Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Children are Confused (or Just Being Used)

Today must be conspiracy theory day.  While my earlier post is an example of the awakening in the mainstream (academia) this time toward the reality that elites control the state, this post is an example of the children not keeping up with their elders.

Once again, the culprit is to be found associated with the Students of Liberty.  The post is a few years old, but apparently was posted again recently.  The post is entitled “Conspiracy Theories Hurt the Liberty Movement.”

The author, Ankur Chawla, starts well enough:

Conspiracy Theory: The idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.

The definition is so well written; using this definition, I am hard-pressed to see how anyone could believe that such conspiracies do not exist.  I am also hard-pressed to understand how conspiracy theories hurt the liberty movement.

Almost immediately, it is obvious that logic and critical thinking are no longer taught to students.  There is too much to unpack in the following few sentences; I will only take a quick run-through:

Both libertarians and conspiracy theorists have a key thing in common: They dislike the government.

It isn’t clear to me that all conspiracy theorists dislike the government.  It also isn’t clear to me that all self-proclaimed libertarians dislike the government (as opposed to just wanting to make it more efficient; a scary enough thought) – for example, many of those associated with Students for Liberty.

The difference is that those interested in liberty dislike the state because it restricts our freedom and limits our prosperity.

Not all of those interested in liberty dislike the state for this reason, although it is a true enough statement.

We do not think the government is intentionally malevolent, just very misguided and unintentionally harmful.

Many individuals who dislike the state come to this view precisely because they believe the government is intentionally malevolent and intentionally harmful.  Just ask the few hundred million who have died at the hands of the state over the last 100 years.

On the other hand, conspiracy theorists fear the government because of its alleged diabolical secret plans it has been cooking up for all these years.

There are many conspiracy theorists that do not “fear the government” – they believe that government actors are justifiable in implementing their conspiracies, and they support such actions. 

The examples of “diabolical secret plans” are so numerous, it is difficult to imagine anyone with an internet connection and a curious mind could miss these.  I guess only one out of two are necessary to write for SFL.

The author claims that conspiracy theorists within the liberty movement are holding back the cause:

…the truth is that conspiracy theorists, however unfortunately, are dealing a crippling blow to the movement for liberty.

Murray Rothbard dealt a blow to the movement for liberty?  Who knew?  (Well, besides the betwaytarian milquetoasts.)

Let’s see why:

History - What movement in the history of man has succeeded while conspiracy theorists have been a part of that cause?

Who cares?  The author demonstrates, right off the bat, his complete lack of understanding of the purpose of conspiracy theory within the liberty movement – or at least the purpose as I see it: to de-legitimize the state.  Because as long as the state is viewed as somehow legitimate (or even salvageable in anything resembling its current form), there is no chance for a successful movement toward true liberty.

The mainstream narratives are for purposes of myth-building, developing a religious basis to the efforts of state.  One tactic for moving people toward liberty and away from the state is to demonstrate that what they believed about the benevolence of state actors is false.

Historically all movements with conspiracies has been doomed to fail, with no exceptions.

I imagine there is a well-researched paper somewhere in this author’s academic library that substantiates this claim.

As much as you believe in your pet theory and talk to like-minded people about it, you will always get a largely negative response from the general public.

This may be true; it is also true when I try to explain that the non-aggression principle should apply to all actors, whether or not they wear a badge; it is also true when I explain that one cannot at the same time condemn the actions of the military overseas and support the soldier committing those acts; it is also true whenever I equate taxation to theft.

Perhaps we should give up on trying to discuss the idea of liberty; or, as Jeffrey Tucker suggests, couch it in terms acceptable to the mainstream: 

Earlier I wrote about the tendency of different political tribes to use completely different language. It is sometimes good to completely mix this up.  Why not call yourself a progressive, for example? …Why not call yourself a liberal?

There is no point in getting hung up on words…. If you can change your vocabulary and introduce someone to a cause, it is worth the effort. There is no reason to get hung up on word choices.

