It’s been fairly exhausting. It’s even been bad tempered at times. But I’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time in the comments boxes of others over the past few weeks. Regulars here will note that I'm generally not that rude to people normally, and I've slightly adjusted my normal tone in these threads. The reason for this is that one of the early postings featured a particularly obnoxious bloggertarian calling me all kinds of c*nt. And lots of angry libertarians weighed in supporting him in doing so - and some of them were very upset when I replied in kind. So I've conducted this argument on other people's terms.
A few commenters have raised the question with me about Citizens Income and ID Cards. I’ve not been ignoring it – I didn’t really get around to answering it until this week – in the comments here.
Here are some other threads in which the whole thing has been discussed: Feel free to pick up any loose ends in the comments here.
Easily the thickest bloggertarian that I’ve found anywhere is regular Liberal Conspiracy troll, Roger Thornhill. Now I’ve been accused (sometimes with a modicum of justification) of constructing Strawmen here. But Roger is the real deal. He is not capable of exhaling, it seems, without accusing someone of being a fascist.
You’ll find him here initially noting the discussion (I’m a sociofascist, apparently) and here as the first commenter under Devil’s Kitchen’s rant. Apparently I’m a “Left-Fibbernazi.” (WTF??). His site is called “Neue Arbeit Macht Frei” – New Labour Sets You Free … not!
Perhaps I’m investing too much in this, but this outlook is so comprehensively offensive and stupid that it does need pointing at repeatedly.
I understand the libertarian notion that taxation is theft and any state imposition – even from a liberal democracy – is on a continuum that leads to totalitarianism. I’d even acknowledge that these claims make you re-examine your own views about democracy in a sixth-form sort of way. But Roger takes all of this to a new level. His remarkable bit of photoshopping, and this gem:
“If you think New Labour is, erm, what is that term you used? … ‘a social democratic party in an age of network governance’…then you really need to look more carefully at what they are doing and also more carefully into your sources of fatuous newspeak.”So a fairly respectable term in social science isn’t just questionable. It’s ‘newspeak’. It’s Orwellian.
In one of the many arguments this has led me into, I was thinking about why I’ve bothered with all of this. It certainly has caused lots of arguments. Here’s my explanation (cut and pasted from elsewhere):
I think that libertarianism is extraordinarily rife on weblogs and discussion forums in a way that it isn’t in any other sphere. I’m not alone in this observation either. Aside from people I’ve met through blogging, I’ve only ever met one person who describes themselves with any conviction as a libertarian in the way that I think I’ve been discussing the term here.For this reason, I think that it needs challenging - which is what I’ve been doing.
And because of this, I think that libertarianism has a gravitational pull on online discussions that makes those discussions less of a deliberative tool than they could be.