently was taken for granted by pretty much everyone.
For this topic I’m moving comments to Twitter, in this thread.
No attack on your host here would be complete, though, without this reminder: if you appreciate and benefit from what I do, day in and day out, then stick it to these jerks and join me in the Tom Woods Show Elite: