Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Anti-SJW Left should not be Hijacked by the New Classical Liberalism

Ever since Gamergate, there has been a new-found hostility to SJWism, Cultural Leftism, and Third Wave feminism amongst some Liberals and leftists, especially the young.

This movement has manifested itself in the popular YouTube personalities like these:
(1) Sargon of Akkad

(2) Dave Rubin, The Rubin Report

(3) Gad Saad
The most popular of these are probably Sargon of Akkad and Dave Rubin.

The ideology of these latter two is rapidly degenerating into Classical Liberalism and libertarianism-lite, because they lack any alternative perspective on economics. For them, being hostile to SJWism, Cultural Leftism and Marxism has meant becoming hostile to any kind of economic leftism. They seem oblivious of non-Marxist, leftist economics like Post Keynesianism, or even leftist New Keynesianism.

Sargon, for example, has taken to denouncing “socialism” on Twitter, but seems incapable of properly defining what he even means by it. For him – as for libertarians – it seems to conflate everything from New Deal Liberalism, the old British Labour Party, Keynesianism, and Marxism/Communism with a centrally planned economy.

But, don’t get me wrong, some of the memes against Marxists/Communists are fairly funny, e.g.:

However, Sargon has little knowledge of economic theory, and also adopts the same infantile tactic of libertarians by throwing the word “collectivist!” out as an insult in the same way as the libertarians perennially use the cry of “statist!” to close down discussion.

But I’ve seen all this before.

When the financial crisis of 2008 and global recession of 2009 hit the world, there was a brief revival of Keynesian economics. That in turn provoked a renaissance of internet Austrian economics bloggers and libertarianism from around 2008.

From about 2008–2014, there were massive blogger and internet wars between Austrians/libertarians and Keynesians, and heterodox and Post Keynesians were part of this. All these economic issues were debated ad nauseum, and all the solid arguments against Austrian theory were made by numerous people.

But people like Sargon of Akkad and Dave Rubin seem ignorant of this, or of any serious critics of Classical Liberal economics.

The resurgent Austrian/libertarian ideology of the early 2010s reached its high-point in the presidential campaigns of Ron Paul. The Tea Party also had its libertarian wing too.

But then this libertarianism imploded.

There is considerable evidence that a lot of these libertarians – especially the young men – went on to found and become the Alt Right.

Probably some of them still have libertarian leanings on economics. But a big development within the Alt Right has been a growing hostility to free market and libertarian economics, because, whatever you want to say about them, they are at least capable of doing some independent thought on economic issues. Many – who, I bet, were once the fanatical libertarians you’d argue with on or Austrian blogs – are now openly hostile to free trade and globalisation.

Thus Richard Spencer – who may as well be the public face of this movement – was capable of saying this recently about socialism:

But now, on economics, people like Sargon of Akkad are falling into the space once occupied by libertarians, and shilling for Hayek (see here and here), and essentially providing little except anti-SJWism and a reversion to a failed economic ideology.

As a person who spent years arguing with libertarians and Austrians after 2008 from a Post Keynesian perspective, you can get a detailed refutation of nearly every flawed aspect of Austrian economics here:
Debunking Austrian Economics 101 (Updated)
If you are a Sargon fan, but skeptical of his turn to Austrianism, I encourage you to read these links, and this blog. I’m also on Twitter as “Lord Keynes.”

If Sargon of Akkad cares to do some basic reading, he’d discover the errors and discredited theories of Austrian economics.

The new “Classical Liberalism” being pushed by Sargon and co. is no substitute for an Alternative Left capable of criticising the excesses of the Cultural Left and the multiculturalists, but with Post Keynesian economics.

“Sargonism,” if we can call it that, is an intellectual dead end, and a Hayekian-lite rehash of the libertarian movement of the early 2010s. Don’t be seduced.

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  1. Classical liberalism from the Gamergate crowd has more in common with Internet Anarchism.

    The IT industry is very fond of the idea that they can just get a machine to run things and then they don't need no stinking government.

    The Anarchist FAQ has been part of various Linux distributions since as long as I can remember.

    1. Those two movements are fairly distinct, are they not? Anarchism is socialist and anti-capitalist, while classical liberalism is pro-capitalist (though a few classical liberals such as John Stuart Mill showed sympathy for socialism). Of course, you might say that both have an anti-authoritarian aspect, which i certainty wouldn't consider a bad thing.

    2. Classical liberalism is the idea that people matter. Austrianism is the theory that dollars matter. They are not the same at all.

  2. When I began with my various internet personas in the spring of 2016 - the Alternative Left Facebook page, Ernest Everhard (then called Agent Commie) and the Samizdat blogs and YouTube channel, I did so largely in reaction to what I saw as being the flaws, sins and omissions of the anti-SJW, anti-cultural left movement that had emerged since Gamergate and the migrant rape crisis in Europe.

