in defense of "in defense of …"

Much email on the LRC piece, just as expected.

So far they fall into 3 broad categories:

  1. Thank you thank you thank you!
  2. The Holocaust never happened and Jews are evil!
  3. Hitler was never elected!

It’s true that Hitler never won a majority. In one draft, I had a parenthetical comment next to “majority rules” about the multi-party democratic tradition of “plurality rules” but I took it out because it was awkward, seemed irrelevant, and slowed things down. Now I wish I had kept it in just to cover my ass.

What I’m wondering is this: do these letter writers

  1. think the majority-versus-plurality distinction invalidates my argument?
  2. believe that it is somehow impossible for a genuine 51%-or-greater majority to vote for evil?
  3. just care about historical precision as much as I care about semantic and logical precision?
  4. [fill in the blank]

of course, 'best' is relative …

Whenever I publish something to a larger audience (LRC, LvMI, TLE), I get a temporary upsurge in traffic to my website. This gets me looking over what’s old or broken or stupid. Like cleaning up before guests visit.

Today’s LRC article has prompted me to do now what I was planning to do next month, as a way to mark the first anniversary of this blog — I’ve created a “best of lowercase liberty” page:

Best of …

[2004] [2005]

July, 2004
Aren’t I worth saving?
August

On Atheism, Agnosticism, and Faith

lefties
September
complementary material (re Gilligan)
3rd-world, uneducated, & primitive (ditto)
defense contractors (re Straw Men)

The Samsara Fallacy

essential to national security
the thing most feared
labels
more on labels

everything bad that begins with A

October
the C-word
grammatical inversion
look for the union label
economic illiteracy
November
signals to myself
signal interference
conspiracy theories

liberal anarchism

That Girl!
rising costs

Will the real fascists please stand up?

Thanksgiving & Private Property
The Ministry of Truth
December
where to begin? [to learn economics]

Let’s put the X back in Xmas!



January, 2005
Ivan Illich & Deschooling
Murray N. Rothbard, R.I.P.
dreams can be deceiving (re MLK2)
Monogamy vs. Integrity
the principal principle of principles
February
In Defense of Referencing Hitler
cigarette money
March
unemployed former philosophy major

fish-n-chips (w/ fries)

April
I like traffic lights
assertions & assumptions, arguments & fallacies
May

implied consent revisited


(You can find longer pieces here.)

These are my more substantive posts — little mini-essays that caught other people’s attention or that I find myself linking back to often.

of course, ‘best’ is relative …

Whenever I publish something to a larger audience (LRC, LvMI, TLE), I get a temporary upsurge in traffic to my website. This gets me looking over what’s old or broken or stupid. Like cleaning up before guests visit.

Today’s LRC article has prompted me to do now what I was planning to do next month, as a way to mark the first anniversary of this blog — I’ve created a “best of lowercase liberty” page:

Best of …

[2004] [2005]

July, 2004
Aren’t I worth saving?
August

On Atheism, Agnosticism, and Faith

lefties
September
complementary material (re Gilligan)
3rd-world, uneducated, & primitive (ditto)
defense contractors (re Straw Men)

The Samsara Fallacy

essential to national security
the thing most feared
labels
more on labels

everything bad that begins with A

October
the C-word
grammatical inversion
look for the union label
economic illiteracy
November
signals to myself
signal interference
conspiracy theories

liberal anarchism

That Girl!
rising costs

Will the real fascists please stand up?

Thanksgiving & Private Property
The Ministry of Truth
December
where to begin? [to learn economics]

Let’s put the X back in Xmas!



January, 2005
Ivan Illich & Deschooling
Murray N. Rothbard, R.I.P.
dreams can be deceiving (re MLK2)
Monogamy vs. Integrity
the principal principle of principles
February
In Defense of Referencing Hitler
cigarette money
March
unemployed former philosophy major

fish-n-chips (w/ fries)

April
I like traffic lights
assertions & assumptions, arguments & fallacies
May

implied consent revisited


(You can find longer pieces here.)

These are my more substantive posts — little mini-essays that caught other people’s attention or that I find myself linking back to often.

LRC3

Hey, check it out — top billing at LRC:


Thursday, June 23, 2005
In Defense of Referencing Hitler

Of course it makes sense, and is absolutely fair, says B.K. Marcus.

I wrote this one last fall, but didn’t submit it to Lew Rockwell until the other day, after I read Butler Shaffer’s “The Hitler Icon” about the trouble Democratic Senator Richard Durbin is in because “he used the Hitler metaphor beyond the boundaries licensed by the gatekeepers of ‘politically correct’ rhetoric.”

Durbin was referring to the Guantanamo Bay prison, of course. So who’s mad at him? People who think he’s not treating the Holocaust with sufficient gravity? People who deny the possibility that Americans could behave like Nazis? Probably both and more.

My friend Carolyn tells me that there’s been more public outcry over the senator’s Hitler reference than there has been to the treatment of the prisoners. Whether or not Durbin went overboard, I think Carolyn’s point should be the real story.

I guess there’s no reason to be surprised at any of this.

Ethical libertarians (and rationalists in general, I suppose) are always being accused of caring too much about abstractions. But what the Durbin brouhaha and the renewed anti-flag-burning idiocy demonstrate is that politically, people care more about their symbols than they do about anything else.

I think the real difference between them and us is (1) we are aware that our symbols are abstractions, (2) we know where and how the abstract connects back to the concrete, and (3) our abstractions are about principles, not affiliations.

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