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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Libertarianism
Posted: June 19, 2017 at 6:43 pm
I would have been fourteen or fifteen. I was at summer camp, and cabin inspections generated intense competition. And no wonderthe cabin with the lowest cabin inspection score each dayhad to clean the bathrooms at 11 p.m., while everyone else was in bed. One morningone of the boys cabins disabled their cabins fire detector, taking out the battery and labeling it an OSHA violation. Oh boy did they get cabin inspection points for that.As the week went on, rigging an OSHA violation before cabin inspections became a matter of course.
Perhaps I should explain. This was no ordinary summer camp. It was a camp that combined fundamentalist Christianity with libertarian political views. At the campfire each night wesang songs that made fun of the United Nation. In our daily sessions we learned that social security was an unsustainable Ponzi scheme, thatenvironmental protection regulations were a plot by the UN to turn the world into a dictatorship ultimately led by the Antichrist, and that farmers whoencounterendangered species on their land should shoot, shovel, and shut up to avoid losing use of their land.
But today, my mind is drawn to the disabled fire detectorand the praise the boys in that cabin received for their innovation in rigging up an OSHA violation. And my mind is drawn to something elsethe dozens of lives lost inGrenfell Tower, lives that might have been saved had the building had functioning alarm and sprinkler systems.
With Grenfell Tower, weve seen what ripping up red tape really looks like, George Monboit wrote on Thursday in an opinion piece in The Guardian. Grenfell Tower will forever stand as a rebuke to the right, Jonathan Freedland declared in the same publication a day later.It seems that in 2014, the U.K. minister of housing declined to require sprinklersbecause the Tory Government had committed to reduce regulations.We believe that it is the responsibility of the fire industry, rather than the Government, to market fire sprinkler systems effectively and to encourage their wider installation, he said.
I grew up in the U.S., not the U.K., but this rhetoric isachingly familiar.
One would think that the Grenfell Tower fire, with its colossal loss of life,would make clear the necessity of basic safety requirements like sprinklers. Not so.On Friday, U.S. libertarian journalist Megan McArdle wrote an opinion piece in Bloomberg. Perhaps safety rules could have saved some residents, she wrote.But at what cost to others lives? Theres always a trade-off. Hereis the core of McArdles argument:
If it costs more to build buildings, then rents will rise. People will be forced to live in smaller spaces, perhaps farther away. Some of them, in fact, may be forced to commute by automobile, and then die in a car accident. We dont see those costs in the same way as we see a fires victims; we will never know the name of the guy who was killed in a car accident because he had to live far from work because rents rose because regulators required sprinkler systems.
When it comes to many regulations, it is best to leave such calculations of benefit and cost to the market, rather than the government. People can make their own assessments of the risks, and the price theyre willing to pay to allay them, rather than substituting the judgment of some politician or bureaucrat who will not receive the benefit or pay the cost.
Its possible that by allowing large residential buildings to operate without sprinkler systems, the British government has prevented untold thousands of people from being driven into homelessness by higher housing costs. Hold these possibilities in mind before condemning those who chose to spend government resources on other priorities. Regulatory decisions are never without costs, and sometimes their benefits are invisible.
McArdle still believes that sprinkler systems should be optional. But in her insistence that people can make their own assessments of the risk shes ignoring something elsethat the residents at Grenfell Tower wanted a sprinkler system. They organized and made demandsdemands that, if met, would have saved lives in last weeks fire. They were ignored. This isnt a case where people happily chose to live in a dangerous building because its rents were lower.
Im going to hazard a guess that no one wants to live in a firetrap, no matter how low the rents are. We as a society benefit from ensuring a certain minimum standard for our housing. Certainly, we can talk about overregulation. Where I live, I am required by city codeto obtain a permit to build so much as a porch. But requiring sprinklers in high-rises is not overregulation, and McArdles solution to homelessness appears to be dangerous slums.
Interestingly,experts have notedthatif the Grenfell Tower had been built four years earlier, it would likely have collapsed during the blaze, costing only more lives. After a gas explosion caused a high rise to collapse, new building requirements were put in place to ensure that a structure would not collapse in case of fire or a blast. Built several years later, the Grenfell Tower was constructed in accordance with thenewregulations, and thus did not collapse.
There are societal benefits to having minimum housing standards. Chicago learned this in 1871, when a single fire spread quickly due to substandard (or nonexistent)fire safety standards, destroying over three square miles of the city and taking 300 lives. A fire in one building can spread to another, meaning thatfire safety standards affect whole communities, not individual buildings alone. The same is true of indoor plumbing and disease, which like fire can easily spread.
Making safety standards optional leads to a system where low rent buildings are firetrapsone where only those with the ability to pay can avoid living in dangerous conditions. McArdle acknowledges this when she states that requiring builders to abide by minimum safety standards raises rents and makes people homeless. But while most respond to high rents with various rent reduction proposals, and to homelessness with shelters and transition to housing proposals, McArdle responds to both by suggesting that those who cannot afford to live elsewhere should be forced to live in firetraps.
McArdle frames the issue as one of personal choice. People can make their own assessments of the risks, and the price theyre willing to pay to allay them, she writes. This assumes that people have enough money to choose, which she admits (in her reference to homelessness) that they often do not. Thisadmission betrays her insistence on personal choice.
We can both ensure minimum safety standards in building housing and find ways to offset rising rents.We can both ensure that buildings have sprinkler systems and find ways to address homelessness. McArdle suggests that we handle homelessness and high rents by bringing back slums, but we live in a society that has the resources to upholdbasic safety standards while ensuring that affordable housing is available for those who need it. We have a social responsibility to do more than wash our hands of the issue and shrug when a high-rise fire claimsover sixdozen lives.
That camp I attended as a teen still takes place every summer, impartingthe samelibertarianmission and vision to new groups of children. It pains me to realize this, but it is unlikely that the Grenfell Tower fire will result in any change in whatstudents there are taught. For those who runthe camp, as for McArdle, it is government regulationand not fire, collapse, or diseasethat is the enemy.
Perhaps even now, as I write, campers are preparing for cabin inspection bydisabling their fire detectors and labeling OSHA violations.
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The Grenfell Tower Fire and Political Libertarianism - Patheos (blog)
Posted: June 18, 2017 at 10:44 am
Obscuring census data to give "conservative districts more than their fair share of representation." Preventing access to the vote. Decrying "socialized medicine." Trying to end Social Security using dishonest vocabulary like "strengthened." Lionizing Lenin. Attempting to institute voucher programs to "get out of the business of public education." Increasing corporatization of higher education. Harboring a desire, at heart, to change the Constitution itself.
This unsettling list could be 2017 Bingo. In fact, it's from half a century earlier, when economist James Buchanan an early herald of libertarianism began to cultivate a group of like-minded thinkers with the goal of changing government. This ideology eventually reached the billionaire Charles Koch; the rest is, well, 2017 Bingo.
This sixty-year campaign to make libertarianism mainstream and eventually take the government itself is at the heart of Democracy in Chains. It's grim going; this isn't the first time Nancy MacLean has investigated the dark side of the American conservative movement (she also wrote Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan), but it's the one that feels like it was written with a clock ticking down.
Still, it takes the time to meticulously trace how we got here from there. Charles and his brother David Koch have been pushing the libertarian agenda for more than 20 years. A generation before them, Buchanan founded a series of enclaves to study ways to make government bend. Before that, critic and historian Donald Davidson coined the term "Leviathan" in the 1930s for the federal government, and blamed northeasterners for "pushing workers' rights and federal regulations. Such ideas could never arise from American soil, Davidson insisted. They were 'alien' European imports brought by baleful characters." And going back another century, the book locates the movement's center in the fundamentalism of Vice President John C. Calhoun, for whom the ideas of capital and self-worth were inextricably intertwined. (Spoilers: It was about slavery.)
Buchanan headed a group of radical thinkers (he told his allies "conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential"), who worked to centralize power in states like Virginia. They eschewed empirical research. They termed taxes "slavery." They tried repeatedly to strike down progressive action school integration, Social Security claiming it wasn't economically sound. And they had the patience and the money to weather failures in their quest to win.
As MacLean lays out in their own words, these men developed a strategy of misinformation and lying about outcomes until they had enough power that the public couldn't retaliate against policies libertarians knew were destructive. (Look no further than Flint, MacLean says, where the Koch-funded Mackinac Center was behind policies that led to the water crisis.) And it's painstakingly laid out. This is a book written for the skeptic; MacLean's dedicated to connecting the dots.
She gives full due to the men's intellectual rigor; Buchanan won the Nobel for economics, and it's hard to deny that he and the Koch brothers have had some success. (Alongside players like Dick Armey and Tyler Cowen, there are cameos from Newt Gingrich, John Kasich, Mitt Romney, and Antonin Scalia.) But this isn't a biography. Besides occasional asides, MacLean's much more concerned with ideology and policy. By the time we reach Buchanan's role in the rise of Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet (which backfired so badly on the people of Chile that Buchanan remained silent about it for the rest of his life), that's all you need to know about who Buchanan was.
If you're worried about what all this means for America's future, you should be. The clear and present danger is hard to ignore. When nearly every radical belief the Buchanan school ever floated is held by a member of the current administration, it's bad news.
But it's worth noting that the primary practice outlined in this book is the leveraging of money to protect money and the counter-practice is the vocal and sustained will of the people. We are, Democracy in Chains is clear, at a precipice. At the moment, the first practice is winning. If you don't like it, now's the time to try the second. And if someone you know isn't convinced, you have just the book to hand them.
Genevieve Valentine's latest novel is Icon.