In any case, most people usually respond negatively when their faith is challenged via discussing liberty, no matter what – well, unless you make libertarianism so thick that it isn’t even recognizable (I imagine describing a libertine philosophy and calling it libertarian sells well on college campuses and Indiegogo sites.)

The fact is, most people just refuse to take you seriously if you believe that 9/11 was an inside job or that Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery.

Back to the faulty logic, and oh-by-the-way faulty conclusion.  I don’t have to believe 9/11 was an inside job to believe that there was some conspiracy.  It is virtually certain that it didn’t happen the way the government says it did.  In fact, take away the qualifier “virtually.”

I am also certain that government actors know the truth, or significant aspects of it.  That they cover it up is conspiracy – for hiding the act or lying about the act is perpetuating the act. 

And by the way, more people believe the government is lying as opposed to telling the truth about 9/11. I thought these college kids were supposed to be hip to the latest news; I found this out on my Commodore 64, for goodness’ sakes (here’s the link for those under forty).

Single-Issue Driven - Simply put, being a conspiracy theorist does not mean that you believe in consistent liberty.

Who said it did, besides this author?  I have two words for this type of maneuver: Straw.  Man.

Believing that the state is responsible for secret assassinations and believing in a free society are two very different and inconsistent positions.

They are certainly different, but why on earth are they inconsistent?  One can see these as quite complementary.

Inconsistent with Classical Liberalism - There is a fundamental disconnect between the rationale behind most conspiracy theories and the philosophy of liberty. If central to our world-view is that government is by nature inefficient, then how could the bureaucrats and politicians possibly mastermind complex plots to control global politics and economics?

Goodness, one does not have to look beyond central banking to see how much baloney is piled on this sandwich.

Who says they have to be efficient in their plots?  Again, only this author.  Government actors only have to make a plan and achieve the result.  They don’t care about being efficient – your tax dollars solve this problem for them. 

Professor Steven Horwitz of the Foundation for Economic Education wrote a very insightful article on the contradiction between conspiracy theory and Austrian Economics.  In it he states, “Ultimately, believing that a small group of evil people are manipulating economic and social processes for their own ends concedes to defenders of government economic planning that controlling and manipulating the economy is in fact possible! In other words, conspiracy theories are a form of socialism.  If international bankers really are using the Fed to manipulate the economy to enrich themselves, or if politicians and bureaucrats are using the welfare system to undermine the family or to impoverish African-Americans, then using government to achieve fairly specific ends is apparently possible.”

But “using government to achieve fairly specific ends” is possible; in fact, it is real.  George Bush had as an objective the removal of Saddam Hussein; Barack Obama had as an objective the passing of a healthcare law.  They have both had many objectives of which we are not even aware, using means that we are not privy too.

They both achieved their objective, did they not?  No one said anything about efficient or efficacious. 

Legitimacy - There is a sense of a lack of legitimate journalistic investigation into many of these conspiracy theories. In other words, it takes something of a leap of faith to really believe in them. So while conspiracy theorists probably believe they are right and can even point to evidence, they lack legitimacy. And what movement has ever thrived without legitimacy?

This is getting to be funny-farm stuff.  What would this young author say to conspiracy theories that have been advanced quite credibly – many of these authored by non-libertarian historians and writers?  Pearl Harbor, the atomic bomb, remember the Maine, Tonkin Gulf.  It isn’t only Murray Rothbard that has written about such things.

Just thinking of the obvious and demonstrated conspiracies is mind-boggling.

This next line is the funniest in the piece…yet I am sure the author is not intending to be comedic:

If you have a certain belief or suspicion of government that you happen to subscribe to, that is up to you. But using the liberty movement as a tool to express these beliefs is, simply, not beneficial to liberty.

So I guess attempts by Students for Libertinism to advance an any-lifestyle-goes view of libertarian philosophy is not an example of “using the liberty movement as a tool to express these beliefs”?  at least developing and advancing conspiracy theories of government action is beneficial toward reducing faith in the state.

