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Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 1:00pmSanction this postReply
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When I attended a very liberal, elite, eastern college, I noticed that many of the bright and outspoken students were not very critical of the textbooks, the reading choices, the ideologies of the professors. They were like sponges, unquestioningly absorbing whatever was taught in philosophy, literature, history, and the social sciences. There were also more rebellious, more questioning students, students disgruntled with the group-think and the monopoly of thought of the establishment intellectuals. It seems as though from the latter, many Objectivists and conservatives and right-libertarians emerged. And from the former, many of those who went on to careers in the humanities emerged.

And perhaps the brainwashing 'took' with many of those who may have been influenced by Rand in theories but also absorbed many of the concretes, the events, the selection of instances and episodes given them as 'data' by the liberal establishment: There are apparently many, many left-influenced or left-leaning libertarians today who don't disagree often with the establishment views on everything from who was responsible for what historical disasters to what constitutes great literature.

And a lot of this seems to go back to the 70's. I have the impression (but would like to see more data or support) they took to the left-influenced Murray Rothbard and his ideas on anarchism and on how America was evil or imperialistic or worse than other countries. Often the textbooks I've seen them recommend are Marxist or leftist ones such as, in history - Howard Zinn's People's History of the U.S. and other 'revisionist' (America-disdaining) historians or political and social writers.

Note that for those of us who went to a modern liberal college, this is very similar to what was (except for anarchism, although there is an anarchist strain as well on the Left) taught us all in college. And have they simply lapped it up, uncritically? Were they the 'sponges' I was sitting next to all those years ago?

The LL's (I'll call them) today on the web seem to be associated with mises.org, antiwar.com, and the like. And you will find them at Liberty magazine, at Cato, and elsewhere. They sometimes have a strong antipathy to Ayn Rand and any other 'right wing' libertarians such as, among science fiction writers, Robert Heinlein.

I'm trying to sketch out the ideological causes and the ideological strains of what I'm calling the left-libertarians.

Several questions:

1. Is the above a good description of a fracture line among pro-freedom, anti-initiation of force, free market ideologies? 2. Who are the major LL's? 3. What are their major arguments? 4. Can parallels to leftist ideology, leftist history, leftist political analysis be traced?




(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/06, 1:13pm)




Post 1

Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 1:28pmSanction this postReply
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"You will know/Synchronicity..."

Phil "I'm trying to sketch out the ideological causes and the ideological strains of what I'm calling the left-libertarians."

So odd that you posted this; I spent yesterday trying to track down a quote from Neil Peart of Rush where he calls himself a "left-leaning libertarian." I did a blog post on the band's refusal to allow Rand Paul usage of their songs for his campaign, and someone left a comment saying this:

"When I hear "left-leaning libertarian" I think of anarcho-socialism. I don't think of Rothbardian anarchism or minarchist libertarianism. Libertarian leftists are more like anarcho-communists then they they are Laissez-Faire liberals. Peart describing himself that way is not a good thing. I'm willing to bet this guy is no friend of Rand or capitalism."

My response was that there is no evidence of Peart supporting anarchism, and probably means that he's "libertarian" on social issues like drugs, homosexuality, etc. (I still can't find the quote I'm thinking of, but there is this from Peart's own blog: "So, meditating as a quasi-libertarian (left-wing conservative, right-wing liberal, what have you...).

It's funny you mention the anarchism, because Peart does rail against "the paternalistic state" in his book Ghost Rider: "Oregon could be maddeningly paternalistic that way...although modern-day Oregon's progressiveness was often admirable, that same liberal-conservative (or conservative-liberal) mindset could also tend toward the presumption that its citizens (and visitors) weren't ready for too much freedom." He also tells anecdotes of mild "civil disobedience" while alluding to Thoreau. Yet, I've read hearsay that he supports national healthcare (Canadian, I assume), but I have no solid quote on that. But since he and his band invoked copyright laws against Rand Paul's usage of their songs, I can't believe that he is an outright anarchist.

