“Mud,” now making the rounds of movie theaters in a limited release, was a hit at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Rotten Tomatoes says that 98% of 122 film critics have given it a thumbs-up.
Glory be. Who would have thought that a conservative movie could receive such an enthusiastic reception?
Skeptic that I am, I believe that’s because nobody but me realizes it’s a conservative movie. It does not touch on the political, and it doesn’t preach. The focus is kept on culture, and it communicates its politics in a very personal way, letting the script and acting (both excellent) make its points so effectively that the audience is unaware of the larger implications.
“Mud” is a coming-of-age story about two 14-year-old boys, Ellis and Neckbone, growing up in an Arkansas town on the Mississippi River.
Ellis is distraught because his parents are separating and plan on getting a divorce. The boys find refuge from the world on an island in the Mississippi, where they stumble upon a fugitive from the law who calls himself “Mud” (Matthew McConaughey). Mud is madly in love with beautiful Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), who is supposed to meet him in their town. Mud’s crime is that he killed the man who impregnated Juniper and who threw her down the stairs to abort the baby. We know nothing else about the circumstances of that fight and why it resulted in the death.
The problem is a lynch mob organized by the victim’s father and other son. They are not legal bounty hunters. They plan to kill Mud in revenge, not bring him back to justice in Texas, where the murder took place. And they have paid off the local police to let them do it. Read More…
John Nichols of the Nation makes what should be, but is not (for reasons I’ll attempt to explain below), an obvious point about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:
Christie also knows his party won’t be looking for a Northeastern moderate in 2016. The GOP has never been more conservative than it is now; and while the motivation to win may be powerful, the common wisdom among the folks who actually nominate presidential candidates says that experiments with supposedly “mainstream” figures like John McCain and Mitt Romney will not be repeated. So Christie is executing a delicate maneuver. He needs to run left this year to pump up his gubernatorial re-election vote numbers, and then pivot right in states like Iowa and South Carolina. Amid all the gamesmanship, it’s easy to lose sight of where Christie is really coming from—unless you look at his record.
Christie is no moderate. He’s a social conservative who opposes reproductive rights, has defunded Planned Parenthood and has repeatedly rejected attempts to restore state funding for family planning centers. He has vetoed money for clinics that provide health screenings for women, including mammograms and pap smears. He vetoed marriage equality.
Nichols goes on to declare that “Christie is at his most militant when it comes to implementing the austerity agenda associated with the most conservative Republican governors.”
By way of throat-clearing, I have a big problem with the term “austerity” being thrown at governors. Most states are constitutionally required to balance their budgets. Having done so, many states are now in a healthy fiscal position and should see revenue return to pre-recession levels this year. Critics of austerity at the federal level understood this all along. The anti-austerians, as I interpret them, aren’t against cutting spending always, anywhere, and everywhere; their argument was, and is, that contractionary fiscal policy in Washington makes our unemployment problem worse. In the face of state and local cutbacks, Congress should have been cushioning the blow.
But Nichols is largely correct: Christie is by any reasonable measure a fiscal and social conservative. Read More…
As Jordan Bloom mentioned yesterday, Corey Robin has a provocative essay on the connection between between Nietzsche and the “Austrian” economists in The Nation. The piece is titled “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children”, as if Menger, Mises, Hayek and Schumpeter were Nietzsche’s direct heirs. The actual argument is more subtle: “the relationship between Nietzsche and the free-market right…is thus one of elective affinity rather than direct influence, at the level of idiom rather than policy.”
According to Robin, both Nietzsche and the Austrians saw value as a subjective commitment under conditions of constraint rather than an objective contribution by labor. For this reason, they endorsed agonistic social relations in which individuals struggle to express and impose valuations to the limits of their differential strength, while rejecting egalitarian arrangements that attempt to give producers a fair share of the value they have generated. Although he was most interested in philosophy and art, Nietzsche also described the conditions necessary for cultural renewal as “great politics”. For the Austrians, by contrast, the marketplace was the setting for contestation over value.
Like Robin’s argument in The Reactionary Mind, this interpretation is bound to appeal to leftists who are already convinced that there’s something sinister about conservative and libertarian thought (see the comments at Crooked Timber here). But it has serious problems, which Brian Doherty and Kevin Vallier have already begun to point out.
