Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Instahack: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Kevin Drum and various other bloggers have already taken down Glenn Reynolds for his asinine comments about the 'vacuity' of calling imperialist oppressors 'imperialist oppressors'. No need to pile on there; they've done a fine job.

But now he's posted an update:

But just to troll a bit more, I do think that seizing Saudi and Iranian oil would be entirely morally justifiable on terms usually approved of by the left: They didn't earn it, they inherited it (it's like the Estate Tax writ large!). They're extracting huge profits for fatcats at the expense of the poor. They're racist, sexist, homophobic theocrats! (Literally!) Surely if it's ever permissible to redistibute wealth by force, this is the case. Right?

....But practicalities aside, the point is -- why isn't war for oil not only morally permissible, but morally required, if the forcible redistibution of wealth in other ways (including "windfall profit" taxes) is OK?
You see? Taxing inherited wealth is exactly the same thing as slaughtering tens of thousands of people to for the purpose of expropriating their resources. My god, why isn't that obvious to everyone?

Really, it comes down to this: if you mischaracterize certain liberal positions, and then apply them to situations that are different in every respect from their original context, and pretend that the contexts aren't really different, you can show that those positions justify stuff liberals don't like...provided you pretend liberals don't also hold any of the other positions (e.g., respect for national sovereignty, reluctance to kill lots of people or get lots of our people killed) that would prevent the misapplication of the mischaracterized positions.

This is why nobody takes libertarians seriously.

Update: A hearty welcome to Ezra's readers! Take a look around, make yourselves comfortable, and feel free to drop in any time. Update of First Update: The same goes for Tim Lambert's readers.
Second Update of First Update: Holy shit!!! Welcome, Atriosi (or Atriots or Eschatonians or whatever). Huh...there sure are a lot of y'all, aren't there? (By the way, 'glibertarianism' is an awesome coinage.)

Other Update: As if to prove this post title right, the Perfesser has yet another update in which he bestows a couple of other gems on us:
Well, that's about practicalities -- and based on practicality, the Estate Tax is a bust, too!
This is the world of Glenn Reynolds: you can just casually slip conclusory statements like that into the conversation without bothering to substantiate them. Then you can stand back and enjoy the fun as the conclusion you assumed proves itself!

And then there's this:
But while you do, ponder the fact that an arrangement that subsidizes fatcat dictators is sanctioned -- and even defended -- by people on the left, while even the idea of doing anything about it is condemned. That's not about practicalities, but philosophies.
More classic Reynolds: elide little details like, say, killing lots of people with the phrase 'doing anything about it', and voila: opposing mass slaughter for mercenary ends really becomes the triumph of philosophy over practicality.

[That's all, folks]