How Libertarian Ideas And Attitudes Are Spread

From Critiques Of Libertarianism
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The spread of libertarianism is not due to some "truth" or intrinsic goodness. Libertarianism would have stayed a fringe belief were it not for enormous public relations programs financed for generations by the extremely wealthy.

Many of these are parts of the Kochtopus: an umbrella term for a huge number of organizations and publications founded, funded, or controlled by Charles and David Koch.

There is substantial overlap between "conservative" propaganda techniques and libertarian propaganda techniques: the methods are much the same, and the economics are much the same. Both encourage extensive self-indoctination in shibboleths.


Propaganda, Marketing and Public Relations (17 links)
Major industries whose entire purpose is to create impressions without regard for truth. This enables manipulation of the masses for greater power and profit. All work with the same principles. Libertarianism is the result of a corporate propaganda campaign that has been going on since roughly The New Deal. It has been greatly intensified by the creation of the Mont Pellerin Society and the Kochtopus, to the tune of billions of dollars.
Propaganda Mills (10 links)
The Koch brothers and other right-wing funders seldom produce their own propaganda: instead they encourage the development of independent, competitive propaganda mills as a means of reducing the costs of propaganda development.
Self-Indoctrination (4 links)
Many libertarians are self-taught: now they fall down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos teaching the corpus of libertarian ideology. (It used to be libertarian books, but that's changed.) That way they don't encounter other viewpoints that might let them think critically, and they end up shocked that anybody can believe anything else.
1996 “Structure of Social Change” by Koch Industries Executive VP Richard Fink [More...]
The document that describes the 3-phase plan the Kochs have followed successfully for the past 30+ years. (a) Create intellectual raw materials with scholars. (2) Apply these ideas to the real world with think tanks. (3) Create activist groups and fund politicians to use the think tank proposals to convince the electorate and enact laws. Billions have been spent on this wingnut welfare, with great success. Just look at the Federalist Society majority on the Supreme Court.
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (book, online) (2 links)
When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency.
11 questions to see if libertarians are hypocrites [More...]
"But the libertarian movement has seen a strong resurgence in recent years, and there’s a simple reason for that: money, and the personal interests of some people who have a lot of it... This revival is Koch-fueled, not coke-fueled, and exists only because in political debate, as in so many other walks of life, cash is king."
A few books to help you understand what is wrong with libertarianism. (13 links)
These books generally do not attack libertarianism directly, but as you read them, you will understand more about how libertarianism is basically propaganda in favor of the policies the .01% want and how libertarianism has basically no philosophical legs to stand on..
A collection of 434 Austrian Economics books.
For the self-indoctrination completist. All uploaded to a free downloading site.
Advancing White Supremacy Through Academic Strategy [More...]
The report’s chapters describe the interwoven infrastructure of neo-confederate scholars, funded by the Charles Koch Foundation, who are training and recruiting the next generation of anti-civil rights Austrian economists. We explore the dangerous ideologies involved in this network, past and present, including recent influence on the violent Alt-Right and Neo-Nazis. These ideas are also inflicted upon prisoners.
Begging the Question with Style: Anarchy, State and Utopia at Thirty Years [More...]
Barbara Fried's brilliant analysis of the rhetorical (propaganda) techniques used by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Starts with a list of substantive questions begged, moves on to some of his self-contradictions, and then addresses many rhetorical maneuvers.
Bodyguard of Zombies, Counterattack by Cockroaches [More...]
Paul Krugman points out: "Today's right wing never gives up on a politically convenient argument, no matter how thoroughly it may have been refuted by analysis and evidence. It may downplay that argument for a while -- though often even that doesn’t happen -- but it always comes back." It's true of libertarianism too.
Bullshit and Philosophy: Guaranteed to Get Perfect Results Every Time (book)
Check your knowledge - Ancap studies booklist - March 2017 [More...]
Features a graphic with 43 books for self-indoctrination at 3 levels. There is a "refutations" section, but that doesn't do much good after you've drunk the Kool-Aid, and nobody will read it first to be inoculated against the propaganda.
Conservative Intellectuals: Follow the Money [More...]
Libertarians are conservatives in terms of property, distinguished only by dislike of government. Their ideas, funded by plutocrats, are wrong because "because being wrong in the right way has always been a financially secure activity."