Posted: June 16, 2017 at 2:42 pm
The LGBT lobby has its allies in the pro-abortion, pro-prostitution, pro-euthanasia, pro-drug-use advocacy groups, and its members have joined together in common cause to assert their 'rights', and they call upon the government to decriminalise, legalise, and normalise their favourite pastimes.
Philosophically, they are all in the same camp: they are libertarians, promoting the idea that consenting individuals should be free to do whatever they choose as long as it does no harm and does not infringe upon the 'rights' of others, but these 'others' and their 'rights', and any possible harm involved, are usually defined in a very narrow and often perverse way.
For abortion to be defensible, the existence of a human being in the womb has to be denied (despite scientific evidence to the contrary), otherwise their right to life would have to be defended. For prostitution to be defensible, sexual intercourse has to be defined as a commodity to be repeatedly bought and sold, implying no emotional involvement and causing no emotional harm. For euthanasia to be defensible, human life itself has to be devalued, especially the lives of the disabled and the terminally ill.
Libertarianism glorifies the freedom of the individual to choose what is good (and pleasurable) and convenient for himself or herself without any regard to the common good.
It suits the libertarian lobbyists to posit that libertarianism and the philosophy that underpins it are the most logical and sensible way to organise modern society, and that organised religion, whose principles, based on scriptures dating back several millennia (which are in profound conflict with libertarianism), are outdated and are holding back progress. Fundamentalist Christians play into their hands by thumping their Bibles even harder! Asserting the authority of a text Libertarians reject can advance the argument no further, and I wish fundamentalists would stop it.
It does no disrespect to the Bible or the Holy Qu'ran to use well-authenticated, wholly secular philosophical arguments to refute and discredit libertarian philosophy as being pathologically individualistic and selfish, and operating contrary to the common good, which is the end towards which society is to be organised and governed.
To speak about ethics is not automatically to speak of religion. Secular Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote his book, titled Ethics, around 350 years before Christ was born. Aristotle argued that political constitutions were right if they were in the common interest and wrong if they were in the interest of the rulers.
These ancient ideas were developed over the centuries by other secular political philosophers. John Locke declared that "the peace, safety, and public good of the people" are the ends of political society. David Hume contended that social conventions are adopted and given moral support by virtue of the fact that they serve the public or common interest. Jean-Jacques Rousseau understood the common good to be the object of a society's general will and the highest end pursued by government.
The fundamental building block of the society is the family. This is not a religious principle, but a socio-political one. Weak families lead to improperly socialised children, lowering their potential to benefit from education and increasing their potential for dysfunctional behaviour and the development of an unbalanced personality. Anything that strengthens the family strengthens society as a whole; and anything that undermines the family, undermines the integrity of society.
The common good is the good of all people and of the whole person. No group within society is to be excluded from its benefits, and integral human development includes the intellectual, physical, artistic and emotional facets of the human person. The task of the State is to work for the development of the whole person, and of all the people, and in doing so, the virtues of temperance, honesty, fairness, openness, and justice are brought into play.
The fundamental question we need to answer is, which of these two moral philosophies should we employ to govern Jamaican society? Libertarianism, which is directed towards satisfying the cravings of individuals or the philosophy of the common good?
If we choose libertarianism, how can we blame politicians for taking decisions that line their pockets? They would, after all, be taking decisions that are in their best interests rather than the common good.
The arguments being put forward by libertarians to legalise buggery, prostitution, and abortion should be rejected, not because they run against religious norms, but because they do not serve the common good.
- Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to email@example.com.
See the rest here:
Peter Espeut | Libertarianism or the common good? - Jamaica Gleaner
Posted: at 2:42 pm
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By Chris Massari
There is a largely missed connection between the comic medium, particularly the superhero genre and stories from the two big publishers Marvel and DC, and the philosophies associated with libertarianism. Everything from the non-aggression principle (NAP), individualism, civil liberty, voluntary action and in some cases/stories to individuals versus the State. In fact, one could say that the parallels between the two are almost too spot on.
Anyone with a basic understanding of pop culture can easily identify the very nature of volunteer action and connect that with superheroes. Id be surprised if youve never heard the phrase With great power, comes great responsibility and not instantly know what its from and what that quote is presenting. You dont even have to just use Spider-Man to present the idea of voluntary action. Use Batman, use Superman, use Wonder Woman, The Flash or Daredevil, and really any of the majority of comic heroes can easily be substituted in and out as examples for voluntary philosophies. Voluntary action is in the very nature of the mediums stories and individuals using their unique abilities towards a public good, doing a service voluntary of the state through individual actions.
To take it one step further withcomics and libertarian ideals, one could explore the vast history of Superman following a non-interventionist foreign policy when it comes to handling situations outside of the United States, not including Frank Millers The Dark Knight Returns. This one example doesnt even include the deeper and more complex philosophical parallels in major or even minor story lines. This is just one character that consistently follows a particular ideological stance that falls right in line with the libertarian model.
Now, if you were trying to best convey libertarian philosophies in a comic, I think the perfect introductory look would be Marvels Civil War arc in 2006 by Mark Millar. This story was even repackaged recently to fit Marvels cinematic universe in Captain America: Civil War. While the film is much less complex than the comic version, the core principles remain the same. Individual versus State, where comic heroes are being forced by the government into mandatory registration of their abilities and identities. If they dont register, they cannot legally be heroes or engage in hero related activities. It kind of reminds me of that meme going around on the internet where someone feeds the homeless, only to be arrested for feeding the homeless, only to be forced into doing mandatory community service. Here, its acts of heroism being condemned by the State.
In both the comic and film, the ideological battle of Individual versus State is represented by Captain America, the individualist and Iron Man, the State advocate. Anyone familiar with the film will recognize this dialogue:
Tony Stark: Oh, thats Charles Spencer by the way. Hes a great kid. Computer engineering degree. 3.6 GPA. Had a floor-level gig at Intel planned for the fall. But first, he wanted to put a few miles on his soul, before he parked it behind a desk. See the world, maybe be of service. Charlie didnt want to go to Vegas or Fort Lauderdale, which is what I would do. He didnt go to Paris or Amsterdam. Sounds fun. He decided to spend his summer, building sustainable housing for the poor. Guess where Sokovia. He wanted to make a difference, I suppose. I mean, we wont know because we dropped a building on him while we were kicking ass. Theres no decision-making process here. We need to be put in check. Whatever form that takes, Im game. If we cant accept limitations, were boundaryless, were no better than the bad guys.
Steve Rogers: Tony, someone dies on your watch, you dont give up.
Tony: Who said were giving up?
Steve: We are if were not taking responsibility for our actions. This document just shifts the blame.
Col. James Rhodes: Sorry. Steve, that, that is dangerously arrogant. This is the United Nations were talking about. Its not the World Security Council, its not SHIELD, its not HYDRA.
Steve: No, but its run by people with agendas and agendas change.
Tony: Thats good. Thats why Im here. When I realized what my weapons were capable of in the wrong hands, I shut it down and stop manufacturing them.
Steve: Tony. You chose to do that. If we sign these, we surrender our right to choose. What if this panel sends us somewhere we dont think we should go? What if its somewhere we need to go, and they dont let us? We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.
Tony: If we dont do this now, its gonna be done to us later. Thats a fact. That wont be pretty.
This conversation highlights the crux of the ideological argument presented in the story and can be perfectly applied to the libertarian platform as a palatable and understandable representation of what the party values to a mainstream audience.
I say this because its no secret that entertainment generally leans Left and recently, leaning to a Regressive rather than Progressive atmosphere. People gravitate towards entertaining things and if a particular ideology can be presented in a fun, easy to digest fashion, its not difficult to push your narrative whatever it is. Now, I need to add this isnt a Down with the Liberal Media statement but, more an observation of presenting ideas to a wide stream audience, something I, unfortunately, feel the Libertarian party hasnt quite gotten right just yet.
What I do find interesting is that when certain ideas, like the Libertarian philosophies presented in Civil War, are shown in entertainment, people agree with them and can even become passionate about it. Do a little google research and you can see how adamantly people argued over who was right in the original Civil War comic run. Fighting vehemently over who was right, Captain America or Iron Man. However, when applied to real life actions and politics, the Libertarian Party can be viewed as a three-headed monster or laughing stock depending on who you ask. There are obvious reasons for that from lack of education in the mainstream, the various factions within the Party, the two-party system and of course, the saying that getting Libertarians in order is like leading cats to water.
That said, I think if the Libertarian Party can learn to take these easy and palatable parallels in comics or other entertainment mediums, it can help to better present these ideas, principles, values, and philosophies in a manner that people like, enjoy and might even take part in down the road. I believe exploring the vast amounts of stories in comics that directly present Libertarian values so often and easy to understand, could be a great way to present the values of Liberty and individualism to a wider audience.
So, read a comic and support Liberty and the individual or something like that.
Captain AmericaCaptain America Winter SoldierCaptain America: Civil Warcomic bookComic Book Moviescomic bookscomicsdc comicsMarvelmarvel comicsMarvel Studiosopinionphilosophypolitical opinionpolitical philosophy
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Comics and Liberty: How Basic Libertarian Principles Parallel Comic ... - The Libertarian Republic
Posted: June 15, 2017 at 6:43 am
"There's not a-vote-for-this-party type of politics" in progressive rock, says David Weigel, author of The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock, "There is a utopianism about it....'Let's create a new world....It was very much a music and lifestyle where you tuned out, where you went to a festival, where you got into an arena. And a time where there were fewer distractions, as well.
