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.


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.
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 (8 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 (8 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 (3 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.
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.
Framing (3 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
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.
Historical Revisionism (43 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.
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.
Libertarian Apologetics (6 links)
Libertarians have standard techniques for defending their absurd ideas that overlap strongly with the techniques employed by religious believers.
Libertarian Propaganda Terms (84 links)}
Libertarian and conservative think-tanks have labored mightily to make propaganda terms such as 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. Frames, phatic expression, shibboleth, terms of art: very simply, they have a coded meaning for libertarians that is not standard English.
MarketThink (1 link)
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.
Nolan Chart And World's Smallest Political Quiz (2 links)
Propaganda tools used for outreach by The Advocates for Self-Government and others. A pretend political science classification that looks only at two bogus conceptions of "liberty".
Organizations (13 links)
Libertarian organizations, most of which are either elite or astroturf.
Propaganda Mills (6 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.
NEW 3/21/2017: Propaganda techniques [More...]
The Wikipedia list of techniques. You'll have encountered most of them in libertarian videos, readings, etc.
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.
Subsidized Training In Libertarian Ideology (5 links)
Enormous amounts are spent by Koch-funded or founded organizations to train politicians, judges, college 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 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 New Jargon [More...]
Phil Agre discusses the rhetorical technology of association and projection used to subvert rationality in political argument.
The Worlds Smallest Political Quiz (4 links)
"The Quiz", as it is popularly known, is a carefully planned piece of recruiting propaganda. It qualifies people not as libertarians, but as people susceptible to becoming libertarians (a MUCH larger class, containing people of many different viewpoints.)
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.
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.
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."
Wingnut Welfare (3 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.
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
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"
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"