The Fissaparous Libertarians
By Arnold Kling
Look up fissaparous in the dictionary and you will find
Inclined to cause or undergo division into separate parts or groups.
You will also find a picture of the libertarian movement.
1. At the first Mont Pelerin Society meeting, Mises reportedly complained that you’re a bunch of socialists.
2. More than one person has compared libertarians to Communist intellectuals, who also were notably fissaporous (Lenin and Stalin used rather harsh methods to address the problem).
3. The Cato-Koch controversy has been played up as an ideological split. I, however, still think of it as corporate soap opera. In my first book, Under the Radar, I talk about how difficult it is for partnership agreements to hold up under changing circumstances. I found it very common for a start-up to divide shares in a company equally and then have one partner lose interest or confidence in the company and walk away–but without anyone rewriting the agreement to give the remaining partners a bigger share in the company. You can imagine what happens years later.
Between 1996 and 1999 we must have had 5 different partnership agreements in my company. The structure of the business changed rapidly, and maintaining an appropriate legal agreement was a challenge. So if Cato and the Kochs are still trying to operate under an agreement from 30-plus years ago….well, good luck to them. That sounds like a sure-fire disaster even if there were zero ideological differences.
4. The recent dust-up over bleeding-heart libertarians, liberaltarians, or what have you. My only comment is that liberaltarianism seemed particularly attractive deep into the Bush Presidency. It seems particularly unattractive deep into the Obama Presidency. I am afraid that there is an iron law which says that politicians will betray whatever libertarian allies they attract.