Weigel's history of a musical genre that includes bands such as King Crimson, Yes, ELP, Genesis, and more is a rich journey into one of rock's least-appreciated moments. The former Reason staffer (archive here) who now covers national politics for The Washington Post argues that many subsequent forms of music owe significant but often-unacknowledged debts to the organ-centric sounds of prog rock.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Nick Gillespie, Weigel weighs in on politics in the Trump era. "There is not a lot of space for libertarianism in politics right now...except on the issues where libertarianism intersects with the donors who have done the most for Donald Trump. I feel like my friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute are pretty happy about Trump's positions on climate. [CEI's] Myron Ebell [has] literally joined the administration," he says. "But the criminal justice reform side of libertarianism has kind of retreated to the states, where it's doing okay but has no clout in DC anymore."
Audio production by Ian Keyser.
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THIS IS AN UNCORRECTED RUSH TRANSCRIPT. PLEASE CHECK AGAINST AUDIO FOR ACCURACY BEFORE QUOTING.
Nick Gillespie: Hi, I'm Nick Gillespie, and this is the Reason Podcast. Please subscribe to us at iTunes and rate and review us while you're there. Today we are talking with David Weigel, he's a politics reporter at the Washington Post, a former Reason employee, but the reason that we're talking today is he's the author of the incredible new book, The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. Dave Weigel, thanks for talking to us.
Dave Weigel: Thank you for having me to talk about it. Appreciate it.
Nick Gillespie: All right, well let's get right to it. The rise and fall of Prog Rock, of progressive rock. What is the thesis of The Show That Never Ends?
Dave Weigel: It's that rock history, which I take pretty seriously, which honestly occupied a lot of my mind before I got into covering politics like I do now. That rock history had cut out what I thought was actually really dynamic, important, informative music, the progressive rock movement. And I also, I kind of lean in...right, the book in arguing that the progressive musicians, Keith Emerson, Robert Fripp, Peter Gabriel. These people invented a lot of stuff that was happily taken by more let's say critically approved bands. You know, the stuff that is credited to electropop or to punk, I mean a lot of that these guys did first, and they did it in a very popular and arena-filling way that was left out once people said, actually that was garbage, we're going to go with punk. And by people I mean like...it's a really clear decision by the record industry and critics. We can get into that.
Nick Gillespie: Well, define...what are the core elements of progressive rock? You know, how do we...and throughout the book you kind of talk about how like Led Zeppelin, which in many ways certainly, probably the biggest selling band of the period from about '68 to '78 or whenever they broke up. But it's true that ELP, Emerson, Like, and Palmer, Yes, Genesis, they could fill stadiums as well, they were gigantic. But you point out that Led Zeppelin is not progressive rock. Even though they've got multi-instrumentation, a lot of experimentation, really long solos. Jimmy Plant using one of the other band members to play the bow on a cello or something like that. So what is progressive rock in its essence?
Dave Weigel: You mentioned Led Zeppelin soloist who I think a lot of people broke them in with progressive because lyrics about fairies and Tolken and stuff, and people think, oh that's what prog is, right? Not really. The way that I was happy defining it because people who played it and critics who wrote about it defined it is just extremely ambitious music that kind of started in western sixties garage rock forms, and expanded to include classical influences, eastern influences, electronic music, discordant music, but basically ambitious and technically proficient music based on rock. And so, it is a loose definition, as the last person who still organizes an iTunes and CDs, and you have those struggles, like is this post-punk, is this punk?
With progressive there are bands that also morphed during their lifetimes. Marillion started as a very progressive revivalist band in the early eighties, and by the nineties were something a lot more akin to alternative rock, although they were branded so they weren't really considered part of it. It's changeable, you can dip in and out of it, but I think it's just basically this music that was ambitious and it's defined in the book by other writers. These guys from the sixties and seventies who lifted this stuff up. Because this London scene, Hanneberry scene, little bit later western Europe. These bands coming out of these all-night parties and these festivals where writing extremely complicated music, where incorporating quotes from Brahms and Bach into it, were not just soloing, but trading off technical solos that were not just like ... there are solos in all of rock that are just, watching go up and down these scales. But solos that were moving from form to form, and style to style in a way that ... the whole thing is that music had not done that before then. Pop music had not done it before then, and pop music hasn't really done it since.
Nick Gillespie: You talk a lot about how progressive rock is fundamentally a British phenomenon. It seems ... and to put it in a time context, in all of this stuff you can go back to ... find earlier and earlier antecedents, but it really kind of explodes in the late sixties with bands like Soft Machine, and then especially King Crimson, and Yes, and Genesis. ELP. But talk a bit about the Britishness of it, and also the way that it departed from traditional rock and roll as a kind of rebellion against your father's music. Because this was kind of as you were so saying, there's quotations from Brahms and Yes would enter the stadium to strains from the Firebird Suite and whatnot. ELP actually put out a version of Pictures at an Exhibition. They were rebelling, I guess, against maybe the Animals, or Simon and Garfunkel, maybe, but they were also embracing their great-grandfathers. What's the Britishness element about in all this?
Dave Weigel: The thing that you hear the first when you're listening for it is the influence actually of Anglican church music. And just ... and these big sweeping chords you hear in Yes music, in a lot of what ELP does, you hear this classical English hymn is played on a pipe organ, piped through stuff like Hammond's and Mogue's. There's just this very ... I don't want to use the word pompous because it's negative, but pomp.
Nick Gillespie: Yeah ...
Dave Weigel: Music that contains pomp that these guys listened to.
Nick Gillespie: So this is Elgar on acid, basically.
Dave Weigel: Yeah. That was there. A lot of these guys ... I start the book pretty early in the nineteenth century with the classical music that introduced mania and spectacle to popular music.
Nick Gillespie: And this is particularly Franz Liszt who Ken Russell obviously did that. You know and had Roger Daltrey play Liszt and Lisztomania and ...
Dave Weigel: They had Rick Wakeman play Thor ... I go to the mid-sixties because these guys were just a little bit younger than the Beatles. The same generation, same cohort, so they're all listening to music and ... Against the stereotype, they're not all going to private schools. Or as they're confusedly called in Britain, public schools. They're usually pretty working class, coming out of the austerity of the ... of World War II, and they have a record player. They have church. They have these limited influences. Yeah, talk about Greg Lake rushing to ... well he might have over hyped a little bit because of the drama. The new records that the GIs brought back, things like that. So these same influences, but starting a little bit later. I mean, they go through a journey that's pretty similar to what the Beatles did, and the Beatles, Joseph Campbell's story is pretty ... has been parodied a bunch of times now. With the Vans discovering drugs and religion and sitars. But ...
Nick Gillespie: But it is fascinating ... you know, putting this in a historical context, which for those of us, even people who grew up in the United States, during World War II or the Depression had it easier than the Brits. Because on top of everything else you had actual bombing and wartime destruction of everything. It's kind of fascinating and it di remind me of books about the Beatles and early rockers in England in the fifties of just how hard it was even to get instruments. And that's a constant constraint, it seems for these guys because mellotrons and synthesizers were really expensive. So it's partly the church stuff, right, because the organ seems to be a vary ... organs and keyboards seem to be front and center in progressive rock in a way that they are certainly not generally in regular rock bands.
Dave Weigel: Yeah, and they just carry this sort of importance that ... it wasn't obviously there in the more derivative music I like a lot, but the more garage rock stuff that some of these bands were part of. Listen to Tomorrow or Sin or these first bands, really early Procul Harem and Moody Blues. They were pretty happy covering Motown sounds and just adding fuzz bucks to them. Like the who were.
And I leave ... I deal a little bit with the Who in here because they just ... these guys in their early and mid-twenties were having more fun taking their technical knowledge and saying all right, we've kind of mastered how to cover Martha and the Vandellas, and add some fuzz to it. So what if we're covering Rondo, what if we're covering classical musicians, what if we're covering Bolero, in the case of King Crimson. And finding that there's just ... one thing that I try to emphasize ... there's this idea of music being really gossamer, and impenetrable and too noodly to get into, but no it's always pretty anchored in melody and what the members found compelling.
It's also ... I don't deal a lot with drugs, except for later in ELP's career, because I asked them, and they really weren't on them. With the exception of some guys like David Allen and Soft Machine and Gong, they're mostly just pounding beer. I mean, I talk about Mike Oldfield writing Tubular Bells, having filled the champagne magnum with Guinness, and just pounding it. Like they were ... the style of creation that you would see when the Ramones were writing two-minute songs. Which I also like a lot, but it was just the way their heads went, where I am bored with the simple forms. I'm going to rebel against the three-minute pop structure and I want to write pop symphonies. Kind of in the way Brian Wilson did, but I think even with a greater ambition, and a little bit, obviously less burnout. Because these guys did it for years.
Nick Gillespie: Yeah, you know speaking of beer as the kind of drink of choice, or the drug of choice, I remember ... I got into progressive rock. Mostly my brother, who's older than me, came home from college in the late seventies with Yes songs, the triple album, and we would always laugh because there's a picture of Rick Wakeman, who has like eight hundred keyboards around him, and there are beer bottles everywhere. Like where he can't swing one arm of his cape without knocking over a case of empty Millers. Or something. Or Schmitty tallboys. King Crimson really occupies the place of pride in the book. Explain what is so important about King Crimson.
Dave Weigel: They're a wellspring for a lot of what came in the late sixties, and then what comes important later. I mean decades later when progressive rock is just influencing music that sounds nothing like it. Like electronic music, heavy metal, things like that. It starts with Robert Fripp, the guitarist who kind of putting together a larger band from a smaller band with these two brothers, Michael Giles and Peter Giles, the drummer and the bassist. He adds woodwinds and keyboards in McDonald. He adds a full-time lyricist and lights manager, Peter Sinfield. And adds Greg Lake, who is a kind of barrel-chested, classic rock star signer on bass. And they become just for a very short moment, this enormous, big-next-thing band. One of those bands where the first album really is a statement that can stand on its own. Even though they did everything else ...
