Strawman Alert!

Us pesky libertarians:

These people – who wish to undermine society as we know it and who would end all social security, state pensions, public health services, state education and much more besides – want to overturn society as we know it.


I\’d be fascinated if Ritchie could find any single person in the United Kingdom (outside an institution for the terminally confused) who would argue for that list there. I know many, am one myself, who would argue for changes in the way that all of those are done, for perhaps a reduction in the State\’s provision of them and more use of markets.

But the actual abolition? Of, for example, public health services? I might not think that the NHS is the crowning glory of civilisation, this is true, but abolishing State run or financed emergency rooms? Sewers (probably the most important public health measure ever)? Vaccination programs?

I think we can officially declare this the largest strawman argument presented recently, no?

Why is it then that this vicious, self interested and, might I suggest inherently socially violent group are allowed to make this sort of contribution – as they do all over so many blogs where those with real concern for society, from across the mainstream political spectrum, seek to discuss issues in an open, rational and respectful fashion?

Called free speech Ritchie. Get used to it.

I would love, for example, to see far-right libertarians thrown off the Guardian bogs (snigger-Tim) as a matter of course – which might improve their appeal to many others as a result.

It is time we named these people for what they are – as being amongst the enemies of civilised society.

I am happy to do that. It would be good if others would do the same – and fight them as we do racists.

Libertarians, inherently socially violent who should be anathematised as if they were racists.

What a liberal vision of society, eh?

32 thoughts on “Strawman Alert!”

  1. “inherently socially violent group”: is that the customary usage of social/socially which negates the noun that follows it? If so, he thinks you are a pussy cat.

  2. I am proud to be called an enemy of civilised society. Especially if that which goes on in the UK is what is being classed as civilised society.

  3. And I’ve left a comment on his blog telling him the same thing. I have no doubt that the comment will be moderated into \dev\null

    Still, nice of him to mention that his hits have increased because of referrals from here.

  4. I have commnted as follows , I wonder if it will be passed

    They think that all tax is theft; all government activity is bad and those who win a mandate for government spending from democratic electorates are ‘statists’.

    “You are a scary man. The specific promise not to raise taxes and then raising them by an amount equivalent to income tax by stealth , and by incurring unsustainable debt , does not constitute a mandate .Indeed any vote obtained to justify this or that is necessarily democracy , look at the use to which the vote for the ‘Common Market’ has been put . There is a difference between a democracy and elected dictatorship .
    There may be a limited argument for adjusting demand counter cyclically, that can only apply to a very small part of spending choices such as acceleerated capital projects . Spending on unemployment achey backs and sad feelings thus perpetuating a tax eating dependent minority has no possible rationale unless you actually wish to destroy the supply side of the economy .Supply reform is the only, and I repeat only, way out of this depression in the medium and long term .
    Equally there is little point other than electorally,in building up debts that will immediately have to be repaid such is our fiscal agony .

    Your wild eyed anarchist is concocted either from a feverish imagination or perhaps an illustrated comic from the 1930s ? Even if it were not , advocates of low tax self determining societies are not engaged on a mission to destroy a race or hurt anyone least of all civic society . Society is not the same as the state and would be more important were the stew judiciously withdrawn
    You to claim Jesus for a socialist ( how sweet ) but interpreting the Bible as a collectivist tract takes a hell of stretch . It is one of the problems of state control that it obviates the need for fellow feeling that function being replaced by state organisations .This is why the Soviet Union and East Germany did not produce the perfect moral man but the corrupt beetles wizened moral pygmy we know as a bureaucrat . Does Jesus applaud Public Sector retaining their excessive pay rises and pensions while others suffer .I think not but I cannot say we have conferred much on the matter .

    Silly man “

  5. I believe it went something like this:

    -RM Posts an article extolling the virtues of state provided goods and describes the wealth creation from the private sector as “froth” on the top of the coffee. Tim highlights one of his many fallacies.

    -People point said fallacies in (by and large) polite comments on his blog.

    -RM gets very hot under the collar; starts blocking comments, throws around straw-men, compares libertarians with the BNP etc.

    He’s an economic illiterate who is determined to push his ‘New Economics’ (read: New Mysticism). He does not wish to debate the ideas floating around his head and no amount of logic will change him.

    I think we should just ignore him.

  6. It’s amazing that this man sees himself as somebody who “discusses issues in an open, rational and respectful fashion”

  7. Tim,

    Mind you, I think that one or two regulars here, from time to time use rhetoric that makes Richie’s straw man look like a reasonable approximation. And who, if asked to characterize a “left winger”, would probably come up with something about as unhinged as Richie’s view of you.

    It’s funny how the loonies on either side tend to think the opposing side is made up of loonies.

  8. “People like Ritchie have such a negative view of humanity…”

    And a corresponding hugely favourable view of their own attributes.