Create Fake Intellectual Authority (15 links)
Libertarian alternative "authority" from think tanks, academic soft sciences, publications, institutions, etc. creates quotable resources for libertarian positions. No thinking required by the user and generally of little or no worth. Heavily financed by wealthy sources. The same strategy creationists use.
Denialism (14 links)
A public relations stratagem by which people with no data and no facts can create controversy and confusion about topics on which there is a broad consensus. Topics such as tobacco causing cancer, asbestos causing cancer, global warming and evolution.
Disrupting Arguments (5 links)
Libertarians have a large number of disrupting arguments that are used as a way to start interjecting libertarian views into unrelated discussions, to sidetrack discussions from views of their opponents, or to pretend that their opponents are ignorant. You've seen these over and over.
Economics 101 (69 links)
Also known as neoclassical economics and economism. Libertarians are fond of applying standard Economics 101 microeconomics principles to bash the state. They forget the many concealed ideological biases of Economics 101, they forget that the real world doesn't often match simple models, they forget market failures, they forget the purposes of markets and they forget that microeconomics is not enough: you need macroeconomics too.
Economists used to be the priests of free markets -- now they’re just a bunch of engineers [More...]
Economics is being rescued from libertarianism. "[...] most economists favor government intervention in the economy in a wide range of areas, including income redistribution, minimum wage laws, environmental regulation, anti-discrimination laws, and others (and that was before the financial crisis!)"
False Dichotomies of Libertarian Ideology
Libertarianism is built on false dichotomies, because they provide the simplicity necessary to propaganda. Modeling the real world accurately usually requires more sophistication.
Found: Libertarians' "Lying To Liberals" Guide Book [More...]
"That they even had to run two articles in the space of a few months on how to trick Americans into accepting libertarianism shows what a hard time REASON was having selling such a counterintuitive political scam to a generation enamored with its idealism."
Framing (12 links)
Framing is a classic rhetorical technique that attempts to sneak in assumptions. Control the assumptions, and you shape the discussion. If your opponent disagrees, he is either distracted from making his own argument to attack the assumptions or he is put on the defensive. The classic framing example is Groucho Marx's "when did you stop beating your wife?". So why are you in favor of coercive government?
Fraudulent Controversial Books
Part of the propaganda program of libertarianism has been a steady flow of books based on fraudulent claims that take months or years to debunk. Some are directly produced or financed by libertarians, others by academics or conservatives are heavily endorsed by libertarians.
Fundamental Libertarian Books (19 links)
A few popular books do the heavy lifting for libertarian ideology: bringing the most recruits, popularizing the ideas and providing critiques of mainstream ideas. They are all severely flawed. These are the way down the rabbit hole to libertarian wonderland. Come, drink the Kool-Aid!
Historical Revisionism (75 links)
The facts of history do not support libertarianism. This spawns an industry supplying libertarians with false history that supports their beliefs.
How 'Keynes' Became a Dirty Word [More...]
Noah Smith sez: If you use the word "Keynesian" as a synonym for "socialist," "progressive," or "liberal," well my friend, you’re doing it wrong. Hayek's propaganda, pushed over a period of a half century, has tarbrushed Keynes' ideas.
How American Businessmen Made Us Believe that Free Enterprise was Indivisible from American Democracy: The National Association of Manufacturers’ Propaganda Campaign 1935–1940 [More...]
"Oreskes, Conway and Tyson ask a deceptively simple question: how did so many Americanscome to believe that economic and political freedoms are indivisible from one another? ... The program offers a case study in corporate propaganda." Chapter 4 of The Disinformation Age: Politics, Technology, and Disruptive Communication in the United States.
How Corporate America Invented Christian America [More...]
The origin of Christian libertarianism as a National Association of Manufacturers public relations campaign to oppose The New Deal and its programs.
Ideology Underlies Economics (6 links)
Claims that economics is a non-ideological science are transparently false. There's far more evidence than just the right-wing funding of Chicago Economics, Austrian Economics, and the George Mason University Economics Department. The ideology goes back at least to John Locke, who provided justifications for his class' policies of expropriation and enslavement. The wealthy have always created economic ideology to justify their wealth.
Indoctrinating Children (2 links)
You may wish to indoctrinate your children into libertarianism, or indoctrinate kids in school. There is libertarian propaganda for children from grade school to college. There are already third and fourth generation libertarians.