For one thing, there’s nothing unique to Austrian economics about the subjective theory of value. As Robin acknowledges, the foundations of the so-called marginal revolution were laid by the Frenchman Walras and the Englishman Jevons, as well as the Austrian Menger. That wouldn’t matter if the influence of these writers had been especially strong in the milieu that eventually produced Mises and Hayek. But in fact, almost all modern economists, whatever their theoretical or political orientation, accept some descendant of Walras, Jevons, and Mengers’ arguments. What’s more, Robin generally ignores the technical mathematical background of the marginal revolution, which he presents primarily as debate in moral philosophy. That decision obscures the most important cause of the transformation of economic thought in the 19th century: the demand that economics become a science on the model of physics.
Robin is also evasive in his chronology. He acknowledges that “[a]round the time—almost to the year—that Nietzsche was launching his revolution of metaphysics and morals, a trio of economists [Walras, Jevons, and Menger], working separately across three countries, were starting their own.” But he doesn’t deal explicitly with the possibility that this temporal coincidence makes any connection between Nietzsche and marginal economics circumstantial.
It’s true that Hayek and his Austrian contemporaries received the new theories of value in economics in a cultural context influenced by Nietzsche. But that tells us nothing about those theories’ original inspiration—let alone their truth. In any case, the fact that marginal economics became dominant in a setting where Nietzsche had little or no influence, such as the British academy, suggests that the heroic individualism he so brilliantly articulated was by no means a necessary condition of the transformation of economics. And given the variety of reactions to Nietzsche in the 20th century, it’s clearly not a sufficient one.
It’s also crucial to remember that Nietzsche was not the only 19th century thinker who challenged the leveling tendencies of democracy and socialism. On the contrary, this concern is among the major themes of Tocqueville, Carlyle, Mill, Kierkegaard, Burkhardt, Freud, Dostoyevksy, and Pareto, to name only a few. Robin knows too much to ignore these names, some of which occur in the piece. But Robin’s focus suggests that they served, at most, as adjuncts or supplements to Nietzsche.
Robin’s central error, in other words, is an uncritical acceptance of Nietzsche’s evaluation of himself as a “fate” rather than an articulator, however brilliant, of ideas that were very much in the air of the 19th century. In this respect, Robin shows an odd affinity for Leo Strauss, who tended to reduce intellectual history to a decontextualized dialogue among great thinkers.
Interesting, isn’t it? The IRS, EPA, and DOJ scandals all happened before the election. We’re only hearing about them now.
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) May 14, 2013
Yup. Sure is.
– EPA chief Lisa Jackson, alias “Richard Windsor,” resigned in late December amidst a transparency scandal involving the use of fake email accounts to avoid scrutiny. Today, the same organization that sued for access to those emails reveals that the EPA gave green groups fee waivers for FOIA requests 93 percent of the time, whereas the Competitive Enterprise Institute was required to pay 14 out of 15 times.
– The IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups (and small-government ones and ones whose stated mission is to “make America a better place to live”) went back to 2010, when they first started receiving egregiously detailed questionnaires. The White House has known since April, and pinned it on the Cincinnati field office originally, per the IRS commissioner’s apology. Not only is that claim not true—senior IRS officials have known since 2011, as the Washington Post reported last night, and they lied to Congress about it—but the Cincinnati office isn’t just a random peripheral subdivision, it’s the main office for processing exempt organizations claims. Not to mention CNN is now reporting that several other field offices were involved. Both the President and House Speaker John Boehner have promised to look into the matter. On the Senate side, Max Baucus will be heading up the investigation, and he actually encouraged investigating Tea Party groups.
– In the most shocking scandal yet in the president’s war on leaks—alternatively, war on whistleblowers—the Associated Press revealed yesterday that the Justice Department obtained two months’ worth of phone records from more than 20 different phone lines in an apparent attempt to trace the sources of a story about a foiled bomb plot by Yemen-based terrorists. The AP’s CEO has called it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
Not every one of these could have been uncovered by the mainstream press, though all of them have to do with concerns raised by conservatives months or in some cases years ago that weren’t taken seriously. ProPublica’s decision yesterday evening to out the Cincinnati office as their source for confidential tax documents seems especially self-serving in light of the developing scandal. The Washington Post‘s story on Lisa Jackson’s resignation didn’t even mention her pseudonymous emails. You’d think a major newspaper would be concerned enough about transparency to do so. With a mainstream press this solicitous of the administration, is it any wonder they thought they could get away with snooping on reporters’ phone records? American Pravda, indeed.
