Saturday, January 01, 2011

Allen Small replies

Allen Small has replied to my recent post. His comment in full:
Hi Larry, Happy New Year!
Obviously you had a lot of free time this morning and I presented a tempting target for you.
My New Years list was meant to be a suggestion and a criticism of the economic mess that pervades most Western democracies. Why such a mess? I believe it is because these democracies have followed socialist/marxist/statist ideologies for the past 50 or 60 years to varying degrees. Your retorts to my simplistic "cannots" indicate that you are also bound to these same ideologies. Sure some of the statements are trivial, but in the context of libertarian economic theory the statements are good rules-of-thumb and not meant to be grand pronouncements for the new year. So I'm not going to rebut the mountain you have created out of my molehill.
Over the years I have found that it is pointless to argue against religion with believers. I wasn't going to convince them, I was just going to anger them and entrench their beliefs. In exactly the same way I find it truly pointless to argue with people who are ideologically convinced that the sun shines out of Karl Marx's ass. I'm not going to convince them or you of anything except that we will agree to disagree. I'm good with that, I know nothing is going to change until that pervading ideology is seen for what it is. I believe in empirical evidence, and my observations show me that statist ideologies don't work and can't work. I expect to be long gone before that happens if it ever happens. The only way it might happen is to change the philosophical underpinnings of our statist society and that means going back to first principles and building a philosophy that is compatible with human nature. The good news is there are some people doing that now. For you and your readers give a listen to Stefan Molyneux at Freedomain Radio. Here is the link to the YouTube page, enjoy:

Let me be right up front: I'm deeply suspicious of the intellectual integrity of anyone who calls him- or herself a Libertarian or who admires in any way the politics of Ayn Rand. I'm convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Allen Small himself is not an honest seeker after the truth, every bit as dogmatic, tendentious and impervious to reason as any Creationist. It is generally a waste of time to "debate" such people: They have their dogma, and they will defend it by any means possible, including outright lying. So I'm not debating Mr. Small. I publish his comment because it's my preference to give people I personally attack wide latitude to respond here; I want my readers to make up their own minds. Second, I want to highlight some of the egregious bullshit in Mr. Small's comment.

Mr. Small believes that Western Democracies are in an economic mess "because these democracies have followed socialist/marxist/statist ideologies for the past 50 or 60 years to varying degrees." What are you smoking, Mr. Small, and why have you not shared with the rest of class? The comparison above between Libertarians and creationists was intentional: I'm reminded of PZ Myers recent post mocking a creationist's plan to "reform" science. Small's comment reveals a profound ignorance not just of socialism and Marxism, but of capitalist economics as well. His position is as deeply and thorough disconnected from reality as any Christian Fundamentalist who asserts that our problems are because we have turned away from Jesus. We know why we're in a mess: rampant theft from the financial sector, income and wealth inequality unrivaled since the "golden age", a complete breakdown of what little freedom of the press we used to have. The scientific facts are absolutely clear on at least these points, even if they are not quite so clear on what must be done to fix it.

Atheism is a broad tent; too broad sometimes in my not-at-all humble opinion. Sometimes an atheist is someone with only one fewer stupid idea than a theist. In this case, it's one fewer stupid idea than the worst of Christian fundamentalists.


  1. Re whether atheism is too broad a tent: Though I've identified as an atheist for some time now (10+ years), I'm beginning to question using that label as an identifier. Not because I believe in any god, but because not believing in any god perhaps should not be a overly important defining aspect of ones self. More & more I just think that I do my best to identify & deal with reality. That certainly means I don't believe in any god, since such a belief does not comport with my experienced reality, but it also means that regarding anything, I try to focus on what I know & eliminate the bullshit. Maybe that makes me more a skeptic (as an identifying label) than an atheist. Not that we can ignore the plight of atheists as a social subgroup, since any atheist faces potential limiting responses to her or his atheism. But maybe if we just focus on acting rationally based on evidence when possible, we get closer to the philosophical approach that I at least think we should strive for.

  2. My dear friend Larry. Spot on.

    Forgive me for being a nitpicker but something I've noticed lately when reading stuff by conservatives, one of the ways you can spot the nutters is by their use of the word 'statist'. I have asked and asked and asked for some coherent definition of this word but have NEVER received even an attempt at one. It is the psychological equivalent of the word God. People use it and expect you to know what they mean by their use of the word when in fact, more often than not, they have no coherent thought themselves on it's meaning.

    I think the first time I encountered the word was in a book by Mark Levin called LIBERTY AND TYRANNY. The funniest thing about the book, if you care, is he seems to think he's an intellectual because he includes footnotes. What's funny about that is if you actually take the time to follow up the footnotes, you find they or the story they lead to draw the exact opposite conclusion that Mark does. It's as if he's logically dyslexic.

    My personal favorite was when he bitched about mandated low flow toilets thereby requiring him to use MORE water because he had to flush twice. First off, not true for most people, and secondly, you take a piss more often than a crap and you're a moron if you feel it necessary to flush your piss twice.


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