Joseph Goebbels on Propaganda
It is uncanny how accurately the ideas of the foremost Nazi propagandist match the reality of libertarian indoctrination. The techniques are the same, simply in service of other masters paying the bills.
Koch Brothers Pushing Garbage Libertarian “Textbook” On Poor Schools [More...]
5 good links to articles about the Kochs trying to inject their views into pre-college education.
Libertarian Apologetics (7 links)
Libertarians have standard techniques for defending their absurd ideas that overlap strongly with the techniques employed by religious believers.
Libertarian Propaganda Terms (102 links)}
Libertarian and conservative think-tanks have labored mightily to make propaganda terms such as libertarian and free market part of the thinking of ordinary people. Most libertarians have no idea how they are manipulated by this perversion of language and how it creates their ideology, starting with the word libertarian itself (which everywhere else still means "anarchist".) Frames, phatic expression, shibboleth, terms of art: very simply, they have a coded meaning for libertarians that is not standard English.
Libertarianism Makes You Stupid [More...]
After 20 years, still one of the shortest, clearest explanations of the fundamental errors of libertarian rhetoric.
MarketThink (2 links)
MarketThink is a term coined by Tom Slee for the ideology of markets as ideal solutions for all problems. The first corollary is that problems markets cannot solve are ignored, dismissed, or considered unimportant. The second corollary is that government and other social choice opposes the benefits of markets.
Mr. Anonymous and the Not-So-Spontaneous Birth of the Libertarian Movement [More...]
William Volker, alias "Mr. Anonymous", was one of the first major plutocratic funders of what has developed into libertarianism. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent on this centrally planned propaganda blitz over 60+ years.
On Bullshit (book)
"[B]ullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant."
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (book) (1 link)
"We're often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation. But in One Nation Under God, historian Kevin M. Kruse reveals that the belief that America is fundamentally and formally Christian originated in the 1930s." Spread by businessmen as corporate propaganda opposing The New Deal.
Organizations (14 links)
Libertarian organizations, most of which are either elite or astroturf.
Political Spectrums and Typologies (13 links)
Libertarians are fond of misrepresentations such as the Nolan Chart, The Political Compass, and The World's Smallest Political Quiz. These are primarily propaganda tools, with essentially no academic support. In the US, the left-right axis is all that is really needed for understanding government. Within the US, surveys reveal a typology of 8 primary political groups, none of them libertarian.
PragerU relies on a veneer of respectability to obscure its propagandist mission [More...]
"It’s not enough to just say that PragerU isn’t an actual university. It’s outright propaganda, and those appearing on the channel are propagandists. As an institution, PragerU has proved to be toxic, and it should be best understood as -- as its “About Us” page notes -- a “digital marketing campaign.”"
Right Hook: The Tactics of Conservative Criticism [More...]
"Over the past few years, there have been some big hitting books from the left criticising inequality, capitalism and 'free market' economics or neoliberalism. Naturally, these books have received a lot of criticism from the right. However, sometimes it seems that this criticism is overzealous: an attempt not merely to question the book, but discredit it entirely, and accuse the authors of various misrepresentations of facts and people along the way." Examples from The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone' by Kate Pickett & Richard Wilkinson, 'Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class' by Owen Jones, and 'The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism' by Naomi Klein.
Rightward, Ho! Ten Top Funders Behind the Surging Libertarian Movement [More...]
"This overview of libertarian funders has only focused on those operating through transparent foundations. But lots of money flows to libertarian causes outside of those channels. Cato, for example, relies heavily on individual donations from wealthy individuals and this money can be harder to track. Much of it comes from donors in the financial world. "
Stossel in America: A Case Study of the Neoliberal/Neoconservative Assault on Public Schools and Teachers [More...]
"Our point in this article has been to demonstrate how the attack on public schools represents a small part of a much larger attack on the public and its role in a liberal, constitutional democracy."
Subsidized Training In Libertarian Ideology (9 links)
Enormous amounts are spent by Koch-funded or founded organizations to train politicians, judges, college students, high school students and professional libertarian shills in the application of libertarian ideology for government and public relations.
Subversion of the Opposition (2 links)
The Koch Brothers (and others) probably know that it is much cheaper to subvert opponents (or defeat them in primaries) than to battle them. And they have vast amounts of money to finance the subversion.