Nick Gillespie: And that is the In the Court of the Crimson King. With the ultimate rock album Nostril Shot, as I recall this.
Dave Weigel: This first song on the album, 21st century Schizo Man, there are metal elements to it. There are jazz elements that McDonald had kind of goofed around with when eh was playing woodwinds in the army. There are all these things just colliding against each other, and it's a popular album, and the band immediately falls apart. Just for the normal reasons that bands break apart, Greg Lake leaves pretty soon, Emerson, Lincoln Palmer, other members start dropping off. And the band becomes basically whatever Robert Fripp finds interesting at that moment.
And I spent a lot of time on Fripp because he just ... he's one of these characters you find sometimes in any kind of history who is extremely loquacious and so arch about his place in the moment. He's almost like a Lewis Carroll character. He's very good at analyzing his own sex appeal, and analyzing why he hates crowls, and whether the music he just produced is interesting and worth promoting or not. Just because reassembling the band so they ... through the seventies, just for the short period of five years, changed their sound multiple times. They break up with Red, which is a much more metal sounding album. And for that reason, very influential for bands like Tool and Perfect Circle, people like that.
He leaves and Fripp basically goes into seclusion in a ... what I will not call a cult, but it was sort of a religious tendency he picks up. Returns to becoming a much more avant garde performer and through that ... and also not somebody who likes the term progressive rock. He really ... he hates being classified as Prague ... he's very happy to see punk come along and obliterate all this. And I have the scene in the book where he sees ELP at kind of the height of their ridiculousness, when they're touring with an orchestra in Madison Square Garden and just has it out with Greg Lake so much. Years after the guy had clearly succeeded beyond what King Crimson could ever do, that he just gets kicked out of his limo.
But he is much happier with looping experiments, with ... he produces a folk band, The Roaches, and opens up their sound. He's the guitar player on the song Heroes, which is I think a tone ... one of those songs where anything that sounds even a little bit it sounds like a rip off. Like a truly unique song that he plays. And then restarts in the eighties, bring in Adrian Belew who kind of sounded like him when he was playing with Talking Heads for a kind of art rock band. Several times over the decades, King Crimson just keeps inventing a different version of this music, which is never ...
And again, people who are not always comfortable calling it progressive rock but which is always taking ... okay, I guess the inspiration each time being okay, there's this music. We're pretty bored by that. How can we play with this, how can we structure our guitar solos so that they're interlocking, how can we ... stuff like that I cut out of the book because I just got so into writing about it. This whole album of tape loop experiments with David Byrne reciting the names of different philosophies over it. He becomes a very art rock guy.
And then ... he today, Robert Fripp is still touring with this band with a three drummer line up. Again, something he never did ... and I just, whatever they're in, if they're in politics, which I cover mostly. If they're in film, in they're in music, especially, just people like that who clearly just need to do the next thing and don't want to go back and play the hits. Like King Crimson will play songs they wrote 50 years ago, but they completely rearranged them because Fripp is not about to sit there and just bang out like the rift Satisfaction and have ... he sees the music needs to be fresh wherever it's played. And I think that is kind of the attitude that some of the classical composers that I write about in the very beginning. The book had ... it is got to be music that you can reinterpret. He can't just be a pop song for quick radio consumption that talks a little bit about how great it is to fall in love and to make love, and you're in and out.
Nick Gillespie: At the same time, and I agree that's an interesting way to put it. You talk about this in the book, The Show that Never Ends, which of course comes from an ELP opening track. But it's a time where rock music and it was obviously aping progressive jazz on a certain level. But it was like, okay we need to move beyond the ... it was really more like a two-minute pop song, and then it had merged by the end of the sixties into a three-minute pop song. We need to talk about stuff more than simple love and puppy love, and that type of stuff. Would you agree though that there is also an epic amount of silliness in the form, which is kind of entwined with it's seriousness? And I ... Keith Emerson's early band The Nice had an album called The Golden Apples of Emerless Daft Jack, which is anagram ...
Dave Weigel: their names, including a member they would soon kick out of the band because he kept getting hi on LSD and passing out during concerts.
Nick Gillespie: Yeah and I mean, there's so much silliness in, you know ... you describe ELP in a lot of ways I guess may have been the most successful in that the band toured the biggest possible stadiums, the name of the band was simply the letters of the last ... first letters of the last name of the band. Each of them was a virtuoso. I think of a song like Lucky Man, which was I guess their biggest single hit, which starts out as kind of a pirate-y song about channeling ... like a Paul Simon lyric about a man with white horses and ladies by the score. And then it ends in this totally inappropriate, to my mind, synthesized ... twenty minute, it sounds like synthesizer solo that has nothing to do with pirate ships. Pirates had nothing to do with it. I mean, what ... how does the silliness and the kind of you know baroque overexaggeration, how does that fit in with the seriousness of the music for you?
Dave Weigel: Well, they were aware of the silliness. Like that song ... I tried to explain in the book, the interplay ... how ELP got along. And it was not always well, I mean they were three very talented people. Palmer, the drummer, the most easy to get along with. But Emerson and Lake with gigantic egos, and Emerson had said explicitly several times through his life, Lake was bitter because he was playing with two virtuosos, and he was ... his name was in the same lights, but he clearly wasn't as good as they were.
And so this was a ... Lucky Man was almost a doggerel that Keith Lake wrote when he was a teenager, and Lake, Emerson threw this experimental Moog solo on it because he thought, I have a Moog, let me tool around with it. It was, not just experimental, but it was not pompous. It was fun, and with Yes. As serious, so John Anderson's lyrics by far are the most ... the most high-minded peace about Yes. John Anderson writes lyrics like he's writing the Bhavagad Gita every night, if you open up Tales from Topographic Oceans, for any of them. After listening to a lot of his music, one of the guys I find it hardest to place which lyric is from what song. So he takes it very seriously, but everyone else in the band was just basically a good rock musician who just thought this stuff was fun.
And you saw it when they break off in their solo careers for a couple of years in the 1970s, you know Steve Howell was playing classical guitar because that was ... that's what he wanted to get to from all this. So they were basically ... it was not we're going to ... There's forms of music I find a lot more pretentious. I mean, there's a lot of punk, like Crass and the Adverts that were trying ... Or even John Liden who always did this, in I think a really calculated way. They were trying to make their music the focal point of a better way of living. Better philosophy. We're going to take ... break down the system. And progressive rock was rebellious, but it was basically fun. And so yeah, they're very aware ... like even there are bands like Jade Warrior where their whole gimmick is everything sounds like everything is influenced by Japanese instruments. There's Gryphon, everything sounds like it's at a Renaissance fair, who had opened for Yes sometimes. Gentle Giant, they were all basically normal people who just ... this was fun to them. They'd be bored playing something less ambitious.
Nick Gillespie: Talk about ... yeah, that dimension of kind of pleasure and of self-challenging, and of also ... one of the things that I love about rock music in general, and by that I guess I mean more pop music in general, is that there are clearly rules and there are both aesthetic rules, that certain sounds and certain chords and whatnot work better in unison, but then there are also rules about ... it's all a business. And you're not supposed to have whole album-length side cuts, you know there's no air play for that. There's no play for that, and these guys all pushed all sorts of expectations and whatnot. Is there a politics to it, I mean you started out as a ... in a way, not quite but early in your career you wrote for reason, you identify as Libertarian leaning, at the very least. You were a self-conscious conservative in college. Is there a politics to progressive rock? And if so, not a partisan politics. And is there ... what ... how do you map the energy or the kind of impulses in it onto politics?
Dave Weigel: There's not a vote for this party type of politics. There is a utopianism about it. And I didn't say, let's create a new world, but these were generally artists in the 1970s in the time of greater environmental awareness, and that was ... when Yes wrote any kind of song, politics, I'm laughing because you've probably also heard, Don't Kill the Whale, their classic environmental funk-based ballad. When they got into politics at all, it was that. The big exception is Rush, who and I cut out this ... I talked to Rand Paul about Rush because they had condemned him for using his music and it really pisses him off.
Yet Rush basically when they were in their early twenties, and breaking big in the UK, did an interview with ... I keep going back to how good the British music press was. British music press analyzed and sometimes lionized and sometimes tore down these bands, with just tremendous aplomb. Lester Banks doing the same thing in the states. British press had a ton of those people. And they just got Neil Pert rolling about how great Iron Rand was, and how she influenced the lyrics like the trees, and 2112, they got away from that. They got more ... these bands all go pretty. So they were like many artists, annoyed with Britain's super high-tech race, but they were not super political. And they did have ...
Nick Gillespie: Although they were very individualist. I mean they were Byron-esque. They were breaking artistic form, breaking audience expectations and trying to create something bold and new. Not necessarily ... like you were saying, not to change the world. They didn't want a five-hour work week or something, but they did want to blow people's minds.
Dave Weigel: They did, and so they ... I kind of looked because I was interested in that. If there was any sort of big movement they got involved with, or benefit concert. You had Peter Gabriel a bit later get involved in some of that after he leaves Genesis. And Genesis themselves, Peter Gabriel himself becoming involved with Live Aid, but those are big classic celebrities...
Nick Gillespie: Well and also I always think of Gabriel as well with Steven Biko and calling attention to apartheid in South Africa and whatnot. I think a generation of Americans, certainly people my age in their fifties or older. The reason we knew who Steven Biko was was because Peter Gabriel had written a song about him.