I will conclude by citing one of the comments to this post, by the well-known (in our circles) Anthony Gregory:

This seems to me way too broad sweeping in its condemnation of conspiracy theorizing, especially in the way conspiracy theories are being defined. What about the many conspiracies that governments have in fact hidden from the public for many years? What about the malevolence that does exist? Every year new documents emerge making clear that previous generations of officials lied outright about important policies, like Japanese Internment. This piece lacks nuance almost as much as some of the conspiracy theorists do.

I will only suggest: it isn’t merely that this piece “lacks nuance”; it is that it lacks pretty much everything – no context, no logic, no understanding of history, no understanding of the nature of many government actors and actions.

In other words, it is a piece that perfectly reflects the desired result of the indoctrination centers known as schools (oh, wait…am I treading on conspiracy grounds here?).  Nothing to see here, move along.

Anthony Gregory asks questions that are ignored by those who believe they have some chance at working within the system; these questions are ignored by those too fearful to truly examine the foundations of their faith: salvation by state.

The questions are ignored by the SFL bunch.

ht EPJ


  1. "One tactic for moving people toward away from the state liberty is to demonstrate that..."

    This sentence is a bit garbled, I believe. I certainly understand how that happens as you craft a post.

    1. Thank you; I rewrote, and hopefully clarified.

      No matter how many times I re-read before publishing...well, you know.

  2. Excellent smack down of some really specious tripe. It's really tiresome to read this kind of nonsense put forth in the guise of "the liberty movement."

    Keep up your excellent work. I enjoy it immensely.

  3. It's astounding that Steve Horwitz could right such a confused piece when he supposedly understands and is an expert in Public Choice economics. Doesn't the framework of Public Choice economics help to elucidate how and why powerful special interests concentrate benefits to themselves and disperse the costs on the rest of the country?

    Don't organized interests lobby politicians to have them granted special privileges, subsidies, monopoly favors and bailouts? Multiple types of state and "private" actors such as politicians, constituencies, bureaucrats, banks, corporations and others benefit and lobby, propagandize and demogogue to maintain this largesse. Isn't this process a conspiracy and doesn't Public Choice show the scientific framework and logic behind it? What am I missing?

  4. "What movement in the history of man has succeeded while conspiracy theorists have been a part of that cause? "

    Hmmm. The American Revolution, perhaps? Is the author unfamiliar with the Declaration of Independence and the success of that movement?

    The Declaration accuses the British government of a plot to establish an absolute tyranny over the colonies. The government "evinces a design" to do so. This is claimed to be the "direct object" of the government's actions.

    But, given that the British government did not publicly announce such a goal, one can only presume the signers believed that the government was secretly conspiring to bring it about."To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

    1. I think it's important to note that while not everything is a conspiracy when considering the validity of a given conspiracy theory, such as government's conspiracy theory of 9/11 (I don't know but don't believe USG either) or Gulf of Tonkin, we should assert that we are arguing of the facts and evidence of conspiracies.

      When people simply denounce some people as "conspiracy theorists" or my favorite one of "truthers" (shouldn't everyone be a truther?) and then subscribe to an alternative conspiracy theory, they are engaging in a shameless game of shutting down debate. It's Orwellian doublethink and newspeak of monumental proportions that unfortunately is pervasive in modern discourse because it eliminates the necessity of critical thinking and dealing with inconvenient facts.

    2. Don't thank me too quickly. After all, the Declaration of Independence was basically written by those who intended to govern the US, and conspiracy theories advanced by government are meant only to delude and manipulate the masses.

      Cynical, perhaps, but remember why Gary North doesn't celebrate the Fourth of July. As he pointed out, Britain was the second freest nation on earth (next to Switzerland) in 1775, and the North American colonies were the freest part of that nation. Did the signers actually believe in a conspiracy, or was it all just rhetoric?

    3. Sadly, I am all too familiar with the conniving subset of the so-called founding fathers. Certainly, by 1787, it is clear which side won the Revolutionary war.

  5. May I suggest having "Like" next to people's comments?

    1. I do not see, within the blogger settings, this possibility. But then I am not the most tech-savvy....