The Chapo Guide to Revolution ridicules libertarianism.
Starting with a comparison to the recruiting methods of Scientology. Then they justly slam the ridiculous excesses of Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe
The Crisis of Public Reason [More...]
Phil Agre provides one of the most compact insights into modern public discourse ever written. And wallops Hayek in the process.
The Disinformation Age: Politics, Technology, and Disruptive Communication in the United States (book, online) (2 links)
"The Disinformation Age assembles a remarkable group of historians, political scientists, and communication scholars to examine the historical and political origins of the post-fact information era, focusing on the United States but with lessons for other democracies." Chapter 5, Why and How the Koch Network Uses Disinformation to Thwart Democracy by Nancy MacLean, is a remarkable overview of the Koch efforts.
The Koch Network and Republican Party Extremism [More...]
"[T]he recently expanded “Koch network” that coordinates big money funders, idea producers, issue advocates, and innovative constituency-building efforts in an ongoing effort to pull the Republican Party and agendas of U.S. politics sharply to the right."
The New Jargon [More...]
Phil Agre discusses the rhetorical technology of association and projection used to subvert rationality in political argument.
The Shouting Class [More...]
"But a subset of people will never stop complaining. When a problem becomes less severe, they switch to a different problem. And they will always find some problem that they feel requires their vocal complaint. That subset -- the people who will never stop complaining and giving negative feedback - are the Shouting Class."
The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free [More...]
"... pseudo-scholarhip is easy to find [for free]. Right-wing think tanks like the Cato Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Hoover Institution, the Mackinac Center, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation pump out slickly-produced policy documents on every subject under the sun. They are utterly untrustworthy—the conclusion is always going to be “let the free market handle the problem,” no matter what the problem or what the facts of the case."
Thoughts on the Florida Recount [More...]
Phil Agre discusses the common patterns of conservative propaganda employed in the Florida Recounts. These are very commonly encountered interacting with libertarians, especially projection.
Underpants Gnomes (2 links)
A South Park idea satirizing wishful thinking about incomplete plans and explanations.
Vast literatures as mud moats [More...]
"Vast literatures" can be a waste of time when they are propaganda, content-free, or generally erroneous. Demands that you familiarize yourself with vast literatures before you argue can be mere rhetorical strategies, rather than genuine requirements for understanding.
What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? [More...]
Phil Agre explains: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy. Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world. The aristocracy libertarians support is plutocratic/corporate.
Why and How the Koch Network Uses Disinformation to Thwart Democracy [More...]
The most complete (yet succinct) overview of how the Kochs made their libertarianism, a tiny fringe movement, succeed in changing our political climate and beliefs. Chapter 5 of The Disinformation Age: Politics, Technology, and Disruptive Communication in the United States.
Why I’m So Mean [More...]
Jonathan Chait explains "there’s a value in signaling that some arguments aren’t merely expressing a difference in values or interpretation, but are made by an unqualified hack peddling demonstrable nonsense. Being so mean is a labor of love, I confess, but also one with a purpose."
Widespread "Libertarian" Spam on Wikipedia [More...]
A simple exploration of one layer of libertarian propaganda injected into Wikipedia. There is a great deal more.
Wingnut Welfare (4 links)
Plutocratic funders funnel vast amounts of money for political purposes through myriads of shell companies. They evade campaign finance regulation and mislead the IRS about the purpose to get unjustified charitable tax deductions and conceal the origin of the money. The ironic thing is that spreading market ideology is not profitable, and must be subsidized by the wealthy.


[A blind spot]... a simply weird refusal to acknowledge the huge role played by money and monetary incentives promoting bad ideas.
Paul Krugman, "Conservative Intellectuals: Follow the Money"
One cannot overstate the childishness of the ideas that feed and stir the masses. Real ideas must as a rule be simplified to the level of a child's understanding if they are to arouse the masses to historic actions. A childish illusion, fixed in the minds of all children born in a certain decade and hammered home for four years, can easily reappear as a deadly serious political ideology twenty years later.
Sebastian Haffner, "Defying Hitler: A Memoir", pg. 17.
People love calling libertarians "Idea Guys." It pays to remember that every single libertarian "Idea" is an ad campaign to peddle plutocracy to majorities it harms.