Anyway, hope that helps out with your sketching.
(Edited by Joe Maurone on 6/06, 1:41pm)




Post 2

Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 2:37pmSanction this postReply
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Speaking of "sponges," I know you're talking about university experiences, but thought you might appreciate some of Peart's personal experience while working in London, as printed in his book Traveling Music. (Incidentally, after reading it over, his experience sounds an awful lot something out of Jeff Riggenbach's In Praise of Decadence, It seems that book would be a good reference for your project, seeing as it deals with Rand, Libertarians, Anarchists, etc...

p. 152
"Music and life taught me a lot during those few years, and what a cast of teachers I had. It is said that the man who claims to be self-educated has a fool for a teacher, but I have learned from literally hundred of people, in music, in reading, and in life, and they became part of a continuum that continues to inspire and drive me onward and upward."

p. 217-219
"I was also continuing to read books, following recommendations from some of the other kids I worked with, becoming entranced with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and reading through it twice…I ended up with a good selection of English Lit from writers like Cyril Connolly, Kingsley Amis, William Trevor, Graham Greene, and Somerset Maugham, and a few great exotics, Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borgis, introducing me to the powerful Latin-American style of 'magic realism.' Another Canadian I worked with…gave me a copy of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. So at least my 'liberal arts' education was continuing.

"On my way home from work one day, I stopped at the small tobacconist by the Oxford Circus tube station for the Evening Standard, and noticed a book I remembered from high school, The Fountainhead. It was one of the volumes the 'Junior Intellectuals' at Lakeport High used to carry around (on 'display,' I realize now), along with the Lord of the Rings and James Joyce's Ulysses.

"To a 20 year-old struggling musician, The Fountainhead was a revelation, an affirmation, an inspiration. Although I would eventually grow into, and largely, out of Ayn Rand' orbit, her writing was still a significant stepping-stone, or way-station, for me, a black-and-white starting point along the journey to a more nuanced philosophy and politics. Most of all, it was the notion of individualism that I needed-the idea what what I felt, believed, liked, and wanted was important and valid.

"As Nietzsche said, "Self interest is worth as much as the person who has it. It can be worth a great deal, and it can be unworthy and contemptible."


(Edited by Joe Maurone on 6/06, 3:16pm)

(Edited by Joe Maurone on 6/06, 3:17pm)




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Post 3

Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 3:56pmSanction this postReply
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1. Is the above a good description of a fracture line among pro-freedom, anti-initiation of force, free market ideologies? 2. Who are the major LL's? 3. What are their major arguments? 4. Can parallels to leftist ideology, leftist history, leftist political analysis be traced?

1. Not really. In some groups, I've been called a right-libertarian, in some groups, a left-libertarian. One's position on that spectrum is relative to the composition of the group. This website runs mostly conservative to right-libertarian.

I'd say both left-libs and right-libs are generally pro-freedom and anti-initiative of force and for free markets. If they aren't, then they're rightists or leftists in denial.

The main difference between the two is which sort of freedoms are relatively more important to the person in question. A transgendered left-lib friend of mine is more concerned about the rights of prostitutes because many of her friends engage in that profession, but she also holds solidly pro-free market views -- she understands economics.

2. Don't know. Don't care. If someone advances a good argument, I'll listen to them with an open mind. "Anarchy in Action" by Colin Ward, which I started reading recently, gives an overview of some LL anarchist thinking. Volume 2 of Karl Popper's "The Open Society and Its Enemies" also gives some interesting insights into LL thoughts about Marxism, among other philosophers.

3. Depends on the individual. LLs are anything but a monolithic bloc of people thinking alike. For example, some are former Marxists who believe in the goals Marx professed -- minimizing the drudgery of subsistence labor among proletarians -- but have embraced more rational views of economics than Marx's labor theory of value, and view a proper understanding of economics and free markets as they way to end that drudgery.

Essentially, Marx professed the view that a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie would morph into a dictatorship of the proletariat, which would end in the withering away of the state, and some of those LLs view the current leftist Blue State mentality as the dictatorship of the proletariat, and hope for the triumph of libertarianism to cause that withering away end state and result in a free society where almost everyone can either subsist on a bare minimum of drudgery of labor, or can work very hard at work that they find fulfilling and which is thus not an imposition at all.

