Sunday, April 1, 2007

Libertarianism in the New York Times

Half the beauty of blogging is getting to do an end-run around establishment media (not to mention editors), but every once in a while the “fringe” figures get noticed by the mainstream media, too. Today, for instance, Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism (from which the author read at our March gathering at Lolita Bar) is reviewed in the New York Times, and the review is in turn reviewed by the Cato Institute’s David Boaz (thank you to Don Boudreaux of George Mason University for mass-e-mailing to alert the world to both pieces).

The Times review, as Boaz explains, picks the weirdest possible handful of tiny footnotes from libertarian history to attack the movement in one sloppily thrown-together penultimate paragraph, but I’m still inclined to think there’s no such thing as bad publicity and that it’s nice to be noticed (and the Times, I should concede, has not exactly been monolithically hostile to libertarians, since its regular columnists have included such libertarians as Henry Hazlitt, William Safire [more or less], John Tierney, Virginia Postrel, and now Tyler Cowen, all of whom taken together almost make up for the damage done to society by Paul Krugman and any of whom individually, including Krugman, is funnier than Maureen Dowd).

Now seems to me the perfect juncture in human history for the mainstream to accept the possibility that the right, the left, and religion (whether Christian or Islamic) have all worked out rather poorly and that anti-authoritarian ideas like libertarianism and atheism, so long dismissed as radical, might be worth serious (and civil) consideration. Given the track records of the alternatives at this point, these ideas, I think, no longer have reason to apologize for or disguise themselves.

1 comment:

Marc Steiner said...

I won’t defend Dowd but Krugman (before he seemed to devolve into churning slightly tin-foil-hatted anti-Bush screeds) always seemed to me to be a tell-it-as-it-is economist, focused on debunking anyeconomic theory poorly supported by actual economic research, whether it emanate from the left (like the pro-trade policy wonkishness from the New Democrats) or the right. And I only object to his anti-bush jihad because it’s grating and subjective, not because Bush doesn’t deserve it.