10 Feb 2010 01:36 pm
Shoe, Meet the Other Foot, Part III
I think it's a bit rich for the right to suddenly get all indignant about astroturfing. On the other hand, I doubt any of the lefties who were indignant about astroturfing three months ago will apply their outrage to this particular piece of work. More hilarity for libertarians!
Megan McArdle is a self-avowed libertarian, who sees herself as someone above the liberals and conservatives, neither poor like Democrats nor superstitious like Republicans. We have looked at McArdle's libertarian bona fides before, but let's revisit the topic.
Libertarianism is a term used by a broad spectrum of political philosophies which prioritize individual liberty and seek to minimize or even abolish the state. The definition of libertarian in a political sense is a contentious issue and there is no single principle or set of principles on which all libertarians would agree. The proper role of government is described from a number of different metaphysical, epistemological, and moral viewpoints. 'Libertarian' is an antonym of 'authoritarian'.
Libertarians are anti-authoritarian. They don't want the state to exist, and they want absolute freedom for individuals as long as they do no harm to others. The philosophy is impractical in any real sense, since we have created a complex society that requires mutual cooperation, a basic factor in the success of human survival. We need to work together or we will die separately.
Libertarians choose to ignore this and must settle for chipping away at society's social fabric, hoping to rip it to shreds but content with stiffing their waiters. McArdle, however, does not believe in discarding the social fabric. She enjoys the benefits of the social structure and the luxuries of upper-middle class life, and has no desire to eradicate it in the name of self-reliance.
I understand this guilt; I've wrestled with it myself. But it's logically all wrong. Why shouldn't we pay people to clean our houses? I don't get all vaporish because I pay people to cook my food or wash my clothes, two jobs that were the province of the lady of the house-or if she was very lucky, her hired servants-until very recently in human history.
Paying a cleaning lady to clean your house is good for the cleaning lady. She wouldn't take the job if it weren't better than her next best alternative. And it's good for you, since presumably you have something to do that you value more highly than the money it costs you to pay her. It's probably also good for your family, since that's one less fight you have to have about whose turn it is to scrub the toilet. That's the awesome beauty of trade: everyone wins.
No, there is a name for the group that seeks to preserve status and privilege, that want society just as it is. McArdle is conservative to her bones, supporting bankers, developers, manufacturers of cheap furniture, sweatshop exploitation, and just enough baksheesh thrown to the natives to get them out of one's face.
Megan McArdle is a conservative who rejects the name while enjoying all its benefits, and seeks to further its domination over her own purported philosophy. The right is currently dominated by the rabble and their puppets and Jesus freaks, and she enjoys laughing at their antics while they provide the hard work and money to get conservative politicians elected. The darling of Wall Street-centered media, she directly benefits from supporting conservative policies yet refuses to call herself a conservative. It's just so--common. When voice-of-the-turtle David Broder is kissing the high heels of Sarah Palin, you know that the populist image is the dominant one, and there's nothing left for an elite conservative to do but pretend she is part of a third party that will restore the conservative elite to social dominance.