Other LLs are former leftists who got mugged by reality -- they started up a business or got busted for drug use or whatever and became disillusioned with the Progressive worldview and politics. Or, they studied economics. Or did both, in either order.

4. Not sure I understand the question, though I think the top two paragraphs of number 3 hint at that.




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Post 4

Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 4:55pmSanction this postReply
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I've known the the type for decades and have never had a good impression of them.  My surmise is that these are mostly people who like Rand but can't take being out of fashion, so they hit on left-libertarianism as a rationalization to have it both ways.  This was never commendable, but it was understandable forty years ago when socialism was trendy and seemed to be winning.  How they justify it to themselves today is beyond me.  Rothbard was the first, and Karl Hess had his day, but I don't think they sold they ideas so much as they provided a rationalization.




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Post 5

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - 6:33pmSanction this postReply
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"When I hear "left-leaning libertarian" I think of anarcho-socialism.

That is putting a much finer point on it than 'the dope and sodomy brigade.'

I, too, went to a liberal Eastern Disneyland. They were all over-run long before you and I arrived, deliberately, by design, by their nature, by our nature, and by the nature of the global conflict between our paradigm and our totalitarian leaning competitors.

We always had de facto open borders and defacto open campuses. Our adversaries were smart, capable, and not fools. Of course we were over-run, and of course universities were the means of doing so.

It was not our adversaries' overwhelming sense of fair play that would have kept them from carrying out such an attack, nor our optimism or goodwill or belief in freedom. The total slop deliberately aimed at us at universities for decades has crippled the nation, making freedom all but indefensible from totalitarian leaning ideas.

Its how they did it. It was smart, it was lethal, it was effective. We didn't 'win' the Cold War; we caught the cold.

"left-leaning libertarian?" Why not 'freedom loving totalitarian" while we are at it?

Why not 'liberal' while we are at it?

Why not 'Joe Stalin was a right winger?'

Why not 'Hitler was a freedom loving defender of indivdual liberty?'

Why not 'Progress away from freedom is Progressive?'

Why not 'Change from a state of freedom is still Change?'

Why not "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose?' Huh? It is? When did the pot induced mumblings of idiots become profound? See 'Universities.'

regards,
Fred





Post 6

Saturday, June 12, 2010 - 7:15amSanction this postReply
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I have been at this for a few years ...  Jim Henshaw's typology is more or less about the same as mine.  The Left Libertarians are not of Mises.org, which is individualist, but truly collectivists in their morality, as well as epistemology and metaphysics. 

I ran into a current crop among "anarchist" criminologists such as Larry Tiff.  They see the failure of the state to solve the problem of crime and look for other alternatives, but keep coming back to communitarian and collective responses to "help" the crmininal return to "society."  There is some value in that for some offenders.  We all make mistakes and we are social animals.  But that is not a primary. 

As a right-leaning (and right-thinking) anarchist criminologist, I identify crimes as the mistakes made by individuals who have evaded the facts of reality by failing to think.  Psychological evasion is the root of crime.  Granted, also, that for some individuals, there are other causes.  I believe that there are chemical mechanisms of aggression that might never be rationalized over, through or around.  Such predators are a serious problem in every society. Left-Leaners tend to deny that.  They believe in "perfectabilty" (depending on what you mean by "perfect" of course). 

The best anthology that I know of is Patterns of Anarchy by Krimerman and Perry.  It includes Godwin, Tucker and Spooner as the individualists as well as the lefties. 

Finally, I must confess that Phil's opener and even Jim's reply left me unsatisfied for their lack of statistical rigor.  It is kind of hard to generalize something so broad.  At my community college, they painted these inspirations on walls from Mike Tyson and whoever but in the math hallway it said: "The plural of anecdote is not data."