Update: I guess I should have put that headline in quotes. Also, RNC chairman Reince Priebus has just called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation.
In honor of F.A. Hayek’s birthday, let’s consider for a moment how he misread himself. In his essay “Why I Am Not A Conservative,” the economist and philosopher argued for a radical anti-state program, in contrast to a conservatism that merely wished to slow the pace of so-called progress or defend the status quo.
But the beginning of American conservatism as a political movement is usually traced to the New Deal, and until the rise of neoconservatism was focused on repealing it. Hayek seems aware of that when he writes:
Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread attitude of opposition to drastic change. It has, since the French Revolution, for a century and a half played an important role in European politics. Until the rise of socialism its opposite was liberalism. There is nothing corresponding to this conflict in the history of the United States, because what in Europe was called “liberalism” was here the common tradition on which the American polity had been built: thus the defender of the American tradition was a liberal in the European sense. This already existing confusion was made worse by the recent attempt to transplant to America the European type of conservatism, which, being alien to the American tradition, has acquired a somewhat odd character.
I’ve read this passage several times before and can’t escape the feeling that he’s just mistaken; a non-monarchist approximation of continental conservatism is present in the thinking of some of the Founding Fathers, so that isn’t exactly a new import. Moreover, it could be argued that modern American conservatism has always had a counterrevolutionary character, explicitly so for the Middle American Radicals of the Buchanan campaigns who wanted to “break the clock” of the 20th century.
This is another strange idea from “Why I Am Not a Conservative”:
… by its very nature [conservatism] cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing
That makes sense if you consider conservatism a disposition and nothing else. Russell Kirk and others have done great work identifying conservatives across the ages by a common disposition, but they all had political ideas that were integral to their worldview too. To say conservatism cannot offer an alternative is to invite the question, “well, which one?” It just isn’t a programmatic ideology like libertarianism is; conservatives have defended everything from constitutional liberty to the divine right of kings. And, actually, so have libertarians.
In the tumultuous ideological climate in which he was writing, with various factions aligning and realigning constantly, it probably made sense for him to draw a stark line between himself and the emerging conservative movement, but that doesn’t mean his arguments are all good or that such divisions make sense today. It seems to me there are four main legs to the case for Hayek’s conservatism:
- Anticommunism — Hayek shared the opposition to communism that is the je ne sais quoi of postwar conservatism
- Preservation of tradition — Hayek writes America’s founding established a tradition of liberty, which he wishes to continue (there’s a contradiction here, in which he’s claiming to be preserving something that he repeatedly emphasizes has been lost). As much as Hayek favored radical change, ripping society up by its roots and redesigning it is not what he had in mind.
- Spontaneous order — The idea of civil society as the undirected substrate of any political arrangement seems quintessentially conservative, even Burkean, a term he invoked later in life to describe himself.
- Hayek’s prominent defenders were all on the right — Thatcher, Reagan, etc.
When I hear libertarians channel Hayek’s essay, issuing proclamations that the twain shall never meet—one always suspects it’s just because they find the label “conservative” has too much baggage, and I can’t blame them for that—their main grievances usually align with what paleoconservatives have considered betrayals:
- Ambivalence toward the welfare state and support for an activist foreign policy, both of which are the inheritance of neoconservative dominance of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
- Statist family-values politicking, a product of the New Right’s alliances with the religious, particularly evangelical, community in the 1970s. The break began when family-values groups started asking for for government favors through the tax code and in other ways, arguing the family is a peculiar bourgeoise institution that requires special protection. Most of these initiatives are widely regarded as tactical failures, though similar overreaches like a federal marriage amendment still have some limited support today.
- Crony capitalism/neo-mercantilist nationalism: Opposing the former has never been more in vogue, and the latter hasn’t reared its head in a significant way since Pat Buchanan campaigned for president.
I wonder if Hayek would have written the same essay today, since much of what separated him from conservatives seems muted now and the state has grown bigger and more powerful than he probably even imagined. As far as historiographical approaches go there might be irreconcilable differences, but Hayek has all the marks of a reformist conservative.
