Slate has just gone through a round of layoffs, which makes me wonder if Slate editor Jacob Weisberg is willing to reconsider this graf from a piece titled “Libertarianism is Dead:”
The argument as a whole is reminiscent of wearying dorm-room debates that took place circa 1989 about whether the fall of the Soviet bloc demonstrated the failure of communism. Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history.
I don’t begrudge Weisberg for still believing that free market ideas were what destroyed the economy (and of course, I think he’s wrong!). But two and a half years into the Obama administration with 9.1 percent unemployment, I wonder if he’s willing to admit that he’s just as “unwilling to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate” his belief system.
Whatever the case, he was clearly wrong that libertarianism is dead: even if Ron Paul doesn’t get the nomination, Kentucky elected his similarly minded son to be senator, the Tea Party thrives on libertarian ideas, and the presidential contenders are each pandering to the libertarian set.
It hardly seems like the philosophy is limited to those who are, in Weisberg’s own words, “intellectually immature, frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school.”
Sadly, the lone libertarian (that I know of) on Slate’s staff, Jack Shafer, was among those laid off. Shafer says he will continue writing for Slate on matters other than press criticism, which will be an excellent opportunity for him to rebut Weisberg’s bearish take on his own philosophy.
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