Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Friday, January 21, 2005

Blog of the Week #2 - Whackademia!

This week's Blog of the Week is Whackademia, a group blog organized by the Albino Bloodsucking Striped Elf. The purpose of the site is still rather vague, since we have not yet ponied up a mission statement, but it would seem from popular usage that the point is mostly to post about weird science shit and then argue with each other about it.

The guidelines for the site include a soft ban on "politics," but since the four bloggers come from extremely divergent political points of view, it was inevitable that we would get into it over sources sooner rather than later.

And indeed, very early on The Greatness posted an article from the esteemed publication Tech Central Station. Tech Central Station is one of many, many apparently "libertarian-themed" websites on the internet that is actually under the direct control of the RNC media machine.

Indeed, from looking at the funding sources for much of the libertarian movement's media, one could be forgiven for wondering if what is these days thought of as big-L Libertarianism might not in fact be some sort of Republican PR campaign designed to inject radical noninterventionist (economic only, of course) ideas into the discourse without having to claim any real responsibility for them.

For those readers who are not aware, I was once a big-L Libertarian, and I was on a lot of email lists where every morning you would get a long menu of links to whatever anti-market outrages the overeducated liberal establishment was trying to foist off on meat-eating, god-fearing Americans that particular day. It was actually these lists themselves that drove me from the Libertarian party, since over time, much of what I was being told by these venerable organizations turned out to be false or at best extremely misleading.

To be fair, there are genuinely independent libertarian organizations. Cato Institute is one, though even they have close ties to Rupert Murdoch and other bastions of the RNC Mighty Wurlitzer. Reason Magazine seems fairly independent, though it is tough to get hard information on where their money comes from, and the Reason Foundation does happen to have a picture of Jeb Bush on the front page of their website.

But on the whole, particularly given the massive amount of funding available to Libertarians compared with the extremely anemic electoral representation of same (at any level of government), one has to wonder to what degree Libertarianism is itself a phenomenon distinct from the role it plays in advancing the Republican agenda.


  • The split between economic and social conservatives in the Republican party is well-documented. Many libertarian-leaning party folks are palpably frustrated with the Religious Right's complete takeover of party structure and message (the war on drugs, abortion, one-nation-under-God, etc.). But the party simply doesn't work without social conservatives; they are the ones who man the phones, walk door-to-door with petitions, and hand out bumper stickers with an alacrity matched only by their zeal for religion. By contrast, economic conservatives believe in the correctness of their politics, but their passion for the market has an outlet outside of the grassroots; most support in entrepreneurial circles for Republican policies is, at best, lukewarm water cooler talk.

    So this leaves passionate economic conservatives with a dilemma: should they stick with the horse that got them to the big race, or should they start over? Many capital-L libertarians are of this latter breed. Apparently gluttons for punishment, such people are too Right for the Left, too Left for the Right, and to o impractical for their old buddies in the GOP. Of the former breed no one hears, but there is ample evidence that while they work "in the system" they also attempt stealth attacks from without. I'm not sure if that always constitutes a deliberate perversion of the truth, but it is definitely something to keep in mind.

    By Blogger The Greatness, at January 21, 2005 at 4:43 PM  

  • Never underestimate the social component of political action. Labor unions, churches, environmental and
    antiwar protestors, even the anarchists are populated heavily with folks who are in it for the social activity. They become the "foot soldiers" of the candidates and must be fed. The economic conservatives/libertarians want results, tangible results, and don't care much about the social aspects.
    Your're more likely to meet them at a professional convention than a political one.

    Uncle Carlos

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 21, 2005 at 8:57 PM  

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