Dave Weigel: Yeah, they took on these causes and ... at the same time a lot of other musicians were. But progressive music itself was just not ... a lot of it existed in this ... some of the European bands that I get into came from much more troubled politically countries in the seventies than the UK, from Italy, from Greece. They got a little bit more really about it. But the music was ... this was kind of before a lot of pop music felt comfortable getting directly involved in politics. It was kind of heartening. The period I'm writing this book in, and researching it is 2013 to 2016, which is even more tumultuous, than a lot of people thought the election could be. And there is a sense that a lot of this music was being created, we all now know is a period of Western decline. Right? There were the 25 good economic years after World War II, and then people are kind of starting to pick over the scraps, the pound sinks, the oil crash happens, etc., etc. so that's, I think ... those are among the factors why some of this music
Nick Gillespie: So it's kind of ... it's almost hedonism. I mean it participates in a seventies hedonism, but it's not ... it's really interesting that it's not about fucking. You know, per se. I mean the Rolling Stones become hedonists. You know, Bob Dylan disparages hedonists at the end of the seventies. And these guys are just trying to create kind of interesting new worlds that they can escape to.
Dave Weigel: Yeah, I think that's a good way of putting it. But always ... music was half happening on Earth, it was just not ... it was happening during a period of political tumult and economic decline and the music was pretty disconnected from that. Even Robert Fripp who was writing some of the most, I think musically dark and disturbing of it was ... it was pretty inward looking and pretty personal, pretty ... both personal sometimes and more often abstract. Like I said, I don't even think ... song like Starless or Fallen Angel is coming at a period ... America's going through Watergate has very little to do with that.
And so I think that's another reason why some of this music has not factored very large into music history, because there are bands and musicians who got involved in ways that you tell their story when you're telling the story of the seventies. It's one point I make in the book, I mean you tell the story of this period and if you're doing it in a movie or TV show you throw in disco or you throw on singer songwriters, maybe you throw on protest music. And they just didn't do protest music. It was very much a music a lifestyle where you tuned out, where you went to a festival, where you got into an arena. And a time where there were fewer distractions, as well.
Nick Gillespie: Yeah. What ... Talk about how part of what the book is addressing really is that ... and you've mentioned it, that the critical contempt for a lot of progressive rock ... and you know they had their champions in the day and they still do, but in general you're right that people tend to write about rock music like a loose term for a lot of pop music. But as a means of social expression and dissatisfaction with the status quo and so you know Elvis disrupts the bland gray Eisenhower era. The Beatles bring something new and exciting to a post-Kennedy assassination America. And then blah, blah, blah. And Punk obviously, Johnny Rotten never misses an opportunity to talk about how he would doctor Pink Floyd tshirts and write I hate above them and walk down Carnebie Street and get attacked by people, and he ...
Dave Weigel: As soon as he can, he's playing like experimental bass music with Bill Laswell and stuff.
Nick Gillespie: Yeah well this is ... part of what's interesting ... yeah I agree completely, or the band The Germs. The LA post-punk band or late punk band opens their song No god with a snippet from Yes's Roundabout. You know there's clearly many more connections and according to if you read journalists like Nick Kent, the Sex Pistols in their early days, all they were doing basically were covers of The Who and of a couple of other bands that they publicly denounced. But ... the argument of the book is really that progressive rock ... it persists in a lot of ways that it's not recognized. And you talked about some of them there. And then it was that the critics really wanted to trash it after a certain point. And is it ... why these albums, certainly groups like Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes, were selling millions of records. Was it simply that critics didn't like popular music, if something was really popular it couldn't be good? Or was it that they were turned off by this was a different type of rock and roll than they were comfortable celebrating.
Dave Weigel: Well I think some of it was that the music was getting less interesting. The Yes of I think Going for the One is kind of the last gasp of super interesting Yes music. By late 1977, 1978 it so happens that what is being offered to the market by some of these bands. If it sounds like the early 70s it is played out. They have run out of ideas, they're older, they're doing less. That's why the bands that make it into the 80s both commercially if you're talking about John Wedden performing in Asia or artistically if you're talking about King Crimson, they don't sound like they did at the end of the 70s. So part of it's the quality. Although as we all know, that's not necessarily determinative of whether something's popular or not. Part of it really is ... the artists I talked to, and the radio folks I talked to really do say this was a conscious decision of labels who just ... They had a different younger group of AR people. They found this music boring and they found punk exciting, so they elevated it...
Nick Gillespie: Punk in the US never sold many records. And I mean there were one-offs and things like that, but it's interesting ...
Dave Weigel: I'm thinking more the British ... the British side of this was much more direct. Where you had Harvest Records, which is producing all this, and Island, the guys who had been selling huge
Nick Gillespie: And in fact you mentioned Mike Oldfield, and obviously people know Richard Branson, but I don't think ... it's hard to appreciate the full measure of how Richard Branson has enhanced the 20th and 21st centuries. He both brought Mike Oldfield to a mass audience and in many ways progressive rock and then eh was the person who put out the Sex Pistols only a few years later. So it's kind of interesting to see even within that label the quick turnaround.
Dave Weigel: Yeah, they've been doing the quick turnaround ... at the same time, this music is more possible than punk in a lot of ways. I always go back to I read I think every issue of Sounds and Express, these British magazines. And end of the year polls in 1977, people still say their favorite keyboard player is Rick Wakeman, their favorite guitarist is Steve Howe. The concerts were bigger, the other side of everyone saying, well that one Sex Pistol Show, everyone who went to it started a band. Well the Yes show down the street had people at it. Those people didn't stay invested in music. They grew up and did something else.
It was I think the music was a little bit less good, some of the bands tuned out, and there was a decision by critics and labels to focus on other music. And it was really hard, going back for the research for the book, I have rarely seen a heel turn like this, where critics really were ready to praise the music and then six months later, say this was the problem with everything. That's why ... I think I could quote pretty liberally from Rolling Stone, and from magazines that eventually as part of their creation methos for rock had to condemn this stuff. They were like, oh Emerson, Lake and Palmer's as interesting as anything you're going to hear to they ...
Rolling Stone has a giant feature on Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 1977 when they're kicking off they're world tour as a big important band with a following that needs to be understand. And by the end of that tour, their supposed to be a laughingstock. So ... some people know that different than others. As I said, Robert Fripp was really happy that all that stuff imploded. Greg Lake never really got over it. Greg Lake, who passed away last year always resented what he found to be interesting music was shoved aside for more basic rock music and punk and that. He thought it was just a really cynical and stupid and as you were saying, it didn't even sell that well so why'd they do it so
Nick Gillespie: I just wish Greg Lake had buttoned up on the cover of Love Beach. That image still haunts me of his kind of human veal physique. Nonetheless felt totally free to inflict on the record-buying public.
Dave Weigel: That's one of these albums, I looked at that and said I bet there is a story of drug use and decay and failure behind this, and indeed there was. That is like one of the more Spinal Tap-y albums in the book
Nick Gillespie: What ... I'm also thinking ... you interview a lot of people in the moment, which is great and this is great rock history because of the research that you've done but also the reporting that you've done. You talk a lot to Roger Dean, who is important. He's not a musician, but he's the guy who did the Yes covers in particular. And I just want to get this in because it cracks me up. And it may not to anybody else but you now Roger Dean's landscapes are constantly of planets that are being overrun by water and melting icebergs and things dripping and yet he's a global warming skeptic, right?
Dave Weigel: He is. I forget how we got into that, but I did some
Nick Gillespie: I'm sure he brought it up.
Dave Weigel: I think it was in the news, but I did some reporting that was in person where I went on the cruise, which I talk about at the beginning of the book. Which I actually ... the thing that I think David Foster Wallace gets wrong ... having written one book and criticize a legend. If you go onto a cruise with a theme actually it's very different from just bumping around with people who want to eat all day and pass out in front of the pool. The
Nick Gillespie: So tell the story. This the Yes cruise, right?
Dave Weigel: This is the cruise to the edge. Which was put on by the guys who did Monsters of Rock, and discovered that ... and a cruise based around the Moody Blues, and then they discovered that they should just around progressive music. There was a similar fan base to the rock one. They're pretty explicit. I talked to them at the beginning about how easy it is to commodify this. But I went to that for a week in the Caribbean. I went to a much smaller scale but really fascinating series of concerts called Near Fest in the Allentown area. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. And that's where I think I talked ... I talked to Roger Dean at both. We actually had decent conversation at both of these. But this is the one in Pennsylvania where something stuck in his craw and he really wanted to talk about it.
Nick Gillespie: Oh yeah, it's coal country. Right, look what Al Gore hath wrought.
Dave Weigel: And I followed up the first article about that guy, so there are people who might be interested in what you have to say about global warming. I think he realized it's beyond being off-brand. Everyone who has a Roger Dean painting in their portrait room disagrees with him about this.
Nick Gillespie: I thought he would be in favor of global warming. Because you look at the cover of Fragile, it's water water everywhere. What's ...
Dave Weigel: Are you going to fly to ...