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Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 6:24amSanction this postReply
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> I noticed that many of the bright and outspoken students were not very critical of the textbooks, the reading choices, the ideologies of the professors...[some] may have been influenced by Rand in theories but also absorbed many of the concretes..given them as 'data' by the liberal establishment: There are apparently many, many left-influenced..libertarians today who don't disagree often with the establishment views...I have the impression..they took to the left-influenced Murray Rothbard and his ideas on anarchism and on how America was evil or imperialistic or worse than other countries. Often the textbooks I've seen them recommend are Marxist or leftist ones...The LL's...sometimes have a strong antipathy to Ayn Rand and any other 'right wing' libertarians such as..Heinlein. [Post 0]

> Phil's opener and even Jim's reply left me unsatisfied for their lack of statistical rigor. It is kind of hard to generalize something so broad. [Post 6]

Michael, I don't think everything to be valid has to be quantified. And I was looking not just for numbers but for similar experiences, either in college or through one's reading of Mises.org or Cato or the left-leaning books recommended by people like George H. Smith or Jeff Riggenbach or Roy Childs or Justin Raimondo or Murray Rothbard.

Riggenbach, for example, has recently written a whole mini-book for mises.org surveying and praising 'revisionist' historians. Here's the link: http://mises.org/resources/4157/Why-American-History-is-Not-What-They-Say-An-Introduction-to-Revisionism

In my original post, I was hoping someone else had done some reading over the years in those areas and could add some more concretes, more 'data' to the discussion.

Aside: While I'm not an expert on 'revisionist' historians, it seems as if to earn that label from the establishment they are those whose writing is crypto-Marxist in the sense of weighted on the side of exclusive focus on things that have been bad or unjust or evil in American history, while (a) excluding the positives or the ways the American system has been a progressive advance, (b) excluding any comparison to really unjust or disastrous political, economic, and social systems throughout history.

As another example of a 'broad' generalization about groups of people and their thinking, the distinction between social/religious conservatives and economic conservatives is even more broad than that between right-libertarians and left-libertarians in terms of numbers of people involved. But it identifies something very, very real. Quantifying comes later. The distinction between right-libertarians and left-libertarians as they exist today is a very important and fundamental one.





(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/13, 6:48am)




Post 8

Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 6:57amSanction this postReply
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Phil, just a heads up: I tried to discuss Riggenbach's book on SOLO when it first came out. There might be some comments on that thread of interest for you. JR does pop in at one point, and there's a bit of discussion re libertarians, conservatives, and anarchy throughout the comments.



Post 9

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 7:44amSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Joe. I find it difficult to read entire threads on SoloP. One reason is the tendency to degenerate into name-calling (I'm reading my way through your link and that hasn't happened yet -- I'll probably have some comments soon). Another reason, is that once I got kicked off the list by Linz, I lost the ability to sort any thread into chronological order. And reading a thread by scrolling up after every post is tedious.

By the way, can I ask if (and why) you no longer post on SoloP?



Post 10

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 8:26amSanction this postReply
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I understand your trepidation about the thread's location, Phil...so know that I wouldn't have pointed you to it if I didn't think it had something to offer on your topic.

[As to your question, well...let's keep to the topic on hand. :) ]

(Edited by Joe Maurone on 6/14, 8:32am)




Post 11

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 12:02pmSanction this postReply
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> I tried to discuss Riggenbach's book on SOLO when it first came out.

Joe, I'll make some comments as long as this thread seems active / continues to draws responses from multiple posters. I'll use the quotes you provided from JR's book:

"The range of the conflict over American history textbooks was narrow indeed. All sides tacitly agreed that
the story of the United States was the triumphant tale of a people fervently devoted to peace, prosperity, and individual liberty."

But that is not the view I've seen in the textbooks. Nor was it what I was taught in high school or in college. Instead, the books thoroughly described, detailed, and documented:

i) the injustices to the Indians,
ii) the existence of slavery and the valiant fight of the abolitionists,
iii) the continuation of segregation and Jim Crow and segregation for a century afterwards,
iv) the continued lagging behind of minorities and women economically to this day,
the infringements on or intimidation of freedom of expression from
v) Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts through
vi) wartime censroship legislation down to
vii) the McCarthy era,
viii) the abuses of placing Japanese citizens in internment camps,
ix) the role of the yellow press of Hearst and Pulitzer in whipping up an unnecessary or imperialist Spanish-American War,
x) the costs and lack of necessity for the Vietnam War,
xi) abuses of power by intelligence agencies - from the spying of J. Edgar Hoover on his ideological enemies to questions about the current war on terrorism
xii) the struggle of women for the vote and equal rights.

