Mencius Moldbug Asks Some Questions
By Arnold Kling
given your rather vehement views on the Ron Paul controversy, I am curious as to how you might answer the following questions.
I would not describe my views on Ron Paul as vehement. His supporters are vehement. I have mixed feelings, but they have always leaned somewhat negative. But the questions Moldbug raises are not specifically about Ron Paul, and instead are more generic.I’ll take them in reverse order.
10. I do not ride the Orange line to work. I have no office. Cato paid me a small amount in 2005 and 2006, when I was writing Crisis of Abundance, but not since. I support myself on the basis of past earnings, primarily from a fortuitously-timed Internet venture. I live in Wheaton, Maryland, about a mile from the Red Line, which I use on average about once a month to attend an event downtown, at AEI or Cato.
9. If the present American system is replaced by a libertarian movement, I will be viewed as someone who pretty much accepted the system rather than took radical action against it. My guess is that if people are denouncing me as a “toady,” then we will not be living in a libertarian regime, but in some Reign of Terror phase of revolution.
8. I do not know enough about the internal dynamics of the Soviet system to know whether its fall was due to the actions of the uncompromising opponents, those who worked within the system for change, both, or neither.
7. I consider myself an uncertain libertarian. Like Tyler Cowen, I praise uncertainty. I also praise libertarianism.
6. I think that the beliefs of the mass public in America are often wrong. So are the beliefs of many intellectuals. I am willing to speak out against anyone’s conventional beliefs. I am used to having my views denounced by ordinary people, intellectuals, and libertarians. I think that if I ever am physically assaulted for my beliefs, it will be for my skepticism on global warming. But so far, fears for my physical safety are not sufficient to cause concern.
5. I know less about human genetics than someone who has actually taken a modern biology course.
4. I believe that the Soviet Union did more harm than the apartheid government of South Africa. But the Soviet Union arguably did more harm than any government in history, including the German government that murdered some of my relatives in the 1940’s.
3. I do not like the notion of thought crimes.
2. I can imagine a world in which people are ostracized for believing in socialism. I can imagine a world in which people are ostracized for believing in any of the state-romanticizing faiths. I think that if the form of ostracism were severe, it would strike me as non-libertarian, which might raise questions about ends vs. means. But that’s pretty hypothetical to address.
1. It is difficult to compare socialism with racism in terms of harm.
If we’re just sitting around talking, and you say, “I think those people are inferior,” you are more likely to hurt someone’s feelings than if you say, “I am for socialism.”
If we have two countries, and one of them implements socialism without racial discrimination and another country implements racial discrimination without socialism, then if I were not the one discriminated against I probably would prefer to live in the latter country. So you could argue that from that perspective I see socialism as the worse evil.
In between just talking and actually implementing, there is advocacy for socialism and advocacy for racial discrimination. It is hard to say which form of advocacy is worse.
From my perspective, this country has way too much socialism. There is also too much focus on race. I think that people should be treated as individuals.
Going back to Ron Paul, I do not think that he reflects my uncertain libertarianism. I would like to try to move cautiously in the direction of dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and public education. I do not think that supporting Ron Paul is either necessary or sufficient for generating movement in that direction.