Nick Gillespie: Who was the most interesting person beyond Robert Fripp? And it is ... I go back and forth when I think about ... He's on one end of the spectrum of kind of performers who ... on the other I remember years ago seeing an interview with Neil Diamond where ... it was on CBS Sunday Morning or 60 minutes or something, and the interviewer said, do you ever get tired of playing your hits? And Neil Diamond looked totally befuddled. And I think it was genuine. And he said, why would I be tired of playing my hits? That's what the audience comes for. And of course Neil Diamond and I think a lot of rock performers have come over to his side of the equation, where instead of saying, I'm not playing that song anymore. Or I'm going to make it unrecognizable. They really in a way 20, 30 years ago rock stars didn't give a shit about their audiences. They would show up late, they would show up drunk, they would show up out of tune. They wouldn't have rehearsed. And now they're more like they want to give a great experience. Every night, each night, each concert. And then there's Robert Fripp. Beyond Robert Fripp, who was the progressive rock god that surprised you the most as you toured through this material?
Dave Weigel: Well I had never spent that much time talking to and then reading interviews with Keith Emerson who was just fascinating to me because he really was innovative and virtuosic performer who was seen like that for years and then dropped out of relevance pretty hard for decades. I remember even talking to somebody who was grimly noting a couple years ago how depressing it was to watch him scoring video game music. And he was right in this nether zone where he was very aware that he was famous for something that happened a very long time ago. Kind of quote him going around Moog Fest, which where he was sort of god, but it's weird that he's being worshiped for something where all the new interesting music is written by other people.
And so I thought he was ... without being terribly ... he was very English and not super interested in being introspective. He wrote in his autobiography. But he was who clearly wanted this ... if he didn't want the jet set lifestyle forever, wanted this music to keep evolving and it didn't. I think it was stuck in a between space for the last couple of decades of his life. Was pretty unhappy when ELP would have to reunite and go on tour. It was always done with just a label pressuring them to do it. Right, it was the label saying you'll make a lot more album if this is an ELP album versus a Keith Emerson album. They said fine. But watching someone with that much talent go along with these commercial instincts just because he had to was ... I wasn't entirely surprised but sad as I reported on it and wrote about it.
And then I think David Allen was kind of the other end of the spectrum. This guy who was Australian musician who literally hitchhikes on a boat across the oceans, gets to the UK. He friends much younger musicians, gets kicked out of the band because ... this is Soft Machine. He gets kicked out of Soft Machine because he has a drug record and won't ... can't reenter the UK. And then just starts a different French band which becomes ... Gong is a ... once I listen to more fusion and more kind of Herbie Hancock and stuff. I saw everything is ripping from there but this guy was making that kind of music and being completely blissed out about it right up until he died. A couple days before he dies of cancer. And so he was another one I didn't know what to expect. Two different extremes I'd say where one guy was deeply unhappy about what had happened to this movement he was part of. And the other guy said oh movement's gone, that's fine. I'm still singing about potheaded pixies and doing weird glissando noises on my guitar, so this is great. As long as there's ten people listening to this in a pub, I'm happy.
Nick Gillespie: Is progressive rock and this might have something to do with it's kind of fall from grace. But it is fundamentally a male thing? You know there aren't a lot of ladies in the book. There's a few who show up. But they're mostly ... to be honest they're the ones singing an alto soprano or a soprano talking about sea carpets. Or sun carpets of the sea and things like that. What was the role of women in progressive rock?
Dave Weigel: There wasn't as much of it. I've mentioned Annie Haslam from Renaissance, Sonja Christina from Curved Air, again if you read these magazines in the seventies, you're seeing them all being put on the same pedestal. Like check out the new music that's coming out of Curved Air. Check out this three-page spread about Sonja Christina. There wasn't a lot of it, and I think it was basically a function of who formed the bands. The bands that came together out of the London scene, there simply weren't that many women in it. Except for Hawkwind having a six-foot model covered in paint walking around during their shows.
Nick Gillespie: And Hawkwind of course is one of those great odd junctures or notes of history because out of Hawkwind also comes Motorhead of all things, and then they made a bid for popdom in the eighties with songs like Sigh Power and whatnot. You know traditional pop songs.
Dave Weigel: As did Jethro Tull,, I spent a little time on the Bid for Pop stuff, but I didn't want to make the book a mockery at all. When something is generally funny I was writing about it, sure. But when life gives you Spinal Tap, they smell the glove.
Nick Gillespie: Or when Yes gives you Tormado or yeah.
Dave Weigel: But I generally tended to back away and look at what the newer revival stuff like Marilion and Porcupine Tree. But no, not a ton of women in this. And I don't know how that affected the way they were viewed in history because they were ... select women you could point to but also not a ton.
Nick Gillespie: Rock in general is very much ... the audience is different. And certainly the Beatles had as many women or more women fans than they had male fans, but they were Liverpool lads, not lasses. It's a strange creative ... medium of creative expression.
Dave Weigel: Although you've got this character who ends up being like a creation figure and, because PP Arnold is the soul singer who brings together Nice as her backing band. And then they break off and do their own thing. So various points there are female artists who are important to this, but it is basically a story of men and their organs. To put it one way.
Nick Gillespie: Now that male organs have been exposed, let's talk a little bit about politics. You're the ... you cover national politics for the Washington Post. You got into political reporting partly at Reason and then you had gigs at Slate and a number of other places. What happened ... you came into this at the height of the Ron Paul experience. Where is Ron Paul and Rand Paul now? I mean Rand Paul is so unpopular that he can't ... with Rush that they won't even let him play the Trees for God's sake. Which, for people who don't know is essentially a story about a bunch of maple trees form a union to block the oak tree from growing taller than it.
Dave Weigel: Yeah, it's basically sake Rand's animal farm.
Nick Gillespie: But set in trees and I'm assuming. I always read the maples being bullies because that's Canda, and Canada is somehow anti-individualistic. And Rush are the oaks that want to grow taller than the rest of the forest.
Dave Weigel: There is not a lot of space for libertarianism in politics right now except for I think, being honest about it, the issues where libertarianism intersects with the donors who have done the most for Donald Trump. I feel like my friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute are pretty happy about Trump's positions on climate. Myron Ebell, especially is ... literally joined the administration. But the criminal justice reform side of libertarianism is kind of retreated to the states. Where it's doing okay but has no clout in DC anymore. The drug reform side of it ... I interviewed Rand right before Jeff Sessions was officially, right after and asked him a couple questions about why he disagrees so vehemently with Sessions on drug policy, to vote for him.
And his answer was honestly the Democrats forced his hand by being so cruel and by portraying him as a racist so ... doesn't have a lot. That was kind of a key answer because what we're finding a lot of politics right now is that you can't get the conservative voter base active not really around an issue but around being angry at the left. And libertarian policies by the balls is so idea based and you're angry in an elite that's failing the country, but you are not angry at how gross Hilary is or anything simple to mobilize against. And depressingly that's ... found that politics moves fewer bodies than getting people to laugh at Leonardo DiCaprio for using a plane or to be annoyed with Black Live Matter for blocking an intersection.
There's just a much lower quality sort of politics that replaced libertarian stuff. And the fatal thing is, I asked Rand this too, he said he was wrong. He thought that in order to win again, the Republican party ended to attract young voters and non-white voters who were giving up on hardcore nationalism and Trump proved that he can eke together a majority if he had just enough nationalists. And why would you go back? I think the only thing that would change ... give libertarians another moment is Trump being defeated, or Republicans being defeated in a massive way. It's not happening right now. I keep ... I make fun of how Trump unlike most presidents, has press corp ready to go to voters that voted for him, and say, "you're still with him right?" There are these stories, even he does his decisions that 70% of people oppose, stories about how he's doing it for his base. He's delivering. And so as long as you kind of prioritize the easily angered, easily activated nationalist base, then yeah libertarians don't have much of a place in politics.
Nick Gillespie: How do you ... as somebody who is in the main stream media. You're at the Washington Post that fears that democracy dies in darkness. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon who owns the post is also a contributor to Reason at times, you know has been singled out by Donald Trump. The Washington Post, you're the fake news and all of that. How is that affecting you and your colleague's coverage? Because ... do you feel ... is the mainstream media giving Donald Trump a fair shake? Or are they, like a lot of people in America, so overwhelmed with their contempt or disgust for how he appears, the way he phrases things. Some of his policies but not all of them. Is it difficult to cover him fairly do you thinK?
Dave Weigel: I think factually you have to be tough on him because he will make a speech and make stuff up. He always has. When he was saying ... I think factually if you were writing aobut him when he was selling you on the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and ... factually you have to say that was a failure. He was lying about his finances. And he knows that now and so I think there's this trap I'm kind of worried about where there's ... I worry about it all the time when I see one of these studies where it's 90% of coverage of Trump has been negative. If you burrow into it, a lot of that is coverage of Republicans criticizing him. Not so much Democrats. It's not news when Nancy Pelosi doesn't like him. It's news when
Nick Gillespie: John McCain or Jeff Lake or something.
Dave Weigel: So that or it's him misstating something, or being embroiled in a scandal. And they're really not Democrats scoring any points on him. So it's not like we're slanting it to one party. But it's difficult ... I would argue that especially in the early years of Obama, and I worry that I was part of this. That there was coverage of the first black president a little bit too gauzy. And looking for ways in which he was inspiring people and looking past mistakes that were being made. And there's ... that's gone, but I feel like it's two factors colliding. One is that Obama had unusually good coverage, and the absence of Obama you're getting back to what you would have with Bush or with Clinton. With the first Clinton, the one who won. And that's colliding with objectively Trump just lies more than most presidents. It's been part of his strategy for years, and won him an election. And. But I do fret about people who are told by him not to trust the media and see us say, hey this is false what he just said. And say I don't believe you any more. I don't know how we unwind that.
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The Rise and Fall of Prog Rockand of Libertarianism [Reason Podcast] - Reason (blog)
Posted: at 6:42 am
Freedom Philosophy: The Death of The Left/Right Divide
Libertarianism isn't a reaction to the left/right divide but rather it's merely the recognition that it no longer exists. It's a rejection of militarism at a time when militarism threatens our national security and it's a rejection of overspending at a ...