And that's just the first dozen things I recall off the top of my head from my textbooks, old and new. Hardly purely triumphal or minimizing abuses. Hardly sweeping bad things under the rug.

The standard textbooks seemed to be *enormously critical*. In fact, that is just the complaint of the conservative historians, that they tended to exclude positives.

Did Jeff R simply swallow whole whatever the revisionists said about their predecessors. Did he just find one bad history textbook and then generalize to every textbook?

Is that scholarly or objective?



(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/14, 12:09pm)

(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/14, 12:10pm)




Post 12

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 12:05pmSanction this postReply
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Here's a simple test. I'd like to ask other readers of this thread to remember back to their history courses. How many of the twelve negative or critical points about American history that I list were you unaware of?

(In other words, perhaps glossed over in an attempt to 'prettify' America in the books you used.)



Post 13

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 1:41pmSanction this postReply
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Philip:

As opposed to, 'were beaten over the head with.'

I think you've made a good point.

There is a point at which healthy criticism has crossed a line, and is clearly an attempt to purely indoctrinate.

I can't put the following factoids together and reach any other conclusion:

1] This nation has historically had nearly open borders, an easy immigration/visa policy.

2] This nation has not tolerated an overtly aggressive police state.

3] Our university campusus have historically been wide open, deliberately unguarded, places of nearly absolute academic freedom.

4] This nation was involved in a many decades long global conflict with totalitarian leaning adversaries who were neither stupid nor passive.


My conclusion: I don't see how it could have been anything but that this nation was attacked, deliberately, by way of its open universities, with idealogical warfare intended to cripple the nation and make freedom intellectually all but undefendable.

The argument 'this nation's history was imperfect' -- as if the same argument was not applicable to every nation on earth, was used as part of a many front campaign to attack freedom and 'catch the cold' of the Cold War.

"Freedom is imperfect, therefore, what? "Totalitarianism is a superior scheme of organization" is laughable, considering the lethal imperfections of totalitarianism.

The slop spewed at universities for decades was not just the result of complete academic freedom; it was the targeted result of a completely defenseless environment, one open to idealogical attack by the enemies of freedom. It was through our universities that this nation rotted from the top. A once free nation was grabbed by the belt, by way of targeting our open universities, and now this nation has deeply caught the cold, no different than if a once healthy body had caught a disease, an infection. American Totalitarianism has been here for decades, wrapped in a flag.

We didn't win the Cold War; we just caught the cold. Macy's bought Gimbels in the marketplace of Totalitarianism, that's it.

We are over-run with now many generation instructed aparatchiks who actually believe in Totalitarianism, and who are yet unable to call the scheme by its proper name.

Previous generations of Americans died by the hundreds of thousands fighting totalitarianism. I'm not sure they would have bothered if they knew that that their clueless kids and grandchildren would someday sleep through the nation's surrender to same.

regards,
Fred



Post 14

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 2:48pmSanction this postReply
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Philip Coates hath writ: Michael, I don't think everything to be valid has to be quantified. And I was looking not just for numbers but for similar experiences, either in college or through one's reading of Mises.org or Cato or the left-leaning books recommended by people like George H. Smith or Jeff Riggenbach or Roy Childs or Justin Raimondo or Murray Rothbard.

Riggenbach, for example, has recently written a whole mini-book for mises.org surveying and praising 'revisionist' historians.
i) the injustices to the Indians,
ii) the existence of slavery and the valiant fight of the abolitionists,

xii) the struggle of women for the vote and equal rights.


Looking at the list, and acknowledging that I first entered college as a freshman in 1967, the easy answer is that we had all of that in American History in high school.  No one sugar-coated anything for us.  We argued the good and bad of all sides of every issue, granting that kids reflect their homes and yet struggle for identity as teens.  We knew it in grade school from Walt Disney's "Davy Crockett" and "Westward Ho!" Good guys and bad guys come in all colors.  If anything, we were prejudiced toward the Indians as noble savages.  We all knew about the broken treaties with the Indians, the indignity of counting Negroes as three-fifths of a person, and more besides.  I think that much of Revisionism is fighting a straw man.