(For a lengthier case for Hayek’s conservatism, I direct you to Dr. Madsen Pirie, president of the Adam Smith Institute. Relatedly, Cato Unbound is in the middle of a forum on the prospects for fusionism.)
More TAC on Hayek here:
On the Road to Serfdom Again — Brad Birzer
Do Libertarians Have a Problem With Authority? — Robert P. Murphy
Austerity’s Prophets — Mark Skousen
Hayek and Hip Hop — Michael Brendan Dougherty
Just as Britain has a parliamentary system rather than separate executive and legislative branches at the national level, most localities in the UK are governed by “councils” that oversee everything from emergency services to schools. Yesterday elections were held for a large number of these local authorities—in places where the Conservative Party performed very well in 2009, presaging David Cameron’s (qualified) success in the following year’s parliamentary election.
The big story this year, however, is the rise of a “fourth party” atop the wreck of the coalition between Cameron’s Conservatives and Britain’s center-left third party, the Liberal Democrats. UKIP, the UK Independence Party, stands for restricting immigration, getting out of the EU, and opposing nanny-statism. (Some of Britain’s new alcohol regulations are the cultural equivalent of Mayor Bloomberg’s war on Big Gulps.) These are populist or nationalist former Tories and independents, though UKIP says it draws from all established parties. And while UKIP gets pilloried as a party of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” (in David Cameron’s words), as Tim Stanley points out, yesterday’s results show “Ukip have helped to smash the BNP … by providing a non-racist Right-wing alternative.”
Given the Tory party’s drift to the left under David Cameron, many on the right hope that pressure from UKIP and its voters will force the Conservatives to live up to their name again. The fear among Tories, however, is that UKIP will do to them what the center-left Lib Dems (in their various incarnations) did to Labour in the ’80s, siphoning away enough votes from the ideological base to permit the other major party to win—without the minor party picking up enough seats in Parliament to be a viable coalition partner. The likeliest outcome of UKIP-Tory fratricide is Labour victory. Think of, say, the Tea Party or the religious right breaking off from the GOP. The rump Republican Party would still be torn between going right to reclaim its lost base or trying to cobble together a centrist majority or plurality in general elections. Certainly there are Republicans who feel that shorn of the likes of Christine O’Donnell and Todd Akin, the party could win a few seats it’s lost in recent years. Read More…
A recent analysis of “The Lost Tribes of British Politics” at the ConservativeHome website (specifically, its Deep End blog) applies quite well to U.S. scene, too. The Deep End looked at ten philosophical factions vying for influence and rated them on a scale of zero (lowest) to five (highest) for their “intellectual inheritance,” “past glories,” “online presence,” and “future prospects.” As the first post, looking at Christian Democrats and Tory “wets,” explained:
In the age of the internet, you don’t need to have a political party behind you to have a voice. With an effective communications strategy and something to say, just about any school of political thought can take part in the battle of ideas. Furthermore, we shouldn’t take the existing party system for granted. Smaller parties now have the potential to breakthrough; while, in the major parties, factions that ran the show in one decade can be heading for extinction in the next.
Tory wets are analogous to the moderate Republicans of old—with a similar philosophy and once dominant within their party but now virtually annihilated. (Or at least disguised as something else.) Christian democratic parties of the sort found in Germany and Scandinavia, on the other hand, have never taken root in the U.S. or UK at all. So the first two tribes strike out.
The next two, the Blairites and the liberal interventionists, may seem like counterparts to the Obama administration, but not quite. Whatever their affinities with the present occupant of the White House, these tribes are indelibly branded with responsibility for the Iraq War and Great Recession, traumas that occurred under a center-left government in Britain. Take the worst parts of Bush and Obama, and that’s a reasonable proxy for Blair. The liberal interventionists in question, meanwhile, are “self-respecting lefties like Nick Cohen, Martin Bright and Oliver Kamm [who] now serve out lonely exiles on rightwing publications”—basically, left-wing neocons. These camps rate a 2 and a 1, respectively, for their future prospects.