Posted: June 14, 2017 at 3:42 am
Its easy to see people as enemies, even when they are on your team. Libertarianism is no different. The movement is torn apart by in-house fighting and bullying, more so than any other movement or party. Some have said the conservatives and liberals are the same way, but those groups are large enough to survive infighting. More importantly, they are united in effort, despite their fighting. They may conflict over certain policies and ideas, but they unite against the common enemy in the end.
Republicans may fight a lot among each other, but they unite against the Democrats at the end of the day. The Democrats fight over themselves as well, but they unite against the Republicans all the same (cue the parties are the same jokes, and moving on). Libertarians? They wont unite for any reason at all. A brick wall stands between each sector of our movement, dividing us.
Its one thing to not give up your own personal beliefs and capitulating to the movement, its another to not unite against the enemy we all agree on. To allow tyranny to rule over us because we dont want to stand beside someone who disagrees with us on a few interpretations of our philosophy is not the same as standing your ground honorably and refusing to give up your beliefs.
The Cause of the Problem
Libertarianism isnt a set of policies or ideals. Its a philosophical stance, built on key principles like the non-aggression principle, or the idea of states rights, a term meaning the states and their citizens have a right to self-governance and autonomy. Not that the state government have rights over its citizens.
Because its a philosophical stance and isnt mutually exclusive, meaning other consistent philosophies can be attached to it it can be interpreted differently. This reality seems to anger many, but refusing to accept this fact can only hurt us. Lets consider the following:
John Doe and Joe Dohn are both Libertarians. They believe that something should be illegal if it aggresses against another. The topic of abortion comes up and John Doe believes the fetus is not a living person. Therefore, abortion aggresses against no one, and so he is pro-choice. Joe Dohn believes that the fetus is a living person with rights, meaning abortion aggresses against the fetus, and therefore he is pro-life. Is one of them not libertarian simply because we disagree with that person? No.
Libertarianism can be interpreted differently, depending on how we view the world. Which studies you read, what theories you trust most, these define how you see the libertarian philosophy. Conservatism is defined as being pro-life, anti-welfare, pro-military, anti-corporate tax, and such. Its defined by a set of policies its members agree on. Libertarianism is purely philosophical, and so has no set opinion or belief.
Why the Problem Matters
Some have said the infighting keeps us safe from internal corruption. I dont buy this. If anything, it stops the movement from facing corruption. Corruption can still show its face in the party and in each individual sector of the movement, regardless of how united the movement is or isnt. Corruption cant be stopped by dividing ourselves. Others have said its important because we should embrace our differences, that our differences benefit our movement. The problem is that fighting, calling each statists, and accusing other libertarians of being fake, is not the same as embracing our different beliefs. A look at any comment section will show it filled with everyone calling out statist and pretender whenever a disagreement occurs.
Tyranny can exist because we arent fighting it. Were in comment sections fighting each other. But consider, somewhere between 19% of the country to 22% of the country identifies as libertarian. With such a large portion of the population being libertarian, why do we see no movement in our movement? Its because we wont work together.
Instead, we push each other out of the movement. We put an end to our ability to bring in new members. Imagine a new member who was of a different party prior. He finds that he agrees with a lot of our philosophy, but hes new, so he isnt 100% for privatizing roads, eliminating publics schools, and ending most welfare yet. To be fair, many long-time libertarians have varying opinions on these. Now, this new member spends the first month being called a statist, a fake, a commie, and so on, just for asking about it or stating his opinion. He leaves and doesnt look back.
Infighting pushes out new and old members, disenfranchises most libertarians (thats why so many libertarians vote Republican), and cause each variant of libertarianism to hate each other when they should see each other as allies.
How to Fix the Problem
The first step to fixing the problem is for us to start remembering these three simple things:
The problem must be fixed. We can stand united while still holding onto and debating our disagreements. There is no libertarian movement if we stand divided. We share a common goal, and we should aim for that goal together.
The beauty of libertarianism is that it encompasses so many different spectrums. We can have so many diverse types of politicians, each with different views and ideas, while still having a completely libertarian Congress. We despise the two-party system, but libertarianisms vast spectrum allows for the equivalent of many, many parties, each being libertarian in nature. Conservatarians, an-caps, left-leaning libertarians, paleolibertarians, each a libertarian equivalent of a separate party.
We should embrace our differences while standing together as 20% of the population, to end tyranny and socialism, and embracing our differences starts by no longer fighting over our differences.
* Donald Keller is the Admin and Head Editor for the Libertarian Coalition. He is a cook, artist, and writer in De Soto, Mo.
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The Problem Of Libertarian Infighting - Being Libertarian
Posted: at 3:42 am
Previously I interviewed my friend Michael, who identifies as a libertarian. Despite our ideological differences, I really appreciated Michael taking time to chat with me about politics! I certainly learned a lot from his answers and it definitely helped me understand libertarianismin greater detail. My goal here is to reduce political polarization through mutual understanding. This time Michael asked me some questions and here aremy answers!
Michael:In your view, what does the individual owe to society, speaking in terms of moral and practical obligations? Conversely, what does society owe to the individual?
Matthew: As you discussin your answers, humans are fundamentally social creatures. Because of this, I do think there are certain obligations the individual should owe for society for it to work more effectively. Broadly, we should aim to not harm each other and help each other when possible.
Ideally, I would like society to offer a space of equality for everyone where they can express themselves how they wish if it doesnt interfere with other peoples liberty. However, I also think that if we have more than enough for ourselves, we should feel morally obligated to give to those less fortunate. The income inequality in the United States is ludicrous right now and only getting worse. I would like to the super wealthy give more to those who they make their money from.
Of course, actually making sure the wealthy give up some of their wealth is tricky! Right now we have elevated tax brackets for the wealthy and I personally think they could be even higher. Its not a perfect system, but taxing the wealthy and funneling some of their money into programs who help those who need it is still better than not providing any help to those in need.
Michael: As I mentioned in my responses, one of the things I most admire about you and many fine folks on the Left is your concern for those in need. My question is, What do you see as the boundaries of this moral concern? In other wordsand this does tie into my last questionis there a point at which an individual should be left to face the consequences of bad decision-making, without society stepping in to provide for them? For the sake of clarity, let me specify that here I am particularly thinking of people who run up massive gambling debts, or who abuse alcohol and/or other drugs until they lose jobs, homes, families, etc., and show no sign of sincerely wanting to change.
Matthew: Practically, there has to be some point. Even the most socialist utopia wouldnt be able to solve everyones problems through societal intervention. I suppose I take a rather utilitarian approach to this. If we tried to pour resources in solving everyones issues, it would be impossible and we would run out of resources. But I do think spending resources on large problems (for example, making sure the sick and disabled receive health care) is a worthwhile cause. We should aim to help as many people as we can with as few resources as we can.
But yes, I do think there should be checks in place so people dont abuse the system. However, for every person who finds some loophole with food stamps to eat lobster, there are many more that use them to feed their children. As I said above, I dont delude myself in thinking tax funded programs are 100% efficient. Far from it. But an imperfect system is better than nothing.
Michael: To what extent do you see connections between economic freedom and social freedomor do you see them as very different? For the purposes of this question, I will define economic freedom in terms of the ability to buy and sell ones labor and goods with others who are similarly free, and social freedom as the ability to express ones self, live as one wishes, marry whom one wishes, etc.
A quick word on where Im coming from with this question: my experience from my time on the Left, and from things I have seen since, is that many progressive liberals have a strong and very commendable commitment to social freedoms, particularly for LGBT people, women, and minority groups, but a deep skepticism of the free enterprise and markets system (aka capitalism). To my eye, the two are connected: having the freedom to buy and sell with people in other countries without having to pay onerous tariffs, for example, seems logically of a piece with the idea that discrimination against people because of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation is wrong.
Matthew: This is a great question and one Im constantly reflecting on. On the left, I know plenty of people who think they are connected, but in the opposite direction! As I mentioned above, those federal programs that offer food and healthcare aim to help those in need. So we forfeit some economic freedom to help out the most vulnerable groups like the poor, elderly, and disabled.
Again, I concede these programs are not perfect. I can understand how it would be frustrating to see ones money be taken away for a program that has explicit flaws. But again, I consider this the best option with what we have to work with. I think having a system in place to give is still better than hoping people give on their own without any direction.
Michael: Out of all the various activities in which the government is involved, and on which it spends money, are there any that strike you as unjust and objectionable? Which functions, if any, would you eliminate entirely, and which functions, if any, would you reform or change to make them more desirable?
Matthew: Yes! I dont care for our massive military budget as I think too often America tries to be the worlds police officer and doesnt always do a good job. An example of something that should be completely eliminated would be abstinence only education (which I believe most funding is now gone thankfully). Or of course many of Trumps proposals like his infamous wall.
Perhapslibertarians and socialists can find a lot of common ground with reforming programs. The issue I always have with libertarianism is the intermediate steps. Yes, lets say that a particular program is not working super well, but is still helping some people.If we slash the program, those people who really need it get screwed. Maybe we can work on some intermediate steps to make sure the program becomes more efficient, but those who need the services can still get them somehow.
So I can relate to a more libertarian perspective orientation here. When I see the government spending my tax dollars on things I feel very strongly against, I definitely do not enjoy it. However, I am in favor of things like healthcare and education so while the government may not do the most efficient job with covering those things, I am much more content in paying taxes on them. My hope and goal is to shape the government to fund efficient and helpfulprograms and reform then them with any new evidence that arises.