By my senior year in high school, I was reading Ayn Rand and defending robber barons... which does not seem to interest the so-called "revisioniists."

But I never stopped going to school through the 70s, and 80s.  I just finished five years of college and university from 2005 to 2010 with an associate's, a bachelor's and a master's.  So, I have a pretty good idea of what is being taught right now and right now the left has the field.

When I started in 1967, you had some "house Marxists" who kept everyone else honest with criticism.  Now, however, there are no "house conservatives" to keep the Marxists honest.  In fact, per the Sokol Affair, the Marxists are the voice of reason standing up against the Post-Modernists. 

Going back to 1967 and bringing that forward to today, I agree that generally the "conservatives" (so-called) are the ones who think for themselves while the progressives are sponges.

But, as you say -- and the Austrians agree -- statistics are not everything.  In one of my last classes, over the course of 12 or so weeks one of the "sponges" went on about greed and the corrupting influence of money.  He got away with it twice.  The third time, the very leftist professor was exasperated: "Is that all you have to say?"  The guy was surprised.  In that class, one of the conservatives was to the right of the Kaiser, advocating for strong American imperialism.  He got more air time because he was well prepared to defend his case.  So, there is that.  Statistics are not everything.




Post 15

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 4:27pmSanction this postReply
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Michael wrote about being taught, " the indignity of counting Negroes as three-fifths of a person"

It turns out that there is more to that then the left-leaning history books let on.

Here is the constitutional text, "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

Those in the South who favored slavery wanted each slave to count fully towards representation. I'm sure they saw themselves directing how those representatives voted. This was about power in the federal government. Those in the North were not just opposed to the power grab, but were opposed to slavery. They were the ones who were pushing abolition as the way to get more representatives ("Free your slaves and get almost double the representation"). It ended with the compromise where the total number of slaves would only generate 3/5th towards representatives as freed slaves.

The reduction had nothing to do with saying a black man was worth less, or was less of a human, but that slavery should not be represented, rewarded or encouraged. All freed slaves counted fully - identical to a white.

"The three-fifths ratio, or "Federal ratio" had a major effect on pre-Civil War political affairs due to the disproportionate representation of slaveholding states. For example, in 1793 slave states would have been apportioned 33 seats in the House of Representatives had the seats been assigned based on the free population; instead they were apportioned 47. In 1812, slaveholding states had 76 instead of the 59 they would have had; in 1833, 98 instead of 73. As a result, southerners dominated the Presidency, the Speakership of the House, and the Supreme Court in the period prior to the Civil War. Historian Garry Wills has postulated that without the additional "slave" votes, Jefferson would have lost the presidential election of 1800. Also, '...slavery would have been excluded from Missouri...Jackson's Indian removal policy would have failed...the Wilmot Proviso would have banned slavery in territories won from Mexico....the Kansas-Nebraska bill would have failed....'" [Wikipedia]

Another tilt in the Fabian Socialist's rewrite of history is to ensure that blacks are forever cast as victims, even after the Civil Rights act. Just as progressives see the usefulness of a crisis in acquiring power, they are as aggressive in wringing political advantage out of a morally-charged stereotype.




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Post 16

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 9:09amSanction this postReply
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Subject: Whitewashing vs. Essentializing

Another quote from Riggenbach on the need for revisionism:

"Look to the Founders, these historical boosters argued; praise, exalt, and honor them. Ignore their faults and failings, for the message must be an uplifting one to which everyone can subscribe. The greatest of the Founders, George Washington, became at the hands of the itinerant bookseller and preacher Mason Weems an unblemished paragon"

Let's take this apart. Parson Weems is a well-known hagiographer and maker up of stories. No one takes him seriously today as a historian, so you can't use such an extreme example as typical of or proof that American historians have been 'whitewashing' the Founding Fathers.

But here's the more important point, the one the Left (and its patsies, the left-leaning libertarians) deny:

There is a difference between whitewashing and boosterism or ignoring faults on the one hand -and- essentializing, giving proper place to what is most important.