    Not one backed up by objective fact, mind…

  9. I rather like left and right labels that way we know what we are talking about . Good thing no ?I read that essay well struggled though some of it and I like this Those who do not agree are .

    “Conservatives darkened the ideological atmosphere with obscurantist calls for romanticism, tradition, theocracy, and irrationalism. ”

    Shorn on the amusingly pejorative tone that would be the Party aware of the emotional spiritual and dimenions of a man .The one that does not treat people as rational units which , I have to say it is screamingly fucking obvious they are not , thank god . Far from being dead or dying Conservatism is reborn and triumphant.

  10. Tim & others, while agree on your points re Ritchie and his black-white view of society (state = good, private = bad), it is also true to say that there are plenty of such people (whether dozens of thousands is unknown) as he refers to, although maybe mental patients have better access to the internet than they used to.

    @ Tristan, yes, of course there are lots of things that the State does which are inimical to a free society (whether culturally or economically) but the distinction between ‘civilisation’ and ‘state’ in itself is somewhat artificial; once you have ‘civilisation’ you have, by very definition, ‘a State’, i.e. some means whereby those people who break the generally accepted rules (written or unwritten) are punished (by whatever means).

  11. Funny, the anarchists I know are all great defenders of civilisation, they defend it against the aggressions of the state and its allies. They’d subscribe to abolishing all state aid, replacing it with voluntary association (as has existed in the past – and still does in the few areas the state has not killed of enterprise).

    It just shows a paucity of imagination and intelligence to think that abolition of the state would necessfily mean starvation and pestilence.

    People like Ritchie have such a negative view of humanity, it must be depressing for them. To believe that humanity requires a select few to rule over them to make them do what is ‘good for them’ is rather sad. People obviously can’t cooperate without the state there to hold a gun to their head. Naturally the people who tell us this are somehow different and enlightened and can be trusted to be benevolent rulers…

    In contrast, libertarians have great faith in humanity and our ability to work together and to cooperate for our common good. With increasing evidence that societies have existed like this in the past, plus the greater wealth and technology available to us today, it doesn’t seem far fetched to me.

  12. Luis is right here. For further proof that Richie’s adversaries aren’t entirely made of straw, see: any thread at Samizdata.

    @11 amuses me, too. It reminds me of the arguments people used to make for utopian socialism…

  13. So says arsehole of this parish John B who adopts typically authoritarian not to say mewingly precious attitudes on his own auto celebratory dump . We can safely say whatever definition there is of freedom it does not include him.

  14. Fair cop. I am that strawman. I do think social security, health and education could be done better by unions, mutual societies, charities, individuals and even evil big business.
    Only the law and defence is best done by “the State” although the actions of the current government has weakened my belief in this.

  15. Ritchie Boy is a weapons-grade cock-end. We all hold this truth to be self-evident.

    john b is not a WGCE. For many reasons, not least of which is his ability to come to this blog and make his argument politely. And also because if the revolution came then he would speak up for any of us (Ritchie Boy, I feel confident to say, would be wearing a peaked cap and carrying a revolver to finish off the wounded.)

  16. Whilst he has never been one able to write with any eloquence or authority, it is noticeable how his tone has become increasingly nasty and desparate of late.

    I remain of the view that he has yet to succeed in converting any dissenters to his view of the world, which makes you wonder why he sees fit to bother.

  17. @20 ‘politely’ might sometimes be a stretch, but kind words appreciated. & yes, I’m fairly sure that in Mr Murphy’s world I’d be lined up with y’all, Nick Griffin and anyone else who suggests the use of logic, sanity, etc as an Enemy Of Good Stuff.

    I suppose Tim deserves some credit for not making the main point that I saw in the linked Richie post, that seriously religious types tend to go for authoritarian bollocks irrespective of their nominal party allegiance…

  18. Funny how the old idea that “the government which governs best, governs least” now equals “smash the state!”…

  19. Anon-

    I’d guess the desperation and nastiness stem from the very small number of hits his blog actually gets. Our Dickie doesn’t suffer the foolishness of mere mortals with much grace.

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  21. I wonder if Murphy knows the difference between a “libertarian” and an “anarchist”. It certainly doesn’t appear that way.

  22. ‘Socially violent’ immediately brings to mind the point that Hayek made about ‘social’ being a weasel word.

    “it has in fact become the most harmful instance of what, after Shakespeare’s ‘I can suck melancholy out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs’, some Americans call a ‘weasel word’. As a weasel is alleged to be able to empty an egg without leaving a visible sign, so can these words deprive of content any term to which they are prefixed while seemingly leaving them untouched. A weasel word is used to draw the teeth from a concept one is obliged to employ, but from which one wishes to eliminate all implications that challenge one’s ideological premises.

    That last sentence sounds eerily familiar.

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