Michael: When you think about the current state of the Left-Right divide in our country, particularly after the election (shudder), what message or insights do you most wish conservatives and libertarians would take the time to understand and internalize about progressive liberals and Democrat voters? How would you like people on the Right to view you, and people with similar views, such that they might be more willing to engage with folks on the Left in a respectful and civil manner?
Matthew: In general I wish everyone would make a stronger effort to understand their opposition. Too often we are quick to use strawman arguments and demonize people with bad information for merely being on the other side. We should all be mindful that we are biased and make our best effort to reflect on our own positions. You may not completely shift your values, but sometimes listening to those you strongly disagree with can illustrate some weaknesses in your own position.
For example, I think too often libertarians think socialists just want free stuff without considering why we think socialized things are important. Its not that we are lazy and dont want to pay for anything, we think that the government providing healthcare, education, and other resources is the best way for everyone to get what they need to live a happy and healthy life. Additionally, I think its unfair when socialists claim libertarians are incredibly selfish that dont care about anyone. I think many libertarians do care, they just think liberty, above other things, is most important for the well-being of our society. So we may all want similar things and our society to do well, we often just disagree on the methods.
On a related note, I also feel like conservatives are too quick to demonize those who care about social justice and lump us all in one group. Yes, there are jerks in every group, but to focus on a handful of people is simply unfair. Try talking to a variety of liberals and social justice activists. Try making an honest effort to listen to what we are concerned about. You might even find that we agree sometimes!
PS: I now have a Patreon if youd like to support my writing and podcasting.
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A Socialist Answers Five Questions From A Libertarian - Patheos (blog)
Posted: June 12, 2017 at 7:43 pm
June 12, 2017 by Steven Teles
Will Wilkinson has scaled the Olympian Heights of the New York Times for the cause of liberaltarianism and the greater glory of the Niskanen Center. But what is liberaltarianism? And who cares about it?
Speaking as a historically oriented political scientist, my first way of attacking this question is to ask where the object under examination came from. What is its origin? The term liberaltarianism was originally coined by my good friend, co-author, and co-conspirator Brink Lindsey over a decade ago in The New Republic. While Brinks objective in that article was to invite liberals into a coalitiona coalition that liberals like Jonathan Chait quite firmly refused to acceptI think the articles most immediate target was libertarianism itself. It defined a pole of libertarianism, around which those who were uncomfortable making common cause with conservatism could rally. Brink argued that libertarians should admit that they are not, as many of them had argued going back to the 1970s, equidistant from the two parties. They are natural allies with liberalsalbeit critical allies. Their alliance with conservatism was opportunistic, but their alliance with liberalism was on principle.
That pretty much describes where Will is coming from, as well as many of the other folks at Niskanen who came out of the libertarian network of organizations. For them, liberaltarianism is another way of saying post-libertarianism (a term first coined by our own Jeffrey Friedman). The purpose of liberaltarianism is to describe the political position you get to when youve become disenthralled with the mass of positions and alliances associated with institutional libertarianism but retain a substantial chunk of its underlying principles.
While Ive hung around with a lot of libertarians in my life and learned a great deal from them, Ive never been one of them. I am and (God willing) will always be a straight-ticket Democrat. So my path to liberaltarianism has a different trajectory than my co-conspirators here at the Niskanen Center. It is worth explaining why I now think liberaltarianism is a reasonable shorthand for my political positions, and what I think the philosophy has to offer for people who come more or less from my side of the fence.
I grew up knowing that I was a liberal, but also knowing that I was not quite like the other liberals I knew. This instinct was almost certainly hard wired, with sources that I may never get to the bottom of. But it meant that I was always drawn to liberals who got into fights with other liberals. In college that drew me to the Washington Monthly and its diaspora throughout the media landscape, and to the thinkers around the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). In graduate school I read and was deeply influenced by William Galstons Liberal Purposes, which in a very vulgar way you could think of as higher DLCism. I had not thought through exactly what my program was, but I knew what my tribe was. Much of my subsequent intellectual career has been devoted to figuring out the program that should go with the tribe.
That program, such as I have been able to develop it up until now, can be characterized as left-liberaltarianism. That is just a fancy way of saying that I come to the liberaltarian project not as a refugee from libertarianism, but as an internal critic of modern liberalism. Liberaltarianism, as I understand it, is thus Janus-facedit is not the median between conservatism and modern liberalism, for it has criticisms of both. The core of left-liberaltarianism is an effort to combine liberal principles of social justice with a respect for limited government, and a preference for a relatively sharp line between state and market, and between levels of government.
By limited government, I mean a government that operates as much as possible through relatively simple, transparent, direct means that are susceptible to political oversight and citizen comprehension. The primary defining attribute of the state is coercion, and liberaltarians prefer that it use coercion out in the open. In contrast to the increasing attraction of those on the center-left for social policy nudges, liberaltarianism has a preference for shoveslarge blunt uses of social authority. Instead of a proliferating mass of regulations to combat climate change, liberaltarians prefer a tax on carbon. Instead of a variety of different tax subsidies and clever devices to encourage people to save, liberaltarians have a preference for good old-fashioned tax-and-spend social insurance. In contrast to the confusing welter of rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank, liberaltarians favor blunt limits on bank leverage. The defining characteristic of all these reforms is that they are simple and rule-like, replacing administrative discretion wherever possible with blunt applications of coercion specified in law.
Transparency and simplicity are themselves powerful limitations on government. With rare exceptions, liberaltarians want rules that avoid the excessive entanglement of the state and market, and the interweaving of levels of government. Instead of governments that, at many levels and in subtle ways, sneak up on involvement in a particular social domain, liberaltarians want definitive decisions by the national government to intervene (or not). This serves to enhance political deliberation, since the decision to act must be clear and responsibility for results unmistakably affixed. When the national government operates by steering or nudging or partneringwhether with private firms or state governmentsit is unclear precisely who is to be praised or blamed, and it can become nearly impossible for legislatures or citizens to exercise effective oversight. In addition, especially in the case of partnering with private actorssomething mistakenly referred to as privatizationthis kind of interweaving of state and market creates powerful temptations toward the corruption of both. These temptations can be seen clearly, for example, in the Trump administrations still-vague infrastructure plans, which promise to turn $200 billion of taxpayer money into $1 trillion in projects by creating incentives, guarantees, and inducements for private businesses, rather than using direct government spending. Something similar can be said of proposals like that of the Democratic nominee for governor of New Jersey, who advocatesa state investment bank for small businesses. The opportunities for the government to steer such projects to its political allies would be enormously temptingwhich is, in the Trump administrations case, almost certainly a feature rather than a bug.
This gets to a final feature of liberaltarianism, which is that it is especially sensitive to the ways that the state is not always an instrument of egalitarianism, but can be captured by the powerful and turned to their advantage. This is the subject of my forthcoming book with Lindsey, The Captured Economy. While the state is a potentially very powerful tool to enhance equal opportunity, it is also highly susceptible to the manipulations of those with economic and social power. As Brink and I argue, that influence is magnified in policy domains characterized by policy complexity and multiple, obscure institutional venues, which are easier for the wealthy to manipulate. Dentists, to take only one example out of many, are able to turn the regulatory system to their own advantage because the licensing boards that make the rules are so low-profile that they attract attention only from dentists themselves. Something similar typically characterizes other areas of upward redistribution, from financial regulation to intellectual property and real estate.
This vision of liberaltarianism, then, is primarily institutional in character. Back in the early twentieth century, Progressives who sought to increase the power of government to enhance social justice concluded that the only way to do that was to emancipate government at every level, to remove formal limits on the state (other than individual rights). But it turns out that a system of pervasive intertwining of the national and state governments, and the market and state, is one that is not particularly good for social justice, political accountability, or citizen engagement with politics.
One agenda for liberaltarianism, therefore, is to think about how to pursue important state functions in environmental protection, social welfare, and other areas in ways that are simpler, that sort out more cleanly who is responsible, and that involve the national government either in a way that occupies the field or that leaves matters for the market or state and local governments. We want a welfare/regulatory state governed as much as possible by law rather than administrative discretionrule-of-law big government, you might say. Often that will mean purer nationalization of functions, for example by nationalizing Medicaid (i.e., ending its status as a joint state-federal venture). But it will also mean reconsidering the mass of complex mandates and funding structures in K-12 education. It will mean trying to pull the national government out of the business of subsidizing private savings (through 529s, IRAs, 401ks) and just increasing social insurance. By doing soby sharply reducing the expectation of mass participation in private equity marketswe could also reconsider how we regulate finance, with less expectation that we need to protect unsophisticated investors. Other than preventing systemic risk (for example, through capital requirements) we could let markets rip more than we do now, since only the well-to-do would be significantly invested in them.
This is not the only vision of liberaltarianism. There are other visions that come more from the left, such as those that are primarily motivated by cosmopolitanism, or an aversion to paternalism. I am less convinced by those visions, although I think they are a necessary part of the larger conversations that should happen under the liberaltarian umbrella. I hope to address them in later posts.
Steven Teles is a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center and Associate Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is co-author (with Brink Lindsey) of the forthcoming The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Become Richer, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality, and (with David Dagan) Prison Break: Why Conservatives Turned Against Mass Incarceration.
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How to Get to Liberaltarianism from the Left - Niskanen Center (press release) (blog)
Posted: June 11, 2017 at 4:45 pm
The extent to which a state should exist
This has been a constant issue in the libertarian movement: between non-libertarians attacking our movement because they mistakenly view Somalia as an example of a failed libertarian state and the thriving size of the anarcho-capitalist faction in the ...