And is most desrving of being retained, remembered, learned from.

What's important about Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin is that they o-were- great men. And they created something entirely new. They were both thinkers and men of action. They did risk their lives and their fortunes to fight for it. They were leaders who schemed for greater freedom, not less. Between them they brilliantly fought a war against overwhelming odds, laid the foundations for religious freedom, refused to be anointed king, helped purchase and explore a continent, created an ingenious legal system and a historic document to define its fundamentals, helped lay some of the foundations of electrical science and made some important inventions, opposed slavery, and freed their slaves upon their deaths.

These are titanic, massive, awe-inspiring achievements. And (as in my previous post, when I name a set of concrete, specific facts, I am here only making an incomplete list) they are essentially what these men were about. That is not 'boosterism'....nor is it..

By comparison, the fact that Washington was too formal in his manner, that Jefferson was a poor businessman and couldn't and had an affair with a slave, that Franklin loved the ladies, that Madison was short with a squeaky voice are non-essential.

That doesn't mean that every one of those facts should be excluded in a history textbook, but many of them are unimportant and would appear instead in a detailed biography.

And they should not be used in an attempt to make kids giggle or to mock the FF's. If you do this it undercuts or causes to be forgotten their greatness. Thus losing a -deserved- sense of awe and admiration in their massive achievements.

It's the same principle that one of Rand's heroes might in reality have difficulty opening a bottle of champagne. But that's not what's important, most essential, most "worthy of ink" about him.





(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/15, 9:13am)

(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/15, 9:17am)

(Edited by Philip Coates on 6/15, 9:19am)




Post 17

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 12:25pmSanction this postReply
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Phil wrote, "What's important about Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin is that they o-were- great men. And they created something entirely new. They were both thinkers and men of action. They did risk their lives and their fortunes to fight for it. They were leaders who schemed for greater freedom, not less. Between them they brilliantly fought a war against overwhelming odds, laid the foundations for religious freedom, refused to be anointed king, helped purchase and explore a continent, created an ingenious legal system and a historic document to define its fundamentals, helped lay some of the foundations of electrical science and made some important inventions, opposed slavery, and freed their slaves upon their deaths.

These are titanic, massive, awe-inspiring achievements."


Well said, Phil!

It is so sad that we have to battle those weasels that creep about attacking via minor distortions or smear by non-essentials and then launch ad homien attacks on others as "boosters."



Post 18

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 9:05pmSanction this postReply
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But, oh Phil, if you're going to essentialize you must essentialize the essentials.

You overlook that the FFs were not pure anarcho-libertarians 200 years ahead of their time and therefore were at best radically mistaken, more likely essentially evil. They, poor pitiful creatures, lacked the insight and wisdom of a J. Riggenbach and foolishly (at best, more likely maliciously) believed that government is needed to protect freedom.



Post 19

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 9:11pmSanction this postReply
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> It is so sad that we have to battle those weasels that creep about attacking via minor distortions or smear by non-essentials and then launch ad homien attacks on others as "boosters." [Steve W]

Those I saw sitting beside me in my college classrooms and engaged in dorm room bull sessions learned from the Left-saturated college culture not only *false content*: leftist and Marxist and irrationalist "facts" (as I see in Riggenbach's 'revisionism'), but often *irrational methods*: manipulation, deviousness, insincerity, to smear or misrepresent the person, logically fallacious reasoning, skipping mental steps, incomplete proof, 'group think'. And on and on.

As a side-note, this does not have to be conscious dishonesty among the left-leaning. But the tendency to gang up, to not allow the other side a fair hearing (see the global warming debate), to intimidate are often absorbed. They have in fact been brainwashed in regard to both content and method. I could see it happening in four years at a very, very liberal college. And in grad school.

And 'emotionalism' often leads to those errors. You've absorbed a package deal of your opponents as corrupt or evil from college professors and then you use 'loaded' language, just as they do...terms like 'boosters'.

And when indulging yourself in being a sloppy emotionalist on these issues, one premise you don't check is your methods, how precise and scrupulous is your language or reasoning.



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