So do the Labour left and the palaeo-socialists. The former scores a 2 for its prospects despite getting a boost from the Occupy movement, while “the premier palaeo-socialist blog is that of Neil Clark—sworn enemy of the liberal interventionists” (and a TAC contributor). The situation in the U.S. is parallel: American leftists, as opposed to partisan Democrats, aren’t all that happy with the Obama administration and the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi; they miss Paul Wellstone and Russ Feingold. Some of the more staunchly antiwar ones prefer Ron Paul to Democrats’ leadership. So, yes, in America too their scores should be about a 2 or 1.
Next are the high liberals and the libertarians, variations on the same classical-liberal theme. The former are represented by The Economist and the Financial Times—over here they’re the Wall Street Journal kind of Republican, or at least the upper reaches of that demographic. As the Deep End says:
What the high liberals would really like is a Conservative Party without any conservatives in it—a sort of German-style Free Democrat Party, only bigger. No doubt, some of you might think that’s exactly what the Cameroons are giving them. But you’d be wrong. To a high liberal, euroscepticism of any kind is infra dig—as is anything that smacks of faith, flag and family.
About a third of the way through The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life, Rod Dreher paints a moving portrait of a community tending to one of its own:
The news hit the West Feliciana community like a cyclone. As the day wore on a hundred or more friends mobbed the hospital. Some offered to move in with the Lemings to care for the children while Ruthie fought [her cancer]. John Bickham told Paw that he would sell everything he had to pay for Ruthie’s medical bills if it came to that. At the middle school the teachers did their best to get through the day, but kept breaking down. All over town people prepared food and took it by the Leming house, which, this being Starhill, sat unlocked.
“We were surrounded by so much love,” Mam recalls. “It was the most horrible day of our lives, but we could feel the love of all these good people. There was nothing we could have wanted or needed that wasn’t done before we asked. And they were there. Do you know what that means? People were there.”
The inspiring collective response of this small Louisiana town seems to me a paradigmatic real-life example of the kind of civil society that Yuval Levin (as well as TAC’s Samuel Goldman) champions here as a Burkean rebuke to harsh conservative rhetoric about the “culture of dependency”:
We are all dependent on others. The question is whether we are dependent on people we know, and they on us—in ways that foster family and community, build habits of restraint and dignity, and instill in us responsibility and a sense of obligation—or we are dependent on distant, neutral, universal systems of benefits that help provide for our material wants without connecting us to any local and immediate nexus of care and obligation. It is not dependence per se, which is a universal fact of human life, but dependence without mutual obligation, that corrupts the soul. Such technocratic provision enables precisely the illusion of independence from the people around us and from the requirements of any moral code they might uphold. It is corrosive not because it instills a true sense of dependence but because it inspires a false sense of independence and so frees us from the sorts of moral habits of mutual obligation that alone can make us free.
I don’t want to speak for Rod here. Nor do I want to superimpose on The Little Way, a deeply personal meditation on social and family bonds, a polemical or partisan quality that it in fact mercifully avoids. But I don’t think I’m misreading Rod at all in saying that technocracy is not what enabled his particular illusion of independence. That illusion stemmed from the desires of his own heart: a desire to escape the stifling atmosphere of rural America and discover the wider world; to pursue a life of the mind; to experience, as the British playwright David Hare put it in his screenplay for The Hours, the “violent jolt” of life in the metropolis.
Our culture stokes this desire, and in no small way our economy depends on it. When politicians tirelessly invoke the “American Dream,” when we celebrate social mobility and “churn,” we are encouraging millions of young Rod Drehers to leave their Starhills and become “boomers,” as the poet Wendell Berry (via Wallace Stegner) describes those whose ambition compels them to leave home.
To make the point in the context of our ongoing clash over immigration, do we not at least unwittingly celebrate the dilution of communities when we hold up as heroes those who leave behind their friends and extended families to pursue employment in America? To borrow the simple phraseology of Rod’s mother, a young man who leaves a village in Latin America or South Asia is no longer there. Read More…
Communitarian conservatives (frequently, though not always, traditionalist Catholics; Ross Douthat is a pretty good contemporary example) often criticize libertarian types for complicity in the “atomized individual” part of the destructive dynamic Nisbet was talking about, or, more practically, for promoting a political message that repels voters who don’t view “altruism” as immoral or who may anticipate needing external help at some point in life. Indeed, you sometimes get the sense that Randians and “traditionalists” hate each other more than their common liberal enemy.