    I had very mixed feelings about the so called cultural libertarian movement. On the one hand, I was delighted to see some kind of systemic critique and pushback against the excesses of intersectional, postmodern leftism. But I had as many problems with a lot of these pundits as I did with the regressive left. It was as a result of these problems, the successes at the time of the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns, and some personal and private successes that I'd had in my own activism in the real world, that pushed me to the point where I decided I couldn't stay silent any longer.

    The issues that I have with the cultural libertarian and skeptical communities were basically these: 1) I distrusted the libertarian stance on economics and 2) I saw these movements and their supporters repeatedly overshoot the mark in their opposition to political correctness, and often descend into genuinely hateful and spiteful views. It's one thing to rightly object to the campus feminist's love of censorship or bouts of misandry. It's quite another to attack her personally, and engage in doxing, threats and so on. Plus, I notice that Breitbart's readership doesn't seem to have a problem with the no-platforming of views they disagree with, or with people losing their jobs for saying stupid and offensive things about Donald Trump and so on. Like the social justice warriors, the cultural libertarians - who inevitably succumb to capture from the alt-right, were essentially postmodern: they're movements of identity and self serving moral relativism, not movements of principle.

  3. Now that's one problem I had with the cultural libertarians and the SJWs alike. Another problem I had with them is that both were economically blind, and that this blindness was actually driving a lot of the toxic narratives on both sides. No, Ms. Intersectional Feminist and Mr. Neoreactionary neither the patriarchy nor the elders of Zion are out to ruin your life. You're victims of rapacious global capitalism.

    The social injustices sustained by women and people of color, as well as the economic dislocation suffered by working class white males, had no means of articulating itself via economic theory, so the only thing either one could do was to keep doubling down on a cultural or identitarian critique that had no chance of addressing their real grievances because the whole realm of political economy was essentially invisible to them. This situation seemed hopeless to me until I saw the public enthusiasm for the campaign of Bernie Sanders for POTUS. Of course Sanders was far from perfect, but he showed that there was potential for a candidate running as a socialist, even in the USA.

    The anti-SJW left is in a tricky position. It's turned out to be difficult to disentangle the culture of leftism - the revolutionary romanticism, as I think of it - from the actual economics of publicly or cooperatively owned (or at least regulated) economic institutions. It comes naturally to me because I have actual experience in housing cooperatives, labour unions and non-profit societies that are actually run by the same kinds of people who operate heavy machinery and crunch numbers in cubicles all day, instead of deconstructing the patriarchal elements of Shakespeare or LARPing as anarchist revolutionaries on college campuses. The real problem, though, is that the organs of the left have long since been hijacked by the kinds of people who figure that African blacks were the real lost tribes of Israel or that all penetrative sexual intercourse equates to rape. This loss of direction began innocently enough back in the 1970s, but is likely to be next to impossible to recover from regardless of how harmful it is to the left. Narratives hold a powerful grip on the human mind.

    Cultural libertarians and the skeptical community have a mirror image of the same problem. Their admirable message that free speech should be absolute and that the mob and the state have no business in the bedrooms of the nation gets too easily hijacked by people who figure a Jewish conspiracy is behind the decision to abandon the gold standard, or that the emergent trans-acceptance movement is the latest wedge of a cultural Marxist plot obsessed with destroying western civilization.

    People like Lord Keynes and myself are in a difficult position. We are navigating between Scylla and Charybdis, and the raft we're doing it on is not at all that seaworthy.

    1. Agent commie i am always more than happy to read your blogs and comments.

  4. You're quite right about these (non or false) integrative types morphing into the alt right. They think they've found some kind of truth but it's still just orthodoxy with a new label because it's not an actual integration of the truths, workabilities and highest ethical considerations in opposing perspectives and the simultaneous deletion of the untruths, unworkabilities and moralistic considerations in same. I have debated the libertarian/Austrian types online for the last 10 years and unfortunately you couldn't change the mind of 99% of them with a phaser set at disintegrate to their temple let alone with mere words. The world is beset by rigidly opposing dualities and most have neither the willingness nor the ability to think in terms of third alternatives despite the fact that the signature of Wisdom and scientific breakthrough being thirdness and greater oneness. My Wisdomics-Gracenomics is a true integration of Keynesianism and Austrianism in that its policies seamlessly integrate what these types hold onto with terminally grasping orthodoxy and unwillingness to combine, namely the necessary additional monetary stimulus of Keynesianism and the desire for price deflation of Austrianism.

  5. Ah, Che Guerra shirts, mass produced for adolescent leftists who want to cosplay as Leninist revolutionaries. Is there any commodity on this planet that is a greater testament to the complete victory of capitalism over communism?

    Sargon's understanding of history leaves a great deal to be desired, as well. He had a video shortly before the election comparing the US to Rome which was chockful of inaccurate statements and projecting modern opinions and conflicts onto people living in antiquity. One of the more bizarre comments was a parallel between democrats supporting welfare programs and patronage among the ruling class of the Roman Republic. If I'm remembering previous parallel accurately, it's not too surprising to see Sargon devolve into Austrian economics. Sargon is the master of weaponized trolling, though, and that more than makes up for his other flaws in my book.

