Stop Being a Schmuck, Jonah

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Jonah
Goldberg isn't a libertarian; he doesn't even think too highly of
us anti-statist folk. This is concussive news, I know. (To those
suffering head trauma after falling out of their chairs: You should've
known reading this site without a helmet can be hazardous to your
health. Whassamatta with you? But fear not, we're developing a site-specific
helmet with a Don't Tread on Me snake on one side and a smiley face
on the other.)

In
his February
9 National Review column
, Goldberg gives a list of the
ten books "that make up my all-purpose Swiss Army knife for
conservative initiates." After showing a glimmer of appreciative
capacity by recommending two selections of Friedrich Hayek, he follows
up with this gem:

As
you know, I consider Libertarians to be like Celtic barbarians
deployed by British kings in the Middle Ages against the Scots
or the French. They are extremely useful for fighting your enemies,
but you would never want one to actually sit on the throne.

Fear
not, G-Man, libertarians don't want to occupy the throne; they want
to dropkick it. (Those who can't perform a dropkick will settle
for a reckoning in the mode of the Billy Batts pummeling scene in
Goodfellas,
reenacted on an inanimate object in Mike Judge's Office
Space
.) Albert Jay Nock's book isn't entitled Our
Enemy, the State
for no reason. It's nice to know we make
good pawns, though. (Utilitarians take note.)

Goldberg
can't even leave his Hayek recommendations well enough alone. He
goes on to note Hayek's critical reception by some libertarians,
albeit phrasing it this way: "He's distrusted by zealots because
he had a go-with-what-works approach."

Since
when did coherence become zealotry and pragmatism a conservative
principle? Walter Block, as one example, critiques the Nobel laureate's
statist tendencies in "Hayek's
Road to Serfdom
." The only thing this indicates is that
libertarians prefer discourse over dogmatism and reject the notion
of a meta-critical, oracular elite.

But
Goldberg manages to surpass his caricatures with this one: "[I]f
you want the purist libertarian stuff, go read something by Ludwig
Von (sic) Mises. Honestly, though, I don't know what that would
be."

If
Goldberg's "Honestly" is taken at face value, he's ignorant
of the basic works by modernity's most systematic champion of liberalism.
Rather than keep this cognitive lacuna to himself (i.e., omit the
next sentence), Goldberg practically boasts. It would be like a
libertarian grinning about how he never read The
Conservative Mind
or
Reflections on the Revolution in France
. (Kirk? Burke?
Smirk.)

If
Mr. Goldberg would like to delve into Misesian thought, several
of his books are online
. In the meantime, from one Yiddishe
boychik to another: Stop being a schmuck, Jonah. (Smile.)

February
26, 2001

Myles
Kantor lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Myles
Kantor Archives

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