Nancy MacLean seems a little overwrought

The Koch network and their allies claim they want “liberty.” They actually call themselves “the liberty movement” or sometimes “the freedom movement,” and speak in this very anodyne language about how they want to have limited government and freedom and lower taxes. For older white conservatives this language is very appealing. But what really bothered me in writing “Democracy in Chains” is that they’re not being honest. As libertarians they believe that there are only three functions for a legitimate government: To provide for the national defense, to ensure the rule of law and to maintain social order. Other than that, everything is illegitimate because other functions of government depend on taxing people — and particularly better-off people in a system with progressive taxation. For this type of libertarian thinking, taxing people to provide for programs, services and resources with which they may not agree is illegitimate coercion and therefore must stop.

In this Koch-donor dream, we are all responsible for ourselves from the cradle to the grave, unless there is a charity that happens to take an interest in us. We do not have federal laws to outlaw pollution or to prevent discrimination. Instead we trust everything to the free market and private property. This cause has pitted itself against the whole American model of 20th-century government. Regulation of food and drugs, the New Deal’s federal support for workers to organize and hold corporations accountable, the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s and the environmental movements, all of these things are illegitimate in the eyes of these people on the right.

Outside a few Ayn Rand devotees I can’t think of anyone who does actually believe that.

15 thoughts on “Nancy MacLean seems a little overwrought”

  1. I suppose if you’ve never seriously paid attention to, or had a proper exchange with, people of a Koch persuasion, you could quite easily convince yourself that your ridiculous strawman reflects reality.

  2. “But what really bothered me in writing “Democracy in Chains” is that they’re not being honest.”

    The bitch is a shill for mass-murdering socialist scum but other people “not being honest” bothers her.

    The Devil himself would be hard-pressed to think up tortures adequate for such a deceiver.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    From what I’ve read, mainly on Bleeding Heart Libertarians and associated links, she started with that straw-man and wrote a whole book around it. She was particularly scathing about Buchanan, a lot of it either wrong or just selective.

    There’s a very good interview with Charles Koch on the Freakonomics podcast, he seemed quite balanced to me and Stephen Dubner doesn’t strike me as some right wing libertarian who has given him a free pass.

  4. the Civil Rights Movement: wasn’t that against state enforced coercion?

    Everything else is society driven without the need for government, mostly to get the government to coerce other people.

  5. Solid Steve 2: Squirrels of The Patriots

    Civil Rights is American speak for the institutionalised privileging of black and brown people at the expense of white and yellow people, ultimately enforced by blue and green clad people with their fists, truncheons and bullets.

    The women’s movement was about liberating women from the slavery of caring for husbands and children who love them back and empowering them to do menial drudgery for an employer who doesn’t.

    The environmental movement is about returning to pagan nature-worship and taking away your nice things.

  6. Surely “Law” and “Social Order” cover things like Drug and Food regulation – you set a law and then keep out of it until needed…

    Obviously the degree of regulation needed is very easy to argue about but any regulation only works with a some form of law to back it up!

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    MacLean has been caught out lying about what her sources say. She is either incredibly incompetent at the basic task of a biographer or she is dishonest. Or both.

    It is interesting to see her coming out with both barrels firing rather than just slinking away. And yet slinking away is what she will do in the end. Given the massive dishonesty of her work.

    This reminds me of nothing so much as Clayton Cramer’s destruction of Arming America

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_Cramer

    Still

    Regulation of food and drugs, the New Deal’s federal support for workers to organize and hold corporations accountable, the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s and the environmental movements, all of these things are illegitimate in the eyes of these people on the right.

    Apart from the regulation of food and drugs, within reason, who on the right would have a problem with this? The government’s support for Unions was suicidal. Less so in America than in Britain but still insane. The Civil Rights movement was always just an effort to shake down White people for being generally superior in every aspect of life except, you know, rap. The women’s movement did not even rise to that. The Environmentalists flip flop between positions held by the Nazis and those held by the Soviets.

    We are better off without them all.

  8. It’s been a while since we heard about the Koch Brothers (note it is now the “Koch network, sinister rating raised two levels!!). There was a time when they were the subject of much hysteria by the Left, but there’s room for only so much hysteria and Trump/Russia hyperventilation has dominated the Loons for the past year.

    Also, I’m no expert on libertarians but I imagine they wouldn’t be opposed to a “women’s movement”, only the said movement’s desire to use the State against their opponents.

  9. There’s a clear fourth and fifth function for government: providing public goods (e.g. free vaccination) and regulating negative externalities. Quite a few of the things she lists (e.g. environmental protection) are merely derivatives of these additional points.

    Disagreements only arise when they exceed those bounds: e.g. when they leap from free vaccinations to free universal healthcare.

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    My position on the desirable level of government is basically Ayn Rand + ε, where ε is the absolute minimal extra government needed to stop things turning into either Snow Crash or Neuromancer.

  11. If “The Koch network…” are the first three words coming out of a person’s mouth – irrespective of reason or circumstance – you can safely write them off as being full of shit.

  12. MacLean has been caught out lying about what her sources say. She is either incredibly incompetent at the basic task of a biographer or she is dishonest.

    There is no evidence supporting the first contention and mountains of evidence supporting the second. Evidently she assumed the U. S. academia would give her a pass on it, as it fed into their own personal prejudices. Kind of surprised she didn’t get away with it, now that I think about it…

  13. @Bloke in Costa Rica, October 10, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    My position on the desirable level of government is basically Ayn Rand + ε, where ε is the absolute minimal extra government needed to stop things turning into either Snow Crash or Neuromancer.

    +1 Me too.

  14. The Koch brothers bought a big chunk of the corp department I am retired from. Talking to former co-workers, now working for Koch, they say it is WONDERFUL working for Koch, far better than my old corporation.

    So when I hear how bad the Kochs are, I think, “You obviously haven’t talked to the employees.”

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