    Tangibly related LK, but I seem to recall you making a comment months ago that reading up on GamerGate confused the hell out of you. Can I assume from your opening sentences that you're confident in your understanding of said incident now?

  6. Seeing the members of the alt right who are leaning left on economics, especially the so-called Nazbols (Nazi Bolsheviks), I wonder if they will become the new advocates for leftist economics once the other members of the left get distracted with SJWism.

  7. The fact that so-called "libertarians" are weenies when it comes to private discrimination has nothing to do with "libertarianism". I've been griping about the problems of multi-ethnicity for 45 years. 98.2% of "Libertarians" have no interest in the topic at all or they are too afraid of being called "racist" by the SJWs.

  8. It is so delightful to find out that there are other people with the same concerns than me.

    I don't know jackshit about economics. I've been studying by myself the basic concepts, most of them from neoclassical theory, but I'm still full of doubts. At the moment I'm following a falsificationist criteria, discarding the ideas that I find empirically unsound, being the marxist theory of value the only one going to the trash at the moment. The austrian business cycle may be following next, but I'm not sure at all yet.

    What I want to mean is that even giving a fair benefit of the doubt to libertarian economics, I find the core of their reasoning system very flawed. The whole thing is just about giving more freedom to the market. The rest doesn't matter, you just start with the conclusions and look how to get there again.

    When the market gets things done is a triumph of the market. I agree that sometimes it is the case. But when market fails, it is because it wasn't free enough. Being in a country like Argentina (Where we tried privatisations and freer markets in the 90's and got utterly screwed up in a matter of a decade) I know that a more laissez-faire approach wasn't necessary the only cause of that (could be a post hoc), but pretending that it is all a matter of letting capitalism work alone, to me, seems like alchemy at this point.

    One time ago I had an arguing with libertarians about Peru. Peru reduced a lot of it's poverty by freeing macroeconomics (apparently), so libertarians were glorifying that. But I pointed out that Peru also applied a lot of gubernamental investement in infrastructure and human development, specially in favour of the lower classes. They didn't care, under their reasoning it was only because of the wonderful market.

    Their beliefs are unfalsifiable. And they will use labels like "statist", or loaded questions like "what do you have against freedom/liberty?". Nothing wrong with economic freedom, but don't confuse it with irresponsible debauchery. There has to be some kind of sane restraints for the greater good, we can discuss it, there are a million ways to do it. But you can't get away with anything you want.

    1. Some very interesting ideas here, Ivan. I would agree with you that markets can drive efficiency, innovation and productivity. I'd go even further to say that markets are currently limited and underperforming because of the ownership models that apply in most parts of the world. Employees are harder to motivate than business owners. Anyone who has owned or operated a small business will know the truth of this.

      The issue - for me - is that corporate capitalism invests the ownership of large businesses with shareholders, who often don't even KNOW that they are the businesses owners.

      This is why paleo-socialists prefer to focus on questions of ownership, rather than on debates about the market vs the state. There is definitely a role for the state, but there is also a role for the market. The market would perform more efficiently and more humanely if businesses were owned by those who work in them and the state maintained an environment conducive to their success.

      In Australia, we look to Juan D Peron as an example of a leader who balanced the roles of the state and the market in the best interests of his nation. The New Zealand writer Kerry Bolton has written an excellent (if hard to find) book which focuses on the ideology of Peronism, as opposed to the many biographical books on both Juan and Eva Peron that are available. Readers outside of Argentina may find Bolton's book well worth a look.


  9. Completely agree with your analysis here, LK.

    In Australia, a small number of us paleo-socialists have witnessed the degeneration of the left into post modernism and personal identity politics with dismay since the early 1980's.

    Our position has often overlapped with that of the Australian nationalist right, who share a national, communitarian outlook with us - even if they sometimes get tangled up in their traditional 'right wing' economic baggage or neurosis about trade unions etc.

    Clustered under the Red Eureka, we look to pre-Marxist forms of socialism for inspiration. William Lane, WG Spence, Jack Lang, William Morris, Robert Owen and even the original Diggers (Winstanley et al) provide all the inspiration necessary for a rebirth of socialism in the 21st century.

    Aussies interested in this line of thought should check out the website of the National Republicans (Australian) or even Australia First.


  10. Mmm...interesting and sincere read here...refreshing against the noise of chaotic sloganeering in the great disruption we find ourselves in...I appreciate the sorting going on and the resistance to mob mentality that comes from any extreme ideology that is frankly oppressive...however, i can't away from a simple conclusion that, with due respect to the gentlemen here, that libertarianism is astrology for men...

    1. "..that libertarianism is astrology for men"

      A wonderfully accurate and succinct description of this wretched school of 'thought' (sic).


  11. You may find this alt-right view of economics interesting:

  12. Also, The High Tory perspective is that

    (a) Culture, tradition, and spirituality are prior to economics, no matter what specific platform and strategy is adopted.

    (b) Economically, the COMMON GOOD must be secured. Money must serve people, and the people are a qualitative whole (as opposed to an aggregate of desires). Classical liberalism, neoliberalism, and libertarianism have no concept of the common good.