Despite these disagreements, Kilgore concludes that “if you boil off the philosophy and look at actual public policy issues, you have to wonder if this is often a distinction without a difference.” He poses two questions to communitarian conservatives:
(1) whether “private groups” (or, as Republicans often argue, state or local governments) are actually adequate to deal with inequality and poverty and illness and other social problems, even if government chips in with some tax credits or other incentives, and (2) whether empowering these “intermediating institutions” involves risks to liberty that we are all familiar with from their long reign in human history.
To put it another way, if people in need (or indeed, nations in need) can no longer turn to the most efficient means available to meet collective challenges, this thing called democratic government (ideally self-government), then does it really matter if they are then helplessly consigned to the market’s wealth-creators or to the “little platoons” that regard them as objects of pity and opportunities for good works? Isn’t that “dependence,” too?
These are good questions that deserve more extended responses than I can offer today. But here are some suggestions that might help begin the discusion:
(1) The answer to this question depends on the meaning of “we” and “deal with”. Kilgore’s restatement suggests that he thinks the main agent of political life is the nation itself, or perhaps the national government. It also indicates that we should pursue “solutions” to the problems of inequality, poverty, illness, and so on.
But communitarian conservatives dispute both claims. Our argument is that many social problems are actually local problems. As such, they are often more better dealt with by local authorities and institutions than by the national government.
Take education. If we look at aggregate statistics, there’s a serious “collective” problem here. But that’s misleading. In fact, public schools in some states, such as Massachusetts, are excellent. Schools in others, such as Mississippi, are terrible. It’s not clear to me why the low quality of public schools in Mississippi is a problem for citizens of Massachusetts. Rather, it seems to be the responsibility of Mississippians to fix their own schools.
Of course, the citizens of Mississippi may not agree that there’s a problem, or may choose not to to address it in the best way. Having never visited the state, I really have no idea. But leaving decisions to the people who know the most about the situation and are most affected by it is the essence of self-government. Put differently, Washington is not the focal point of American democracy. Read More…
“When I was in school, I studied government and I learned about the anarchists. Now, they were different than the Tea Party because they were violent. But they were anarchists because they did not believe in government in any level and they acknowledged it. The Tea Party kind of hides that. They don’t say ‘we’re against government’; that’s what it all amounts to. They’re not doing physically destructive things to buildings and people, directly; but they are doing everything they can to throw a monkey wrench into any form of government — whether it’s local, whether it’s state, or federal government. That’s what it’s all about.”
Of course, most people will interpret this as a slur against the Tea Party. But it’s also a slur against anarchists, most of whom are quite peaceful. As Bill Kauffman explains in his entry for anarchism in American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia:
Perhaps no political term is quite so misunderstood as “anarchy.” In the popular press, it is a synonym for disorder and chaos, not to mention looting and pillage: countries like Haiti are always being “plunged into anarchy.” The anarchist, meanwhile, is frozen into a late-nineteenth-century caricature: he is furtive, hirsute, beady-eyed, given to gesticulation, gibberish, and, most of all, pointless acts of violence. Yet anarchy, according to most of its proponents through the years, is peaceable, wholly voluntary, and perhaps a bit utopian. The word means “without a ruler”; anarchy is defined as the absence of a state and its attendant coercive powers. It implies nothing about social arrangements, family and sexual life, or religion; and in fact the most persuasive anarchists, from Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy to Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, have been Christians.
… echoes of native anarchism may be heard throughout American history: in the warnings of the Anti-Federalists about the centralizing thrust of the new Constitution; in the Garrisonian abolitionists who reviled any government that countenanced slavery; in the Populists of the 1890s, with their attacks on chartered corporations and paper wealth; in the Old Right of the 1930s, which saw the New Deal as potentially totalitarian; in the New Left of the 1960s, which denounced the military, the university, and the corporation as dehumanizing; and among contemporary libertarians, especially those influenced by the economist and anti- imperialist Murray N. Rothbard. But except for the anarchist-tinged Industrial Workers of the World, the radical labor union that reached its zenith in the early twentieth century, anarchists have never been adept organizers. For the most part anarchy in the United States has been a literary-political tendency.
So take heart, Tea Party, and don’t be too offended by the senate majority leader. He’s really saying you’re part of a proud American tradition. A tradition that someone who says “government is inherently good” is unlikely to ever understand.
(h/t United Liberty)