Dale Carrico, "Dispatches from Libertopia: An Anthology of Wingnut Chestnuts and Democratizing Remedies"
The weak logic and bad scholarship that suffuse libertarian responses to my article tend to reinforce me in my view that, if they were not paid so well to churn out anti-government propaganda by plutocrats like the Koch brothers and various self-interested corporations, libertarians would play no greater role in public debate than do the followers of Lyndon LaRouche or L. Ron Hubbard.
Michael Lind, "Libertarianism’s Apocryphal Past"
Libertarianism is the One Weird Trick For Solving Any Issue, Politicians HATE Us! of politics. It reduces many of the most complex problems in the world to a set of answers concise enough that they can fit on the back of a business card (isolationism, tiny government, bare minimal taxation).
Kirkaine, "Libertarians are primarily concerned with feeling correct, not about real world results."
Tens, perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars, hundreds of millions of books, hundreds of journals, dozens of universities, tens of thousands of people and thousands of professorships, and so on in a network touching virtually everyone in the "Western Democracies" -- all of it centrally planned, all of it subsidized, none of it capable of existing by itself in the commercial marketplace or in the "marketplace of ideas" and all of it failing dozens of times until hooked into the river of cash produced by the simple subsidies of the rich designed to derail the "free" evolution of ideas as they were actually proceeding... is there any such example in all of human history of a "movement" so far at odds with its own self-proclaimed "principles"?
Anaxarchos (pseudonym), "Mr. Anonymous and the Not-So-Spontaneous Birth of the Libertarian Movement"
What has been created by this half century of massive corporate propaganda is what's called "anti-politics". So that anything that goes wrong, you blame the government. Well okay, there's plenty to blame the government about, but the government is the one institution that people can change... the one institution that you can affect without institutional change. That's exactly why all the anger and fear has been directed at the government. The government has a defect - it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect - they're pure tyrannies. So therefore you want to keep corporations invisible, and focus all anger on the government. So if you don't like something, you know, your wages are going down, you blame the government. Not blame the guys in the Fortune 500, because you don't read the Fortune 500. You just read what they tell you in the newspapers... so you don't read about the dazzling profits and the stupendous dizz, and the wages going down and so on, all you know is that the bad government is doing something, so let's get mad at the government.
Noam Chomsky
There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship, or incentives -- when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism's useful ideas. The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions.
Dani Rodrik, "Rescuing Economics from Neoliberalism"
Right-wingers often express contempt bordering on seething hatred for silly liberal things that wouldn’t exist without government subsidies, like “Mime troops” and “accordion festivals” and “public libraries.” If the nation’s finest mime troupe can’t survive on ticket sales alone, who needs it! But relying on the kindness (and tax-deductible charitable donations) of the super-wealthy, on the other hand, is just how things are done, and always have been done, in much of political media and conservative academia. (The National Review, for example, cannot survive on advertising dollars or subscription fees alone, which is why each year it begs people to send checks, like common hobos.)
Alex Pareene, "Right-wing billionaires purchasing own professors"
My concern is that we’re dealing with an industry -- exemplified by creationism and climate change denial -- that has built up a body of well-funded propaganda which allows their believers to rear up and say, "Well, we are citizen scientists who have our own facts, and we say that the Earth is 6000 years old and global warming is just a natural cycle." They aren’t going to be impressed by published, verified facts about the natural world when they have something even more significant to them: validation of their biases, consilience with their holy book, resentment and paranoia about those damned ivory tower eggheads.
PZ Myers, "Science in America"
[T]here is a sub-culture of libertarian "philosophers" and scholars that have their own "institutes" and meet regularly at conferences around the world... This alternate universe is comprised principally of economists and scholars from third-rate colleges and state universities whose "theories" were generally ignored....
David Vickrey, "The (Sick) Mind Of Hans-Hermann Hoppe"
There are just a lot of people out there exerting significant influence over the political debate who are totally unqualified. The dilemma is especially acute in the political economic field, where wealthy right-wingers have pumped so much money to subsidize the field of pro-rich people polemics that the demand for competent defenders of letting rich people keep as much of their money as possible vastly outstrips the supply. Hence the intellectual marketplace for arguments that we should tax rich people less is glutted with hackery.
Jonathan Chait, "Why I’m So Mean"